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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
I just test-drove a 1999 SLK 230 last weekend, and I think I'm hooked. Great looks, great handling, well engineered machine. Howerver, the specimen I looked at was driven hard and lacked some basic maintenance that had me walk away - front disc brakes were paper thin, sloppy shifter gate, minor body damage, overspray in the engine compartment, brown brake fluid and leaking trunk supports. I've been lurking for the past few days, and put together a general inspection checklist as I start the hunt for my first SLK 230. Any help with the checklist would be appreciated. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions as my journey begins.

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SLK Checklist (updated 7/9/2010)

Body:
Inspect Body for signs of rust, damage or repair.
Look inside wheel wells for missing screws or attaching hardware.
Open hood, doors and trunk. Look for paint overspray or other signs of repair. Check doors for worn hinges.
Inspect hood support and trunk support for weakness or leaking.
Open and close bonnet (roof?).
Any missing emblems or markers?
Turn on lights - check all outside bulbs work.
Check horn.
Check radio & CD ( if installed in trunk)
Check Top operation - open and closed.

Brakes:
Inspect brake pad linings and brake rotors for unusual wear
Inspect brake reservoir - is fluid clean or dirty? When was last system flush?

Tires:
Is the wear even? Is there unusual wear on the outside or the middle of the tread?
Any scalloped tread on inner or outer surface?

Wheels:
Inspect wheels for bent rims, road rash.
Check trunk for spare, inflator and wheel lock tool.

Under hood:
Is the area dirty?
If its’ clean, is it as clean from the underside (recently steam-cleaned for appearance?)
Are the belts excessively worn?
Condition of radiator hoses?
Anti-freeze color? Dirty/Clean Red (original MB) or Green(non-original)
Any fluid leaks?

Engine Codes? - Attach OBD II reader to connector under instrument cluster and check for codes.
Mileage to next service? - use key sequence to display on odometer.

Suspension: Ripped or torn tie rod boots? Pull the tire from side to side - any movement (ball joint wear).

Exhaust: Inspect muffler, catalytic converter and tailpipe for rust or leaks.

Interior:
Any rips in seat? Loose trim?
Any unlit lights in dashboard or console?
Tip - If all interior lights are off, turn dimmer switch on intrument cluster to see if they light.
Windows fully operate up and down?
Overhead light on with doors open? Overhead light off with doors closed?

Driving:
Start car.
Close Bonnet (roof)
Do all gauges work?
Test horn, turn signals.
On a clear road, reach a speed of 5-10 mph. Lightly hold steering wheel while applying brakes. Does the car pull to one side?
From a standstill. Accelerate rapidly. Any smoke from exhaust?
Decelerate - Any smoke? - could mean worn rings.
Inspect tailpipe - Dry soot OK. Oily - worn rings, compressor seals. No soot - too lean?
Take the car up to highway speeds (45+mph). Any vibration? Wind noise? Other noises?
Unusual exhaust noises? Rattles?
Does cruise control work?
Does A/C work
Heat?

Documentation: Owner's Manual, service records, etc.

Automatic – does the car shift smoothly between gears? Any slipping?

Clutch – Start the car. With the brake on, place the car in 3rd gear. Release the clutch – does the car begin to stall? If not, the clutch may need replacing.

Car wash:
Does the top or doors leak?

Big ticket repair items:
Catalytic converter - $900
Standard Trans Clutch kit - $500
Hydraulic roof lifts - $300 each (4 required)
Kompressor replacement – $1K
Fuel Pump - $300
Control Module - ???
Mass Airflow Sensor - $300


End

new/used checklist added by jbanks15 1/25/15
http://www.slkworld.com/general-discussion/68666-new-used-vehicle-pickup-checklist.html
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just as an add on pads are less than 150$ front and rear trunk struts 20$ each brake flush a diy project. actually all you listed could be done minus bodywork. i was able to drop the price on mine 2500$ for the m/b repairs and spent less than 800$ for the parts! then did it myself
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the positive responses. My reasoning (good or bad) was, if these inexpensive, easily replaced items were ignored, what big "gotcha" item was actually motivating the seller. On the other hand, I'm serioulsy considering following up on the car and taking it to the dealer for an inspection. It'd be worth a few hundred dollars to see if I found a diamond in the rough, or a money pit.

None of the 230's visable maintence items worry me. I'm not afraid of tackling major repairs - I'm also in the process of restoring a 1969 Mustang Sportsroof. So far I've replaced both rear quarters, the entire rear frame and floor pans. I'm welding in new front frame rails this month. I need the SLK 230 more as a daily driver - as I already have a "project car".
 

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You left two things off your list:

Do all of the console lights work (can you see all of your heater controls at night)?

