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  #76  
Old 10-13-2008, 09:54 PM
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I know this is an old thread.... hopefully your problem has been resolved.

No, its not normal. I had a 1985 380SE a couple of years ago and while I had some clunking from the front suspension over bumps, the ride was never harsh.

Now I have a 1988 300SEL that rides like a dream. I guess the long wheelbase makes a big difference though, but in addition to that, it has softly sprung suspension, which makes the ride more pleasant.

Unfortunately the same could NOT be said for my old 190D. Someone had installed Monroe Sensa-tracs and the ride was too stiff for my tastes. The new owner was OK with it, so thats fine, but if I had of kept it, I would have had OEM struts re-installed.



Quote:
Originally Posted by donbryce View Post
I've never experienced what I'd call a quality ride from my '85 380SE. It has always seemed to magnify every irregularity in the road surface, seems to telegraph and amplify the smallest bump, in short, a harsh, noisy, and very un-luxury-like ride, especially for a Mercedes. Most of the racket is at the front end.

I hate thumping and banging over every little pothole, manhole cover, and pavement crack!

After all this work, the resulting improvement in ride quality is marginal...

Is this behavior normal for the W126 sedan?

!
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  #77  
Old 10-13-2008, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86560SEL View Post
No, its not normal. I had a 1985 380SE a couple of years ago and while I had some clunking from the front suspension over bumps, the ride was never harsh.

Now I have a 1988 300SEL that rides like a dream. I guess the long wheelbase makes a big difference though, but in addition to that, it has softly sprung suspension, which makes the ride more pleasant.
I don't think the wheelbase makes any difference other than difficulty to park. My S320SWB still has a better ride than a LWB 07 S550 even before my suspension rebuild. I suspect ride quality issues might have something to do with the dried out hard rubber bushings on a 20+ year old car. You can easily spend more than a 126 is worth on a suspension rebuild. Even if its not creaking or sagging yet it might be time to make your local independent mechanic's day.

Ironically I realized how quickly rubber deteriorates the other day on my way back to the car from dinner. I noticed my hardly broken in tires are beginning to show signs of dry rot on my 300SD.

This is a common enough problems with other makes so that IPD (a performance parts company that sells Volvo parts) makes silicone based bushing replacements for Volvo cars. The Silicone is harder but does not deteriorate like rubber does.

Last edited by rchase; 10-13-2008 at 10:11 PM.
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  #78  
Old 10-13-2008, 10:19 PM
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ride quality

here's my 2 cents worth...as I have a 124 Mercedes and an e30 BMW, the wife and I constantly comment upon the differerence between the ride/suspension/handling between the 2 cars. The BMW is so much tighter and responsive than the Mercedes handling wise, yet a totally different car. There is nothing wrong with the Mercedes suspension I must say. Tight, solid, responsive but it is totally different from the BMWs. Conversely, the Mercedes is so much more quiet and composed that one can't fault that. I guess it's Horses for Courses sort of thing...that's all I can figure...we enjoy the contrast between the 325iC and the 300TE.
Kind of the goofy best of all worlds...they both offer the best of different approaches I reckon....
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  #79  
Old 10-13-2008, 10:26 PM
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Well, thats true. My uncle has a 1993 Mercedes 300SE (which is the SWB W140 with the I6) and it has a super soft and pleasing ride, but then he thinks his struts are bad, but it only has 78K, so I do not know. I told him it seemed fine to me.

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I don't think the wheelbase makes any difference other than difficulty to park. My S320SWB still has a better ride than a LWB 07 S550 even before my suspension rebuild.
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  #80  
Old 10-13-2008, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cliffmac View Post
The BMW is so much tighter and responsive than the Mercedes handling wise, yet a totally different car. There is nothing wrong with the Mercedes suspension I must say. Tight, solid, responsive but it is totally different from the BMWs.....

