Recall Alert: 8,200 Mercedes-Benz GLE Backup Lights Won’t Turn Off

The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class lineup is a top contender in the luxury SUV segment. Offering an attractive design, fuel economy, and amenities, this compact crossover continues to be a best-seller.

But thousands of 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE owners are experiencing a surprisingly dangerous problem. The German automaker just issued a recall for nearly 8,200 of them.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE’s problem

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE hasn’t been on the road long, but owners are already experiencing an odd — and dangerous — problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this issue is serious enough to prompt an official recall. It appears some 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 and GLE450 owners are having problems with the vehicle’s reverse taillight, which “remains illuminated in a gear other than reverse.”

After many owner complaints, an investigation uncovered a malfunction with the car’s lighting control unit. This can “cause confusion about the driver’s intention to other motorists and increase the risk of [a] crash,” the NHTSA reports. People may look at an affected GLE’s reverse lights and think the vehicle is moving backward when it isn’t. Mercedes-Benz estimates 8,186 GLE models might have this problem.

Everything you need to know about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE recall

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Mercedes-Benz noticed a GLE’s backup light stayed illuminated during standard quality testing in June 2019, CarComplaints.com reports. Though this led to an internal investigation by Mercedes-Benz and its suppliers, the automaker “believed the backup light issue was an isolated problem.” The probe found that “the backup light contact pins were at their tolerance limits, so the supplier increased those limits” and continued production.

However, only a few months later, in fall 2019, Mercedes-Benz was already receiving “a small number” of complaints about the GLE’s rear backup light remaining illuminated. Mercedes-Benz didn’t launch a full-scale investigation until summer 2020, when the number of complaints showed it was beyond an isolated incident. By February 2021, the automaker issued an official recall for the GLE SUVs, determining “the problem violated federal safety regulations.”

Mercedes-Benz will notify owners and replace the lighting free of charge. If you believe your 2020 GLE is affected, you can call MBUSA customer service at 800-367-6372 for more information. The recall is expected to begin on April 6.

The 2021 model at a glance

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The Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 is the entry-level model. It starts around $55,000. According to U.S. News, the 2021 GLE 350 boasts a 255-hp engine, nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available). It also comes standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a digital gauge cluster, a hands-free power liftgate, adaptive suspension, and a rearview camera. 

Next is the GLE 450. It steps up from the 350 with a starting price of around $62,000. This model comes standard with a more powerful 362-hp engine and all-wheel drive.

Then there’s the Mercedes-Benz GLE 580. Its starting MSRP is $78,000. It adds a 483-hp V8 engine, leather upholstery, surround-view camera system, and other features.

There’s also the ultra-luxurious Mercedes-AMG lineup of GLE SUVs. The GLE 53 and GLE 63 S start around $72,000 and $114,000, respectively. The 2021 GLE 53 adds a 429-hp engine, sport exhaust, air suspension, 20-inch wheels, and more. Finally, there’s the GLE 63 S. It offers the ultimate 603-hp V8 engine, high-performance brakes, adaptive headlights, and nearly every other option the other trims offer.