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Old 11-14-2009, 07:55 PM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 204
Removal of W126 hydraulic rear struts

SO, I found a parts car at the local pick n pull for my '86 560SEL and decided today to pull the struts in case they were any good and I could use them in the future. I started by unbolting them from inside the trunk and then from underneath. Once they were freed from the bolts I noticed the fluid pouring out of the first one. I gave up an assumed I broke it or it was already broken.

The point to all is this is to find out the proper removal technique and also if that particular strut was bad or damaged because of the fluid running out. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 11-14-2009, 10:30 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Cape Cod Massachusetts
Posts: 1,427
It's been a while since I worked on any 560SEL rear suspensions but I'm pretty sure the standard factory package would have been SLS rear suspension. The rear strut bottoms are accessed from below the trailing arm where two bolts hold that end in place. The top of the struts are accessed after removing the rear seat bottom first, then the three 8 mm screws one on each side and one in the center of the rear seat back, pulling down the arm rest makes that center one easier to find and remove. Rear seat back is then lifted upwards off its hangers; the strut tops are located behind the black elongated pentagonal plastic covers on either side of the fire wall. Each strut has an SLS hose that needs to be disconnected first, itís 17 mm if I recall, then there should be a doubled 17 mm nuts holding the strut shaft top in place with a rubber donut and a washer above and below the chassis sheet metal.

The SLS system may still be holding some pressure when you disconnect the hoses watch for spraying fluid. If the trailing arms are not supported when you take the nuts off the strut shaft the rear springs will still be exerting their pressure and will release when the strut comes free, so donít have your brother in law under the trailing arm looking upwards when you get to that point.

So your vehicle should most likely have Self Leveling Suspension in the rear, it works on hydraulic fluid pressure, youíll likely find fluid coming from somewhere as you disassemble the system. If your looking for a replacement strut at the bone yard youíd look for obvious signs of fluid leaking from the rod seals, oil on the body of the strut or possibly a large accumulation of oily grime on the strut body could indicate the strut has a very small leak that has been leaking over a long period of time. Good pressure in the system when you loosen the hose at the strut would be a positive sign. Just barely cracking the hose connection will usually have quit a spray at pretty high velocity that will last a good minute or more if the shock is not leaky. The rubberized protective bellows boot on the struts are not available separately so in your search either pick struts with good boots of grab a better boot off a less than perfect strut and swap it. The only other concern with a replacement strut is the lower end ball joint this should be tight with an intact rubber boot. Good luck!
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:15 AM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 204
Thanks Billybob, that description was spot on! I thought the strut was damaged when I saw all the fluid but it sounds like it was actually doing what it should (plus I didnt remove the hose first). I guess I can go back to the boneyard and finish pulling those now.
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Old 11-16-2009, 11:32 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 4,197
Take the valve at the rear and take the pump on the engine. Keep both clean and free of any contamination.

Some W126 cars also had hydraulics in front, which means you have a few more valves. take them too with the linkages. Those of use with the front hydraulic systems can use the spares.

You can use a very heavy duty wire cutter to cut the lines, which also crimps them all at the same time to keep the lines free of contamination.

Thx -CTH

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