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Hello,

Would like to request help and communicate two issues I am currently experiencing with a 98’ ML 320 with 170k. I would like to go ahead and perform these two repairs. Initial indications, a clanking & swirling noise observed in the area of the front/driver’s side.
• Apply the Acceleration = very distinctive and directly related.
• Release the gas pedal = culprit sound goes away…can still hear it a very low speeds but must be listening for it and quick enough.

Investigated and tried to eliminate simple & minor possibilities since I was on the road 1,300 miles away from my home. I went ahead and replaced the Tension Roller, as this was a known issue in the past and the belt also needed to be replaced and would also allow me the opportunity to inspect other components. After these replacements, the same indications and sounds occurred.

The front brake were also replaced and also allowed the opportunity to inspect the wheel well and front axel area. Nothing unusually, just another item off my suspect list and proceeded to consider the other options – transmission and drive train components. The next check was the Front & Rear Drive Axel. The front drive axel was confirmed worn by the MB service check and also recommended the pinion seal for the rear drive be replaced due to signs of leakage.

The dealer gave reasonable and expected estimates for the repairs. The Front Drive was worn out and making the noise – at 1.4 hrs and total cost $851.42. The rear Pinion on the Rear Drive Axel would be $180.44 installed.

I have considered doing the work myself and prefer to go this route for personal reasons. Have reviewed and researched how to complete these two jobs. I will include the actual photos and provide some feedback on this experience. Both seem reasonable task that I can complete. However, this will be a first for me and always open for suggestion or help hints before hand. I am about an hour drive away to from the local dealer.

Front Drive Axel – will order the parts on line or get it from the dealer. It appears that I will need to disassemble the six #6 torque hex bolts which have clips in pairs. At the transfer case end, there are four 16mm bolt heads connecting the differential (a double cross & pinion U-joint) end of the shaft. Has anyone performed this task and willing to share the experience? What are the torque specs & what kind of packing grease will be needed on the front/boot area? Part numbers and recommended ordering source is greatly appreciated.

Rear Drive Axel – will order the parts on line or get it from the dealer. The price for a Center Support Bearing list about $220 but the dealer listed the complete install job costing about ~ $180. Some of the other discussions have mention that the bearing can be replaced and still use the same bracket. Seems reasonable, but unable to locate this part number; plus would like to confirm some reasonable procedures. I’ve read the other posting and this is want I see happening.

The drive shaft components already have alignment marks – I think I need to remove the four 16mm head bolts on the rear section, then the six 6mm Allen bolts and the two 16mm bolts holding the support bracket to main frame. What is the preferred method to remove the Center Support Bracket & Bearing from the Rear Axel? Looks like I need to disconnect both ends similar to the front drive. Do I need to dissemble the double cross and pinion U-joint in order to separate the support bracket/bearing?
 

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I had the same symptoms, my problem turned out to be the two unversal joints connecting the front drive shaft to the transfer case. Apparently there is a center bearing needed to keep them aligned. If it wears they will be sloppy and create the noise situation you indicate. I took my drive shaft out and had a drive shaft service co near me repair it. cost $205.00.
 

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Can you post some steps for DIYers. I have the same issue and want to change it myself. If I procastinate it what are the consequences?

Edit: 3/19/10

I had CV joint replaced by a local mechanic. It cost 275. Dealer wanted to change whole shaft and was about 700.
 
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