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2002 S500, 1999 C230 Kompressor, 1997 C230
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The title of the this thread is related to all of the threads that were involved in my most recent repair adventure with my 2002 S500, and the related answers, tricks, and tips.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS POST IS ONLY MEANT AS A PARTIAL EXPLANATION OF THE PROCEDURES FOR THESE REPAIRS AND THE READER ASSUMES ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFETY AND DAMAGES AND IS URGED TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE BEFORE DOING THESE REPAIRS.

It all began with a routine oil change and undercarriage inspection when I noticed that the inboard attachment of the driver side lower control arm was worn out, and the passenger side was also starting to fail. Peterstar was able to provide a great description of the repair so I decided to proceed. I also decided that since the control arms were coming off that I should go ahead and change the ball joints. The driver inner tie rod had some play as did the outers; and if I was this far I might as well change out the knuckle arms (lateral control arms).

While I repaired both sides of the car, I only repaired one side at a time so I always have the other side as a reference.

Removing the knuckle control arm as a first step really frees up the area for further work. Please note that it is essential to use a 5mm hex key to hold the center stud from turning when removing the 21mm nut at the wheel hub. I used a long handled key with a Blackhawk brand 21mm ratcheting closed end wrench. The ratcheting wrench allows the user the ability to really get to areas where a regular ratchet and socket will not fit.

The nut removed quite easily and then I set up a pitman type puller to push out the stud. I strongly recommend the Mercedes puller in that it is designed perfectly for this application and really grips very well to the hub. The puller was used with an impact wrench set at 400 pounds. With the release of the lateral arm at the hub I then removed the inner end using a 21mm closed end wrench on the bolt and the 21mm closed end ratchet wrench on the nut. After removing the bold the arm pulled out with a strong couple of tugs.

Using the Mercedes puller I then disengaged the outer tie rod from the hub. (I did NOT loosen the retaining nut on tie rod itself and will explain latter.) Reaching up to the inner tie rod end I removed the inner boot clamp at the rack and pinion, and pulled back the boot. The rack is ground on two sides to accept a 27mm open end wrench in order to stabilize the rack when removing the inner tie rod. The inner tie rod has small flat spots which will perfectly fit a 41mm wrench. The flat spots are rather small and subject to easy rounding and I would recommend not using an adjustable wrench on either the rack or the tie rod end, but invest in the correct sized wrench. In this case I used a 41mm crows foot.

I removed the inner tie rod as one assembly and brought it to the workbench where I clamped a block of wood to the work bench at either end of the tie rod assembly so that the distance between the wood blocks was the EXACT distance of the length of the tie rod assembly. Then I took the new inner and outer tie rods with the boot and stop nut, and assembled them between the blocks of wood so they fit exactly between the blocks of wood. You can try counting the turns of the outer tie rod, but the length of the new pieces might be different. In this case the outer was identical, but the inner was approximately 5mm shorter.

Leaving the tie rod assembly on the workbench it was time to head to the lower control assembly. To take the pressure off of the airmatic strut I cracked open the line at the head of the strut and released the air. Then comes the most difficult part of the entire procedure, which is removing the stabilizer bar link. There is a great deal of tension on this link, but by placing a jack under the lower control arm I was able to raise and lower the control arm until the pressure was lessened on the link. Once I was satisfied that the tension was as low as possible, I drove the bracket off of the control arm by tapping a block of wood against the bracket with a rubber mallet. I did not want to snap the bracket by striking it with a sharp metal object.

From this point I simply backed off the airmatic set screws, removed the bolt at the inboard bracket, and allowed the control arm to pivot downward while still attached to the ball joint. The nut was removed that held the control arm to the ball joint, and the lower control arm was separated from the ball joint by use of the puller.

In order to remove the ball joint, I used the W220 ball joint tool and I could not have been more pleased. The instructions were very straightforward and really made this job very workable.

