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Old 09-03-2002, 05:51 PM
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'86 300E bad BAD traction problem!

Help. '86 300E. Very, VERY bad traction problem. Car can get stuck on gravel, and wet feels like snow. Yesterday was my first day in real wet in the car since I bought it. Dry conditions show some bad handling but I thought it was bad suspension bushings -- mostly that rear steering problem I have read about with worn bushing. Right rear does most if not all the spinning. I know I need a pretty thorough suspension rebuild -- the rubber -- but -- what could cause this? Stuck Caliper on left rear? Stuck parking brake? I hope it is not the Diff? Could it be the Diff? Diff does not make any of the telltale noises one would expect if it was deteriorated enough to be causing power delivery problems. I can cruise on the highway pretty much just fine. With careful left foot braking I was able to control the thing. Is this perhpas all issues from the suspension?

1986 300E Anthracite + ECodes + MB Mileage Award
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Old 09-03-2002, 07:35 PM
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What kind of tires do you have? What condition?

'86 300E
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Old 09-03-2002, 07:37 PM
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sounds like tires...

I find it funny when people complain about handling...yet the tires they have are either bald, or the 25$ pepboy specials...
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Old 09-03-2002, 10:50 PM
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Tires are close to $25 dollar things -- Falken Ziex, I think from Les Schwab Tires. They are nothing to write home about, but they have plenty of tread. Pressures are OK. I had slippery Michelin MXV4ís on my '92 300TE and am familiar with lousy tires in a sufficiently powered Benz. I fear I have something worse than just tires, but am very heartened to hear from 2 of 'us' that it might be tires. I suppose the lousy suspension (rear steering and weight transfer), lousy tires, and hesitation followed by a throttle surge could do it. But the problem is definitely Right Side, so I am not too sure.
1986 300E Anthracite + ECodes + MB Mileage Award
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Old 09-04-2002, 12:13 AM
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tires and foot,unless you have limited slip tire will spin if foot is heavy........
William Rogers......
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Old 09-04-2002, 09:21 AM
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Location: Boston, USA
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Tires, for sure.
"If God had meant for us to walk, why did he give us feet that fit car pedals?" Sir Sterling Moss

2014 E63S Estate
2006 SLK55
1995 E500
1986 Porsche 944 turbo
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Old 09-04-2002, 10:04 AM
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Again, I am most heartened to hear confirmation of tires.
1986 300E Anthracite + ECodes + MB Mileage Award
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Old 09-04-2002, 10:34 AM
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Location: Indianapolis
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I was recently re-amazed at what a difference quality tires can make on our heavy benzes. I'd been going with Dunlops on our 300TE, and even with plenty of tread left it was getting scary to drive - very squishy and non-confidence inspiring. With 13 years and 182,xxx miles, I know some suspension components may be at the limit which possibly exacerbates the issue - but -

ditched the trashy Dunlops and went with Michelin Pilot XGT's. Night and day - much crisper handling, especially turn-in and lane changes.


89 MB 300TE
84 BMW 733i
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Old 09-04-2002, 11:19 AM
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Tires combined with your suspension woes in the dry would surely cause a serious problem in the wet.
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Old 09-04-2002, 12:12 PM
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Try Pirelli P3000 - I have done 25K miles on them, all kinds of weather including snow - the best tires I ever had. And they are not even half worn. This is on a 17 yr old 190E 2.3. Excellent traction in all condition, low road noise, crisp handling.
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Old 09-04-2002, 04:24 PM
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IMHO, your symptoms sound worse than tires.
Yes, crappy tires can make you frown, but as bad as all that? Perhaps...
You mentioned the treads are not worn and the pressures are good.
You also mentioned that one wheel spins notably more than the other.
I'm clearly out-voted, but I liked your theory that one of the wheels is binding.
I have seen this happen once when a caliper was seizing, but it could just as well be the e-brake.
A seizing bearing would probably display other noisy symptoms.

Do you have limited slip? [Unsure if that was an option or not]
If not, I would suggest the following test:

1) Chock front tires, jack up rear end, set down [securely] on stands.
2) Release e-brake and put in neutral. Depress the brakes hard just once for good measure.
3) Double-check those jack stands.
4) Spin one wheel with your hands, and check for any binding or dragging. The other wheel should rotate in the opposite direction as you do this- if it does not, suspect and inspect the other wheel.

I have no experience with limited slip, but I expect the opposite wheel might rotate in the same direction when you do this test, though there may be some minimum speed 'threshold' before it starts to move. Either way, it should be easy enough to detect any binding that would be severe enough to cause traction problems.

1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.
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