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  #1  
Old 04-08-2001, 11:23 PM
djenkins2
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Here's a situation I still haven;t figured out.....Is a high speed wander "characteristic" of this vehicle...or maybe I have a problem I haven't found? 1998 C230, about 42K miles, recently installed Michelin MXV Energy plus...and just had it aligned. The car is very, very sensitive to cross wind at speeds above about 75. At speeds above 80, it wanders noticeably several inches in the lane. Toe was too little and was corrected on recent alignment, and it is a bit more stable. But still doesn't seem to track with stability I would expect, for example a BMW 325. I recently checked the wheel bearings (front) and found the locking nuts about 10-15 degrees loose, so I snugged them down until light finger pressure snug, and tightened them there. Seemed to improve stability a bit. Still squirelly at high speed (above 80). Am I asking too much of this chassis? I still have yet to have the dealer or my local MB rep drive it and comment on it's stability. Yeah I know I am not supposed to be driving at 85, but it seems to me it should be stable at up to 120 or so.

Any thoughts on this car and it's high speed stability?

(BTW...what is the recommended method for tightening the wheel bearing nuts (front)? Is it finger tight, or some light torque value?)

Thanks dave
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  #2  
Old 04-09-2001, 03:03 AM
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Dave,
The c-class just tends to be affected by crosswinds at high-speeds. But my friend's 323is was no different.
I never notice it unless going above 90, and then sometimes at 100, and at 110 I notice it a quite a bit, and at 120, i can get moved over into the next lane in a millisecond (yes, I know I am not supposed to go 120!! I only have twice in my C-class).
Are you sure it gets pushed when traveling at 75 mph? Seems kind of a low speed to get pushed by the wind, like I said, the slowest I ever notice it is about 90, unless it's unusually windy. But if it's only a few inches, then I suppose that's normal, maybe I don't even notice it? But I am always able to correct the adverse affects of the winds without any problems.
I am assuming your shocks and springs are still good?
I am sure your car is fine, that's just the way it is. How windy is it where you live on avg.?
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2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #3  
Old 04-09-2001, 06:58 AM
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My 98 C200 suffers adversely in strong cross winds at 75+ speeds. John is correct, though, the cars are very sensitive to wheel balance. My car's overall demeanour was much improved after having the wheels balanced by the dealer.

The car is definitely not as true as an E36 325i in strong cross winds. It is very reminiscent of the larger BMWs, however, the 7-er in particular.

John: what do you do to ensure your steering and suspension components are in good order?
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  #4  
Old 04-09-2001, 12:04 PM
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Thanks for the tips about suspension/steering. My car is an August 98 car with 46k miles, so a lot of the long term adjustments you refer to probably are not required.

I would agree whole heartedly with your comments about wheels and tyres. My car's tyres were replaced by the dealer as part of the Signature used car sales process (UK equivalent of Starmark). Needless to say they have fitted non-brand tyres--anyone heard of "Millennium Star"??. These tyres have a directional tread (205/55 VR 16) which looks pretty but probably isn't the product of millions of r&d dollars!

The tyres are noisy and their damp-wet weather handling is unpredictable (which is worse than plain bad, since there is no way of knowing what they will do on this corner coming up).

Next money spent will be on Dunlop SP9000 tyres. I've read the controversy about these tyres but the general impression is favourable. Perhaps also the 8J alloy wheels for the rear (same six hole face) for the staggered set up to improve rear grip.

Maybe these tyres are responsible for my side wind experience. I hope they are responsible for my car's slightly dodgy wet wheather handling. I have also heard that these things cab be among the flip-sides of "Energy" tyres.

Any comments?


[Edited by jjrodger on 04-09-2001 at 11:26 AM]
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  #5  
Old 04-09-2001, 12:26 PM
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I'm going to agree with David C Klasse, my 95 C280 is rock solid at all speeds. I've got it up to 125mph. The only thing extra on my car are 17" AMGs with performance tires.

I would check control arm bushings. However, a 98 with 42k miles sounds unlikely. Just double-check all of the suspension parts. Has you car always behaved like that or is it the first time you got it up to those speeds.

I'm real curious why a lot of you are having problems. Mercedes is known for its rock solid stability no matter what the speed.

