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Suggestions on fixing the vario roof latch hydraulic cylinder

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SL-Class (R230) 2003 -- 2012: Discussion on the SL500, SL550, SL600

Suggestions on fixing the vario roof latch hydraulic cylinder

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Old 04-25-2015, 12:19 PM
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Suggestions on fixing the vario roof latch hydraulic cylinder

I recently purchased a 2004 SL55 (), but I'm finding it has a growing list of issues (). One issue is the seal on the roof latch cylinder blew and the hydraulic fluid leaked out of the system into the cabin. I decided I would try to fix it myself.

My first plan was to remove the cylinder and hose and send it to Top Hydraulics for repair. Well, I've gotten pretty good at raising and lowering the roof manually and I have almost removed all of the hydraulic line, but there is one area where the hose is clamped down on the roof supports (between the car frame and the wall separating the trunk area from the roll bar mechanism). There is absolutely no room to get a tool in there to remove the clamp holding the hydraulic line. My guess is that the whole roof will have to be removed to get at this clamp.

Has anyone gone through this torture before or know how they address this problem at the dealership? I've was looking at the cylinder to see if I could open it and replace the components myself without removing the hydraulic line from the car, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the retaining clip out (if you've dealt with this, you'll know what I mean).

I'm so close, but I feel defeat is on the horizon. If I have to remove the roof, I might tackle that as long as I get some input on complications that might arise (e.g. roof re-alignment, electrical issues, etc). Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Steve

Last edited by SteveM61; 04-25-2015 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 04-25-2015, 02:19 PM
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I would try to contact Klaus at Top Hydraulics for help. There are some instructions on their website for R129, but none posted for R230. The R129 instructions show some twisting off the hydraulic lines rather than removal of the lines? Personally, I would be very leery of taking off the roof. Please let us know what you find out.
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Old 04-26-2015, 01:14 PM
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Steve,

I don't have any personal knowledge to share but I am doing research and plan an R230 purchase sometime in the future. I do have WIS so I'm able to post instructions that are used at the factory/dealership level. Please look at the attached step by step instructions to see if you can figure it out. Since you already have most of the paneling removed for access and are staring at the situation, I have left those paneling R&I steps out.

Please post back your success story,

Good Luck,

Bob

(You really do need your own copy of WIS/ASRA/EPC, easily purchased on ebay, a Star/DAS system would be the best. Beautiful car the SL55!)

Last edited by mercy-me; 04-26-2015 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 05-03-2015, 02:27 PM
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Klaus at top hydraulics asked me to take a few pictures of where the lines are routed in that are because I just changed my top latch cylinder.

I will snap a few pics today or tomorrow to help show how the lines are routed in that tight area. The clip I assume you are referring to is held by a torx bolt correct?
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Old 05-23-2015, 07:16 PM
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Hey man, DON'T go any further with your latch cylinder! My 2003 SL500 had the exact same problem. It was an easy fix to me. Until I seen the hydraulic lines didn't unscrew. The were crimped on. STUPID I found a place in Florida with just the ticket. They have a patent or one pending for just your problem. You cut the lines a foot or so from the locking cylinder. Send them the cylinder and they rebuild it and send you back the same one with these unique connectors for connecting your lines back up. No leaks. I done this a year ago. They guarantee no leaks. Just don't try opening that roof till you get it back or you will be lubed up from head to toe. http://www.cabriolethydraulics.com
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Old 05-23-2015, 10:47 PM
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what was the cost on doing that?
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Old 06-26-2015, 05:36 PM
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How do you open the vario roof in manual mode?
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Old 07-06-2015, 04:39 PM
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I just got a quote from Zig Paul at Cabrio Hydraulics (www.cabriolethydraulics.com)

Hi Herb,

It was good talking to you. The cost to rebuild your cylinder is $55.00 and
$58.00 for the couplers. The shipping will be $12-14 via UPS and FL tax
will apply (I forgot to mention). Thank you for the inquiry.

Warm regards,

Zig Paul
Cabriolet Hydraulics
3007 62nd Ave East
Bradenton FL, 34203
941-756-1300
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Old 08-28-2015, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Diesel117 View Post
How do you open the vario roof in manual mode?
I'm also curious on how to lower the roof manually, tried so many times but could never get it..
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Old 03-04-2016, 06:23 AM
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I just finished reinstalling all 11 hydraulic cylinders and the pump after having had them rebuilt at Top Hydraulics. First rate service and meticulous work from Klaus. Highly recommend them. I did not have to remove the roof to access the metal clip you are referring to. Here's how.

Partially open the roof until you can see the torx head screw holding the clip in place. You will need a torx head bit (think it was a 25) and a 1/4 inch wrench to turn the bit with. There is just enough room to fit the bit in the screw, and then use the wrench to loosen it. As soon as the screw can be turned by hand, remove the torx bit so it doesn't get stuck. It is a tight fit but works. Be careful not to drop the screw, it would be difficult to retrieve. I did the last few turns by hand without the bit once things were loose. Much easier than further disassembly.

