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Registered 1999 SLK230K
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1 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello everybody!

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for your SLK posts on the forums here. I was looking to buy a 2-seater sports car and those posts were very helpful to me, especially the posts about problems because all cars have problems from time to time. I was able to learn much more about SLKs from the various posts than I would have just by reading for sale ads, which are sadly lacking in detail most of the time anyway. The posts here and elsewhere helped me understand what to look for when buying, what is needed to maintain them, and many other things. I read a great deal before I decided an SLK was what I wanted. And, with your help, I found one.

I live in Michigan and limited my search to within an eight hour drive from where I live which is about 30 minutes north of Grand Rapids. I am partial to the 2000-era body style and was looking for the best car I could find under $7k. I found many but most were in the $3k-$4k price range and either had high mileage, needed repairs to the top, body, mechanicals, or any combination of those. I kept looking for weeks and finally one came up that caught my eye, a silver 1999 SLK230K. That wouldn't have been my first color choice, but I was looking for the best car I could find within my price range. It was being sold by a Ford/Lincoln dealer in the Chicago area and priced at $6200. The vehicle details on the listing showed it was a 2-owner car with no reported accidents and had just 42k miles on it. Features included the original factory cell phone, headlight washers, heated seats and trunk-mounted CD changer along with the usual offerings for that year. The ultra-low mileage was a strong selling point for me since I do a lot of driving. I found only two others with lower mileage around the same model year and those were close to $10k, but none in my price range with lower mileage. I watched the listing for a couple weeks and saw they dropped the price by $200, that's when I wrote to ask what their best price was. They told me $5800 so I decided to go take a look. It was about a 4-5 hour drive from my house.

The car didn't disappoint visually upon first look. A close inspection of the body showed an extremely shallow, 4-inch crease going across the middle of the driver's door with no real damage to the basecoat. That crease wasn't visible in the dealer's photos and they were good, full-resolution photos. It's one of those things you have to see in the right light and angle else it is not easily visible. There was one small scratch in the clearcoat on the bumper between the passenger side headlight and foglight. There was one 3mm-diameter chip on the fender flare above the passenger side rear wheel which did not go through the basecoat. I found two previous chips that were touched up but looked fine. All the glass was perfect. That's all I could find as far as the body goes, and I was being as picky as possible. As for the interior, it was nearly perfect. All of the rubber-coated dash panels were excellent, certainly not like some of the photos I've seen on other cars with all the peeling that can happen. All the chromed interior items (both plastic and not) were excellent. The seats were nearly perfect, no noticeable aging, cracks, wrinkles, etc. The carpet was near perfect. The only "wear" I really found was on the floor mats, but of course those are there for a reason and can be easily replaced. There really isn't anything I saw from an interior standpoint that was bad enough to mention. Everything in the trunk was absolutely perfect, even the first aid kit had never been used. Finally, I checked out the engine compartment. The word "clean" is often overused when describing a car's condition, but the engine compartment was certainly that. Clean. Not spotless, but very, very clean. There was a bit of bubbling in the paint on the valve cover but that didn't bother me. I've seen a great deal worse than that on cars much newer. To that point I was feeling great about the car. Its condition was impressive to say the least.

Now we arrive at the mechanical side of things. This is where it sort of fell off the rails, but not close enough to the point of not buying it. The first thing I should mention is that I've never owned a Mercedes before and have neither seen nor driven one of these cars so everything I saw and experienced with it mechanically that afternoon was new to me. I have owned more than a dozen cars over my 57-year lifetime but nothing even close to this.

The first time I started the car it took a little bit to fire up. Of course, I didn't know how long it had sat there not having been started either, so that didn't bother me. I have more than enough mechanical experience with cars to know not to put too much emphasis on something like that. After a minute or two it smoothed out and ran fine. It was a little loud, perhaps, louder than what I was used to, but I figured - and still do - that as a sports car it would naturally be a little louder. There weren't any grinding noises, clicks or any other noises to cause concern. All of the electromechanical items worked perfectly, including the retractable hardtop. I was still feeling great about the car at that point.

