The Mercedes SLK/SLC-Class was first revealed back in 1998 and was officially discontinued in 2019 when the very last SLC models left the production line. The reason why Mercedes sacked the SLK is that it suffered when it comes to sales because the new dawn predicted that SUVs and crossovers are likely going to rule the charts, and they do.
The SLK is a 2-seater, short-wheelbase sports car which means that it offers a distinctive driving experience that can hardly be matched by any other Mercedes, not even the Mercedes SL. The first-generation SL is the worst, both because it was too prone to issues and because it is just too old.
The second generation seems to be a bit better while the 3rd generation has seen some of the best, and some of the worst SLK models ever. Either way, the most common SLK issues are associated with the roof, the engines, rust, camshaft leaks, and the electricals.
It’s difficult to give a general reliability assessment as some models are a lot better than others. Either way, the SLK is not the most reliable car Mercedes has ever made, but if you take good care of it, it could be.
Mercedes SLK – Roof issues
The SLK is a hardtop roadster and it tends to suffer from quite a few roof-related issues, and the most prominent ones are leaks. The reason why is that the seals around the sunroof opening simply wear out over time, especially if they are not cleaned constantly. Sadly, these issues affect even the newer SLK models and that is why many people still avoid buying them.
If you are after a used SLK, be sure to check the floors for any signs of water ingress, take out the carpets, and look underneath the seats as well. Moisture tends to seep into the SLK slowly, but when it does, it can ruin the interior for good. It’s also worth mentioning that the roof mechanism tends to fail and could cost between $200-and $750 to fix.
Mercedes SLK – Engine issues
The M271 and the M272 entry-level Mercedes SLK engines could pose significant issues and can potentially even retire the whole car. These two engines suffer from two significant issues, the first one is the balance shaft, and the second one is the engine timing belt.
If the shaft fails, you will have to remove the engine entirely to fix this which could cost upwards of $3,500. However, if the timing belt fails while the engine is running, it could very easily destroy your entire engine. If this happens on older models, the price of a brand new engine could be higher than the residual value of the car.
Mercedes SLK – Rust issues
Pre 2003 Mercedes SLK models are notorious when it comes to rust. So much so that many Mercedes enthusiasts believe that these early SLK models experience the most severe rust patches out of all post-1990s Mercedes models in existence.
Later models do seem to fare significantly better because Mercedes has implemented lots of rust protective technologies such as galvanized steel. Either way, be sure to go over the weak points such as underneath the car, underneath the wheel wells, around the headlight, underneath the doors, and on the hood and trunk opening.
Mercedes SLK – Camshaft leaks
The camshaft adjusters in the Mercedes Benz SLK are known to leak oil that can easily find its way onto the wiring harness and cost you about $1,000-$1,500 to fix. These are even known to come in contact with the ECU directly which could potentially cause all sorts of electrical issues with the car.
Be sure to check the camshaft adjuster magnets, the ECU, and the wiring harness for any signs of oil as these need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Mercedes SLK – Electrical issues
Older Mercedes SLK models are prone to having all sorts of electrical issues, but even the newer ones are not completely free from them. Issues with the roof mechanism, power windows, exterior lighting, the dashboard, and all sorts of electrical components are more or less inevitable with the SLK.
This means that lower-mileage examples fare a lot better, but well-maintained high-mileage examples are also acceptable.
Is the Mercedes Benz SLK/SLC a good car?
The Mercedes Benz SLK is indeed a good car if you are after a 2-seater roadster SWB sports car. The truth is, the people that are interested in these sorts of cars tend to love the SLK, especially the AMG V8 models. On the other hand, people that aren’t interested in these types of cars typically avoid these with distance to spare.
The fact is that these cars are not all that logical as they are weekend cruiser cars made for pleasure and not daily driving. As such, if you want that, you are probably going to like the SLK. If you are not that type of guy, you will deem the SLK as worthless.
Why did Mercedes discontinue the SLK/SLC?
Back in 2019, Mercedes officially put an end to the production of the beloved Mercedes SLK. The reason why they did this is that these cars are not as popular as they once were and because it made no sense, no profit to develop a brand-new SLK knowing that hardly anyone is going to buy it.
As such, Mercedes allocated more money towards designing and building new SUVs and crossovers which also put an end to the production of the Mercedes SL. However, we have recently witnessed the SL come back from the afterlife, so not all hope is lost with the SLK.
Is the Mercedes SLK/SLC better than the Mercedes SL?
The Mercedes Benz SL is the bigger brother to the SLK/SLC which means that it is larger, more powerful, better equipped, more practical, and more expensive. However, the usability of the SL is more or less as with the SLK which means that all that extra size didn’t translate towards more seating space.
As such, the differences between the two are not substantial, but the SL is a far better car and it does not suffer from image issues as much as the SLK/SLC does.