Vinamg



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  #6  
Old 04-09-2001, 05:25 PM
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Since I have the German 'autobahn' real nearby, I do a lot of high speed rides with my C250D. I do a lot of 180-210km/h (112-130mph) long trip traveling and have to say that the car IS stable. My C class has driven 375.000km and I have recently renewed the complete front suspension.
I drive the car with 15" winter tires and 17" summer set-up without any wandering problems.

When there is a LOT of wind, however, the car becomes fairly nervous at high speeds, but I think that is pretty normal...I experienced the same nervous wandering at high speeds and hard wind with my fathers 1999 E220CDI and my 1990 300SL.
It is not normal for a C class to wander at "low" speeds!

As far as the possible solving of the problem goes, I have to agree with the facts stated by JS/blackmercedes...

greetingz,
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  #7  
Old 04-09-2001, 05:38 PM
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I am not really going to worry about my high speed driving due to the fact that I don't want to get arrested!! It's rare I go over 110, usually not even over 100. I will wait for the symptoms to get worse at lower speeds before I try to correct anything, if anything at all.
I exaggerated a little John, I have never got pushed over fully into the next lane. But I will be tossed around in my lane quite a bit, but never have been pushed out. And I agree with John, MUCH CONCENTRATION is needed at speeds of 120 mph, actually at any speed really, but esp. 100 +.
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2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #8  
Old 04-09-2001, 08:27 PM
djenkins2
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An interesting range of opinions. The tires are new Michelin 205/60 MXV4. I beieve either these were OEM, or the Conti "rim protectors" (Mine came originally with the Continentals). I have asked the dealer to look at the front end, and everything appears tight. The comment about a "nervous" response" is pretty accurate..as a matter of fact the driver himself (:O)) becomes pretty nervous above 85 or so. Requires constant steering input and correction (slight) to keep it in the lane. The dealer is supposed to drive it tomorrow...will be interesting to see his opinion.

Thanks for the opinions..I may also try a different set of tires if the dealer claims this is characteristic.

dave
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  #9  
Old 04-09-2001, 11:46 PM
Johnson Chan
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I read in the review articles they do for new cars and they noted that the car was sensitive to cross winds. They are testing brand new cars, so I dont think its something thats worn on your car, etc.
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  #10  
Old 04-10-2001, 02:35 AM
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Johnson,
I have read that many times also.
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2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

Previous:
1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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  #11  
Old 04-10-2001, 02:46 AM
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Ooops

What I meant to say is that I agree with blacmercedes on the rock solid thing.
Anyway, my only complaint with the C at high speed is the wind noise. I guess I'm spoiled with the double pane windows of my S420.
Of course the 140's are in a complete different league when it comes to high speed (can't hear or feel a thing), but the C is a much smaller car.
However, I'm not having any of the problems that you guys are describing (shifting, movement and stuff).
I think that the biggest factor for high-speed stability are the tires. Honestly, I wouldn't feel safe going over 100mph with my stock rims and H tires.
I use 17"x7.5 F and 17x8.5 R with Potenza tires. The ride is a bit harsher but the handling, braking, and high-speed stability are phenomenal.

Vinamg

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  #12  
Old 04-10-2001, 09:40 AM
TradeGeek
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I noticed some of the same problems when I first purchased my 98 C230. As C class owners I think there is one thing we must realize. A C class is not an S class. I was very disappointed with the handling of the C at high speeds when I first purchased the car. I drive to Palm Springs once or twice a month. Anybody familiar with I10 and highway 111 to Palm Springs could testify to the wind conditions (The Desert out there is littered with windmill generators). I did notice some instability with the car in windy conditions at higher speeds, even though I can't say I did much driving over 80 (too many speed traps out there). The problems all but disappeared when I upgraded the suspension and the tires. I installed Eibach springs with 17 inch AMG Monoblock (C43 config, wider in the back) and Dunlop SP9000 tires. There are several combos of springs, shocks, wheels and tires that have been time tested with the C class and can really add to it's performance. No amount of modifications can turn a C into an S, but you can match or surpass the performance of a stock BMW 3 series. Suspension and tires just aren't the place to cut corners if you want to push your Benz. If you install some good components, check tire pressure frequently and balance regularly a C can be a blast to drive at high speeds or on winding roads. Just remember, you will never get $90,000 worth of performance out of a $35,000 car.
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2001, 09:47 AM
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I too have noticed that in my 2000 C230 it is a bit harder to maintain a straight line in a crosswind. I have the stock 205 55 16 Continentals on it and I think that they may be part of the problem. It acts like there is too little castor in the alignment. I have not had it above 95 MPH yet but at 80 it was very nervous and required much more attention than my 88 300E. With only 8K miles I don't believe that wear is a factor. I will probably put XGTs or MXV4s on it when the time comes, maybe that will help.
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  #14  
Old 04-10-2001, 12:11 PM
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My car only manifests these symptoms during very strong cross winds at high speeds. Most cars will suffer in these circumstances. I agree with the comments that the C is not an S and cannot be expected to bear the same refinement.