Reassembly was in reverse order, but I must mention some very critical steps:

  1. The stabilizer bracket hole is hexagonal and is designed to fit the hexagonal base of the bolt on the new lower control arm. When you get the bracket over the bolt, then get the nut to catch and work the bracket inward while at the same time moving the hex wrench on the bolt. In this was you will catch the whole in the bracket properly and allow the stabilizer to seat.
  2. The bolts for the control arms should only be tightened when the weight of the vehicle is resting fully on the suspension. You might need to let the vehicle rest on jack stands under the lower control arms or have the vehicle on ramps.
  3. Also, the new inner tie rod needed a 36mm crows foot.
Having started and completed the driver side I went to the passenger side and ran in to a very nasty problem: the rear facing airmatic set screw was jammed. I tried heat, leverage, penetrating oil, and every combination I could think of and it would not budge. I even reassemble everything and went to my local tire shop where their impact wrench could hit at over 1000 pounds……….nothing!

So I decided to once again remove the knuckle arm and the tie rod, and then drop out the lower control arm while still attached to the airmatic. My main concern for the airmatic was making sure that air input was sealed from dirt, but luckily I had saved the brass fitting that came from the factory. So after removing and covering the airline with a plastic bag, I then installed the brass plug and released the three nuts at the top of the strut. It took some twist and turns but the airmatic and the control arm were removed and placed on my work bench.

I had determined that the set screw was a 10mm with a 1.0 pitch, and I was able to get at set from the dealer. I turned the strut so that the stuck screw was facing upward and placed it in a jig to hold steady and level in a drill press. The 5mm hex head fitting in the screw forms a perfect guide to allow a pilot hole to be drilled straight through the screw. (Remember: I was replacing the lower control arm, so I didn’t care if I damaged the control arm fitting.) Using plenty of drill oil and steady pressure from the drill press, I was able to drill out the screw all the way through to the lower control arm. Once the strut was free of the control arm I then used a 10x1.0 tap and recut/cleaned the threads. The new screw fits perfectly and reassembly went well.

At the end of this whole process the vehicle drives dead straight down the road without a single noise or vibration, which I couldn’t say before! This will be followed by new tires and an alignment.

Some notes on tools:
SamstagSales.com
41mm crows foot
Mercedes Puller 124 589 03 33 00

Amazon.com or eBay
Look for the W220 ball joint tool

Some notes on parts
Lateral control arm aka knuckle arm: $79.00
Lower control arm: $85.00
Inner tie rod: Febi $21.09
Outer tie rod: Febi $ 33.06
Tie rod boot: 10.26
Ball joint: 49.75

Mercedes Dealer
Airmatic strut set screws, A 000 990 44 77: $4.60


Total cost of parts: $560.92
 

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Mercedes S320 2000 LPG Gas conversion.
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Today i just replaced right side lower control arm on my W220. 7000 miles ago i replaced left control arm. In my case even right lower control arm was ok after replacing left lower control arm and was no banging noise in 7000 miles it failed. My suggestion would be: if you car got around 120k miles and one of those arms is bad replace both lower control arms in one go. To do one side it took me around 40 minutes.
 

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2000 S430 156k (11/12)
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It is recommended to replace both left and right lower controls arms even though only 1 side is bad.
 

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I'm about to replace both of my lower control arms (one has the rubber completely ripped apart in it) and want to make sure I got everything strait as far as the shock goes.

Once I jack up the car and remove the wheels I should release the air pressure on the top of the shock right? Once I replace the lower control arm and connect everything back up and hook up the air hose it will just fill back up once I turn the car on. I want to make sure I dont mess this up. :)
 

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2002 S500, 1999 C230 Kompressor, 1997 C230
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443 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I'm about to replace both of my lower control arms (one has the rubber completely ripped apart in it) and want to make sure I got everything strait as far as the shock goes.

