really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
22,337 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Owner Comments

problem #6

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 #5

Aug 302010


  • 57,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes SL500. The contact stated that the ABS warning light illuminated on the warning panel. The dealer repaired the ABS switch seal and added synthetic hydraulic fluid to the vehicle to correct the failure. One month later, the ABS warning light illuminated. On the following day, while driving to the dealer at approximately 20 mph and depressing the brakes, the brakes would not engage. The brake pedal fell much farther into the floorboard than usual. The contact was unable to stop the vehicle and slightly crashed into a curb. She then coasted into a parking lot until she was able to engage the emergency brakes and come to a stop. The dealer advised that the vehicle was included in NHTSA recall campaign id number:04V296000 (service brakes, hydraulic). The vehicle was left with the dealer where she was awaiting a replacement of the hydraulic pump under the recall. The failure and current mileage was 57,000.

- Rodondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #4

Sep 022010


  • 42,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact was driving approximately 20 mph when the brake was depressed, it abnormally went to the floor without resistance to the brake pedal pressure. There was five percent braking ability. The vehicle would not slow down. When the emergency brake was engaged the vehicle came to a stop. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where they stated that the failure was contributed to the sensotronic brake control pump. The technician advised the contact that the failure was a common issue. The vehicle was not repaired; and the contact planned to sell the vehicle due to the safety hazard. The mileage was approximately 42,000. The VIN was unavailable. Updated 01/13/11 updated 01/27/11

- Torrance , CA, USA

problem #3

Oct 032007

SL500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,889 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. While driving 60 mph, the brakes failed when the brake pedal was depressed. When the brakes finally began to operate, the ABS, coolant, and esp lights illuminated. The vehicle was towed to a dealer, but no repairs were made. The current and failure mileages were 17,889.

- Chaska, MN, USA

problem #2

Jun 252003

SL500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,132 miles
The vehicle (2003 mb slk320) was purchased on 4/14/2004 in AZ and began noticing problems on the drive back to nm. The most significant safety problem involves the transmission, which has been serviced by the manufacturer 8 times without resolution. The vehicle slips in and out of gear at highway speeds. The vehicle has spent a total of over 68 days in the shop for unsatisfactory repairs in a one-year period. To this date, the manufacturer has been uncooperative in resolving these problems forcing me to seek legal services.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #1

Jul 262004

SL500 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles
Hydraulic brake failure, totally unexpected. Car is a marcedes Benz SL500, 2003. Only 8,500 K. on 6-24-04, mb issued a safety bulletin (NHTSA campaign id no. 04V296000)mb has not notified owners like me. I run a 4-way stop sign and a large pick-up truck was within 1 or 2 feet from hitting me on the drivers' side. Iwas able to stop the car about 50 yards after the stop sign. Messagge --in red letters in the dashboard-- wich said "reduced brake effect. Visit workshop".. I was not injured physically, but this was a near death experience. This happened on 7-26-04. The dealer has practically conficated the car and refuses to say much. Mb sent a technician from headquarters to check the car but refused to talk to me. Needles to say they are evasive and deny there is a problem. Only going to the internet ia foun that I am not the only one affected, having, by chance found the information about the defect. Luckily there was no injuries, but I want to report this fro tw reasons. No.1: why mb did not notify me of this defect. It is now clear that the sensotronic brake control this car uses is defective, because it requires electrical energy. According to the cars' manual (page 260),the sbc will go into the emergency operation mode and brakes are only applied to the front tires, stopping distance is increased and the driver has to be depressed almos to the floor. In my case I almost stood up to apply pressure and went down to second gaer on the tramnsmission, before the car stopped. No. 2: Mercedes Benz says in the cars' manual to "continue driving with added caution" "do not exceed sped of 55 mph". are they crazy? the car will not stop in time when driving in a line of cars nor will stop on time when someone is crossing the road. Someone is going to get killed or maimed.

- Merced, CA, USA

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