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My SLK is Off the Road - Therapy Might be Required!

bennyThis is the next installment in an ongoing tale of my old Mercedes SLK 230 Kompressor R170, a series which could have been titled “How to own a classy sports car for next to nothing” or alternatively “How to survive a late-mid-life crisis on a budget”. (Earlier post HERE)

This chapter of the story, however, is rather downbeat. This is early 2021, and we are in the midst of the global pandemic. And Benny (he’s called Benny Benz, BTW) is sat out in the drive looking very sorry for himself. He is SORN’d – which to the uninitiated means he’s off the road untaxed - and with his insurance suspended and his MOT expired. So, is this the end of Benny?

The last year has been, well, unusual hasn’t it? Since last March I’ve hardly been anywhere. I’ve tried to keep the car ticking over on short journeys to the shops and so on - and on just one occasion during a respite in the lockdown - we got the top down and had a great drive out to nearby Snowdonia on a glorious day. Then it all went pear-shaped again, and since then just a maximum run of about 10 miles. This has played hell with the battery, almost constant use of a trickle charger has been the order of the day, which is annoying.

And, a major problem arose. Two years ago, Benny’s horn stopped working. No sniggering, please. It turned out to be an ‘issue’ with a relay unit hidden in the depths of the electronics, and I was lucky to find a video on YouTube detailing a work-around involving a standard car relay and a bit of light rewiring. Happy days, Benny honked again. A year on though, problems returned. Sometimes the car worked fine, sometimes the dash lit up like a Christmas tree, it refused to start, then it would start but bits of it didn’t work. A bit of on-line research led me back to the same relay unit that caused the horn problem.

k140 relay moduleAgain, there were fixes suggested on-line (like HERE), but more severe this time. Enough was enough, I shelled out £160 odd quid for a brand new K40 relay module, slipped it in place and everything worked again. I think since then I’ve probably done about 250 miles in the car, so it was a bit of an expensive fix!

Well, that is of course if I never get the car going again - and that is the big question - will I? What needs to happen? Well, the SLK is an indulgence. I don’t need it, as I have a perfectly good day-to-day car. In fact it, a KIA, has only done 1,000 miles in the last year. (I took it for a service and MOT recently; they said it needed two new front tyres, as they both had cracks, caused apparently by under-use - really?)

To get Benny through an MOT he needs a bit of work. Not much, but one job in particular sounds easy but isn’t. You know that behind your disk brake callipers there’s a shield to stop road muck hitting the brakes? Well Benny’s are all rusty, and one has fallen off. The front ones aren’t too difficult to replace, but the rears are a nightmare. Apart from that, he’s good to go, though probably a new set of disks and pads wouldn’t go amiss and maybe new rear tyres.

So, not too drastic. But of course the really big problem is Covid… if it’s going to slow us all down for another year or so, which appears likely, well Benny is going to live in the yard for a while. Sadly we have no garage, so he’s out in the weather… I have considered a car cover, but it’s pretty windy pretty often here, I can’t see it lasting and apparently they can damage the paintwork anyway, plus they don’t let the car breath. Not decided yet on that one.

One thing I do know is that though it has only been a month since the car came off the road, I miss it. I’ve had the car seven and half years, and in that time it’s only gone about 2,000 miles a year, but they were mostly quality miles, mostly roof down, mostly a lot of fun. Come the weekend, if the weather was nice, it was always an option to have a quick tootle around the island (Anglesey) or beyond. Now, Sunday dawns, the sun shines, I go into a humph. And that is just after one winter month – how’s it going to be when the summer comes around? – I’m going to need therapy at this rate.

I know, I know, first world problem, I will survive. But in these trying times, a bit of fun is what you need, isn’t it? So, we’ll have to see how long I can last without my sports-car-fix. (Oh, and just by the by, for some reason probably explainable by a therapist, I have recorded all the expenses for Benny - and the answer is just over £7,000 - and yes, that includes the car itself - so a grand a year for all that fun driving, not too shabby.)

The last word. Today is the 17th of June 2022, and if I still owned Benny, today would be the 9th anniversary of buying him. However, I don't still own him. A local chap knocked on the door a few weeks ago and offered to buy him. I said Yes. A few weeks later the chap took him away, not far actually, and that is that. Initially I was quite upset about losing him, but after a good talking to myself, I now think it was for the best. There were so many jobs to do to the car, and I just don't really want to spend all those hours scrabbling around underneath him. And even now after Covid I'm still not going out much and don't get me started on the price of fuel. No, it was the right decision, and I have my memories. I really hope the chap does get Benny going again... though I'm not sure how I feel if I see him drive past, top down on a sunny day. Tears will be involved.


♦ “Individual replacement relays are cheap and relatively common, but require the bare relay be removed from its protective cover. I have a 1999 slk230 which has travelled 117,000km. It began to randomly not start, it would crank i.e. turn-over, but not fire and run. I thought it may have been a bad fuel pump, but i traced it to the fuel pump relay k40k1 which was sometimes okay, sometimes open circuit. I did think about replacing that relay with the unused adjacent k40k6 air pump relay , but thought I might damage the coil wire if too much heat was applied during the de-soldering/removal process as that very thin copper wire cannot tolerate too much heat for more that a few seconds The often suggested American Zettler AZ970E open cage relay was hard to find, one on eBay, but the seller wouldn''t ship outside the USA, more in Arizona if i wanted to buy 10 for us$120 + shipping However these are a standard footprint. I looked on RadioSpares and Farnell-element14 websites as they have local offices here in NZ. They didn''t have the open cage versions in the required EURO (not US) - style foot print, but they did have covered sealed versions with that EURO footprint and they were cheap = us$3 - us$6 each depending on the manufacturer equivalents i found which had the required EURO footprint Tyco TE Omron P&G OEG Schauk =- V23076 (sealed) , V23133 (open no stock) Multicomp =- CMA4 IMO =- SRKE Durakool =- DG19 other manufacturers make the same style of relay for example Hasco =- CARB Song Chuan =- 822 Fujitsu Takimisawa =- FRL-274 CIT =- A5 Goodsky =- CAR most stock was in the EU or the UK with a 5 - 8 working day delivery time to NZ, but one listing in Australia was for V23076A1001C133 at about us$6 and arrived at my doorstep in NZ in under 24hours from order time It was a SPDT version with sealed (glued in place) cover. The 2 pieces comprising the cover needed to be removed by cutting so as to accommodate the bus bars which are close to the relay and connect to the cabling terminals. Once those 2 pieces were removed the relay is dimensionally and mechanically the same as the original - 90ohm coil, 1.6W power dissipation, 12-14vDC So have a look for these cheap common sealed equivalents, and simply remove the casing. It won''t matter if you choose the SPST-NO (form A) or SPDT (form C) versions, what is important is to choose the EURO footprint version which has different terminal spacing to the US footprint version. Read the data sheets to make sure you have chosen the correct version some part numbers I thought would work and easily available SRKE-1AT-SL-12V SRKE-1CT-SL-12VDC MCCMA4-S-DC12V-C-E V23076A1001C133 V23076A1001D133 DG19-7011-35-1012-11”
Submitted on 18/05/2022 07:05 by a visitor
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