really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 1
Average Mileage:
97,980 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.

2004 Mercedes-Benz SL500 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2004 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Owner Comments

problem #15

Jan 082014


  • 90,000 miles


I have had major problems with the suspension. The abc light came on before. The car dropped on the freeway. I almost lost control. It is a major problem that should have been recalled and fixed properly. I've only driven 400 miles in the last few years total because I'm afraid something bad will happen again.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #14

Jul 082016


  • 18,633 miles
The vehicles suspension erratically lowers and rises while driving causing the driver to lose temporary control of the vehicle. This occurs unexpectedly at all speeds. The vehicle has been towed to the Mercedes dealer 4 times. The dealer has flushed the hydraulic fluid once, replaced one strut twice, and 3 suspension acceleration sensors and 1 send unit. The vehicle was returned to me several times and condition continued and was returned back to the dealer. Currently the dealer has the vehicle and is not sure how to repair it. The vehicle computer does not indicate codes, but dealer has driven the vehicle and witness this unsafe condition. A formal compliant been filed with Mercedes usa. The vehicle is unsafe to drive based on current condition.

- Atascadero, CA, USA

problem #13

Jan 012014


  • 56,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL500. The contact stated that the vehicle abruptly accelerated while driving 2 mph. The activate body control system failed and caused the hydraulic system to drop lower while driving. The contact was able to coast onto the road shoulder. The active body control system warning light illuminated after the failure occurred. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the hydraulic system needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The failure mileage was 56,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #12

Sep 082015


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that the vehicle was equipped with a compressed air suspension system and while driving approximately 35 mph, the active body control warning indicator illuminated. In addition, another indicator displayed that the vehicle was too low as the passenger's side ride height was lowered. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who informed that the active body control system or the sensor would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 90,000.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #11

Oct 302015


  • 50,700 miles
Red abc warning light on. Suspension system in failure mode reducing road handling and vehicle control below minimum safety levels. Mb repair costs exceed blue book car value even though vehicle use less than half life. Lic. P.E #6274 notes mb design/engineering failure--intentional mal-design scheme set-up to defraud consumers of billions $. severe graft/ over charge in process in that airbus aircraft and nuclear design /engineering by mb facilitates pathway to appropriate scaled down costs for ground transportation vehicles. Mb also needs to respond this mb car owner so that elevated discontent is a non occurrence.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

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problem #10

May 012014


  • 38,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Mercedes Benz SL500. The contact stated that the suspension was leaning lower on the driver side. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The dealer and manufacturer were made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 38,000. Updated 8/27/15

- Webster , NY, USA

problem #9

Nov 192014


  • 76,000 miles


The abc vehicle height control system caused the car to drop very close to the ground making the car undriveable, however after pulling to the side of the road and allowing the car to sit, then re starting the car went up to its normal height, what if I was in the expressway?

- Farmingdale, NY, USA

problem #8

Jul 032014

SL500 8-cyl

  • 795,908 miles
Driving on freeway and hit bump on freeway the abc lights come on vechicle hard to cotrol here rubbing, vehicle to low flashes went straight to dealer.

- El Segundo , CA, USA

problem #7

Apr 152014

SL500 8-cyl

  • 21,800 miles
The left side (driver's side) of my vehicle suspension system will lower itself. The will occur when the vehicle is parked for a prolong period of time and on any type of surface or grade. I was informed that my vehicle has zero defects. To raise the suspension, I am require to press the abc suspension button and the suspension raised to the proper height.

- Reford, NC, USA

problem #6

Dec 012011

SL500 8-cyl

  • 35,000 miles
Parked the car. When tried to backup the car from parked space, the front of the car got stuck over the concrete barriers and broke the front. Upon inspection I realized that the front driver side of the car is dropped about 3 inches. I took it to dealer and after 2-3 months testing and flushing, they told me they need to replace the valve at a cost of $3500. A few weeks later, the hole driver side is dropping both front and back. They tell me another valve needs to be replaced. I check different site on internet and realize this issue is known to dealers and there a great deal of documentation on-line. I appreciate if your office could investigate and get back to me. Thanks

- Naples, FL, USA

problem #5

Jan 042012


  • miles


Something called an abc pump and block has failed and car drops down on frame. Spent $3200 on the pump to drive 2 months before they want $3800 to repair the valve block. Both times the vehicle drops and is dangerous to drive. This is in addition to a baffle coming loose in the gas tank that has metal bashing metal inside the gas cell.

