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1979 Mercedes 450SL(120k) and a couple Suzuki Samurais
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1979 450sl has a pop in steering at low speed (less than 5 mph). I'm not sure but it seems a though I can feel it through the steering wheel. Pop is intermittent. Any ideas what I should check?
 

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One of the BW Old Guard/R129, W204 Moderator
1997 SL500- 40th Anniversary
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7,282 Posts
My first suspicion is tie rod/drag link ends, then pitman arm joint, followed by ball joints, lower, then upper. Lastly, loose steering gearbox and worn steering coupler.

Navigate to the sticky titled "This Damned Old Car (EGv107)", and you can read articles and diy to assist you in your quest.
 

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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
83 280 SL- 5 speed-The PIG
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32,175 Posts
1979 450sl has a pop in steering at low speed (less than 5 mph). I'm not sure but it seems a though I can feel it through the steering wheel. Pop is intermittent. Any ideas what I should check?
Tie rod ends.

That's where I'd look first.
 

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1984 380SL
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192 Posts
bumping this up....we have the same exact symptom. Hoping it's simply a tie rod issue. Hubby is changing out right and left....any brand we should stick with or stay away from? There are a lot on the market. Thanks!
 

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Outstanding Contributor, Vintage Moderator
450slc5.0cab 280sl5sp 280se4.5 500se+500slAMG +250seStkW108 350sl4spdX3 500secEuro
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24,006 Posts
Most likely anything will be fine and work better than what you've got. It sure sounds like tie rods to me. I had the same issue. Since there are two of you, I bet you could have one person turn the wheel while the other watches the tie rod pop from one tilt to the other.


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1984 380SL
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192 Posts
thanks, Fonzi. We'll definitely take a peek and see if we can watch it pop.

btw....I see you need a washer bottle. We're looking for the same thing and have word in with some salvage yards here and in Knoxville. Will let you know if you come across an extra one.
 

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'85 380SL (155Kmiles), '82 240D stick, '80 300SD, '77 240D, '89 BMW 535i, 3 VW Diesels, 2 Triumphs
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1,553 Posts
My money is on the steering coupler. Does it "pop" when you run over speed bumps?

For decent tie rods now I would consider MOOG (they make them in greaseable still) or Raybestos Professional. Or MB.
 

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'85 380SL (155Kmiles), '82 240D stick, '80 300SD, '77 240D, '89 BMW 535i, 3 VW Diesels, 2 Triumphs
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1,553 Posts
Lemfoerder should be good. I would stay away from Febi and Meyle now.
 

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1984 380SL
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192 Posts
thanks so much....

It pops most distinctly when we make a sharp turn....I can "feel" it in the steering wheel. I do guess I feel it a little when we are going over speed bumps as well.

Is the steering coupler more complicated?
 

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Premium Member
1975 450SL
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2,440 Posts
Just an offbeat question: Are you sure the tires aren't rubbing on anything? If you have tires that are at the wider end of the acceptable range, and if your subframe mounts, motoro mounts, or control arm bushings are shot, things could be loose enough to let the tire rub against the body or a suspension component.

The steering coupler is a lot more work than the tie rod ends. To test the coupler, gently turn the steering wheel back and forth. If it goes more than 1 1/2 inches before it seems to 'take effect' then the coupler is likeley shot. The car will drive very sloppy, and seem to wander all over the road.

I don't mean to 'scare' you, these are 'worst case scenarios' (actually worse and worst) that may not even be woth worrying about if the car has been properly maintained.

Good luck,
Scott
 

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1973 450 SL
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2,382 Posts
I am almost through steering purgatory - my steps and what got better:

1st was tie rod ends, drag link, steering damper and torsion bar links/bushings. This combo made the front suspension quieter (less like a pickup truck). Pops, thunks, and rattles were eliminated.

2nd was a new idler arm bushing - old one was shot and upside down. This made the steering stop wandering (big improvement).

3rd was a new steering coupler via the Barosso method. This cut most of the steering play out.

Next will be worm gear adjustment to regain center region torque friction (straight track stability) and hopefully eliminate the small play that remains.


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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
83 280 SL- 5 speed-The PIG
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32,175 Posts
Tie rods are easy to diagnose with 2 people.

Simply raise the front end and start turning the steering wheel. You can also grab the rod and try wiggling it.....but that won't really work if only one end is pooched.
 

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1984 380SL
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192 Posts
you guys are so helpful! We know that at least one tie rod is bad....my husband was able to move it around and it had quite a lot of play. Hoping that the sounds we hear/feel are just from that. But we'll start there and see if the coupler is an issue. Todd feels like there's a lot of play in the steering, but it's not a crazy amount like it's all over the road without a good amount of control. I can go back and forth maybe a half inch tops without moving the wheels.

Good news is he plans to tackle this issue himself. I think he's enjoying learning about these cars and doing his own fixes.
 

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1976 450 slc
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422 Posts
the outsides are usually the first to go, that is the tie rod end closest to the wheel, turn the steering to full lock so you can see behind the front wheel, you'll see the tie rod "pop" up and down when you jiggle the wheel at full lock.
If one side is gone then if the other side looks similar age, I would replace that too cause it wont be too far away from failing as well & saves having to pay for another wheel alignment as well.
Check play on the inners by placing a hand over the tie rod and moving the steering, best done if the wheels are still in contact with the ground, even if slightly jacked. If the inners also have play,instead of buying individual tie rod ends, its cheaper to buy the rod with inner & outers and do both sides- just measure the lenghts of the old and screw the new ones in to the approximate same length and get a wheel alignment done.
Just a word of caution, sometimes they can be very hard to pop out of the steering arms, support the arm with a jack and remove the nut first before trying to pound out or buy a ball joint splitter, which makes life a whole lot easier.
 

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1979 450SL
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25 Posts
I got the same thing, popping when I turn the wheel. On top of that, I've got about 15-20 degrees of play in the steering wheel before it actually turns the wheels. I'm gonna start checking the tie rods and stuff under the car and see where that takes me.
 

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1984 380SL
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192 Posts
Job complete - and it was definitely the inner tie rod. Husband replaced the tie rod assembly with Moog. New part didn't come with a castle nut or a pin....came with a locking nut.

Just want to know if anyone knows the torque numbers or if you've had experience with tie rod replacement. My husband is a strong guy and he's worried about tightening the tie rods too much - is that possible? We are taking her in for alignment tomorrow to have her checked out.

Thanks!
 

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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
83 280 SL- 5 speed-The PIG
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32,175 Posts
Job complete - and it was definitely the inner tie rod. Husband replaced the tie rod assembly with Moog.
Good.

And Moog anything is a lifetime warranty (part only).
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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32,777 Posts
Torque 35NM, approx. 26FP. This is listed for the castle nuts with pins.
 
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