19 Best & Worst Mercedes-Benz SLK Years (Facts & Stats)

The Mercedes-Benz SLK is a compact roadster that was produced from 1998 to 2016. 

It stands out for its retractable hardtop, sleek design, and luxurious features, seamlessly merging exhilarating performance with supreme comfort.

In this article, we’ll be running through all of its best and worst model years…

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Mercedes-Benz SLK Are:

The best Mercedes-Benz SLK model years are 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2004. The worst model years of this model are 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2005, 2003, and 2012. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Mercedes-Benz SLK?

2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The 2016 SLK is the final model year ever produced, wrapping up the third generation on a high.

The model offers powerful engine choices, a premium cabin, a spacious trunk, and a distinct glass-roof panel.

Revisions to this model year include a more powerful 241-hp, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for the all-new SLK 300 variant (which replaces the SLK 250). 

There are 3 trim levels to choose from: SLK 300, SLK 350, and AMG SLK 55. 

Across all trims, a 9-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The 300 is known for its balance of performance and luxury, the 350 offers a step up in power and features, while the AMG 55 is the high-performance, enthusiast-oriented variant.

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2016 SLK, Edmunds Review:

“I’ve had my SLK 350 for about a week. I am very happy that I went with this car… I spent the weekend driving around some winding roads of Los Angeles (Palos Verdes, Malibu, and Mulholland drive). This car is a great balance between ‘fun sports car’ and daily commuter! it’s subtle & subdued when you want it, and ultra-fast & nimble when you want it. a GREAT BALANCE!”

2015, 2014, and 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK

Barring equipment and feature shuffling, the 2015, 2014, and 2013 SLK models share the same positive qualities and features that customers and critics alike have raved about.

Specifically, the following areas were highlighted:

  • Appearance
  • Acceleration
  • Interior
  • Handling
  • Steering
  • Minimal road noise
  • Engine power
  • Sound system

These model years come in 3 trims: SLK 250, SLK 350, and SLK 55 AMG.

The SLK250 is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, while the SLK350 is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine.

The top-of-the-line SLK 55 AMG comes with a powerful 5.5-liter V8 engine, providing a total of 415 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.

2015 SLK:

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2014 SLK:

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2013 SLK:

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2015 SLK, Edmunds Review:

“ … The looks draw attention. The ride smooths out bad roads just enough. Handling is good enough to enjoy curves and mountain roads. We got snow tires and drive year around in Colorado.”

2011, 2010, and 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The 2011, 2010, and 2009 SLK model years are second-generation iterations that have received strong reviews and minimal complaints.

They have powerful engines, precise handling, a stylish design, and a versatile retractable hardtop.

New for these models is upgraded horsepower, mild exterior and interior revisions, and even better steering capability.

There are 3 trims available: SLK 300, SLK 350, and SLK 55 AMG (note that the top-spec SLK 55 AMG was phased out for the 2011 model year).

According to online reviews, these are the best aspects of the model years:

  • Value for money
  • Fuel economy
  • Reliability
  • Manufacturing quality
  • Acceleration
  • Appearance 

2011 SLK:

  • Edmunds: 5.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2010 SLK:

  • Edmunds: 4.7 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2009 SLK:

  • Edmunds: 4.7 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2009 SLK, Edmunds Review:

“This is a great car to drive! For around town driving, it has the right compromise between comfort and performance. It’s soft enough so that it is comfortable on the bump and pothole ridden streets around where I live. However, when on twisty roads in the country, it performs wonderfully at any speed you would drive on public roads…”

2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The sole first-generation model to earn a spot on our best list is the 2004 SLK, known for its assured handling, serene driving ambiance, and composed performance during highway cruising.

New for this model year is the introduction of a Special Edition variant that includes 17-inch wheels, napa leather trim, and chrome accents.

This model year is widely regarded by critics as an immensely enjoyable roadster that offers owners essential safety and security features.

There are 3 trim levels: SLK 230, SLK 320, and SLK 32 AMG.

The expected fuel efficiency, according to the EPA, varies depending on the trim you choose, ranging from 17 to 21 miles per gallon for combined city and highway driving.

