A faulty third-row seatback lock is the culprit.
Mercedes-Benz is a byword for quality and reliability, even by German standards. But that doesn't mean mistakes don't slip through the gates in Stuttgart now and again. The latest has prompted a massive recall of certain GLS-Class SUVs, with a whopping 59,574 units suffering from a defect. So, what seems to be the problem?
As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these luxury SUVs have a problem with the locking mechanism used for the third-row seatbacks. Of course, the risk is plain to see - vehicles like the GLS are used by large families that transport kids in the rear-most row. In the event of a collision, it's possible that the left and right seatbacks may fail, increasing the risk of injury to the occupants.
Worryingly, there's no way for the driver to know of the fault, as the vehicle cannot warn the driver of a failure of this nature. The NHTSA estimates that 100% of the recalled vehicles suffer from the defect so, if you drive a GLS-Class, you'll want to have this problem rectified.
2,364 examples of the MY2021 GLS 63 are affected, along with 5,212 units of the 2020 - 2022 GLS 580. The GLS 450 makes up the majority of the recall, with a total of 51,998 2020 - 2022 models being recalled. All these vehicles were produced between September 18, 2018, and July 4, 2022.
Based on the manufacturing dates, it seems examples from the previous X166 generation are also suffering from this issue. As the ultra-plush Maybach GLS isn't offered with seven seats, it remains unaffected.
As per the recall notice, the problem may stem from improperly installed springs in the locking mechanism. The fault, however, can be traced back to a "production deviation at a supplier." If your GLS-Class is one of the near-60,000 examples involved in this recall, the vehicle will need to be inspected by your local dealer. If you have additional questions, contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.
Notification letters are set to be mailed by November 29, 2022, instructing customers to bring their vehicles in for examination. If required, the third-row seatback will be replaced at no cost to the owner. This isn't the first problem to affect the GLS nameplate in recent months. In June, the large SUV and several other Benz models were recalled due to a malfunctioning emergency call system.
This year, the automaker issued a global recall for nearly one million vehicles including the GLS predecessor, the GL-Class, over faulty braking systems. The issue stems from rust forming around the hydraulic brake booster. A hard braking maneuver may cause damage to the brake booster, which could have catastrophic consequences.
While it's disappointing to see such a pricey premium vehicle affected by problems such as this, the GLS-Class is not alone. Recently, the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport were recalled over seat belt emergency locking retractors that may not secure properly. Even the Porsche Taycan has had its fair share of issues.