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Pelican Technical Article:

Vario Top Manual Closing

Tom Morr

Time:

30 minutes30 mins

Tab:

$0

Talent:

**

Tools:

5mm hex, Allen wrench

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz R170 (1998-04)

Hot Tip:

Enlist a friend

Performance Gain:

Protects the interior from the elements

Complementary Modification:

Fix the roof

The SLK's Vario power roof is probably its biggest selling point. This roof can also be the car's Achilles heel. With its multitude of limit switches and hydraulics, one glitch in the system can cause the roof to park itself in an unfavorable position. This presents problems, particularly if the roof is partially down.

Vario troubleshooting can be challenging, due to the system's pump, relay, and multiple switches. Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTCs) will often reveal the cause of the problem. Here, however, the focus is on how to manually raise a stuck roof to make the car drivable and protect the interior from the elements.

Begin by checking for the obvious causes like blown fuses and a discharged battery, once these have been checked and eliminated, the roof can be manually muscled back into its full upright and locked position. The job involves depressurizing the hydraulic cylinder to minimize resistance. Then a person on each side of the roof can lift it up and push it forward until the roof contacts the windshield. A 5mm hex wrench (check the toolbag in the trunk panel for one) is used in the headliner screw to reel the latches into the windshield and lock the top in place.

The hydraulic cylinder has a pressure relief valve (purple arrow).
Figure 1

The hydraulic cylinder has a pressure relief valve (purple arrow). It's accessible through a removable cover in the trunk's right side panel (panel removed here for photographic clarity; see the trunk panel removal article for details). Unfortunately, the gold relief screw is difficult to see and access if the roof is DOA in the trunk. The valve takes a 5mm hex wrench, which is included in the factory tool caddy.

A bent side wing mechanism (purple arrow) appears to be the cause of this top's refusal to go all the way down.
Figure 2

A bent side wing mechanism (purple arrow) appears to be the cause of this top's refusal to go all the way down.

Enlist an assistant.
Figure 3

Enlist an assistant. Lift up equally on both sides of the roof panel.

After the roof tops out, push it forward, toward the windshield.
Figure 4

After the roof tops out, push it forward, toward the windshield.

Push until the latches contact the windshield.
Figure 5

Push until the latches contact the windshield.

Pop the trim plug out of the headliner to reveal the manual latch screw.
Figure 6

Pop the trim plug out of the headliner to reveal the manual latch screw.

Turn the screw inPicture 6 with a 5mm hex wrench until the latches seat and the roof seals to the windshield (yellow arrow).
Figure 7

Turn the screw inPicture 6 with a 5mm hex wrench until the latches seat and the roof seals to the windshield (yellow arrow). Then replace the trim plug in the headliner. Tighten the hydraulic cylinder's relief screw (purple arrow inPicture 1) so that the system will hopefully work once the underlying problem is solved.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Jake Comments: I have a 2001 slk 230 and when packing to take a drive to yosemite somehow the trunk became stuck and unable to open. When you pull the handle it ceels like there is no resistance. The luggage rack is open so putting the top partially down to get access isnt an option.. the speakers behind the seats are seeming difficult to remove . Can you tell me how to do a jumper wire to bypass the luggage rack switch?? Its been 6 months since ive seen the inside of my trunk!!! thank you !
December 1, 2016
Mark Comments: My apologies. The formatting was lost, parenthesis do not post. I brought my 2000 slk230 in for work. The top was working fine. I picked up the car, and the rear window deck and top now collide when trying to open. They disconnected the pulley wires to the wings see figure 2 above. Where do they attach to? Why would deck and top collide from this? Mechanics said they don't know why the cables popped off.
November 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think it attaches to the frame of the top, so it moves in conjunction with the top. I can't find info on it to be sure, going by memory. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Mark Comments: I brought my 2000 slk230 in for work top was working fine. I picked up the car and rear window deck and top now collide when trying to open. They disconnected the pulley wires to the wings see figure 2 above. Where do they attach to? Why would deck and top collide from this? Mechanics said they don't know why the cables popped off.
November 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think it attaches to the frame of the top, so it moves in conjunction with the top. I can't find info on it to be sure, going by memory. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Junior Jesus Comments: Thanks Nick for sharing information on the Vario top troubles. I sent mine to the dealership here in Gaborone-Botswana. SLK 320 top unable to open and leaking hydraulic fluid.
They have given me a quote for the spares required and was wondering if I could order the same from Pelican;

