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Discussion Starter #1
Help!!

I have looked and have seen many posts on these subjects from 7-12 years ago, some with dead picture links and after a few hours, I gave up. I couldn't find my exact problems. Hoping this description will help someone identify what I should do, save going to a MB dealer and mortgaging my house for what seems to be a $3000 car (I bought it new at around $46000 and am really disappointed in the depreciation AND the trouble with only 28,000 miles on the clock).

1. My top has often refused to go down over the years. Everything works as far as the trunk and windows, but then the motor will just keep going. But a day or so later, everything works as it should when I try. It has been sporadic like that for at least 8 years. I had a MB-trained mechanic go over things about a year ago, and he said all was well. After that, the incidences of refusal-to-go-down were less, but not entirely stopped.

2. I had the top down for a couple of days and I put it back up yesterday. All was well, I thought.

3. Today I got in the car and parked it outside in 80 degree weather. When I got in to put it back into the garage, I found the headliner hanging down against my head. Seemed like their was air in it as it was filled like a balloon. It isn't damaged or discolored in any way...just sagging/ballooning down.

4. So I started searching for how to take the headliner down, to repair/replace/leave out. I saw the instruction to lower the top halfway. Well, at least today, it will not move again as in #1 above.

5. So I start reading more and learn about leaking hydraulic locks, MBs commonly having saggy headliners, etc. and now I don't know what I have going on.

This car has only 28000 miles and has spent all of its nights garaged. Can anyone suggest where I can start? Is the ballooning possibly from fluid? How can I tell? If I need to lower the top manually and start by taking the headliner out, is there a good link to this process? I found some info links here, but they are so old my Windows10 can't show the videos. Of course, tomorrow, the top may decide to cooperate and go down.

Thanks for reading all this, and if anyone has any insight to help.
 

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Premium Member 2002 R170 SLK V8 5.0
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Hi,

Have you read the Vario Roof Sticky in the first section of this forum page ?

That will likely tell you all you will ever need to know.

Accessing the Vario Roof ( VR ) ECU on the appropriate Diagnostic Machine for these vehicles, (IMHO SDS), will also hopefully produce a Fault Code or two which will likely reveal the culprit for the intermittent operation.

First thing to do is open trunk, remove Plastic Trim Panel covering the Pump on the right side of the Boot / Trunk, and then look at the clearish plastic Reservoir to see if the fluid (oil) level is on the level line.

Hopefully it is so at least you don't have a leak :wink:

HTH, Cheers Dave
 

Premium Member 2002 SLK320
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Yes, the first thing I would do is remove the headliner and check for fluid.


I just put "SLK R170 headliner removal" into my search engine (I use duckduckgo") and the first three results all had instructions on how to remover the headliner - one from Pelican Parts and two from SLKworld. Some of the links (within the results) didn't work, and no videos, but the instruction in words are in there. It looks pretty easy - I've never had the pleasure myself.



Let us know what you find.
 

Premium Member 2001 SLK200K/2001 SLK320
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That doesn't look wet which is always a good sign, no hydraulic leakage - it looks like it's just the glue giving up :)

If that's the case, the headliner fabric and the foam layer that's underneath it have decided to part company.
Wait until roof decides to open again, remove headliner (3 screws at the front, 3 either side), refurbish headliner.

Take your time to remove the tapes from the front and sides (heat works well)
The foam layer will stay in place if you use a gentle heat to pry the headliner fabric away from it
Recover using a material/fabric of your choice - 'proper' headliner material is available in the usual place but is not absolutely necessary :tu:
Use spray-on upholstery glue to secure new material/fabric to foam layer (spray onto foam layer)
Use a cold iron, upholstery roller etc. to remove creases and allow to dry

Those tapes .. 2mm thick self-adhesive felt tape on the sides and what appears to be some sort of heavy duty white gaffer tape on the front edge .. I dont bother with the front edge, basically because I couldn't find what I was looking for at the time but I do have the self-adhesive felt because it makes for a nice snug fit and probably reduces rattles

HTH
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for everyone's help. I went out this AM and still no-go on the roof retracting. The headliner is actually taut (down on my head though) today from being in the cool garage. It seems to be still in place around all of the perimeter, just the center is down and flat. It is like the liner got shrunk! If I can ever get to the headliner to remove it, I will carefully deal with it.

