Join Date: Dec 2016
Vehicle: 1999 ML430, 2000 ML320, 2005 E500 4matic wagon
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What you heard was the pin/pawl that drops into position to keep the trans from rotating.
It appears you most likely avoided serious damage. I saw the lot attendant do the same thing when I got a GLE loaner a few months ago while a repair was being done at the dealer under a an extended campaign for my fuel tank.
The GLE seemed just fine while I had it for two days.