Really feel like buying an SL500 but the ABC suspension issue is on my mind - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Really feel like buying an SL500 but the ABC suspension issue is on my mind

I am thinking of buying an 2002-2007 SL500 but when i am thinking of all the problems with the ABC suspension
i almost feel like buying a problem.

Note that up here in the worlds richest country an old 2002 SL500 is really expenshive. The price is close to what you pay for a brand new Corvette Z06 in the US

The cheapest one i looked up at this countrys answer to craiglist is 37,595 USD

Is there any other issues than the ABC suspension on the 2002-2007 SL500?

Well, i can look for an SL350 with regular suspension but i prefer a V8 and not a V6..
If i am buying an SL R230 the car i am looking for need to be black or atleast not silver or some kind of silver..


I must admit that i have been looking at a couple of 2008 BMW 6 series in black color and black interior and one other 2008 6 series in black color with tan interior. Both cars comes with the sports automatic transmission and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters(which is kind of important for me

The 6 series i have looked at also have the BMW`s Head Up display Dynamic Drive, well most of the options you could get in 2008.
The Dynamic Drive BMW have is a hydraulic stability control but from what i understand the shock absorbers are not hydraulic but standard shock absorbers

What do you think? SL or BMW 6 series?(I think that you get more car for the money if you go for a 6 series and they are priced lower than the SL)

Last edited by MrShades; 02-08-2017 at 08:52 AM.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 11:51 AM
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I am far from an expert but will share a few thoughts.

1) you have a very nice stable if cars.
2) this is a Mercedes forum, so I would think most of the people responding would be pro Mercedes.
3) besides the ABC system, the only other item that comes to mind would be the hydraulic cylinders for the top. After 10 years of so, they will leak and the cylinders will need to be rebuilt or replaced. Rebuilding is the thriftiest way to go.

I've only owned my R230 for about 6 months and the ABC flush, filters and accumulators as well as three of the cylinders for the top are the only items beyond regular maintenance such as fluids and filters that I have done. I am sure others can supply additional ideas.

Tim
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 03:41 PM
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If I had read this, or any other, R230 forum I would never have bought my car (2003 SL500) for fear of the ABC system and all the horrors you read about. But I didn't, and I am glad that did - the ABC system has given me no trouble. Yes the car can be expensive to maintain, so if potential costs would depress you, don't buy one. But otherwise don't let what you read put you off driving a great car. Remember that these forums self-select for folks that have had problems, not those that are driving an R230 without a care in the world.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-08-2017, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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I have to admit that i talked to a Mercedes mechanic that works mostly on the most expeshive Mercedes models told me that if i wanted to buy myself a big problem i should buy an SL, R230 or even better a CL500 W215

Off course i have what he said in the back of my mind
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 05:49 AM
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Here's what I did. I was made an offer I couldn't refuse. A pristine 2004 SL500 with 50,000 miles and dealer maintenance records from day one. To limit my fiscal risk associated with the suspension, I opted to, when the time came, replace the ABC with coil-over struts from Strutmasters (~$2000) and a sway bar kit from VVK/SLR (~$1000). So for $3000 (plus labor) I could replace the ABC with a more conventional suspension. I have all the parts and am waiting for a non-recoverable ABC failure to replace the struts.

Also, Arnott Industries will buy your used ABC struts for $300 each. So, my real cost (without labor, which I intend to do myself), is $3000 minus $1200, or $1800.

Now, some will say coil-overs aren't the same or as good as a properly working ABC, which is probably true, but they may be good enough. Before I send my ABC struts off to Arnott, I will make sure that the coil-overs and sway bars are good enough for me.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
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JettaRed. I know of and have read about the coil overs from Arnott. The thing i reacted to that they have a coil over kit for the SL(The Cl and S class as well)but the kit they sold did not include any sway bars. And how are an coil over converted SL to drive with no sway bar?

But i see that you have sourced sway bars that fit so that is great Are the sway bars bolt on onlly or does it involve any welding of brackets or something loke that?

