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  #1  
Old 06-15-2001, 12:33 PM
Chris Blanchard's Avatar
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
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I was asking my local (very trustworthy) MB mechanic here in Cincinnati (Precision Motorcars) about the expense of replacing both lower ball joints and the "caster joints" on my 1984 300SD.

His quote was as follows:

Ball Joint: $38 parts per side, 2hrs labor per side
Caster Joint: $81 parts per side, 2hrs labor per side
Alignment: $100+

Total (Labor $75/hr): $938

When you add in sales tax and misc shop/epa stuff, it's about a $1000 for all this work.

I am really tempted to do this work myself. I am a medium DIY (subframe bushings, valve adjustments, motor mounts) and also have the W126 CDROM.

I can rent a spring compressor and ball joint press from IMPCO (does PartsShop rent this stuff?) for about $100.
Parts would be about $150 for everything from PartsShop.

So, I am looking at $250 plus a bunch of time to get this all done myself. That amount is do-able, while the $1000 ain't happening.

I'd still have to get an alignmment so I guess the total is
really $350-ish.

I am very interested in saving the $650, and have access to another car to drive while I get through this project.

Anyone out there want to talk me out of attempting this job? Am I nuts?

I am also tempted to replace the rear trailing arms (due to rust) while I have the spring compressor. Any major gotchas there? Replace the spring pads also?

Chris Blanchard
1984 300SD 138.1k
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2001, 02:09 PM
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Location: Sunny Florida
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I have replaced the caster ball joints and bushings in my 560SEL. This should be the same. Are you also replacing the body mount bushings also, or only the ball joint? I used a small arbor press to get the caster ball joints out of the mount, and pushing the new ones in was a chore. Try a large hose clamp, (4 inch diameter, +/-), to hold the exterior part of the castor ball joint compressed, while pressing the new one into the mount. You will see what I mean. The bushings that surround the bolts holding the mount to the car are easy to push out and push back in, with some lubricant and either a clamp or arbor press again. The CD Rom manual recommends a special tool for this, but I did not use one. I seem to recall I did this myself pretty quickly, less than 2 hours a side. But I could have rosey memories. Check my old posts. I am sure I posted the results someplace, after begging for help on this job.

I have not done the lower or upper ball joints in my car yet. Who is this IMPCO that rents tools? Are they local to Ohio? I appreciate this information. I will need to rent the ball joint tool eventually, I am sure. I do not know if Fastlane rents them, but I think not.
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1989 560SEL (172k)
1989 325IC (122K)
2004 Suzuki Volusia LE (3500 miles)
2005 Yamaha Road Star (20 K miles)
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  #3  
Old 06-16-2001, 12:34 AM
Larry Delor's Avatar
What, Me Worry?
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Sarasota, Fl.
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ball joints

I replaced the uppers in my W123 in about half hour a piece, without using a spring compressor. I believe the same should be possible with the uppers on a W126. The lowers are another story, and I would say about an hour a piece, half of that time is spent getting the old one out. I watched as my old ones were removed on the aforementioned W123, and no spring compressor was used in that instance either.
In short, do the uppers yourself.

-Larry
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09 Jetta TDI
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  #4  
Old 06-17-2001, 10:13 AM
Chris Blanchard's Avatar
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Actually, I am referring to the lower ball joints, the uppers are fine.

I am slowly getting up the nerve (and the wifey's financial approval) to tackle the job. Maybe in a couple of weeks I can get it all started.

I am looking forward to the day when I can just sit back and rack up the miles on the without having a list of stuff to fix. I am getting there slowly, and, don't get me wrong, the car runs great and is in very good condition. I guess I am just dealing with issues typical to a 17 year old car.

Chris Blanchard
1984 300SD 138.2k
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  #5  
Old 06-17-2001, 11:08 AM
Larry Delor's Avatar
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Location: Sarasota, Fl.
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lower joints

You really ought to use a pneumatic hammer to get the old ones out. To put the new ones in, you really ought to have the tool made for that purpose. If I did not have those, I wouldn't do it. A torch may also come in handy with the removal of the old ones, as they can be quite stubborn.
-Larry
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04/71 280SE 195k
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  #6  
Old 06-17-2001, 07:32 PM
engatwork's Avatar
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I am going to be undertaking this

job over the next couple months. Larry, when you watched them remove the lowers what did they use the pneu hammer of the pneu hammer with heat? I do plan on renting the tools.
thanks
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  #7  
Old 06-18-2001, 12:56 AM
Larry Delor's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Sarasota, Fl.
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Hammer time!