  • Edmunds: 4.8 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2004 SLK, Edmunds Review:

“I owned my 2004 SLK 230 until this past November when I traded it in on a BMW Z4. Although I do love the BMW, I will always have a place in my heart for the Mercedes. I kept the SLK until it had over 147K and it was as solid and reliable on the day I traded it in as the day I purchased it. It was and probably remains a truly outstanding car and despite my joy in driving the BMW, the Mercedes will always be remembered as a wonderful car…”

Consumer Scores For Best Mercedes-Benz SLK Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.5 / 5.0NA
2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.6 / 5.081 / 100
2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.5 / 5.080 / 100
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.5 / 5.081 / 100
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK5.0 / 5.0NA
2010 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.7 / 5.0NA
2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.7 / 5.080 / 100
2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK4.8 / 5.0NA

Related: 11 Most Common Mercedes Benz SLK Problems (Explained)

What Are The Worst Years For The Mercedes-Benz SLK?

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK

Led by the 1999 SLK, the 1998 to 2002 SLK model years are the most problematic models ever produced. All of these models shared similar issues.

There were 2 key problems. First, vehicle stalling was a frequent occurrence for owners due to a faulty K40 circuit (relay module), an electronic component responsible for coordinating various functions within the vehicle.

“while driving 70 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. the contact coasted the vehicle to the side of the road. the contact was able to restart the vehicle after a few minutes and continued driving. the failure recurred numerous times…” – NHTSA.gov

Second, owners submitted multiple complaints regarding defective brake lights due to melted sockets. 

Despite undergoing numerous repair and replacement attempts, owners would continue to encounter the issue.

“while driving at various speeds, the brake warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the base of the rear passenger side tail lamp melted and diagnosed that the brake light assembly needed to be replaced…” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 1998 SLK has a total of 34 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.
  • The 1999 SLK has a total of 60 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.
  • The 2000 SLK has a total of 21 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.
  • The 2001 SLK has a total of 31 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.
  • The 2002 SLK has a total of 51 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.

Common problems:

  • Vehicle stalling
  • K40 relay module failure
  • Transmission issues
  • ASR (Acceleration Slip Regulation) problems
  • Exterior lighting failure

2006, 2007, and 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The 2006, 2007, and 2008 SLK model years were all affected by the significant Takata airbag recall.

Based on reports online, specific issues experienced by owners involved:

  • Sudden unintended deployment of airbags
  • Shrapnel injuring drivers and passengers
  • Airbag deployment failure

What compounded this issue was the fact that the majority of owners were made to wait for unreasonable periods of time due to shortage of parts. 

“I was contacted by mail numerous times by Mercedes national headquarters, indicating there was a recall and the replacement airbag was on order. They indicated I would be contacted later when the parts became available at my local Mercedes dealer. I was contacted locally and they said the part was on order, I would be notified when it arrived. No notification occurred…” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 2006 SLK has a total of 33 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.
  • The 2007 SLK has a total of 35 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.
  • The 2008 SLK has a total of 14 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.

Common problems:

  • Defective airbags
  • Electrical issues
  • Engine failure
  • Seat belt defects
  • Premature tire wear
  • Seat problems

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The 2005 SLK model year is considered a problematic year due to several serious and costly transmission-related issues.

Owners complained about the following:

  • Disengagement (transmission disconnecting from engine)
  • Shifting failure
  • Jerking
  • Abnormal RPM fluctuations
  • Smoke originating from under the hood

“Just got off the highway and drove onto a local street, the car would not shift into any gear forward or reverse. end up having to tow the car. luckily it didn’t happen while i was on the highway.” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 2005 SLK has a total of 24 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.

Common problems:

  • Defective brakes
  • Electrical system issues
  • Propulsion system problems
  • Acceleration issues
  • Suspension defects
  • Transmission failure

2003 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The SLK 230 and SLK 320 were the most problematic variants of the 2003 model year.

Numerous owners reported brake-related issues. Specifically, the brakes would either unintentionally activate or not apply equal brake force to both sides, leading to the vehicle veering to the left or right. 

This issue was allegedly caused by defective sensors. Despite repeated component replacements, the issue still persisted for several owners.

