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1998 e320 Estate (Wagon)
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Discussion Starter #1
I have been having issues with my front end since I bought it and I can not seem to fix the issue. I have a 1998 e320 wagon with 160k+ on it, I have replaced all of the ball joints, the upper control arms, front shocks, as well as the sway bar bushings which were completely shot. The problem that I am having is that when going down the road I can feel the car pull hard with the worn in grooves on the road, it can pull both right and left. I took it to a local indie shop and he could not find anything. He said everything was tight. I found some hydraulic fluid in the boot of the rack, but have not lost any fluid since I found it. I am stumped as to what could be causing this issue, I am sure I am simply overlooking the obvious. Any help would be appreciated.
 

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2000 E430 (W210)
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21 Posts
Tire Wandering or Tramlining

the6ws,

What kind of tires do you have on your car? What is your tire width? Wider tires have a tendency to wander on the road if you are on grooved pavement. Your tire tread pattern can also influence how your cars acts on certain road surfaces.

Tire pressure may have a small influence on this also. Carrying extra weight in the car can make the wandering worse, too.

You can always look on TireRack.com to see if anyone else is having the same issue with your tires? Or Google "tires grooved pavement". Another term for tire wandering is "tramlining".

In truth, my E430 did the same thing when I went to the Atlanta Airport recently. In Atlanta, there is a good amount of grooved pavement and it felt like my car was wandering all over the road. I did have a lot of extra weight in the car, but I only noticed wandering on the grooved pavement.

6ft6in_Giant
 

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1998 e320 Estate (Wagon)
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I have 225/50R16 Summer Falkens on the car right now. The car wandered with 215/55R16 Winter tires on it, but that was before I changed the frontend. Could it be just the tires now? I would hate to buy another set and find out that it still wanders, is there any way I can verify the problem is in the tires?
 

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2000 E430 (W210)
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21 Posts
First off, are the winter tires on different wheels? If yes, you could have a wheel fitment issue.

Secondly, you had your suspension checked out and got new shocks. So, that rules out suspension and shocks to me. Plus your symptoms don't seem like a steering or suspension issue given that it occurs only on grooved road surfaces. That leads me to tires. Tires would probably have been my first guess anyway.

To verify the problem is related to the tires, Google search "Tramlining" to see other forums involving this issue. You can also Google "what is tramlining" for more background.

As long as it is not a safety issue, you could keep going on the tires you already have.

Many tires tramline. So, you will need to do some online research to determine the best winter tires for resisting tramlining. Google and Tire Rack will be the best resources.

Helpful links:

Tire Tech Information - Tramlining: Coping with the Ruts in the Road

Tramlining - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robert.smith19/How-to-tramlining.pdf


6ft6in_Giant
 

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2000 E430 (W210)
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21 Posts
I forgot to mention:

In my opinion, the W210 has over-boosted numb steering feel. This along with a tire design that is susceptible to tramlining, will produce the feeling that your car wants to wander over grooved pavement.

I don't think any tire will full eliminate tramlining in the W210, but I do think you can reduce it to the point that you don't feel out of control.

Hope this helps.

6ft6in_Giant
 

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