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Old 03-11-2004, 06:21 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 114
My New SEL (please help...)

re: 92 500sel, 145kmiles

So, despite the tranny problem that I posted about yesterday (any help? it shifts funny - sometimes sticking in gear, sometimes skipping over 2nd to 3rd, sometimes working fine...)

Overall, how can I complain? (I paid under $10,000 for a truly awesome piece of machinery) - almost everything seems to work, but here are my "needs":

1. Soft closers work poorly - if you pull the fuses, it resets so that the driver's door works once, the passenger door a few times, and the trunk a few times. I understand that this is probably in need of an actuator pump - any good (less expensive than $600) sources for these?

2. Pass side seat control doesn't seem to work (at all), and the rear seat controls are tempermental (although I haven't played with them as much - like I'm going to let someone else drive...). It looks like someone pulled the switch out of the passenger door, but it still doesn't work.

3. There is a klunk in the rear suspension (at least I think it's suspension). Feels like a diff mount or control arm bushing, but maybe these cars have other common rear susp failure points?

4. Where can I get service (activation) for the integrated cell phone?

Thank you for any input. Without resources like this I wouldn't consider buying a 140k+miles car...


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Old 03-11-2004, 07:52 PM
A. Rosich's Avatar
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Join Date: Nov 1999
Posts: 883
You definitely need a new vacuum pump for the self-closing doors. Best price is with Phil at, although be sure to provide him your chassis number, because there are four different types of vacuum pumps for this same feature.

Replace all missing switches and see if the seat works.

I hope the suspension noise is not related to the self-levelling device on the rear axle, because it could be expensive $$$. Have the system checked by a qualified technician.

I believe there is no way to activate old W140 phones anymore, although check with your local M-B dealer to see if someone provides the service for your phone type.

About the transmission, I would start by changing the fluid and installing a new filter. Then see what happens...
A. Rosich
CL 500, 1998
S 500 L, 1998
E 320 T, 1995 [Sadly sold ]
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Old 03-11-2004, 08:02 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 114
Thanks - I guess I mis-spoke - there are no missing switches, but the front switch appears to have been tampered with (they broke a clip off of the mounting plate, so it fall out occasionally...)

I called AT&T, and they said if I could find an EIN (electronic identification number) for the phone, they could activate it.

Tranny fluid appears fresh, clean, and is at proper level (with car running, normal temp, level ground)...

Thanks for the info - maybe someone else has had a similar tranny problem?
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Old 03-13-2004, 10:08 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 638
erratic tranny problems

You might try Berrymans Fuel System Cleaner a can in the tranny fluid run it a week, then drain both the pan and torque convertor, and replace the filter. Then say a prayer.

If its trash in the valve body, removal , disassembly, cleaning and reassembly is necessary.
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Old 03-14-2004, 07:22 AM
tivoliman's Avatar
Happy with Mercedes
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 381
My 500SEL - has some rear sounds

The rear self leveling suspension does requires a trained specialist; mostly special tools.

In the rear there are pumps, blathers, and shocks. My symptom was that the rear would bounce too much. Took it to the dealer; they suggested the blathers were leaking and the shocks needed replacement.

After staring at the service advisor for a while, he commented, well the shocks donít really need replacing, if you donít mind the noise. I said Iíd live with the noise. The Blathers were replaced, and occasionally the rear makes a thud noise, other times it may squeak, but clearly not all the time, and something I can live with.

Rear noise, your call: Live with it. Just donít let a safety issue go unresolved. Is the car manageable.

At Fastlane - the shocks are $563. You guessed it, the dealer was about $1,000 each.
Thanks for the help
Bill Fisher

'86 560SL (186K) - Now a 'classic' : Registered as an Historic Vehicle
02 E430 in the stable
'14 LS460 (Lexus)
- - - - -
'95 E420 (198K) found a new home
'99 E320 (80K) (gave it's life for me as we hit a bumper)
'95 E420 (231K) Sold to a happy buyer, new to Mercedes
'90 300E (65K) Sold to an Mercedes Lover
'92 190E (215K) - retired to the salvage yard
'93 500SEL (214K) - Moved to another family, still runs like a young pup
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Old 03-14-2004, 08:55 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Rio Rancho, NM. USA
Posts: 229
Dave, I went through a big learning experience about a month ago on my '92 SEL and the rear suspension, as I also had a "thud" in the rear when going over even tiny bumps in the road. Check out this thread:

W140 rear!

My guess is that you'll have to replace one or both rear upper shock bushings ($40 each) and both accumulators ($100 each) plus labor unless you DIY. If you don't take care of this asap you will be looking at a MUCH higher repair bill!
Good luck!
1996 SL320 97K miles
1996 C220 130k miles
1992 500SEL 170k miles <---sold
1986 300E 216k miles <---sold
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Old 03-15-2004, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,084

Well Dave its like this:
The closing assist pump is probably defective, I saw a post recently that said the locks need lubrication and the pump sees the inability to close as a fault and goes into failuremode. I am not convinced but $600 or so will get you a new pump. The clunk you hear in the back could be a bad suspension strut (looks like a shock with a hose going to it) If the back end is bouncey you probably have bad hydraulic accumulators $300 to change both, $450 for each shock.
The car phone is history, it is probably the factory OKI that is analog, and no one will activate them. I would not spend time on it. There might be a carrier or two in the US who might consider it, mostl in riural areas, with an antiquated system.
The seat ajuster I have no experience with, but if the control is out someone played with it. Who cares if the rear seat does not work, only the backrest moves unless you have four seat option.
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Old 03-16-2004, 01:27 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 114
Update on tranny, suspension...

Ok, so I have good news and bad news.

Inspecting the self leveling, I found the reservoir under the hood empty, so I filled it. This fixed 90% of the rear end problems, so I figured it meant that I need accumulators (and possibly more).

Well, then the story gets better - I had a flat tire (picked up a nail) and noticed that the shop across the street from where I stopped has a few Mercedes parked outside - Atwood European, owner/operator Andrew Atwood. While he fixed the tire, we inspected the underside, and found the accumulators and the shocks to be relatively new, and not leaking. A couple of top bushings, and I'm hooked up.

Then, the story gets worse. I believe that the problem that I had with difficult shifting might be misdiagnosed and actually a problem where it is not going into second ever. Now, it doesn't want to shift into fourth, but if you shift into nuetral and then back into drive (at 50mph) then it drops into fourth (and if you kick it down to third, it returns to fourth normally...) Anyway, I think this is the sign of a sick tranny, so I'm going to do a full service on it (with new Redline D4), and then I think I'm shopping for a clean used tranny...

Cell phone will be relegated to decoration, and I don't sit in the back, so I'll skip repairing the seats... (like I'm going to let someone else drive...)


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