really awful
Crashes / Fires:
4 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,072 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 1 of 2)

problem #22

Sep 112015


  • miles


I was driving on route 5, branch ave., near clinton, md, about 30 mph, down slight decline of a hill, approaching a place in the road where cars can enter the highway from both the left and the right. As we normally do, I pressed on the breaks to slow down, in case one of the cars sitting on both the left and right, decided to enter on to branch ave. My brakes failed - the foot peddle went completely to the floor when I was trying to slow down, there was little to no control in the steering wheel and I looked at the dashboard and it was lit up in red warning lights, first saying brake need maintenance (or something) at first. I manage to get the car to steer towards the right to get on the side of the road, hoping the rough terrain would help to slow the car to a stop. By this time the red warning lighted up dash board said stop, brake failure or something. The car finally stopped and I turned if off. I am 59 year old woman and was absolutely petrified - my whole body was shaking from the fear that I was going to wreck on this busy highway. Luckily for me the cars waiting to enter the road, did not and cars on the highway slowed down and went around me while the car was coasting towards the side of the road. There was no warning light telling me to get the brakes services - they just failed while I was driving on the freeway. I called Mercedes roadside service for them to pick up the car. After an hour and they had not arrived, I turned the car on, there was no red light. I pressed the brake and it didn't go to the floor but it was soft and went nearly to the floor. I kept pumping the breaks - something I used to see my father do - thinking that would bring the breaks back up so that I could at least drive back home to await service truck. I let Mercedes service know, then I slowly drove back, side roads, pulling over to allow cars to pass until got home.

- Brandywine, MD, USA

problem #21

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 #20

May 012014


  • miles
2003 Mercedes Benz E320. Consumer writes in regards to sensotronic brake control failure. The consumer stated a warning light appeared on the dashboard that read braking effect reduced please visit workshop. The consumer was quoted a price of $1925 for the replacement of the hydraulic unit.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #19

Feb 182012

E320 6-cyl

  • 57,210 miles


I was driving approximately 45 mph when the red dash warning light came on brake failure stop immediately visit workshop. The red emergency brake light and the amber ABS light also came on. The vehicle started to automatically downshift into lower gears and I was able to pull off the road and stop using the emergency brake since the brakes were not working and I had the brake pedal to the floor. I was able to get the vehicle home using the emergency brake to stop the vehicle and the next day when I started the vehicle everything worked fine. I took it to my local Mercedes-Benz dealer and they updated the software for the sbc control unit. They also verified that all recall service for this vehicle had been previously performed. Had this incident occurred during an emergency braking situation or at a high speed I feel that this would have resulted in an accident.

- Winter Springs, FL, USA

problem #18

Mar 082011

E320 6-cyl

  • miles
Strong odor of fuel when gas tank is full...I am not topping off the tank when I refuel...dealership states I need entire gas tank replaced at a cost of 3000.00..I purchased this car used in March 2011 with approx 107,000 miles.

- Fort Mill, SC, USA

problem #17

Jan 142012

E320 6-cyl

  • 162,000 miles
On several occasions when starting my vehicle, the dashboard would go completely red, followed by beeping and an esp warning, saying limited breaking. The pedal would go to the floor at that point. Sometimes I would already have the shift engaged before the lights went off and would have to use the emergency brake to stop the car. We researched and found the recall regarding the hydraulic braking system and took the car to a Mercedes dealer for repair. We were advised by the repair shop that if the recalled part was the problem, then the dashboard would light up and we'd have no brakes. We explained that is exactly what happens, but they would not repair the vehicle until they saw that happen themselves. After keeping the car for 3 days, they returned it saying it was the reservoir which would cost appox. $1800 to replace. We called Mercedes corporate about this also, but they have yet to call us back. Looking into the recalled unit, it appears this is all one system and therefore should have been replaced under the recall. I had the car for a couple weeks without another incident until this weekend when I had been driving the car for approximately one hour and after about a half hour of not braking the dashboard lit up red while I was doing approximately 45-50 mph. I tried to brake, but there were no brakes. Fortunately it was very early in the morning and very few people on the road. I was able to pull to the side and use my emergency brake to stop the car. After turning the car off and on about five times, it finally stopped warning me and I was able to drive and park the car safely. If this braking system is known as faulty and was part of a massive recall, why can't I get my car fixed?

