Mercedes-Benz recalls 1.3M cars because emergency calls may send help elsewhere

The built-in eCall emergency system includes a flaw that may send first responders to a totally different location.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
2021 Mercedes-Benz E450
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2021 Mercedes-Benz E450

Yeah this issue could be a real problem.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Mercedes-Benz earlier this month filed recall documents with the National Highway Safety Administration affecting 1.3 million of the German brand's luxury vehicles. The problem? Drivers using the built-in eCall emergency call system may not get the help they need when requested. Instead, the system may route first responders to a totally different location, and that's no good at all.

The problem spans Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG vehicles from the 2016-2021 model years and covers nearly every single model the brand sells. From the small A-Class, the large and swanky S-Class, to the GLC SUV and big ol' GLS SUV, the eCall system is more than likely flawed. In fact, Mercedes-Benz said in the filings 100% of the 1.3 million vehicles included in the recall house the emergency call quirk.

What actually happens when the system fails? According to the brand, a drop in power supplied to the communications module in the event of a crash may register the car's location when it was last started. In other words, the eCall system may tell emergency services a driver's at home if they started up their car there, when in reality, they're miles away. For NHTSA's guidelines, this issue increases the chance of injury following a crash, hence the safety recall. For drivers, there's no advance warning this may happen.

So, it will be super important to take affected cars to a dealership to fix the problem. But, if you own a Mercedes-Benz equipped to handle over-the-air updates, the brand will take care of the problem remotely, which is mighty nice. Do note, you need a "Mercedes Me" account for this to happen automatically. If you don't have one, it'll still happen automatically, but the recall notice letter coming in the mail will advise owners they can opt out of the OTA update and head to a dealership for the update instead. Notices will start mailing out around April 6.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E450 is a no-nonsense, high-caliber luxury car

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