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  #1  
Old 11-18-2020, 09:24 PM
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Play in steering

Hi folks,

This has probably been asked before, but here goes. I'm thinking of taking my daily driver 83 300D off the road for a couple of weeks over the holidays to show it some love. One of the things I want to address is that lately I have noticed a little more play in the steering than I like.

That said, outside of a worn steering box, what could cause play in the steering? I'm thinking of replacing the tie rods, ball joints, center link, and possibly re-bushing the idler arm. Am I on the right track or barking up the wrong tree? I know none of these have been replaced in the 150,000 miles I have put on the car, but it is solid as a rock, no noises or clunks, and tracks straight as an arrow down the road with no wandering.

Thanks for any advice

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2012 Mercedes ML350 Bluetec 80K (hers)
2005 Corvette 55K (fun car)
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1994 Ford F150 4WD 245K (wood getter)
1983 Mercedes 300D 367K (diesel commuter)
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  #2  
Old 11-18-2020, 10:34 PM
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Did you try using the adjusting screw on the Steering Box. Loosen the nut and turn the a bit counter clockwise.
If you turn it too far the wheel will stick at each end of the travel and you will be jerking the wheel back and forth to keep control.

And yes other stuff besides a worn out box can cause the issue. Including too much wheel bearing play.

There is a pic in post #3
Photo of steering box adjustment nut?

A cleaner pic in post 22
Steering Box Adjustment
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Last edited by Diesel911; 11-18-2020 at 11:10 PM.
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  #3  
Old 11-18-2020, 10:35 PM
dkr dkr is offline
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FWIW, I have heard a number of "solutions" for this including gearbox adjustment and front suspension issues, but I have never heard of one that has "held" and lasted.

On my first W123, my mechanic at the time adjusted it and it felt very good until I drove over a large pothole and reverted back to the normal slop in the steering.

Dkr.
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  #4  
Old 11-18-2020, 10:47 PM
t walgamuth's Avatar
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I have adjusted many 123 mercedes steering boxes and have found you can get it really tight, not stuck but no play even up to over 300K miles. To tighten it though you need to turn it anticlockwise.

Also need to check all your steering linkages for free play. You don't want any.
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..I also have a 427 Cobra replica with an aluminum chassis.
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  #5  
Old 11-18-2020, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkr View Post
FWIW, I have heard a number of "solutions" for this including gearbox adjustment and front suspension issues, but I have never heard of one that has "held" and lasted.

On my first W123, my mechanic at the time adjusted it and it felt very good until I drove over a large pothole and reverted back to the normal slop in the steering.

Dkr.
Fixing stuff is really depend on finding what is actually wrong. Trying the adjustment I think is a good first step in troubleshooting and free if you already have an Allen Wrench and socket or wrench in the right sizes. Also not much labor unless the nut and screw are rusted tight.
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  #6  
Old 11-18-2020, 11:46 PM
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I replaced every single component in the front end (unrelated to steering play, it just needed it) and after all that the only thing that fixed the play in the steering was adjusting the box. Might as well try the easiest thing first.
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  #7  
Old 11-19-2020, 12:10 AM
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Post Steering Play

As a Journeyman Mechanic I always look at the tie rod ends, idler bushings and A-Frame bushings first .

Easy to do and the proper way to diagnose .
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  #8  
Old 11-19-2020, 01:02 AM
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Actually not inspecting all of the front end steering and suspension parts. For too long a time is not a good ideal. The components at the back are not as safety critical.Yet with age and wear also do impact steering.
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  #9  
Old 11-19-2020, 09:10 AM
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do w123 have a steering shock, like w126 ?
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  #10  
Old 11-19-2020, 09:26 AM
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My 83 has a steering shock. In regards to the other posts, thank you for the input. I agree, trying the easiest thing first (adjusting the steering box) along with a proper inspection of the front end seems to be the best way to proceed.

Thanks again folks,
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2012 Mercedes ML350 Bluetec 80K (hers)
2005 Corvette 55K (fun car)
2002 VW Jetta TDI 223K (mine)
1998 Volvo S70 T5 Turbo 180K (kids)
1994 Ford F150 4WD 245K (wood getter)
1983 Mercedes 300D 367K (diesel commuter)
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  #11  
Old 11-19-2020, 11:47 AM
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One of the things I did within the first Month I got my Mercedes was to decrease the engine and transmission.
(it too 3 treatments and still was not entirely clean.)

