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Old 01-30-2002, 12:24 PM
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190E suspension/steering question

My car rattles/clunks/thuds when it goes over potholes, from the drivers side, I think from the front. The noise happens only when the car is going straight, not while turning. Also, its more pronounced on colder days.

Now, I took my car for an oil change today, and the tech went over the front suspension and steering systems. He was not sure what caused the noise (he drove it and heard it himself). But he said there was play in the front passenger side tie rod assembly and idler arm (he showed me the play - the passenger side wheel could be moved a little by hand, may be 1/8 inch max at the periphery).

Could this be the course of the noise? He was not willing to guarantee that the noise will go away if I did all that he asked me to do.

Secondly, he qouted me the following labor hours for replacing parts:

tie rod assembly - 1 hr
idler arm kit - 1.5 hr
center drag link - 1 hr
both ball joints - 5 hrs (!)
Plus $65 for alignment after that.

Came to nearly $850, including parts.

Does this make sense, i.e., the number of labor hours?

Also, I don't feel anything wrong in the steering at all. SHould I get these parts changed at all now, or should one wait till some symptoms show up? What would those symptoms be, if any? Can something else get damaged by postponing this repair?

Sorry for the rather long reply. Thanks a lot for your help.

(1985 190E 2.3 126K miles)
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Old 01-30-2002, 12:51 PM
blaubenz_mb's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 52
Certainly worn bushings can cause the rattles/clunks/thuds you describe. As a comparison, I recently had my idler arm bushings replaced at an hour of labor...
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Old 01-30-2002, 04:46 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Lathrup Village, Michigan
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Just for reference, I had both ball joints replaced on my 190E for about $40 labor each. $200 for both sides including parts.
Michael LaFleur

'05 E320 CDI - 86,000 miles
'86 300SDL - 360,000 miles
'85 300SD - 150,000 miles (sold)
'89 190D - 120,000 miles (sold)
'85 300SD - 317,000 miles (sold)
'98 ML320 - 270,000 miles (sold)
'75 300D - 170,000 miles (sold)
'83 Harley Davidson FLTC (Broken again) :-(
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Old 01-30-2002, 05:49 PM
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Thanks, Michael. the 5 hours labor that my guy has said is WAY out of line then. He said you have to heat the ball, cut it and remove it, blah blah, so it takes time. I didn't buy it. I need to change my mechanic.

BTW, MB Doc, Benzmac, or anyone else who has done this work, what does the mercedes manual say about the labor hours for these jobs?
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Old 01-31-2002, 08:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
Posts: 12,153
Times can vary from shop to shop!! AT dealer we are SUPPOSED to follow the factory time guide. OF course we have $200,000. + of special tools that MB requires so many times a front end job labor TIME might be less at dealer.
MB allows only 1 hour for both tie-rod assemblies & drag link.
ALSO with factory tools the ball-joints are less than 3.5hrs
However on your car the idler arm bushings are at least 1.5 hrs as the complete exhaust system must come off to remove the bolt thru the idler arm.
MERCEDES Benz Master Guild Technician (6 TIMES)
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Mercedes Benz Star Technician (2 times)
44 years foreign automotive repair
27 Years M.B. Shop foreman (dealer)
MB technical information Specialist (15 years)
190E 2.3 16V ITS SCCA race car (sold)
1986 190E 2.3 16V 2.5 (sold)
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Old 01-31-2002, 09:08 AM
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: New York City Burbs
Posts: 177
I did the ball joints on the 190E on my own. The special tools for the job make it much much easier: the portable C-shaped ball joint press, the spring compressor that fits incise the coil (not the macpherson strut compressors that grab from the outsides) etc. Unfortunately I didnt have 'em. Since I have a 12-ton shop press, I took the whole control arm off and put it on the bench to press the joint out/in. That mechanic talking of cutting the ball joint out is BSing you.

I also chased a front end clunk for months. It turned out to be the strut tops were cracked. It was easy to miss because as I jacked up the front end, the wheel weight would quiet the loose area. Put it down & drive I got the clunk back. I put in whell bearings, idle arm bushings, ball joints, stabilizer shock and finally the struts & bushings. Check it out before you go on a merry goose chase of replacement.

I also have changed the idle arm bushing with out dropping the exhaust. However I did have to bend the heat shield to get the bolt out. Dont over torque that bolt, or you'll be re-doing that job in a very short time.

Good luck.
Patrick Leber
'84 190E 2.3
'83 Porsche 944 (track car)
'84 Porsche 944 (parts car)
85.5 Porsche 944 (sled)
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Old 01-31-2002, 02:11 PM
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Thanks, MB DOC and Patrick. I guess I'll just go to the dealer and get it done there.

Also, if you could help me with the other question I had - my tech asked me to just remove the cat converter heat shield, as it was rusted and rattling. said there is another heat shield on top, so it won't make a difference. Shall I get it removed - would it cause any heat damage? I rarely drive more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

Thanks a lot.

Again, its a 85 190E 2.3
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