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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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Discussion Starter #1
I finally fixed a problem that shouldn't have happened. One of those things we occasionally do that - afterwards you'd like to kick yourself in the !$ but your legs won't reach.

In brief: Got a 1996 SL500 - and the trunk light did not work. After a bit or research (made more difficult because I STILL don't have anything resembling a shop manual) - but bought a new latch, unbolted the old one, left it in the trunk, installed the new one and connected the electrical connection.

Then, to adjust the latch, kept the bolts just a tad loose, slammed the lid, pushed the key slot to open it and.....got a real sinking feeling.

It would not open.

There is - (what I learned afterwards) what I would call - an actuator rod going form the key assembly that is supposed to connect to the latch assembly. This rod is behind the trunk lining.

A long time (30+years) MB Tech on one of my club drives looked at it - shook his head and said the only way to get into that trunk now is to break the right tail light. There is no other access point in the back.

So....I order a new tail light - was going to just take a hammer to it and then could imagine taking a bad situation and making it worse - thanks to one of the members here (poundy?) I got a dremel 3000 and with a few 426 cutting disks made some neat cuts to the point I could pry off the plastic chunks (the reflector portion is also plastic, I discovered). And thanks to someone who also suggested once the bulbs were out I took a punch to the inside bulb older (closest to the latch) and was able to push the bulb holder out of the way.

Unscrewed what was left of this mess and then contemplated "what do I do from here"?

Well, a friend at the dealer parts counter took a look at the old latch (which was still in the trunk, now liberated), took his thumb to flip the latch "closed", took a screwdriver to where the "actuator rod" was "supposed" to go - and with barely a turn counter clockwise, the latch popped open.

Well, the only saving grace to this mess was that there is a small access "tunnel" (for lack of a better term) that I used some 1/4 inch extensions (about 20 inches) - with a socket that had a flat bladed screwdriver head - and after a moment of trying to fit the blade into the slot (shown on fig 4 on the old latch) that latch just popped open. By this time - over 3 weeks - I thought I had just found the El Dorado.

It was a bone-headed action but I also got the feeling it wasn't the first time it happened ;-)

How it is supposed to work - there is nothing securing that rod to the latch assembly other than the fact that once the latch is in place - ready to be bolted in - the rod cannot go anywhere.

You have to fit the actuator rod to the latch (after pulling back the rear trunk lining) at an angle as you are working the latch in to the body.

Then what I would strongly recommend (I didn't feel like going though this whole exercise again after finding out it STILL wasn't in properly!) - take your thumb, flip the latch forward to the closed position (fig 5) , then use your key or push into the key assembly to make sure that latch is working properly. Without closing the trunk lid. Do it as many times till you feel comfortable closing the lid. In my case it was about 225 times. ;-)

THEN you can close the lid - properly adjust the latch by keeping the bolts just a bit lose, slam that lid which will force that latch down - then tighten the bolts.

I found I had to do this a couple of times before there was not play/rattle between the new latch and the trunk lid.
 

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1993 600SL, 1973 450 SL,1982 380SL,1998 SLK 230, 1968 Firebird, 2001 Dodge Ram 4x4,2005 Ford Escape
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5,247 Posts
I think if I ever screw with the trunk latch, I'm going to take out a tail light till the fat lady sings ! Thanks for posting this tale of woe ! It's liable to cost the parts folks the sale of quite a few tail lights :D
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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Discussion Starter #3
The lesson I learned (and one that I seem to have to keep repeating on occasion) is to not assume. I didn't see the rod behind the lining so "assumed" there wasn't one.

I have gotten enough advice here from Google hits thought I would pass my experience along - will undoubtedly help someone - sometime in the future~

Now next I have to replace the 3rd brake light - then at least the 2 front lock hydraulic cylinders , shocks....back to replacing parts that are truly worn vs breaking good parts ;-)
 

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91 300 SL
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7 Posts
Denthegolfer

OH my! I am part way there....I locked the trunk after working on the latch. I am certain that the rod fell out. I am searching for the tail light lens now. Great idea on the socket and extension idea. I'll tie a string to the ratchet just in case. Thanks for the pics. Den
 

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Premium Member
2015 Jaguar XF R Sport Twin Turbo, 1992 500sl Pano, 1999 CBR 1100XX, Super BlackBird, Jaguar X Type
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4,818 Posts
I think one of the problems with us lot, is that we don't do a search until something is stuffed up (myself included here):D

This lock out problems happened more than once, if we searched before doing the task we would see the associated problems and how to avoid them.

