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Mercedes-Benz SL and SLK (all models)

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  • I'm about to order out an '04 SL 55 and am concerned about the charcoal leather being too hot in summer. Anyone pro's or con's charcoal versus the ash or berry color?
  • I have the light ash interior color on an SL500, because my dealer (who had both colors in stock) admitted that the charcoal color can get hot to the touch in direct sun.

    The downside of ash is that it does show the inevitable scuff marks you'll pick up on the door jambs, lower door panels, and protruding seat bottoms.

    Berry would probably pick up more heat than the ash (which does not get hot at all) without giving you any appreciable improvement in hiding scuffing.
  • mpyles1mpyles1 Posts: 90
    I spent most of the spring and summer trying to buy a new SL55. Since almost all the production run had been presold, about all I could find were "low mileage" units that we're being offered for resale at $20-30K above sticker. Even had I been willing to pay the mark-up, I really wanted to break the car in myself.

    Finally, I gave up and bought an SL500 two months ago, and it has turned out to be a great car. The other day, a dealer called me to say he had a new SL55 "on the water" that I could have for sticker . . . and he would give me sticker price less $1K in trade for my SL500. Not a bad deal.

    About 90% of my driving is in urban Chicago (a great city but utterly devoid of interesting driving venues). The SL500 feels quicker than I thought it would, and I'm now wondering whether the SL55 is worth the extra cost. The SL500 easily chirps the 385-series tires before the traction control kicks in. My guess is the traction control on the SL55 would do the same at about the same acceleration rate.

    So . . . would I really get much of a usable acceleration bang out of the SL55's much heftier torque? Or would it just get siphoned off by the traction control system on those days I'm not willing to fry tires? (I'm sure the SL55 would give me appreciably more punch from higher speeds, but the only "safe" way to have fun with an accelerator pedal in Chicago traffic is acclerating from a stop up to moderate speeds.)
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I haven't driven the SL500 and SL55 back to back, but I have for the E500 and new E55. There is no comparison. I was not a fan of the old E55, finding it ponderous and somewhat unrefined compared to my M5 6-speed. The new E55 is a couple of rungs up the ladder and while I sill prefer BMW steering and handling to Mercedes, the difference is minor.

    If you really never get a chance to "drive" either car given a mostly urban commute, then the SL500 is probably more than satisfactory. But my guess is that the SL55 is a significantly superior car in every way - handling, steering, etc. - not just in raw acceleration.

    The deal you have been offered also sounds very good. In my area, SL55's are still selling for a premium and new SL500's are being discounted. There is no way you would be able to sell a 2 month old one here for anywhere near the trade in price you've been offered.
  • dhearddheard Posts: 2
    How do I find a ground fault. I have a constant drain from the battery; I pulled all the fuses shown in the owners guide (i in trunk, 2 under hood) and I still had the current drain. Does anyone know where I can find a wiring diagram?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Here's a way:

    Buy a cheap test light.

    Remove the positive battery cable from the post (do you remember all your radio codes?) and connect the test light in series with (as an extension of) the positive cable so that the test light itself completes the connection to the positive battery post by "extending" the disconnected positive cable.

    If the test light lights, you have a serious drain. If it doesn't light, you either have no drain or a very minimal one that might be due to an LED readout or an alarm system.

    If the test light is lit AND NOTHING IS OPEN OR ON IN THE CAR, then disconnect the fuses one by one until the light goes out. When it goes out you know the circuit the short circuit is in at least.

    You will need, if not a wiring diagram, at least a chart showing what each fuse controls.

    I'm not sure what you meant by: "i in trunk, 2 under hood" when talking about fuses. Do you mean fuse boxes, because there are certainly more than 3 fuses in your car.

    so first determine if you really have a drain or just a bum battery. Then isolate the circuit and depending on what you find we can go from there.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • I just saw a new SL55 black/black in chicago at a new dealership, and they were asking sticker.
    Its on thew ground and has I think 20 miles on it. It is sweet looking and I wish I could get my hands on it!! If you want to know where Email me and I'll hook you up with the sales guy I use over there!
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    A "new" dealership, where bout?

