My 'New to me' SL 500 R230 has just has a nice service, I think that it was good value?

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MB Enthusiast
Jan 23, 2022
SL 500
Hi All,

I have owned my 2003 SL 500 for almost a year, the weather is turning so just the right time to sort it out. I do have quite a bit of service history, but it isn't particularly detailed after 2014 when the last MB service was done. I took it to a local very recommended MB specialist.
So i had the below done:
Oil Change 5/40 Synthetic oil
Sump Seal
Screen wash
Dust filter
Air filters
Spark plugs x 16
Fuel filter
Brake Fluid change
All for £968.10 ( Including labour and VAT ) - Using only MB components

I didn't that this was bad value?

This also included giving the car a really good poke around and there are some advisories, nothing drastic BUT need addressing soon.....

N/S Front Strut
O/S Front Strut
ABC Fluid
2 x Lower ball joints
Nearside Thrust Arm
Alignment of the above
Front Discs and Pads ( Rear are new )

And..... Xenon Light Control Unit

All of the above using MB parts, Totaling £4813.92

He did say that one of the struts has a slight leak, but nothing to stop the car being used for a while - The 'Ballast' or Xenon light control unit is almost £800, but he maybe able to source one from the US for a lot less.

The dreaded ABC has got me!!

I did ask about a coil over conversion, but it would still cost half of that amount and i would lose the benefit of an excellent suspension system, and as it all looked original ( Apart from the rear ) it has already lasted 20 years so should easily last another 10 years without issue... which is only £500 per year or around £42 a month ( trying to placate my thumping heart here! )

So my car - It has so far cost me quite a chunk of change for a 20 year old vehicle, Throw in the £295 for having all of the original 18" wheels refurbished and the £550 for a full secondhand set including nice tyres.... quite an expensive 11 months !! ( The nice aftermarket ones that came with the car failed the MOT on a fracture on the front O/S )
I have to say that the original specified 18" wheels may not look quite a tasty, but they look 'right' and the perform so much better, quieter, more comfortable and generally handle better.

I am not planing on selling it and i love driving it...... Just quite a shock for owning something for such a short period of time. Just need to rummage around in my torso and find some unimportant body parts that could be auctioned off - Only kidding, mine are all more abused and older than the car!

There are some other 'incidentals' but i was planing on starting a thread '12 months of living with a two decade old SL 500' and add everything up..... 4 weeks to go on that delight!

Stay safe all and any thoughts on the ABC issues are more than welcome - I did find a thread that highlighted a company in Germany that offered an exchange ( Your old units for like for like reconditioned ones ) But that was involving me removing the old ones first.... and still around £1200 for the pair.... Tempting but i do not have the tools, the knowledge or the inclination to remove important parts of the car and ship them off to another country, I am sure that the Border bandits would slap some form of import duty on the items upon entry into the UK - Making the price nearly the same as i was quoted??

I think i need a nice big mug of Malbec / Gin / Henry Westons....
You need to start digging into OK, they are actually in Germany but have everything you'll ever need at affordable prices. You can store your car details which will be the starting point for your searches.
I just got a steering pump for £81. MB wanted about £420.
You can store your car details which will be the starting point for your searches.
Do you mean that he should use AutoDoc's search facility to identify parts? If so, I strongly recommend that he doesn't.

Use the MB EPC to identify the MB reference for a part. Then plug that into AutoDoc to find aftermarket equivalents. There's an EPC here:

This applies to the search facilities of all the aftermarket suppliers that I've used.

Good hunting.

What’s wrong with your suspension?

I know a good builder who can come round and check out your house to see what needs doing. If your house isn’t new, he might not need to replace the whole roof, plumbing and electrical systems, or the kitchen or bathrooms, but if he does he will use OEM parts.

If things need servicing, service them. If things are worn out - like the rubber that connects your 2 tonnes to the road at 80mph - then renew them. But “looking for things to do?” Would a respray be a good start ?

If the ABC will need repair, there are experts around who can address it more efficiently.

