The early 1990′s Mercedes-Benz SL has both a removable hard top and an electrically operated soft top, which can fold away completely when opened. The functionality is operated by a series of hydraulic lines and valves along with a hydraulic pump. However, in order for these hydraulic mechanisms to work, there is a sender unit or control module in the rear right compartment that is the brains of the operation. When any of these parts go bad, your Mercedes SL convertible roof system is likely not to function properly.
So I have good news and I have bad news.
The Bad News:
Replacing the parts to get your mercedes benz convertible system working can be extremely expensive. I’m talking thousands of dollars between parts and labor. Now, you may be able to skim on the parts by going to the junkyard or something and getting an independent mechanic to do the work, but that is risky business. A: If you pull any of these parts off of another early 90′s model Mercedes Benz SL, it’s likely that those parts are on their way out as well. B: There are a lot of independent “mechanics” out there that just end up making the problem worse. Long story short, it is likely that you will end up paying a lot more in the end than if you just take it to the dealership. My advise to you: Buy Mercedes Benz OEM parts for this job, especially if you need to replace the hydraulic pump or the control module. Also, if you want an independent mechanic to put them on for you, make sure it is someone that you trust their work and someone you’ve done a lot of business with.
The Good News:
If you’ve gotten an estimate to fix the convertible top on your Mercedes SL, and it’s a number that absolutely blows you away, don’t fret because these simple instructions can keep you out of the poor house.
There is actually a manual way you can take off and put back on your top, but it will definitely take at least two people.
***Note: Before you get started, you will need to disconnect the plug for the rear window defroster
***Note: This only applies if Both hard top and soft top are not working properly
Step 1: You will need a special wrench for the tops. There is one located in the Mercedes Benz toolkit that came with your SL. If you cannot locate it, you will have to buy one.
Step 2: With the Mercedes SL500 in switch position 2 (not running), slide the soft top switch back and hold it for 10 seconds.
Step 3: Lower the windows of the SL and move the sun visors outwards as if you were blocking the sun’s rays from entering the driver’s and passenger’s windows.
Step 4: Turn the switch position to 0 (no power)
Step 5: There are two plastic caps on top of the windshield. Remove them, but be carefully because they are most like brittle. If you did not have the wrench that came with tool kit, now would be the time to find one that fits.
Step 6: Once you have gotten the correct size wrench, insert it into one of the sockets, and turn it to the left until you feel two clicks. That side is now released. Repeat the same procedure on the other side. Once that is done, you should have the front of the hard top released.
Step 7: Go into the trunk and remove the left and right access panels by pushing up and removing. On the lever marked in red, place your wrench and unlock with two clicks. Then do the same thing to the other side.
Step 8: Depending on the year of your Mercedes SL, you may have two locks behind the seats by the quarter panel glasses. If so, unlock those as well
Step 8: With a person on each side, gently lift the hard top off of the Mercedes Benz. You may have to slide it into a position that releases it.
Step 9: Now that the hard top is off of the vehicle, you can apply the soft top. Unlock the left and right side of the rear compartment cover that houses the soft top.
Step 10: Gently pull the soft top out with a person on each making sure to be easy and not damage it.
Step 11: When you have pulled the soft top all the way to the windshield, lock it by inserting to wrench into the socket and turn clockwise one click on the right side then one click on the left side. Then two clicks on the right side and two clicks on the left side.
Step 12: Re-attach the left and right side rear compartment covers with your wrench.
Step 13: Slide the rear window piece of the soft top over the rear compartment covers into place.
Step 14: Go into the trunk behind the access panels and lock the two locks that you unlocked to remove the hard top.
Note: When re-applying the hardtop and locking back any lock, MAKE SURE YOUR HANDS ARE NOT BETWEEN ANY PANELS AND THE TOP. This could cause a very painful, gruesome injury!
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