Now comes the test drive. The first thing I noticed was the brake pedal was spongy compared to what I consider normal. Air in the lines? Impossible to determine, but there was a definite "stop" to the pedal's travel and at that stop there didn't appear to be any further sponginess. (This was later confirmed when braking.) There was no brake noise at first roll. Pedal travel was the same when I stopped at the road before pulling out into traffic and the stopping force of the brakes was firm so any real concerns I had went away. Acceleration was very good, though for some reason I was expecting a bit more "giddy up" than it had. (Still do, but then, it's not a Maserati either.) However, it wasn't something that disappointed me all that much as I am not a speed demon kind of guy. One thing I noticed immediately was a rather strong metal-to-metal clunking sound underneath the car when going over sharper bumps in the road. Even with lesser bumps without clunking the bumps seemed a bit harsh. The clunking sound seemed to be coming from an area between the seats (more on that later). Another thing I noticed was the shifter rattled at certain RPMs regardless of what gear it may have been in at the time (more on that later as well). Other than those two things, and the self-expected apparent lack of acceleration, from my perspective there wasn't anything I couldn't take care of. I bought and drove it home that day, November 23rd, 2019.

Needless to say, I was excited. I now owned a Mercedes, and a sports car, for the first time.

The drive home taught me one thing I do NOT like about the car. That would be the seats, the driver's seat in particular. It's uncomfortable for me on a long drive. I love the seats in my Jetta, it's too bad I can't put some Jetta seats in it.

After I got it home I made an appointment with a local Mercedes dealer to have some of the mechanicals checked. They found several areas of concern, which were the lower front ball joints (rubber caps were missing), leaks from the seals on both the input and output shafts of the differential, a damaged shock mount, plus a few other minor things. The dealer in Chicago told me it was last owned by someone in the Chicago area with a heated garage. This was before I bought it, and because it was stored in a heated garage during the winters I had an immediate gut feeling the garage wasn't also climate controlled so a good bit of the rubber in the suspension and other areas would be dried out. Because of that I expected it would need repairs to some rubber-based parts, and it turns out I was correct. I had the Mercedes dealer replace the ball joints, shock mount and take care of a couple other small things I simply didn't want to deal with that didn't cost much. But there were the two things I still had to figure out yet: The clunking noise and the shifter rattle, both of which I did not ask the dealer to check. I figured the shifter rattle was likely being caused by the motor and/or transmission mounts rather than shifter linkage because the mileage on the car didn't indicate enough use to wear out a linkage bushing, and the clunking was probably something to do with the shocks.

But before I could work on those things an unfortunate event occurred. An accident! No, I wasn't driving. Someone backed into it in my office building's parking lot. That person works in my office no less! She had only been with us for a month or so and was worried how I would react, but I'm not one to fly off the handle about things like that. Her insurance paid for all the damage and it's back to normal now (better, in fact). The hood, grille and driver's side headlight needed to be replaced and the bumper repainted. And - bonus! - the bumper repaint took care of the scratch on the right side. Before I got it back I asked the body shop (a well respected Mercedes repair facility) to do a complete inspection of the body. I was told they could not see any visible prior body repairs and other than the crease in the door, a couple scratches here and there, and cracked plastic front wheel well panels, it was in extremely good shape and they could see nothing that needed to be fixed. They also gave me an estimate to repair the crease in the door, and I'm considering having that done due to the condition of the rest of the car.

The only things left for me were the two previously mentioned issues: The clunk and the rattle. I decided to buy both front and rear shocks along with new motor and transmission mounts. I had already taken a look at the motor mounts and they did appear to have collapsed somewhat, though I couldn't see them well enough to know how far. This past Saturday my nephew and I replaced the motor and transmission mounts along with all four shocks. Both the clunking and rattles are now completely gone and even the lesser bumps seem to be fine for a car with a sport suspension. Each motor mount had collapsed a little under an inch (apparently enough to cause the rattle), the transmission mount's rubber was extremely deteriorated and the unloaded length of the old shocks once removed did not match up to the unloaded length of the new shocks, so it appears as if my assumptions were correct. All those annoying noises are gone, it has a smoother ride and is such a pleasure to drive now!

