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  #1  
Old 08-12-2006, 04:31 PM
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Only dealers can do an alignment?

I was at a Goodyear shop getting the tires on my 1999 C230 balanced and asked about getting an alignment done at the same time. They claimed that it took special equipment to align this car and refused to do it.

They said I would have to go to the dealer to have it done. Is this correct? If so, I also have a 1998 ML320. Does it have to go to the dealer also? Thanks,

Don

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  #2  
Old 08-12-2006, 05:26 PM
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Any GOOD alignment shop can do it.
The " Special Equipment " may be a spreader bar ( which pre-loads the suspension ), and sometimes it may require " Camber bolts " which are specific to Mercedes.
Personally, for the few times I get an alignment done, I go to the dealer.
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2006, 06:26 PM
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At least they recognize their own limitations.

Mike
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  #4  
Old 08-12-2006, 06:50 PM
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Actually the problem they have is that MB alignment specs after 1998 (Which can't be adjusted anyway so who cares) are specified by ride height and the height spec is based on measurement with a special electronic inclinamometer.

The only spec that can be changed without bolt kits is toe anyway so ignorance costs them. Since bolt kits can only change the spec a little less than .5 degs unless you are ready to stretch the frame there is really no reason for the knowledge of specs anyway. What matters in alignment is differences side to side and how the car drives.

All this changes with cars that have Airmatic or SBC suspension. In these cases the height is read with the Roemess tool and adjusted with the SDS before dealing with alignment.

Basically, MB used to be a very adjustable car and tires stores made their attempts. Now there is nothing that can be done anyway and they refuse
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  #5  
Old 08-12-2006, 09:32 PM
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I was going to get the alignment checked because it was a standard maintenance sort of thing to do. But if it is not adjustable, is there any point? Thanks for the advice,

Don
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Old 08-12-2006, 09:47 PM
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Just curious

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebfl View Post
Actually the problem they have is that MB alignment specs after 1998 (Which can't be adjusted anyway so who cares) are specified by ride height and the height spec is based on measurement with a special electronic inclinamometer.

The only spec that can be changed without bolt kits is toe anyway so ignorance costs them. Since bolt kits can only change the spec a little less than .5 degs unless you are ready to stretch the frame there is really no reason for the knowledge of specs anyway. What matters in alignment is differences side to side and how the car drives.

All this changes with cars that have Airmatic or SBC suspension. In these cases the height is read with the Roemess tool and adjusted with the SDS before dealing with alignment.

Basically, MB used to be a very adjustable car and tires stores made their attempts. Now there is nothing that can be done anyway and they refuse
After reading your answer and thinking about what MB service costs, I was wondering how much more it costs to outfit and staff an authorized MB dealership's service dept. now than it did 15-20 years ago.

It sounds as though every model year calls for a whole slew on new instruments and a lot of new training.
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  #7  
Old 08-12-2006, 11:56 PM
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Specific to manufacturer

It's just that MB requires a bit of manufacturer-specific equipment, that's all. That PARTICULAR shop may not be able to do it, but many others probably can, though I'm not sure about the 1998 thing someone referred to previously. Just call around. I called today for my 1991, it was $140 at a MB (non dealer) repair shop. I called Good Year, one said they couldn't do it because they don't have the equipment, the next Good Year said they could do it, it was $100.

I then asked a friend of mine who works on cars in the low-rent district. He knew of a guy that is pretty good, is a general mechanic but is capable of working on MB's. I called him, the price was $50. I haven't used him yet, and maybe I'll get what I pay for, but these people in low-rent districts aren't stupid, especially if they've been in business for a while, they gain more experience as they go. It's their underlings you have to watch out for.

But I've found many times, for my other cars as well (Hondas and Toyotas), that the local GoodYear (who are very good), might charge $100 for a repair, then I go to a lower class area, and find someone who is helpful and in 2 cases, fixed it for FREE because the problem was easy, and the guy was trying to be helpful!!! Top that! I say, God Bless the lower-rent district mechanics. Their shops might look shady, but I've found them to be good people.

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  #8  
Old 08-13-2006, 02:48 AM
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i myself am an alignment tech.....and i work for goodyear in an extremely upscale neighborhood, so bmw's, benz and lexus' are the norm......the only mercedes we turn away are all ML's because of their rear caster.....the dealer is the only place that can measure and adjust rear caster....and if the alignment is done without measureing and adjusting rear caster, then the warranty becomes void...... ....most mercs have rear camber/toe adjustments, aswell as essentric lower conrtol arm bolts for front camber/caster.......i know alot of shop turn them away for the simple fact that they dont want the hassle, because if the car is way out of whack, then it can easily turn into a 2hr alignment.... i must admit that i dont use the presser bar or the rear ride height tools, but because i use the latest hunter machine and i've also been hunter trained, i do'em with extreme confidence....although i am aware that using the presser bar and that ride height would give me a much more accurate alignment....im actually looking into buying those 2 tools, as soon as i find'em.....
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  #9  
Old 08-13-2006, 09:42 AM
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the spreder bar you all refer too is easy to make. I made one out of thin wall tubing and a spring. now when I need an alignment on of my ten mercedes I just take my spreder to my local tire shop and let them use it. the first one that I made I left ther but the alignment tech left and took my spreder with him.
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  #10  
Old 08-13-2006, 10:45 AM
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A few years ago I wrote an article for a technician trade publication "Import Car": http://www.continentalimports.com/ser_ic4232.html

In preparation for the article I worried heavily about the issue of spreader bars. I even called a number of MB alignment specialists to see their experience. It worried me a lot as I had aligned MBs for 30 years including a number of years at the dealer and never had used the spreader bar.

So I bought a spreader bar! I have used it about 5 times since. Most of those times were in preparation to write the article. In the article I gave the spec change that occured with and without the bar. It was about one millimeter. The range of accepted toe adjustments varies but always is atleast double that. If there is play in the steering it will make a big difference and maybe some techs would need such a help to discover such.

In my small survey of others doing MB alignments one one out of 5 consistantly used the bar.

The real issue of bars and Romess devices is secondary to the finding of a tech who knows what to do. It is a benefit to know MBs, but I'd take a good alignment tech anyday to do my car rather than someone doing an occasional alignment at a dealer. I do 2-4 alignments a day and have done near that amount for 30 years. I am an experienced alignment tech. I solve problems for other shops that bring me all manner of vehicles. I did a church van for a shop that had taken it over a number of years to numerous tire stores, even taking it as a known tire wear problem to them. The problem turned out to be the lift that loaded wheel chairs was mounted in the right rear and the change in ride height due to assemetrical weight was the problem. The shop added a leaf to the rear spring and fixed the problem after an alignment anyone could then do.

A good alignment is technician dependent not frachise or equipment dependent! A good alignment tech is where you find him!!

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