I have never put a code-reader on this car, as I've never seen a CEL on. Someone seemed to be saying that I need one of the fancier SRS/ALB readers to get codes about the roof? I haven't read up on that yet. I do have a standard code reader/phone app.

Sounds like after the top opens and I get the headliner off, I will be able to see the hydraulic cylinder that leaks in some of these? I see the O-ring kits are now $15.95 on Ebay, with instructions. I'm wondering if I should rebuild this one even if no leak is apparent. It is 21 yrs old.

All hinges on getting the top to go down. I am hoping the absence of fluid on the headliner means that it is just being its usual self and not opening until it wants to.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, the first thing I would do is remove the headliner and check for fluid.


I just put "SLK R170 headliner removal" into my search engine (I use duckduckgo") and the first three results all had instructions on how to remover the headliner - one from Pelican Parts and two from SLKworld. Some of the links (within the results) didn't work, and no videos, but the instruction in words are in there. It looks pretty easy - I've never had the pleasure myself.



Let us know what you find.
That set of pictures from Pelican Parts looks like the perfect guide! I did not run across that yesterday. Now either the top opens or I go back to study the manual on how to lower it manually....
 

Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding Member 2006
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Premium Member 2001 SLK200K/2001 SLK320
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The headliner is actually taut (down on my head though) today from being in the cool garage. It seems to be still in place around all of the perimeter, just the center is down and flat. It is like the liner got shrunk! If I can ever get to the headliner to remove it, I will carefully deal with it.

All hinges on getting the top to go down. I am hoping the absence of fluid on the headliner means that it is just being its usual self and not opening until it wants to.
I agree, in the absence of fluid you have two separate issues.

Been there, done that on the 200 and now the 320 is sagging - not wet - just sagging, it happens, the glue's gone.
 

Premium Member 2005 SLK55 AMG; 2005 SLK350
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Have a helper operate the roof button while you stand behind the car, and when the boot lid reaches it's maximum height reach up and see if you can pull it back/up even further. Watch your fingers if the roof starts moving! Let us know what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I agree, in the absence of fluid you have two separate issues.

Been there, done that on the 200 and now the 320 is sagging - not wet - just sagging, it happens, the glue's gone.
Thanks for the encouragement about it being 2 issues. This afternoon, it decided that it would open. I put it into the middle raised position and I proceeded to take the three front screws out, and the front 2 on each side. (I never did see the 3rd side screws???)

There is no hydraulic leak! Everything hydraulic seemed to work smooth when I watched it after removing the headliner. I never did fully open it, but I put it back in its full closed position and then re-opened it...of course with no problem, because...who knows?

The headliner was still taut like it was full, and I realized it was air. Sitting it on a sofa, I pushed down gently and it must have released the air at the rear. It is all loose, with some of the foam backing still stuck to the roof panel, and some stuck on the fabric.

I will search more, but it appears that I could leave the front and sides attached as they are, then reach in and spray 2-3 inches worth of an adhesive across the inside panel, wait til it is somewhat dried, then carefully press the fabric back down to it....then wait til that part dries, then do the next 2-3 inches the same way and work back to the rear.

Does that sound like it would work? Is there a better way? I would even consider a $400 replacement, but I wonder if the replacement would also be 20 years old...and separate quickly due to age???
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Have a helper operate the roof button while you stand behind the car, and when the boot lid reaches it's maximum height reach up and see if you can pull it back/up even further. Watch your fingers if the roof starts moving! Let us know what happens.
I have done that. I know precisely where that switch is, inside the rail. This time I just tried with no success, then with the trunk open, I moved the car back about 6" in a sort of jerky motion. After a while, it started moving. It could be possible that I jostled that switch just enough. In the past, when it wouldn't open, driving it around the block a couple times seemed to get it...once in a while. I will study the electric diagrams on here and see if that is the only possible culprit....or if there is another microswitch causing the issue. The windows have always gone down, the trunk has always opened up properly. But that is the end. I can feel a thump in the left upper corner of the windscreen, which seemed to be the top locks releasing.

While I am in there, is there a recommended lubricant for some of the apparatus? Where would I want to put it? Thanks!
 

Premium Member 2005 SLK55 AMG; 2005 SLK350
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Now that you have the headliner out, you can see the two switches on the left and right rotary assemblies - study them and their operation. Don't be afraid to operate them manually. These switches often stick in the closed position and cause your exact symptom. Both switches must work correctly since they are wired in series. You're getting to the point of needing a scanner.
 