Oh yeah, I had a 1989 BMW 325is and it had stiff suspension, but man that thing had ultra responsive steering.
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  #81  
Old 10-13-2008, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by 86560SEL View Post
Well, thats true. My uncle has a 1993 Mercedes 300SE (which is the SWB W140 with the I6) and it has a super soft and pleasing ride, but then he thinks his struts are bad, but it only has 78K, so I do not know. I told him it seemed fine to me.
My 1999 which was the last year of production on the 140 needed a lot of stuff in the suspension. Miles don't deteriorate suspension parts time does and 1993 is 6 years older. For his peace of mind I would have it checked.

126's and 140's might both have 3 pointed stars on the hood and are both S class cars but are like night and day. My 140 makes my 126 look small parked next to one another in the driveway. The construction quality between the two are like night and day as well.

I don't think that we will ever see a car of the calibre of the w140 ever again. Then again there is the Maybach the W240 chassis based on the 140.
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  #82  
Old 10-13-2008, 11:55 PM
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The W126's suspension design is to simple and old. Replace all you want it's still going to ride like a 1970's car. I gave up long ago,(also running out of parts to change) now I just enjoy the "vintage" ride.

In the mean time, got a chance to ride around in a 1997 Rolls Royce. My car felt like a Honda compared to that thing. Rolls Royce figured out how to make a car waft, just don't try sport. 6k pounds doesn't corner all that well. But it does waft in a most intoxicating fashion. Also the attention to detail is certianly a few rungs up on Mercedes, well at least the S class. The 600 and Maybach probably compare better.

Brian how does your BMW's ride compare?
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Last edited by Hatterasguy; 10-14-2008 at 12:04 AM.
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  #83  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatterasguy View Post
The W126's suspension design is to simple and old. Replace all you want it's still going to ride like a 1970's car. I gave up long ago,(also running out of parts to change) now I just enjoy the "vintage" ride.

Yeah, the W126 dates to what, about late 1980 for the USA? I think the W126 came along even earlier in Europe?

I have owned several 1960 and 1970s cars and still have a couple and they ride like being on clouds (super soft suspension and nearly 5000 lbs weight apply that), but the trade-off is handling like a boat, because thats what they are really, but they are still fun.

I guess the only way to get the factory ride back in a W126 is to replace everything in the steering/suspension. Like I said, my 88' LWB W126 has turned out to be one of the best riding cars I have ever owned despite being 20 years old. It rides much better (softer suspension, yet even better steering) than my 85' SWB W126 did.
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  #84  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatterasguy View Post
The W126's suspension design is to simple and old. Replace all you want it's still going to ride like a 1970's car. I gave up long ago,(also running out of parts to change) now I just enjoy the "vintage" ride.

In the mean time, got a chance to ride around in a 1997 Rolls Royce. My car felt like a Honda compared to that thing. Rolls Royce figured out how to make a car waft, just don't try sport. 6k pounds doesn't corner all that well. But it does waft in a most intoxicating fashion. Also the attention to detail is certianly a few rungs up on Mercedes, well at least the S class. The 600 and Maybach probably compare better.
Heh heh. I think you hit the nail on the head. The 126 suspension design is ancient. I have a friend that is running into the same problems with a 107. There is also the concept of what MB engineers were trying to accomplish a car that handled well and rode well. Any automotive designer can put a saggy set of springs on a big car and make a nice soft comfortable riding car that won't get out of its own way.

Rolls Royce certainly makes a nice car. I have a friend that owns several of them and there is an element of quality that one can't put their finger on. I have considered an 90's Spur myself for a few years but my friend's issues with his has always made me stay far far away. I don't mind doing repairs on a car but when those same repairs are done over and over because of design flaws or bad parts is when I have issues. I think part of his problem is he has too many cars and does not drive them enough. A Rolls is not an everyday car and attracts WAY too much attention to be useful as real transportation. Driving them to the grocery store or even to get gas is like landing a flying saucer unless you live in Beverly Hills.

The Joy of an MB is knowing it will actually start and being able to drive an uber-exotic model and just remove the badges and enjoy the car in privacy.
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  #85  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:29 AM
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Wow, I can't believe what you guys think about the W126!!! :O

I have asked everyone in my family who has spent a lot of time in both my old W126, and in my W140...they ALL think that the W126 rode smoother. I think so too. It felt like a magic carpet ride going down the freeway. Totally smooth and quiet...