Once I jack up the car and remove the wheels I should release the air pressure on the top of the shock right? Once I replace the lower control arm and connect everything back up and hook up the air hose it will just fill back up once I turn the car on. I want to make sure I dont mess this up. :)
Correct. With the key off, and the vehicle raised up, crack open the fitting at the top of the airmatic strut. Be careful not to allow any dirt in the system.

When you are done with repair, put the wheels on and carefully lower the vehicle back down with the weight of the car resting on the suspension. THEN, tighten the airmatic fittings and turn the the car on. The vehicle should return back to its normal height.

While doing this repair you might want to consider changing the ball joints.

One more quick note: only tighten the lower control arm bolt to the vehicle fitting with the vehicle weight fully on the wheels, as this will prevent the rubber from being torqued and tearing in the lower control arm.
 

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Thanks for the info. That helps tremendously. I just ordered the control arms. I took a look at my ball joints and they seem to be in good condition although they look kind of flat. Is that normal on these cars? The rubber itself looks good.
 

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2002 S500, 1999 C230 Kompressor, 1997 C230
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Discussion Starter #8
By flat, I assume that you mean that the rubber boot looks pushed down, and yes that is fairly normal and has little to do with the condition. You are looking for signs of cracks in the rubber or a bit grease. My ball joints looked fine when I changed them but it made a HUGE difference in handling with the new parts. When you have the lower control arm off the vehicle it is just a bit more work to change out the ball joints, and they are very inexpensive.
 

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1999 S500 W220
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Zoldier
The WIS manual says to remove control arm and place short 150mm tube over ball joint thread and move around. If you find it difficult to move and/or you feel loose movement then replace ball joint ie it feels worn and not firm in its socket.
 

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Thanks. I think I'm going to go ahead and just do them since I'll have it apart anyways. She has about 115,000 miles on her so it cant do anything other than help. :)
 

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2002 S500, 1999 C230 Kompressor, 1997 C230
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks. I think I'm going to go ahead and just do them since I'll have it apart anyways. She has about 115,000 miles on her so it cant do anything other than help. :)
Exactly. At 115,000 miles there is plenty of life used up on these ball joints and you should notice a really different feel to the front end. Go on youtube and enter "W220 ball joint" for some good videos on this subject.
 

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2000 CLK 430 Cabriolet 2003 S500 4Matic 2004 S55 2005 CLK 500 Cabriolet 2008 S 450
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The alternative is the "stealership". I was just quoted over $3,600 to do both lower control arms on my '03 S500 4Matic.
 

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94 E320 Sportline sedan 86 190E 2.3 16V sedan 04 S430 Sport
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+1 on the DIY... I did all lower ball joints, all spring arm (or lower control arm) bushings, and both torque struts (or lateral arms); bought all the special tools to press in/out the bushings and the ball joints and only spend ~900 for parts & tools. Dealer wanted like $4900 (WHOA!!!!) So I just paid myself $4k instead!!! Pays for plenty of beverages!
 

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2000 CLK 430 Cabriolet 2003 S500 4Matic 2004 S55 2005 CLK 500 Cabriolet 2008 S 450
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Latest update on he stealership quoting m $3,600 for lower control arms. I just got back from my local Indie after they examined the front end. Guess what they couldn't find anything wrong with the suspension. It turns out to be a bad tire (belt separation). New tires going on Thursday. 788 is afar cry from $3,600.

How do these A--holes sleep at night. Is there no honesty or morals at Mercedes dealerships? I'm disgusted.
 

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94 E320 Sportline sedan 86 190E 2.3 16V sedan 04 S430 Sport
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Latest update on he stealership quoting m $3,600 for lower control arms. I just got back from my local Indie after they examined the front end. Guess what they couldn't find anything wrong with the suspension. It turns out to be a bad tire (belt separation). New tires going on Thursday. 788 is afar cry from $3,600.

