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  #1  
Old 08-22-2002, 02:49 PM
NIC
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Consider Redoing Suspension - its worth it

I have to take a moment to advocate suspension work. I got my car a little over two years ago with 131k miles on the odometer. Since then I have systematically replaced every renewable suspension part that involves rubber.

While this can be a tedious and frustrating effort at times (most difficult were rear bushings that attach trailing arms), it is not particularly expensive or technically complex. I am a novice and managed it.

The end result is just very satisfying. I suspect my car rides very much as it did when new. Solid over any bump and at speed. No creaks, no squeaks, no swaying, no steering wheel shudder. Just a pleasure to drive.

If you want to do something to improve your older mercedes, work on the suspension. It can be done in stages so you don't have to burn out. All the information you need to do this is right here on this site and parts are readily available.

Nic
' 85 300CD @ 152k miles
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2002, 12:48 PM
TANK
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Thanks for the info nic, I may do this myself.
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  #3  
Old 08-23-2002, 07:36 PM
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Man, now that the chassis is solid on your CD, I think you need to sell it to me!! Good for another 100k!
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1985 300SD 215,000 miles
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  #4  
Old 08-26-2002, 10:39 PM
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Could you recomend what order you would replace things in if doing it again? Perhaps start with the things that were the biggest payoff for the time/$$

Thanks!
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2004 E500 4matic; 72,000mi
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2002, 09:37 AM
NIC
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I'll try but bear with me on names.

1) shocks....if yours are old, do this first even if you don't think they need replacing. big difference in ride.

2) subframe mounts....inexpensive and fairly easy.

3) sway bar link (rear suspension).

4) steering damper....another easy, inexpensive item.

5) front bushings (all together because you'll have to compress the spring and remove it):

upper control arms (these come with new bushings/ball joints)
sway bar bushings
lower control arm bushing (big boys that are critical)
lower ball joints (the one thing that requires some help as they must be "pressed" in by shop - but you can take off car and have that done)
tack rod mount....easy and a must do while spring is off
tack rod guide arm

6) idler arm repair....quick job and may have real impact on steering.

7) rear trailing (control) arm bushings....a very unpleasant job but
parts are inexpensive....spring must be compressed!

8) tie rods....not expensive or hard.

This is not as bad as it sounds if you go one step at a time. Other things you can replace that involve ride and feel are motor mounts/shocks, transmission mounts, rear end mount, and center drive shaft bearing. If you are really committed, replace both rear half-shafts (can be expensive at $300 each).

It took me a year to get this done but I don't regret it at all. It will be a long time before I have to worry about the suspension in my car.

Nic
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2002, 12:24 PM
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NIC,

Great information - thanks for sharing. I have read arguments that it is not a good idea to replace items piece by piece, but rather, all at once to avoid premature wear on the newer parts. An anology is replacing a bicycle chain w/o replacing the chain rings or rear cog, as the older components will wear the new chain more quickly. I realize this theory does not apply to everything you detailed here. I recently learned that my right side tie rod and center drag link may need replacement soon. What else would make sense to lump in with this repair at once to avoid premature wear? Thanks.
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'04 ML500 - 53k, Inspiration Edition, Desert Silver
'11 Audi A4 Avant - Brilliant Black
'87 300SDL sold
'99 C280 Sport sold
'85 190E 2.3 sold
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2002, 12:48 PM
NIC
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goldenbear,

I understand the theory you talk about (replace all components in a unified system type idea). When I undertake any job, I try to do things in a logical manner. For example, if one shock is bad, I'm likely to replace them all...same with tires. Buying one at a time seems problematic in long run.

With this suspension stuff, because it generally lasts so long, I believe you could stretch the work out over a reasonable period. To do it all at once would be a real test of your character. Having said that, I also think you should replace the different components as sets. If you are about to replace one tie rod, why not both? They cost around $30 so the real pain is just getting the time to do the job. In that same area is the idler arm so that could be done at same time. Then you'd have the steering "connections" finished (might want to adjust steering box at same time).

Another reason to try and do these things in groups is that it will change your alignment every time you mess with one of the front end parts, so better to knock off as many as possible to avoid the repeat expense of having it realigned.

