Front control arms: some questions - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 05:59 AM Thread Starter
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The Febi control arms I had installed - probably unnecessarily - less than four years ago are shot. The issue came up during a long drive earlier this week: lots of creaking noise, harder steering, and some serious handling issues. The main culprit turned out to be the right-side ball joint, but the left-side one wasn't in much better shape, either.

My mechanic absolutely would not let me buy another set of replacement Febis from the local market, insisting instead that I should go online and either just spring for a (hugely expensive) pair of OE control arms, or find me a set of aftermarket ones that are better built than the Febis.

As a temporary solution, he simply "pressed in" the sheet metal backing plates of the ball joints to take up some of the slack caused by the wear, and changed out the rubber bushings with a new set of Febi units (which was a complete waste of money, if you ask me.) The car still drives just as poorly, especially in a straight line.

I know that there isn't a whole lot of fanfare around the forum as to the quality of aftermarket control arms around. In an admittedly cursory search, I found that Corteco's control arms seemed to be the priciest, followed by Monroe and Vaico. Other brands, including ABS, DYS, FAI, Febi (natch!), JP, Moog, Swag, Triscan, and TRW, were much cheaper than the top three most expensive ones (not including OE.)

So...
1. Barring OE, does the pricing of the various aftermarket control arms necessarily reflect their quality? In other words, seeing as it's more than twice as pricy as Febi's, would the ball joint of a Corteco-built control arm be bound to last longer than, say, Febi's ball joint?

2. My particular car's control arms are 124 330 34 07 (left) and 124 330 35 07 (right.) The EPC also lists 36 and 37 - are these Sportline control arms?

3. Given how much more expensive they are, is there anything to be gained by ordering and installing the Sportline (36/37?) control arms instead of the "regular" (34/35) ones? I've got a pair of Sportline front springs lying around, and I've already got Sportline sway bars on the car, so there's that.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 06:16 AM
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Have you been through this thread? Also, I see OEM CA’s from Pelican in the $230 range.

https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w12...roject-36.html
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 06:54 AM
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Without counting Mercedes Genuine, you listed 12 different brands of LCA. Its a pretty safe bet there isn't a minimum of 13 individual factories out there each with their own source of raw materials, stamping patterns, welding jigs, etc all in the interest of supplying their own attempt at a competitively priced LCA.

If I were to guess (based on my experience with aftermarket parts in a completely different industry) how many different LCAs there actually are, I would say three at most.

If you seriously intend to keep the car indefinitely, then, based on your own experience with aftermarket parts, it doesn't make good financial sense to buy aftermarket parts other than a product that is "back door" from the supplier Mercedes uses. An example would be buying an Eberspacher exhaust rather than a Genuine Mercedes over the counter. I don't know who makes the LCAs for MB but maybe someone with better knowledge can help here (Sbaert where are you?).

If you see this car as a "five year car", then just replace the items with the least expensive ones you can find.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tuttebenne View Post
If you see this car as a "five year car", then just replace the items with the least expensive ones you can find.
Now that you've mentioned that, I'm about to sign on to a job that would see me splitting my five-day workweek between two cities, with paid plane tickets. My mechanic and everyoneelse - and common sense, for that matter - are saying that I should either keep the car in the original city (Jeddah) and rent some Hyundai or whatever in Riyadh, or just sell it, put the cash elsewhere and cut the cost of ownership altogether, and rent cars as and when needed.

With this development at hand, suddenly, as much as I love the thing, it's starting to make much less sense to keep the car around. That's why I'm having difficulty making a decision on whether I should spend money that I don't yet have on expensive MB OE control arms or go for the cheap and nasty.

Shady
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-01-2019, 01:33 PM
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Dude, for all you know the next owner might "pole" the car in 6 months and never get to the nasty part of the cheap. I say fix it on the cheap. Sell it. Move on. Good luck with the new assignment.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-02-2019, 06:29 AM
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From my experience there are three grades of facelift control arms. There's the MB, then one sold under several names including febi, these were mostly made in Spain ones. Then there was the cheapest ones, again sold under several names, origin unknown to me. I never bought one. I ordered and installed Beck Arnley about 5-6 years agohttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SYX116M?tag=champi07-20 and when they arrived we're Spanish febis in B/A bag.
I chose the B/A's because in the picture they looked identical to MB. But they were slightly different than the pic. Matching with the mid tier gloss paint, black boots criteria.
From what I could gather pre-purchase from internet pics was that MB used flat black paint, and the boots had red and blue ( or green?)spring retainer rings on the black bj boot. Top tier also has a clear plastic collar on the bj shaft.
The second tier ones used gloss black paint and the same blue and red rings on black boots. The lowest had either clear or black boots, without the colored rings. These observations seemed to hold true across price points. Some guys would mark the cheaper ones up to mid tier price, but pics said it was the cheap ones. I think mine we're $125 us each from Rock auto. There have been reports of the low end ones having rubber bushings that we're too narrow for the cavity they fit, allowing for slop.
You have sunk a lot of time and cash into keeping the w124 alive, keeping it in the home city or selling are only two logical options I'd say. Also, road conditions will dictate what you do. Does one city have better or worse roads? That will surely shorten the life of suspension.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-03-2019, 06:46 AM
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I remember reading on here at some point that TRW is the OEM for MB. Prices on control arms have gone all over the place in the last five years. I have a set of Febi units in my shed that I paid $200 each for. When I bought them, MB units were close to $400 each.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-03-2019, 01:05 PM
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Yes, trw is/ was supplier for MB, but they have two grades. Most obvious identifier is the black vs clear bj boots. Black is better.


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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-05-2019, 11:31 AM
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-05-2019, 02:27 PM
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Careful, Roberts link is for pre facelift cars. I don't remember what car op has. They are not interchangeable.
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