Home > Technical > Mercedes Benz balance shaft engine issues. How to check by VIN. M272/273

Mercedes Benz balance shaft engine issues. How to check by VIN. M272/273

Mercedes-Benz balance shaft problems and how to check your car.

balance shaft mercedes v6 and v8 problems

Mercedes-Benz V6 and V8 engines had timing chain problems caused by balance shaft and idler gear failures. Mercedes produced specific models with defective gears in their balance shafts (M272 engines) or with defective idle gears ( M273 engines). These faulty gears wear out prematurely, excessively, and without warning, causing the vehicle to malfunction, the ‘check engine light’ to remain illuminated, and the vehicle to misfire or stop driving. A lawsuit was filed against Mercedes-Benz; you can read the details below. 1

Timing chain failures can cause catastrophic engine damage. Early signs of this problem are the check engine light and engine noise. If the timing chain fails, the pistons can hit the valves and cause severe damage to the engine. Engines with the balance shaft worn sprocket were Mercedes-Benz 350 models (Example: E350 C350 etc. ) that were equipped with the M272 engine. Mercedes-Benz engine is typically labeled as 450 models that have the V8 M273 engine had problems with worn guide idler gear. The parts are not very expensive, but they are costly to replace.

Mercedes-Benz Timing Chain Sprocket
 Timing Chain Guide for Mercedes

In very few cases, a stretched timing chain could also be possible due to a lack of maintenance and regular oil changes.  These engines had such problems because weak materials were used for the balance shaft sprockets and the timing chain guide wheel idler.  These materials were updated later in the production. You can find out if your Mercedes-Benz has weak materials if you know your engine serial number, or use the instructions below to find it using your VIN.

Applicable Models

Early M272 and M273 ( Model Years 2004-2008)


  • 2004–2008SLK350
  • 2004–2008CLS350
  • 2005–2008CLK350
  • 2005–2008C350
  • 2005–2008E350
  • 2005–2008S350
  • 2005–2008SL350
  • 2006–2008R350
  • 2006–2008ML350
  • 2006–2008Sprinter
  • 2004–2008 SLK280
  • 2005–2008 CLS280
  • 2005–2008 CLK280
  • 2005–2008 C280
  • 2005–2008 E280
  • 2005–2008 SL280
  • 2006–2008 R280
  • 2007–2008 S280
  • and more.


Problem #1. Balance shaft failure or guide idler gear wear.
Very expensive repair as it requires removing the engine.

Problem #2. Camshaft solenoid adjusters.
Electromagnets bolted on the fronts of the engine head are defective and need to be replaced.


Step 1

Go to this page and click on Option 1 or 2. You will be taken to an external site where you can check the engine and transmission serial numbers. Once you enter VIN, hit search and look for your engine serial number.

You can also get your engine serial number by calling your MB dealer. The serial number will look something like this.

check c s r ml clk 350 engine problem
Example: How to check your MB for balance shaft problem by VIN and Engine Serial Number.


Mercedes-Benz, with the improved parts, has engine serial numbers that are higher than:

  • M272 Engine Serial No. 2729..30 468993
  • M273 Engine Serial No. 2739..30 088611

If the link above doesn’t work, you can go to MercedesMedic.com/decode and use one of the options on that page to get your engine serial number from your VIN.

Step 2

OBD II Port Scanner Mercedes Benz Star DiagnosticIf your engine serial number is lower than the serial numbers shown above, you should scan your engine ECU, which is very easy. You will need an OBD-II scanner which you can purchase on Amazon, and some cost less than $20. Any of these Best Selling OBD-II Scanners and Code Readers on Amazon would work. Plug the scanner in the OBD-II port under the dashboard and read the fault codes from the engine ECU. You will get error codes if your check engine light is ON. If your check engine light is off, you could get pending fault codes meaning that the car is just detecting the problems but has not yet turned ON the check engine/service engine light.

Hopefully, you don’t have any of these codes:

Fault Code: P1200 or P1208 Pending or Stored
Fault codes 0059, 0060, 0063, 0064, 0271, 0272, 0275, and 0276. These fault codes could be recorded as current in the ECU fault memory. If current or pending, these codes are caused by a malfunctioning camshaft adjustment solenoid. If you have these codes, you should check for an oil leak at camshaft adjustment solenoids.

Step 3

If your engine serial number is part of the affected cars, you may want to inspect further. Perform a visual inspection for wear of the teeth on the sprocket on the M272 or the guide idler gear of the timing chain for the M273 by removing the timing case cover of the engine. If you conclude that you have balance shaft engine issues, the repair is very labor intensive, and the engine must be removed.

Mercedes Benz Engine Defect Class Action Settlement

There was a lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz USA LLC where the plaintiffs alleged that Mercedes produced certain vehicles with defective gears in their balance shaft for the M272 and defective idle gears in the M273.

Case Name:
Majeed Seifi, et al. v. Mercedes-Benz USA LLC
Case No. 3:12-cv-05493
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

RECENT UPDATE: The Court granted the Motion for Final Approval, approved the Settlement, and certified a Settlement Class on August 17, 2015. The Settlement Effective Date is October 20, 2015. If you submitted a timely claim, the deadline for determining its validity to be issued is January 18, 2016. The deadline for issuing checks for valid claims is February 17, 2016.


Lawsuit Details
There are two specific ways to receive compensation from this class action settlement: Extended Guarantee Mercedes has agreed to cover qualified future repairs up to 10 years or 125,000 miles to the sprocket of the balance shaft gear in M272 engines or the idle gear in M273 engines. Percentage-Based Reimbursement Mercedes will pay a percentage of the costs for repairs associated with this defect as follows: Repairs not done at an authorized Mercedes dealer will receive a reimbursement up to $4,000. If the repair took place between 4 years or 50,000 miles and eight years or 80,000 miles, Class Members would receive 70 percent of those costs. If the repair occurred between 8 years or 80,000 miles and ten years or 125,000 miles, 37.5 percent of the costs would be reimbursed. No reimbursement will be sent to Class Members who have repaired vehicles after the vehicle was ten years old or had 125,000 miles on it. Repairs must have been done before May 13, 2015.

Source: KCC Law Firm


pdf iconBalance Shaft TSB Issued by Mercedes-Benz


What Scanner Can I Use to Troubleshoot Mercedes-Benz Engine Problems?

If you’re experiencing problems with your Mercedes-Benz, a YOUCANIC full system diagnostic scanner can help you troubleshoot the issues. This advanced diagnostic tool can read and interpret the fault codes stored in your car’s computer system, providing detailed information about any problems with the engine, transmission, brakes, or other critical systems.

The YOUCANIC scanner can also perform diagnostic tests on various systems, including the ABS, airbag, and steering systems, to help pinpoint the root cause of any issues. With this information, you can make more informed decisions about repairs and maintenance, saving time and money on costly repairs.



ML Class: 164.156/172/186/871/886

SLK-Class: 171.454/456

C Class: 203.052/054/056/087/092


CLK-Class: 209.356/372/456/472

E-Class: 211.056/072/087/090/256/287






  1. Seifi, et al. v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC website



  1. bruce harrington

    Site not working correctly, VIN decode only takes you to top of page.

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