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #4

Jan 122011

SL500 8-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
My 2004 Mercedes sl 500 suspension completely dropped to the tires "without warning" while I was driving down interstate 95 during rush hour in miami, Florida which caused the vehicle to not respond or handle properly as the vehicle rolled and floated in different directions. It was very scary! fortunately I was able to get the car to a safe location off the interstate highway! as a licensed attorney I highly recommend this issue be "fully investigated" by the NHTSA. This is a very high performance sports roadster that people expect to be safe while driving! some also drive these vehicle at high rates of speed (not legally) but you know that the sl 500 was the most frequented vehicle for speeding this past year in the nation and not being able to control ones vehicle at any speed is frightening and hazardous to both those driving the vehicle, passengers as well as the other commuters on our roads and highways. Before we have another Toyota disaster I highly suggest this matter be investigated immediately. Let us not have preventable deadly accidents before we make a change and recall this car!!! the whole car now moves up and down at random and that makes the vehicle unsafe to drive. Performing a simple "google search" reveals that Mercedes Benz already "knows" and has "notice" of the problem from many mb consumers. I do not believe that a car no matter what age should have a suspension system that can literally go out and leave the passengers and driver subject to death or serious bodily injury. Please look into this matter asap! sincerely, very concerned/worried consumer.

- North Miami, FL, USA

problem #3

May 032009


  • 36,000 miles
Active body control failure on Mercedes Benz sl (model R230) causes the car to lower all of a sudden, loss of control and steering locking. Car's abc suspension is pressurized, and it has a history of failures. Documented on NHTSA site. The abc hose has a recall already, but the abc pump itself can go bad anytime without warning. There are many documented cases, which I have from other Mercedes owners. Mine occurred traveling 35 mph in northern Virginia in a neighborhood road, and luckily I pulled over but noticed my car's rear was dropped 4 inches nearly touching the ground. Some sl owners have been driving at highways speeds and suddenly abc malfunctions causing serious damage and potentially deadly results if immediate precaution is not taken. Mercedes Benz usa and it's dealers are well aware of abc issues effecting their line of models including: Sl, S class, and cl class. No recalls on the abc pump has been issued, but the dealers politely tell owners it's a known issue and it will costs $5000 to fix. That's unacceptable. I beg the NHTSA to investigate and if need be, I can gather more data and facts from owners and testimonials for dealer service advisors who know of this issue.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #2

Jul 242009


  • 19,000 miles
Addendum info to original complaint #10308437 shows that mb service advisor J. steach advised M.B. not responsible as driver should "miss" potholes. Engineering analysis shows that it is not possible for driver to steer around potholes. At 70mph mb SL500 travels 103 ft/sec and it is not possible to observe the pothole hazard and categorize as safety risk at speeds of 70mph(103ft/sec) react physiologically and actuate steering system -all in less than one second-one half second each for human response and same for mechanical actuation-insufficient time to avoid pot hole hit. Dark or low light conditions render pothole miss impossible. In any case, the improperly engineered soft low strength alloy wheel design leads any prudent vehicle driver into a crash trap. Wheel, tire, suspension damage evident-needs corrected immediately at expense of mercedez-Benz.. wife whiplash due to severe abrupt unanticipated forces in bringing vehicle to safe stop. I have neck soreness and aggravation of previous neck injury likely.

- Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, USA

problem #1

Jan 282009


  • 86,666 miles
In 12-06 I bought a 2004 Mercedes Benz S500. Since than I took the car back the dealer more ten times the latest was 1-09 for the same reason the air matic defected orcompressure leak, pressure sensor malfunction, air matic valve block defective. Some time they found the air matic compressors w/ external leak cause the suspension to be low. In May 2008 for leak in the compressor they told me it was fixed. Again in July 2008 air matic compressor again leak. Aug 2008 they told me it relay defective the airmatic pump was stuck and the airmatic pump did not pass pnumatic test again they told me the dealer charged $821.03.jan2009 airmatic valve block defective again charged $765.89.I think some completely wrong with this car, but the dealer and the head of the Mercedes Benz do not want to hear me the car cost me alot of moneys and every other month I must find money to fixed the same thing over and over again that not fair.

- Wyandanch, NY, USA

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