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  #1  
Old 10-16-2002, 02:35 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Virginia
Posts: 86
I think I may have found my SL finally!!!

Hey Gang,
I finally found an 86 560 SL that appears to be totally stock. The original Becker is still there, the door panels have not been chopped with extra speakers nor the rear "deck" area behind the seats, there are no extra holes for car phones or CB radios. The wood is in great shape, the paint is gorgeous. The interior is a little worn but nothing I can't live with. Under the hood there are all Mercedes stickers on the parts. Records from day one in 1986..and both tops. My question is with 150,000 miles and an asking price of $9,000 what's wrong with it??? The person is divorced and it was the wife's car. The husbands parents are big MB fans (drive a 420 SEL) and found it for her and now want it out of their garage as she left it behind. I'm hoping I just stumbled across a purchasers dream. I'm having a pre-purchase inspection done by an authorized MB mechanic...but is there anything I should look for that would make me say "STAY AWAY!!!"?

Thanks and wish me luck!!!
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  #2  
Old 10-16-2002, 04:10 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
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Why do you think something's wrong with it at the asking price of $9,000?

It might be less than what you would normally expect, but the used car market is veeeeery soft, and this is a "specialty" car.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #3  
Old 10-16-2002, 11:03 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: S. Texas
Posts: 1,237
560sl

If the parents are big MB fans it means that they are more than of average means, i.e., they have some money. The daughter is gone and they have more cars than they need. This means that, one, they probably really don't need the money from the sale of the sl. Two, they need the room in the garage. Three, they don't need the insurance costs. Four, depending on how they felt about the daughter, they may not want the car around as a reminder.
And five, the car has relative high miles on it.

Read all the above as an opportunity to get a really good deal on the car. Start out at $7200 and sing a song about possible repairs, i.e., timing chain, transmission, shocks, etc., etc. You've looked into the history of these cars and they can have a lot of costly repairs at this age. Also, the job market is not too good at the moment and your company is looking a bit shakey. Yada, yada, yada.

Let them drive you up to about $7,800, but make them work for it. Start digging your heals in at $8,000 and I'll bet you can get it. Don't be afraid to walk away and come back later. Don't convince yourself that you have to have this one. There are literally thousands of these sl's on the net.

I say all this because I lived in the Middle East for 10 years and delt with Arab business men on a daily basis and you haven't done business until you have done it with an Arab.

I bought my slc off the net and saved 20% in about 5 minutes of bargining. The seller was divorced, had a girlfriend, but most importantly, had two kids starting college next semester. And, as with your car, needed the room in his garage.

Good luck
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  #4  
Old 10-17-2002, 12:11 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: minnesota
Posts: 15
560 sl

If you've been searching for a while you should already know what the market will bear with the 560. Before I bought my 450 I watched Ebay and ads for about a year. I knew exactly what I could buy for what. Why be afraid of 150k? You have all the records and if it was maintained, why worry? Besides that, MB is giving final thumbs up or down.
As for as $9,000, I don't think thats out of line. If you like this sl buy it for what is fair to you and the seller.

Mark
73 450sl
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  #5  
Old 10-17-2002, 02:21 PM
mallen
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Thumbs up

Congrats on Finding the SL,

The mechanics check-out is a wise first move - good on you. From what I read on this and other forums, the most common maintenance/repair issues at this mileage are likely to be:

1. Timing Chain (incl guides, rails, tensionor)
2. HVAC (should have had R134 conversion)
3. Front End (T-R ends, drag link)
4. Radiator replacement
5. Steering Box ( rebuild for leaky seals)
6. Anything rubber (bushings, weather stripping, hoses, seals)
7. Cruise Control.
8. Valve guides & seals.
9. Routine oil, lube, brake, pwr steering, engine tune-up, etc.

These are the type things I would hope to see in the maintenance records and the more recent the better since some of these items can be a little pricey.

I see occasional references to all-out valve jobs, brake caliper rebuilds, shocks and exhaust systems. These seem to be maybe/maybe not depending on the particular vehicle

Good news is that I see very few references to bottom end engine work, transmission replacement/rebuild, heavy suspension component replacement or pervasive rust problems.

Don't expect to get off "fer nuthin". Even starting at $9K, you have some wiggle room for repairs and you might finagle a little more (see Kip Foss' advice). If you are very lucky and the items I mentioned above have been tended to (say in the last 50K miles), put gas in this sucker and drive another 100K.

Hope it works out.