    M
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    underhood, in the trunk, in the passenger compartment, etc. you open a door to pull fuses, and lights go on, probably should pop out those bulbs. in fact, because of security computers on the pin switches which may actually control those lights, pull the appropriate fuse for those lights that come on before working through any others.
  • I am interested in buying this car and the asking price is $26,000. The car has 50,000 mile on it. Could any one tell me if I should buy this car or not. I am not familiar with this model, its reliability and drivability. Is this car relialable? Please help. Would appreciate your comments, especially from past or present owners.
    Thanks.

    Fred
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    I have owned both of these cars. I picked up a very early SL500 in Germany in April, 2002 then got an SL55 in April of 2003.

    I feel that the SL is having early teething pains. I had problems with both relating to a clicking sound coming from the area of the fuel pump behind the seats as well as brake related problems on both (loud squealing and modulation difficulty). I currently drive a 2003 E55 which suffers from none of these issues.

    Initial quality problems aside, there is no comparison between the AMG product and the standard offering from Mercedes. If you are an enthusiast, the AMG product will please you in ways the standard offering cannot. The interior leathers are superior, acceleration is incredible, responsiveness improved, ride and handling improved, steering and braking much sharper. I found the SL500 to be boring to drive and the SL55 is anything but. The problem with both of these cars is too much weight, but the SL55 feels like you are driving on a cushion of air, like a puck in an air hockey game.

    The E55 I drive now is the best car I have ever owned and I have owned 90 of them.
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    I am just a Mercedes nut with more money than sense. I might get another SL55 sometime but I will wait until 05 to see if they debug them some more. Besides, I have a CLK66 Cab I expect shortly.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    A CLK66 Cab??? Or do you mean a CLK55 Cab?

    M
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    What, you don't know about the CLK66?

    Sorry, I typed too fast without my glasses, I do mean the CLK55 Cab.
  • Can someone recommend a source for a good 320SL repair manual? I'm mainly interested in educating myself on the mechanics of the car, as well as some basic maintenance and repair.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Dealer has the best one.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • Has anyone gained any experience yet with the new 7-speed transmission in the 2004 SL500? Heard any news about when, if ever, they plan to beef it up for the SL55? Know whether the rumors are true that the SL will receive a styling change in 2005 to pick up styling cues from the SLR?

    I was on the fence about whether to quickly trade my 2003 SL500 for an SL55 now that they are more commonly available. But it looks as if the model is evolving so quickly that I might want to wait one more year.

    For what it's worth regarding the earlier comments about initial quality problems . . . I've had a string of recent cars (1998 Corvette, 2000 Jaguar S-Type, 2002 Audi A6 4.2, and 2002 Audi S6) that were plagued with electronic problems. (And the Corvette was plagued with other problems too numerous to mention.) But so far the SL500 is the most problem-free car I've owned. Given the immense amount of technology and number of gizmos on the car, I find that quite surprising.
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    Gee, I had two SL's, the SL500 and the SL55 and neither were close to problem free. The brakes made all kinds of noise and were always hard to modulate. There is a known problem from the fuel pump which makes clicking noises behind the drivers seat, for which there is no cure. Mercedes has already changes suppliers for the Command system.

    I agree about waiting until 2005, because Mercedes has some work to do on these models.
  • Actually, my brakes squeal loudly in some conditions, but I wasn't viewing that as a quality defect. I had the same problem on an Acura RL a few years back. After talking to a lot of different people and researching the internet, I found that brake squeal is a design trade-off with disc material. Harder materials that last longer tend to squeal more. Acura finally fixed their endemic problem with a disc material changeover that reduced noise and marginally reduced pad life. Given the weight of this car, MB might have opted for hardier materials and more noise.

    I have read quite a bit in car mags about the difficulty of modulating the SL brakes, particularly from low speeds. Frankly, if it's there, it's so minor that I adapted to it almost without realizing it. (In fact, many of the test drivers said they did the same.) This could be defined as a design quality problem, I guess.

    I have heard an occasional noise from the rear quarters of the cabin. However, since I keep a few CD cases in the storage bin with the CD changer, I assumed it was just them flipping back and forth as I braked and accelerated. Could that be the fuel pump clicking instead? Is the clicking constant or intermittent? If intermittent, under what conditions? The fuel pump really does sound like a quality problem. For almost $100K, it's inexcusable.

