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Old 05-07-1999, 12:38 PM
Mark Herzig
Posts: n/a
I'm trying to distinguish the ride on the 500E. I've never driven a performance car before. I'm use to more 'touring' type rides from my 300E and 300SDL. THe car has Pirelli P8000's (which I think are outdated.. can't find references on Pirelli site) and I think I'm experiencing what Lee refers to as a 'sticky' tire. It's almost as if there is an adhesive on the tire that makes the noise of tape being pulled off (at low speeds). THe suspension is stiff so I feel the road 'feaures' more than with the other cars. Are these impressions accurate or should I have a silky smooth ride on the hiway?
Old 05-07-1999, 07:58 PM
Lee Scheeler
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The sound you are hearing is (I know this will irk some people) the nature of all Pirelli tires! All the Pirelli tires I have ever driven or been along for the ride have made excessive noise. They handle great (usually) but can be noisy and unforgiving if pushed beyond their limits. When I say a "sticky" tire I mean one that makes the car feel as if the hand of god is pressing the car to the road, a feeling of being able to corner or brake at nearly "track" levels (ever heard the phrase "corners like its on rails"?), of being able to nail the gas coming out of the apex of a turn without getting loose or being eternally on ASR. For non-sticky reference, drive some Conti's. For "Sticky" reference, drive some Michelin MXX3's.

The suspension on the 500E will be firmer than most cars and firmer than most benz. A: because of its sporting nature and ability, B: because it weighs nearly 3800 lbs and to get that much weight to handle as well as it does requires some stiffness. Ride is difficult to quantify, but it shouldn’t be to the point of discomfort. The steering will be "heavier" as well but that is due to the smaller diameter steering wheel and the nature of the suspension/car. Unless something has gone awry in the leveling rear suspension(I REALLY doubt it) I would have to say the tires are the culprit of your woes. It always amazes me how so much of a vehicle's qualities can be lost, wasted, or entirely missed with the wrong tires.

I'm not sure what your priorities are, but for sporty but still silky the Michelin MXM is hard to beat. I have heard that Michelin developed the MXM for the 500E in the first place. I'm not sure of that but I do know it handles well in either OEM 225/55/16 size or (my fav) 235/50/16. You might have a bit of trouble finding the 235's, but they do a great job on the car. If you want a good ride/handling compromise the Dunlop 9000 and Bridgestone S-02 are supposed to be quite good. Both are available in OEM 225/55/16. My personal taste run more towards a dedicated performance tire like the MXX3 in 245/50/16. (Plus-0 fittment) Mercedes (rightfully) considers the tires part of the suspension, so picking the right tire for your needs is just as important as using the right shocks. I'd consider losing the current Pirellis and finding something that suits your needs. TireRack is a good source for tire info. The April 99 issue of Automobile magazine did a test of "sticky" tires. Research around and if you need anything further, you know how to reach me.

Happy Motoring (in a car like the 500E that is rather redundant)...Lee
Old 05-07-1999, 09:21 PM
Mark Herzig
Posts: n/a
As always, thank you for your thoughtful comments. This week, I had the front brake pads replaced, oil changed, and wheels rotated and balanced. I was feeling a slight vibration in the steering column. My mechanic confirmed my analysis that the car needed an allignment; it pulled slightly to the right. I took care of that yesterday. I STILL get a slight vibration in the steering column on the freeway that I'm unable to distinguish between 1) post-decisional regret; 2) road inadequecies 3) nature of the drive 4) a real problem. Sounds like, from you comments, it's PROBABLY the tires. Again, I used to having my thumb and index finger on the steering wheel on the 300E and now I'm back to driving school; hands at 10 and 2! Don't get me wrong; it's NOT even close to the point of discomfort... it's quite FUN and I got my first ticket (warning ) today! (see posting on radar detectors!!). I appreciate you comments and since I'm driving(no pun) everyone in my life(aka 'wife') crazy, I'm committed to getting to a comfort level with this purchase.
Old 05-08-1999, 01:35 AM
Lee Scheeler
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I'm not even going to try and get into front end guesses. Before you and your tech go "throwing parts" at it might I suggest the tires. Also, were the wheels ever crunched in the past. (curb damage, etc) Just a small bend, nick, or anything to get it out of "true" can rear its ugly head at 80mph. If you know a good wheel repair shop locally great, if not you can try Rennsport. (link at bottom of page) I have driven some tires (conti's) that just didn't want to balance completely. They seem fine at most speeds but certain speeds seem to bring out the shimmy in them. Also those tape on wheel weights seem to be tougher to get a perfect balance but I'm assuming your using OEM wheels with the standard type weight.

When you say it pulls, does it pull while coasting? Does the amount of pull change when you hit the brakes? (with hands off the wheel) Since you just changed pads take it easy on the brakes for a short while if at all possible. Also keep an eye on the rotors. If there is some minor warpage in them it will manifest as a ring of corrosion where the pad is not making complete contact. Start with something you know can be improved upon, the tires. We can take it from there.

Old 05-08-1999, 08:39 AM
Mark Herzig
Posts: n/a

First the car does not veer when hitting the brakes. It tracks straight at very slow speeds. While coasting, there's a very lazy drift right that's not nearly as pronounced as it was before the allignment.
You hit the nail on the head. The right-front rim had curb damage. The lip shows scrape damage covering about 50% of the circumference and there is one bend about the width of a dime. When I took the car into the mechanic, the damaged rim was at drivers-rear. THe tires are uni-directional so we suspected that the front-right and rear-left had been inter-changed (judging by the rotational arrow on the tire). When I took the car to be alligned, the analysis revelled 1)Left Front Camber,Caster and Tow where out of specification, 2) Right Front Camber, 3)Rear was OK.

When Finished, the Front Cross Cambeer, Cross Caster and Total Toe were OK as well as the Rear Total Toe and Thrust Angle. However, the Right Rear Toe was out of specification at .31 where the range is .17 to .29. Mechanic said he couldn't quite get it but would not be concerned. He comes HIGHLY recommended and is an expert alligning MB's.

I guess I should get the rim repaired, but these cars must be ultra sensitive! My 300E has a scraped rim with equal damage and it's never been a source of problems (I also use MXV4's - maybe non-related)
Old 05-08-1999, 12:16 PM
Lee Scheeler
Posts: n/a
Hi Mark,
I've often had the debate with owners or merchants regarding exactly how sensitive these cars, and especailly their owners, can be. I think it stems from how solid, well built, and precise the cars are to begin with. If there is one burr in a satin sheet, you will feel it. If there is a burr on a burlap sack you probably wont notice. Drive most any mundane car to triple digits. Assuming they can even make that speed they are darty, unstable, and shake like the proverbial "bowl full of jelly". Virtually any benz (sorry 240D fans) can cruise at triple digits for hours in a completely dramaless fashion.

I will defer to the wisdom of suspension guru MB DOC for any analasis of the suspension. For a quick check if that rim is the culprit, or at least how much of a culprit, try putting the spare tire on the suspect corner. The small difference in tire type should be inconsequential compared to a rim that is out of true. You said the one rim had scrape over 50% of it. Logically that would mean that the weight balance of it is off at the very least. If the wheel is off balanace and you have a "egg shaped" tire it could be quite difficult to get a perfect balance on that corner. Put the spare on and see what happens. (assuming it has no obvious curb damage)

Best of luck, and keep us posted on how it turns out....Lee
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