Front Drive Shaft Universal Joint Bad? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Old 05-18-2009, 10:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
BenzWorld Junior Member
 
Date registered: Apr 2008
Vehicle: 1999 ML320
Location: McLean, Virginia
Posts: 28
Front Drive Shaft Universal Joint Bad?

I took my wife's '99 ML320 (105K) out yesterday and immediately noticed front end vibration and a rumbling noise. The sound pitch rises with vehicle speed (not engine speed) and is louder under load (almost no noise when coasting). Light vibration was coming throught the steering wheel.

I was thinking CV joints, but driving in low speed circles R/L and forward/reverse I didn't notice any changes in sound or vibration.

Then on this forum last night I read about the carrier bearing. I crawled underneath and tried to move the rear driveshaft to check for play--it's solid.

Then pulled the front wheels off, checked CV boots and front axles--boots where intact and no play in joints.

Crawled underneath again I checked the front dirve shaft U-joint at the transfer case. There was no significant fore/aft play but the shaft it was moving up a down! I think I found my villian.

Checking the forum I didn't see any posts referring to this problem--anyone else out there have problems with their front drive shaft U-joint?

Assuming I'm correct I need to look at options. The joint is part of the front drive shaft so I suspect a replacement will be expensive. There are clips on the U-joint so I may be able to disassemble and reassemble with new components, but I like the idea of taking the shaft it to a drive line shop and letting them rebuild.

Your sage advice is appreciated.

Kontoboy

The Fleet:
1 Mercedes
3 Acuras
1 Ford
1 Nissan
2 BMWs
1 Suzuki
1 Kawasaki
+2 Yamahas
-----------
12 Vehicles which means no time to play.

Last edited by kontoboy; 05-19-2009 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Date registered: Aug 2006
Vehicle: 02 ML320
Location: Bronx, New York
Posts: 10,552
Plese update your profile in USER CP to include the year and model of your truck, also your geo. location.

You are already on the right track taking it to a driveline shop, but you may run into a problem. Look at the pdf below and you will see that M/B only offers a replacement u-joint for the main drive shaft. If the same u-joint was used in the front drive shaft it would have been numbered, but it is not.

What might be necessary is the shop might have to remove the joint just to take measurements and then maybe they can find a match. But if not you might have to get a used or new shaft.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Drive Shaft Blow-Up.pdf (361.6 KB, 806 views)
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Old 05-19-2009, 07:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Date registered: Apr 2008
Vehicle: 1999 ML320
Location: McLean, Virginia
Posts: 28
Thanks 43sqd.

You're right about replacing the U-Joint. I called one local driveline shop (drivelinespecialist.com) today and they told me they could not rebuild/remanufacture the unit.

They could sell me a new one for $750! I think I can do better.

So far I haven't found any other local driveline shops (I need to look more). I have an email inquiry in to a driveline shop in SanAntonio which says they do remanufacture MB shafts and use sealed U-joints (Home Page).

I'll update as new info comes in.

Kontoboy

P.S. Profile updated....

Last edited by kontoboy; 05-19-2009 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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$750 is a good price for a new one.
I paid $1200 about 3 years ago. My CV joint had a good boot, but only small crack on the cage. It was so hard to find the fault, that in my friend shop we started to check the differential, before finally we took the CV joint apart.
That said after spending this money I bought 2 used axles and now with 4-Matic sold have them available for sale is "For sale" section. They are from wagon, but my believe is that ML has the same joints.
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Date registered: Apr 2008
Vehicle: 1999 ML320
Location: McLean, Virginia
Posts: 28
I ordered a new front driveshaft from Thrash Drive Shafts (thrashdriveshaft.com). Brent told me the same thing as my local driveline shop told me about the OEM's not being rebuildable.

Their new front driveshaft was $475.50 shipped. I saw some that were cheaper but talking to these guys you could tell they know about driveshafts, plus the replacement will be rebuildable with off-the-shelf U-Joint components.