Good post wld50 I am sure it will help someone who does the latch next time. But not until they are locked out :eek: We should have a BEWARE blue sticky :)
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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Discussion Starter #6
OH my! I am part way there....I locked the trunk after working on the latch. I am certain that the rod fell out. I am searching for the tail light lens now. Great idea on the socket and extension idea. I'll tie a string to the ratchet just in case. Thanks for the pics. Den
BTDT - basically, in the words of the German engineers, ""Du bist gescrewed".

You have to break the right taillight to get access to the lock. Then with a long extension at least the engineers had a little "tunnel" where you would insert the extension with a flat-bladed screwdriver.

This was one of my first screw-ups, er, learning experiences on my R129.
 

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380SL, Jag F-type
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1,607 Posts
I have a question. I had trunk unresponsive on a very hot day. I was getting ready to order new taillight when it just came back. When it wasn't working I could still hear actuator.

What part could be causing it?
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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3,676 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I have a question. I had trunk unresponsive on a very hot day. I was getting ready to order new taillight when it just came back. When it wasn't working I could still hear actuator.

What part could be causing it?
That is a good question. The :actuator rod" - what I came to call it is very mechanical - it is either connected or it isn't - when I connected it finally after breaking the tail light - I took my thumb, pushed the latch over and verified that the key was working.

The latch is similarly very mechanical - don't see how heat could affect wither.
 

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Undercover Moderator
2002 SL BRABUS 5.8 Silver Arrow; 1992 SL BRABUS B11; 1996 S Class diplomat ride
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5,306 Posts
I just read this & sorry to hear what happen....

How much for your new taillight....??

Can you return it....??

I have a set... I will to selling it cheap.... Just to help out a member.....:)
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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3,676 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I had to fix mine a year ago - all because I wanted to fix the latch that lit the light (the lever). Didn't have a manual to show me how to do it and stupidly assumed the latch was electrically tripped.

The dealer took pity on me and sold the light - good from 96-99 - for $230 or so (listed at over $400).

Had to buy a dremel tool to neatly destroy the other one - I felt if I had to take a hammer I would bend the underlying bodywork that the light mounted to!

We pay our money and learn our lessons don't we?
 

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Undercover Moderator
2002 SL BRABUS 5.8 Silver Arrow; 1992 SL BRABUS B11; 1996 S Class diplomat ride
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5,306 Posts
I had to fix mine a year ago - all because I wanted to fix the latch that lit the light (the lever). Didn't have a manual to show me how to do it and stupidly assumed the latch was electrically tripped.

The dealer took pity on me and sold the light - good from 96-99 - for $230 or so (listed at over $400).

Had to buy a dremel tool to neatly destroy the other one - I felt if I had to take a hammer I would bend the underlying bodywork that the light mounted to!

We pay our money and learn our lessons don't we?
lol.... March 2013.:eek:. This year 2014...:p
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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3,676 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Last week I replied to a thread aam had started saying that he was getting lifter noise from the infamous oiler tubes. I offered to send him an extra aluminum one of mine and later realized that he had the problem 3-4 years ago ;-)

I can see why the moderators want to limit threads to the subject as much as possible (rather than have 100 lifter noise threads) but I also learned that I have to look at the dates ;-)
 

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77 450SL, 79 450SLC 5.0, 67 250SL, 61 190SL, 61 190, 62 180;Others:www.cardomain.com/id/challenger_7
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33 Posts
Hello everyone who was caught in this problem. I am just experiencing mine, but in a totally different manner, and interesting, though only from the story telling part of it.
Seeing this is quite an old post, is it appropriate to carry on here or should I start a new one?:unsure:
 

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One of the BW Old Guard/R129, W204 Moderator
1997 SL500- 40th Anniversary
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7,162 Posts
Hello everyone who was caught in this problem. I am just experiencing mine, but in a totally different manner, and interesting, though only from the story telling part of it.
Seeing this is quite an old post, is it appropriate to carry on here or should I start a new one?:unsure:
Carry on, please... continuity is one of the better aspects of forum sharing, rather than have 30 threads all asking the same thing.
thx
 

