hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
58,026 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #30

Jan 052017


  • 116,578 miles


I own a 2003 Mercedes Benz sl 500 and replaced the hydraulic pump in 2014 for $6400. The car would drop low (on one side if parked for a few hours). Today, January 5, 2017 - the identical problem happened again. While driving, I heard a loud bursting sound and then hydraulic fluid began seeping out also, the abc red dash light illuminated stating that the car is "too low to drive". I managed to slowly drive home (without power steering). This is a huge defect in Mercedes Benz technology and manufacturing - a class action lawsuit is absolutely necessary. This vehicle is defective and dangerous to operate. Also, consumers should not spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on defective parts. By the way, this vehicle has always been serviced by Mercedes Benz dealership technicians. I would appreciate any additional information or support from the NHTSA as I pursue viable recourse options. Thank you!

- Greenville, SC, USA

problem #29

Oct 102012


  • 55,620 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500. While driving into the garage, the abc pump warning indicator illuminated and the contact noticed smoke inside the vehicle. In addition, the contact noticed a large amount of hydraulic fluid on the garage floor. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the front and rear axle valve lock, and pressure reservoir for the abc system needed to be repaired and flushed. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 07V263000 (suspension, engine and engine cooling). The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 55,620.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #28

Jul 092015


  • 71,000 miles
Suspension drops overnight and has dropped while in motion on the expressway. Red warning to limit speed constantly comes on especially if low on fluid and on bumps. The dealer cannot isolate the cause of pressure or excessive hydraulic fluid leaks. Front bumper damaged as a result. Over $8000 spent and problem not resolved. No confidence in the car unless the supply of fluid is carried in the car at all times. Dealer wanted $16,000 to diagnose and possibly repair but offered no warranty for work.

- Brown Deer, WI, USA

problem #27

May 012016


  • 84,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500. While driving 65 mph, the contact heard an abnormal noise coming from the vehicle as it lowered to the ground. A "too low to drive" message displayed across the message board. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the accumulators needed to be replaced. A complete diagnostic had not been performed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 84,000.

- Monroe, LA, USA

problem #26

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

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problem #25

Dec 182015


  • 86,998 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that while driving 25 mph, she smelled smoke coming from the engine. The contact stated that the abc and stop vehicle too low warning lights illuminated. The contact mentioned that while driving, the front end of the vehicle started to scrape the ground. The contact was able to pull the vehicle over and noticed that it was leaking fluid. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. It was unknown if the vehicle was diagnosed but the vehicle has not been repaired. The contact stated that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 07V263000 (engine and engine cooling, suspension). The dealer informed the contact that the vehicle also showed failure signs of NHTSA campaign: 05V133000 (service brakes, hydraulic). The failure mileage was 86,998.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #24

Dec 152015


  • 87,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that while driving at 25 mph, the front of the vehicle lowered and leaked fluids as the ABS warning light illuminated. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 87,000.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #23

Nov 132015


  • 66,000 miles
Driving along the freeway at 65 mph when the whole front left side drops to within inches off the ground!! Mercedes is well aware of this lemon feature on there vehicle and is some how still allowed to sell them in the us, much less not do a damn thing about the lemons they have sold.

- Marina Del Rey, CA, USA

problem #22

Nov 032015


  • 64,000 miles
This car has had abc problems from day one. First we had hydraulic leaks, we replaced struts, then the pump went out and had to replace that. Now the car lowers on it's own when ever it feels like it. If I park the car it lowers and when I reverse the low front end will get trapped and drag, now the front bumper is ruined...this will be my last Mercedes.they need to recall this terrible system, .I never have any problem with my Lexus..ijs

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #21

Jul 312015


  • 70,000 miles
Abc failure at 70 miles. Ridiculous for a car of this precise.

- Prescott, AZ, USA

problem #20

Mar 072015


  • 55,000 miles


Abc system failure.

- Plymouth, CA, USA

problem #19

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 #18

Nov 082014

SL500 8-cyl

  • miles
I bought in france this vehicle without documents about life car (accidents, repairs etc) so I need all informations on my used car.