- St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #16

May 192011


  • 58,206 miles


Complete brake failure. Almost crashed. I have numerous fault codes in computer, ABS code, sbc code, resivior code, etc, etc on a 58,000 milr car! they are telling me only one part has extended warranty and that is the sbc. Everything else I must pay for. The sbc effects all of these other parts and that is crap! like which came first? the chicken or the egg. Why have you not effected a complete recall of this make & model as everyone is having the same problem. You and Mercedes are going to get someone killed as the brakes go to manual and it's hard panic stoppng a 3400lb car!!!!!

- Vero Beach, FL, USA

problem #15

Dec 152005


  • 19,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Mercedes Benz E320. He was driving 35mph on 12-15-05 when the brakes failed and a crash occurred which severely injured his shoulder. A police report was filed and the contact was given a citation. The contact noticed a yellow brake warning light prior to the failure on the instrument panel. The contact stated he sustained injuries from his toes to the top of his head including a concussion and memory loss. He was taken to an emergency room who only diagnosed him with a fractured ankle. The brake pads were replaced three to four weeks prior to the failure. The contact later found out that the recall repair was not performed at that time but was directly related to the failure. He had been confined to a couch or a bed since the crash occurred due to the injuries he sustained. He also had a fractured vertebrae, his hips and knees were snapped, he lost one kidney and his stomach was placed behind his heart during surgery twice for the bleeding through his arteries. The contact stated that recall 04V296000, service brakes, hydraulic mfr's report date: Jun 22, 2004 and NHTSA campaign id number: 05V133000, service brakes, hydraulic, mfr's report date: Mar 31, 2005 are directly related to the failure. The electronic braking system was engineered improperly and was no longer being installed in Mercedes Benz. He stated that NHTSA thought that Mercedes would take care of the recall and its customers; however, they failed to do so. The insurance agent confirmed that the vehicle was destroyed. The doctor had not noticed the extent of several of his injuries for at least 4 years. He also had three eye surgeries within the last six months and the problem still had not been corrected. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was approximately 19,000.

- Memphis , TN, USA

problem #14

Oct 042010


  • 113,000 miles
2003 E320 Mercedes brake failure!! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I bought this car in 07 with 65,000 miles a good deal. Fine car! however...today while driving to work a red brake failure warning...flashes across the screen and my car would not stop!!! I am rolling across a small country rd bridge and thankfully am at the bottom of a steep hill. The brake pedal just flopped..nothing.. I managed to get it into park and get out with the car still running!!! I've had it towed two hours away...while waiting on my husband to get home to go the dealership with me, I located about 3 recalls on this model.. question... what responsibility does this used import car dealer have to me as a customer" they are consulting the Mercedes dealership to see if it is indeed an issue with a brake/hydraulics recall..I don't want to drive this car again..I owe some money on it. What could I insist they do??"

- Gilbertown , AL, USA

problem #13

Aug 152008


  • 35,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz E320. When the contact exited the interstate, an alarm began to sound, indicating that there were no brakes. The following day, the brakes were working properly. The dealer replaced the sbc controller for free. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign id number 05V133000 (service brakes, hydraulic). The VIN and speed were unknown. The failure mileage was 35,000.

- Heathrow, FL, USA

problem #12

Aug 232008


  • 78 miles


While driving my E-320 I heard a loud popping sound come through the speakers. After I heard the sound the rear speakers and the sub woofer began to make a noised that suggested they were busted. When I stop the car and shut it off I heard a buzzing noise come through the speakers. Now when ever I apply the brakes I hear what sounds like a faulty ground noise coming through the speakers. There have been recalls on the brakes electrical system that sounds just like the problem that I am having but mb said my car is not included in the recall, by the way the to door speakers cost $189 dollars a piece and the rear sub woofer cost $639 dollars. I haven't started the research on how much the radio unit cost. This car has giving me several problems. What a beautiful lemon..

- Portsmouth, VA, USA

problem #11

Apr 072008


  • 82,000 miles
I was driving my 2003 Mercedes Benz E 320 and all of a sudden a sign appeared on the dash board that brake was disabled and I was unable to control the vehicle without a brake and still it was running. Some how I managed to drive the vehicle to a parking lot on left and stopped it by changing the gear to parking. If it was happening after 10 second it would have collided with other vehicles in high speed in a major intersection and I wouldn't be in the face of the earth today. Later I found out that the brake system of 2003 E 320 was in recall. When I checked with the dealer they said it was replaced before and there is no more warranty. I had to pay $2500 to fix the problem from my pocket. I am so upset about this incident - more than the money - the negligence of Mercedes Benz can risk the life of many people like me driving Mercedes 2003 E320 model with faulty brake which break down without any warning while going in high speed. What shall I do in this matter?

