Mercedes-Benz 500SEL Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Mercedes-Benz 500SEL 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 lower control arm bushings can wear and crack, resulting excessive movement at the control arm pivot point, leading to irregular and premature tire wear. Worn Ball joints can also cause similar tire wear symptoms. I some cases it may be necessary to replace the lower control arm, including bushings & ball joint to correct this concern.

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.

The head lamp wipers are easily damaged, especially by automatic car washes.

The lenses for head lights may become opaque (cloudy or hazy) as a result of sun exposure. This can reduce the effectiveness of the lights. Our technicians tell us plastic polishes can improve the clarity of the lenses, but replacement of the lamp housings is necessary to regain full intensity of the lights.

The cooling system hoses may fail unexpectedly. The hoses can look good on the outside, but the rubber can degrade and erode on the inside. If not carefully checked, the hoses can burst at any time.

The climate control system can fail or perform erratically due to internal problems with the climate control button electrical contacts. Replacement of the climate control assembly is commonly required to correct this problem.

Vehicles with automatic level control that ride harshly in the rear (no give in the suspension) may have one or both dampening actuators which have failed. It is commonly recommended the actuators be replaced in pairs.

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

High mileage vehicles may develop a transmission fluid leak from one or more of the oil seals.


A worn steering dampening shock can cause a fluid leak at the front of the vehicle. If a leak is noted from the dampening shock, our technicians tell us that it should be replaced.

The engine wiring can degrade because the insulating material falls off leaving the bare wire exposed. This can cause many problems depending on which wires are exposed and what they touch.

The bushings for the shifter lever wear out to the point where they break and fall out. This causes excessive movement (loose feel) in the shifter lever and a clanging-type noise when changing gears.

Oil feed tubes break and fall into the crankcase (engine) and the tappet becomes noisy (ticking), resulting in degraded idle quality. Our technicians recommend replacing all of the tubes at the same time, broken or not.
Glove box hinges, the center console armrest, and the cup holders break.

Instrument cluster lenses break easily.