Mercedes’ CL 500 was a watershed vehicle for the German automaker. Not only was the car enormously popular in Europe and North America, it helped introduce several of its now-standard technological innovations. The second generation of Mercedes’ CL coupés, introduced in 1999, featured the company’s most advanced active suspension systems to date.
The Active Body Control system uses four hydraulic suspension rams that use three pressure regulators. These regulators are connected to a combination power steering and suspension pump. The pump pushes fluid at a pressure of 2,960 psi (20,400 kPa) through the system. This fluid is regulated by several intermediate computers and a master CPU. The result is a car that stayed absolutely flat through corners and glided over dips and bumps in the road. That is, until the problems began.
Common Signs of CL500 Suspension Issues
Like any active suspension, the CL 500’s Active Body Control (ABC) is comprised of a network of moving parts, sensors and computers. And like any active suspension, this cluster of components is destined for eventual failure.
Even before Mercedes’ onboard monitoring system indicated a suspension failure, the signs are painfully obvious to CL 500 owners: A sagging rear end, nose diving when braking, that bouncy “settling” feeling when coming to a slow stop. Just like its air-powered counterparts, Mercedes’ ABC technology from this time eventually let owners (and the cars themselves!) down. This left CL 500 owners with a choice on how to proceed. The question is whether to repair the current system, replace components with OEM parts, or convert the car to a simpler, more robust suspension kit. Let’s explore those options.
Repairing Your Mercedes CL500 Suspension
As mentioned earlier, the Mercedes CL 500’s ABC suspension is made up of lots of little parts, sensors and computers. The first issue with repairs is that often it is very difficult to identify which component needs fixing. The error code from your car is a handy first step, but even those might show just one of many issues with the suspension. Furthermore, the interdependent nature of the ABC system means that when one component fails to do its job, it disrupts the entire system. The breakdown of something like a sensor could mean that undue stress was put on the pump, setting it up for early failure. Repairing the ABC suspension on your vehicle is at best a temporary solution, with more repairs a certain part of the future. While it might seem cheaper now to just replace a sensor or fluid line, chances are things will start to add up quickly.
Replacing the ABC Suspension With OEM Parts
So maybe you’ve fallen in love with the ABC system. It was a pretty advanced system for its day and age. It’s easy to see how someone might not want to change from that. The Mercedes-Benz dealership is happy to accommodate you if this is your preference. By going to them you can get your CL 500 riding like the first day you bought it. The only problem? Expense.
Cost to Replace Your CL500 Suspension
Here’s a breakdown of the components you’d need to replace and the cost of replacing them:
- Front Hydraulic Strut Assemblies ($2,000/strut) +
- Rear Hydraulic Strut Assemblies ($1,700/strut) +
- Hydraulic Pump ($1,300) + Hydraulic Reservoir ($400)
- Total = Over $9,000
Note that this list doesn’t even include any of the computer or sensor components. The average time of suspension failure is at around 80-100,000 miles for this vehicle. Therefore, you’d likely spend more on replacing the suspension than the car itself is worth. For many people, that’s simply not practical or even realistic.
Converting Your CL500 Suspension to Coil Springs
There is, however, a third option. For less than the cost of one hydraulic strut, you can replace all four wheels with time-tested, simple mechanical coilover struts. Genuine Strutmasters conversion kits are engineered to be the perfect replacement for costly and burdensome active suspensions. Once installed, these hardy struts come with a lifetime limited warranty. This means they’ll outlast your car or you’ll have your money back. This also means once you install them, you can kiss those frequent trips to the mechanic or dealership goodbye.
The brilliance in these kits is their simplicity. That simplicity is easy to see for yourself. They are so easy to install, you should be able to do it yourself with just a few common tools and an afternoon. Rather get it installed by your mechanic? The simple installation means you still save bundles on costly time “under the hood.” If you’re ready to get that Mercedes-Benz CL 500 back on the road and ready to go without spending a fortune, give us a call at (866) 984-1443. One of our Suspension Experts will be there to help you get exactly what you need.