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Old 11-21-2002, 01:14 PM
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Loose steering

So iv been noticing in the past month that my steering has been getting much looser. Theres much more play in the steering wheel that usual. A few weeks ago I was having some rubbing sounds coming from my front right end, after it progressed I was told it was probally a ball joint. Well I did the test, jacked up the car and wiggled the wheel, Nothing, didn't move, so im stumped.
To add tho, how i can tell it's getting worse is that it dosn't like driving on the highway anymore, my wheel will constanly shake going about 60 and up. It's not a harsh shake, just moving about 1/2 a centiment back and forth when im driving, either braking or accelerating. I had the steering dampener replaced in August when I have my front brakes serviced due to 2 front warped rotors, that were also vibrating. So if anyone has any suggestions, please post them, highways are the only way to get places now a days
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Old 11-21-2002, 01:35 PM
drbrandini's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Wrightsville Beach NC
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It could be one of several things..You may try having your tires re-balanced. Check Tie rods and center link as well...Mine was doing the same, I replaced The ball joints, center link, tie rods, and sway bar bushings. She handles like a brand new Benz now. Not even a shake at 80 mph. Good luck

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Old 11-21-2002, 02:00 PM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
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One gotcha about checking for play in the balljoints is that the weight of the car must be on the control arm when you do the check. Otherwise, the upward force of the spring will eliminate any play. This is different from the typical MacPherson strut setup.
If your car tends to get very unstable at speed, particulary on a rutted highway, your balljoints are the primary suspect. Groaning noises during low-speed turns, or going over low-speed bumps are another clue.

When I got my state inspection recently, they checked for play the typical way. My balljoints are pretty new anyways, but I didn't say anything...

While you have just one wheel in the air, check for play in the steering linkage (grasp wheel at 3 and 6 o'clock, and see what gives).

The idler arm bushings (on the right side) tend to be problematic.

After that, there are so many balljoints in this steering linkage that can fail... I have observed that the outer tie-rod joints seem to fail first.

Best of luck.
1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.
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Old 11-21-2002, 02:15 PM
Posts: n/a
Yes, make sure you are suspending the car on the jack properly if you want to get an accurate assessment of ball joint wear.

I expect your problem to be a combination of poor wheel balance and loose steering linkage. Make sure you check the idler arm bushings while checking all the steering linkage. Additionally, ensure that there is no slack in the steering box, if so it can possibly be adjusted out.

Typically loose steering linkage will not CAUSE a vibration, but will amplify any vibration that is present. For this reason, you need to first ensure that your wheels have a good DYNAMIC balance. This means balance weights on two planes. It is all too common for MB wheels to get a static balance with weights only on the inboard lip. This is because the kids in the tire stores have been yelled at for scratching the outside of the alloy wheels. If you are sensitive about scratching the wheels, you should try to find someone who will use tape weights just behind the spoke area of the wheels. By putting weights there AND the inboard lip, you can get a good two plane, dynamic balance and vibration will be nil. Inboard weighted static balance prevents the wheel from hopping up and down, but without proper dynamic (two plane) balance the wheel will wobble. On the nimble suspended MB's this wobble will transfer a tremendous amount of vibration through the suspension. If the steering linkage is loose, the vibration will be a shimmy, shaking the steering wheel like crazy.

Good luck,
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Old 11-21-2002, 10:24 PM
Piotr's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Middletown, DE
Posts: 739
hmmm, my steering wheel was doing the same thing until I replaced tires. I had a similar problem waaaay before on another car. turned out it was low tire pressure.
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Old 11-22-2002, 08:11 AM
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It is rare when a vibration at highway speed is not tire related.

On the ASE suspension and steering test, there are several questions that ensure that the technician knows this. If it's so common that it is on that test, it is COMMON!

The sad thing is, they ensure that techs know that this vibration source is common, but they have no questions surrounding correct balancing procedures. There should DEFINITELY be something on the test to see that they know how important dynamic balance is to this equation.

Good luck,
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