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1990 560SEL, 1999 SLK, 2005 BMW 525I
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I placed a deposit on '96 SL320, ebay with lots of pictures. The car has 82,500 miles, maintenance records by Mercedes dealer were also on the pictures. The car looks clean, carfax shows no ill effects, etc, etc. I am told my a fellow MBCA member that the '96 models were after the issue with the wire harness and also it has the electronic transmission which gives smoother shifting pattern. We were unsure whether the 320's had this updated trans or was only applied to the 500's. Anyway, any comments in reference to potential issues with this mileage or any peculiarities of this model are appreciated. Thanks
 

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2003 SL500, 2003 SL55, 1998 SL500, (2) 1991 300SLs
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I believe you were misinformed both about the wiring harness and the transmission...
 

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Congradulations, I hope it works out for you, I hope your deposit was small as you never want to pay for a car you have not seen or driven. My suggestion to you is to inspect and drive the car before you give the remaining balance to the seller, something I know you already intend to do. I have the same year and model and have enjoyed the car tremendously. Theres not a day that goes by that I don't receive a positive comment about the car. The R129 is timeless in design. Now for what to look for, inspect the side posts for possible hydraulic fluid leakage, the two cylinders, located ontop of the windshield are noted for leaking. Many threads on this issue. Check the soft top for serviceability, cracks in plastic windows, headliner etc. Check brake rotors for grooves, get as much maintenance history as you can from the seller, ask for the owners manual and all paperwork that came with the car when sold new. Check and make sure the windscreen comes with the car. Check the main hydraulic pump for leakage (pump is located underneath the spare tire). Check under the car for oil leaks, check transmissiom fluid, should be pink in color, stealer recommends that it be changed at 100k, cost $200-$250. Check the A/C to make sure it's blowing cold air, check freon level by looking at the glass port located in the A/C line, left front under the hood, should be clear when A/C is operating, no bubbles. One mistake I made when I first got my car was to change the oil and put 0-40 synthetic, Mobile one in the car. Bad move the car started to leak like a sive, asked the Indy about it and he said since I live in a hot climate (Alabama) that seldom sees freezing temperatures there is no need to run that viscosity, so I went to 10-30 and that fixed the problem. Crawl, walk, run I say. Keep in touch with this forum and you'll learn a lot and save money. Hope it turns out for you, Good Luck!!
 

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Forgot one thing, get the VIN and run a CARFAX report on the vehicle, just to make sure everythings on the up and up. If your interested in how to build a hoist for your hard top send me a PM and I'll send a BOM.
 

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93 500SEL DOA - PARTING OUT, 08 CLK350 Cab -DOA, '05 CLK500 Cab (hers), '10 Razor Elec Scooter (his)
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I believe you were misinformed both about the wiring harness and the transmission...
Unsure about harness...I think those were in 93,94,95. Can someone verify this?

As for the tranny, yep, you've got the electronically controlled unit. From MBUSA's website:

"Transmission Driver-adaptive electronically controlled 5-speed automatic."

Congrats, I think you'll enjoy it!

acb
 

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1990 560SEL, 1999 SLK, 2005 BMW 525I
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the advice. This car has lived in Texas and maintenance records show Mobil 1 15-40 as the preferred viscosity. I am getting an independent inspection done on the car before the deal is consumated. Carfax shows no issues referencing accidents or recalls or out of the ordinary service. The seller has provided over 100 pictures, if these don't lie the car looks very clean.
 

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84 500SEL AMG, 90 560SEC AMG, 85 500SEC AMG Widebody
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One item that is a known issue with the 3.2 M104 is the head gasket and timing chain front cover gasket (U gasket) - the original ones will fail and develop leaks - almost guaranteed. head gasket failure will lead to oil leaks around the back of the head. Front timing chain cover gasket will result in front oil leaks that get sprayed around by the belt.

Had mine replaced in my 96 SL320 about a 1.5 years ago at about 102k miles. Cost around $2k - lots of labor.

Good luck.

