MercedesBenz SL buying guide (19892002)

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Mercedes-Benz SL buying guide

The advertising tag-line for the Mercedes-Benz SL was like no other car’, and we it’s justified – especially at prices.

Mercedes-Benz SL buying (1989-2002)

Mercedes-Benz SL specifications and

Introduction

The SL launched in 1989 three engine options. Two straight sixes — the and M104 with 190bhp 12v and 24v respectively, and the robust 32v M119 V8. The 300SL and 300SL-24 were with a choice of manual or transmissions, the 500SL shipped an old-tech four-speed automatic In 1992, the V12 600SL joined the with the M120 48v near-400bhp reinforcing the SL’s move

As with the previous SL roadsters, the shared a basic platform the mid-range saloon contemporary in this case, the W124 Featuring an advanced five-link rear suspension, recirculating steering and strut suspension up As a Grand Tourer, however, the SL — with relaxing, handling, perhaps the best ever designed (with adjustment including the seatbelt) and cabin space to carry a amount of luggage.

The M119 32V is responsive, with a 6 second and a top speed limited to 155mph, yet return around 30mpg at speeds. The old-school automatic impacts urban economy.

as a large car at launch, it fits modern traffic surprisingly and is easy to place on the road. The rear deck and square cut combined with either the rear window of the soft top or the equipment hardtop make for visibility that is the envy of modern hatchbacks, let alone — and yes, the rear mirror is electrically adjustable.

Straight-six models are, by to the 500SL, adequate. The manual box a ponderous, detached shift with the Mercedes saloons the car is from, and the 300SL engines are subdued, getting on with the job Economy is not significantly better, but you be beaten to 60 by some very vehicles indeed, particularly the auto.

The greatest sacrifice in the is losing the sound of the M119 V8 at RPM. The 500SL might be a tame beast, yet it carries the of a Le Mans winner; the Sauber fortunes having been with the update from an engine to the M119.

A practical

Mercedes-Benz’s over-engineered approach to accepting the limitations of the folding It is not a substantial, heavily lined and the design does include inherent security weaknesses are indicative of the occasional use intended for it.

The locking system therefore to the rear seat cubby the door pockets, the centre — anywhere you might to hide things is locked the doors. For models without seats, the platform behind is enough for a couple of typical bags, the boot is large and space for storing a wind

Engines

All SLs have an oil pressure it should read ‘3’ all the time, it may drop to 1.5-2 hot, at idle. If it’s low driving on a car with under miles, walk away. If the is non-functional it may be a cluster or sensor, is mounted in the oil filter mounting. for leaks around the sensor as

Pick of the bunch is the 500SL. The M119 V8 is engineered to the highest Mercedes achieved before mid‘90s cost-cutting phase, and it is tolerant of abuse, capable of mileages, and is relatively easy to Nevertheless, the quality of the items to the engine varied during the production run, giving to a few problems that can frustrate — particularly when bargains.

Engine management and systems evolved, with the cars using a mechanical injection (K/KE-Jetronic), changing to LH Jetronic in October 1992 Motronic. Ignition on earlier uses two coils and two distributors, one set per service items are cheap but you two of them, a tolerable compromise. The controller ECU can be expensive if it has failed.

Oil can cause problems with the initially due to hydraulic lifters to pressurise — kits to the seals are available and easy to if a methodical approach is taken, plan for aged hoses and cracking when disturbed and replace the timing chain whilst the covers are off. An specialist will charge of £500 for this job. The components go brittle with age and down; on a car with more 150,000 miles look for work to have been

Maladies common to most cars can also affect the SLs, such as failure of the position sensor; the costs from diagnosis rather replacement and if considering any ‘90s a £50 code reader and 38-pin is as relevant a purchase as a used-car

The M103/M104 engines in the earlier facelift) SLs are similarly robust, merely consumables and maintenance to running for 300,000-400,000 miles. The of these units has been in cars like the 300TE; may not suit the character of the SL quite as but they are reliable. From the M104 was offered either as a or 3.2-litre, before being with a V6 in 1999.

Post ’93, problems can be with wiring harnesses on all of SL (and to an extend, all Mercedes Insulation breaks down the loom, with many issues making diagnosis fun the engine wiring harness for an SL 500 is from a main dealer.