M. Allen
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  #6  
Old 10-17-2002, 10:39 PM
Travis129
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I'd have to take issue with you on the item for converting A/C to R134a; this is a step backwards that I hate to see anyone take. A/C systems designed for R12 don't do well with R134a. The folks who make and sell the retrofit kits would have you think that it is an improvement, but it decidedly is not. R12 is still readily available and will be for the forseeable future, albeit at a price slightly higher than R134a. It is a much more efficient refrigerant, and there are compatablility problems with R134a and the mineral oil that systems designed for R12 have. But the big issue is WHY??? All the components to keep it original are available at reasonable cost. To me it would be akin to taking the original M-B V8 out and retrofitting a small-block Chevy. It will work but is not an improvement...and there is no reason for it. But there are a bunch of 'em getting done. Boggles my feeble mind. If you think you just have to get away from R12, there are drop-in substitutes that are still far better than R134a. R414a is my favorite and can be found at any appliance parts wholesaler since it is popular for repairing refrigerators. eBay is a very good source for R12; there are always cans and 30 lb drums available. You'll need to get a "permit" to buy any of them, but that is a silly no-brainer; it will take you 30 minutes and cost you about $15. Email me if you need pointers.

Travis
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  #7  
Old 10-18-2002, 08:44 AM
mallen
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Travis

You obviously know more about the relative merits of R12, R134, R414, etc. than I do and I am sure that you are correct from a technical standpoint. The average person like myself, however, may not care to make the distinction between absolute optimum and "good enough". My daily driver is an '86 Mustang 5.0 long since converted to R134 because I once got popped $60 for a can of R12. Suits me just fine. As far as keeping everything original, some folks will be fanatical and others won't care much either way. Considering that my '86 SL cost @ $48K new and considering the number of things I see wrong with the car from a value standpoint, it is hard for me to treat the car as an art object. I love it because it runs like hell, looks great (kinda like my $16K Mustang) and the style points are without equal.

Live from Ft. Worth,

Mike
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  #8  
Old 10-18-2002, 10:23 AM
Travis129
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Mike, I guess I didn't make myself clear; it isn't just about originality. I understand not worrying too much about originality---that would be like using an Interstate battery to replace the high-dollar exact replacement Benz version. But retrofitting R134a to a system designed for R12 is more like cutting a bigger hole in the trunk floor to accept a group 24 battery because the Pep Boys stocks them to keep from having to obtain a direct-fit long skinny one. (Mine is a 129 and they use a long skinny battery in a well in the trunk to the right of the spare tire well; I don't know how the battery goes in a 107...)

There are two big reasons not to retrofit to R134a. First, it won't cool as well with the condenser that came with an R12 system. R134a works just fine in a system designed for it---my '97 will freeze you out on the hottest days. The second reason has to do with the chemical compatiblity of the refrigerant with the oil used in the compressor. There are websites devoted to what I'm trying to convey in a couple of sentences, but the upshot is that the only way to satisfactorily convert an R12 system to R134a is to _completely_ flush the system of the original mineral oil and replace it with synthetic. If you leave even trace amounts of mineral oil in the system, it mixes with the R134a and forms an acid that, over time, attacks the aluminum evaporator coil. There is also a compatibility issue with the o-ring seals, but they are easy to change. But even if you go to the very difficult lengths to do a proper retrofit, unless you change the condenser and the expansion valve, it will still be a marginal system. You'll notice it mostly on hot days when you're stuck in traffic at slow speeds and thus don't get much air over the condenser (in front of the radiator) and find yourself sweating and wondering if you wouldn't be better off to roll down the windows.

I understand why many people converted---there was a media scare campaign going on about how R12 would no longer be available and besides it is destroying the planet. Both are patent bovine excrement. $60 for a can let somebody make a very tidy profit, but I assume that was an installed price and thus not too unreasonable. You spent more than that converting your Mustang to R134a if you paid someone to do it.

My point is that even if you have to replace all the R12 in a system, which would indicate a serious leak, you're looking at less than $100 at today's prices for the gas. You can buy an equivalent amount of R134a for about $25, so you'd save $75 if you had, at some previous point, done a retrofit. If you fix the leaks before you gas it, which you most certainly should do regardless which refrigerant you use, you should get several years of use from your $100 worth of R12. How significant is the $75 savings when looked at over, say, 3 years? And I'm not including the cost of the retrofit which, if done correctly, will cost a great deal more than $75. What actually happens is that an ignorant or unethical half-fast grease monkey will offer to do the retrofit for the price of the gas and just a little more...all he is doing is dumping your R12 and putting in R134a. If he is semi-conscientious, maybe he changes the oil in the compressor---meaning he drains what will run out the drain fitting and fills it with synthetic. That means there is still a considerable amount of mineral oil in the system and the R134a and it are gonna cause you grief up the road if you keep the car.

And like I said, if you just gotta get rid of the R12, you can always use R414a which is about the same price as R134a, maybe a couple dollars a can more, and not have these issues. I used it in my Suburban for a good while until a mullet in a Dodge pickup ran a light and T-boned it....

Best,

Travis in Lubbock (useta live in Grapevine and have fond memories of FTW---I got to drive fast and fight crime for the S.O. there; LOTSA fond memories...those were the days!)
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  #9  
Old 10-18-2002, 12:42 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
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Steve Brotherton (stevebfl) has posted on this, too, from time to time.