My W140 is also smooth and quiet, but just doesn't have the same "solid" feel. I can't quite put my finger on it.

With that said, I really loved my W126...my favorite MB so far by a mile. The only thing I love more about the W140 are the more modern looks, the horsepower, and the AWESOME Bose sound system.
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  #86  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86560SEL View Post
I guess the only way to get the factory ride back in a W126 is to replace everything in the steering/suspension. Like I said, my 88' LWB W126 has turned out to be one of the best riding cars I have ever owned despite being 20 years old. It rides much better (softer suspension, yet even better steering) than my 85' SWB W126 did.
I used to be of that school of thought myself. But realistically unless you have really deep pockets, a mechanic that's a deity and a lot of time and patience rebuilding an older car is going to net you with an old car with some new parts on it. And of course a never ending list of things that are not as fresh as when the car left the factory. The only way to turn back the hands of time is to remanufacture the car like some of the people do with the Gullwings. But then the car looses its original character in the process.

That's one of the reasons I bought my 140 as I was getting diminishing returns doing repairs on my 126 because of its increasing age. I still love my 126 but I accept it for what it is a 26 year old survivor that still has a lot of life left in it. As time changes our expectations of cars do as well so putting parts into an older car is a moving target. The "patina" my 126 has is part of its charm now rather than something I try to make go away with new parts.
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  #87  
Old 10-14-2008, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnathan1 View Post
I have asked everyone in my family who has spent a lot of time in both my old W126, and in my W140...they ALL think that the W126 rode smoother. I think so too. It felt like a magic carpet ride going down the freeway. Totally smooth and quiet...

My W140 is also smooth and quiet, but just doesn't have the same "solid" feel. I can't quite put my finger on it.
Perhaps you should get your suspension fixed then? Unless something is horribly wrong a 126 is technologically inferior to the 140 in every way including construction quality. Open the door on a 140 and compare the 4 thick seals and pneumatic closing assist to the 2 thin seals on a 126.
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  #88  
Old 10-14-2008, 11:03 AM
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I passed a little red ricer last night on the way home and noticed how hard the suspension on it was. My SEC rides harder now that I have put larger rims and low profile tires on it, but I don't care. I'm assuming that tighter handling, suspension, etc. brings with it a rougher ride. Is this not the case?

The Dee8gonator is a fun car, not my daily driver, so I don't want it to necesarily feel like riding a sofa.
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  #89  
Old 10-14-2008, 11:08 AM
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Well, being the OP here, I thought a bit of an update might be in order. I bought 4 new tires at a real bargain price from a going-out-of-business dealer, and had them mounted on the 380SE, July this year (2008). They did in fact improve the ride! Not a whopping difference, mind you, but very noticeably smoother on medium-rough pavement around town, and big-time smoother on the highway. They are Hankook Optimo's H417 A/S P205/65R15 92H, priced at $60.56ea. Not my first choice, but not to be beaten around here for the money.
The tire shop noted a slightly bent rim on the front, which was moved to the right rear to minimize feeling the minor viberation. This, along with the worn (and likely hardened rubber) Michelins, was definately a contributor to the ride quality deterioration.
However....I have since had the pleasure of driving my '86 560SL, which I purchased in Sept 2007. I'm now convinced that the design of the 380's suspension is the root cause of my original issues. The SL is smoother and quieter under all road conditions. It is running the same Michelins, in very good condition, that the 380 had. I did replace the front subframe bushings, with noticeable improvement too.
IMO, it's likely the excessive caster in the 380's design that magnifies the road irregularities. Just an opinion, from a novice, but what other Mercedes uses those wierd front guide mounts/bushings and a sway bar bolted almost on the firewall?
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  #90  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 86560SEL View Post
Yeah, the W126 dates to what, about late 1980 for the USA? I think the W126 came along even earlier in Europe?
The W126 is a late 70's design, first year in Europe was 1980, in the US 81.

However for a 30+ year old design its held up quite well.
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