He put the part into a big vice, went at it with his torch, stood on the table, and with all of his weight bore down on the old joint with the pneumatic hammer. First he went arount the outside perimeter of the joint itself, then hammered away at the middle. Be careful of stuff popping out when you torch it...there may be hot grease and metal parts flying outta there. (wear safety glasses)
Putting the new ones in was relatively uneventful, although a big vice, and that tool, is definately a big help

Good Luck!

-Larry
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  #8  
Old 06-19-2001, 09:58 PM
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126 Ball joint replacement

Having done this job on my 82 500 SEL (all the joints and bushings, including sway bar-rust hidden under end rubber bushings thinned the metal too much for my comfort), I found it not too difficult--PROVIDED you use the IMPCO ball joint press.

No other way except the MBZ tool. DO NOT attempt to remove/replace the lower ball joint without this tool. It is not a straight line 'press', and you cannot pound it in/out for the same reason. Have to use the tool.
Be careful when pressing in the new joint to make sure it does not 'cock and jam or you can spring and ruin the tool.
It should pull in smoothly.

RE: 'caster'--which rubber bearing--the joint on the end of the rod?- that one is easy. The two big mounts on the aluminum casting? Takes a press in/out.

I suggest installing a thicker top spring mount (get it from your MBZ dealer) very inexpensive. That will bring you back up to correct ride height.

Lower control arm bushings? Have to use arbor or hydraulic press to get them in/out. Lots of automotive machine shops and should not charge more than $10/bushing to do it.
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  #9  
Old 06-20-2001, 10:34 AM
Chris Blanchard's Avatar
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Thanks everyone for all the information.

I re-read the section in the CDROM regarding replacing the lower ball joints and it is now clear that I do not have to use a spring compressor to get in there.

I will try to get the ball joint tool from IMPCO in the next couple of weeks, as the noise in the front end is really bad.

What is the collective experience regarding the rubber bushings in the aluminum casting? Mine look OK, but there is are big washer-like things that prevent me from seeing if the metal centers have separated from the rubbers.

Chris Blanchard

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  #10  
Old 06-20-2001, 02:48 PM
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Chris,
The rubber bushings in mine looked ok when looking at them from under the car, but when I got the mounts out of the car I found they were dried out and cracking. Given the age of your car, I would expect yours to be dried out also, unless they have been replaced previously.

How do I get in touch with this IMPCO company everyone refers to, to rent these tools? I plan on ordering some parts and doing my upper and lower ball joints the end of July, over a weekend.
Thanks!
And have fun!
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1989 560SEL (172k)
1989 325IC (122K)
2004 Suzuki Volusia LE (3500 miles)
2005 Yamaha Road Star (20 K miles)
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  #11  
Old 06-20-2001, 09:53 PM
Chris Blanchard's Avatar
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IMPCO (aka Performance Products as of last year or so) is found at http://www.************************

They have a nice catalog, but PartsLane has better prices.

Chris Blanchard
1984 300SD 138.2k
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  #12  
Old 06-21-2001, 08:43 AM
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Chris,
Thanks, and I see what you mean about the prices. Let me know if you continue on this job, and rent the ball joint tool. As I said earlier post, I am going to attack this job on my 560SEL, and the tool sale price from Sir tools is $360 bucks! So renting for a $100 is a bargain. Unless I can fabricate something to work like that tool does.

Good luck and have fun!
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1989 560SEL (172k)
1989 325IC (122K)
2004 Suzuki Volusia LE (3500 miles)
2005 Yamaha Road Star (20 K miles)
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  #13  
Old 06-21-2001, 07:28 PM
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Posts: 17
Having done this job myself I can tell you it's not
a bad job. However I wouldn't rely on the time estimates
suggested by your mechanic - it's likley to take you
you longer. Also- I used the local NAPA machine shop to remove and press in the lower ball joints. They charged
me $40.00 and it was well worth the price.
GOOD LUCK!

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  #14  
Old 06-21-2001, 09:02 PM
Chris Blanchard's Avatar
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I'd be delusional to think I could do the work done anywhere near "book time". I'd be happy to get it done in 2x that.

My first valve adjustment took 3hrs. I'm sure the next one will take about an hour.

My first set of brake pads took about 45 per side. I can now do the job in 10 mins per side.

Only $40 for a shop to press out/in the ball joints? That's about what the tool rental is. At that price, I'd rather pay a local shop.

I'd better get going on this job, as the noise ain't gettin' any better...

Chris Blanchard
1984 300SD 138.5k
1985 300D 185k (sold)
1991 300TE 4-matic 155k (sold)

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