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Hey guys!

I'm a bit out of my element here but I'd like to introduce myself to the MB community! Please don't shame me, but I'm a bit of a BMW enthusiast. That said, I've always liked the "dark side" and have a soft spot for certain years of the SL line. In my town there has been an SL sitting for several years. Whenever I run past that house I think about stopping to ask if they want to sell it. This morning I took a different way to work which brought me past that house and lo and behold they had the SL out front with a for sale sign! I whipped a u-turn and stopped to look. She's a 1997 SL600 with 60k miles. Supposedly new tires, battery and brakes but the car has been sitting so the rotors are rusty and the tires have good tread but they're certainly not new. The kicker, and reason the price is attractive is that the rear suspension is sagging (and it's noted on the for sale sign that there is a problem with it). Obviously there is a problem with the ADS2? (hopefully I used the right term). I've learned (and assumed so anyway) that parts can be very expensive. Having been a BMW M5 owner (of several generations of car), I understand this aspect! The good news is, as long as I can have access to factory repair manuals and forums to learn from, I'm able to do all of my own work. I used to be a mechanic and I still wrench as a hobby or occasional side jobs.

My question to the group is, what should I look for when I go back tomorrow? In particular what to look for on the suspension issue, but also any other SL specific problems. Re: suspension, so far in the light reading I've done, I should listen for the hydraulic pump to make noise? Any other tips and suggestions are much appreciated.

I'm reading up on Clifton's website to learn more about the cars in general. So far I can tell the headlights are aftermarket (projectors I think) and it has monoblock I wheels. Hard top is currently on the car. Overall the car is in decent shape but it will need some loving. I'll probably buy it provided it runs and moves since the price is so cheap. I am mostly looking for input on the suspension... what to "try" when I go to look at it and what different failure modes may mean.

Thank you
 

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Welcome to the forum,
Lots to look at. If it runs try to raise the car with the button to the left of the head light switch. Look at fluid level in ADS tank at right front under hood. If hard top is off cycle rag top and look for leaks in front and rear of back tires also at upper windshield area inside car. If you're DIY the ADS is easy to get parts pretty cheap compared to dealer, and not that bad to work on. With that milage it would be a good project car to restore. There is a member on this forum that has a daily driver SL600 with over 250k on it and has done every conceivable repair on his including ADS.
 

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You don't list a location for this beast, whether its in a rust prone area or not.
When I bought my 2 SL320s earlier this year, I read beforehand as much as I could about all the known issues the SLs have. When I knew what all was most likely going to be wrong with them, I moved forward and made the purchases. When they arrived, each one has just about every known "issue" cars form these years typically have or have had. Both of mine were neglected so it made sense that they would both need seats, tops, wiring harnesses, full hydraulics etc.

The thing for me is, none of what I have run into with these two has been a surprise to me. I figured my expenditure would be in the several thousands of dollars before I bought them, but I have time to spend it, most didn't need to be done immediately. My cars were from rot free environments, that to me is more important than the broken or worn out parts that need replacing.

Figure you need the full set of hydraulic cylinders from Top Hydraulics (about $650 plus core). Yours shouldn't need the wiring harnesses, just check to make sure the insulation on yours isn't brittle and falling off. Seat upholstery is available lots of places. Soft tops, I bought mine complete with the bows etc to where all I have to do is bolt it in. Seeing how it's been sitting a long time, I would plan on a rebuild of the suspension hydraulics and if it turns out to be less than a full rebuild, chalk it up to your good fortune. I have not gotten into it on mine yet, but many here have discussed rear suspension like bushings and hard parts many have needed to do. I have no clue if that is something with the 600s, just a something I would look into.

Good luck and I know you will just love your new challenge !!!!
 

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She's a 1997 SL600 with 60k miles. Supposedly new tires, battery and brakes but the car has been sitting so the rotors are rusty and the tires have good tread but they're certainly not new. The kicker, and reason the price is attractive is that the rear suspension is sagging (and it's noted on the for sale sign that there is a problem with it).
Friend of mine just sent me photos of a 1997 SL600 that has been sitting for 2 years with a 'For Sale' sign on it (to the point that the details are faded and barely legible). It too is sagging in the rear and has clear coat peeling on the trunk lid - in addition to whatever other issues I cannot see. - Price was a little high but perhaps seller is willing to let it go cheap now relative to when they originally wrote the sign. Maybe I will call the number on my way home today.

Dropped both sons at college so I'm an empty-nester now. Time for V12 project?

If by remote chance this is the same car (which seems unlikely given where your profile says you registered from), I will get off of your cloud so you can do your thing. Just say what state yours is located, so I know if I should make the call. Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies. Sorry, I figured my location would show up in the left hand panel with my details. I'm located in the Buffalo NY area. Rust is certainly a concern! The outside/body looks good but I haven't had a good look underneath yet. When I go this afternoon (I set up a time with the owner yesterday) I plan to try and get it on his driveway so I can see better underneath. I will check fluid levels first. Once it's on the driveway, any apparent leaks should start to show themselves.

The gentlemen sounds older and my gut feeling from the conversation is he isn't holding back on divulging info/problems. He knows it needs work and priced it appropriately thinking a DIY buyer could fix and then possibly flip for a few grand profit if someone wanted to. For the price, I don't think I could go wrong in that regard.
 

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What makes you think the headlights are aftermarket? A 97 SL600 would have had xenons standard from the factory.

One tip regarding ADS fluid level: the min/max levels are indicated on the side of the reservoir on the engine side. The reservoir should be only about halfway full when the car is in its normal ride height.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
After viewing a bunch more photos, it appears they are factory headlights. The corner lenses are clear which led me to think they were aftermarket. I now see photos of some other cars with clear corners. Are these a Euro spec?
 

