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Old 07-01-2011, 10:12 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Vermont
Posts: 187
w123 loose steering

Hello all,

The steering on my w123 is frustratingly loose. I'd say around 2inchs of play. I've tightened the nut on the steering box and this makes the steering tighter, but doesn't reduce the play. It seems to only make the steering more sensitive on either side of the "empty zone of play".

Going straight on the highway at 70mph I feel like I've weaving in my lane because on either side of the play it steers too much.

It's really frustrating me.

Any ideas of what I'm looking at? Is this an issue of needing a rebuilt steering box? Is it just the nature of w123's to have loose steering?


'85 Euro 300D - 258k 4 spd manual
'85 300TD Wagon - 180k - SOLD
Always looking
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:28 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 18,350
Have you examined your coupler?
1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:38 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Eastern TN
Posts: 20,834
And the idler arm bushing?

87 300D
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Old 07-02-2011, 01:18 AM
Stretch's Avatar a shield of steel
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Somewhere in the Netherlands
Posts: 14,461
And the tie rod ends and the wheel bearings!
1992 W201 190E 1.8 171,000 km - Daily driver
1981 W123 300D ~ 100,000 miles / 160,000 km - project car stripped to the bone
1965 Land Rover Series 2a Station Wagon CIS recovery therapy!
1961 Volvo PV544 Bare metal rat rod-ish thing

I'm here to chat about cars and to help others - I'm not here "to always be right" like an internet warrior

Don't leave that there - I'll take it to bits!
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Old 07-02-2011, 10:55 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Northwest Oregon
Posts: 79
For starters, I do believe screwing the adjuster "outwards" tightens the steering box, not turning it "in". This 'should' be adjusted with the linkage disconnected, and feel of the lack of slop, etc, but many on the forum tighten in small increments (1/8th turn at a time), until they feel a slight binding at the extremes (full left, or full right turn). Too tight, and the steering wheel will 'want' to 'stay' turned all the way over.

Standard practice: have a friend wiggle the steering wheel back and forth, and watch your linkage - where's the slop? In the box, or drag-link, or tie rods?

Oh, and don't forget to check the upper and lower ball joints.
Jack each wheel just off the ground, and with hands top and bottom on the tire, see if you get play. See if you perceive a 'clunk'. Don't go at it like your tearing something apart - it only take enough muscle to lift and move the wheel and spindle unit around - finesse. You'll feel the 'clunk', sometimes almost subconsciously. If yes, it's bearings, or ball joints.

Grab the tire front and back, and wiggle. If it's the same amount of play/clunk, suspect bearings. If there's no clunk perceived while wiggled this way, but was hands top and bottom, suspect an upper or lower ball joint.

I'll also add: if the front tires have a fair amount of wear, a good front end tech can tell a lot by reading the wear pattern (but experienced techs can be hard to find). Not sure how long you've had the car, but most used cars need tires. I've learned to have the front end work done before getting new tires, not only from the obvious standpoint, but because a good tech can read the old tires - they tell a story

Last edited by Goldenvoice; 07-02-2011 at 11:16 AM.
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