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  #1  
Old 04-18-2002, 02:25 PM
mgbrickell
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Question 1994 E320 Wagon Suspension question

Hello, all, I am new to the forum, and new to M-B ownership.

I recently obtained a 1994 E320 Wagon with 122k miles.

The suspension seems awfully floaty at highway speeds. I understand this car is not going to ride stiff like a Corvette, but it seems to bob too much when you hit a pavement dip or such on the road. Instead of the suspension compressing then releasing, you get a couple of bounces, and the general feel reminds me of my in-laws old Lincoln Town car. Sort of that old Cadillac kind of nautical ride.

I have searched the archives and read a lot about the hydro-pneumatic rear suspension. I crawled around under the rear of the car, and I see what appear to be shocks with a kind of plastic accordion boot over the top 1/2, with what appears to be a fluid line going into the top of each one. However. I don't see anything resembling a sphere or reservoir near either rear shock. I was looking for whatever the nitrogen cells are that many posts mention.

The rear shocks exhibit no signs of leakage that I can see. The lack of rebound damping is something I would like to improve upon if possible.

Can someone give me a detailed description of the rear suspension system, and where I can find the components that comprise it?

Also, I would appreciate feedback on how tough a job it is to replace the front shocks/struts and what the best replacement would be.

My goal is just to get rid of the 2-3 bounces per road irregularity and tighten it up a bit.

Overall, the car is in great shape and there are no obvious damaged components underneath that I can tell.

The thing that confused me about reading archived posts is that it seems that when the hydro suspension goes bad ( nitrogen cells ) or the accumulators, the car rides rough. My problem is the exact opposite, a bobbing wallowing ride.

Thanks for any light anyone can shed on my situation.

Matt
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  #2  
Old 04-18-2002, 02:32 PM
mgbrickell
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After reading my post, please allow me to clarify:

The car drives great at low speeds, and small road irregularities are absorbed nicely. On the highways, if you get one of those dips in the road where you are going 60-70 mph and there is just a fairly gentle dip in the pavement is when the car handles poorly. The front and rear seem to wallow at different levels and this is disconcerting and feels less than ideal.

The tires show no signs of cupping, etc.

Thanks

Matt
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  #3  
Old 04-18-2002, 03:39 PM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 2,632
Matt- sounds like your front struts need to be replaced. The problem with going with Bilstein Heavy Duty's (HD's) for a firmer ride is that you don't know if you'd like the the stock/Bilstein "Comforts" setup when new.

If I were you I would do the following esp. since your wagon has 122K miles:

1) replace the nitrogen spheres; all links in the rear (make sure you get the updated ones); and replace the swaybar bushings;

2) replace the front struts with Bilstein Comforts and replace the swaybar bushings with the updated ones.

Once the whole suspension is rebuilt, you will like it.

:-) neil
1988 360TE AMG
1993 500E

PS: make sure you have the stock wagon springs
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  #4  
Old 04-18-2002, 09:36 PM
mgbrickell
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Anyone know where the nitrogen cells are, what do they look like, and how hard they are to replace?

M
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  #5  
Old 04-18-2002, 10:20 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Plano, TX
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The nitrogen cells are at the end of those lines from the struts, as you thought. On the wagon, they are replaced from inside the car. The load floor immediately behind the backseat is removed; the cells are located beneath it. It's been a few years; so the exact procedure is fuzzy in my mind. However, there are about six or eight screws to remove. The seat back of the third seat may need to be removed - don't recall for sure. Two of the screws are in the load floor a few inches behind the backseat. The remaining screws are in the lip of the floor such that they are hidden by the third seat seatback when it is down.

Replacement is quite simple. Bleed pressure out of system. Remove old cells (three nuts, one pipe fitting each). Fit new cells. The tricky part is the hydraulic fittings all use straight cut threads - it can be quite tedious to get the threads started, given the constrained workspace. No bleeding necessary.

The nitrogen cells run ~$80/each. Check prices at Fastlane here. (OK, I remembered to put in a plug...)

I'm surprised your front struts feel worn out at only 120K miles. Typically shocks/struts on an MB last much longer than that. More than 200K is typical of shocks. My own '87 wagon has about the same milage and has quite firm damping.
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  #6  
Old 04-18-2002, 10:33 PM
mgbrickell
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Thanks, jcyuhn, for the detail. I could not see the nitrogen spheres during my casual inspection, but I did not have the car jacked up, and could only squeeze so far under. I appreciate the detail on how to find the cells and how to replace them. Next time I get a day off, I will poke around some more.

Thanks again.

Matt
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  #7  
Old 04-19-2002, 01:46 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Outside Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 214
If the wagon is at all like the sedans, the rear suspension links, especially the thrust link, have bushings that wear and cause a side to side floaty, nauseating feeling. Replacing the offending link(s) helps tremendously. If they don't appear obviously bad, might help to have a MB tech look at them.

Bob Johnston
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  #8  
Old 04-19-2002, 02:07 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: boston
Posts: 119
Bob,
That side-to-side feeling sounds familiar. My car seems to "wiggle" down the road sometimes, especially at highway speeds and if there is any type of air turbulance (given a slight breeze, or passing a car). The movement side-to-side is quite fast, but not floaty like the wagon in this thread. My car has 139K, would these bushings be about time to replace? Do you have to replace the whole link?
What's approx. cost?

Thanks,
Matt
'94 E320 139k
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  #9  
Old 04-19-2002, 08:32 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Outside Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 214
I think we're describing the same thing. The links look reasonable to install if you're fairly accomplished as a DIY'er, though I had them done on my old 87 300E. I seem to remember that all 4 links on both sides were 1100 to 1400 installed at the dealer. I believe all the parts are just over 400 from this website, if you need them all.

Bob
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03 E55
Comand/Nav/Bluetooth/Ipod added
Black/black
(Oh man, this car is sooooo fast.)
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  #10  
Old 04-19-2002, 08:58 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
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If your accumulators (nitrogen cells) are bad they should be replaced with all haste.

If you realize how the system works and what has failed, one will see that the spike hydraulic loading is almost uncomprehendable when riding bumps. It doesn't take long to damage other components including those non-leaking shocks.
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