really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
106,302 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 E320 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Mercedes-Benz E320 Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Jan 242015

E320 6-cyl

  • 73,000 miles


This vehicle is equipped with sensotronic brake control that has a service threshold. When this threshold is reached the brake system defaults to non power assisted hydraulic mode to the front wheels only. This occurs without any prior warning and results in increased stopping distance. I have sent a copy of the Mercedes service bulletin S142.46-P-0012A which addresses this issue. Mercedes stopped installing this system in 2006. At the very least, Mercedes should issue a mandatory recall to interrogate these vehicles with star das to determine how close to the service threshold the sbc unit is and replace them at the dealer's expense. This is a major safety issue that needs to be addressed.

- Richardson, TX, USA

problem #24

Jan 192015


  • 124,000 miles
The W211 Mercedes (E-class) have sensotronic brake control (sbc) units for the brakes. When, not if, but when they go out, there is no prior warning or anything at all. All braking ability just stops out of nowhere. This is obviously a huge safety concern because all brakes in the car stop working. This issue is well known and Mercedes needs to change out the sbc pumps on these cars because the consequences can, and will, be disastrous.

- Corona, CA, USA

problem #23

Jan 032015

E320 6-cyl

  • 132,500 miles
My wife and I were traveling northbound on Texas hwy 281 just North on marble falls Texas. I noticed a train coming and started to slow down and made the decision to stop for the train! well at that time my brake dash warning came on and it was all red and my brakes failed. Their I was not able to stop going 75 miles per hour (legally) and I could not stop and it was way to late for the train to stop also so I floored it to get over the tracks then I finally came to a safe stop. I searched the internet for a fix and to my surprise Mercedes had known of this for many years and stopped all help with the issue when the car reached 10 years old. This car should be fixed by the company that knowingly put it on the road with an experimental new type of braking system then tells owners down the road to kiss their butt. And its now the owners problem. What a deal my car is in great shape but has a defective experimental braking system that Mercedes will not even discuss fixing. I should have bought a corvair or maybe a pinto at least you can stop them! wow why have you not jumped all over this manufacture about this deadly problem even you have known for years! but no one has told me"?" the title should be marked deadly in bold letters.

- Horseshoe Bay, TX, USA

problem #22

Nov 062014

E320 6-cyl

  • 199,950 miles


Mercedes-Benz has diagnosed my sbc pump unit, in writing, as "faulty." They have then gone on to deny and refuse to acknowledge the recall published on this website: NHTSA campaign number: 05V133000. According to 2 Mercedes dealerships, and mbusa customer care and claim department, there is no such thing as a recall on the sbc unit, or have they ever heard of NHTSA campaign number: 05V133000 -- there is, however, a limited warranty for the sbc pump. After doing some independent research, it is clear that after recall: NHTSA campaign number: 05V133000, had been submitted to the NHTSA, it has gone completely unacknowledged from that point on. Mercedes has instead "rebranded" it as a warranty-recall, under internal campaign #2005110001, which no longer covers the sbc pump itself, only the wiring around it. There is clearly a conflict/contradiction here, as the mbusa.com website refers to the service on my car (by VIN) as 05V-311, but the invoice I received from Mercedes-Benz refers to it as [xxx]. information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Los Gatos, CA, USA

problem #21

Jun 052014


  • 106,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz E320. The contact stated that the ABS sensor illuminated intermittently. The dealer stated that the sbc system needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 05V133000 (service brakes, hydraulic ). the manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 106,000.

- Hickory, NC, USA

problem #20

Sep 172014


  • 88,881 miles
Went to start the car and at first the key wouldn't turn over I had to keep taking put and inserting it at a different side it eventually started. Soon as it turned over the brake light esp and ABS light started flashing the car is stuck in park.

- Augusta, GA, USA

problem #19

Sep 112014


  • 139,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz E320. The contact stated that the service visit workshop warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the sbc pump needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 139,000.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #18

Sep 102014

E320 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
I'm lucky to be alive! I purchased this car in 2005 and ever since I purchased my 2003 merc. Benz E320, it's been a crazy ride! here's a list of different issues that happened to me over the course of me owning this vehicle, which unfortunately I still do. I was driving with my little girl in tow and my brakes went out on me several times, my battery dies constantly, I had an issue when after I pumped gas you could smell fuel both inside my car & outside of my car, I literally one time had fuel pouring from the back of my car that ended on my garage floor. (thank god I don't smoke!) my suspension is constantly rattling, I have water that leaks on my feet when I drive occasionally and sometimes I have heat in the winter and sometimes I don't. I always have a check engine light on and as soon as I fix one, another one comes on. I currently had issues with code PO134, PO135 and had the O2 sensor changed, then my check engine light came back on and now I have codes PO171 & PO174 that I have no idea how to get fixed because it could be a number of issues. My battery drains when my electric seats are plugged in and so I have to have them unplugged to save my battery. Did I mention my back tire blew out on interstate 95 and I almost lost control of my car. It's devastating to pay the amount of money you do for this particular model, it's pretty on the outside and is a mess under the hood! is it normal when you have the ac on for it to sound like an airplane ready for take off? I'm tired of investing all kinds of money into this car, I just can't take it anymore! I can't even pass my va. State emissions test because of all these error codes (check engine light and malfunctions) and the state doesn't even find my car worthy of being on the roads.

- Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #17

Jul 262013


  • 137,714 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz E320. The contact stated that braking system hesitated to engage when the brake pedal was depressed. The contact also stated that the brake pedal was depressed numerous times in order to stop the vehicle. In addition, the gear shifter became stuck in park. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, who diagnosed that the ABS pump unit failed. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and stated that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 05V133000 (service brakes, hydraulic). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 137,714.

- Menlo Park , CA, USA

problem #16

Aug 162012

E320 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I purchased my car from a used car dealership of course I expected to have to have minor work done on it. Immediately noticed that the heater didn't work when I had it repaired I was told that some valve often gets stuck on these cars the dealership always run diagnostics on your car whether you want them to or upon running the diagnostic I was advised the my new used card would need about $6K in work done from the hood to the trunk I decided to keep the car and get the major work done in stages 1st thing I had done was front break pads and rotors although I opted to have the work completed by an authorized repair shop and not the dealship for obvious reasons (cost) not once did the dealership complete recall repair work or even mention it to me that there were several recalls and my car needed to have those repairs completed but rather over charged me for ball joints plus several other things that more than likely did not need to be repaired. I felt completely taken advantage of and raised my concern adamantly to little avail. I took my car to the dealership multiple time prior to the expriration of the said 10yr extended warranty with regard to the sbc failing not once did they mention or repair it knowing full well that the main purpose of me bringing my car to them was specifically due to the brake warning light being illuminated on the dash I was told that it was some type of sensor not a big deal to worry about that my car would continue to stop and there was no need to replace the said sensor an unnecessary cost since my breaks were fine I told them my breaks weren't fine it was taking too long for the car to slow down and stop they did nothing that was 2012 the condition worsened and the light went from white to red I decided to research online a few months ago and came across 3 recalls I called mbusa they told me the warranty expired November 2013.

- Richardson, TX, USA

problem #15

Mar 152012

E320 6-cyl

  • 155,000 miles


It started with a esp warning on the cluster, with increased brake distance, after restart the warning was gone, after many months the warning came back on in Nov of 2013, went back off and came back on Jan 14 2014, called the Mercedes dealer in nashville tn, was advised that the auto did have a recall on the sbc unit, which is the ABS brake system, but the recall ended on 11-12, which I do not understand how a safety recall can expire with mileage or date. The repair will cost about $2000 with no manufacture support or help. Mercedes has know about the Bosch system have only so many brake cycles, I purchased this vehicle used in 2009 and have never received any information on the recall. This is not the way a recall is supposed to work.. Mercedes said sorry, that's not good enough, this is the safety of my family and others that own these vehicles.

- Shelbyville, TN, USA

problem #14

Feb 142014

E320 6-cyl

  • 106,059 miles
Red warning light illuminated on dash flashing warning driver " reduced braking effect visit workshop" and " increase braking distance visit workshop:. after research this warning is displayed because the sensotronic braking system has failed and reverted to hydraulic system has taken effect as backup. This condition was subject to nhstb recall #'s 2004050014 and 2005110001. I contacted Mercedes usa customer service and was refused help. I asked to speak to someone up the chain of command and received a call from a case manager who stated that my vehicle had been repaired by Mercedes and that they had no further obligation to assist me with this problem. I have studied Mercedes service bulletins and by their own admission the vehicles that are subject to these recalls have notes within the service bulletin that "please note that recall and service campaigns do not expire and may be performed on a vehicle with a vehicle status indicator" it is further stated in Mercedes service bulletin that the "sensotronic brake control unit pump motor may run out of permissible tolerances thereby triggering the hydraulic back up function mode. Further, "greater brake pedal pressure is required and the brake pedal travel will be noticeably longer which could lead to a vehicle crash". to this day Mercedes engineers are attempting to repair this problem with software fixes which is the subject of another Mercedes service bulletin. The refusal of Mercedes to repair an obvious hazardous condition of a component that does not function as designed in unacceptable. It is my opinion that the vehicle poses a threat to not only the operator but others if operated under these conditions. Please help me I have not allowed my wife to operate what I believe to be an unsafe vehicle.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #13

Feb 122014

E320 6-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
I was driving ewa bound on beretania street at about 7:45pm at speed 25mph. The car had a red warning and beeps said brake malfunction, stop vehicle! at this time my car can not brake at all because the brake was completely not working when my car is driving. I have to put in neutral and use the assistance brake to stop the car. Luckily I was not on highway with fast speed! I found out this is common happen to this model due to the fault of sbc ABS brake pump. Parts is breaking down but not on brake pump happen when the car is driving. It is totally dangerous! Mercedes should have recall to correct the problem. Please investigate and enforcing Mercedes to improve. Thanks

- Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #12

Dec 022013


  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz E320. The contact stated while driving approximately 40 mph, the brake pedal was depressed with a delayed response from the vehicle. The failure was recurring. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer, who stated that the sensotronic brake control would need to be replaced. There was a recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number 04V296000 (service brakes, hydraulic), however the contact's VIN was not included. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 86,000.

