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  #1  
Old 03-09-2002, 08:48 AM
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Question front alignment, Dealer or independent shop?

I am going to get a front end alignment done to my 93 190e. I was told by the tire shop that balanced my tires that only a Mercedes shop with a special tool can accurately align the front end on this car, is this true?
I already have an appointment at the dealership to have the front aligned, 89$ ouch!

Thanx
Dan
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  #2  
Old 03-09-2002, 10:30 AM
BPH BPH is offline
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A good euro shop will have the tools you need to get the job done! I recently went independent and realized that the previous three alignments performed by the dealer charged me, and the factory warranty for four-wheel alignments. Funny thing is...only the front end is adjustable on the C-280! Go figure!
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  #3  
Old 03-09-2002, 11:02 AM
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ALL MB's designed & produced after 1991 have rear end toe adjustment, so there is 4 wheel adjustment on the C-class. Even the W201 chassis(190's) had rear adjustments.
ALSO 4 wheel alignment doesn't mean that you have to adjust the rear BUT means that the FRONT is adjusted to what the rear is DOING.
ANY time a 2 wheel alignment is done on a car that doesn't have the rear toe-in perfectly straight ahead, the car won't track straight down the road.
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  #4  
Old 03-09-2002, 12:55 PM
BPH BPH is offline
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Thumbs up You are right...

Recalling now my visit to the independent...you are right, as you should be MBDOC! There is rear toe adjustment (not alignment), but no caster and camber hence any aligning is exactly what you say...front aligned to the rear. Sorry for slamming the dealer, I have a very bad taste in my mouth from my recent experiences.

To the original request, the answer is still YES...a good euro- independent can get the job done.
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  #5  
Old 03-09-2002, 08:14 PM
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One place referred to me in my area that can do the E320 (I think the dealer even takes them there). Quite a few that can do the 300/240D. Never have had to have the Honda aligned.
If you are near Gainesville,Fla maybe you can stop in at Continental Imports.
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  #6  
Old 03-09-2002, 10:12 PM
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Thanks Jim.

The MBs made after 98 all use measurements that can't be read with normal alignment machines. All others can easily be done with standard equipment. Techniques can be different but I can tell you, as I have argued on this site in the past, that good alignments are done by people and not machines.

As in many things getting someone to pay attention and take care is most often the problem with auto repair. I can't tell you exactly where to find these people as they are all over and not all over.

BTW the new cars can still be aligned with most equipment its just you need to get specs that use the old equipment. The new system uses a device attached to the lower control arm that combines the vehicle level with the other readings. Vehicle level is taught to be the first thing to confirm in doing an alignment after airing the tires. A good alignment tech could probably make your car perform better (if you have a problem) without a machine than half of the people doing alignments with all the types of machines. keeping the tires from wearing out requires the machine for the last bit of toe.
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  #7  
Old 03-10-2002, 12:25 AM
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Do MBZ alignments also use a spreader bar to load or push the front wheels out?

I have had two unsatisfactory alignments recently, one on the '91 300E and the other on the '95 E320 wagon.

Second question: How level does the steering wheel have to be. Both cars pull slightly and both have steeing wheels cocked to the side, slightly.

The 300E was done on what seemed like a very old alignment rack at a Mercedes dealer, the wagon at a alignment shop the specailizes in alignments. Here they had the lastest, I believe Hunter system, that had no physical connections to the wheel sensors. Just flashing lights.
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  #8  
Old 03-10-2002, 02:30 PM
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Boy did you pick a bad time to ask that question. My plans today were to write my article for next months "Import Car" magazine about MB suspension/alignment issues. I had planned on avoiding that issue (spreader bars).

I have checked and MB does show it used on 126, 124, 201, and 210 models (I have verified this in the WIS this morning. It undoubtably is the same for others. I can tell you that I have been doing MB alignments since 1973 and even when I was at the dealer, we didn't use or have a spreader bar. They may have one now but I can tell you that I have done thousands of MB alignments and have paid close attention to wear patterns that could be attributed to technique or equipment calibration and I do not have any history of inside tire wear which spreader omission would creat.