Still to come: Repairs to the differential shaft seals and other minor repairs. I'm going to have a shop repair the differential, I'm not going to try that myself. I've been quoted about $900 for the job, though I don't know if that is good or bad. I'll take care of the other little things myself. For the driver door crease, that was quoted to be around $800. I'm pretty sure I'll end up having that fixed at some point. The spongy brake pedal is something I may have looked at. It may need a master cylinder or something else, but it may also be normal for that model and year for all I know. And the seats? I don't know about that quite yet.

So that's my story! A bit long-winded, sure, but what SLK-lover can refuse a feel-good SLK story? I'm a happy camper! I'd post pics, but it's your typical silver 1999 SLK230K and one looks pretty much like any other.

Again, thank you all for your past messages which helped me decide to buy an SLK. I am grateful.

But ... what the heck am I going to do with a 1999-era cell phone??? LOL!

Cheers from Michigan, USA!
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding Member 2006
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95,001 Posts
Welcome to SLKWorld.com: The #1 Mercedes-Benz SLK Forum from Florida!

Claim your free gift!

FREE!! Post your vin in the Vehicle Datacard Request section to get a free datacard (options on your car). You must update your profile with vehicle info and your location and post an introduction first.

FREE!! How to get a free datacard!

Thank you
Jeff
Administrator/Founding Member
 

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Super Moderator 06 SLK 280
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10,518 Posts
Welcome to SLKWorld.com from Northern California
List of Useful SLK Links

slk-links.neocities.org

FREE!! Post your vin in the Vehicle Datacard Request section to get a free datacard (options on your car). You must update your profile with vehicle info and your location and post an introduction first.

Welcome to the forum
Where search is your friend
And the answers never end
 

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Premium Member 2009 SLK350
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18,131 Posts
Welcome from Portland, Oregon. Enjoy the forum and the top down driving.
 

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Super Moderator UK SLK 55 AMG 2007
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26,174 Posts
Welcome from Wirral, England.

If you are new to forums, or the format of this forum, this may help.

Our forum rules:

Really useful links (thanks to ixions cataloguing)
The web site of slk-links Includes diy videos.
Spare parts: The web site of slk-links <<<Where to find part numbers

There's a link to R170/171/172's do it yourself threads below.
R170 DIYS:- SLK R170 class DIY
R171 DIYS:- SLK R171 Class DIY
R172 DIYS:- SLK R172 Class DIY

Some useful tips in this section for new Members and prospective owners.
The web site of slk-links

You can find your region by scrolling down the page on this link
This is where to find meets/events.

Look across the banner and you'll see three vertical dots.
Many questions answered there.
You'll also find the >>>FAQs<<<

Click the 5 horizontal lines near the banner.
Scroll down and you'll find a huge section of info.
Check out the tsbs. Lot's of fixes for MB recognised issues there.

What to do? Stat with Prince as the ring tone ;)
 

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Super Moderator CA 2012 SLK55 AMG w/P30
Joined
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12,473 Posts
Welcome from Canada 😄

But ... what the heck am I going to do with a 1999-era cell phone??? LOL!
Sell it on Ebay. Probably get a small fortune for an historical item 😉
 

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Registered 2000 SLK200
Joined
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7 Posts
Welcome, sounds like your car is now ready for countless hours of joy after your fixes! :)
 

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Registered 2001 SLK320
Joined
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115 Posts
Welcome from Sweden, and I liked your introduction.
Have fun..
 

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Premium Member 2009 SLK55 AMG
Joined
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11,487 Posts
Welcome from the Sacramento Valley SLK Enthusiasts! I loved your introduction, the best one I’ve ever read!
 

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Super Moderator 2010 SLK300 2LOOK
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14,238 Posts
Hi and welcome from Florida!

Great intro!
 
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