Mercedes recalls vehicles with faulty brakes


Montvale, N.J. – May 9, 2017 – Mercedes-Benz USA has recalled more than 5,000 coupes equipped with faulty brakes, according to documentation filed with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects SLC 43 AMG, SLC 300, SLK 250 and SLK 350 models produced between March 19, 2015 and Feb. 3, 2017. The car maker estimates that 100 percent of these vehicles contain defective braking systems.

The Defect
The models mentioned in the recall are said to feature improperly installed electronic stability program software. Under normal conditions, ESP software helps drivers slow their vehicles, intervening automatically to initiate stoppage when a certain amount pressure is applied to the brake pedal. When drivers release the brake pedal, the system switches off. Overall, EPS software helps prevent increased wear on hydraulic components and eases overall operation.

However, the Mercedes vehicles mentioned above come with defective EPS solutions that fail to abort when the brake pedal is decompressed. This creates prolonged contact between the pad and the rotor and leads to overheating. When such a situation occurs, pressure builds and ultimately reduces drivability. This poses a serious safety risk to occupants. Owners have reported seeing smoke rise from wheel wells as a result of the issue. However, the defect does not reduce braking effectiveness or EPS operability.

No accidents or injuries have been linked to this software error.

Timeline of Events
Throughout 2016, Daimler AG, Mercedes’ parent company, received consistent reports of brake overheating. In April of that year, the company created an internal team to evaluate the reports and search for an underlying cause. Engineers tested braking hardware but found that it met all mechanical performance thresholds. The grouped moved on to field tests and saw the same results, leading them to rule out defective hardware as the root problem.

From August onward DAG engineers analyzed ancillary mechanical systems and vehicle software. In September, the internal team decided to design new EPS software to test against existing installations. By early 2017, the new program was complete and ready for testing. DAG initiated field trials and uncovered performance discrepancies between the two systems. In March engineers reviewed the EPS testing data and once again reviewed customer claims. A little more than one month later, DAG decided to launch a voluntary recall campaign.

The Solution
The car makers has ordered Mercedes-Benz dealers to update EPS software in affected vehicles. However, since the models covered in the recall retain their factory warranties, DAG will not be offering reimbursement for these repairs. Dealers received notification earlier this month. Owners with vehicles named in the recall should expect communications next month. Those who need immediate assistance prior to the campaign launch date can contact the NHTSA.

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