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Thread: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

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    HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    NOTE: There is a background/predecessor thread that details the situation with these front seat arm rest shocks at this thread. It may be useful background to read this thread before proceeding with this HOW-TO.



    It's a common occurrence for the small hydraulic strut that is embedded within the center armrest on 1992 and later 500E and E500 models to lose its internal pressure, which doesn't allow the arm-rest lid to "self-open" upward when unlatched.

    Similarly, it's exceedingly common for the two plastic straps to bend or break from use. These straps limit the travel of the lid and work more or less in conjunction with the hydraulic strut, although the do not REQUIRE the hydraulic strut.

    A couple of years ago, our member "ivanned" was able to source a batch of small hydraulic struts from a Chinese manufacturer, and sold most all of them to 500Eboard members. The project is detailed elsewhere on this forum. This is because this strut is not available as a singular part from Mercedes-Benz -- the entire arm rest assembly must be purchased to obtain the strut.

    Thankfully, the two plastic movement-limiting straps ARE available -- and inexpensively -- from Mercedes-Benz. I recently purchased four of these straps to replace the worn ones in my own car, and retained two extras for when these replacements break in the future. One of my original straps was completely broken, as shown below, and the other one was imminently ready to break from repeated flexing.

    This job requires about one hour to do slowly and correctly. I took the occasion to both replace the hydraulic strut and replace the two plastic straps.

    Tools needed for this job:

    • medium-size Philips-head screwdriver


    Part numbers:

    • Plastic straps (two needed): 124 973 02 26
    • Hydraulic strut: see this thread and/or correspond with member "ivanned"


    Doing this job does not require that the entire arm-rest be removed from the car. Rather, the internal, hinged plastic lid/compartment inner assembly can be removed as a unit, leaving the leather outer shell of the compartment attached to the driver's seat.

    This inner compartment/lid assembly is held to the outer shell by eight small Philips head screws, that go into the bottom portion of the shell. These are long screws, about 2/3" in length.

    The first step is to remove all six of these bottom screws and set them aside. The compartment/lid assembly then lives straight out of the armrest. Take the assembly over to a workbench, preferably with a towel or other clean surface so that parts can be observed.

    Here is a view of the removed compartment/lid assembly, sitting on the workbench. One plastic strap has been removed, and you can see the broken half of the other strap still attached to the upper lid.
    IMG_6398.JPG


    Here are the broken pieces of the straps, including the intact-but-nearly-broken second strap.
    IMG_6399.JPG IMG_6400.JPG


    Here is the old, nearly-broken strap next to a new one ready for installation.
    IMG_6401.JPG


    Here are a few views of the old "Stabilus" strut, next to the new Chinese sourced strut. In the first and second photos, you can see that the old strut does not want to self-extend. The third photo shows the old strut fully extended out of its housing.
    IMG_6404.JPG IMG_6405.JPG IMG_6406.JPG


    Here is a view of the ends of the two struts. As you can see, the screw-on end of the new (silver) strut is too wide to fit the slot in the base of the compartment piece that serves as a retention slot for the end of the strut. Thus, I had to use my bench grinder to grind down both edges of the end piece so that it was flush with the piece with the hole in it. The second photo show me test-fitting the end of the strut during the grinding process, to determine if I'd ground enough off. The last photos show the finished results.
    IMG_6408.JPG IMG_6409.JPG IMG_6410.JPG IMG_6411.JPG


    These next photos are basically a sequence that show the fitment of the strut and the two plastic straps into the bottom compartment and top lid of the arm rest.

    The leather portion of the top separates via several short screws and clips, and is carefully prised apart. The plastic movement limiting straps are inserted into their slots on the underside of the lid and twisted into place.

    The end of the strut is inserted into the lid, and its retaining pin is inserted. Then the leather portion is carefully snapped back into place, and the screws that hold the plastic inner lid to the leather outer lid are inserted and tightened. This holds the end of the strut and its retaining pin in its slot in the lid.
    IMG_6412.JPG IMG_6413.JPG IMG_6414.JPG IMG_6415.jpg IMG_6416.JPG IMG_6417.JPG IMG_6418.jpg


    A few more views of the above process of fitting the hydraulic strut and movement limiting straps into the lid and compartment.
    IMG_6419.jpg IMG_6420.jpg


    The compartment is then lowered back into the outer leather shell of the armrest back in the car, and screwed back into place with the longer screws.
    IMG_6422.JPG IMG_6423.JPG IMG_6424.jpg


    And here is the finished product!!
    IMG_6425.jpg

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    E500E Guru emerydc8's Avatar
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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Great HOW-TO, Gerry. Both straps are broken on both my cars so those are definitely going to be on my things-to-order parts list.
    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Learned something new, never realized that the armrest lid was designed to "self open" when unlatched. Thanks Gerry, another great "How To".
    Last edited by vatc5637; 02-14-2015 at 01:17 AM.

