The Mercedes SLK250 R172 was introduced in 2011 and was in continuous production until 2015. The R172 is the 3rd generation of the SLK-Class and is one of the most popular SLK models on the 2nd hand market. 2-seater sports car roadsters aren’t the most popular cars these days, but the SLK-Class is certainly a household name.
As far as reliability is concerned, the SLK250 is a fairly dependable car as a whole. The reason is that a lot of the technologies found in the SLK250 have been around before the R172 came to be. Maintenance and running costs are slightly higher than what you’d expect from a car with a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine.
The most common issues with the SLK250 are associated with the folding roof, the electronics, the fuel system, the suspension, and potentially the transmission. If you maintain the car well enough and you do so throughout the car’s lifespan, the SLK250 should serve you for a long time.
Cars such as these are somewhat of a dying breed because there is little to no interest in them. Ever since crossovers and SUVs started ruling the market, compact 2-seater sports cars and roadsters/convertibles are slowly becoming less and less popular.
Mercedes SLK250 folding roof issues
One of the defining features of the SLK250 is undoubtedly the folding roof. However, a folding roof comes with quite a few compromises such as slightly less headspace and a lot less trunk space when the roof is folded down. Moreover, the roof mechanism in the SLK is known to leak if the drains aren’t kept clean. Even if you do lean the drains and seals often, they are likely going to fail at some point.
Many Mercedes specialists say that these have a lifetime of about 15 years before they need replacing. You should also keep an eye out for the roof’s hydraulic fluid levels because the roof will start closing more slowly if there is a hydraulic fluid leak anywhere in the system.
Mercedes SLK250 electrical issues
The SLK250 is now a 10-year-old car which means that many features the car comes with are starting to reach the end of their original lifetime. This means that certain electrical components will need replacing. The power windows regulator is a known gripe with these because it can fail and make the windows difficult to close.
Exterior lighting can be an issue, especially if the headlights develop inner condensation problems. Mercedes also issued a recall for the R172 in 2017 due to an issue with the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) which caused the car to decelerate without any cause whatsoever.
Mercedes SLK250 fuel system issues
Fuel-related issues are never a good thing because fuel is (as we all know) extremely flammable. So, whenever a car experiences any sort of fuel leaks, these must be resolved immediately, otherwise, the car could burst into flames. This is the case with the SLK250 because the fuel housing is known to develop cracks and leak fuel.
This enables the fuel to reach certain hot components and cause the car to burst into flames. Mercedes even issued a recall because of this in 2013. Be sure to go through the car’s service history to see if there are any records of this recall.
Mercedes SLK250 suspension issues
The SLK250 comes with a fairly stiff and dynamic chassis and suspension setup which certainly helps the car stay leveled during cornering. However, the suspension bushings and the front/rear anti-roll bars are known weak points for the R172. Issues with the springs are also increasingly common.
This means that you should go through the car’s suspension system to see if these components are in good condition. If they are not, you need to be aware that they will need replacing soon.
Mercedes SLK250 transmission issues
The SLK250 comes with a 7-speed 7G-Tronic Mercedes proprietary torque converter gearbox which is known to sometimes cause issues. Be sure to engage the reversing brake and drive a few times while standing still to see how well the transmission responds to your inputs. If the transmission is unwillingly engaging anything above 5th gear, the speed sensor might be the cause.
Also, low transmission oil levels will cause the clutch to overheat, so be sure to check when was the last transmission oil replacement.
Is the Mercedes SLK250 a good car?
The Mercedes Benz SLK250 is indeed a good car if you are interested in buying a compact 2-seater roadster sports car. However, not many people are and that is why the SLK250 is not really all that popular these days. We can say that cars such as these are “acquired taste” and therefore are subjected to a relatively small group of potential customers.
No one can deny that the SLK’s practicality is borderline unusable because you only get two seats and a dismissable trunk space when the roof is down. All in all, the SLK250 is good if you are looking for such a car, if you are not, you are not going to like what the SLK has to offer.
Which generation of the Mercedes SLK is best?
According to a bunch of forum posts, the R172 (3rd gen) SLK is likely the best SLK model to buy because it offers the right balance of luxury, value, and performance. The second generation of the SLK is now a relatively old car while the 3rd gen SLK sights perfectly between the R172 facelift and the 2nd gen SLK.
If you are able to stretch your budget to buy a later R172, that’s the best thing you can do as it is more dependable than earlier models. However, the price hike between a 2013-2015 SLK and a 2015-2022 SLK is a bit too steep to justify it.
Is the Mercedes SLK a sports car?
The Mercedes SLK-Class is not a through and through sports car, but rather a cruiser, especially if not equipped with high-end AMG engines. The SLK is a convertible which means that the chassis is not as rigid as one would want from a sports car.
Furthermore, all but AMG models don’t have the power needed for the SLK to be classed as a true sports car.