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Buying an SL500

Discussion in 'General Mercedes-Benz Related Discussion' started by ace577, Jul 18, 2019.

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  1. ace577

    ace577 New Member

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    SL 500 2003
    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking to buy an SL 500. With my budget it will either an 2003 or 2004. I've had a 2000 S class before and, while lovely to drive, it had constant faults, particularly the air suspension.

    Is the SL500 similarly unreliable? I think it looks great. I haven't driven one yet but I'm sure the drive will be fine I'm just concerned about how reliable they are

    I'm considering these two in particular:

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classi...=Automatic&model=SL CLASS&page=1&modal=photos

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classi...&transmission=Automatic&model=SL CLASS&page=2



    thanks
     
  2. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    R171 SLK280 3.0, Land Rover 110 County SW
    Hello and Welcome,

    They are very nice when working, however I believe the collective noun for R230 SL500's is a "Worry"

    SBC and ABC are 2 possible ticking time bombs along with water leaks which take out the PSE pump in the boot, and corrosion on the rear wheel arches
     
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  3. OP
    ace577

    ace577 New Member

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    Thank you for the welcome Blobcat. That's a shame. I thought that might be the case. My other options within budget are a BMW Z4, Lexus SC430 or an older Porsche Boxster. My preference is by far the SL500. It looks amazing but I'm not sure It's worth the risk on the reliability front
     
  4. sl500amgsport

    sl500amgsport Senior Member

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    Your Mercedes:
    SL500 2014
    I have owned the SC430, was 100% reliable with a nice sound and comfortable ride so can vouch for that but not considered pretty or a true sports car by most.

    Mercedes SL500 R231
     
  5. peterws1957

    peterws1957 Senior Member

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    Your Mercedes:
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    A lot of SL's go through life without major problems. As Blobcat says though you are better to be forewarned. Lots to choose from so it's a question of finding a well maintained one with good history and leak free. Rectifying problems with SBC and ABC is not as costly as it used to be, but a slush fund for future problems is wise. Could always go for an SL350 version, most of which don't have ABC.
     
  6. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    You could get a good R230 but I don't think you could ever fully relax.

    Z4 - just no, SC430 - no on many levels, Porsche Boxster - you could get a very good one and if you have access to a good Porsche Specialist you could do well although I wouldn't have one just because of the 911.

    If you're looking at Boxsters and Z4's why not try a later R171 SLK in V6 (M272) guise? Non of the worry's of an SL (No SBC or ABC) and if you get one on 16 /17" wheels they're comfortable for long distances (I spent over 6 hours in mine yesterday covering 374 miles :))
     
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  7. marlowboy

    marlowboy Active Member

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    Good Luck! I’ve changed from an 02 SL500 to a 04 SL350. Had the dreaded Boot leak, Pump rebuild required and as stated, the dreaded Corrosion on arches and body seams, not good. Originally the car lived in Scotland and they do like their Salt ups there! The 350 thankfully has none of these problems, a “Southern” Car that did not go out in the Winter. I miss the V8 purrrrrr but sleep better at night!
     
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  8. JBell

    JBell Senior Member

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    I would be looking at an SL350 instead of the SLK (no offence intended), there is a lovely one in the for sale section and no ABC issues
     
  9. OP
    ace577

    ace577 New Member

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    Thanks for the great advice everyone. So I'm better off getting either the less powerful SL350 or an SLK?

    I like the SL as it's bigger but the SLK could be an option too as long as it's not too cramped inside
     
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  10. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    It's an option, might have to get an earlier one which could have balance shaft issues and SBC still (along with water leaks and PSE)
     
  11. Flyinspanner

    Flyinspanner Senior Member

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    Your Mercedes:
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    And remember that people only post up tales of woe!

    No one randomly posts up ‘my car is working well with no faults” :)

    My CL500 has ABC, in the 3 and a bit years I’ve owned it, has had a pulsation damper fail, replaced and a flush and fluid change, and a union nipped up where there was a weep.
    It’s my every day driver, it’s not a cosseted weekend car.

    So the perception can be a bit skewed, ABC is a bit better ‘understood’ now and received wisdom is now to get the fluid changed every couple of years. The pumps are now available refurbished from MB for around £500 with a warranty, so the costs have fallen massively. (And much safer than the units advertised on the Bay, refurbed in Eastern Europe). Valve block rebuilds with Viton o rings are reasonable. (Think kits are around £75 if you want to do it yourself)
    The ABC system is very comfortable, and remember it was originally called “active suspension” when it was on F1 cars, so it’s not like it’s a poor type of system. Keeps the car nice and flat when pushing on in the twisty bits.

    Maybe when you are looking at cars, just ask the seller about any maintenance carried out on the system. Check the colour of the fluid. Get a flush/refill and filter change.

    Whatever car you buy, there will at some point be some issue, sometimes small, sometimes big, if you are buying the SL as a long term thing, it makes sense to buy the version that you really want, (get the flush ASAP and reduce your worries), otherwise you may forever be thinking ‘if only’ :)

    Good luck with the search.
     
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  12. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    Try one is the best advice I can give, a R230 SL500 is a wonderful and comfortable car an R171 SLK280/300/350 is also a great car. 6'2" driver without issue (not me - my son...) and with decent luggage you can easily get enough in the boot for a few weeks away and still fold the lid
     
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  13. OP
    ace577

    ace577 New Member

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    I had a look at the SL350s listed on autotrader. I don't mind so much the drop in power but I really want a black one and the only black ones are SL500s. If they've already had the SBC and ABC issues sorted are they likely to reoccur? And they haven't had them sorted and it goes wrong how much does it cost to fix?

    Edit: Flyinspanner answered my cost question- thank you Flyinspanner.
     
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  14. JBell

    JBell Senior Member

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  15. flowrider99

    flowrider99 Senior Member

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    I have had my SL500 for nearly 3 years and maintenance costs have been no more than on any other premium car. People will hark back to the days when ABC parts cost lots of money but this is no longer the case and SBC doesn't even enter my mind as a concern given that a rebuilt pump can be had for under £400 these days. Any poorly maintained car will give you trouble and the SL is no different. Bear in mind that the only saving with an SL350 is the lack of ABC but you then lose out on the excellent ride quality plus the V8 experience. Just make sure maintenance has not been neglected and buy one of the good ones.

    PS Have you had a black car before? They are buggers to keep clean :confused:
     
  16. ajlsl600

    ajlsl600 Senior Member

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    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
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  17. sl500amgsport

    sl500amgsport Senior Member

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    Not been washed for a week, ceramic coating black problem solved [​IMG]

    Mercedes SL500 R231
     
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  18. flowrider99

    flowrider99 Senior Member

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    I should ceramic coat my black S5 but I need to sort the stone chips first :(
     
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  19. OP
    ace577

    ace577 New Member

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    That's reassuring, thank you. Yes, my first car was black. It is a pain, every tiny scratch stands out too
     
  20. ajlsl600

    ajlsl600 Senior Member

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    liftcar (3).JPG mine was obesian black ,lovely, no scratches as well.
     
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