3 Reasons Your Mercedes SL500 Suspension Fails (and How to Fix It)

Maybe you’ve noticed that your Mercedes SL500 is leaning to one side a little bit, or riding a little too low. Maybe you’re already seeing the dreaded ABC warning light. Whatever it is, your Mercedes SL500 hydraulic suspension is failing.

The question you might be asking now is “why?”

While hydraulic suspensions offer a great deal of responsiveness and comfort, there are many drawbacks. Namely, the all-but-guaranteed eventual failure of the system and the expense of repairing and replacing it.

Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why these expensive systems fail.

1. Too much complexity

Mercedes’ hydraulic suspension system, called Active Body Control (ABC), uses precision sensors and an onboard computer to regulate the hydraulic pressure in the shocks.

While this allows for a very responsive and comfortable ride, it means there are lots of things that can go wrong.

Furthermore, the ABC system requires all of the components to function in unison in order for it to work properly. If one component is failing it creates a domino effect and puts more stress on the other components. This will significantly shorten the working life of the other components.

2. Too many moving parts

The sensors in the SL500 hydraulic suspension are moving parts. Like all moving parts, they wear down over time and become less effective, eventually wearing out completely.

The hydraulic pump, which pushes hydraulic fluid to the components, is itself a moving part. Once it wears out, the entire system will fail. It is a difficult and expensive component to replace.

3. Fragile components

The SL500 uses a series of lines to transport the hydraulic fluid from the pump into the struts. These lines need to be flexible and thus are made of materials like plastic and rubber.

Plastic and rubber lines can be easily cut or ripped from road rubble or other debris. Even a small leak will significantly worsen the performance of the suspension.

A hole in a line will cause the pump to work harder to keep the struts pumped up. This will cause the pump to wear out even faster.
Now that we know why the hydraulic suspensions fail, let’s take a look at how to fix them.

How to Fix Your SL500 Suspension

The first and most obvious option is of course to take it to the dealership or a mechanic. They’ll get the OEM parts ordered and replaced. Repairing the entire system could cost you upwards of $4,000. For many, that’s a little too much to spend on an aging car.

Another option is to forget that troubled hydraulic suspension entirely and replace it with a sturdy, dependable coilover suspension from Strutmasters.

A coilover suspension is a much simpler solution than the hydraulic one. In fact, it’s so simple that it’s pretty simple to DIY at home. And if you’d rather take it to a mechanic, the install only takes about one hour per wheel, meaning you won’t pay too much in labor fees.

Here’s a video of an install we did here at Strutmasters. You can see for yourself how simple it is:

Once you decide to make the switch, give us a call at (866) 985-0387 or browse our website start your order!