Mercedes is Running Into a Really Big Problem with Supplying Keys

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switchblade key

Switchblade style keys are running out, fast, and Mercedes knows it.

Older Mercedes owners beware, your keys might not be available for replacement. Switchblade style keys for a lot of popular models have ceased production from Mercedes, and from what we can gather, there are no aftermarket suppliers.

Particularly alarming is the fact that if your car only has one key, or if it somehow becomes damaged, you’re left with a giant metal paperweight. That’s because cars with this key have two immobilizer systems to prevent theft: one part is the actual physical metal key, and the other is a code-sending unit inside the key that sends a signal to the immobilizer in the ECU to allow spark and ignition.

The problem stems from a memo sent by Mercedes to dealers in August that remaining supplies would no longer be replenished. Mercedes Magazine had contacted several local dealers about the issue. Even the Mercedes-Benz mecca that is Orange County, California is feeling the pain. Mercedes Magazine contacted dealers in Irvine, California to see if stock had finally run out.

It had.

Solutions to this problem are available, albeit somewhat complicated. Since the metal part of the switchblade is available, and the transponder that “talks” to the immobilizer is not, disassembly of the key is required. The electronics of the key have to be somewhat near the ignition module, in the dashboard, and then from that point forward, the immobilizer is always available, even with just the metal part of the key turning the ignition switch.

Until we find out about a more convenient solution, here are the cars which should have their keys treated like gold.

switchblade keys

Cars affected:

  • SL-class: 1990-2002 (3 different style switchblades, all affected)
  • S-class: 1992-1999 (3 different style switchblades, all affected)
  • M-class: 1998-2005 (1 style switchblade)

Patrick Morgan is an instructor at Chicago's Autobahn Country Club and contributes to a number of Auto sites, including MB World and 6SpeedOnline.

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