September 19

2007 Mercedes S65 AMG ABC Suspension



Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver's best auto service experience. 25 times they've been voted best in Vancouver for auto repair by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2007 Mercedes X63 AMG that had a suspension issue. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: I just want to make a quick correction. I may have given you the title wrong and it's an S65 AMG. And I, for some reason, get them, the numbers are so close. I get it confused, but it's an 2007 S65 AMG. 

So this had a hydraulic suspension system and it was due for service. The client requested a service. He just bought the vehicle recently and wanted to make sure that the ABC suspension would last and work reliably. 

Mark: What's an ABC suspension? 

Bernie: So ABC stands for Active Body Control. And what that is in the way Mercedes does it, they use this a lot on their very high end cars, their SL Series, some of the CL Series AMGs. Quite a few other models. And so what it is, it's a hydraulic suspension system. There's a very high pressure pump, hydraulic strut on all four corners, and it basically adjusts the vehicle in fractions of a second for when you're cornering it keeps the vehicle flat, so there's no body roll, when you hit the brakes, the vehicle doesn't dip. So it keeps the vehicle in really level position all the time, how ever the computer designs it and adjusts it to do. 

Mark: So is there an advantage to using hydraulics over air? 

Bernie: There is because hydraulics is much quicker. Air suspension is great when I want the vehicle to be sitting at this height, or I need it a little higher for off road, or maybe it's an off road vehicle. But when I'm driving on the highway, I want more stability. So they drop the vehicle. Air is great for that, but it takes like a second or two, or even if it's fast, to make adjustments, whereas hydraulic is almost instantaneous. 

Mark: What are some major components involved in a hydraulic suspension?

Bernie: Yeah, so this is a really complicated system. I'll start off with that. So there's a series of metal pipes that run through the whole vehicle, and these are high pressure pipes. The system is under approximately 3000 PSI throughout. So there's a lot of pressure going on in these pipes. They're kind of large diameter compared to say, a brake pipe, which usually 3/16th to a 1/4 inch. These are, you know, more like 5/16th inch pipes. They're larger.

So there's a series of pipes. There are valves for each strut. There's a hydraulic strut on each corner. There are level sensors and there's of course, the pump, which is the sort of heart of the system that pumps the pressure. Fluid reservoir with the filter and accumulators, which accumulate pressure for immediate adjustments, as I say, the system needs to change very quickly.

Mark: So what's involved in a suspension service for this sort of vehicle? 

Bernie: So the main part of the service is a fluid flush. I mean, this fluid has worked hard. It's not like an engine oil where there's combustion gas, but the fluid over time, it's usually like a light green colour to start with. It tends to go black after time, you know, from the heat that is basically generated through the system. So over time, the fluid flush is kind of the main component. There's a filter that gets changed as well. 

In the case of the service, we also replaced the accumulators. The client requested it. Which is not a bad thing to do. They do tend to fail after time and they're not an overly expensive price component of the system. So you know, and if they do fail, the system tends to not operate quite properly. So fixing those can prevent further issues down the road.

Mark: And how often would this kind of service be required? 

Bernie: There's no Mercedes set interval, but I'd recommend, probably about every 50,000 kilometres or 5 years, depending on how the car's used. I mean, an SL will often sit in someone's garage and just used on sunny days. Some people use them for daily drivers. Other people, they're just a once a month kind of drive. So for those people, you know, every five years is good, but for people who drive a lot in any of these cars, you know, every 50,000 is probably good. And if it hasn't been done in a long time, then, you know, it's definitely worth doing.

Do we have some images? 

Bernie: I do. So what we're looking at here, is the reservoir for the ABC system. This is the power steering here. So I'm moving the mouse pointer around. This is for the power steering fluid. And by the way, the pump, which is called a tandem pump, actually pumps the power steering fluid and the ABC suspension fluid at the same time, but there's two separated chambers, but they actually incorporate two pumps into one.

2007 Mercedes S65 AMG ABC Suspension

Of course, the ABC pump is much higher pressure than the power steering system. So inside this reservoir, there's probably a litre or two of fluid, there where it says, how to say this in German, but it's basically oil in German. There's a dipstick there. You can check to adjust just the level. And underneath this round cap here, once this is removed, there's a filter inside there that we replace.

This is one of the accumulators we replaced. This is in the rear. Interestingly enough, on this particular vehicle, the accumulator is actually in the trunk of the vehicle. You unbolt everything from outside, but the accumulator actually sits in the trunk. That's the rear one. 

2007 Mercedes S65 AMG ABC Suspension

This is the front. 

2007 Mercedes S65 AMG ABC Suspension

And there's a view of the filter. And one of the things we do at the service is we sort of warm the fluid up and get the system active. And so with a good scan tool, there's many diagnostic modes in this vehicle. 

2007 Mercedes S65 AMG ABC Suspension

One of them is called Rodeo, and this is particularly fun. You can set it and it basically causes the vehicle to, well, you can just watch it. You can see why they call it rodeo. Just watch the video.

As you can see, the vehicle is moving around and it basically causes all four corners to jump. It's a rather odd feeling when you're sitting in the car. It's kind of like a bucking Bronco. So it just basically activates different corners of the car. This is good for testing purposes. If there's a problem with the vehicle and it's say losing pressure in one corner, it won't operate after a certain amount of time or just to warm the fluid up for this particular service. 

I've often thought it'd be really fun to just put the scan tool on. You have to have the engine running, but just put that mode on, pull a car into a shopping mall parking lot and just leave the car running in Rodeo mode and just watch people looking at it going, what the hell's going on with this thing? I've yet to have tried it, but it's the first thing that always comes to my mind. 

Mark: So how did it all work out after all the service was done? 

Bernie: Yeah, it was good. It worked fantastic. But to be honest, it worked great beforehand too. The owner had bought this vehicle recently, and there was a few items that need to be repaired on the vehicle, and he wanted to do some good maintenance on it. So one thing, I did scan it. There was no codes in the system, which is a good sign beforehand, and it seemed to operate fine. And afterwards, it's good. 

I will say on this S65, of course, this is a luxury sedan, it's not really a sports car, although it goes as fast as pretty much as any SL model, but it doesn't have the sport ride that you have on an SL. So the suspension, there's no adjustment buttons for it. You just get in the car and you drive it and it takes care of itself. But in an SL you can adjust it for different ride heights. This has no right height adjustment. It just sits at 1 level. 

So control wise a little simpler, but it's not really you know, it's the same system, but it just doesn't have the other controls where it has different ride heights or different sport mode or comfort mode. This thing's all comfort, with a bit of sport. 

Mark: There you go. If you're looking for service for your mini lowrider Mercedes S65s or any version of Mercedes in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can book online at Or you can call them (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call ahead to book because they're always busy. Pawlik Automotive, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Thanks so much for watching and listening. We appreciate it. Thanks, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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