The V12 engine not only suffers the problems with wiring, the of consumables and densely-packed engine bay regular maintenance less than the V8. The trade off for this is refinement and a true classic, one that comes with a premium over the V8 in purchase and costs.

Post 1998

The 306bhp M113 V8 replaced the in 1998. This twin-spark, design was all new, driven in by DaimlerChrysler’s desire to reduce as well as produce a new, V8; it has reverted to a quad-cam 32V configuration in models. The M112 V6 in the 1998 280 (204bhp) and 320 (224bhp) is a variation of the retaining the three-valve per cylinder head design. Both of engines coincide with a in Mercedes-Benz’s quality overall, the increased servicing costs (12 in the V6, for example) and higher initial price of these younger makes them a poor in the R129’s history.

AMG models

Of V8 and V12 AMG models also graced the range. The V8 SL60, which a 6 litre, 381bhp version of the V8 and was produced between 1993 and the very rare 1997 with 7-litre 496bhp V12 and the SL73, which uses the basic 7.3 litre engine as the Zonda and other AMG V12-based Finally between 1998 and the SL55 AMG was offered, with M113 serving up 354bhp; a to the R230 SL55 and indeed, to the volume AMG would enjoy in the Century. SL60s come up frequently, albeit with a premium.

Brabus sl 7.3. S. r129

Other tuners, notably and Renntech, also offered R129s — these be bought very much on own merits and provenance.

Transmissions

launched with a four-speed in the V8/V12 models, an option of automatic in six-cylinder versions, and agricultural manual five-speed box as an on six-cylinder models only, in the range was updated to receive the controlled 5G-Tronic automatics.

The is reliable, but the simple, tough boxes are a better ownership when buying at the budget end of the — if it works when you buy the keep on top of fluid changes and it keep on doing so. The 722.3 gearbox was sufficiently strong Brabus used it in their V12 models unmodified!

Six-cylinder got the 722.5 five-speed automatic to the 5G-Tronic — this is a of the four-speed with an electrical for overdrive; it is still a hydraulic

The five-speed 5G-Tronic 722.6 was treated as a sealed for life (including the frustrating decision to the dipstick with a tamper-proof cap a red tab indicates it has been serviced, a tab that it has either never checked, or has only been by approved Mercedes service which Mercedes-Benz has subsequently and recommended fluid changes 40,000 miles.

There are economy and performance to be had by opting for the later gearbox, but necessary to be aware of leaks the wiring loom from the connector (look under the car at the signs of dampness and residue are a early warning) and ideally, for history with evidence of fluid and filter changes. The issues can cause the car to shut whilst driving, and are an involved

Drive with the roof and listen for noises from the drivetrain. Shifts on the four-speed are but swift — if delayed (without kickdown) or jerky in particular are present, check the oil and for the usual burnt, brown indicative of poor maintenance. The 5 automatic will hold the gears until the car is warmed up, and can be more obvious under though any hint of slipping be a warning.

With the manual, for vague, notchy gearchanges. If it has it’s working fine. there be issues with the release bearing or props, for general Mercedes specialists than SL ones — the car is no more complex than a 300E.

Suspension, steering and


When looking at an R129, ‘shoes’ — as the car’s have decreased, the popularity of rims and fake AMG rims has What you are looking for are genuine part numbers, so if in doubt, the wheel and look at the back; of online sites can give you a for design, finish and part that’s what a smartphone is Tyres should be an appropriate and rating for a 4500lb car that can achieve 150mph, skimping on implies skimping elsewhere.

The steering is precise, but detached, a power assisted system recirculating ball. A worn damper is frequently overlooked, and can cause vague response, and wandering.

True gluttons for can opt for Mercedes’ Active Dampening This option, standard 1993 on SL600s, provided a hydraulic suspension with control, active correction cornering and load leveling. by yet more of those ‘90s-era the recipe for high repair is spiced up with the application of spheres and a lack of specialists and in the UK, particularly as the cars have out of the main dealer network.

are inexpensive and should be replaced five-six years, but most occur with the valve and sensors. For the determined and competent DIY it should be simple to maintain; for who just want to pay for the car and enjoy it, components of the ADS system are four-figure Naturally for UK owners you can add the delights of corrosion to any attempt at maintenance.

Brabus sl 7.3. S. r129
Mercedes w124 7.3. brabus v12

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