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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,112 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Owner Comments

problem #13

May 012016


  • 84,000 miles


I was driving an 03 SL500 and from the start the battery light (white stayed on) replaced both front and back battery and voltage regulator, now the red battery light is on and stays on. On last night, while driving down the highway, I heard a pop, car dropped and warning came on saying car was too low and fluid is leaking from the front driver side look like by the front wheel. Mechanic did a lot of guessing and still not fixed.

- Monroe, LA, USA

problem #12

Oct 152015


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that while turning on the vehicle, the instrument panel and other unknown electrical functions failed to operate. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 110,000.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #11

Nov 012014

SL500 8-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
Started car and got message: "abc malfunction, car too low". in actuality, car elevated. The ride of the car has changed. It has a soft and floaty feeling compared to its normal stiffer ride. I have seen the above complaint on the internet multiple times. It seems this is a wide problem. I haven't heard any recalls from Mercedes.

- Roslyn Heights, NY, USA

problem #10

Jun 022014


  • miles


2003 Mercedes Benz sl 500. Consumer writes in regards to possible fatal flaw in vehicle. The consumer stated, as he was backing out of his driveway, he applied the brake and they failed. A red light and a sign instructed him to obtain immediate service. The mechanic, kept the vehicle for a week, but was unable to anything wrong with the brakes. At the mechanic's suggested, the vehicle was towed to the dealer. After the vehicle was there for a few days, the dealership called and said the problem was the battery had died. It was a secondary battery which supplied power to everything that consumed electricity, including the brakes in his model and year vehicle. So, if it failed, so would the brakes.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #9

Jan 222014

SL500 8-cyl

  • 47,000 miles
While driving to work, I was going about 35 mph when the dash lights up red saying "service brakes, stop vehicle, etc". my mechanic looked over everything to do with brakes and could not fix it. He called Mercedes of tallahassee and was told it was an electrical issue that was a common problem with this vehicle. It did have a recall on it, but it expired in July last year, just my luck. So I googled it and have now found tons of people with the same experience! how can the vehicle safety administration legally allow Mercedes Benz to continue letting this happen to people" how many accidents must take place, or god forbid deaths before something is done" I have no option but to pay out of pocket to have this piece of $100K junk fixed and pray it never happens again! Mercedes Benz and the vehicle safety administration better pray this doesn't cause an accident or I will sue the [xxx] out of both! information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- St. George Island, FL, USA

problem #8

Jun 172013

SL500 8-cyl

  • 56,200 miles
Additional information provided for complaint filed 8/3/2013. Recall information determined from: recall 03 - id # 08V405000 - suspension Mercedes-Benz recall no. 2008080004 numerous complaints on internet as well as nthsa web site with search keywords "abc", "active body control", "suspension" to include: Date investigation opened: Aug 14, 2007 date investigation closed: Nov 20, 2007 NHTSA action number: PE07042 component(s): Suspension date complaint filed: 11/15/2005 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 10/23/2005 NHTSA id number: 10142714 date complaint filed: 07/29/2013 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 06/10/2013 NHTSA id number: 10532452 date complaint filed: 05/21/2012 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 05/17/2012 NHTSA id number: 10459146 date complaint filed: 03/26/2011 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 01/10/2011 NHTSA id number: 10392937 date complaint filed: 03/08/2013 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 09/01/2012 NHTSA id number: 10502119 date complaint filed: 12/06/2009 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 11/16/2009 NHTSA id number: 1029464512S date complaint filed: 03/01/2010 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 05/03/2009 NHTSA id number: 10315322 date complaint filed: 09/29/2010 component(s): Suspension date of incident: 09/27/2010 NHTSA id number: 10358237 date complaint filed: 08/28/2008 component(s): Electrical system, suspension date of incident: 08/27/2008 NHTSA id number: 10240148.