How do these A--holes sleep at night. Is there no honesty or morals at Mercedes dealerships? I'm disgusted.
I partially agree.... yeah they have been factory trained, blah blah blah... but I do have to admit I have a great local dealer in general as they take great care of the customer and when I have taken things to them they do good work... the $119 an hour labor is fair, BUT what kills us is the "book time" that Mercedes says it takes to R&R the parts. The "book time" for all my lower suspension replacement was supposably 15 hours... well they must take ALOT of paid breaks... I did all my labor on both sides WITH HAND TOOLS to boot (no fancy hydraulic press, no lift system, etc.) and it took me ~6.5 hours to R&R all the stuff I did... Plus I puttered around and check out other items while I was under there anyway ... so it was not like I was racing along to get this job done... heck, I had all weekend....

So while I still have respect for my dealer and thier parts and service department, my service writter knows that he only gets me for stuff I either dont have the equipment for (electrical issues, alignments, etc.) or stuff that I absolutely need to get done and I can not carve out anytime due to my travel schedule..... like a voltage regulator swap that was needed just before I was heading out of town.... they got me in the same day, fixed it in less than half a day and they provide a service car to drive at no cost too (usually a new C300, or GLK 350 SUV). So kudos to Mercedes Benz of Georgetown TX... but you can keep your "book times"!! :)
 

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2002 S500, 1999 C230 Kompressor, 1997 C230
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Discussion Starter #18
I partially agree.... yeah they have been factory trained, blah blah blah... but I do have to admit I have a great local dealer in general as they take great care of the customer and when I have taken things to them they do good work... the $119 an hour labor is fair, BUT what kills us is the "book time" that Mercedes says it takes to R&R the parts. The "book time" for all my lower suspension replacement was supposably 15 hours... well they must take ALOT of paid breaks... I did all my labor on both sides WITH HAND TOOLS to boot (no fancy hydraulic press, no lift system, etc.) and it took me ~6.5 hours to R&R all the stuff I did... Plus I puttered around and check out other items while I was under there anyway ... so it was not like I was racing along to get this job done... heck, I had all weekend....

So while I still have respect for my dealer and thier parts and service department, my service writter knows that he only gets me for stuff I either dont have the equipment for (electrical issues, alignments, etc.) or stuff that I absolutely need to get done and I can not carve out anytime due to my travel schedule..... like a voltage regulator swap that was needed just before I was heading out of town.... they got me in the same day, fixed it in less than half a day and they provide a service car to drive at no cost too (usually a new C300, or GLK 350 SUV). So kudos to Mercedes Benz of Georgetown TX... but you can keep your "book times"!! :)
Very, very well said.
 

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So I was able to get the passenger side done but ran out of time and wasnt able to do the driverside. The alan screw at the bottom of the strut was frozen so I didnt get it off. The thing is now when I hit bumpsthe driver side strut makes a hissing sounds like its releasing air. What the hell. I didnt even get to do anything on that side. Any ideas on that? The ESP and BAS error codes are coming up too.

I'll have to get an alignment once I get the driver side done. My steering wheel is pointing to the two o'clock position now.
 

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94 E320 Sportline sedan 86 190E 2.3 16V sedan 04 S430 Sport
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Welcome to the PITA part of this procedure. The 5mm alan has blue locktite from the factory and normally requires an impact grade driver to remove.... if you end up rounding the alan out, (which can easily happen) then the drill must come out and carefully drill out the set screw. Which Oceanliner so eloquintly describes earlier in this post.... :)

If you also swapped out your tie-rods, then that will account for the steering wheel being off center if you did not get the new set EXACTLY the same length as the set you took off... which is no big deal, the alignment will get that back in line once your done with the other side. I would just not drive your car in this condition save but to the alignment shop as uneven tire wear will occur if driven in this state for any length of time

Now, why your strut itself is hissing needs further investigation. Normally any air release needed in the system happens at the valveblock/pump assembly, not at each individual strut itself... or at least my car does not vent at each strut.

Good luck on the other side, but once your are all done and the alignment is set back right again, you will notice a big difference in the steering and the overall "feel"... much tighter and literally "like new".
 
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