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Hello, I am looking to buy a Mercedes and I would like your opinion on a 2003 R230 SL500 with 26,000 miles. It looks to be in immaculate shape and i'm hoping to trade my 2010 Camaro SS for it. Are there any issues I should know about before purchasing an 03' R230 besides ABC issues? Doesn't have Keyless go or Massage seats. Can't tell if it has Active Seat ventilation or not because the picture isn't close enough. There are other R230s I could spring for that are newer but this one has so few miles and they are asking $25,000 for it. The 03's seem to have a weird cup holder connected to the passenger seat and the old command is terrible. (I've used it in a w220 pre-facelift S500 and its atrocious.)
Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated! :smile



Tapp Motors 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Price: $24995
That's the car^
 

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The R230 is a wonderful car. But it is still a $100K car from a maintenance perspective and will cost more to keep on the road, even one with low miles. If you go into it with the knowledge that it will take around $2K / year to keep running, you will love this car.

If you have some DIY skills, almost every common failure point has DIY guides on the internet to fix.

As always, do not let the seller talk you out of a pre-buy inspection and check all the common wear items like motor mounts, control arm bushings, roof cylinders and pump, ABC struts and hoses, flex disk, etc. Have them hookup SDS and check the error codes, and rodeo the ABC system.
 

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I think its WAY too high. Should be pristine with a cpo warrantee and new everything for that. Or should be alot newer with every option. But it may be a clean good car. I wouldnt buy it.
 

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I was a little puzzled at the price. I haven't seen it in person yet nor contacted them about it. They have had the car on the lot for almost a year so i'm a little skeptical about it. Wish it had keyless go and the active seats but beggars can't be choosers. I think they will probably come down on the price and if not i'll walk away.
 

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I will definitely have a ppi when I look at the car. I was also wondering about the acceleration of the SL500 with the 722.6 vs 722.9 transmission. My Camaro is pretty fast and I don't expect it to be as fast as that, but is it comparable to a W211 E350 or a W220 S500? Also, is the stock bose system terrible? I've heard so many people saying its either terrible or just ok. I found the non-HK system in the w211 to be fantastic and the W220 Bose to be pretty good (just a little low in deep bass). Is the maintenance really that expensive compared to other MB vehicles? I've been around MBs my whole life and some were nightmares with reliability and maintenance (W203 C230 Kompressor) and some weren't bad at all (W204 C300). Is the ABC system as unreliable as the W220 Airmatic system or is it just hit and miss.

I know this is a lot of questions that should be multiple discussions so thank you for ANY help at all.
 

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It is common to find 10 year old R230's in showroom condition. They age really well.

You should be able to find a good SL500 in the $15-17K range with around 60-70K miles. If it were me, that is the range I would shop in. I agree with okbarnett that they want too high a premium for the mileage.
 

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Yes, the ABC system will add $500-1000 per year to your ownership cost, in my estimation. If you want an ABC equipped car like an SL, then it is best to just accept that going in, or buy something else.

I think the Bose system sounds great compared to other stock systems I've had in the past, but that is just my opinion. I think the acceleration is very good for daily driving. I rarely find myself wanting for more and I am a lead foot. It also has a great exhaust note without getting obnoxious. The transmission is really good at being in the right gear when it is time to accelerate.

You might want to look at the SL55 model if you want to smoke tires and make noise. It is about a $10K premium and you get close to 500hp instead of 300hp.
 

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Hello, I am looking to buy a Mercedes and I would like your opinion on a 2003 R230 SL500 with 26,000 miles.
Assuming you've done your research and already aware of highly problematic ABC suspension system, and realize that 2003 falls within 'bad filter design' years further compounding this problem...

R230s won't be collectible for another 20 years, more likely 30. As such, low mileage at this point _ONLY_ important insofar as lower wear and tear. At the same time, low mileage also can be indicative of neglect, since fluids in such cases have to be changed based on age and that is often not done. This won't be a problem if the car is fully documented, but otherwise you should assume it is on its second oil change and has sludge in the gas tank.