I removed the steering shock. After I was done degassing I took it on the road without the shock and I saw it made no difference and there was a slight benefit to not having when I backed out of my drive way into the rather narrow street. I never but it back on and I have no idea where it is in my Garage.

I suspect it is helpful if you live someplace that has cobblestone roads (as I was in German) but on normal CA Roads I could not detect any difference.
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  #12  
Old 11-19-2020, 12:18 PM
A guy who likes to Benz
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psaboic View Post
Hi folks,

This has probably been asked before, but here goes. I'm thinking of taking my daily driver 83 300D off the road for a couple of weeks over the holidays to show it some love. One of the things I want to address is that lately I have noticed a little more play in the steering than I like.

That said, outside of a worn steering box, what could cause play in the steering? I'm thinking of replacing the tie rods, ball joints, center link, and possibly re-bushing the idler arm. Am I on the right track or barking up the wrong tree? I know none of these have been replaced in the 150,000 miles I have put on the car, but it is solid as a rock, no noises or clunks, and tracks straight as an arrow down the road with no wandering.

Thanks for any advice
I recondition these steering boxes. Don't start looking for play in the box.

Everything you've listed is where you should be looking. Steering box blame should be last. And DO NOT adjust the not on the top of the box if you don't have to. Adjusting it can cause premature wear and increased play in the box.

Keep in mind that a two inch movement of the steering wheel is within spec for these boxes.
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I recondition w123/w126/w124/w140/r107/r129/ steering boxes!


1984 300D "Elsa" odo reset 6/2011 111k
1983 300TD "Mitzi" ~268k OM603 powered
1995 E300 "Adelheid" 262k [Sold]
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  #13  
Old 11-19-2020, 09:46 PM
dkr dkr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diesel911 View Post
Fixing stuff is really depend on finding what is actually wrong. Trying the adjustment I think is a good first step in troubleshooting and free if you already have an Allen Wrench and socket or wrench in the right sizes. Also not much labor unless the nut and screw are rusted tight.
I understand that. What I am saying is that I have never heard of anyone who has adjusted the box and experienced a long lasting solution there. I realize it may work for a while. Does anyone have experience to say otherwise?

Quote:
Keep in mind that a two inch movement of the steering wheel is within spec for these boxes.
That's exactly what I am getting at here. MB says 2" is normal, it certainly doesn't feel normal for me.

I put a few boxes in my first W123 and never could find one that was tight enough for what I wanted. My current one is tight but was leaking. Martureo rebuilt it for me. Fortunately for me, I was able to find one from a junkyard that is tight and not leaking so my rebuild is just sitting waiting for someday I may need it.

Dkr.
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  #14  
Old 11-20-2020, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkr View Post
I understand that. What I am saying is that I have never heard of anyone who has adjusted the box and experienced a long lasting solution there. I realize it may work for a while. Does anyone have experience to say otherwise?



That's exactly what I am getting at here. MB says 2" is normal, it certainly doesn't feel normal for me.

I put a few boxes in my first W123 and never could find one that was tight enough for what I wanted. My current one is tight but was leaking. Martureo rebuilt it for me. Fortunately for me, I was able to find one from a junkyard that is tight and not leaking so my rebuild is just sitting waiting for someday I may need it.

Dkr.
Some where around 2010 I adjusted Steering Box on mine and it is still fine.

Pretty much the same with lots of stuff on the vehicles. I had all the symptoms of a Ignition Key/Tumbler failure. It turned out to be the innards of the Steering Colum were broken. Since 2007 that has happened to 4 of our Members. A lot more people have had the cause being the Key/Tumbler.

Because of the frequency of the Key/Tumbler issue that is how I approached the problem. When I got no joy there I moved on to the Steering Colum Lock.

Trying to do what is a logical step by step process.
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  #15  
Old 11-20-2020, 01:34 AM
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Adjusted my steering box in 2011, still as good as it was. Still curious why they designed them to be so sloppy from the factory though.

I know, "It WaS dEsIgNeD tO dO 300 MpH oN tHe AuToBaHn!!" or some such.

And of course they also designed it with an adjustment that must not be adjusted. Probably too many fumes from the markers when they were sketching out the steering system.

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