mercedes run flat inoperative ESP ABS

Run Flat Inoperative, ABS, ESP Malfunction on Mercedes-Benz

If you’re the owner of a Mercedes-Benz, you’re likely well aware of the advanced technology that goes into these vehicles. One of the most important systems on your car is the Run Flat Indicator, or RFI, which alerts the driver when the tires on their vehicle have lost air pressure and are no longer safe to drive on. However, if you’re experiencing the “Run Flat Indicator Inoperative” error message, along with ABS and ESP malfunctions, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. These malfunctions affect not only the safety of your vehicle but also its performance.

This comprehensive article will dive into the common causes of the “Run Flat Indicator Inoperative” error message, along with ABS and ESP malfunctions in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. We’ll cover everything from the symptoms to the diagnostic process and provide step-by-step instructions for resolving the issue.


Mercedes-Benz owners may be driving down the road and suddenly get greeted with several warning lights and malfunctioning errors, such as:

  • Run-flat indicator inoperative
  • ABS and ESP are inoperative See owners. Manual
  • ABS and ESP are currently unavailable. See owner manual
  • ESP inoperative see owner manual (yellow or white)
  • Parking brake see owners manual ( in red, less common warning )

Most Common Problem

mercedes benz abs sensor replacement

A bad ABS wheel speed sensor is the most common problem that causes the Run-flat indicator inoperative, ABS, and ESP Inoperative warning lights to come on simultaneously. ABS wheel speed sensors can fail due to the age of the vehicle. If you recently hit a pothole, then there is a high chance one of the ABS wheel speed sensors got damaged.

mercedes abs esp run flat inoperative

The second most common issue that triggers run-flat, ABS, ESP warning lights on a Mercedes-Benz is a weak or dead 12-volt car battery. In some cases, power steering may also get disabled, and the steering can feel very stiff.

Bad ABS wheel speed sensor triggers run flat inoperative wanring

If you get this warning, pull over, turn off the ignition, remove the key and wait a couple of minutes. Restart the engine, and the notification may clear. If it doesn’t, keep on reading.

Depending on the cause, run-flat inoperative, ABS, ESP, and EBD warning messages may be intermittent or stay on all the time. In addition, cruise control and Speedtronic Inoperative warnings may come on if the vehicle is equipped with those systems. 

Cruise Control Inoperative

These errors may also come up if the vehicle has electrical issues, which should be addressed before resolving the run-flat, ABS, and ESP malfunction. We have also seen this warning arise in rare cases because of a parasitic current draw when the vehicle is parked overnight or for a few days. A parasitic draw can be caused by an unrelated issue, such as a bad alarm siren, horn, sound system, command, or module that doesn’t sleep and drains the battery. These error messages appear when the vehicle is jump-started because a low voltage was detected.

dead weak battery causes ABS, ESP, Run Flat indicator, Speedometer inoperative

Run-flat inoperative, ABS, and ESP lights can also be triggered for many other issues, such as bad steering angle sensors, low voltage, corrosion, etc. before you do anything, you need to diagnose the vehicle to find out what codes are present.



Here is how to diagnose this problem using a scanner.

  1. Connect a diagnostic scanner to the OBD-II port under the dashboard.
  2. Turn on the ignition. The scanner will turn on.
  3. Go to Control Unit.
  4. Select ABS or ESP control module.
  5. Scroll down to Read Fault Codes and press enter.

On the next screen, you will see a couple of fault codes. On the code description, you will get a message such as “front right ABS wheel speed sensor implausible.” Now you know which ABS sensor is faulty and needs to be replaced. Follow this guide on how to replace a Mercedes-Benz ABS Wheel Speed Sensor.

While a bad ABS wheel speed sensor most likely causes run-flat inoperative ABS and ESP, those error messages can be triggered by several other issues.

Possible Causes

There are several potential causes for the “Run Flat Indicator Inoperative” error message, along with ABS and ESP malfunctions in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Tire pressure sensor failure: The RFI system relies on the tire pressure sensors to accurately detect changes in air pressure. If a sensor is malfunctioning or not properly calibrated, the RFI system will not function properly.
  2. Wiring issues: Electrical wiring problems, such as damaged or corroded connections, can cause the RFI, ABS, and ESP systems to malfunction.
  3. Control module failure: The control module that manages the RFI, ABS, and ESP systems may fail, causing the systems to malfunction.
  4. Software issues: In some cases, the software that controls the RFI, ABS, and ESP systems may become outdated or corrupted, causing the systems to malfunction.
  5. Other mechanical problems: Other mechanical issues such as brake system failure, malfunctioning steering angle sensor, or worn-out suspension components can also cause the RFI, ABS, and ESP systems to malfunction.

It’s important to note that these are just a few possible causes, and a proper diagnosis from a qualified technician is needed to determine the exact cause of the problem.

Here is a list of all possible causes that can trigger warnings, such as run-flat inoperative, ABS, and ESP inoperative see operator’s manual:

  • Defective ABS wheel speed sensor (most common)
  • Low voltage. A dead or weak 12-volt battery
  • Loose ground terminal
  • Faulty ABS/ESP module
  • Bad fault SAM module
  • Water damage
  • Loose battery negative or positive terminal
  • The reluctor (tone) ring is cracked
  • Steering angle sensor is faulty or needs calibration.
  • Low tire pressure
  • Different size tires/rims
  • Extremely cold temperatures
  • Damages ABS wheel speed sensor wire or connector
  • The vehicle needs a wheel alignment
  • Electric parking brake grabbing. Reset parking brakes if they have an ELPB and Adaptive Brakes.
  • The brake light switch will trigger ABS and ESP warnings but usually not run flat indicator inoperative.

Reading the fault codes should be the first step in diagnosing run-flat, ABS, and ESP warning messages. In some cases, run-flat inoperative may also disable Power steering malfunction, ABS, Speedometer inoperative, ESP, EBD, and Cruise Control. The vehicle may lose power and go into limp mode.

You may wonder what ABS, ESP, and run-flat inoperative have in common. There are two types of tire pressure monitoring active and passive. The dynamic type has pressure sensors on each wheel and can display the pressure. The passive tire pressure monitoring measures wheel rotational speed. TPMS system needs to determine the wheel revolutions to determine a flat tire. If the vehicle can’t get a speed reading from one of the ABS wheel speed sensors, it will trigger run-flat inoperative.

We hope you find the Run Flat Inoperative, ABS, ESP Malfunction Mercedes-Benz guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your Mercedes-Benz.


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