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97 SL600 Pano, ex: 96 (late 95) SL320
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257 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm planning to change my ADS spheres as I have no idea how old they are, and it will buy me some peace of mind. Also, my sport/comfort button doesn't really do anything noticeable, and one possibility that has come up is that it's because the nitrogen has escaped from the spheres over the years.

Anyway, I bought new spheres, rears from Swag and fronts from Febi which are the same company. I got the fronts this week and I noticed that according to the manufacture date stamps they were made in 2015. I've found some comments saying that the gas escapes from the spheres over time no matter whether they're used or not, so I'm wondering, should I return the spheres and ask for newer ones?

Has anyone found any hard facts on this? I figured this topic is worth a thread of its own.
 

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2002 Black SL500, 2000 Azure blue SL500, 2005 Silver (A209) CLK500
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916 Posts
The company you bought them from will say...don't worry, they are ok, we sell lots of these with older dates, etc...
4/5 years old now and for what you paid...I'd expect new.
If one of them is leaking....won't know it until after the install.
Others might chim in and say....I bought some also with an older date and no problems...
 

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Outstanding Contributor
1997 SL600 Brilliant Silver Sport with grey/dark metal interior, 234K miles
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1,977 Posts
As you know, the Febi spheres (probably OEM to our cars, but I don't really know) have a date stamped on them. Now that you know where the stamps are, you can inspect your supposedly original spheres while they are still on the car for date of manufacture to see if they are the ones the car left the factory with.

I don't know about gas escaping from unused spheres, but the spheres only seem to last about 5 years in active service (my experience). I don't know how you could check the new spheres for high pressure. I only know how to check to see if they are flat or almost flat.

You could still compare each of the new spheres to each other and see if there is a detectable difference. If you look down the big port of the sphere, you will see a clear plastic cross; that's the nitrogen membrane. The contents SHOULD be under high pressure and if you press on the cross with something not pointy like a long 12mm bolt you probably wouldn't be able to make it inflect. If it did move, that would indicate a big loss of pressure.

I assume you paid less than Febi prices for the Swag spheres or you would have bought all Febi.

The Sport setting only firms up the ride (somewhat) while travelling in a straight line. It does nothing for corners. If you have a road with imperfections and the ride is annoying in Sport, switching to Comfort will allow more compliance in the suspension and, hopefully, smooth out the road.

That's all the switch does.
 

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97 SL600 Pano, ex: 96 (late 95) SL320
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257 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The ones on my car don't have manufacture date stamps, at least not the rear ones. That's why I'm so keen on replacing them. However, I haven't actually checked the fronts and now I think I'll return the 2015 stamped fronts and check what's on the car now before ordering new ones. The new rears are late 2018 so they should be as good as I can get (assuming the quality is ok).

Febi and Swag are the same company and as far as I know, they just package stuff made by others. I don't believe there's much difference in products with either label.

The reason I got the Swags was that a month or so ago I had an issue with the ADS which turned out to be a trivial electrical one (which, as you probably remember, I reported in another thread here), but before I knew that, there was a possibility I might have to inspect the rear damper valves more closely. I was in a hurry before our road trip so I figured it would make sense to swap out the spheres at the same time if I have to drain the system anyway, and a local MB parts shop happened to have them in stock. The problem turned out to be a loose electrical connector in the passenger footwell so I didn't swap the spheres yet, but now, after the road trip is over, I'd like to do it.
 

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1997 SL600 Brilliant Silver Sport with grey/dark metal interior, 234K miles
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The last Febi spheres I installed all had an 11/18 stamp.
 

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97 SL600 Pano, ex: 96 (late 95) SL320
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257 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Yesterday I swapped 3 of the 4 spheres with the help of a mechanic and his lift. With last one we were dealing with, the front left, we managed to cross-thread the smaller hydraulic line and didn't have tap to fix it (M10 x 1.0 thread), so we put the old one back in. Anyway, that's going to be an hour's job once the threads are fixed, now that we've had some practice.

I returned the 2015 Febi fronts a few months ago and recently I got Swags that were from late 2018, like the rears I got earlier. Turns out, the Swags had Febi stamps, so it just goes to show that they really are the same thing.

All the ones on the car were MB originals, but I couldn't decipher any manufacture dates from them. They might be originals or not. In any case, the new spheres made no difference to ride quality (which was good to begin with), even though in the front I have one old and one new. Or to the function of the sport/comfort button, which still does nothing as far as I can tell. So be it, it's not like it's much use anyway.

This all kind of makes me doubt that there really is an expiration date on these things. Which, to me, is a good thing in the sense that after the final one is replaced, I don't think I'll need to worry about this issue in a looong time.
 
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