I drove the car at 100 mph last night and took my hands off the wheel. Wind was moderate. I could feel the wind on the car. However, the car tracked very true and very straight with no hands. It occurs to me that this is another example of the chassis's communicativeness being mistaken for weakness.
As a driver I want the car to talk to me about the conditions outside: I should not mistake those messages for flaws in the set up. This is particularly true in corners. At first I thought the car had very low reserves of grip; then I realised that what I thought was the feeling of the car losing control was simply the feeling of the chassis dynamics. I now find the car very satisfying to drive in bends; there is a great deal of warning before the car starts to lose grip. Grip is lost progressively rather than suddenly.

NB: John/BlackMercedes: my tyres are not warranted under the signature programme; rather MB dealers cannot sell the car as a Signature car unless there is 4mm of tread on all 5 tyres and at least 3,000 miles to any service. My car's tyres were worn and it needed a service when it's previous owner traded it in, so the dealer fitted new tyres and gave it a B service.

I would really like the 17 inch AMG wheels from the C43; I am concerned at what body work mods will be required. I still cannot quite understand what is meant by fender rolling: is there any visible difference to the wheel arches? Should one fit AMG springs and shocks with those wheels? How would such a suspension set up interact with the seat springs?

Of course all elements of the car's suspension are tuned to match: tyres, wheels, springs and shocks, seats.

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  #15  
Old 04-11-2001, 10:05 PM
djenkins2
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Update on C Class High Speed Sensitivity

Thank you gentlemen for your comments.....

Update: I took it to the dealer yesterday and had the service manager drive the car up to about 95. I also drove another 98 C230 with about the same mileage. It was interesting that the comparison car appeared to dance around even more than mine. I had just checked my tire pressure, and adjusted the wheel bearings in the front of mine. His comment was that my car handled pretty much as they all do, and after driving the other one, I believe he (and the many that have commented here) are correct that the sensitivity is characteristic to this chassis. I believe I can feel the difference between the compliance of the suspension and the movement of the car itself when the wheel is held firm, particularly in a cross wind situation.
I believe this car is simply "nervous" at high speed, wind or not, with the OEM wheel/tire combination.

Anyway.....in my search for stability, I had also discovered that the front wheel bearing adjusting nuts were both about 10-15 degrees loose, resulting in a very noticeable wheel/bearing movement. I initially tightened both sides to finger tight, and it drove with improved stability. Then I took a look at the MB procedure, courtesy of the dealer. It calls for .01-.02 MM axial play in the rotor/hub, with respect to the inner race, as measured by a dial indicator. I happen to have a metric dial indicator, and in checking, was actually quite close on my adjustment by feel. If you do the math, this is about 4 to 8 ten thousandths of endplay on the bearing set
(about a half thousandth), a very small measurement indeed. I noticed a distinctly more stable behavior after setting them to the correct clearance.

In any event, I do realize it is not an S class. On the other hand, for those of you guys that have corroborated this sensitivity, it seems as though a 16 or 17 inch low profile tire has improved the stability in every case. Thanks to all for the very complete commentary.....I have pretty much concluded that if the alignment is right on, the bearings set correctly, and a good set of tires at the right pressure, this phenomenon is characteristic, though minimal if everything is right on. Don't think it is going to act any different until the tires are changed. I think I will try a low profile wheel/tire combination.

Thanks again for all the comments.

Dave

98 C230 ( In search of an S class at 90 plus )

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