- New Hyde Park, NY, USA

problem #10

Apr 072008


  • 82,000 miles
While I was driving the car in 35 miles speed, all of a sudden the brake system failed. I was unable to control my 2003 Mercedes E 320 and I was almost dead crossing a heavy traffic area. Fortunately I turned the car left to a parking lot and changed the gear to parking to stop the car and to avoid getting in to the shop. I bought the Mercedes with a trust, but I lost my trust. Not only that I am still waiting to get the repairing cost from Mercedes due to the product defect.

- New Hyde Park, NY, USA

problem #9

May 212004

E320 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
03 Mercedes E320 customer believes that vehicle is a lemon* the consumer stated the vehicle has a faulty brake system. The vehicle continued to surge forward while in acceleration mode. The brake lights on the vehicle displayed defects, the emergency brake signal warning light illuminated, so the brake light switch, and pads were replaced. The wiper blades were replaced. The left rear tire had a slow leak

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #8

Dec 012003

E320 6-cyl

  • 10,490 miles
Defective 2003 Mercedes Benz model E320. Consumer is seeking reimbursement from Mercedes Benz. *

- Pismo Beach, CA, USA

problem #7

Dec 292006

E320 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,269 miles
- the brake system failed. The contact felt it should be fixed during a recall in 2004. The vehicle was operating without incident. On 12/29/06 the car would not stop at a red traffic light when the brakes were applied. The contact narrowly avoided a crash. The vehicle is presently at the dealer. Updated 2/6/2007 - the vehicle was taken to the dealer and diagnostic test were performed. The dealer determined that the sbc control unit needed to be reflashed.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #6

Nov 202006

E320 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,001 miles
: the contact stated two recall letters were received regarding the brakes, #05V133000 and #04V296000. The vehicle was taken to the dealership for inspection and it was determined the repair work did not need to be completed. The contact then alerted the manufacturer that the work was not done, and the manufacturer determined it was at the dealerships discretion as to whether or not the work needed to be performed.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #5

Sep 112004

E320 6-cyl

  • miles
I was involved in a rear-end collision in 9-04 where my 2003 Mercedes (mb) was unable to stop in time. My car was not able to stop in time even though it was traveling only about 20 mph and that I applied quick, maximum pressure to the brakes. There was one other "close-call" a few weeks prior to the accident. When I called the Mercedes customer service 800 # and the Mercedes dealer, both of them denied that there were any reports or recalls of brake failure. Therefore I was deemed to be at fault for the accident at that time. When I took my mb for routine service in 2-05, the tech indicated that there was a brake recall and proceeded to make the repair. Now in 2-06, I received yet another brake recall (campaign # 2005-110001). One statement in the recall was "the brake pedal travel will be noticeably longer which could lead to a vehicle crash." My previous attempts at contacting mb resulted in their repeated denial that they were at fault for the brake failure and the accident. With the evidence presented and the repeated nature of the brake recalls, I feel that they are responsible and should reimburse myself and others like me for the increases in the insurance premium as well as the insurance deductible. It is a small price to pay for the integrity of a renowned car company.

- Santa Monica, CA, USA

problem #4

Apr 022004


  • miles
Certified ltr re safety recall notification 2004-050014 for 2003 E20 Mercedes sedan braking system, requesting investigation. The consumer stated another motorist vehicle began bobbing from side to side then suddenly jumped over in front of the consumers vehicle. Suddenly there was a loud noise followed by a thick plume of white smoke which rapidly engulfed the vehicle. The consumer's foot deeply depressed the brakes and the vehicle simply did not stop until it collided into the back of another vehicle. The consumer was informed that nothing was wrong with the vehicle. The consumer requested compensation. The consumer received a recall letter after the accident. 04V296000.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #3

Oct 282004

E320 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I own a Mercedes E 500, year 2004.I found out about the recall for the brake problem after I almost kill myself when the brake system failed yesterday. The Mercedes failed to inform the consumer esp. This kind of defect. I found out that this recall was since may and had to experience myself before receiving the recall letter. This is not a good bussiness practice and in fact a negligence on the part of the company. This can cause my life and may others who own the same model of car in whom I know a few and they have not received any recall letter.

- Coral Gables, FL, USA

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