Last but not least - price. You can easily buy two 2003 R230s for the asking price. How is such inflated price is justified?
 

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I just sold a 2003. My wife drove it as her everyday car. We bought the car with 20,000 miles and sold it with 40,000 miles. The reason we sold it was that it was hit and the dealer just couldn't get it back together correctly.

I paid 25,000.00 for the car and traded it in for 12,000.00. (just because I gave up)

When I bought the car I thought the price was OK because of the low miles. The thing I didn't count on was that things go bad just because of age. The interior controls were sticky and couldn't be cleaned. I tried everything I read on the forum, nothing worked. It needed front end work. Rubber bushings !! Fluids should be changed. I only did break flush and oil.

I remember the test ride. I really wanted the car and still miss it. Just be careful. It was a little more than I could afford. I bought an SLK. Not as fancy as the SL but, newer and everything works. You can get an SLK350 fairly fast and new for just a little more money.
 

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B15M makes a point I wanted to make...that some things, like seals, simply age over time, having nothing to do with use. In fact just the opposite...more use, lubrication is typically better than just sitting. Anyway, having had a 2004 SL in the 70k mile range it is a great car, depending on what you are looking for. It developed the typical sag after sitting which was resolved by getting the front valve refurbished (cleaned, new seals). Having learned much about the cars AFTER I bought I decided I wanted a later model. If I had studied about the cars and differences before I purchased I would have begun looking at 2005. 2005 has the newer radio optics and the wider screen. I believe some changes were made to the ABC system in 2007. All sorts of opinions on the ABC. I fall into the camp that believes the problems are overblown. It is a high-pressure hydraulic system that does require some maintenance. Consider it a wear item. Keeping the ABC fluid clean by flushing every couple of years is not MB standard maintenance, or at least not originally, but it is well worth it. These cars are probably way over-engineered but they drive nice, handle nicely and are generally nice to own if you like these sorts of things. Mark
 

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I think for a dealer it's a pretty low price! I got mine of hands 2005 SL500 with 23k miles for 26k last year. The 2003 year it's a little different, as well as it's the first year of the model. if you can find out what was made for maintenance that would help you. If you can knock down some $$$ that would be great too. Check on cars.com for prices so you'd have something to relate. When i made research i decided not to go with 03-04 models just because still had some hicups. But if they were addressed then there's nothing to worry about.

For ABC question - there's a $2500 kit to swap for regular coilovers, instead of ABC. THat will get you ABC problems free :)

And if you're going to drive it every day you might consider with a little higher miles, somewhere under 40k, because they'll be cheaper. The most cars on the market are 2003 models, dunno why ?!?!

I still want a SL55 model, so maybe i should sell you mine? :D (2005 SL500 24k miles - better than 03)
 

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I just sold a 2003. My wife drove it as her everyday car. We bought the car with 20,000 miles and sold it with 40,000 miles.

You can get an SLK350 fairly fast and new for just a little more money.
How long did you have the 2003? How much do you figure you put into it in that time? My exact quandary is whether to get a 2003-2005 SL500 or 2005-2008 SLK. I prefer the sl500 but am concerned it will cost way more to keep up.
 

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The SLK is a much simpler car. It's based on the W203/W204 C-Class and shares many parts in its electronics and suspension. Other than the hydraulics for its vario roof, it really should need no more specialized maintenance than a comparable C350.

The SL's ABC is going to be the biggest additional maintenance concern over the SLK. I would add SBC into that mix, except now it has a 25-year factory warranty, so other than the inconveniences of putting the car in the shop, that's no longer a concern. Other minor things with additional maintenance in the SL include the pneumatic system and the dual-battery system.

Personally, i don't think I could drive an SLK. It's a very nice car and is sporty and fun, but it's just far too small for me. The SL is my daily driver, though I work from home so it does not get driven every day. But I do sometimes travel and it's been a great car for road trips. I drove to Orlando in January (1200 miles round trip) and thoroughly enjoyed it.
 
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