Upper Control Arm replacement steps? - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-12-2011, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Upper Control Arm replacement steps?

My new to me 2005 S500 4Matic has a front right suspension rattle that I have diagnosed as a bad upper ball joint. The boot is torn, and I can induce play with a pry bar, so it needs to be replaced.

The car has only 56,000 on it, and the remainder of the front suspension seems fine, so I just want to do this one part.

I have not had a chance to purchase a shop manual yet and with 3 other MB’s in the garage, normally I can make do with my knowledge base and other manuals, but this suspension is entirely new to me. I have searched the forum, but most of the posts relate to the lower arm and ball joint.

The work looks very strait forward and accessible but some pointers would be helpful. I believe the inner bolts are removed from the engine side and the upper bolt simply removed and the ball joint separated. Then be careful to make sure that the ride height sensor is put back correctly

Do I need to release the air on this side before starting? Any other points to remember?

The car will be on a hoist for this work.

If there is any interest I can post some pictures on this procedure.

Thanks,

John


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post #2 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-13-2011, 09:31 PM
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It's actually pretty easy.

Put it on a hoist, and remove the tire for that area. Let the shock hang fully extended. Undo the air connector on top of the shock very slowly...you will hear air hiss out.

Two bolts on the control arm that connect it to the body.

One bolt on the arm that connects it to the hub/spindle.

Use a pickle fork to help split the joint - pickle forks are know for destroying ball joint boots, but since yours is torn anyways, I would not worry about it.

By the way, with stubborn ball joints, I use 2 pickle forks at the same time - one on top of the other.

You can also use a small sledge hammer to smack the tip of the joint.

It can be slow going, but it will go.

Put back together in reverse order. Should take under an hour.
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post #3 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-14-2011, 07:47 AM
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My only suggestion to add is to use the proper joint seperator tool for the upper ball joint...

Mercedes Benz/BMW/VW Ball Joint Separator Removal Tool | eBay

Less risk of a "hammer swing & a miss" damage to other components. Also pickle forks and alloy suspension parts usually result in damage.... older cars that had iron suspension parts can take the abuse of a pickle fork... but you can nick and scare up the alloy arms very easily... especially if you were planning on reusing them.

Just a suggestion.
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post #4 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-15-2011, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks for the help. I've got pickle forks, but I have some other pending suspension work on the W124 and my Suburban, so I am going to pick up a set of separators for suspension work. One of the kits with 4 or 5 separators like the ones by OTC.

I will take some shots of the work when I get to it next month.

Thanks again.

John


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post #5 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-15-2011, 11:07 PM
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I had a torn boot also and just replaced the boot from one I cannibalize at a local salvage yard. Luckily I did not have any play in the joint and it gave me a chance to pump some new grease in the joint which I also did to the other side.

I would recommend this style ball joint separator. My joint came loose very easy but a northern car may need a few hours or a day prior treatment of penetrating oil. I agree that a pickle fork is way to barbaric and can easily cause collateral damage.

The upper control arm needs to be torqued on the frame under load, ie vehicle curb height. This will be difficult to properly achieve. Because of this I would avoid releasing air from the struts if it at all possible. Once you install the control arm loosely at the frame and the ball joint is torqued to the spindle, place a jack under the suspension and raise it until the car is slightly lifted off the jack stand. The suspension will be under load, not really full curb height load but close enough. Then torque the arm at the frame and repeat on the other side. I have used this method many times with great success on my BMWs and my w220's lower control arm replacements.

Ying / Yang

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Last edited by Bexar80; 07-15-2011 at 11:24 PM.
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post #6 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-21-2011, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the tips. This job is on the agenda for next month.

I am still wondering though why releasing the air is such an issue. I would rather deal with the suspension with the pressure out of the struts and I do not understanding the suggestion to not release the air.

I would assume that after the new arm is in place “finger tight”, you would retighten the air connection, start the car and slowly lower the car on the hoist until it is fully resting on the suspension then torque the bolts.

Is there an issue here I am missing?

Thanks,
John

PS: I really like the 220 interior.
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post #7 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-21-2011, 10:52 PM
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I just feel that unless the airmatic system needs service there is no reason to open the lines. I worry of contaminates getting into the system, even the smallest piece of dirt. I would be livid if I had a complication arise in the air system from an unnecessary disconnect.

Also I think deflating the strut is an unnecessary step in the upper arm service anyway. Unless the whole strut needs to be removed for access to the upper control arm bolts.

Which ever method works, just remember you won't be able to access the bolts with the wheels mounted. Best of luck however you get it done.

Yep that is a good picture.

Ying / Yang

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Last edited by Bexar80; 07-21-2011 at 10:59 PM.
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post #8 of 55 (permalink) Old 07-22-2011, 06:41 AM
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John, when you are ready to tackle this job I would be interested to observe/help if possible. I'll bring the beer.

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post #9 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Well, after much delay I finally got around to this job (sorry mrelbe for the lack of notice).

It is a very straightforward job, rating maybe a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

I used the following procedure:

1. Raise the car and remove the wheel.
2. Remove the small nut for the airmatic ride height sensor and remove it from the arm.
3. Remove the two main nuts holding the arm to the body, and the nut on the ball joint.
4. Using a separator release the ball joint from the top of the spindle. The first picture shows the type of separator I used. It came apart very easily. You can ignore the clamp which you see in the picture. I was unsure of the various forces that may have been present after the ball joint separation since I did not deflate the strut, but there were none.
5. Remove the bolts and the arm. The arrows in the second picture show the rear bolt being removed, and the height sensor disconnected.
6. Put the new arm in place and just lightly snug the main bolts, then tighten the ball joint nut and replace the height sensor.
7. Finally I jacked up the strut from directly below to simulate normal ride conditions and then fully tightened the main bolts with the wheel still off.

All done with a nice tight ride, and I don't believe any alignment points were affected, so I have not scheduled an alignment which was done only 6 months ago.

Thanks for the help.

By the way the oily looking strut is the winter rust treatment I just had done.

John
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Last edited by jwells; 11-30-2011 at 07:43 PM.
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post #10 of 55 (permalink) Old 11-30-2011, 10:41 PM
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Nice! How much play did you have in your joints? I will try to crawl under my car and see what all is new and what looks old.. Was it bad enough to have play in the tire?
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