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1985 Mercedes 380SE Metallic Navy Blue
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457 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Thought I'd pass my experience on. My 380SE needed the ball joints replaced so I went to a couple of indies. Upon inspection, each said I needed to replace the ball joints AND the upper control arms! About US800.00 for labor plus parts..

A third MBZ mech, put the car up on the lift, and said, " no, you don't need upper control arms, just ball joints. 700.00 labor + parts...

I kept thinking that replacing ball joints was not a big deal so I went to a local tire alignment mechanic and he said "no problem - $225 plus alignment". I brought the parts ($60) and my 380SE is as now smooth as a Mercedes salesman..
 

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1974 280se w116, 1986 560sec
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309 Posts
yeah i had that problem too. most "specialized" mercedes mechanics that iv'e encountered think everyone is rich and we can throw thousands of dollars away anytime something goes wrong on these cars, or that we are just that stupid. i spent about 200 on upper and lower ball joints and alignment after searching for mechanic that thought as i did that $800 dollars is ridiculous. i even went to a mercedes shop and told them that the ball joints felt loose. they took the car for 3or 4 days drove it checked it charged me two hundred and some change to try and make me believe that my problem wasnt ball joints but my tires had a flat spot! which was so far off the truth that i might as well had a six year old diagnose my car!! they said if i wanted they could change out the whole front end suspension for about 2k.
 

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1984 500 SEL euro, 1989 560 SEL, 1980 450 SL, 1981 DeLorean, 2013 F10 BMW
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1,253 Posts
I just replaced the lower ball joints on my 560SEL with Lemforder joints. My indie/friend did all the work and used the baum tool required for the Lemforder joints and had the two joints replaced after tearing the both sides down in around 2.5 hrs. Yes he did charge for the book time of 6 hrs. at a cost of 450.00. Little steep but the job was done correct and the car is sooo smooth and as annoying popping noise is gone.

The after-market Pex joints don't require the tool but would lead me to believe they are'nt as tight of a fit. Glad I went with the Lemforders and that the steering is very 'tight'.

Regards,
 

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1985 500sel and 500sec 2012 E63 1989 Porsche 911
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5,336 Posts
what are some signs and symptoms of needing new ball joints, upper or lower and neeeding a new control arm

when i took my car to MR mb for a first time look, they said i need to lower balls, but i wasnt really sure why
 

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1985 Mercedes 380SE Metallic Navy Blue
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457 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
what are some signs and symptoms of needing new ball joints, upper or lower and neeeding a new control arm

when i took my car to MR mb for a first time look, they said i need to lower balls, but i wasnt really sure why
The first sign I had was when I was driving slow through a parking lot. I kept hearing a slight "clunking" sound as though my exhaust or something was loose. When up on a lift, if you push up on the wheels, you will be able to see if ball joints are loose/bad.
 

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1984 500 SEL euro, 1989 560 SEL, 1980 450 SL, 1981 DeLorean, 2013 F10 BMW
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I had the same noise symptom but was heard when coming to a stop. The joint would release and cause a pop. I thought it was from the cat or from that general area. On the lift the joint was compressed and was obvious that it was spent. Tire wear is also a sign.
I recently had new tires installed on the car and had nitrogen filled so not having the pressure change with O2.
If the joints are suspect, have them changed and you will be more than pleased with the results. The car will drive brand new and you will have to get used to the tight feel. A real pleasure to drive.

Regards,
 

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1972 350SL 1974 280C 1984 500SEL 1986 560 SEL 1987 420 SEL 1989 190E 1989 560SL 1991 300SE
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469 Posts
So, what is the symptom difference between the ball joint and what I have heard called the caster rod bushing (or, jack rod bushing)? The rear mount of the arm that goes from the front to rear at a 45% angle, mounts under the spindle and triangulates the front lower arm layout. This bushing is what I've always been told is the clunking culprit. Are there other sources, or are we talking about the same thing?
 

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1991 300SE W126 Collector owned, maintained 90k mi
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177 Posts
The "rod" you are refering to is the "guide rod" which is connected to the lower "A frame" at the wheel to the bearing bracket located on the body pan. A worn guide rod bushing can easily be felt driving over small bumps in the road. When your car is parked, try rotating the tire and if you hear or feel the knock it most likely is the rod bushing. It's a common wear item. I just overhauled the front end myself and they made a huge difference. Also when these wear it puts more stress on the idle arm bushing in the middle of the steering geometry.
 

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1985 500sel and 500sec 2012 E63 1989 Porsche 911
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5,336 Posts
i had my caster knuckles done . i remember the symptoms were that the car was growning and was bumby and noisy over bumps
 

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1985 500 SEC EURO AMG/LORINSER; 1988 560SEL, 1995 S500 Sonderschutz
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3,679 Posts
How about the Mercedes "specialist" who tried to troubleshoot my "creaking" and told me it wasn't the lower ball joints as I had suggest but my upper control arms.

I replaced the UCA's myself $300 for genuine parts and many bashed knuckles later, and the squeak is still there and the arms that came off were as firm as Mercedes Benz's bottom.

He also made me sign a safety waiver stating that the rust on the lower frame was life threatening.
 
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