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So I bought the car and got it home tonight. $1,900! It turns out the guy never got the sagging rear looked at, he just surmised from poking around on the internet that it was going to be expensive to fix and wasn't "something simple". Now I have a little more detail. The reservoir is roughly half full from what I can tell. It's certainly not high and definitely not low. When you start the car, she purrs like a kitten. The suspension in the rear also does not move up at all... I had him start it while I was outside and watching the rear. No movement. Later when I got in it, I pressed buttons for the suspension levels and nothing happened. What does this tell us?

Also, he decided to remove the hard top and function the softtop before I came over. Probably because it's been sitting for a few years and he wanted to make sure it still worked. The cylinders started leaking from the windshield and I saw fluid in front of at least one wheel. Looks like I'll need to replace at least some of the cylinders. Good thing it's in the budget!

Just to confirm, Pentosin CH 11S is fine for both the top system and the suspension? I already keep this on hand for my BMW's, so that would be great.

The car looks clean underneath (northeast US car for a long time) and he had all service done at the local dealer during the 10 years and 20k miles that he owned/drove it.

Looking forward to this challenge and excited to get the chance to drive it once repaired.
 

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Congrats!

The Pentosin fluid is not the right one for this generation. You should get some ZH-M. It doesn't cost a lot (around $10 a quart is what I've heard, which is roughly the same as here). You can get it from the dealer, or elsewhere branded as Febi, which I believe is the exact same stuff. The top system takes (less than?) 2 liters to flush and the ADS is around 4.
 

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Wow what a steal! Those would be likely maintenance items on any V12, let alone one for $1900!

I have a BMW M car as well. I think the SL is a nice change of pace. Let me know if you want to sell it to me. I'll give you $1901 ;)
 

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Congrats!

The Pentosin fluid is not the right one for this generation. You should get some ZH-M. It doesn't cost a lot (around $10 a quart is what I've heard, which is roughly the same as here). You can get it from the dealer, or elsewhere branded as Febi, which I believe is the exact same stuff. The top system takes (less than?) 2 liters to flush and the ADS is around 4.
Thanks. Appreciate the rough quantities for the systems. In the trunk of the car is a open metal can of MB fluid. I'll have to get the part number off it but in the print on the side it said it was Pentosin CH11S, so there is some of that fluid in one of these systems!
 

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Wow what a steal! Those would be likely maintenance items on any V12, let alone one for $1900!

I have a BMW M car as well. I think the SL is a nice change of pace. Let me know if you want to sell it to me. I'll give you $1901 ;)
Ha! If I go to sell it, it will certainly be for more than that ;-) I'll get some pictures up soon.
 

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too bad it is not only the front soft-top cylinders leaking as those are reasonably inexpensive and easy to change. If you have multiple leaks, will be easier to do all 11 at once - since the most difficult part of it is tearing apart the interior to get to cylinders - and not the removal itself. The good news is, you can have all new seals for about $1000 (do the core swap so you can immediately replace a leaking cylinder with a refurbed one instead of waiting for yours to ship, fix, and return) and a weekend worth of work - and never have to deal with it again.
 

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too bad it is not only the front soft-top cylinders leaking as those are reasonably inexpensive and easy to change. If you have multiple leaks, will be easier to do all 11 at once - since the most difficult part of it is tearing apart the interior to get to cylinders - and not the removal itself. The good news is, you can have all new seals for about $1000 (do the core swap so you can immediately replace a leaking cylinder with a refurbed one instead of waiting for yours to ship, fix, and return) and a weekend worth of work - and never have to deal with it again.
I plan to tackle the cylinder rebuilds over winter time. The car is kept in my garage so the plan is to get it roadworthy and drive it when it's nice enough to have the top down/off. I'll definitely remove all of them at once and send them out so I only have to go in there once.
 

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Current suspension diagnosis update:
-I checked the fluid level and flow. The level is very high, but the return line flows nicely with the engine idling. The level suggests some of the nitrogen spheres may have leaked into the system, correct?
-I tried playing with all of the buttons: The sport mode button appears to activate, it turns red. The lock out button will also turn red when pressed. What doesn't work is the ride height adjustment. Those 2 orange/yellow lights do NOT illuminate.
-during all of the button exploration, the suspension did not move.
-I inspected under the car and did not see any externals leaks.
-During the inspection I noted that the level sensor is connected.

So far I've only seen one fuse related to the system, #23 in the underhood fuse box. What other fuses and relays should I check? It seems something must not be getting power if those lights aren't coming on?

Besides the electrical that I just mentioned, what's the next thing to check?
 

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I'd check to make sure the yellow ads failure light lights on position 2 of the ign switch, sounds to me like it was constantly on and someone removed the bulb. That would account for the level switch not working, its disabled when ads is in limp mode. The sport led lights but does nothing in that mode. Gotta get the car on sds to diagnose.
 

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Sorry I haven't kept the thread current on this forum. I found a broken wire on the ADS hydraulic control unit. The condition of the wiring was so poor near the solenoid cap and appeared to be failing on another solenoid that I ended up having to buy a brand new unit (you cant' buy the solenoids and these could not be repaired). The unit was unusually corroded compared to the rest of the car as well. I will be listing it for sale for parts soon. At least 2 of the solenoids have good wiring still.

During the removal process I found aerated fluid coming from 2 different lines, so while the system is open and apart, I'm replacing all 4 spheres. The new parts just arrived so I'll be digging into the work this week and weekend.
 
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