w211 common problems

Common Problems – W211 Mercedes E Class

Problems and Faults with the W211 E Class

The W211 E Class were produced from 2002 to 2009, with a facelift model appearing in 2006 that compromised of a noticeable different front and rear end. The earlier W211’s suffered more issues (mostly electronically) which were rectified in 2006. However, the W211 would be an excellent upgrade from the W210 with far more technology and a less rust prone body. If you are in the market for a W211, here are a few things you should aware of before you take the plunge:

Common Reliability Problems

  1. Airmatic/Self Leveling Suspension (Usually Rear Suspension)
    The air bags can leak air, which may cause one side to sit slightly lower. If you leave the car standing for a long periods, the car may start to sit lower until the car is turned back on, where the air compressor/pump will kick it to start refilling the bag with air. If the car is not rising, this may suggest that there is a problem with the pump. Before spending large amounts on suspension components, we recommend that you get the car on a STAR machine. If you receive the “Stop, your car is too low” on the trip computer, visit a workshop immediately.
  2. SBC Pump (Sensotronic Brake Control)
    Although a great innovative design by Mercedes Benz, it does have issues that are expensive to repair. There isn’t an exact figure, but it is predicted that a SBC problem may occur between 200,000 to 300,000 brake pushes. Mercedes Benz offered warranty on this part; however the facelift W211 resolved the majority of SBC issues. If the SBC pump has been changed, there should be a yellow label should contain a date. Take caution if this part is over 10 years old or never replaced!
  3. Valeo Radiator
    A faulty Valeo Radiator isn’t a relatively expensive part to replace but if it is not fixed, it can lead to expensive repair bills. A major consequence would be a faulty Valeo leaking Glycol into the transmission!
  4. Electrics
    – Brake light switch failure is a common cause of the BAS and ESP warning lights
    – Water Damage can cause damage to the weight sensors in the seat, which can cause the SRS light to appear
  5. Crankshaft Position Sensor are prone to faults

W211 Modifications and AMG Upgrades

The number of modifications you can do to the W211 E Class is endless but one that we would recommend is upgrading the front end with an AMG front bumper. This will give the E Class an aggressive front end and will look less like a taxi, which they commonly are. If that is not enough, you could also replace the grill with a chrome finished grille with a Mercedes centre piece, which will make your W211 more unique on the road.

To conclude, if you are buying a prefacelift W211, ensure there is ample history and vital parts have been maintained and replaced when necessary. The majority of issues were solved by the facelift model, which is much more refined than the prefacelift. Nowadays in the second hand market, you will find it near enough impossible to find a W211 with less than 100k miles on because they are motorway mile cruisers.

Credit Ray T for the Main Image.


Co-Founder & Director of Mercedes Enthusiasts. Current Mercedes: W124 300CE AMG, R129 30024V SL, W210 E55 AMG & W210 E320 CDI.