Be careful with the roof partially open. Leave the car running. This will give you about seven minutes before the car will issue a warning chime and release pressure in the system. Fingers in the wrong place will be crushed when this happens. If the car chimes just work the roof switch again for a second or two to rebuild pressure and reset the time you have to work.

A few weeks after my roof lock cylinder started to leak, a cylinder on the driver's side of the trunk started to leak. I chose to do all 11 and the pump at the same time to avoid an ongoing stream of issues. It was a big project. It took me two days working on my own to reinstall the cylinders and pump, and get the system bled of air and refilled with hydraulic fluid. I hope to finish reinstalling the interior and trunk trim pieces this coming weekend. My daughter just gave me a hand with the roof liner not ten minutes ago. All totalled I have about eight long days into the work with two more to go. I have access to the STAR system so was able to follow official procedures for disassembly. That was a big help. There are so many little clips and connections that would be easy to break without the directions.

Good luck.
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Old 08-09-2017, 03:34 PM
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dang those couplers look like they could be a huge time saver. granted they are pricey, but if it saves you days of work probly worth it
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:08 PM
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Cut them or pull them out of pump

Originally Posted by sinnedsl500 View Post
Hey man, DON'T go any further with your latch cylinder! My 2003 SL500 had the exact same problem. It was an easy fix to me. Until I seen the hydraulic lines didn't unscrew. The were crimped on. STUPID I found a place in Florida with just the ticket. They have a patent or one pending for just your problem. You cut the lines a foot or so from the locking cylinder. Send them the cylinder and they rebuild it and send you back the same one with these unique connectors for connecting your lines back up. No leaks. I done this a year ago. They guarantee no leaks. Just don't try opening that roof till you get it back or you will be lubed up from head to toe. http://www.cabriolethydraulics.com
What did you use to cut the lines?
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:16 PM
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Star/DAS system?

Originally Posted by mercy-me View Post
Steve,

I don't have any personal knowledge to share but I am doing research and plan an R230 purchase sometime in the future. I do have WIS so I'm able to post instructions that are used at the factory/dealership level. Please look at the attached step by step instructions to see if you can figure it out. Since you already have most of the paneling removed for access and are staring at the situation, I have left those paneling R&I steps out.

Please post back your success story,

Good Luck,

Bob

(You really do need your own copy of WIS/ASRA/EPC, easily purchased on ebay, a Star/DAS system would be the best. Beautiful car the SL55!)
Is the Star/DAS system an access to an online account that only lasts for a defined time period and you have to pay for access when you want to use it?
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Old 08-11-2017, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by LOU002 View Post
Is the Star/DAS system an access to an online account that only lasts for a defined time period and you have to pay for access when you want to use it?
No, that's the consumer version of WIS/EPC that MBZ offers. You can get a "Chinese clone" version of the full SDS. A built-it-yourself system ca bed had for as low as $250, or a turn-key for $700-$1200.
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Old 04-07-2018, 05:39 PM
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R230 front roof latch

[QUOTE=dmingo777;6488293]I just got a quote from Zig Paul at Cabrio Hydraulics (www.cabriolethydraulics.com)

TOOLS: 5.5mm Hex, T25 bit for 5 headliner screws at front & T30 for the 9 bolts holding the lock assembly & needle nose pliers for sliding locking circlips.
pair of 3/8" open end wrenches to tighten couplers. (not many tools needed)

I wanted to document this while fresh in my mind.

I just did this procedure with the line cutting, couplers & rebuilt cylinder. Luckily I still had fluid in the system to open the roof a foot and place a 12" 2x4 to prop it open.
Then remove the 5 T25 screws from the front lip of the headliner and work it out forwards a little from each side till it is all the way out of the car.

The center of the roof latching assembly has 3 T30 bolts in center area and each corner also has 3 T30 bolts. You might be able to leave one bolt in each corner to hold
the assembly up. The lock cylinder has 2 shiny silver metal clips that you grab with the needle nose pliers and remove both, then push the center posts out
This frees the old cylinder, I just let it hang down and I placed the rebuilt cylinder in its place and put in the posts and replaced the clips to hold in place.
Now cut the hydraulic line with a razor blade knife, I used a wooden spatula as a cutting block and you need nice straight cut.
Attach the new hydraulic line coupler using the printed directions it comes with and then attach the SAME line to the replacement cylinder then
do the same with the remaining line.. DO NOT MIX UP LINES
Screw in the T30 bolts to secure the assembly, remove the 2x4, the roof will fall forward and manually latch the roof using the manual lock 5.5 hex
Then attempt to operate the top it may take several tries as the system self bleeds out the air, you may need to add hydraulic fluid back in the trunk.

