I recently removed the center armrest and almost the whole rear interior cover of my 2007 SL 550 (R230), searching for a rattling noise coming from the back.
(see this thread: http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r230-sl-class/1682579-r230-rattling-noise-near-middle-console.html
When putting everything back together I took some photos to show others how it works.
Side panels on center console
The side covers are held by clips only.
Start carefully unclipping on the rear end, using a wedge for the first clip.
The first pic shows the passenger side panel, while pic 2 and 3 show the driver panel.
Open the lower compartment of the center armrest and remove the two screws (R15) (pic 1).
Remove the rear armrest (is slightly hooked under the rear wall panelling).
Prerequisite: Rear armrest must be removed first!
Remove the ‘carpet’ in the lower compartment of the armrest (pic 1).
Remove the 2 screws in the lower compartment of the armrest (pic 2).
Remove the 2 hidden screws in the front (T15) that connect the armrest to the center console (pic 3-6).
Those screws remain inside the armrest and won’t fall out (pic 9).
Move the armrest upwards to unhook it from the 2 bolts in the bottom and then slightly backwards to unhook the plastic lid from the center console (pic 6).
Remove the 5 cable connectors at the back of the armrest (pic 14).
The armrest will still be connected to the yellow vacuum pipe.
That vacuum pipe applies underpressure to lock the center console (see below).Take care not to remove the whole vacuum unit (white piece), because that would result in the armrest lock lid to snap to one side (Haven’t tried it myself, but I read that you should try to avoid taking the white unit off).
You should rather remove the yellow vacuum pipe or the grey connector from the white unit.
I tried it for about 15 minutes with several small screwdrivers, trying to push the brackets apart but finally I gave up and took a pair of nippers and cut the yelow pipe off.
It’s a pain in the ass and the most complicated part of the whole center/rear interior disassembly. At least it was for me (pic 7,8).
Once the center armrest is out, you will hear a fizling noise coming from the disconnected vacuum pipe whenever unlocking the car.
Unless you press a finger on the vacuum pipe after unlocking the car, the 2 rear compartments and the glove box won’t unlock because the central locking system can’t build up enough underpressure (pic 10).
Due to disconnecting the cables from the armrest (which has 2 buttons for the mBrace system inside), you will get and error message in the dash board.
The alarm system is probably affected as well, because the interior sensor is disconnected, but there won’t be any error messages coming up for that (pic 11).
Rear compartment covers
Those covers are held by two clips on the top and hooked into the body of the car at the lower side.
Can be easily taken off after opening rear compartments.
Pic ‘rearside2’ shows the passenger side with removed cover.
You can see the 4 holes for the clips and the hooks.
Rear side panels
Prerequisite: Rear compartment covers must be removed first!
Rear compartments must be open.
Remove the alluminum cover on the middle pillar (4 screws, T10 I think) (pic 1).
Remove the screw behind the rear compartment cover (T15) (pic 2).
Remove the black rubber from the top downwards (pic 3, in this pic the sidepanel is already removed).
Unclip the plastic part from the footboard with your hand, move it slightly upwards so that the side panel can be unhokked (pic 4).
Unhook the side panel from the rear compartment (pic 5).
Remove the side panel. It’s held by 2 clips on the side and 2 clips/hooks at the back (pic 7).
Rear wall panel
Prerequisite: Rear side covers must be removed first!
Remove the 2 screws on each side (T15 I think) (pic 1).
Take off the cover, it’s help by another clip in the middle (pic 3).
Prerequisite: Rear side covers and read compartment covers must be removed first!
Removing the rear wall is helpful, too, especially for the driver side compartment with the CD changer. It’s otherwise hard to get out.
Loosen (no need to remove) the two screws on the rear side of the compartment (T30 I think). The compartment is hooked over it (pics 1 and 2).
Remove the 2 screws on the front (T15) and the plastic hook in the middle (driver side only) (pic 3).
Remove the compartments. Take care of the yellow vacuum pipes, they are hooked into the back of the compartment (pic 4).
They can be unhooked but it’s hard to disconnect them completely, the go somewhere into the compartment cover.
Here some more pics from the back of the car with the center armrest and the parts or the whole rear interior panels removed: