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1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.6
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Discussion Starter #1
I went to a local tire store yesterday to buy a set of all weather tires and a wheel alignment to replace the 10 year old Michelin all seasons that have served me well but we're at an age where I didn't trust them at highway speeds. The shop advised me that the mechanic was having trouble with getting the wheels aligned because if he adjusted one wheel the opposite went out of adjustment he would sort it out and it would be ready the following morning? I retrieved the car up this morning and immediately noticed that the steering wheel is now not centred when driving straight but is tilted down to the left about 15-20 degrees. This was never a problem with the old tires on the car so I assume that the car didn't have any bent components etc. nor was there any mention of problems other than noted above Should I take the car back and insist that the steering wheel be centred and what should I tell them as far as how to remedy the problem? I have had good service from this business in the past but they are not Mercedes specialists. I didn't think the steering on my car was exceptionally complex. What are your thoughts?
 

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1999 E320, 2003 E320 Wagon, 2005 C230K SS, 2010 Accord LX w Eibach & Koni FSD's
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Yes, go back and request the steering wheel to be centered, that is an easy task for them.
If you do................they will probably do it the easy way by remounting the steering wheel which is not the correct way.
 

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89 190E 2.6 x2
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It sounds like the shop simply didn't know how to align the car properly. First of all, they should lock the steering wheel in the dead center position before starting any adjustments. That would prevent it from going the other way. Right now it sounds like the toe adjustment is off.
Also, what sort of alignment rack are they using? The best machine is the Hunter Hawkeye laser.

I took my car to a specialty alignment shop and they got the steering perfectly centered and did a bit more "aggressive" alignment for me since I drive more spirited. The alignment shop that did my car also said Mercedes like a little extra Caster and Toe on the right front wheel since they tend to pull left.

Could you post a picture of the alignment printout for us?
 

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1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.6
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Discussion Starter #5
I will be taking the car back to the shop this morning but since I am a single woman with an old car I don't expect to get a lot of respect or satisfaction. I will pass on what I have learned here and try to obtain a printout of the alignment numbers but I am not hopeful.
 

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'85 300D Turbo, '91 420SEL, '92 190E 2.6, '09 C350, '12 E63 Wagon
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I’ve had one other experience with the front tires causing this. If you rotate front left to right and front right to left then the steering wheel may go the other way.
 

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2008 AMG CLK63 Conv., 2012 R350 4-Matic, Wife's 2015 C300 sedan
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since I am a single woman with an old car
Not wanting to be Sid the Sexist, but if that's a concern don't you have a (hopefully somewhat mechanically competent) male friend you could use to take the car in?

Other things to bear in mind are that at that age of car things like the steering tie-rod ends (the ball joints linking the steering column to the wheel carriers) or the ball joints in the suspension could be worn out, meaning they don't have a cat in hell's chance of getting the alignment right. As an example, my stepson recently took his truck into one shop to get an alignment, it came out handling like a grocery cart with a wobbly wheel. It wasn't until he took it to another shop, that they found the cause: worn out upper ball joints. Once those were replaced, perfect alignment.

The steering wheel is usually on splines on the end of the steering column, that is a series of grooves running lengthways down the steering column, that engage in similar grooves on the inside of the hole in the steering wheel. If they take off the steering wheel and re-center it, there should be some kind of marks, maybe very small, that should show up proper alignment of steering wheel and steering column. Make sure they get them aligned right. Just moving the steering wheel a couple (or six) grooves round until it looks right won't fix the underlying problem. And you'll pay for a bad alignment with tires that last no time at all.
 

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1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.6
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Discussion Starter #8
Well as expected I received the run around This is what the service advisor told me "Sorry but the mechanics talked about the steering wheel alignment and there is a special tool available on at the Mercedes dealer that we don't have. The wheel alignment is correct but you will have to go to a dealer to get the steering wheel aligned." Unfortunately for me the dealer is an 8 hour drive away. What is the special tool business all about? The car steered perfectly before the new tires were installed and no one mentioned worn components. The car has about 80k miles on it.
 

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2008 AMG CLK63 Conv., 2012 R350 4-Matic, Wife's 2015 C300 sedan
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The "special tool" is probably a 10 mm hex bit to fit on the end of a breaker bar. Our local AutoZone probably has three or four on the shelf.

If you look through youtube.com you'll probably find dozens of videos on how to take the steering wheel off. I would advise disconnecting the battery and pulling the airbag fuses before you start, however.

There will be a couple of allen screws or torx screws (same as allen screws but with mutil-spline sockets) to undo, which will be located in holes in the front-side (front of the car side that is) of the steering wheel, hidden from view. These hold the airbag and horn pad in place. Remove and disconnect the airbag. Put it on the passenger seat, somewhere safe where it won't get set off. Then there'll either be a big nut or a big allen screw that will be very very tight to undo, then you should be able to literally pull the steering wheel off.

Before you do all this however, I would still advise you get someone to check out the steering tie rod ends and suspension ball joints, and I'm sorry if you live in the mechanical middle of nowhere, but that's Canada for you.
 

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Well as expected I received the run around This is what the service advisor told me "Sorry but the mechanics talked about the steering wheel alignment and there is a special tool available on at the Mercedes dealer that we don't have. The wheel alignment is correct but you will have to go to a dealer to get the steering wheel aligned." Unfortunately for me the dealer is an 8 hour drive away. What is the special tool business all about? The car steered perfectly before the new tires were installed and no one mentioned worn components. The car has about 80k miles on it.
They're probably talking about the spreader bar tool, but in my experience it's not needed with modern computerized alignment racks.
I would not allow anyone to do the lazy method of taking the steering wheel off and manually centering it. To me, that's trying to mask the problem.

I know you mentioned you're in the middle of Canada, but are there any shops within a reasonable distance from you that specialize in alignments/performance work? Usually the independently run small shops are much better at it.
 

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1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.6
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Discussion Starter #11
IWantedaJag, Thanks for your help. Would assume that had the car needed steering components the mechanic would have been only too happy to tell me and likely get permission to replace what needed fixing. I was told that everything under the car was fine and it had been safety checked less than 4000km. ago. I read about a tool to lock the steering box but would removing the key and engaging the steering wheel lock (which by the way is centred when locked) no do the same task? In any event if the shop was not qualified or did not have the proper tool then they should have simply said so. I am not a happy camper and yes I live in God's Country which does not have a nearby Mercedes dealer. This is Dodge, Ford , GM country by and large.
 

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1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.6
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Discussion Starter #12
355etc., Yes there is a steering specialist shop which may be able to do a proper job but since I paid $150 to this tire shop I figure they should rectify the problem or return my money. I have send a compliant to the head office and will advise the result.
 

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^ Depends on the shop. If he didn't have the tools, parts, or inkling to change the aforementioned components he might have been quite happy to charge for a shoddy alignment and send you on your way. Equally if it's some under-trained tire shop guy he probably knows the cube root of eff all about alignments anyway. If you're confident in your steering and suspension joints all I can say is try another alignment shop.

Don't rely on the steering wheel lock when trying to undo the steering wheel nut. It will take a LOT of torque (on my R class last week I resorted to a 450 ft.lb. electric impact wrench) to get that nut or bolt loose and you could simply break the anti-theft lock off in its slot.

It is POSSIBLE that in the past someone has had the steering wheel off, put it back on wrong, then had that "tuned out" on the steering rack, or that the car's had a big accident and its "crabbing" down the road, that is both sets of wheels may be pointing forwards, but the front ones are a little to the left or right of the back ones. Seen that quite often too. European Ford Mondeos even had some adjustments for the latter because the bodies often didn't come out the assembly line straight!

Chances are it's simply a guy who didn't know what he was doing, couldn't be bothered to put it right, and sent you on your way, however.
 

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1990 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.6
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Discussion Starter #14
No accidents, we have owned the car since new. No this is a simple case of the mechanic not knowing what to do. I don't want to remove the steering wheel which by the way has never been off the car in its 80k miles. I heard from the service advisor that the mechanic was having problems with doing the job. The car is likely older than he is. I told the advisor to find a grey haired Benz mechanic if the mechanic wanted advice on how to do the job.
 

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89 190E2.6- 5-speed Manual, 95 E320 Sportsline-sold, 2001 E320 4matic Wagon-sold
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Laura, I would highly advise to just get your money back from this shop and do not let them touch your car again. You can tell them just because it is the holiday season you will not back charge them the cost of the specialist to fix the alignment they messed up.

And like 355 said, do not let anyone take your steering wheel off. It is put on there very tight and most likely with some sort of loctite to stay that way. Trust me I broke one tool trying to remove one at a junk yard.

Here is my advice on alignment knowing that most here will disagree. If your wheels are wearing pretty evenly and the steering feels right, do not let a tire shop talk you into an alignment. It is not worth the risk. I have purchased two sets of tires for my car in the last 3 years. A set of 16" tires and a set of 15" tires were put on. Both shops were insisting to do an alignment. I told them there is no need as the tires are wearing evenly and the steering is "tight and straight". Last alignment was about 10 years ago when my friend had the car and was done at a very good tire shop.
This is even with my passenger side tie rod slightly bent. Still it is aligned properly. I am hesitant to replace the tie rod just because everything is in perfect alignment.

Same goes for my newer cars. As long as the wheels are not wearing out unevenly the factory setting stays untouched. As long as I am not bumping into curbs and such. I'm pretty careful about that.

My 2 cents worth....
 

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'85 300D Turbo, '91 420SEL, '92 190E 2.6, '09 C350, '12 E63 Wagon
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Swap front tires please. Could be the tires...
 

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No accidents, we have owned the car since new. No this is a simple case of the mechanic not knowing what to do. I don't want to remove the steering wheel which by the way has never been off the car in its 80k miles. I heard from the service advisor that the mechanic was having problems with doing the job. The car is likely older than he is. I told the advisor to find a grey haired Benz mechanic if the mechanic wanted advice on how to do the job.
In that case do as someone else said, swap the rims over and see if it pulls straight or pulls the other way.
Then go to a different shop and get everything checked out.
 

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89 190E 2.6 x2
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Definitely agree w/ Dolucasi about alignments. To mirror his experience, my blue 190E has had 2 alignments in 30 yrs.
Only reason I had one done this year was because I replaced the tie rods.
@dolucasi-It's actually pretty easy to replace tie rods and maintain perfect alignment. I took the old ones off, measured the threads and also took length measurements of both ends using a digital caliper. Then I just set the new ones to the same length. Alignment shop said that I have done the adjustment perfectly (they barely had to adjust anything)
 

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^ I use painters blue tape wrapped around the ends of the steering rack rods to mark the position before unscrewing and count the number of turns to unscrew. Works well enough. At least to get me down the road for a final, proper alignment.
 

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I had my car aligned on the tire I bought it on and the wheel wasn't straight. New tires and wheels and suddenly she's perfect.
 
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