This is how the local indie mechanics repair the front lock cylinder since I called around and spoke to them. They said routing the entire
9 feet of hydraulic line back to the trunk usually breaks the old plastic panels that need removing and saves MANY HOURS OF LABOR.
They told me they have done a dozen in last 3 years & never had a problem with these couplers.
I took my time and it was about a 3 hour job with less cursing than many Benz repairs & it works no leak anymore!
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:12 PM
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GREAT A timely post as I am just about to try to figure out the replacement of the center lock mechanism on a recently purchased 2004 SL My concern was the removal of the headliner and according to your notes, this is simply the torx screws across the front and then a wiggle motion to slide it forward.. Is this all there is to it ?

I too am using Cabriolet Hydraulics and their splice in method.. Seems to be the logical way to go

When you prop the roof with the 2 x 4 where do you position it ?
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:52 PM
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I used this oring from ebay to replace the original seal. It came with excellent instructions.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/03-11-Merce...item419ed7fb00

You can remove the cylinder, along with the hydraulic line intact, and lay it on the driver window ledge so you can work on it. You can either use a small hook pick to get the c-ring out or drill a small hole toward the top of the cylinder to get it out so you can get the rod out. No need to cut the line from the cylinder. I did this about 7 months ago and there has been no leaks since.

Last edited by marko69; 04-18-2018 at 06:36 AM.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by marko69 View Post
I used this oring from ebay to replace the original seal.
I'd be concerned that o-ring is an "inch size" that may work but leak ever so slightly as explained in this post. That said, conventional o-rings that are a less than ideal fit seem to perform well on R129 cars.

Last edited by bobterry99; 04-18-2018 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:28 PM
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I took my headliner off today because it was dripping wet on the sides, found out my latch cylinder is also leaking pretty bad.



How bad is it to do this, i looked at the assembly and have no idea how to get to the seal, i'm assuming it's hiding behind the white plastic piece?
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:43 AM
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Here is a diagram of the cylinder that came with my instructions. I drilled a hole in the side of the cylinder to get the c-ring out. I give it a 1.2 out of 5 difficulty level.
I would simply post all of the 7 pages of instructions, but I don't want to cheat the seller out of his hard work.




Last edited by marko69; 04-29-2018 at 06:55 AM. Reason: spelling, cheap to cheat
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by marko69 View Post
Here is a diagram of the cylinder that came with my instructions. I drilled a hole in the side of the cylinder to get the c-ring out. I give it a 1.2 out of 5 difficulty level.
I would simply post all of the 7 pages of instructions, but I don't want to cheap the seller out of his hard work.




Awesome, just ordered mine. How do you get the seal in? Does the rod detach from the bracket easily? I looked at the hardware briefly yesterday and didn't see how it comes apart. Perhaps when i get the kit in the instruction will be clearer. Nice leopard print blanket lol
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by marko69 View Post
... I don't want to cheap the seller out of his hard work.
If the job is easy seeing the instructions would encourage people to go the route of repairing the cylinder themselves with the o-ring provided by the seller.

I have replaced the piston seal in many other cylinders that were out of the car and mounted in a vise. With a hole drilled into the cylinder the job of removing the "c-ring" and disassembling/reassembling the cylinder is not difficult at all and can be done in perhaps 15 minutes. But with this particular latch cylinder there is a bracket (#2 in the diagram) that must be removed, and that looks challenging to me.

Last edited by bobterry99; 04-29-2018 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:54 AM
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The seal is a ***** to change...Make sure you don't damage the rod in any way or it will ruin your new seal and start leaking again in short order...If the repair doesn't work out for you go with the cab hydraulics rebuild and connectors. You can finish the job in a snap with those patented connectors...I sent mine into them...Express UPS shipping...3 days total time...Mailed it on Monday got cylinder back on Wednesday...Don't get any faster than that...Great great service!
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Old 04-28-2018, 01:21 PM
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How does the connector come out of the piston? I looked at it and can't seem to find a way to get it out.
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Old 04-29-2018, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by FxFormat View Post
How does the connector come out of the piston?
When you remove the c-clip (#4 in the diagram) you can simply pull the entire rod/piston/seal assembly out of the cylinder.

Klaus of TopHydraulics has warned forum members not to substitute an o-ring for the original seal in any of these top hydraulic cylinders. But a friend of mine has had success with an o-ring kit sold on eBay, and a local repair shop has been using the same o-rings on their customer's cars for several years. So when I purchased a '91 SL last summer with most cylinders leaking, I purchased an o-ring kit for under $20 and made the repairs myself.

Until recently I had operated the roof perhaps two dozen times since the repairs, and all was well. But in the course of testing a simple electronic circuit that duplicates the functionality of a "Smart Top" module I have operated the roof perhaps 75 times over the course of a few days. Now one of the repaired cylinders has a small leak.

If the front locks cylinder on my '03 car develops a leak I will try to locate the correct seal described in the link I posted earlier and do the repair myself. Otherwise I would surely use the services of TopHydraulics or CabrioletHydraulics.
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