I just hope it gets here before the weekend so I can get the Benz out of the garage and another car in for a timing belt/water pump/idler pulley replacement. I can't waste a three day holiday weekend sitting around.

Kontoboy
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Old 06-05-2009, 01:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Date registered: Apr 2008
Vehicle: 1999 ML320
Location: McLean, Virginia
Posts: 28
Update--front driveshaft arrived 5/26 and I put it in the 29th. Been driving a week now and the noise is gone. I'm confident the problem is fixed.

Installation was pretty straight forward. Used jackstands to support transfer case and removed transfer case support (16mm socket needed--best if you have a deep socket). With the wheels blocked and the car in park I first removed the hex head bolts by the front differential. I could reach all of them without having to rotate the front wheels/shaft.

With the front bolts out and car in park I then took out the two accessible rear shaft bolts (16mm again, 3/8 drive socket and breaker bar to loosen, 16mm box end to remove). As the bolts back out the socket doesn't clear the U-Joint, so the 16mm box end was needed). With two bolts out, I put it in neutral, rotated the shaft 180 degrees so I could reach the other 2 bolts, put back into park, repeat.

You need to remove the front hex head bolts first to rotate the shaft unless you have the front wheels elevated. I had mine up on ramps (with rear wheel solidly blocked).

Installation was the reverse, using a bit of blue loctite. Only difference was the that on the four rear shaft bolts I couldn't use the 16mm socket at all. The replacement shaft had a larger U-Joint and the socket wouldn't clear. I pulled em pretty tight with the box end but could't get the torque wrench on them.

About 2 hours total, including a 45 minute trip to buy a set of box ends that included the 16mm (I have at least two sets of combination wrenches and neither came with a 16mm box). If you can get them I'd recommend the 6 point box--those bolts want to round over.

ML now rides fine and quiet and wife is happy to have her car back. Oil change is coming up. After that I may look into changing the CPS I'm reading so much about.

Kontoboy

P.S. While her car was out of commision she was dirving my Acura Integra commuter and was rear-ended by an idiot girl on a cell phone driving her mommy's 2007 Volvo. Our car was totaled by the insurance company! So she has her Mercedes back and I'm driving the beater van.

The Fleet:
1 Mercedes
2 Acuras (1 now RIP)
1 Ford
1 Nissan
2 BMWs
1 Suzuki
1 Kawasaki
+2 Yamahas

Last edited by kontoboy; 07-22-2009 at 06:30 PM. Reason: speeling corrections!
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Old 04-07-2010, 03:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Date registered: Nov 2009
Vehicle: 99 w202 c230 kompressor / 98 w163 ml320
Posts: 5
well i ran in to this problem last week . come to find out that its a spicer shaft . spicer dealer cant even supply parts to fix . they wanted to sell me a whole shaft . did some digging around . u joints are the same as a grand cherokee and so is the ball spring for double cardan u joint set-up . part # for ball spring 617 from precision u joints a sub company from federal mogul . so i paid 60 cdn for the ball spring kit . when the dealer wanted 976.00 cdn for the shaft and uap wanted 600.00 for there reman shaft . so if ur yokes are ok just rebiuld yourself . as far as i am concerned if u got any amount of mileage on your ml . this ball spring should be maintance item . im going to do mine every couple of years . so for 60.00 cdn and 1 hour labour myself save over 1000.00 cdn
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Date registered: Sep 2009
Vehicle: 2000 Mercedes ML55 AMG
Location: Canada
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I bought a front driveshaft 2 weeks ago on ebay for 49.99 with 50 dollars shipping. took less than a week to get to me and fixed my vibration/rumbling problem 100%
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Date registered: Jul 2010
Posts: 16
Repair parts on eBay

The shaft is indeed a Spicer. If you check eBay I keep both the u joints, centering ball and replacement cv joints in stock for the 163 generation front drive shaft. It is a pretty easy fix!
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