The Mercedes Benz Distronic system is a Mercedes-branded cruise control system designed to slow you down and to keep your car within the lines while traveling up to 120 miles per hour. The system is indeed useful, but it is not designed to replace your overall special awareness, but rather to complement it.
The system primarily relies on three different radars located in front of the car including one long-range radar and two short-range radars. When you engage the system, a green steering wheel icon will appear on your instrument cluster to indicate that the system is engaged and is constantly monitoring the drive.
Even though the system usually works as intended, there are a couple of drawbacks to it including issues that arise from dirty cameras, dirty or faulty sensors, incorrect tire sizes and pressures, wheel speed sensor issues, electrical issues, or all sorts of external interferences.
Most of these systems can easily be addressed which is something you need to do if you want to keep using the system. If you sense the system acting up, be sure not to use it before you take your car to a trained Mercedes specialist.
Common Mercedes Distronic issues
- Dirty camera
- Dirty or faulty sensors
- Incorrect tire size or pressure
- Wheel speed sensor issues
- Electrical issues
- External source interferences
A dirty camera
One of the most common issues associated with a faulty Distronic system is a dirty camera, especially during wintertime. Most experts say that you should wash your car once in two weeks at the very minimum during the winter in order to keep the car looking nice and to keep all the external systems functioning properly.
Most modern-day Mercedes cars include at least a single camera for reversing purposes, but some higher-end models include a lot more. These cameras can only function if they are clean, just like any other camera out there.
Dirty or faulty sensors
As previously stated, a dirty camera is a useless camera, and the same story goes for the sensors. Most modern-day proximity sensors are able to operate with significant amounts of dirt on them, but this does not mean that they are going to operate smoothly.
If the system senses any issues with the sensors, the system is likely going to malfunction in order not to create any additional trouble. Furthermore, these sensors are not made to last forever, which means that they sometimes need maintenance or even complete replacement.
Incorrect tire size and pressure
The Mercedes Distronic system needs to be properly calibrated for both the tire size and tire pressure. This is not only the case with the Distronic system but rather with a lot of car-related tech. Your speedometer and odometer also need to be calibrated if you change your tire size as the rotational mass associated is different.
Tire pressure is also known to throw off the system occasionally. If this happens more than once, the system is likely to disengage completely in order not to make any additional problems.
Wheel speed sensor issues
The wheel speed sensor is intended to measure the speed at which the tire rotates. This is obviously a key component when it comes to determining how fast the car is going. If this system starts causing issues, it is likely going to affect both Distronic, your traction control, your ABS, and many other assistance systems.
As such, you need to properly diagnose the issue before continuing with your drive as a faulty wheel speed sensor can impact your safety to a significant degree.
The most common electrical issues that also affect Distronic are down to the battery, the alternator, and all of their associated systems. Your battery needs to power all your assistance systems and the alternator needs to power your battery.
If any issues arise in the electrical department your car is likely going to start acting up. This can often disengage a myriad of driver assistance systems including Distronic.
External source interferences
All pieces of radar technology work with a certain frequency spectrum in order to gather and send data. If some external electric field, signal, or magnet interfere with those frequencies, they might be able to affect how effective these radar systems can be.
Almost everyone is aware that radar jammers exist which means that they can also be used to interfere with Distronic. This is not often the case, but it is a definite possibility.
Is Mercedes Distronic safe?
This system was never intended to be an all-encompassing autonomous driving system, but rather an additional layer of safety and convenience. As such, if everything works accordingly, the system is not only safe, but it boosts your overall safety since it monitors everything that is going around you.
If the system fails for whatever reason, it is likely going to prompt you to take full control of the wheel and thus your safety should not be affected. This only makes sense if you truly do pay attention at all times.
Is Mercedes Distronic worth it?
Mercedes Distronic system is a fairly clever piece of technology designed to make your journeys smoother and less stressful. If you spend the majority of your driving time cruising on the highway or in crowded stop-and-go traffic, this system is indeed useful.
If you are not often driving your car and you enjoy being in control 100% of the time or you simply don’t trust these systems, then it’s better to skip it.
Is Mercedes Distronic the best adaptive cruise control system?
Mercedes Distronic is one of the best adaptive cruise control systems on the planet, and the key rivals are the Tesla AutoPilot and Cadillac’s impressive Super Cruise adaptive cruise control. Furthermore, most premium brands these days including Audi and BMW also offer advanced adaptive cruise control.
This means that the differences between these are not substantial. They do differ when it comes to cohesiveness and refinement, and in that case, the Tesla AutoPilot is the best. Functionality-wise, most of these are the same, some do offer lane-changing abilities as Mercedes and Tesla do, but this is more or less a gimmick anyway.