2001 Mercedes-Benz S500 Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500 as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

The ESP and BAS warning lights may illuminate due to a failed brake light switch. Replacement of the failed switch should correct this concern.

The relay which turns the airmatic suspension pump on may fail causing the pump to run continuously. This can result in failure of the pump motor or a dead battery as the pump motor will continue to run after the car is turned off. Also, Worn airmatic pump mount bushings can causes noises in the front axle while driving on bumpy roads or a buzzing noise while the pump is running.

Problems with the pneumatic system can cause closing assist and door lock issues.

The door for the vanity mirror (or the frame for the door) can break; due to a redesign, the mirror "cassette" will need replacement.

The crankshaft position sensor may fail. Symptoms of this are: The engine will crank—but not start—especially when the engine is warm. The car may start again if it is left to cool off, but it may run roughly or have poor performance.

The evaporator temperature sensor can fail, causing the AC compressor not to cycle. If the AC compressor does not turn on, the AC system will not blow cold air. If the compressor is stuck on, the air will be very cold at first, before warming up.

CD changers, command units, voice control units, PSE units, and Tele Aid units are prone to failure, especially in early models.

An engine Oil leak may develop from the PCV vent housing on the valve cover and/or the inspection plate on the front of the engine.

A cracked or broken heater core outlet housing can cause a coolant leak near the bulkhead (firewall). Our technicians remind us that coolant leaks should be repaired in order to avoid overheating the engine due to coolant loss.

Leaks may develop from the differential cover and/or seals on high mileage or older vehicles. Our technicians recommend a complete reseal of the differential unit if these leaks are addressed.

A vibration felt through the center floor of the vehicle can be caused by cracked and/or shredded driveshaft flex discs, resulting in excessive driveshaft movement. If not repaired, damage to the driveshaft center support bearing, transmission, or differential can occur.

As brake fluid becomes dirty over time, it can cause a failure of the anti-lock brake system (ABS) modulator assembly. Our technicians recommend a complete brake system flush every two years to help prevent this issue.

The brakes may begin to squeak at about the 50 percent wear point. This is due to the size and material used for the brake pads and rotors.  The brake rotor surfaces become uneven, causing a lip to form at the outer edge. This will generally require replacement of the rotors when the pads are worn (pad life varies depending on driving style and terrain).

Front thrust arm and control arm bushings can crack and sometimes tear completely. If this is not repaired quickly, damage to the front subframe unit will occur, which is very expensive to repair. Updated control arms (that prevent damage to the subframe when the bushings wear out) are available.

The center console armrest can break. Replacement is commonly the recommended repair.