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slor911 01-21-2008 11:10 AM

Need advice on 2003 SL55
I'm seriously considering buying an 03 SL55, 14k miles, almost every possible option (keyless, park- and distronic, pano roof, etc) .. near flawless condition in/out

... BUT ...

when I looked at the Carfax report I saw it was in the shop 5 times in the first 6 months (2600 miles) "service", a couple of which mentioned the electrical system. Then 5 more times in the next year (up to 8000 miles).

The 2nd/3rd owner(s) kept the car up to 13.5K miles and Carfax is not reporting any service history.

I've heard the SL's have had reliability problems and there were many dealer buybacks (particularly in 03 for both SL and E classes) and lots of electrical issues. I've also heard that if you get a good one it's a really great car, but if you get a bad one you're in for headaches and a very close relationship with your mechanic.

If you had a "bad one", which this seemed to be the first 1.5 years, can it be "fixed" and made into a "good one"???

Any thoughts, advice, personal experiences would be greatly appreciated!


jjrodger 01-22-2008 04:39 AM

I think your analysis of the situation is about right. I have acted for a number of dissatisfied purchasers of SL55 AMG cars (and other high end Mercs) and, frankly, it seems that their cars never get fixed. Eventually the dealer buys them back and offers a very good deal on a replacement.

I think there are two general rules. First, be suspicious of any car that has spent a lot of time in the workshop, especially repeated visits. And second, avoid cars with all of the high-end hi-tech extras, especially Keyless-Go and Distronic. I would not buy a 2003 car with Keyless-Go, it seems to have been an incompletely resolved installation at that time. While a pano-top is very desirable, I would look for a car without all the extras!

The best way to be sure is to speak to the previous owner.

slor911 01-22-2008 08:18 AM

Thanks JJ ... I really appreciate your reply!! My gut feeling was to avoid the car, just wanted a 2nd opinion. I'll keep looking for something else! Thanks again!

If anyone is interested in a very well maintained 500SL ... mine is available! ;)

Pete Geither 01-22-2008 09:41 AM

How about a low mile 97 or 98 ? Those seem to be the most desirable 129's with the 5 speed tranny, and the 119 motor. Fairly trouble free also.

bobterry99 01-23-2008 03:58 PM


Originally Posted by slor911 (Post 1738624)
If you had a "bad one", which this seemed to be the first 1.5 years, can it be "fixed" and made into a "good one"???

I think a tech with experience on this model (I'm not) can give you the best answer, but I would say "yes". There are known bugs with the early R230s that could have caused even a "good" car to require multiple service trips to the dealer to correct electrical problems.

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