“I own a 2003 Mercedes SLK 230 , which brakes on its own at all different speeds . After the car brakes to the right for a couple of seconds the bas/esp light comes on . I have had this happen on the highway at 60 mph (very scary)…” – NHTSA.gov 

Another common issue was loss of power and acceleration while driving, accompanied by the illumination of various warning lights on the dash.

According to service technicians, this was primarily caused by a defective K40 circuit fuse. 

“The vehicle loses power without any warning and after the vehicle loses power all the lights illuminate on the instrument panel… the failure mileage was 74,000.” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 2003 SLK has a total of 15 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.

Common problems:

  • Unreliable brakes
  • Electronic stability control issues
  • Exterior lighting problems
  • Electrical system failure
  • Rear view mirror leakage

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK

The 2012 SLK has the least amount of problems on this list. There is no single widespread issue but rather a mix of problems that range from inconvenience to safety hazard.

First, owners complained about noise coming from the rear of the vehicle which was shortly followed by the detachment of the rim hub cap in certain cases.

“ … the rim hub cap had detached from the driver’s side rear wheel. The vehicle was then towed to an independent mechanic who removed the tire and sent it to a local dealer. The mechanic at the local dealer made the contact aware of a crack on the side wall…” – NHTSA.gov

Second, some owners experienced erroneous deployment of the front passenger headrest, meant to minimize the harmful effects of whiplash.

“The contact owns a 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350. The contact stated while driving approximately 45 MPH, the front passenger’s side headrest erroneously deployed. During the failure no crash had occurred, and no passenger was seated in the vehicle. The cause of the failure was not determined…” – NHTSA.gov

Third, despite multiple repairs and visits to the dealer, some owners reported a persistent odor issue. 

“ … the contact stated that the vehicle had a bad odor. the vehicle was treated (cleaned, vaporized, filters were changed, interior was ionized) by the dealer; however, the odor recurred continuously. the failure mileage was approximately 20,000.” – NHTSA.gov

  • The 2012 SLK has a total of 10 problems based on NHTSA.gov data.

Common problems:

  • Wheel-related issues
  • Seat-related problems
  • Poorly glued glove box
  • Steering concerns
  • Electrical system defects
  • Persistent interior odor

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearProblems(NHTSA.gov)Recalls(NHTSA.gov)
2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK15
2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK13
2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK32
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK72
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK100
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK00
2010 Mercedes-Benz SLK00
2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK31
2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK143
2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK353
2006 Mercedes-Benz SLK331
2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK241
2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK71
2003 Mercedes-Benz SLK151
2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK512
2001 Mercedes-Benz SLK310
2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK210
1999 Mercedes-Benz SLK600
1998 Mercedes-Benz SLK340

What Problems Do Mercedes-Benz SLK Have?

  • Roof issues
  • Starting problems
  • Transmission issues
  • Defective balance shaft
  • Tail light defects
  • PSE (Pneumatic System Equipment) pump problems
  • Peeling interior paint
  • Leaking rear main seal
  • Rust and corrosion
  • Faulty heated seats

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Mercedes-Benz SLK?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Chevrolet Corvette8.4$33,183 – $53,765City: 13 – 17 /Highway: 22 – 29
Mercedes-Benz SLK8.1$21,768 – $33,624City: 19 – 25 /Highway: 28 – 32
Porsche Cayman8.0$33,126 – $53,279City: 18 – 22 /Highway: 23 – 32
Porsche Boxster7.9$29,740 – $55,255City: 18 – 22 /Highway: 24 – 32
BMW Z47.8$23,310 – $31,588City: 17 – 22 /Highway: 24 – 34
Jaguar F-Type7.7$26,311 – $44,300City: 15 – 19 /Highway: 23 – 28
Mercedes-Benz SL-Class7.7$33,371 – $85,361City: 14 – 20 /Highway: 21 – 27
Nissan GT-R7.6$68,511 – $93,978City: 16 /Highway: 22
Porsche 9117.5$47,432 – $116,973City: 14 – 21 /Highway: 20 – 28
Audi TT7.4$20,572 – $24,739City: 23 /Highway: 27 – 30
Alfa Romeo 4C6.9$29,293 – $33,723City: 24 /Highway: 34
Dodge viper6.8$61,824 – $96,774City: 12 /Highway: 21

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...