Premium Member 2001 SLK200K/2001 SLK320
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The headliner was still taut like it was full, and I realized it was air. Sitting it on a sofa, I pushed down gently and it must have released the air at the rear. It is all loose, with some of the foam backing still stuck to the roof panel, and some stuck on the fabric.

I will search more, but it appears that I could leave the front and sides attached as they are, then reach in and spray 2-3 inches worth of an adhesive across the inside panel, wait til it is somewhat dried, then carefully press the fabric back down to it....then wait til that part dries, then do the next 2-3 inches the same way and work back to the rear.

Does that sound like it would work? Is there a better way? I would even consider a $400 replacement, but I wonder if the replacement would also be 20 years old...and separate quickly due to age???

It sounds like it could be challenging :grin:
The problems being with that is that a) the liner material is thin and somewhat stretchy - those two rear corners should really be rollered into and held in place until the glue dries, and b) once the old glue has started to fail, it will continue to fail in other places and you'll be back to square one at a later date.

Personally, I'd take it all off and start over - the upholstery foam and headliner material are available to buy separately, as is foam-backed liner material that is ready to go..

e.g. https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2047675.m570.l2632.R3.TR12.TRC2.A0.H1.Xheadliner.TRS0&_nkw=headliner+fabric&_sacat=107059


There is no need to spend $400 on a new headliner if it's not soaked in fluid, your backing board is still good and it's just not cost effective to replace it unnecessarily, another option that a few members on here have taken is to take it to a professional upholsterer and let them recover it. Will probs cost IRO $100
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There is no need to spend $400 on a new headliner if it's not soaked in fluid, your backing board is still good and it's just not cost effective to replace it unnecessarily, another option that a few members on here have taken is to take it to a professional upholsterer and let them recover it. Will probs cost IRO $100
Thanks! That sounds like a reasonable option if I can find a good upholsterer here in Salem, Oregon.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Google is your friend for that one.

3 of the top rated auto upholsterers in the Salem area are:
Insane Interiors
Chike's
Rabe's
I asked in a "Nextdoor" neighborhood app for recommendations. I got 3 so far...but not these. I'll see if I can learn anything about them.

Top is still working today. I did see that both the left and the right sheathed cables were out of the little metal clips designed to hold/guide them. I watched everything work a couple of times. I'm still not sure why it is sluggish sometimes...but happy to report no leaks.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
An update. I checked out the local upholstery "shops." I showed the headliner and got a $250-$300 quote. I also got agreement from them that if a new one was $400, that would be a better choice.

I figured I can't make it worse, so I decided to try to work on it. Rubbing my fingers sideways over the foam took most of the glue and rubber gunk off the backing board. Same thing with the foam still adhering to the fabric. I used scotch tape loops and a lint roller and I have 95% of the foam off of both the backing board and the upholstery vinyl. I will work to get that closer to 100%.

My plan is to put down "stitchery tape" which is a very thin, very sticky 2-sided tape with a backing. My wife says it is "archival safe" tape that will not damage fabric...acid and solvent free. I plan to put the tape down first on the backing board. After that, I will add a layer of fleece from Joanne's that is about 1/32" thick (to mimic the space of the old foam). When I get it smoothly in place, sticking to the stitchery tape, I can move to the next layer. On top of the fleece, another layer of stitchery tape. Then place the cleaned old headliner fabric down on the tape, a little at a time to keep out wrinkles. This all will be below the metal ring, as the old fabric and foam are still together for the first 2 inches (back to the ring).

Now I say all this to get feedback as to whether or not you think this plan will work. I would buy a new yard of fabric, except that does not get the issue of the metal ring addressed. I cannot see how I would be able to deal with the metal ring that seemed to be put in place in the manufacturing process. I suppose I could cut a small hole in the fabric and then slit it and glue it to the underside, using the plastic plug to cover up the non-stock headliner.

So what do you think? Has anyone gone this route before, trying to save the fabric after removing the foam and glue? Success? Fail? Thanks for your thoughts.
 

Premium Member 2001 SLK200K/2001 SLK320
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They have to turn a profit to stay in business but they're asking for a $200+ markup for 1- 2hrs work .. that's ridiculous

Anyway .. Talk of this has spurred me into action of sorts, just got to choose a colour and material and do I go for perforated or not .. decisions

Had some soundproofing kicking about and decided that it'd be rude not to ..
 

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