Al Lydon
Atlanta, GA
 

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Sunny, consider my 1995 SL500 to buy. I have not advertised it yet because i'm still debating whether or to sell. I was an MB tech for many years, this car has 45,816 miles on it and is in showroom condition. I'm the second owner, the original owner lives in Naples ,FL and I have his phone number. This car needs nothing. Everything works, nothing leaks. If you are interested I will send you a detailed list of what I did to the car in the past 25 months as a hobby. Minor stuff, however most recently I replaced the infamous engine wire harness & positive harness, $535.00 & $135.00 successively, from the dealer. I've only put approx. 5,000 miles on the car since I've had it. The original owner told me the car was never in inclimate weather and never had any paint work. Well the same for me, I had a state patrol car and a Isuzu p/u to drive. You can got o r129 photos, page 23, I've got 4 pics posted. Car is Azure Blue over Gray. I'm now leaning towards a E500/ 4-matic wagon or a Land Rover Range rover. If you are interested send me a PM and we'll talk price...............Thor
 

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I believe you were misinformed both about the wiring harness and the transmission...
For the record, what was the exact year at which you can stop worrying about the wiring harness issues on R129s? My significant other likes my car to the point where I find printouts from autotrader by my bedside, of R129 listings. I guess that's a 'hint'.

So, I was thinking about a 320 or a 300, because my 600 is not quite as efficient as it could be with gas at $4/gal around here. Anyway, '96 and '97 are the last years of the 6cyl, so those have been particularly attractive. Also, did they ever come with the 5-speed?

Thanks!

-Chris
 

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2003 SL500, 2003 SL55, 1998 SL500, (2) 1991 300SLs
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Unsure about harness...I think those were in 93,94,95.
My understanding agrees with yours. This is from a consensus of opinion on Mercedesshop.com.

As for the tranny, yep, you've got the electronically controlled unit.
You either misread MB's website or it contains an error (it wouldn't be the first). Mercedes documentation including the EPC, the WIS, and the '96 SL500/SL320 brouchure clearly establish that the SL320 did not have the electronically-controlled transmission.

I think it is important to be clear about this because MY1996 was the first year for this transmission and it is notorious for being trouble prone that year. For this reason, someone shopping for an SL500 should approach a '96 with caution. On the other hand, if someone were in the U.S. and shopping for the most desirable SL320, I believe the choice is the '96. This year avoids the wiring issues of the previous years and gets the styling update while retaining the reliable hydraulically-controlled 5-speed tranny that was introduced in the 300SL.

A manual transmission was offered in the '90-'93 300SL.
 

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93 500SEL DOA - PARTING OUT, 08 CLK350 Cab -DOA, '05 CLK500 Cab (hers), '10 Razor Elec Scooter (his)
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My understanding agrees with yours. This is from a consensus of opinion on Mercedesshop.com.

You either misread MB's website or it contains an error (it wouldn't be the first). Mercedes documentation including the EPC, the WIS, and the '96 SL500/SL320 brouchure clearly establish that the SL320 did not have the electronically-controlled transmission.

I think it is important to be clear about this because MY1996 was the first year for this transmission and it is notorious for being trouble prone that year. For this reason, someone shopping for an SL500 should approach a '96 with caution. On the other hand, if someone were in the U.S. and shopping for the most desirable SL320, I believe the choice is the '96. This year avoids the wiring issues of the previous years and gets the styling update while retaining the reliable hydraulically-controlled 5-speed tranny that was introduced in the 300SL.

A manual transmission was offered in the '90-'93 300SL.
Guess they goofed on the website. I take WIS's info as fact pretty much. They are illustrating the 96 and 97 on the same page. Maybe that's why...

Mercedes-Benz, Home of Mercedes-Benz Luxury Automobiles
 

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Check the hood blanket for oil. Traces of oil leakage will be erased once someone has cleaned the engine, however, you cannot clean the insulation without shredding it. Also check the headliner for stains which could be either water from a leaky seam or hydraulic fluid leakage.

A word about Carfax. They report what's been reported. A few years ago I bought a wrecked Audi from a private party that had no insurance. I had a small shop straighten it out and replace a couple of panels. I turned the car quickly and made a dime. Look for frame and body structures that have the yellow marking paint that wrecking yards use to ID parts. Many factory replacement parts will have barcode stickers. Also, cars up and down "Tornado Alley" get cleaned by uninsured owners and dishonest car lots after flood damage. None of this shows on Carfax.

Caveat Emptor
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have contacted SGS for an inspection of the car. It is most visual with some driveability to check trans operation, etc. I have used them previous and actually deter me from purchasing that particular car, which happened to be a '95 SL320. Not a full out inspection, but better than nothing at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry, I should have thanked you all for the advice given. It sure helps.
 
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