Mercedes R129 SL60 AMG Buyers Guide


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Jan 25, 2014
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Lots of Mercedes!
Hi All,

Over the years I have written some buyers guides for the popular magazines. I thought they may help here.

I hope these is no issue with that.

If there is anything wrong, please dont hesitate to correct me. The final printed versions were heavily scaled down by the magazines. These are my raw words and my opinions based on my experience only.

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]SL60 Engines are pretty much bullet proof as are all M119 variants as long as they are serviced on time using the correct grade of Oil.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]The M119 engine suffers from degradation of the plastic Cam Oilers. This can be identified by a noisy tappet type noise. This is around a £5-600 job to have all 16 cam oilers replaced.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]At this age all M119 could be suffering from a lazy water pump. The part is around £250 from Mercedes and fitting is a not that straight forward. This could also be a £500-600 job so check that the engine temp is steady.

Gearbox & transmission
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Transmissions can suffer if the transmission fluid has not been replaced regularly. Mercedes went through a period of advising customers that these boxes were sealed for life. This is of course not a good idea and we recommend fluid changes at least every 40K miles.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Poor fluid can damage the Electronic Speed Sensor Plate within the transmission. Although straight forward, This is around a £600 job as the parts, fluid and labour soon add up.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]A leaky transmission is normally down to the “Pilot Bushing” which is basically the connector for the electrical plug into the gearbox. This is only around £30 for the part but if this is left unattended, the fluid will travel up to the transmission ECU and damage that. We suggest this is a part that should be changed at the same time as carrying out transmission service.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]At this age, it is worth thoroughly test driving the car from cold through to warm, to ensure transmission shifts smoothly through gears. With all the power the SL60 delivers, transmissions can be worn out. A rebuild will cost around £2000.

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]As with all R129 models, ADS suspension is quite expensive to maintain with many more parts and electronics that can cause issues. Especially as electronic diagnosis is fairly primitive, especially on early cars. (I went into this for the last R129 review, the same text applies)
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]The SL60 suspension is set up a little lower and more sporty. The car should feel planted through the corners. Wallowy suspension will indicate that its time for new dampers.

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Brakes do take some punishment on this model. The brakes got larger and more expensive throughout the life cycle of the R129. (I gave prices last time do you can copy these here)

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Rust, rust and rust. Must check boot floor, jacking points, wheel arches and all suspension mounting points for corrosion. I wouldn’t say there are any design flaws, but these cars are getting on now and we have seen many badly rusted examples.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Window & Door Seals can be hard/worn and require replacement. Many of these are quite costly. These can lead to leaks or wind noise.

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Hood operation is quite complex and again, especially on early cars, electronic diagnosis is all but impossible. Later cars after around 1996 are much easier to diagnose. Must check that the soft top works without any glitches. Any faults can soon rack up large labour bills as it often takes even a well experienced technician many hours to begin to diagnose issues in this area.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]If the hood does not operate and the switch flashes red, this indicated a fault in the system.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Front latches and pumps are most common issues we have seen. The front latches can just require adjustment to the micro switch contacts whereas pumps can require replacement. Luckily there are companies out there rebuilding these units now. As above, the cost of rectifying roof issues is normally more labour intensive than parts cost.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Must check the hood itself is in good condition. To replace the 3 perspex windows will cost around £1000 at a hood specialist. To replace the Hood with an original quality item will be around £2000. In most cases if the windows have worn or cracked, it may be time to renew the hood. Hood replacement is not a DIY or even general mechanics job. This must only be tackled by someone who specialises in hoods only! A poorly fitted hood will not only look poor, it will leak and be noisy too. This is an item not to skimp on!

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]All R129’s came with a hard top, so do not buy a car without, otherwise budget to find a used one in the same colour and interior trim, as repainting or retrimming these is an expensive and fiddly business.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Panoramic hard tops are well worth paying extra for. They make the cabin feel a lot more airy, especially useful if you plan to use your car all year around.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Panoramic Hard tops are much heavier than standard so you may wish to invest in a hard top hoist!
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Hard tops can also corrode so look out for blistering of the paint.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]When viewing a car, always remove the hard top to check function of the electronic release mechanisms and also to allow full inspection of the soft top and its storage area.
[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Beware of cars sold as SL60’s which are just SL500’s with badges on. Run the chassis and engine number past your dealer to check. All post 1996 cars should be shown on the Mercedes systems as SL60’s.
[FONT=&quot]- [/FONT]Early pre merger cars cannot easily be verified as cars were originally sold as SL500’s and then converted by AMG to SL60’s. Mercedes systems do not reflect this upgrade and therefore documentation is key.

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