2002 Mercedes-Benz SL Review

2002 Mercedes-Benz SL SL500 5.0 litre from UK and Ireland

Model year2002
Year of manufacture2002
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission 5.0 litre Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 1 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 3 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 2 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.6 / 10
Distance when acquired13000 miles
Most recent distance37000 miles
Previous carBMW 8 Series

Summary:

Desirable and beautiful when it is working, but astonishingly, disgustingly unreliable

Faults:

Brakes failed at speed (turned out to be an electronic problem).

Steering stuck at the dead-ahead position whilst driving (hydraulic problem).

Hydraulic suspension failed whilst driving (clouds of smoke, and the car dropped down onto its bushes).

Electric seat movement stuck in complete forward position.

Seat-belt mechanism failed (warning light came on, took 10 days for the garage to get parts & fix).

Phone software failed (no longer able to answer calls).

Parktronic incorrectly installed.

Fuel flap failed (stuck open).

Regular brake warning lights when starting on cold mornings.

Frequent shut-off of non-essential electric systems (e.g. heated seats).

General Comments:

When this car is working, it is a joy to drive - comfortable, fast, turns heads (still) and the roof is magnificent.

However it is horribly unreliable - in three years it has been back to Mercedes more times than I can count, and I have had too many scary experiences (like the brakes failing while I was driving on the motorway).

Systems testing seems to have been very poor at Mercedes design. The car systems are complicated, but they don't seem to have cross-tested functions or thought about practicalities.

For example, if you press the button that moves the seat fully forwards, and then press the seat UP button, you can crash the computer, which means a trip to a dealer to reset it.

Similarly updating the software for the phone required the dealer to remove the passenger seat.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th March, 2006

29th Oct 2007, 16:33

The review seems to be of the 2003 SL500?

18th Nov 2007, 01:28

I can agree 100% with this review. My wife's 2003 SL500 has been the worst lemon we have ever owned. My only surprise in this review is that the submitter gave the car a 1 out of 10 for reliability. I would give ours a zero. Our SL500 has dropped all its suspension oil on our garage floor 3 times. In just 35,000Kms it has needed a new $2100 power steering pump, a new power steering box, a new $4200 hydraulic pump motor for the hardtop, 2 x $3600 catalytic converters, various seals etc for the suspension, and thousands of dollars of repair bills. Besides these problems are the numerous other smaller problems that make us wish we had never bought it. This car is pure JUNK.

2nd Jul 2009, 01:32

Well bought my 2003 with 30000km on the meter. Now it's at 90000 and the only failure was one MAF-sensor and the starter, then normal service done changing tires, brake pads, changed starter-battery last year, trunk-battery still original and works fine...

This car has been a real joyride all the time, I will say the best and most beautiful car ever made... It's a wonder that so many electronic features can work with little failure...

Average review marks: 4.6 / 10, based on 1 review