    Any idea what the problem was with the Command system, other than its user-unfriendliness? (I hear the 2004 has already scrapped the CD-based system in favor of a DVD.)
  • Acutally, the Acura RL I mentioned had a squeal just as loud. I could not put the windows down in the car inside a city, because the squeal echoed so badly off nearby buildings that it almost hurt my ears. Softer disc material solved the problem. I will admit, though, that it's a bit embarrassing to roll up to a stop light and have your brakes squeal so loudly that pigeons fall off garbage cans.

    When I was trying to decide between the SL500 and SL55, I saw two SL55's in my dealer's shop due to supercharger problems. Gaskets had blown on one, and the other had caught fire. The one that caught fire was being shipped back to Germany for a tear-down to see what had caused the problem. This helped me decide to go with an SL500 for now.
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    Gee, I hadn't heard about the supercharger problem, although my dealer told me they have experienced problems with those engines making funny sounds after 6,000 miles or so. I have only 3,000 miles on my E-55 so I haven't experienced them yet.

    My problem with the SL500 was that it felt slow, you really had to mash the accelerator to make it move. My problem with the SL55 was the opposite, you couldn't be gentle enough with the accelerator. Might be nice if AMG offered a normally aspirated engine with around 400 hp in this car. I have a CLK55 now and it seems like a good balance.
  • mpyles1mpyles1 Posts: 90
    Great technical specs for the new SLK. But, boy . . . I hope the SL sticks with its current nosepiece. The SLR may be a phenomenal car, but its styling and proportions are a few steps down from the heights reached by the SL. Yet the rumors that SLR styling cues (especially the nose) will trickle down to the "lesser" cars seem to be true if the above AMG link is any indication. Aaaaargh!
  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    Can someone help me choose between these two cars?
    Which would you buy and why?

    As I see it, the SL55 is the more aggressive of the two and the SL600 is more plush. Since the factory rates the 0-60 times as identical, it makes me wonder how the driving experience will really differ.

    The only obvious difference between the two is the residuals are much lower on the SL600.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    SL600 is really kind of over the top, and will feel much heavier, larger and less responsive. Why aren't you shopping the SL55 against the SL500?

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  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    I'd probably choose the SL600, cost being a non-issue, for the higher grade interior. I realize the SL55 would provide a more visceral driving experience, but many other less cloistered two-seaters could provide an even more visceral driving experience (compared to the SL55) for a fraction of the cost.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the SL600 takes what I think of the SL mindset to its logical conclusion, whereas the SL55 takes it somewhere else altogether. I think of the SL600 as the evolution of the SL500, and the SL55 as a sort of hot-rodded perversion of the SL500 into a edgier territory that IMO would be better suited by, oh, a SLK. (Or better yet, a 911 TT or the like.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    SL600 is a very nose heavy car and feels like it. The SL500 is a lot more enjoyable to drive I think. I'd suggest that the SL600 is a retrograde of the SL500 experience, not an enhancement of it. One of my least favorite Benzes.

    Definitely agree with you though that the SL55 probably the most fun of the pack, although I haven't yet driven one. Great performance and desireability.

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  • shoesshoes Posts: 131
    I have owned both the 2003 SL500 and the 2003 SL55. In response to Mr. Shiftright's question about why not the SL500- the answer is performance. The SL500 is too pedestrian, almost boring. I also drive a 2003 E55 and once you get used to this level of performance, driving a normally aspirated V-8 doesn't cut it. I read an article in one of the car magazines stating that you owe it to yourself to own a V-12 powered automobile once in your life, so I am intrigued by the SL600.

    Also, Mr. Shiftright's point about the nose heaviness of the SL600 is not correct- this may have applied to the last generation SL600, but the new one weighs only 110 pounds more than the SL55 (admittedly neither is a lightweight but with this much power, it only feels heavy in the tightest of turns).

    My frustration is that nobody at the Mercedes dealers have any real world experience with these two cars to help me decide whether to get another SL55 or go for the SL600.
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