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  #1  
Old 07-13-2002, 07:15 AM
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Location: Miami, FL
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Angry What's Left? C280's going off a cliff

OK - I've had new everything put on this '97 C280 - ball joints/control arm bushings/drag link/tierod ends/tires/high speed balancing and several MB alignments. My car continues to go out of alignment (to the right, 4 times now) and shake like hell. Rotating the tires does nothing, still there. She drives like a dream out of the shop then 100 miles later pulls to the right and starts shaking again. Had new tie rod ends, rotors and new brakes put on. No Help. The only thing left is the steering damper. Mechanics say the wheel bearings are fine. What's left?? I'm lost and giving up. Someone mentioned a loose belt (?) or maybe something going on in the steering box. I dunno, but I'm pissed. Why would this car go out of alignment SO quick? I drive like grandma in this car, haven't hit any potholes, curbs or whatever. Alignment aside, the shaking is the worst. Help - anyone! Thanks

Mark E.
Ft. Lauderdale
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Miami, FL
2 X 1997 C280
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  #2  
Old 07-13-2002, 09:43 AM
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While I know nothing of your car's model characteristics, in general the things you describe sound more like an issue with a sticking brake caliper. They can stick (probably on the right side in your case) causing the car to pull to one side. Then the heat buildup causes the disc rotors to warp - that then causes that side to not only pull from the constant friction but then shake.

Get the rotor checked on that side, and if it is warped, replace it and either repair or replace the caliper. I think they can check the rotor warp on the car with a dial gauge.

Note: I am only a amateur mechanic, and my disclaimer is that I know nothing.



Ken300D
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  #3  
Old 07-13-2002, 10:46 AM
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Let me state that 90% or more of most severe drivability complaints (of this type) originate in the tires.

You have a top of the line car, do you have top of the line tires?

For those who don't know how to tell which are top of the line, use my method, which I use when I don't know about the subject: buy the most expensive. Which in the case of tires is Michelin. And just like the rest of the decision buy the best Michelin. You know how to tell.

And absolutely never listen to the tire salesman as he tries to sell you a cheaper tire that he makes twice as much on. Go to tirerack's site and find your base values and which models are available for your size. Then go locally and get your best price if need be. Get the best deal but buy the best product.
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Continental Imports
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  #4  
Old 07-13-2002, 12:20 PM
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Wow! I really like both answers above -- both are worth checking out.

RE: the tires, if when you have rotated them, you switched backs and fronts, and you have a bad tire on the right side, you would still get the problem. You might want to put your spare in place of one of the right side tires, and if that fixes the problem you know Steve was right.

The thing I can't figure is why, if it is tires, it would get better for a while after servicing the car and 100 miles later go lame ...

My 2 cents re: tires -- when mine need replacing, I am going to go with Nokian NRVs. These received a great review in The STAR last year. There are a number of dealers around who can ship them to a local mechanic for mounting.
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'93 400E
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  #5  
Old 07-13-2002, 02:02 PM
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Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut
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767Flyer,

Do a search for tire vibration or balance. There is a lengthy thread on the subject that describes a machine used at better tire sales and service facilities. I think it is a Hunter 3000GP or something. Anyway, it is apparently able to distinguish tire and wheel problems from suspension and steering system issues. Finding a place where this machine is used near you is something the manufacturer can ususally provide some assistance.

The main reason I use Michelin tires exclusively is quality and service. The added cost ends up being worth it, and I usually buy them from Tire Rack and have them installed locally. The manufacturing methods for tires sold in the European market where speed ratings are taken seriously (TUV biannual inspections in Germany look to match speed rating to car capability. A car that will go 130 mph cannot leave the inspection site under its own power with tires that are not rated accordingly) are more exacting than those used for tires only sold in markets where speed ratings are disregarded by government regulating agencies.

So, get an "H" or higher rated tire ("V" or "Z" if your car is capable of speeds over 130 mph) and choose one that will meet your other needs. I live in a place with 4 seasons, so I get the Pilot XGT series for 4 seasons and I do well in all but blizzard conditions. Some cars that means a "H4" model and others it is a "V4" choice.

One of the telltale visual features of a tire made using the more precise manufacturing techniques is evidence of a multiple segment mold. You will see slight flashing fins in the radial direction on the sidewall and across the tread on the new tire. The more, generally, the more precise the concentricity of the construction, and therefore the longer the tire will stay balanced and round.

Good luck and I hope this helps. Jim
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Own:
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

Owned:
1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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  #6  
Old 07-13-2002, 03:41 PM
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Location: Miami, FL
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Thanks for the responses guys. Yes, I have used the Hunter GSP (?) 7000 machine, and I can tell when it it works. I guess after dealing with this issue for a year or more now, I've been in "tune" with every little vibration that starts or stops - after all this is a Mercedes! The tire store down here, using the latest Hunter gadget, tells me that the tires and wheels are ok. I have Continental Ecotouring, about 5000k on them. Would a bad tire cause the car to go out of alignment? I have had all 4 tires in all four spots on the car, several times. No help.

Also I forgot to mention in my original post - at about 38,000 miles I had new rotors and brakes put on. The car had to have another new set of ROTORS and brakes put on at 48000 miles. The pads yes, I could kind of understand, but new rotors after 10000k miles? Like I said, I drive like a weenie. Since the pull and vibration always coincides with each other, could the realignments conceal the problem for awhile? I've been to 2 different independent shops (very good) and then finally the dealership. The same results after 2 visits apiece with these folks.

I was considering getting Michelins soon, but wanted to explore all alternatives as well. Like I said, all 4 tires (and the spare) have been rotated into each spot many times trying to diagnose this problem. THanks everyone! I will pursue the stuck caliper next!

