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Old 03-17-2007, 01:44 PM
blueoval56's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: El Dorado Hills, California
Posts: 2
Cool '98 SL500 Soft top won't go up!

This is my first MB and my first time in any forum so I hope I get this right! I just bought a beautiful, low mileage (50K), two owner, complete records, 1998 SL500 from a private party. This car has always been serviced by MB. During the "walkthru", after we had removed the hardtop, the soft top would not go up, of course "that's the first time that's ever happened." The owner took the car into the MB dealer the next day where he always had the car serviced. Soon (1/2 hour labor no parts) they had the soft top working fine. According to the MB invoice, the tech found the rear "top latches out of sync" He "manually released the rear top latches and reset the complete top". The top functioned perfectly and we completed the sale. Fast forward two months and the weather is getting real nice so I remove the hard top and ............that's right, the soft top will not go up! I've ordered the MB DVR repair manual but it's not here yet so I'm flying blind. I looked through the owners manual and checked the fluid reservoir under the spare tire and it's filled to spec with no sign of leaking. I then released the soft top cover manually to get a better look at the components. I found one of the two rear top latches in the up position and the other in the down position. It seems as though something is happening during the hard top removal that is causing the rear top latches to get out of sync. How do you "manually release the rear top latches?" Secondly, does anyone out there have any idea what is causing the rear top latches to get out of sync in the first place? and finally, where is the soft top controller located?
Thanks in advance for any help the membership can provide.
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Old 03-17-2007, 03:06 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Milwaukee Wisconsin
Posts: 1,149
The top controller is located under a plastic cover inside the right rear storage compartment. It's just a black box and has no servicable components. I can't offer an explanation as to why the latches don't release properly except to suggest you check for binding and lubrication issues. You can try to re-sync the top controller by operating both windows totally up / down several times. The soft top controller seems to be one of the most often posted "issues" of the 129's. You can use the search function to find lots of information from other owners. Note that the control system evolved over the years and so information posted for at 1991 model may not be valid for your car, although the basic mechanism remained unchanged. Search soft top controller. BTW My own experince ( 1991 SL )has been that lubrication ( grease ) of various moving parts in the mechanism has hardened over time and required cleaning and a re-lube. My controller has gotten confused a few times too, but I can reset mine via the diagnostic connnector under the hood. I don't know if that's possible on a 1995 or later model.
Resistance is Futile.

Last edited by tecqboy; 03-17-2007 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 03-19-2007, 12:21 AM
blueoval56's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: El Dorado Hills, California
Posts: 2
Tecqboy, many thanks for your insight into what might be causing the problem with my soft top. Your comments caused me to look at this situation from a different perspective. When the MB dealer did a re-sync on the latches the top worked fine. When the hard top was put back on it once again set the stage for this situation. I had been thinking that the system seemed to be working harder than necessary to release the hard top. I will be checking the hard top for bent or mis-aligned latch pins etc. Thanks again!
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