- Loveland, CO, USA

problem #11

Nov 202013

E320 6-cyl

  • 88,900 miles
I started smelling gas in the car cabin. There was gas on my driveway as well. The gas sign started to flash on my dash and the check engine light came on. Went to the dealership and they said there was a major leak in the purge system. They quoted me $3066.88. They should take responsibility and not pass it on to me.

- Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #10

Dec 042013


  • 88,300 miles
Sbc brake failure. Brakes not working. Car refused to stop. I put it on park and jumped out.

- Grand Prairie , TX, USA

problem #9

Nov 082013

E320 6-cyl

  • 128,521 miles
I was driving to work when my brake system failed. My car displayed a code stating "brake defective; stop vehicle". this occurred on a busy highway in rush hour traffic. I am a pregnant female and was in the car alone, it was terrifying. After having my car towed to the dealership, I learned of an extended 10 year warranty on the sbc unit of my car. Since I bought this car used, I was not the "registered user" even though I have the loan and title in my name. The warranty expired in Sept of 2013. After my car was diagnosed, it was found that it was the defective sbc unit that failed me. I had previous similar codes (none that caused my brakes to fail) related to this sbc unit defect in April 2011 & August 2013 to which I purchased new brakes. It is not know whether this was necessary or not since my code of "service brake" at those times are a part of the faulty sbc unit and not necessarily related to the safety of my brakes. After my case was reviewed and denied at the corporate level, my husband and I had to shell out $1135 to fix the part ourselves. My husband was previously laid off and just started a new job in June. I feel it is unfair that we had to pay this money when we take good care of the car and were not privy to the information to fix the brake system within the warranty time. I worry about other people who have this car, are unaware of the warranty, and are outside the warranty. I was lucky to not have damage or injury. I feel Mercedes should be held accountable. I also feel I should be reimbursed as this was not a wear and tear issue and I feel it was handled unfairly on the corporate level of Mercedes. Thank you for your time.

- Owens Cross Roads, AL, USA

problem #8

Jun 042013

E320 6-cyl

  • 42,039 miles
On June 6, 2013, while braking on approaching intersection, brakes failed and transmission locked. Mercedes customer assistance towed vehicle to dealer, M-B greenway, houston, tx, where the service advisor explained that the pressure reservoir of the sensotronic brake unit had failed and must be replaced at a cost of $1,350. I complained that the sbc unit was the subject of NHTSA safety recall 05V0133 and two mbusa recall campaigns (2005070007 and 2005110001) resulting in the extension of the original warranty to 10 years with no mileage limitation. The dealer refused to honor the warranty or replace the entire sbc unit, because the electronic diagnostic code required by mb usa, llc for a dealer to file a warranty claim under the NHTSA 05V033 campaign did not appear on the diagnostic equipment. I paid the disputed $1,350 charge and drove the car about 6 miles on June 6, 2013, and the brakes again failed and the transmission locked. Mercedes customer assistance towed it back to M-B greenweay, where the service stated the entire sbc unit had failed and must be replaced at a cost of $2,030. I complained that the replacement was mandated at no cost by NHTSA 05V0133, but she said mb usa llc would allow the dealer to honor the sbc warranty because the car was "driven out of the shop." She also refused to credit the $1,350 charge I paid for the sbc pressure reservoir replacement, but offered to "discount" the replacement of the entire sbc unit to "$1,799."

- Houston , TX, USA

problem #7

Mar 152013

E320 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Vehicle suddenly showed brake reduce "require longer braking distance". I had the same issue before but I did not pay special attention of it because I thought it would just be a brake pad replacement indicator. Until I sent the car in at the dealer for service, they told me that it was an issue related to the sbc unit. Later, I found it online that it was a common known issue for 2003-2005 model. This could be very dangerous for people who was driving the vehicle on freeway if something like this happened. I called the manufacture and all they said was the unit would only be covered within a 10 year period and they did not have any other solution provided.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #6

Apr 182013

E320 6-cyl

  • 139,000 miles
First incident, brakes! visit workshop! message was illuminated on the information system. Took the vehicle to the dealer and vehicle was diagnosed with sbc pump failure. Dealer replaced part under extended warranty for this part because it has a known defect. Second incident, on April 25, 2013, one day after I took my car from the dealer, stop!, reduced brake power, esp malfunction message appeared. I stopped the car and had it towed to the dealer. Dealer replaced the part again stating that they only have re-manufactured ones and the one I had got was a bad re-manufactured part. Dealer replaced part again. Third incident, on May 1 2013, 5 days after I picked up my car stop!, reduced brake power and esp malfunction light came on again when I was pulling into a garage at a hotel. I came close to hitting the car in front of me that was taking a ticket to get into the garage. I don't know what could have happened if I was going faster than I was. The brake will not work at all once these messages appear.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

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