While driving my 2008 Mercedes Benz C300 the message, "ESP not available" keeps showing up. The car slows down immediately and I cannot accelerate since it wont take any gas. I have to shut it down and restart it to be able to drive it.

Please help!

  • Is the check engine light on? It sounds like the car is going into limp mode due to a problem with the electronic throttle control.
    – Ben
    Jul 13, 2016 at 22:45
  • 1
    Can you elaborate on the problem? Are there any other warning lights on the dash, and strange or abnormal sounds? Have you recently had work done on the car? How many miles does the car have? As Jason's answer says, there are any number of issues that could cause these symptoms. NOTE TO OTHER USERS: Please give OP at least 24 hours to edit the question before voting to close! Jul 13, 2016 at 22:45
  • How much time after starting the car does the message appear? Is there a pattern?
    – tlhIngan
    Jul 14, 2016 at 0:01
  • OP not responding to comments, need more details to try and answer.
    – dlu
    Aug 7, 2016 at 18:00

3 Answers 3


Ok, so the ESP is the "Electronic Stability Program".

There's a bit of explanation and backstory here from Mercedes. (Which I found quite interesting.)

There are a couple things you can check before resorting to a trip the the shop. I'd do them like so:

  1. Tire Pressure - Get an accurate gauge and check to make sure all tires are close (probably within +/- 2-3 PSI) to the factory spec on the label (assuming stock wheels and tires are installed). You will get some changes in tire pressure while driving, especially at higher speeds and stress levels (like bumps on the highway). Incorrect tire pressure reads could affect how the computer thinks it needs to work, and getting the tires in the right range could get it working properly again. Also if your tires are very worn, you may need to replace them as that could also affect tire pressure and/or traction control readings dramatically.

  2. Brake Fluid - Make sure you have the appropriate amount of fluid as spec'd in your owner's manual. Bringing your fluid to spec could resolve the issue since it is a braking dependent system.

  3. Brake Pad Wear - It may be hard to get a good angle, but try to see how much of the brake pad compound remains. If there are other indications (like the squeezing brake indicator) replacing the pads may resolve the issue.

  4. Check Battery Voltage - Like Jason C said, the battery could be an issue. And if the battery is the original battery, it may be due for replacement anyway (after 8 years of use). So the a DC volt meter and check that the power between the 2 battery terminals (when the car is off) reads 12-14.5 volts. Anything less could create problems in theory.

If none of those points are bad, or when corrected don't fix the problem after a day or two, then definitely take it to a shop. Just like Jason C said, there can be MANY causes and the only way to properly diagnose a car requires some specialty equipment and a lot of training/knowledge.

I have seen things about disabling ESP, but if you're used to driving the car with working ESP, disabling could be extremely dangerous for you and others since it could cause you to wreck. So I definitely DON'T recommend doing that.

As a final point, if you have had any work done on it recently, please update with that information as well. Changes done can also affect the ESP.


The full message should be "ESP not available, see owner's manual", so you should check your owner's manual for troubleshooting tips.

According to http://mbworld.org/forums/c-class-w204/505469-esp-not-available-car-goes-into-limp-mode.html the slow down may be an intentional self-protection mode. There's any number of reasons why this could be happening and it is not possible to answer your question precisely here with the information given (it is akin to asking "why is my check engine light on"), your best bet is to take it to a service center to run some diagnostics to narrow it down further.

If you Google for that message, it really could be anything. Problems I see range from bad batteries to low tire pressure to steering angle sensor issues to holes in boost pipes to whatever.


ESP or Mercedes version of Traction Control.Apparently It is triggered by a bad ground and low battery voltage as well.

If “ESP – Visit Workshop” is being displayed in the instrument cluster, and for vehicles with an automatic transmission, the selector lever cannot be moved from position “P” after the engine is started, and various fault codes are stored in the relevant control units, perform the following repair. Note: In vehicles equipped with tire pressure loss warning system this function will also not be available. The conditions listed above are caused by an inadequate ground connection at the ESP (W70) ground point due to the heat shrinkable tube protruding under the ground cable lug’s attachment point.

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