As regards the Ballast unit: £40 will buy a used unit. Plenty are on EBay. OK, it’s used but £40 is less than £800. (Apologies if I’ve chosen the wrong unit, but there are plenty out there to choose from)

Xenon Headlight HID Ballast Control Unit for Benz w203 C-Class w230 r230 SL w169 | eBay

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Sounds very expensive i would expect the bill for that work to be £500 or so
I'd be doing a lot more research before spending another £5k on an SL500- these seem to absorb cash relentlessly if you're not careful. Some of the service items, filters screen wash are very easy to do yourself as well. Some garages whether specialist or not see these models as a nice cash cow.
As above i think that is very pricy especially as it didn't include the ABC service
OK Thanks guys, I spoke to the mechanic today, He also did a full gearbox flush and oil / filter included in that £968..... so he now has the car, and then it is off for the wheel refurb.

As regards to the others 'works' he got my car up on the ramp and showed me the seepage on the strut, but he also managed to move the wheel side to side ( The way that a wheel should not move ) and there was a slight clunk, Never good. I have agreed to the brakes and the steering, as i like those to be nice and tight and not dangerous.

He is going to source a guaranteed second hand ballast unit for me for £100 - I am happy with that.

The two struts are supposedly exchange units from MB, although he suspects that MB bins the old ones to keep them out of the market, and actually supplies NOS. He worked at the main MB as head mechanic for years before setting up on his own - But more importantly he is the best friend of one of my best mates although we did not know each other until my mate dropped me off at the garage. So i now feel much more trust in this garage.

£5k is a shed load of dosh for me, although having read various forums, including ( Mainly ) this one, it was advised to always keep a couple of grand aside for general annual 'shockers' - Luckily i have just sold one of my motorbikes so can sort the car out. And my Mrs is going to chuck in for the Brakes and steering.....

I have purchased American cars for less than the repair costs of the SL - But i have to say that the SL is a far superior car than most of the elderly yankee tanks i have previously owned.... And don't get me started on V12 Daimlers ( or Triumph Stags for that matter ) .....

@ Teego & ray_hennig - Great advice and am definitely going to look into that site - Appreciated
Always worth having a look round once you’ve got the right part number, I’m after a MAF sensor, Bosch 239.99 at ECP, 80.83 at autodoc - or as little as 48 for a pattern part.
A lot of parts on MB’s have part numbers on them (if you look carefully) which obviously makes searching very easy
If you are handy OP you could have done a majority of that work at part cost.
MB don't like aftermarket parts - don't waste time and money fitting parts manufactured for lower end cars to a merc.
Go to a merc dealer and get your bit there.
Some things of course like fluids you can elsewhere - otherwise MB all the way. Even for a bolt.
MB don't like aftermarket parts - don't waste time and money fitting parts manufactured for lower end cars to a merc.
What nonsense.....Mercedes parts departments depend on people thinking like that. Mercedes don't make many parts themselves.....they get experts in the field to make the parts ...Brembo for brakes, Bosch for sensors etc etc....and lots of those parts are used in many other cars....especially stuff like MAFS, brake pads etc. Also with MAFS the fitment tubes are often bespoke to the marque but the sensor itself (easily swapped out of the tube....either glued or screwed in place) will be exactly the same with the same part number as used in many other makes and models without the "Merc tax".
Example....I needed a MAF for my Alfa.....£ thanks.....bought exactly the same Bosch part from Vauxhall (originally destined for a Vectra) £48.....for EXACTLY the same part. If you bought the ALFA one for £180 you would have needed your bumps felt. Same goes for lots of parts. As said above....look at the parts...get the makers number ....often on there with Mercedes number and try and get it direct from the maker or one of there dealers.....Bosch have agents all over. Now I'm not suggesting buying cheap pattern parts (although even those will often perform faultlessly).....but the same or similar parts from places other than highly priced Merc part stored. And as for buying a genuine bolt......well as long as it's the right size and grade of metal....a bolt is a bolt.
As for them "not liking pattern parts"....they are cars....not sentient beings.....they dont like or dislike anything!.....if the part is to original specification (or within tolerances) it will work as well as factory.
You're lazy. It took me 2 minutes to find a one for less than £500

Apologies I assumed you were talking about ABC struts being overhauled.
The link you showed is a new air strut , not a remanufactured one ?
Apologies I assumed you were talking about ABC struts being overhauled.
The link you showed is a new air strut , not a remanufactured one ?

Thats a right side ABC strut specific to the R230 (non AMG). The company rebuilds both
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£968 is a rip off.
That work is pretty much a standard service at the milege.
Parts should be round 200 (max) exl trade discount.
800 in labour.
Rip off

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