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    By the way guys, now that I've done this job....opening up that armrest and having it move itself into the upright position with the ivanned "strut" is a REAL treat. This is one of those little things that (yeah yeah yeah) you can live with not doing, but really gives the E500E a nice refined touch when it's done.

    It's sort of the interior/aesthetic equivalent to putting new motor mounts in the engine compartment. You sort of live with it broken, and can go for quite some time with it not up to snuff. But when you replace/fix it, it brings the car to a new level. You sort of go "aaahhhh".

    Good ROI for the cost/effort.

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Thanks, ivanned! Just got mine. Thanks to Gerry for another stellar "How-To". Looking forward to that "aaahhhh"...
    Putting the fun in dysfunction...

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    Good ROI for the cost/effort.
    Consider tying in the original arm rest thread with this one. It was quite an effort to "get'r done". And let us all thank (the deity of your choice) that Ivanned finally was able to close the (or)deal.

    PS: While storing your car, consider opening the armrest in its extended position. No reason to unduly compress the piston any more than need be..

    I do it.

    YMMV, but I say the piston willl last longer by doing so.
    Last edited by DerFuror; 03-01-2015 at 03:48 AM. Reason: linky
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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by DerFuror View Post
    Consider tying in the original arm rest thread with this one. It was quite an effort to "get'r done".
    DONE per note at the top of the first post in this thread.

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Now I'm being serious here guys

    I just installed my armrest shock, thanks Gerry and Ivaned!

    My lid doesn't pop right up when I press the release. It seems to need to be coaxed for the first 50%, then up it goes

    Is that normal? Do I need armrest Viagra?
    Andy
    94 E500
    (128k miles)....sold
    2000 Land Rover Disco (112k miles)
    95 Mazda Miata (104k miles)
    91 BMW 325i (140+K miles odo broken!)

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    is your latch releasing OK?

    Release things and get a flashlight and look in there very closely to see if you see any binding.

    The screw-on end of the strut could be slightly binding on the slot in the lower plastic piece (the liner). I used a Dremel to VERY SLIGHTLY widen the slot where the strut goes through this plastic piece. You can sort of see where it's "roughed up" from the Dremeling motion. It might be binding, which limits the initial movement of the strut for the first couple of inches.

    See photo below for the area to consider widening.

    Perhaps as a first step, spray a little light oil or silicone lube (or Gleitpaste) into the area to see if that helps alleviate the binding. If not, then considering filing or slightly grinding it.

    (Be careful out there !!!)


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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Thanks Gerry....will try your suggestions
    Andy
    94 E500
    (128k miles)....sold
    2000 Land Rover Disco (112k miles)
    95 Mazda Miata (104k miles)
    91 BMW 325i (140+K miles odo broken!)

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    I just ordered this r/r setup so good tips!

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Thanks Gerry,

    I I had no clue that there was an automatic lift on the armrest cover.
    Mine has never worked. Who new??
    I'll bet a lot of owners did not know of this feature.

    Now I have another tidbit to restore.
    Terry

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    ...It's a common occurrence for the small hydraulic strut that is embedded within the center armrest on 1992 and later 500E and E500 models to lose its internal pressure, which doesn't allow the arm-rest lid to "self-open" upward when unlatched.

