Preparing my 450SLC for a 4,000km road trip

This year I plan to attend the Mercedes-Benz clubs of Australia national rally.   The event is being held in Adelaide in April this year.   I’ve done plenty of road trips while living in the USA, but not really in Australia.   In addition, I am joining a group of friends from the club in an extended drive that will take us the scenic route to Adelaide.    Our route will feature five days of driving and almost 4,000km.   I’m taking my 450SLC so this week I have been preparing my 450SLC for a 4,000km road trip.

The best thing I did was a short road trip to Canberra last weekend.   This wasn’t by design – I was attending a car show with the Mercedes-Benz club of the ACT.   In normal circumstances I would have driven my 250SE to a show like that.  However, they were doing a special display by years and needed a 1977 model car.    On the drive I noticed the following things that needed attention:

  • Excessive play in the steering at freeway speeds.
  • Air conditioning only effective at freeway speeds.

In addition, I had already noticed a few other things:

  • Bad clunk when reversing and turning the wheel.
  • Poor ride over bumpy roads.

Preparing my 450SLC

I had the car booked in with my mechanic the day after I got back from Canberra.   I had already purchased a set of Bilstein Comfort shock absorbers and a set of tie rod ends.   A couple of the tie rod ends had ripped boots and I thought they could be contributing to the clunk or the steering play.     In addition, I had the A/C re gassed in October, so I knew there must be a decent leak for it to be bad only a few months later.

I now have the car back and it’s much better.  The new shocks have improved the ride.   The A/C is now cold again.   There had been a leak in the system which is now fixed.   The clunk was traced to a bolt in one of the control arms being cross threaded and loose.   The new tie rod ends were fitted, wheels aligned and the steering box adjusted.   My box is now at the maximum adjustment point.   I don’t think the hard parts for the right hand drive steering boxes are available anymore.   The steering will always have some level of play without being able to replace these parts.

Incredibly, I was informed that the motor mounts are worn out and need replacement.  I went with genuine Mercedes-Benz parts back in 2019 at over AUD$300 per side.   I was expecting to get at least 10 years out of these mounts.   I’m really disappointed, as the previous mounts lasted at least 15 years.

The second part of preparing my 450SLC for the road trip is making sure I have a few key spares for the trip.    Its not possible to cater for all eventualities, but there are some common sense spares its worth keeping in the car.   Today I prepared my spares box for the trip.    It included:

  • A set of belts for the car.
  • Upper and lower radiator hoses.
  • Spare fuses and a couple of spare Mercedes relays.
  • Spare voltage regulator and fuel pump.
  • A small toolkit with some basic tools.   Screwdrivers, socket set, spanners etc.
  • Spare oil and coolant and a funnel.
  • A (fully charged) battery jump pack & Junp leads.
  • A couple of bottles of water.
  • Some rags, paper towels, newspapers etc.
  • Electrical tape.
  • Tyre inflator.
  • USB power bank and spare mobile phone charging cable.
  • WD40

preparing my 450SLC

I had toyed with the idea of bringing a second spare tyre.  I have a couple that I could easily bring, but the SLC boot is quite small, so I don’t think I will in the end.   Luckily, I checked if I had the right lug bolts for the spare that is in the car.   Since I changed to the Penta wheels I didn’t, so it was worth checking.

I never went to this level of effort for road trips in the USA.   Probably I got lucky, but driving in the USA is very different.  You are never all that far from large towns, and auto parts stores, tyre retailers etc have longer opening hours.   This route will travel through some pretty remote areas, where things like belts for a 1970s Mercedes will be hard to come by.

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