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77 450SL, 79 450SLC 5.0, 67 250SL, 61 190SL, 61 190, 62 180;Others:www.cardomain.com/id/challenger_7
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33 Posts
Carry on, please... continuity is one of the better aspects of forum sharing, rather than have 30 threads all asking the same thing.
thx
Thanks, Indeed it is :)
Well here goes, my funny but torturous saga with the rear trunk lock, which is of a different set of circumstances, but still leading to getting stuck with the boot closed.
I was attempting to clear a fault in the locking sensor whereby it works at times using the remote key and at times not.
One of the solutions was to open the back lock and clean it up and all the connections there and ensure the sensor lenses (red & Green) are polished clean.
I did just that, took the rear lock apart, cleaned it all well and sprayed all the contact with electrical restoring fluid, assembled it all together but not on the car's body and gave it a try.
It worked well, locked, red light flashing, - unlock green light flashing...but then the green light stayed on!!
My first Panic, worried that something may burn or spoil, I quickly disconnected the electrical connector going to the lenses.
Second panic, light stayed on :oops: so I thought of trying to lock and unlock using one of the doors, did that and I could hear locks locking and unlocking, but the green light stayed on
Third panic...fearing still some permanent damage may occur, I slammed the boot down hoping when it shuts the light will be off :rolleyes:
Forth and worst panic:eek: I then realized I locked the boot and all the bits and pieces of the locking mechanism are inside beyond my reach !!!
Took a deep breath and thought about the situation and remembered it is not the first time I got locked out of a car during my youth and made it in using wires and rods. Thus first plan of action was to get into the boot through the lock's hole, pull the lock towards me and push it in to pop up the boot. Not so simple but possible, and there was my concentration on this task.
An hour or more, can't remember, I managed to maneuver the lock using hard wires, (see 1st photo), squeezed my fingers through and pressed the lock, but nothing happened.:oops:
2b2df3d9-fdad-4125-99fe-8a01599a9672.jpg
My fifth Panic, and having checked the group threads for some ideas, I realized with the lock out of position, the actuating rod will not move!!
New task: Locate the rod and try to maneuver it to open the boot.
Looking for it and trying to grab it, I heard a "clunk", the rod fell out!!!
My sixth panic:eek:, how do I get hold of it having realized it fell down in the thin space between the outer & inner body and re-position it in the tiny hole of the lock:unsure:.
The only way is by using a magnet as no tool was available for me to perform that. Looked in all my garage for a magnet to no avail. Finally, i realized the led light I am using had one. Broke it apart to get to the small rectangular magnet which I taped onto my screw driver and managed to lift the rod up to grab.
I then tried for the next hour or so to get it into position without any luck. I later realized it was going inside the boot instead of sliding along the thin space where it should go.
By then I was tired, angry and hungry as it was around 9 pm. So went home to come back the next day.
Spoke to my mechanic who confirmed the only way to open the boot is by unlocking it with the rod. Fortunately he had one of those "Mission Impossible" spy lights that help me look through the hole of the boot.
Next day, I went to my garage and popped the camera through the hole until I could see where the rod should sit, left the camera there and carefully maneuvered the rod to sit in the right slot, taped it there to try now and turn it. See next photos.
d7fcb203-140b-4534-95bb-c0d6cf0f5231.jpg e277bb14-9170-4d54-b524-edb2bfafdf93.jpg
Next challenge was how to turn it to unlock the boot. Using the tips of my fingers was not enough, so the best I could think of was to position a socket on its end and turn. Well I tried that and kept dropping the sockets into the boot :mad: Luckily I have many tool boxes so kept getting more sockets to try but realized I was not sure of the size of socket that fits. So, logically, I had to pull the rod out again, verify which socket can grab its flat end and put it back again, an operation that took another 25 minutes.
OK, feeling triumphant, I fixed a socket to the end of the rod and verrrry carefully maneuvered the ratchet into the end of the socket only to realize there was not enough room for the ratchet to do its work. So Obviously I had to take it out and try to use another tool to spin the socket around.
In my state, I thought very little about removing the ratchet, which obviously had a stronger hold to the socket than the rod, resulting in guess what, the socket fell out into the boot!!
But compared to what I had been through, this is nothing, got the socket back using the magnet, as I had run out of this size, all in the boot, then messed around in my tool boxes and saw that a T40 key would fit in perfectly in the socket, put it there and the boot popped out open 😅🤪See following photos.
0d931b91-8a8e-4989-9083-96a500e15151.jpg 0bacd730-dd34-4a99-825f-c55edd3af626.jpg
Finally won my 2 day battle over the boot, without having to break the rear light as would have been one of the recommended ways to get the boot opened.
I hope someone learns something from my silly but funny (now that it is over) saga, and will not make any of the mistakes I made.

Cheers
 
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