Mercedes-Benz Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a 2004 SL500 with only 9000 miles. The hard top has been working well but stararted to work slow then partially. I currently have the top down (in the trunk) and cannot put it back up. The battery is good, I found the hydraulic pump with little fluid in the reservoir. Does anyone know if the oil level should be between the two markers on the reservoir tank while the top is open. I'm concerned because I read it should be checked with the top in the closed position. I'd like to fill it, close the top, check for leaks, and move to the next step in troubleshooting is issue.
Thank you!
 

·
Coupe/Convertible Forums Moderator
CURRENT: 2011 SL550, 2011 C300 FORMER: ML350, CLK550 Cabriolet, C240, ML320, 300TD
Joined
·
19,168 Posts

·
Registered
Current: 2003 SL55 Obsidian Black, 2007 ML500 Silver. Former: SL500, 560SEL, 450SEL, 300SEL 6.3
Joined
·
135 Posts
As the system is closed the only way the level will be low is that it has leaked somewhere. It's sure to be one of the cylinders

I have replaced the front cylinder and the load assist cylinders over the last year or so

I would be relectant to fill the tank up until you have looked in the usual places otherwise you will be just leaking more fluid somewhere.

Start in the boot/ trunk under the spare tyre/ wheel well, the easiest spot for oil from most of the cylinders to end up

Usually the first one to go is the front windscreen lock cylinder... the headlining will be damp and wet and the door seals will wrinkle. eventually it drips on you or your passenger who will not be amused.

If it's not either of these chances are it is the load assist cylinders

Remove the two flat quarter panels and shine a torch down into the well where the vertically placed load assist cylinder is buried. Mine had a puddle at the bottom

There will be 100ml of oil somewhere!

Good luck

Peter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the information. Has anyone had experience with a complete upgrade using "TopHydraulics" remanufactured components? Where do I get the details for removing cylinders and hydraulic lines....
Thanks again
 

·
Registered
Current: 2003 SL55 Obsidian Black, 2007 ML500 Silver. Former: SL500, 560SEL, 450SEL, 300SEL 6.3
Joined
·
135 Posts
I have replaced three of my cylinders with TopHydraulics refurbished units

Quite reasonably priced, fast turnaround and fast return of the core deposit

I'm a happy customer and will use them again when the next one fails

Replacing the front cylinder is a pain because you have to trace the hydraulic lines back to the pump in the boot and they take a convoluted course which requires lots of dismantling. It's a full days work

Similarly the load assist cylinders and they also require the removal of the roll bar mechanism which is quite tricky... another day or so. Deactivating the spring loaded roll bar mechanism so you don't get squashed requires some home made tools and props and was quite complicated despite the instructions

There are instructions in pdf form in the Star diagnostic system available from numerous online sites

Unless you were fairly comfortable with tricky complicated jobs it might be best left to an experienced independent but check that they have done a few before.

Someone on this forum might be able to point you towards a good local

Good luck,

Peter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Ouch

Thank you for the information. I wish I would have known more about this car prior to purchasing. My fault - lesson learned. FYI $5100 to repair the roof complete remanufacture pump and valves (top hydraulic) all around. $1800 for parts $3300 labor. When I get the car back I'll be nervous for the next big repair bill. This is out of my league.
 

·
Coupe/Convertible Forums Moderator
CURRENT: 2011 SL550, 2011 C300 FORMER: ML350, CLK550 Cabriolet, C240, ML320, 300TD
Joined
·
19,168 Posts
Thank you for the information. I wish I would have known more about this car prior to purchasing. My fault - lesson learned. FYI $5100 to repair the roof complete remanufacture pump and valves (top hydraulic) all around. $1800 for parts $3300 labor. When I get the car back I'll be nervous for the next big repair bill. This is out of my league.

There is a reason why these cars depreciate so quickly after the warranty runs out. The good news is that you should be good for another 10 years or more on the rebuilt cylinders.

My advice to prospective owners of older MBZs is that you better be a good DIYer and willing to invest in some new tools, tech and knowledge, or you better have deep pockets so you can afford to have the work done for you.
 

·
Registered
Current: 2003 SL55 Obsidian Black, 2007 ML500 Silver. Former: SL500, 560SEL, 450SEL, 300SEL 6.3
Joined
·
135 Posts
Hi SME,

It would be good to replace the lot in one go if you had the spare 5 1/2 sitting around but in the short term just identify the leaking cylinder and replace it. Don't be in a hurry to replace the pump until it fails (especially on a car with 9000m ( I just re-read that!))

The slow operation is more likely to be low fluid level than the pump

If your leaky cylinder is one of the easily accessible ones in the trunk/ boot you could do it yourself for the nominal cost of the refurbished cylinder and a common tools... a few hundred $ max

If it's the front one or the load assist assist pair (don't just replace one side) I reckon you might blow about $1000 for each job with a TH replacement and an independent guy

Replace each leaking cylinder (or pair) as they fail and the cost will not be too different and might be spread over several, if not many, years.

It will cost you a bit more in postage and an extra hour of labour each time someone has to pull the trunk/ boot lining out but it might only run to a few hundred

I have had mine for 8 years and 90,000km now and had most of the known issues and know that there will be more to come. SDS is a big help and has saved me 1000's; being able to do most things and having a good independent mechanic for the other stuff helps... Rodney is spot on

You won't run the car on Toyota money but the thrill is worth it

Good Luck

Peter
 

·
Registered
2003 SL500
Joined
·
76 Posts
Thank you for the information. I wish I would have known more about this car prior to purchasing. My fault - lesson learned. FYI $5100 to repair the roof complete remanufacture pump and valves (top hydraulic) all around. $1800 for parts $3300 labor. When I get the car back I'll be nervous for the next big repair bill. This is out of my league.
According to AllData it should take no more than 15 hours of labor to replace all cylinders and pump. Is your shop charging $200 per hour?

