Planning to reinstate the W126 Self-leveling suspension

After driving the 560SEL more I have decided to reinstate the W126 self-leveling suspension.   I am probably one of a very small group of people who is putting this system back after it is removed.   A 560SEL should drive really nicely, but the current springs and shocks make the ride like an unladen ute over rough surfaces.   As a contrast my 560SEC has an excellent ride.

The current system was put in by Pedders, a local suspension chain.   On speaking to a few people, I have discovered that the spring/shocks they put in are not really suited to the car – they are too harsh.   So either I source proper Mercedes springs from a non-SLS car and Bilstein shocks, or re-instate the W126 self-leveling suspension.   As this car is so original, I plan to put the self-leveling back in.   I hope I don’t regret this, as the struts are now NLA, but there is still used stock.

The first step is to make sure that the system can still be re-activated.   On my first check, I verified that the fluid reservoir is still in place and contained fluid.   The accumulators are also still there.   Today I had a closer look which is very promising.    The hydraulic lines have been capped off at the accumulators.    The fluid is dirty so I will flush it over the next couple of weeks.

W126 self-leveling suspension

The leveling valve is also present and looks in good shape.   All that is missing is the control rod that joins it to the sway bar.   This is quite a cheap part.

W126 self-leveling suspension

From my research, it would appear I need:

  • 2x Self-leveling struts:   A116 320 45 13
  • 2x Accumulators.   Genuine or aftermarket.
  • 2x Hydraulic lines from strut to accumulator:  A201 997 08 82
  • Control Rod:    A123 320 14 89
  • 4x Rubber buffers:  A114 326 00 68
  • 2x Springs:  A123 324 06 04
  • 2x Spring pad: A115 325 22 44
  • Various nuts and washers etc.

Once completed, I hope to sell the current springs and shocks to somebody who wants to remove the system and likes a harder ride – for example a bash car.

While I was under the car, I had a closer look at everything.   The car is very clean underneath.   At some point the kidney mufflers have been replaced.  The bends are all wrong which is causing a part of the system to rub against the drive shaft.    I will need to sort this out quickly.

Drive shaft

This also causes the rear muffler to be out of alignment.    The differential mount looks brand new which is a bonus.    There is also an oil leak out of the sum level indicator.    Various suspension bits look like they have been changed at some point which points to the regular maintenance the car has received.

While I was under the car I also replaced the steering shock which had nearly reached the end of its life.   I had a spare one on hand.

steering shock

Update 25/6/21:  I have since re-installed the self-leveling rear suspension.  It has transformed the car.

4 comments to Planning to reinstate the W126 Self-leveling suspension

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