Mercedes E Class W212 (2009-2016) – Buyers guide & Common problems

W212 Common problems and Buyers guide: The so-called Mercedes-Benz W212 E class is a successor to the highly regarded and loved E class W211. The W212 had big shoes to fill and you know what, it did. By many enthusiasts, it is considered the last great E-class with classic prestige and comfort you would expect from an E-class Mercedes-Benz. It shocked the public with its much sharper body and interior lines, but at the same time, many loved the more boxy look as it reminded them of the golden era of Mercedes, the W124 and W140 times. The lines got softer again in 2013 when the W212 received a facelift, but it just got better looking and sportier. Even though this is considered a highly reliable E class, it has its problems, just like any other car on the road. Here is our analysis.

pre facelift w212 mercedes

W212 common problems: Major faults

  • Water pump failures are being reported by many users on online forums. This however is not a sudden failure, make sure to have it checked regularly.
  • We are listing this as a major fault because even though it is a small problem and part, it is common and annoying. Expect the O2 (oxygen) sensor failures on most of the engines.
  • Engine mount failures. Again, not an expensive replacement part, but it is a costly repair.
  • The following W212 common problems should not be an issue now, as most W212s have had this problem fixes, but do be aware of the faulty Delphi fuel injectors and ECU on the 220CDI and 250CDI engines. Most cars have had this fixed by Mercedes.
  • 250CDI engines are prone to coolant leaks at the EGR valve cooler and water pumps.
  • Some users are reporting ECU failures on E300 naturally aspirated V6 petrol engines.
  • Common reports include common S212 (the T model, wagon) issues and failures with rear air suspension springs (bags). Not every drop of the suspension is due to an air suspension failure, there are also problems with blocking of the level sensor linkages which lead to failed sensor readings. This results in the car either dropping completely to the ground or in the air.
  • Just like the SLK and the W204 C class, the W212 has corrosion problems on the rear subframe and axle. A big and common problem, especially if driven in areas with a lot of snow and salty roads.
  • Timing chain issues with high-mileage diesel variants. Replacement chain and chain pulleys are needed.
  • 200CGI engines have two problems: early failures of the camshaft chain and white exhaust smoke at startup. The second problem is solved by changing the engine software and making minor repairs to the oil line leading to the turbocharger and replacing the gasket on the turbocharger.
  • Common problems with automatic transmissions, read up on the known issues of the 7G automatic transmissions and make sure the car has had regular servicing done!
  • Pre 2010 OM642 V6 diesel engines tend to have leaks on the oil cooler leaks. Fixing this leak involves a small cost in parts (2 seals) but a true headache when it comes to labor hours. This problem was fixed after 2010 when Mercedes introduced new seals.
w212 mercedes rear

Minor faults

  • While this is not a W212 specific problem, there are several reports of Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) blockages with diesel vehicles that are commonly driven for shorter distances.
  • We have seen common reports of steering rack leaks. Take notice of any vibrations when turning the wheel. The power steering that lacks fluid tends to make a slight noise and vibrations.
  • Air hose cracks. These are a minor nuisance but they do force your engine to go into limp mode. Have them checked and replaced!
  • Crankshaft position sensors, common, can leave you stranded but not a hard fix.
  • Automatic digital temperature control valve. Despite increasing the interior temperature, the car still tends to blow cold air.
  • Users on Reddit report the following issues on the W212 E350 petrol variant:
  • Intake actuators breaking due to heat and age. Get your intake manifolds checked with higher mileage vehicles. The manifold should be clean and the intake flaps completely undamaged. This is also a problem on the V8 E500.
  • They are reporting common oil filter housing gasket leaks on these engines. 
  • Camshaft magnets and camshaft position sensor failures.
  • Worn Idler pulleys and accessory belt tensioners seem to be a common problem.
  • And finally, the before mentioned engine mounts. 

Body and interior problems

  • Owners are reporting several interior creaks and unusual sounds. 
  • Some owners are reporting a faulty cup holder cover that does not retract fully and reveals the cup holders.
  • Navigation knobs are prone to malfunction. This starts with slight intermittent problems and results in a complete failure soon.
  • Many owners are reporting that the vehicles with wood interior details are fading, especially when the car is exposed to a lot of sun.
  • Bad quality seat stitching. This becomes a problem with higher mileage vehicles.
  • Infotainment problems are common but are usually resolved with a software update.
  • Corrosion and rust seem to be a problem on early model year W212’s wheels and lug nuts.
w212 common problems for cabrio

Electronic problems

  • Owners report common auxiliary battery failures. As you might know, every E class has two batteries, the auxiliary battery is located in the boot. It is responsible for the start-stop function and more.

W212 common problems: Conclusion and recommendation

After reading this, you might think that the list of Mercedes-Benz W212 common problems is catastrophic. But the truth is, as far as luxury vehicles go, problems like the ones we described above are to be expected. You have to realize that these are complicated and sophisticated machines and they demand to be serviced in that manner. When buying a W212 E class make sure that it has a clear servicing history. Most of the problems above should already be taken care of in a 7+-year-old car. The only question is, did the previous owner fix leaks and other issues as they appeared, or will the hidden problems fall into your lap?

ProsConsBest pick
– Incredible value for the price
– Most issues are already known
– Wide selection of engines, from cost-effective diesel variants to brutal AMGs
– More reliable than the predecessor (W211)
– Have a budget for maintenance, this is a luxury vehicle
– You can easily buy a vehicle with hidden issues
– Can easily leave you stranded or in limp mode because of a minor issue
With any engine, make sure it has a clear service history!

Petrol engine: E500

Diesel engine: any 4 cylinder

Checkout our other Mercedes-Benz buyers guides

Mercedes-Benz E Class W211

Mercedes-Benz GLK

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