- Valrcio, FL, USA

problem #7

Feb 282009


  • 61,000 miles


My car is having electrical malfunctions. The interior lights inside my car are malfunctioning. The lights on my dashboard are malfunctioning. I can't see how fast I'm driving because I can't see the speedometer. This is very unsafe for me. When the electrical malfunctions occur, nothing electrical, lights, seats work in the car.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #6

Sep 012008


  • 21,123 miles
Ignition failure, no keys work to start the vehicle (it doesn't recognize the keys) car had to be put on a flatbed truck and sent to dealer for repaid.

- Bend, OR, USA

problem #5

Jun 172006


  • miles
My 2003 Mercedes S500 has twice electronically self-closed it's trunk on two separate users, on two separate occasions. This vehicle has been taken to two separate Mercedes dealers for the problem. One of those dealers replaced a number of parts. Despite doing so, the second occurrence (last night), left my other half in tears, pain, with a recess in her head and a headache. The electronic trunk lid has had instances where it does not open all the way, does not close all the way, or a combination of the two. Then there is the more serious and I believe potentially life treating, unprovoked, unexplained and as yet un fixed electronic closing that has twice occurred when putting in or removing goods from the trunk. I would find it hard to believe that I am the only owner who has had such a problem. The metal trunk lid comes down with force striking directly on the top of an adults head. It is unknown what it would do to a non-adult. I have spoken to a representative for Mercedes who states to her knowledge there is no problem and that they would be happy to get the car in and attempt to fix it, but can not guarantee they can. The first time it occurred, it hit me and nearly knocked me out. After bringing the car in I assumed it was fixed, however, after last night, it clearly is not. Though I can not make it perform upon command, I have no reason to believe it will not occur again.

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #4

Sep 272005

SL500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
I was driving on a highway when car just stopped. I had to get out of the car and push it for it to start again. After 500 it stopped again and had to be towed away.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #3

Apr 302005

SL500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I turned key and car did not start. I ended up getting stuck either at home or in a shopping center. Car had to be put on a flat bed. Dealer relpaced parts each time, but could not find the cause of the problem.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #2

Dec 092002

SL500 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127 miles
This auto's command (communications) system (radio/cass/cell phone/navigation system) has failed, intermittantly eleven times over the past 2 years. Since I purchased this auto for monthly trips between Maine and Georgia, I really need safe and consistent communications and navigation systems to operate properly. I've now lost faith in the safe operation of this vehicle; purchased expressly for safe, long distance, all-weather, & dependable trips of 2,600 miles each month. While the factory has attempted to repair/replace the command system ten times, it has now failed for the eleventh time! this problem has been additionally documented in the past three issues of the star: Mercedes Benz owners club magazine.

- Hulls Cove, ME, USA

problem #1

Jul 262003

SL500 12-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
Re: 2003 S600 [xxx] my relatively new (3000 miles) S600 has a persistent problem with the new V12 engine that has now developed into a serious safety risk for the driver. My car has been in service more than 4 times for this problem - it has been escalated to the tech center by my dealer - it has not ever been fixed. The spark plugs are regularly fouled by misfiring cylinders (1,2,7,8) - the dealer says it may be a software problem that mbusa has failed to fix..and now - when driven at speed over relatively modest bumps - the car totally dies and all power is gone...the SRS light comes on for a moment but all steering on the car is gone and (if you are not killed in the meantime) you need to steer the car manually to the side of the road as it coasts to a stop. This is a deadly driving hazard - mbusa is aware of this problem and permitting it to have failed to respond to my prior written materials including those contained in your own surveys to me...the car is a lemon and I want a new car or we will begin suit as well as state and federal lemon and fraud proceedings..we will also file a demand with NHTSA that an immediate recall be required of mbusa on all S6oo cars with this engine... note this cylinder problem began to appear at 700 miles&.in March, 2003 it happened again in April, 2003 at 1000 miles it has continued to occur and has never been fixed&. in the meantime, the new problem of the power failing entirely has been happening for about 10 days [xxx] [xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Chicago, IL, USA

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