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  #1  
Old 09-04-2001, 06:33 PM
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190E 2.3 steering question...

This is in regards a '91 190E we have had only a short while, 92k miles.

I have replaced the idler arm bushings and adjusted the front toe to about 1/16" via the right-hand tie rod only - leaving the steering wheel roughly centered. I also tightened the right rear track link where it was loose at its frame attachment, and replaced the rear shocks. All this has improved the steering and handling tremendously, but I feel it is still less than ideal. The car wants to steer to the right, as though camber or caster is not equal, and the steering is not as light and a bit more vague than I think it should be. The front also seems to transmit more shock than I expect from some freeway road surfaces. There are no clunks, groans, or creaks from anywhere, the rear wheels have no play when shaken, the left front seems to have only a slight amount when grasped at 12 & 6, despite adjusting the wheel bearing. The right front seems to have none. Would a good guess say that a proper alignment would likely cure the problem, or should I look further at bushing, ball joint, strut wear?

Thanks for any help.

Steve
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  #2  
Old 09-04-2001, 10:07 PM
jfujimoto
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Steve,

What's the condition of your drag link and steering damper?

Jeff
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  #3  
Old 09-05-2001, 01:57 AM
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Get it aligned and get it done by someone who knows what the're doing. It will show you that if anything is wrong they will let you know and when you get it back you will be happy. If you've never drove a car with the proper alignment it'll be like a different car and I know because I've driven a new car with bad alignment and didn't know it until I had a small misfortune and had to have it aligned.
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  #4  
Old 09-05-2001, 02:47 AM
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Jeff, the drag link seems to exhibit no noticeable play at any of the pivots. The damper I have not checked for effectiveness, but I don't think it should cause pulling to one side. In any event, shock does not seem to be transmitted through the steering.

Stan, I suspect an alignment may solve the problem, but I don't want to have it done if more repairs are needed first (that I can do). Then, it would be a wasted expense, since it will need to be done over after the repair.

Thanks for the input.

Steve
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  #5  
Old 09-05-2001, 02:50 AM
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Generally, if repairs are necessary to true up the alignment, most shops won't align it until the repairs are made. Take it in, have it checked, if all the parts are still within spec, they'll align and you should be happy.
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  #6  
Old 09-06-2001, 12:05 AM
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I decided to continue my investigation by doing some rough camber measurements in our driveway, using a right-angle metal square and a 6" caliper - I knew these would be subject to lots of uncertainty, but it's a place to start.

Well, mystery solved! Following is the camber I measured:

Lrear -1.9deg Lfront -0.31deg

Rrear -2.5deg Rfront +0.46deg

Now, the right front wheel has a pretty scraped up rim, presumably from tangling with a curb. Pretty hard, too - I think. No sign of damage to the tire, so I think it was subsequently replaced. Removing it to inspect the hardware, I discovered clear signs the adjustable lower arm pivots, at least the rear one, had moved a considerable distance inward along the adjustment slot. I did not find any apparently damaged parts, though I suppose the bushings have been abused.

Since it looks as though just an adjustment should return all to proper alignment - or at least an alignment would be necessary anyway to determine if the frame was tweaked - this is now certainly the next step. Thanks all for the responses!

Steve
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  #7  
Old 09-06-2001, 09:07 PM
jfujimoto
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Steve,

I'll be in line right behind you at the alignment shop after I R&R my drag link. I'm glad our 190E steering woes are almost finally over!...I hope.

Jeff
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  #8  
Old 09-07-2001, 11:12 AM
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Well, Jeff, after planning to drop off the car last night, I had second thoughts - decided to try the adjustment myself. I jacked the car up high on the right to get clearance for breaking loose the A-arm bushing bolts with wrenches. I left the wheel on.

I discovered that apparently only the rear one had shifted, so I only adjusted this one, putting it back to about the spot where it had originally been. Due to front bushing 'set' over time, the rear one wanted not to return and stay in that spot without tightening it down. This is a problem, since it should be done at normal ride height, when I can't get the wrenches in position. I simulated this by jacking up under the arm to compress the spring, while backed by jackstands. Then the A-arm snicked into the proper position, and I could lock it into position.

A quick check of front camber now indicated both front wheels about equal and slightly positive. This seems odd, but I will measure more carefully later. Toe seems about the same, which puzzles me more. So I was done, for now.

I drove the car to work this morning. It still self steers a tad, but seems driven entirely by road camber. Much less 'pull'. Cruising up to ~70 mph on the freeway, I noticed a slight oscillation in the steering wheel at some speed - about 60, I think. Else, very smooth, relaxed drive. This will take more investigation, but I suspect tire wear or imbalance could be the cause. Now a new steering damper might help, and maybe a look at gearbox lash.

Overall, though, from this brief drive I feel there is an improvement, and I don't think there was any permanent damage from whatever incident caused the problem, other than treadwear issues.

Steve
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  #9  
Old 09-17-2001, 11:20 AM
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A follow-up. Note, I still have not had a pro align the car, but several subsequent checks of camber front/rear have convinced me that my tools or technique are not up to the task. My measurements vary each time I take them. A professional alignment is in order when I can manage the time.

In the meantime, due to a badly scraped up front right wheel - causing more uncertaintly in my measurements - I swapped the wheels front/back. This lightened up the steering a lot, centered the steering wheel, and almost completely eliminated crown-steer. There is no vibration/oscillation at any speed or road surface I have encountered. This despite the fact I could discern no obvious uneven wear pattern on any of the tires.

Steve
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  #10  
Old 09-17-2001, 05:20 PM
jfujimoto
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Steve,

I've got my 190E at my friend's shop for the ball joint(s) replacement and alignment today. Finally, everything will be okay. Did your steering wheel center itself just by replacing the wheel?!?! Amazing.

Jeff
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  #11  
Old 09-18-2001, 12:07 PM
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"Did your steering wheel center itself just by replacing the wheel?!?! Amazing."

Yes, and I have experienced this before. This is one reason why swapping front/rear can be a very good diagnostic.

If the rear suspension has not been damaged or misadjusted, it will typically hold its settings a long time, and tires tend to wear evenly. Front tires are subject to a lot more abuse from just normal driving, and because geometry must change for steering input. It is much easier for the front suspension/steering to be misaligned. Developed uneven wear patterns can cause a tire to 'pull' to one side, requiring a compensating input from the steering wheel.

Swapping the tires removes the need for that compensating force, so the steering wheel is now in a different position to drive straight. The less-than-perfect tires now in the rear will have little affect on directionality, and may wear back to a more normal pattern.

Of course, I should still get an alignment, or the 'new' front tires may eventually wear unevenly too. Good luck with the ball joints!

Steve
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  #12  
Old 09-19-2001, 04:36 PM
jfujimoto
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Steve,

Well, I got my 190E back and, yes, the steering wheel is now centered again. I thought I would have to re-align the steering wheel. Thank goodness I don't have to deal with that now. With the new ball joints and alignment, the car steers straight and is back to normal.

Jeff
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