Mark E.
Ft. Lauderdale
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2 X 1997 C280
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  #7  
Old 07-13-2002, 04:05 PM
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Location: Knoxville, TN
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New rotors after 10k miles? Were they warped?

I got 90k miles out of my original rotors and only changed them because they were starting to wear a little thin. They still performed flawlessly.

When my C280 was my dad's car, it always had problems with steering vibration that was sometimes excessive. The local tire shop rebalanced the tires, and said they were good, etc, etc. It had Pirelli tires on it. I always knew what the problem was, though, the shop was lying. When I got the car, the first thing I did was put Michelin tires on it. Now it is 100% vibration-free. I think the old tires must have been defective, because they were seriously out of round. This was just my experience. Make sure the tires don't have flat spots on them before you try other parts.
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  #8  
Old 07-13-2002, 04:52 PM
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Looks like a set of Michelins is in order. What do you guys reccommend - H rated or VR?

Mark
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2 X 1997 C280
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  #9  
Old 07-13-2002, 04:53 PM
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767Flyer,

Ali Al-Chalabi brings up a good point. Some tires have relatively soft tread compounds, mainly those that are skewed to provide better traction, at the expense of wear life. These tires also tend to be used by owners who think they are willing to give up ride characteristics for handling. A by-product of this is that they are often on the low end of inflation pressure to improve ride charactersistics in normal driving. Additonally these kinds of tires are susceptible to taking a set overnight in their at rest shape. Look at the tire at rest and it has a flat bottom. Initially these tires present a flat surface to the ground on every revolution, until they warm up and centrifugal force helps them go back to being round. The will vibrate as a result. The longer they sit the worse this can be.

But that does not address your pulling to one side issue. Is the pulling always to the same side?

Next time you take a drive for a dozen or more miles, when you get out check the temperature of the wheels on all four corners. Be careful as if you have a grabbing brake, that wheel might be very hot. A visual indication is if one wheel is getting dull and more rapidly aging the paint on the alloy wheel. If this is the case, you will need a new caliper or two, or you can have them "rebuilt" which means have the seals changed. When the piston to cylinder bore square shaped "O" ring gets worn there is no longer any mechanism to pull the pad away from the rotor after you release the brake pedal. As a result the pad stays in contact and heat the whole area up while you drive. The result is rapid wear of the pads and rotor on the aflicted wheel or wheels.

I am not sure the pulling and vibration are directly linked. I would suspect the tires/balancing for the vibration and the brakes for the pulling, assuming you have no bent front end or rear suspension parts. Good luck and I hope this helps. Jim
__________________
Own:
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

Owned:
1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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  #10  
Old 07-13-2002, 05:36 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 70
Jim and Ali - thanks - I appreciate the time taken to answer my questions. After searching the site about tires and stuff I see that Michelins (and counterparts) make a huge difference on this car. After reading your posts I suspect a brake problem is going on. The car spent 2 weeks at the dealership (waiting for the suspension expert to work on it) and aside from the ball joints and drag link they said everything else was in great shape. But the warped rotor(s) raised a red flag with me. With an unbalanced wheel you feel it within a certain speed range, correct? I noticed driving last night that the vibration occurs from about 45-80 mph and the pulling at any speed above about 20 mph. I will check out the wheel temps. ON the tire side, I've noticed that the vibration is a little worse during the daytime... it's been about 90 here in FL... and driving home from work at 4am the shaking isn't as bad, but still there. So - what would be your first inclination - go with the new tires or check out the brake calipers. SOmething tells me both.

Thanks gents!

Mark E.
Ft. Lauderdale
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  #11  
Old 07-13-2002, 06:10 PM
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One other thing -- sounds like you're getting your tires balanced at a tire shop, not an MB dealer or MB independent mechanic? If so, they are probably using one-piece wheel weights. These have a habit of flying off the wheels. This has happened to me a number of times until I figured out I need to use official MB two-piece wheel weights. Dealers and some independents have 'em.

Might be worthwhile to look at your wheels and see if they all have visible weights -- if they're missing, it could explain why they do well for a while...
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  #12  
Old 07-13-2002, 07:23 PM
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Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,508
I would purchase Michelin MXV4 Plus tires. I don't think it matters whether they're H or V rated.

All MB dealers and many tire shops use the hunter gsp9700 balance machine.

It is just as effective in balancing tires as well as other machines, but is particularly useful when you have a tire that has wheel force variation issues and becomes problematic for a normal wheel balancing machine to handle.

Wheel force variation describes the situation of the sidewall of a tire that has too much variation between the soft spots and hard spots. All tires have hard spots and soft spots, but if the variation is too great, then a wobble develops at speed.

Go to the website to see a great video demonstration of this.

http://www.gsp9700.com/
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
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  #13  
Old 07-13-2002, 10:05 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Miami, FL
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Thanks for the response! Yep - the independent shop I have used has the 9700 machine. I can tell it's help with balancing. But still the shaking and pulling out of alignment after 100 miles or so is perplexing - I'll see what's up and let you guys know.

Thanks again!

Mark E.
Ft. Lauderdale
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  #14  
Old 07-14-2002, 12:48 AM
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A rotor with a stuck caliper against it can warp within 100 miles easily.

Having to replace rotors after 10,000 miles also points to a stuck caliper. The shop hasn't caught it yet, they are just putting them back on after replacing what "looks" bad - the pads and rotors.

Ken300D
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  #15  
Old 07-14-2002, 01:40 AM
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Thanks Ken - are there any outward signs of a stuck caliper, other than the pads and rotors? Or do the symptoms show up in such? I noticed today that both front wheels are very hot, more so the right - and my gas mileage has dropped a bunch.

Thanks

Mark E.
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