When Mercedes-Benz introduced the eCall system, it sounded pretty damn promising—automatically calling emergency services to your location when you need help? I’ll take it. The only problem is, the system has a fault, and that fault has resulted in the recall of 1.3 million vehicles.
Yeah. That’s because the eCall system was sending those emergency responders to the wrong location. Somehow, after a crash, the vehicle’s location would be transmitted incorrectly, which meant that emergency responders would rush off somewhere else only to find that there’s no injured Mercedes-Benz awaiting help. And, even worse, the passengers in the crashed car weren’t getting the help they needed.
According to a chronology of events, Mercedes-Benz first became aware of the issue in 2019 but didn’t have a record of other similar incidents against which to compare. At the time, it was a single instance in Europe that could have been caused by a variety of issues. Nevertheless, Mercedes kicked off an investigation to see where the problem was coming from and how to fix it.
But my mid-2020, the problem was unavoidable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that there’s a slim chance that not every one of the recalled cars has the eCall fault, but it’s not a risk worth taking. It ultimately determined that it expects 100 percent of the 1,292,258 recalled vehicles to have some problem with the eCall system.
Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling certain 2016-2021 CLA-Class, GLA-Class, GLE-Class, GLS-Class, SLC-Class, A-Class, GT-Class, C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLS-Class, SL-Class, B-Class, GLB-Class, GLC-Class, and G-Class vehicles. You can always check out the NHTSA website and enter your VIN to see if your vehicle is impacted.
Mercedes intends to solve the problem via an over-the-air software update, but you’ll still need to take your vehicle into the dealership to get it fixed up.