MA 170 790 00 71 FASTERNER FO

MA 170 790 07 45/8J24 PANELLING LI

77633502 BOWDENCABLE FOR LOCKING MECHANISM
OF VARIO ROOF LEFT AND RIGHT REAR SECTION

I should be grateful if you could pass these to your spares section to send me a quote on: tsimako@mopipi.ub.bw
November 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-310-626-8765
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Junior Jesus Comments: Thanks a million- Nick- I had already checked and the hydraulic fluid bottle is indeed empty.
How do I fill up the hydraulic fluid and whats likely to be leaking???
November 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check step 1 photo. Note the level line on the reservoir, Fill reservoir through fill plug until it meets the line on tank. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
fredsmythson Comments: BETTER WORDING: My roof cylinder is leaking oil. I will order the parts to repair the cylinder. For now, I need to lock the trunk's reverse trunk lid latches and I need to get the side vent windows to close... I pulled the two release cables in the trunk and got the top back up manually. I locked the top to the windshield frame, but the reverse cable locks for the trunk lid are still unlocked, the red light stays on in the power top switch and the side vent windows are stuck in the down position. Is there anyway to manually lock those two reverse trunk lid locks/latches in the trunk - the locks/latches that are unlocked with the pull cables? Since these two latches are unlocked, I think it's preventing the side vent windows from closing. If the pump is low on oil, would this prevent the side vent windows from closing? Thanks...
November 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Once you have it latched at the windshield, try using the control switch to lock it. Push it toward the closed position, does the light go out? The windows should close when it does. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
fredsmythson Comments: My roof cylinder is leaking oil. I pulled the two release cables in the truck and got the top back up. I locked the top to the windshield frame, but the reverse cable locks for the truck lid are still unlocked, the red light stays on in the power top switch and the side vent windows are stuck in the down position. Is there anyway to manually lock those two reverse trunk lid locks in the trunk the locks that are unlocked with the pull cables? Since these two locks are unlocked, I think it's preventing the side vent windows from closing. Thanks...
November 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle are you working on? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Kal Comments: Can you manually lower the top with quarter windows in the. Up position
November 12, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: i DON'T BELIEVE SO, THEY MAY INTERFERE WITH THE top going down. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Junior Jesus Comments: My 2001 SLK320 Convertible roof wont open and seems like the hydraulic oil is completely empty with traces of oil above sun-shades- up front.
What could I be faced with here???
November 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A hydraulic leak. Before digging too deep, confirm the fluid is low. If so, top up the fluid. The run the top and check for leaks. It is most likely a line that is leaking. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Roger Comments: can the rear windows be raised and the trunk shut completely after manually raising the roof?
October 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Larry Comments: On the R172 I have a problem with roof in closed position. Problem is that LH side window has fault on motor or connection. WIS states window/motor can only accessed via rear shelf with roof lowered and this can't be done without side windows first lowering. Video procedure in WSM appears to be for R171 i.e no depressurising access behind rear document pouch and cable connector to motor inaccessible not just behind lining as per video.Appreciate any advice.
October 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have to remove the panel and possibly the regulator to gain access. Look for the regulator replacement procedure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
euro guy Comments: hi ,i just bought a 2000 slk230 but roof won't open i heard the motor running but nothing moves, any ideas? i will appreciate it.
thank a lot
April 19, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the fluid level to start. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Craig Comments: Hi Nick. Craig here. I have a recent purchase 2000 SLK230 with 87k miles. In an earlier response you were talking about the side wings on the top. When opening and closing the top, 2 people, one on each side of car, have to manually fold and move the side wings. Do you know what to do to get the wings to function on their own.
February 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: They should be spring loaded. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jak Comments: Thanks Nick,do you have a part number.also do Pelican have a agent in the United Kingdom .i have had the diagnosis done and faults indicate trunk solenoid A7/5/y2 and roof solenoid 7/5/y1. If you could give me the cost for you to supply and ship.
Kind regards.
Jak
January 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I’m not the best with part numbers.
Pelican should be able to ship to you.

To be sure, Give our parts specialists a call at 1-310-626-8765 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jak Comments: Diagnostic indicates fault with pump solenoid 1&2 how do I test and fix these
Thanks in advance
January 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use a scan tool to actuate the solenoids. If they are getting the signal to open and close but do not,t hey are faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bill Comments: Where can I get a good service manual for the Vario roof. I found one online but it's an online manual. Hard to work from when you are in the garage with the car. SLK230 1998
Thanks
Bill
November 30, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Either through Pelican Parts or Mercedes_benz. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-310-626-8765 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ron Comments: How to Manuel put up and down by hand 02 slk230 until I can rebuild the 5 cylinders same as in pics ?
August 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It can be done, it takes two to three people. You have to release the pump valve using an Allen, then manually lower or raise, lifting it with multiple people. There is a lot to the procedure and it is easy to get hurt doing it. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
chris Comments: How do u get the trunk lid to open all the way back ?. Is that what the cable release does ?
August 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle are you working on and what are you trying to do, remove the trunk lid? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
TGH Comments: My roof is stuck in the trunk eg in the folded position'98 SLK230. Your post is very helpful but makes no reference to the cable releases as described in the owners manual. The release cable is just above your thumb in Fig 1. Please advise.
September 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, the cable is for releasing the latches. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jean Comments: Then what about the back quarter windows? Can they be raised?
August 31, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not manually. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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