1st Generation Mercedes-Benz S Class Shifter Problems

The “S” in Mercedes-Benz’s wildly popular S Class stands—not surprisingly—for Sonderklasse, or “special class,” and its reputation as the world’s best-selling luxury sedan we can safely agree that this car is special indeed. The W202 model was released in 1999 and was available from dealers until 2005. A common issue with this model is that the shifter gets stuck in the “park” position.

The shifter on a car is one of the most necessary pieces of equipment. With it, you control whether or not power is going to the wheels, and if the shifter begins to malfunction, it can be a scary situation. What if it stops working and you become stranded somewhere? Owners who report shifting issues most often say that they have trouble moving the shifter out of the “park” position. Once in gear, the W220’s gears work fine, but moving it out of park begins to be more and more difficult as time goes on.

If it were the entirety of the shifting process that were causing problems, and if it were a matter of the car shifting gears once out of park, then the issue could be one of any number of things. An inability to get out of park, on the other hand, usually signifies only one of two things. The first is that the solenoid allowing the car to move from park to drive is in some way not communicating the appropriate messages. The second is that a small plastic part that physically prevents the car from moving out of park until he break is depressed has broken and is jamming up the works. This latter option is most often the cause of shifting problems.

Taking apart the gearbox to discover the precise nature and cause of the problem is an almost Sisyphean task that can lead the non-professional into a labyrinth of small parts and electrical connections. To avoid making any problem even worse, we highly recommend taking your MB to a nearby German import repair garage where the professionals can make any repairs needed.

Search for a local, independent Mercedes-Benz repair shop with Mercedes-Benz mechanics that have dealer-level expertise at a fraction of the expense.