I do check the play of all front ends that I do align and would fix any that spread more than the min-max tolerance given: 2-3mm.

The latest tool that is used for 98- specs is used for incorporating ride height into the numbers. It is my contention that a proper alinment tech will take tire wear, driving performance, load/ride height and spreadability into consideration by the techniques available to him. BMW has prescribed weights that must be placed in various places about the car, MB wants it unloade but full of gas. I use my 280lbs to load the car and evaluate changes in camber and toe. its part of my technique that may not be used by everyone (bg).

The car when done should follow a flat straight road endlessly with the steering wheel perfectly straight. everything else is to be addressed. And especially with the poorly adjustable cars (everything since 202) tires are usually the problem. Always rotate the front tires side to side when pulling is a problem. If this affects the pull I would either get new tires or try switching them to the rear. I'm not sure MB would say this but there are service bulletins from BMW and Volvo (whose modles have always lacked adjustability) about using this as a first diagnostic step.
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  #9  
Old 03-10-2002, 02:58 PM
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Smile

Steve,

Thanks for the reply ... I guess .... sorry about the timing!

My question regarding the spreader bar is of course, should it always be used and where is it located? Behind the front wheels or ahead. It has been my understanding it is placed behind the front wheels and creates a load simulating driving forces on the tires as the car runs down the road.

Jeff
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  #10  
Old 03-10-2002, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by haasman
Steve,

Thanks for the reply ... I guess .... sorry about the timing!

My question regarding the spreader bar is of course, should it always be used and where is it located? Behind the front wheels or ahead. It has been my understanding it is placed behind the front wheels and creates a load simulating driving forces on the tires as the car runs down the road.

Jeff
The CD calls for spreader bar location of - Inside,front of wheels-

No bar for rear toe.
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  #11  
Old 03-10-2002, 04:09 PM
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As I traded e-mails with Brotherton, he turned me on to this post.

I think the recommendation for use of the spreader bar comes from the companies assuming that the front suspension will have some wear. I have used the spreader and I have done alignments without. I think that the best alignments are done when all of the components under the suspension have no wear.

I replace all worn components and will not perform an alignment unless I am allowed to do it MY way.
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  #12  
Old 03-10-2002, 04:29 PM
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I was kidding of course about the timing. The timing of this thread has aided me in my article which I have now just about finished. I did bring up the issue but didn't get into explanations or advise. This is an article intended to be read by technicians and it will be archived. I can hardly take a stance saying something is not necessary in print when MB clearly calls for the opposite.

The bar is placed on the front side of the tires and would move the tires toward toe out. Sooo not using it should make the tires toed out compared to using it. This would cause tires to wear on the inside. Normal toe range is about 2-3mm (In other words toe = 4mm + or minus 1.5mm would give a range of 3 mm). Tight front ends will not spread that far so the effect is miniaml on a tight car.
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  #13  
Old 03-11-2002, 09:21 AM
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Rear shocks have NO effect on alignment on the C-class.
Since I have worked in MB dealerships(retail outlet center) for almost 30 years, I will tell you that a spreader bar has little or no effect on alignments unless the front end is worn out! ALL 4 of the dealers that I worked at had spreader bars for final toe adjustment, BUT were never(hardly ever) used due to the fact we wouldn't align cars with worn out front ends.
Alignment machines are only as good as the tech who uses them & how often the equiptment is used & calibrated.
Some times at the racetrack we use STRINGS to check & set both front & rear toe-in. AND we can get them very close this way.

FROM the 1960's MB has recommended checking ride height before alignment, but now you must check ride height so that alignment specs can be applied.
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  #14  
Old 03-11-2002, 01:10 PM
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Steering wheel level? How important is it that the steering wheel be absolutely level? I have recently had two alignments and each time the steeing wheel hasn't been absolutely level. Both cars have the same type of tires and both pull/drift, one to the left and the other to the right.
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