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Old 04-04-2002, 09:56 PM
Wendell Allen
Posts: n/a
Question gsxr, tcane, pmizell, HGV, and others re. spring shims

Now that I've calmed down a little.......

Sorry guys. I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but this has brought up another question. Let's act like math majors for a couple of minutes.

The front of my car measured 26 3/8" on the drivers side, and 26 7/8" on the passengers side. This measurement was taken at the center line of the wheel, and indicates the height of the edge of the wheel well from a level surface. I leveled both the horizontal and vertical lines when I made the measurement. OK, so the vertical line wasn't "level", but it was straight up and down as indicated by a bubble level. This is as true as I'm going to get I'm thinking.

Note that the car had 4 "nub" shims on both sides.

So to level (and hopefully slightly lower) the car, I bought a 1 nub for the passengers side, and a 3 for the drivers side. Not perfect, but reasonably close.

But after installing the new 3 nub (replacing the 4 nub) shim on the drivers side, I measured it again. And to my surprise, it's actually higher now, up to 26 7/8", equal to the passenger side!

So just for grins, I turn over the old shim, and notice that it's been what I call compacted. It's permenantly smushed. (When I showed it to my wife, she looked at me like I was nuts and I could read her mind as she thought "You idiot - the car has a quarter of a million miles on it, what did you expect?). This would explain why the new 3 nub pushed the car higher. And I'm thinking that a further possible explaination for this might be that the previous owner, put a lot of miles on the car with only him in it.

So what all of this is leading me to ask, is, in your humble opinion, should I install the same thickness shim on both sides? I'm afraid that if I put the 1 nub in on the passengers side, it's now going to sit lower than the drivers. And this is just the opposite problem I'm having now.

And I don't even want to go through this again any time soon.

I know you can't make any guarantees, but your opinion would be highly appreciated.

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Old 04-05-2002, 12:18 AM
pmizell's Avatar
Benz Zealot
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838

First of all, I'd love to know how the ride height got outta whack, but I suppose that's a different story.

What model/year MB do you have? I know for my 124 300E spring pads come in four "nub" sizes: 1=8mm, 2=13mm, 3=18mm, 4=23mm. I'm not sure if these sizes are universal for all MB's or not.

Secondly, you should understand that change in ride height will not be the same as the difference in nub size mm! i.e., going from 4 down to 1 will not yield an exact 15mm lowering in ride height. I forgot the correlation between the reduction in spring nub size and ride height, but it is NOT 1/1. My car had 3 up front, 2 in back and I went down 1 notch each end and it lowered the height by about 1 inch, maybe a bit more. Do a search for this.

What you experienced as far as your height increasing after going down a nub is expected. Over time, the spring will "settle in" to the spring pad and will lower .... slowly. I wouldn't be surprised if the previous owner changed the spring pads (or other rubber up front [bushings, etc]) at different times resulting in the off balance front height.

You might want to start thinking about putting in a 2 instead of a 1 on the other side (or maybe even a 3 to equal other side), and check the height then. That is, of course, after inspecting the pad's condition. I'm sure you've probably already done this but check the shocks/struts for uniformity -- that they're the same brand and one side is not more worn than the other.

Probably not what you wanted to hear, but when ride height is off side to side, you have to experiment a bit.

Good luck!


'91 300E, 209k miles

Last edited by pmizell; 04-05-2002 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 04-05-2002, 05:18 AM
Posts: n/a
With the effort to replace the spring pads you could also replace the springs themselves at the same time and save yourself the labour cost for doing this. If the vehicle has done a lot of miles with an uneven weight distribution the car will lean. I would replace the springs and the shims so that you have new equal parts on both sides. If you still have a difference after that then you need to be looking at frame distortion or something like that. New springs are a reasonable price, makes sense to do them. While you are in there new shocks would be good as well if you don't know if they have been replaced before.
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Old 04-05-2002, 12:18 PM
yal's Avatar
yal yal is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: New York, Long Island
Posts: 2,704
Go with the same pad size on opposite sides. But if your old shims are that worn then your springs may be just as worn.
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