Great if you can post a couple of pictures of the coil over suspensions and sway bars of you car here in this thread

Well, i have been thinking of an SL350 that you can get with normal shock absorbbers and sway bars but that is a V& engine

Also is there any good upgrades to get some more power on the SL500?

Last edited by MrShades; 02-09-2017 at 06:34 AM.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 07:16 AM
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I have not received the sway bars yet (due for delivery tomorrow), but VVK is telling me that they are bolt-on. I will post pics when I can. The front bar does require pressing in a ball-joint on each lower control arm in the large empty hole. The sway bar link will attached to the installed ball-joint. For $4000, you can get the complete kit from VVK, which includes the coil-overs, sway bars, and new power steering pump. But I had already gotten the coil-overs from Strutmasters, so I purchased only the sway bars from VVK.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 08:06 AM
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With regards to power upgrades, normally aspirated (NA) engines are more difficult and expensive to modify to increase power significantly. Unlike turbo or supercharged cars where a chip tune or smaller pulley can make a big difference, NA cars are left to maybe an exhaust, chip tune, cams or something like that. All more expensive.

I went with a chip tune from oetuning.com. Approximately $500 shipped. Claimed HP is about 27hp, though I have to wonder what other mods were done. I cannot notice real hp gains, but throttle response and shifting are smoother. An unexpected benefit is a better than 11% reduction in fuel consumption (25.6 mpg vs 22.8 mpg highway).

I went with OETuning because for $500 you get a flash loader and three programs (100 octane, 93 octane, and valet) plus the stock program that you can use to flash your ECU at home. Took about 5 minutes or less to load the program.
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-09-2017, 04:41 PM
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Why not go for a 2007?
There was switch from 3 valve to 4 valve heads together with a capacity increase which increased horsepower and improved fuel consumption.
Also, probably more important, there was a significant change to the ABC system which seems to remove (or delay) many of the problems of older cars.
I have owned my '07 for over 2 years and had only one minor ABC issue and still love the car.
Just my 2 krone worth.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-10-2017, 04:44 AM
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I too was looking at the 2003 - 2006 models and was apprehensive due to the ABC and other issues. I have been looking at these for 5 years now. The 2007/2008 models have the second generation ABC that took the issues away for the most part and like bekcon stated they put in 4 valves instead of 3 which increased the compression ratio and horsepower. After looking for months at the 2007/2008 models I was ready to pull the trigger on one then a sweet 2009 model popped up with super low miles so I got that one instead. So after my many months worth of research I offer the following:

If you want the earlier models stay away from the 2003/2004 models as that's where most of the issues are. They made more during these years so there are more of these year models for sale and they are less expensive. Less expensive is great but look for one that had the ABC already replaced. A Carfax report is a great source of information as most of these are no longer on their original owner and all maintenance records are gone.

If price is driving you then go with the 2005/2006 models. Mercedes worked out most of the bugs from the earlier year models so these have a higher chance of less issues.

If you can afford it go with the 2007/2008 models. These are more expensive but worth it due to second generation ABC and other upgrades.

If you can afford the 2009 model years you will often find them with much lower miles and the hood, lights & airscarf was worth the price differential to me. Lower miles mostly means much cleaner and in the end I decided I would rather pay more for a cleaner lower mileage car.

Finally don't forget about the class action lawsuit against Mercedes and the balance shaft engine issues for the M272/M273 engines. I can't stress this enough! You need to get the serial number of the engine of the car you want to buy from a VIN website. You will need the VIN to enter it in this site. I used www.vehiclehistory.com It will give you the engine model and serial number.

You are fine if your number is higher than:

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

If your number is below that range then that vehicle was part of the class action lawsuit. The settlement with Mercedes included replacing parts inside the engine that would normally run 6K to do once it goes out of warranty. They agreed to do this until 2016 so now they are absolved of any future issues that come up. If your seller can prove this was done and you want to take a chance if the price is right then go for it. I personally did not want to take this chance and passed on some sweet deals.

Whatever you decide the first time you get behind the wheel of one of these sexy beasts as an owner you will get goose bumps!Good luck and have fun!
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