Federal safety officials are reviewing the safety of an estimated 218,000 Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles, after reports suggest that they may suffer from a malfunctioning tail light electric system that could cause the lights to dim and possibly overheat, smoke or catch fire.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it has officially begun investigating tail light problems with 2008 and 2009 C-Class Mercedes-Benz vehicles, after at least 21 reports of the brake light or turn signals either dimming, smoking, or bursting into flames.
Among the reports of the possibly affected vehicles, owners have reported smelling smoke and seeing burn marks in the trunk including three occurrences of fires starting. No injuries have been reported.
According to a NHTSA report (PDF) there have been at least three auto accidents or fires that may be linked to the Mercedes-Benze tail light problem, but no injuries have been reported.
The C-Class vehicles being investigated are the 2008 and 2009 C300, C350, C36 AMG, C43 AMG and C63 AMG.
The NHTSA is in the initial stages of the investigation working directly with Mercedes-Benz to identify the source of the problem. Once the problem is identified the NHTSA and the automaker will determine if a full-scale recall is necessary.
One complaint filed in February reported that an owner of one of the potentially affected vehicles noticed warning lights that indicated the tail lights had failed. When the man opened the trunk of his car, it was “filled with smoke and burning plastic smell” from the electrical connectors on both tail light bulbs, according to the report.
Owners of the vehicles under investigation should check their vehicles for burn marks near the trunk area and be cautious if they smell smoke while driving the vehicles. Owners may contact Mercedes-Benz at 1-800-367-6372 for further inquiry.