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I have a 1999 Mercedes SLK 230 (R170), with an interesting combination of problems:

A) The hydraulics for the convertible top are low (to the point where the top won't even start to open anymore),

B) The trunk latch is disconnected internally, so the trunk can't be opened.

If the top were still working, it can be opened partway to access the back of the trunk latch, and operate it manually... or if the trunk would open, I'd have access to the manual release for the top. But the combination of these two means I have no way to open either now.

So: Are there any other tricks I can use in this situation?

One possible idea: If I tear out the headliner (which I'd probably have to cut away, since the screws are only accessible with the top out), and disconnect the lines coming from the hydraulic pump, would this allow the top to move by hand? This seems plausible, but I don't want to destroy my headliner on a hunch... But, the only other idea I have at this point is drilling a hole behind the license plate to get to the latch, so I'm hoping to find another solution.

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Where is the hydraulic pump? Can you get at that to top up the fluid?

Another option might be to try and remove the rear trim panel (i.e. the bits behind the seats), and see if there is a way through the rear bulkhead into the trunk. Many cars have a non-solid bulkhead in order to save weight. You ought to be able to remove the trim without damaging anything.

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The hydraulic pump is in the trunk compartment, behind a plastic panel (next to one of the taillights) -- only accessible from the trunk. I believe the back wall is solid (I've had it apart before, but not in a few years), but I'll doublecheck. though taking it apart might also require putting the top down. And I know some models (later years?) have speakers on the back wall which could be another possible way in -- mine does not. But if anyone else ends up reading this looking for a solution, that might be one. –  Jeremy Nikolai Sep 3 '13 at 20:54

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