    Well it seems like it took forever but I finnaly received the replacement OEM Stabilus gas shock for my arm rest. Put that back together on Saturday and have to say it is a pretty nice touch having the lid pop up as MB intended.

    http://vid1136.photobucket.com/album...133509_547.mp4

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    does anyone on here have contact info to this guy ,i would like to buy one of those struts for my armrest

    thanx

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by lowman View Post
    does anyone on here have contact info to this guy ,i would like to buy one of those struts for my armrest

    thanx
    Ivanned should be contact-able and I believe he has a few of these units left, but you better hurry. Try contacting him via PM. If that doesn't work, I can provide you with his e-mail address. I believe they are around USD $20 apiece. Ivanned lives in the Seattle area, if I remember correctly:

    https://www.500eboard.com/forums/member.php?u=763

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    I believe ivanned is in Connecticut

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    There must be something wrong with me or my car, cause I don't have an opening armrest period. I have a simple leather armrest between the two front seats which swings up when depressing the button on the side of its hinge. Below that there is a wooden console which slides back to reveal a storage compartment. The armrest itself is just one solid non-openable piece, though.
    1992 500E


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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by linjam View Post
    There must be something wrong with me or my car, cause I don't have an opening armrest period. I have a simple leather armrest between the two front seats which swings up when depressing the button on the side of its hinge. Below that there is a wooden console which slides back to reveal a storage compartment. The armrest itself is just one solid non-openable piece, though.
    Nope, that just means you have an earlier (1992 model year) car. I believe the hinged armrests were phased in during the late 1992 or early 1993 model year time frame. The earlier cars didn't have that hinged armrest.

    I don't know what the cutoff point was, but GSXR probably knows the date and even the hour that MB transitioned the production line over to the hinged compartments.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    Ivanned should be contact-able and I believe he has a few of these units left, but you better hurry. Try contacting him via PM. If that doesn't work, I can provide you with his e-mail address. I believe they are around USD $20 apiece. Ivanned lives in the Seattle area, if I remember correctly:

    https://www.500eboard.com/forums/member.php?u=763

    Cheers,
    Gerry

    thank you so much

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    i thought the armrest with the storage room was an option.?.as my 500e does not have one either.
    its a 1992..may or june ...

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    I have one spare, so if you are unsuccessful I could POSSIBLY be persuaded to part with it .....but try ivanned

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    I have one spare, so if you are unsuccessful I could POSSIBLY be persuaded to part with it .....but try ivanned

    thanx again ive sent ivanne a PM,,so im awaiting reply

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    I just ordered a few from Ivan (one for each of my 124's), if you need one, you should get in touch with him soon as his stock is running low.
    '94 E500 (744) | '94 E500 (199)         Misc. snapshots

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Thanks Honcho, I checked off another box on the to-do list this evening with your detailed help! The armrest top raises up like... it should.


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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryvz View Post
    Nope, that just means you have an earlier (1992 model year) car. I believe the hinged armrests were phased in during the late 1992 or early 1993 model year time frame. The earlier cars didn't have that hinged armrest.

    I don't know what the cutoff point was, but GSXR probably knows the date and even the hour that MB transitioned the production line over to the hinged compartments.

    Cheers,
    Gerry
    Does this mean my first "mod" could be an updated center armrest that opens? Has anyone done this and is it bolt off, bolt on?
    1966 230SL, 1969 300SEL 6.3
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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    It is an easy bolt on. What color is your interior? The crème/beige will be difficult to upgrade due to the change in color.

    drew
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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by Kip View Post
    Does this mean my first "mod" could be an updated center armrest that opens? Has anyone done this and is it bolt off, bolt on?
    It is an easy bolt on x2 13mm nuts.

    Jeff
    "Nice Things Cost Money" - Oskar Schindler

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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Quote Originally Posted by sheward View Post
    It is an easy bolt on. What color is your interior? The crème/beige will be difficult to upgrade due to the change in color.

    drew
    That figures... It's crème-beige.
    1966 230SL, 1969 300SEL 6.3
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    Re: HOW-TO: Repairing 500E/E500 Front Seat Arm Rest

    Having been through this myself... I spent a lot of time & effort obtaining a 1993 flip-top armrest which would be cream-beige. The color didn't match well and I assumed the seller was wrong about the donor car. I eventually got another one - and had the same issue. I later compared those to a confirmed 94-95 Parchment armrest. The color difference was very minor.

    I'm still not sure if the original 1993 armrests are just a little 'off' in color, or if they fade differently than the seat leather, or if my eyesight is going. Maybe it's all three. Bottom line, while other cream vs parchment interior items can be clearly different colors when put side by side... the flip-top armrests are much less so. I'd get one in either color and if the color difference bothers you, have a local leather shop custom dye it to match your seats exactly.


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