Also, most people think that it is bad to have an engine smoke under acceleration, or even puff at startup...dealbreakers. But those problems can usually be solved by pulling the head. Far more serious is if the car smokes under deacceleration...like goinging down hill, or even a puff as the engine winds down as you shift gears. That is rings every time, and that gets pricy in a hurry. I look at the whole back of the car around the exhaust...ok, it's clean now, but are there any signs that it's usually pretty dirty? Oily appearance? That means you are blowing oil. A dry, chunky, carbony residue on your turbocharged car means the seal in the shaft for the turbo has blown and you are pumping raw oil down the exhaust. No carbon on the inside of the pipe means it is either new or the car is running too lean. There shoul be some carbon, evenly distributed and not too black.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I updated the list with everyone's suggestions. I also added MAF and Fuel Pump to the high-ticket item list. I couldn't easily find a price for the Electronic Control Unit (Brain), but I assume that's expensive as well.
 

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One more thing: The HVAC fan regulator in the r170 sometimes wears out. There is a circuit board in the passenger foot well that controls it, and it's a simple fix, but runs $50-60. Try turning the fan speed up and down to see if it responds appropriately. But don't be alarmed if it is on HIGH at initial power-up regardless of rheostat position, as it's my understanding that the system will automatically try to regulate temperature initially.

dj
 

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I'd think you also want a "check roof operation thoroughly" - if you have a R170 (or 171 for that matter) with top problems, you probably want to think long and hard about taking it.

Some problems are easy to fix, others expensive, and both can be a real pain to diagnose.

Also one other under "tires" - inspect for locking wheel bolts/nuts, and presence of key. This may be a more European thing, all of my cars over here have 'em, and the last two were delivered without the key!
 

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I really like the list. I currently looking around for a 99 or 00 and this list will be very valuable!

I usually remember to check most things, but it's easy to forget... I never thought of taking a list with me.
 

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Great list, I wish I'd know all these things when I got my slk.
1 thing to add check headliner for staining or drooping, that may be a sigh of hydraulic leak.
 

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I'd think you also want a "check roof operation thoroughly" - if you have a R170 (or 171 for that matter) with top problems, you probably want to think long and hard about taking it.

Some problems are easy to fix, others expensive, and both can be a real pain to diagnose.

Also one other under "tires" - inspect for locking wheel bolts/nuts, and presence of key. This may be a more European thing, all of my cars over here have 'em, and the last two were delivered without the key!

TIRES:td:.......John, I thought you were from London via...............
Not the other way around!!!!!!!!!:burnout:
 

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but always remember that you are buying a second hand cars that its not brand new...so expect some wear and tear over the years and check for the mileage...Good luck.
 

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please also check these:

- Does the engine light come on when you put the key in II. position? It usually comes turned off by default in MBs. If it does not light up, its better to check with a diagnostic scanner to see if any faults are stored.

- Push limits to loose traction and to yaw on a safe place to see if ESP works. If BAS light comes on (not the triangle) there is problem with the ESP system. Usually the ESP motor needs cleaning as other electric motors after 10 years.

- Check if air circulation flap operates as you turn on or off the fan. The actuator works with vacuum and usually the elemet is perforated after 8-9 years, making some high pitch noise or causing windows to fog in winter being unable to operate.

- Unfasten the intake hose to the MAF. Check for oil signs. If yes probably a sign of bad oil seperator. May cause you DTC's and MAF problems.

- Remove or just open the front of the headliner if you can. Check for hydrolic cylinder leaks. Same for the two in the trunk. Soon or later these 3 will leak if were not renewed recently. The other two at the rear will never leak due to different seals. You will be informed of the leak in the roof after it ruins your headliner :(

- Check the cam magnet under grey cover in front of the engine. Possible oil leak from this device can find a way through your ECU!!!

- Check kompressor for whine which can help you to diagnose a worn supercharger.

- After market Xenons will not have auto level adjusting and washers. An adjust knob by the headlight switch means they are halogens by default.

- Try to enter the car by manually unlocking from drivers door. Usually it gets stuck over the years. Get it fixed soon. Do not rely on your battery because the dome light never turns off if you forget it on even after locking the car.

- Get in the car lock from inside and open the door after sometime to see if the alarm works (if the car is equiped).



Hope this helps...
 

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Some very valuable tips on here. Before I bought my 230, I looked at three others. I noticed that on two of them, the bottom of the map pocket on the drivers door was ripped. This is not easy to spot unless you put your hand inside the pocket. It was only when I inadvertently 'kicked' mine, whilst getting out in a confined parking space, that I realised how easy these are to damage. Fortunately, I didn't damage mine, but since then have seen a further damaged example. it's only a minor thing but worth checking.

Steve
 
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