SLK Supercharger Problems

by John Willis

Mercedes-Benz's popular SLK roadster comes in a variety of option packages, including the SLK Kompressor which is equipped with a supercharged engine. The SLK is a very desirable roadster with excellent performance. While the newest SLKs are likely to be under warranty or trouble-free, time and wear does affect the SLK. Edmonds.com rates model years from 2001 to 2004 with their highest rating overall, indicated "minimal problems." However, model years 2001 through 2004 received a medium rating for the engine, indicating "moderate problems." Edmond.com's engine rating for the 2005 Kompressor engines improved to "minimal problems," matching the overall rating.

Superchargers

The Kompressor indicates a supercharged engine, or an engine with forced, compressed aspiration. Superchargers are one of a handful of ways, along with forced air induction and turbochargers, to build additional horsepower by pressurizing the gas/air charge and forcing it into the motor. Not all SLKs have superchargers; "Kompressor" is used by Mercedes synonymously with "supercharger."

MAF--Check Engine Light

The most common problem with the SLKs is the MAF or Mass Air Flow Sensor. The MAF is a sensor, located inline between the air-box and the air intake hose. The sensor sends data to an onboard computer, telling it how much air is flowing into the engine. Edmonds.com indicates the MAF is "an occasional problem" on several years and models of Mercedes SLKs.

Cost to Repair

Edmond's reports costs to repair MAF Sensors. While varying slightly from year to year, the costs are said to be between $300 to $475, approximately, for the MAF replacement. Labor is only estimated to cost $26.00, assuming a hourly labor fee of $65.00 per hour; the estimates to replace the sensor rare $298 on the SLK320 and $476 on the SLK230. The time and cost required to test the SLK and diagnose the problem is not included in Edmond's figures.

DTC Codes

Like nearly every modern car, the Mercedes SLK Kompressors have onboard sensors and computers which generate codes when parts and systems sensors fail. Called "DTC" or "Diagnostic Trouble Codes," these internally generated warnings will cause the "check engine light" to illuminate. If you suspect any problem with your SLK Kompressor, including the supercharger, you can have your car checked with a scan tool that retrieves the DTC codes. Often, auto parts stores will have a scan tool available to help you identify your problem. Even if you have a professional mechanic work on your vehicle, independently acquiring the DTC code allows you to access SLK forums, and get informed advice to make sure your mechanic is on the right track and that you're getting a fair shake.

About the Author

John Willis founded a publishing company in 1993, co-writing and publishing guidebooks in Portland, OR. His articles have appeared in national publications, including the "Wall Street Journal." With expertise in marketing, publishing, advertising and public relations, John has founded four writing-related ventures. He studied economics, art and writing at Portland State University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art.