P.S. I paid $9K for my SL, so I'd rather have roof permanently closed then pay $5K for the repair. Frankly, this is exactly what I've been doing for the last two months. I will take care of it in a winter time (or so I hope). But I am hoping to limit damage to no more than $300 for a maximum of two refurb cylinders.
 

·
Registered
2001 Mercedes Benz SLK320, 2003 Mercedes Benz SL55 AMG
Joined
·
121 Posts
Sr Metal Engineer, where are you located?

As others have mentioned, the front locking cylinder is typically the first to go. As also mentioned, it's difficult to remove the lines all the way can to the pump. There are two possible alternatives that I can suggest:

1) replace the seal in he cylinder with the lines still installed. I've done this on a few SLK's and it isn't difficult. 01-12 Mercedes SL500 SL550 SL55 R230 Hydraulic Cylinder Roof Repair Kit w Picks | eBay

2) cut the line and use a hose coupler. Not to take anything away from Top Hydraulics, but there is a place in Florida that sells the couplers and can rebuild cylinders: Cabriolet Hydraulics - Products - Convertible Top Hydraulic Hoses

When I purchased my SL55 13 months ago I had to have 3 cylinders rebuilt (the front locking cylinder had already been addressed). I couldn't find the rebuild kits like I had for the multiple R170 cylinders I had done myself , but found a place in Tampa that did the 3 for less than $300.

Good luck,
Tim
 

·
Registered
2002 SL500 Silver Arrow
Joined
·
610 Posts
There is a reason why these cars depreciate so quickly after the warranty runs out. The good news is that you should be good for another 10 years or more on the rebuilt cylinders.

My advice to prospective owners of older MBZs is that you better be a good DIYer and willing to invest in some new tools, tech and knowledge, or you better have deep pockets so you can afford to have the work done for you.
seeing this in action - been watching Mecum Dallas. In the past two days 3 no reserve R230s (all 2003) - a silver sold yesterday for $7k, a black for $6500 and today a silver for $9k. That's crazy.


one background - I am an R129 guy (100% DIY) considering jumping up to an R230. Now I'm thinking I should just keep my Silver Arrow (dead reliable, easy to work on) and pick up an R230 from someone that has given up on it.

Sorry for going off topic of helping SME get his issues sorted. As you were.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Old and easily frustrated

Well, all great comments! I would love to take this project on however, I've learned and finally had to admit I don't have what it takes to dig into projects like this. I admire you DIY'ers. I usually create bigger problems, hahahah.... maybe in few years when I retire. I am going to double back on that "alldata" 15 hours
thanks again!
 

·
Registered
2003 SL500
Joined
·
76 Posts
Well, all great comments! I would love to take this project on however, I've learned and finally had to admit I don't have what it takes to dig into projects like this. I admire you DIY'ers. I usually create bigger problems, hahahah.... maybe in few years when I retire. I am going to double back on that "alldata" 15 hours
thanks again!
Keep in mind, that labor estimate I provided above might not have included lines removal. I did not dig into detailed steps, just looked up the labor. By the way, you can subscribe for allddata DIY membership - it is like $30 for 5 years.
 

·
Registered
82 380SL 96 SL500 03 SL500
Joined
·
6,154 Posts
2) cut the line and use a hose coupler. Not to take anything away from Top Hydraulics, but there is a place in Florida that sells the couplers and can rebuild cylinders: Cabriolet Hydraulics - Products - Convertible Top Hydraulic Hoses
I had my r230 front cylinder rebuilt by them and used their couplings.

Then I recently had correspondence with Klaus at TopHydraulics who warned me that the couplings could result in catastrophic failure spewing oil everywhere.

Now I personally feel that is likely only if the installer isn't very careful in inserting the lines completely and tightening the couplers enough, but... he's the expert.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
I have a 2003 SL500 hardtop convertible. The front lock ram was leaking so I replaced it. After replacement I ran the top and it was running real slow and the hydraulic pump was overheating. So I assumed the pump had been damaged so I replaced it. Now the top will not open or close at all. I can hear the pump operate and the windows drop like they are supposed to. I used a MB compatible scan tool and saw that all the switches were functioning like they are supposed to. What could be the problem that I am missing?
 

·
Registered
Current: 2003 SL55 Obsidian Black, 2007 ML500 Silver. Former: SL500, 560SEL, 450SEL, 300SEL 6.3
Joined
·
135 Posts
Did you check the level of the fluid in the reservoir?

If you didn't top it up after replacing the cylinder the level will be low.

The reservoir probably only holds 250ml

If it gets low enough the pump will run and nothing will happen

Good Luck

Peter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
I have a 2003 SL500. Found hydraulic fluid leak in trunk. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from even after loosening the pump and inspecting it, so I placed my phone on video, set it up in the trunk, shut the trunk, and operated the top. When I viewed the video, I saw it squirting from the bottom of the hydraulic housing. There's what appears to be a "check ball" type thing on the bottom of it where the fluid was squirting from. I'm assuming you have to disassemble the hydraulic block to fix it? Please help...... poor boy with champagne tastes on a beer budget. BTW...... very informative thread by you guys! Thanks! Always learning
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top