Mercedes-Benz recalled nearly 300,000 vehicles in the US and over one million worldwide. Most of the recalled vehicles are older than 10 years.
It's possible to increase stopping distances by losing power braking, but to lose the whole braking system could cause a fatal collision. For affected vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has issued a stop-drive order until they can be inspected and repaired.
While some car recalls are specific to the United States, others can affect vehicles around the world. The Mercedes-Benz recall is an example of this.
Germany's largest automaker has recalled nearly 1 million vehicles worldwide, of which approximately 292,000 are in the US. The recall covers modified GL-Class, M-Class, and R-Class crossovers produced between the 2006 and 2012 model years, with production dates spanning Oct. 21, 2004, through July 11, 2012.
Specifically, the problem arises from the brake booster, a component under the hood that generates a vacuum in power-braking systems. An exposed booster that comes into contact with a large amount of water may begin to corrode, causing it to leak.
The vehicle may need to be stopped much harder in this scenario, as anyone who has driven a car without power brakes may have experienced the same thing.
According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF), there is a very small but significant risk that pressing the brake pedal can cause the booster to fail completely, thus damaging the brake system.
The solution to the problem is a bit complicated. In the first instance, dealers' technicians will inspect brake boosters in recalled vehicles for corrosion. If no corrosion is found, vehicles can be driven normally.
An additional test will determine how quickly the brake booster needs replacing if corrosion is found. Recall documents allow cars with mild corrosion to be driven for up to two years, but eventually must be towed in.
The company will send the standard mail notification of the recall, which is already underway. Mercedes-Benz is also issuing a stop-drive letter to owners, recommending they keep their vehicles parked until they can be inspected.
If you own a vehicle that falls within the scope of this recall but have not received a notice, you can contact your dealer to determine your next steps.
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