Compressing the spring is a major deal and the tool might need to be rented from far away places (read Performance Products) so think that through and do everything possible that requires spring compression at same time.

So it can, and probably should, be done in logical stages. Maybe like this:
1) shocks 2) steering components 3) subframe bushings 4) front end stuff that involves compressing those springs 5) rear end stuff that involves compressing those springs.

Nic
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2002, 01:39 PM
R Easley
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NIC has provided an excellent post about the improvements that can be gained by taking care of the Mercedes-Benz suspension.

I'd like to add a couple of points to his great post.

1) Many do not realize (even and especially independent alignment shops) the existence of subframe mounts on MBs. More importantly, they do not realize that these parts affect the alignment of the car.

2) I have written up the procedure for replacement of the subframe mounts that anyone at the medium DIYer level and above can do. It is located at: http://business.baylor.edu/Richard_Easley/autofaqs/main.htm

3) Note, for those that have post-85 126s (S-class): the subframe mounts are different than pre-86 mounts and it would be easy for a parts person to confuse the two in their haste to pull the parts. For the later cars, there is a L/R orientation.

4) Nic mentions that the lower ball joints must be pressed in by a shop that has the special press. I agree that the use of the press is the best and easiest way to do this procedure (I have the press, BTW), but an enterprising medium-level or above DIYer can definitely install the lower ball joints properly with the generic "C" clamp ball joint presses that parts stores like Autozone rent for free. I've used the generic presses and they work fine -- not as easy as the factory press, but much cheaper (free versus ~$400). However, with the generic press, you do have to add additional parts and do additional procedures with it to make it work -- things that, again, something that an enterprising DIYer can do. Note that there is not a safe-while-repairing issue with this, unlike the below:

5) The most important recommendation in this message:

Please do not even attempt suspension work on your MB that requires spring removal without the use of the special spring compressor for MBs (see this link for great pictures of the tool: http://www.samstagsales.com/klann.htm but note that Mercedes Shop can probably order the tool for you).

Please note that I have extensive experience and have done extensive research on the use of spring compressors for MB automobiles.

This is the only tool that I recommend. There are copies of this tool in the marketplace, but in my extensively-researched opinion, they are not up to the task.

I have no financial interest in the sale of this tool by anyone, but I do have tremendous interest in the safety of fellow DIYers and I know that DIYers will sometimes tackle a job that is beyond their capabilities.

Most of the time, the potential downside of this eagerness means that the DIYer will be spending more money having someone do the job right, etc., etc.

Spring compression is much, much different: Improper spring compression can have eternal consequences.

I shudder to think that anyone has attempted spring removal on a MB with the ~$30 generic tools. The MB spring has tremendous stored energy; just look at the front end of a 123 or a 126 and look at the curve of the spring -- it'll tell you all that you need to know.

Again, improper spring compression can have eternal consequences. Please do not risk hurting your spouse and family. Use the proper tool.


Richard Easley
Waco, Texas
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  #9  
Old 08-27-2002, 02:10 PM
TANK
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Question

Hi guys. Very helpful thread! I was wondering, does anybody know if these lower ctrl arm bushings can cause lots of vibration just from wear? Mine have never been replaced and the shop said it needs new ones.. Please help. Thanx.
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  #10  
Old 08-27-2002, 03:01 PM
NIC
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Thanks Richard for that excellent and timely warning about he spring. I actually did compress my front springs with a type of generic tool but it was a mistake and stupid. The power in that spring is spookey and they whole time you are compressing it your head is about three inches away. Ug. Don't try it!

I later rented the right tool from Performance Products in California for about $100 (30 day rental) to do the rear springs. I am sure the one you refer to is also the correct style. So much easier and safer. You have to see them to understand but the right tool for this job looks like two steel pancakes that are connected with a rod that goes inside the spring. Most generic models hook up outside and don't hold properly. The one generic that does go inside (that I saw) would not fit.

Nic
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  #11  
Old 08-28-2002, 12:34 AM
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Thanks for the list, NIC. hunting down shocks right now!
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2004 E500 4matic; 72,000mi
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