He believes it is a big mistake to convert from R12 to R134a, and there are a lot of reasons. If you search for all of the posts under his user name, you'll see all of the reasons why, one of which is that R12 is still the cheapest component of your a/c system.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #10  
Old 10-18-2002, 04:26 PM
mallen
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Travis in Lubbock,

You're killing me man. I give, let me up so I can hunt down the scoundrels that converted my cars.

I didn't mean to imply that originality was your main thing, I did get your point on the 12>134>414 issue even though the tech talk was way over my head. For anyone that's following this thread, go back to my original posting and strike the parenthetical reference to conversion next to the HVAC line.

FYI, my SL is in the shop now. I got very few maintenance records from the previous owner and after seeing all the posts on timing chains I opted to have the front cover taken off for a full check-out/repair as needed. Dodged a large caliber bullet, all of the plastic parts were badly worn and one was broken - how the shards kept out of the critical areas is beyond me. Chain was a "virgin" and had 160K on it. Better lucky than good.

Ain't Ft. Worth Great?

Mike
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2002, 07:30 PM
Travis129
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I hadn't thought to phrase it as "R12 is still the cheapest component of your A/C" but that does make the point quite well. When you look at the trade-offs, there's just no reason to do it. The cost/benefit ratio just doesn't justify the conversion.

And yep, Fort Worth is still my kinda town. Glad to hear that you caught the cam chain components before the catastrophic failure that has been described.

My 120 engine now has 44k miles on it without any hiccup whatever. What a marvelous piece of engineering! Are there any experts out there that can tell me of any major things I need to look out for along the lines of the cam chains and guides on the 380's? I'd sure like to hear it---I'm pretty sure I'd rather prevent than repair!

Best,

Travis
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  #12  
Old 10-21-2002, 03:32 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: North Wildwood, New Jersey
Posts: 84
Travis,

I have a 1990 300 SL. I purchased the car in March of 2000. The AC unit was a constant problem. It would run cold for an hour or two and then blow warm. Numerous checks showed no leaks and my dealer wouldn't fix it because it ran fine for the short drives he used to test it. I went to a shop in Florida that diagnosed the problem as a bad relay and it later turned out this wasn't the cause. I finely went to an independent Mercedes shop reccomended by this forum. It turned out that the problem was a bad expansion valve and the mechanic highly reccomended I do the R134 conversion at the same time. I can't say what the future will bring, but with some of the hottest weeks this summer, the cooling was great. Most of the time, no matter how high the temperature, I only needed to set the fan speed at one or two. If I left it on automatic, I would freeze. I know that he did replace a read fan switch which he said was necessary on the R129 conversions. I believe it kicks one of the radiator fans on a bit earlier.

Bob
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  #13  
Old 10-22-2002, 09:53 PM
Travis129
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What can I say? It's not that R134a won't work, it's that it isn't as efficient as R12 and it has some long-term effects that aren't good. There isn't any reason to do it and several very good reasons not to. I fully realize that there are honest, reputable shops who advocate retrofitting R134a---I'm accusing them of being mistaken and misinformed, not dishonest. I'm glad yours is performing adequately; I'm not terribly surprised, since yours is a 129. I'm guessing that M-B over-designed the A/C on the 129 to make up for the years of carrying the "anemic A/C" reputation that they had. My '97, which is factory equipped with R134a, is stunningly cold. I'm not advocating changing an original R134a system like my '97 to R12 any more than I'm recommending against changing an R12 system to R134a. If your '90 works adequately with the change to R134a, it would have been yet colder with a correct repair and recharge with R12. But if you're happy, I'm certainly not trying to convince you to change it back---I wouldn't either as long as it worked.

Travis
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  #14  
Old 10-22-2002, 09:58 PM
Travis129
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I forgot to comment on "read fan switch" which I think was probably supposed to be "head fan switch?"

The big difference that lets a system designed for R134a work as well as a system designed for R12 is the size of the condenser. I'm guessing that by changing the fan switch so that the auxilliary electric fan comes in sooner he somewhat compensated for the '90 model's smaller condenser. It sounds like he is knowledgeable and conscientious.

Travis
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  #15  
Old 10-22-2002, 10:00 PM
Travis129
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What can I say? It's not that R134a won't work, it's that it isn't as efficient as R12 and it has some long-term effects that aren't good. There isn't any reason to do it and several very good reasons not to. I fully realize that there are honest, reputable shops who advocate retrofitting R134a---I'm accusing them of being mistaken and misinformed, not dishonest. I'm glad yours is performing adequately; I'm not terribly surprised, since yours is a 129. I'm guessing that M-B over-designed the A/C on the 129 to make up for the years of carrying the "anemic A/C" reputation that they had. My '97, which is factory equipped with R134a, is stunningly cold. I'm not advocating changing an original R134a system like my '97 to R12 any more than I'm recommending against changing an R12 system to R134a. If your '90 works adequately with the change to R134a, it would have been yet colder with a correct repair and recharge with R12. But if you're happy, I'm certainly not trying to convince you to change it back---I wouldn't either as long as it worked.

Travis
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