- Enghien Les Bains, AE, USA

problem #17

Apr 082014


  • 62,859 miles
Abc active body control system failed resulting in a drop on the driver side. Mercedes mechanic said that this has been a defect and regular issue with 2003 SL500 where there is either a leak in one or more struts or the pump failure; but yet Mercedes is not taking accountability for this defect. After researching this on the internet, it is clear that this has been an issue not only in us but around the world and Mercedes has not addressed this issue because they are making thousands of dollars repairing this defect per vehicle. Please look in to this issue. Just google 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500 abc and you will see for yourself how many individuals have had the abc issue.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #16

Apr 022013

SL500 8-cyl

  • 22,500 miles
My 2003 sl 500 with 22,500 miles is dangerously unsteady and pulls to the right also has a knock in the right rear. I took it to the local dealer and they replaced the fluid in the abc system for $300 +. it did not help. They say that they can begin replacing parts in each wheel at $2000 per wheel and see if it works, but no guarantee. It appears that they don't have a clue. I have contacted Mercedes help line but they just said to take it to the dealer. I bought this car new in 2003 for my wife and expected it to last a long time and she will not drive it anymore. Here I have $100,000 car that is like new inside and out that is not drivable. Mercedes should be ashamed of themselves for not backing up their product. I have had 9 Mercedes starting with a 1962 diesel sedan but I will never, ever buy another and I spread the word to everyone I see interested in buying an expensive car.

- Wrightsville Beach, NC, USA

problem #15

Jun 172013

SL500 8-cyl

  • 56,200 miles
Additional information provided for complaint filed 8/3/2013. Recall information determined from: www.intellichoice.com/1-12-2003-9821-20/2003-Mercedes-Benz-SL500-roadster-2dr-convertible-recalls.html. 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 #14

Jun 172013

SL500 8-cyl

  • 56,173 miles
Immediately after purchase, noticed a considerable front nose drop while driving issue repeated frequently while driving. Overnight, the vehicle would drop 3-4 inches. Took vehicle to repair shop and watched as vehicle "bucked up and down" as if in a low-rider show. Mechanic stated it was a common occurrence and recommended changing sensors. Vehicle taken to Mercedes dealer with copy of recall notice 08V405000. Dealer replaced left front strut ($1500) instead, stating my vehicle is not part of this recall. Strut replacement eliminated the 3-4 inch overnight drop, but the nose drop during driving was not fixed. Dealer now wants to replace the abc sensors ($1200-$1500). To date, 3 of 4 struts/shocks have been replaced. Car is in an unsafe condition. Numerous posts on internet regarding this issue! please help.

- Valrico, FL, USA

problem #13

Jun 102013

SL500 8-cyl

  • 52,400 miles
We were driving 65mph on the highway when suddenly our 2003 mb 500sl became erratic with the suspension dropping down on the driver's side. I was forced to quickly pull off the highway. It was a terrifying experience and we were extremely lucky to pull over right away without hitting other cars. The car was very low to the ground on one side. After restarting the car, the suspension improved enough to get us home. On my drive to the dealership the car was very low everywhere forcing me to drive 35mph and it bottomed out on a bump on the highway. The dealership informed us that the abc system pump had failed and the car additionally had leaking rear shocks. Our car has low mileage and very little wear. The dealership quoted $7600 to install a new pump, flush out and replace the hydraulic fluid and install new rear shocks! they stated that this may not completely fix the abc problem as additional damage may have occurred from the failed pump and debris in the system. This is outrageous! there is clearly an ongoing and very prevalent and dangerous defect with the Mercedes Benz abc system, as it is happening to so many vehicles. There must be a recall on these vehicles. This is a very serious problem which could easily result in multiple highway fatalities. Mercedes Benz has to take responsibility for their defective system before someone is killed.

- Newport, RI, USA

problem #12

Oct 142009


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that while waiting at a stop sign, the vehicle lowered itself about 6 inches. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection and they stated that the hydraulic valve needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified but provided no assistance. The failure mileage was 50,000.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #11

May 172012


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that while driving approximately 60 mph, the front end of the vehicle collapsed to the ground without warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for a diagnosis. The technician stated that the front passenger's side suspension was faulty. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 82,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Yorba Linda, CA, USA

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