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MrMajstyk 07-28-2007 05:47 AM

Anyone NOT have top problems????
I bought my 1996 SL500 a couple of weeks ago...and been doing a lot of reading here and on other boards...seems like almost EVERYONE has soft top raising and lowering issues. I haven't had the hard top off my car winch, and no one around to help...but I'm starting to think maybe I'll just leave it on. I mean, does anyone NOT have a problem with their top???? This seems to be a VERY common problem...

kknudson 07-28-2007 07:26 AM

Mines been fine.

MB-Dude 07-28-2007 08:50 AM

With both my R129's, I have had a combined total of two problems over the course of 7+ years - and I run topless a lot - so the mechanism gets worked almost daily from April to November. (Hard top goes on for the winter.)

Both issues were on the '96 SL600 with one self-induced by me... top closing operation got confused when I was in a hurry and tried closing the soft top while creeping into a parking spot. I.E.: vehicle moving while trying to operate the soft top – big no-no in any R129. However, the issue was resolved within minutes by me stopping the car, closing the soft top manually (as outlined in the owner’s manual), then operating the soft top through a complete open/close cycle, including side windows up/down completely.

The other problem was a leaking hydraulic cylinder (MB p/n: 129.800.16.72) on the driver’s side. This is the cylinder that engages the locking tab. The cylinder was replaced by me in about an hour.

What I have found important for smooth operation is periodic maintenance of the soft top mechanism. Since I use my soft tops a lot, I perform the following maintenance regularly:
15,000 miles - Measure the locking tabs (as per maintenance book, safety)
15,000 miles - Lubricate all pivot points of soft top mechanism with light oil
15,000 miles - Clean & grease locking tab mechanism (inside top of windshield frame)
40,000 miles - Flush & replace hydraulic fluid using MB p/n: 001.989.20.03.10

In addition, the only soft top I have replaced is on the ’94 SL500; the ’96 SL600 has the original. When properly cared for and maintained, the soft top mechanism is really quite sound. Problems will occur, such as my leaky cylinder. But overall, the design is good.

ScottinSoCal 07-28-2007 09:21 AM


Originally Posted by MrMajstyk (Post 1575779)
I bought my 1996 SL500 a couple of weeks ago...and been doing a lot of reading here and on other boards...seems like almost EVERYONE has soft top raising and lowering issues.

This is what statisticians call a "self-selecting sample" and it can't be used to gauge the average.

If you didn't know anything about people and you decided to learn by hanging out in the emergency room, you'd probably decide that most people went from one calamity to the next with barely enough time to get their breath between. Same kind of thing here. Read a thread about collapsing spring towers on the 210 body style and you'd probably decide every E320 out there was just an accident waiting to happen, but there's a lot of them out there and most will never have a problem.

POS 07-28-2007 09:33 AM

It's times like these I love the simplicity of a manual top. Long live the r107.

tecqboy 07-28-2007 11:37 AM

As posted above....Don't judge this issue by what you read here. The mechanism is rugged, well designed and relieable. The top on my 1991 has been up and down countless times and still works fine. 90% of the problems with the top are easlily corrected by reseting error codes in the controller ( years 90-95 )( a simple task ) or re-syncing the system in later model years. ( even easier ). Go ahead, enjoy the convertible!!!

MrMajstyk 07-28-2007 06:10 PM

Thanks for the replies! And, yes, I guess you only hear about the "problems" here. Why post "by the way, my top works great", unless someone is asking! LOL.

Thanks again...I think I'll order one of those hoists!

DucatiErv 07-28-2007 09:18 PM

I just bought my first Mercedes a few months ago, a lovely low mileage 94 SL600, only took the hardtop off for the first time last weekend and have been moping up lubricant oil ever since on both pillars.

TheV12pwr 07-28-2007 09:20 PM


Originally Posted by kknudson (Post 1575820)
Mines been fine.

Same here.:):D

MB-Dude 07-28-2007 11:38 PM


Originally Posted by DucatiErv (Post 1576325)
I just bought my first Mercedes a few months ago, a lovely low mileage 94 SL600, only took the hardtop off for the first time last weekend and have been moping up lubricant oil ever since on both pillars.

Your fix is very simple. There are two hydraulic cylinders (MB p/n: 129.800.16.72) in the top of the frame, above the windshield. These are accessed quite easily by...
1. Lowering the soft top
2. Removing the two plastic cover plates over the locking mechanisms
3. Remove any Phillips screws from the weatherstriping at each end of top cover
4. The top cover is removed by simply sliding it back evenly

At this point, you will have both the cylinders exposed. From here, the replacement is very straightforward and only basic mechanical skills are needed – no special tools. Installation is reverse of the above.

Fluid dripping down both pillars - replace both cylinders. Fluid down one side (as in my case) - replace only one. Same part number for either side. The leakage is from seal failure at the drive piston end of the cylinder.

Total repair and mop up time is a lazy 60 minutes. You may need to top off your hydraulic pump (located in the spare tire well). Use MB Hydraulic Fluid (MB p/n: 001.989.20.03.10).

SunGuy 07-29-2007 02:34 AM

For the DIY Article to repair the front latches on this Forum, go to...

complete w/pix.


nyycebro 07-29-2007 03:17 PM

Not yet and I hope never! I purchased my 1997 SL500 on April 2, 2007 and have had the HT off since late May. I purchased the SL from a frat brother of my who bought it new in 1997. He only had the HT off twice and the last time was when I came to test drive the car.

I too have been following the many threads regarding soft top problems and decided not to worry about it. I am curious to know if others think I would have fewer problems or more problem based on the extremely low use of the soft top before I purchased the car. In any case because of this forum I believe I can handle alot of the fixes needed if anything goes wrong. Finally, I am enjoying the heck out of my 1st convertible and benz!

Pete Geither 07-29-2007 05:01 PM

4 years and not a problem yet.

MrMajstyk 08-01-2007 03:09 PM

Thanks guys for all the's a follow-up.

I started looking around for a manual top hoist, found a few on the internet, best price I found was 189.00 plus shipping. Then, I saw one on ebay for 100.00, and the guy was I went and picked it up.
Hooked it up in less than an hour, popped the top off the car, immediately covered it put it on the rolling rack (that came with the car when I bought it) and did it all by myself with no issues whatsoever. Very easy. (They say you can just leave the top on the hoist, but I just didnt like the idea of it suspended in mid air, and my garage roof isn't that tall anyway).

The soft-top works perfectly and it looks like new! The plastic windows are as clear as glass! Lucky me. There is, however, a knife-slit in the top, about 5 inces long, perfectly straight right over the driver's door. (I knew about this when I bought it, the guy showed me the was vandalism) So..I used a thin strip of black duct-tape on both sides to "seal" it, until I can get it to the shop to see about a proper patch.

But, boy those latches make a robust "clack" when they disengage, don't they? Startled me at first, until I read that it is normal!

And its a BLAST driving the car, top down, windscreen up or down...what an amazing car!

Thanks again for all the input.

iwrock 08-01-2007 04:04 PM

3 years, 25ish thousand miles, and no problems!

They are very robust. Just maintain it, and it will give you many years of service.

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