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1972 350 SL
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey Guys,

My ‘72 350 last night started having a loud popping noise when the steering wheel is turned sharply on the front passenger side. It doesn’t happen every time but seems to happen more when stopped and turning the wheels rather than at speed and happens more when on a slopes or uneven surface like when the passenger side is coming off a driveway.

I’m hoping it’s just some rubber that rotted (I really need to replace all the rubber and seals as it looks like most might still be original) and needs replacing but I’m not able to get under the car for a few days and thought I’d see if anyone has had this happen or just knows the car well enough to have a hunch of what it could be. There are a lot of moving parts there so it could be a ton of things in my head but I’m also a total novice, so what goes on in my head is pretty unreliable.

Thanks in advance!
 

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1998 ML320, 1975 280C
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184 Posts
I would stop driving it until you can verify that the front sub-frame has had the recall done. I'm NOT positive it was one of the models in the recall, but MBUSA can give you a heads up if you give them a call with the VIN. I did that first thing with my '77 450, and found that it had the "new" sub-frame installed a while ago. Also do a search on front subframe recall here and you can probably get all the info you need.
I hope it's just rubber bushings, but it's best to start big and hope it's small.
 

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1972 350 SL
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
you are making me nervous but for sure I’ll check that out first thing tomorrow morning. Something I should have looked at anyways a while ago. Thanks!
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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7,002 Posts
Check your Tie Rods.
My 380SL did similarly and it was Tie Rods.
Most tire shops can check it if you prefer them do it.
 

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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
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29,604 Posts
Tie rod (s)....obviously check everything out while you're under there.
 

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1972 350 SL
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
ok so I don’t think the popping is from the subframe and I haven’t been able to get my car on jack stands and roll under her yet to look at the tie rods and other areas but i tried to get a sneak peak at my sub frame and I’m pretty sure I don’t have an updated subframe or one with the braces welded but it’s a little hard to see, maybe your eyes can easily see it. They even look like they might be a little crushed... How F’ed is my car? (besides the copious amounts of dripping oil and tranny fluid)



 

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Outstanding Contributor
450slc5.0cab 280sl5sp 280se4.5 500se+500slAMG +250seStkW108 350sl4spdX3 500secEuro
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I don’t see any problems with the subframe (besides the lack of reinforcement gussets or an updated 1986-1989 version), but do see what look like wide open grease boots for the right tie rod.





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1998 ML320, 1975 280C
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184 Posts
Nobbi and Fonzi know these much better than I do! Having said that, look at picture #2, right side tie rod end. The boot is "off" a bit, and that might be pointing to the problem. Again, trust Fonzi and Nobbi!
Fonzi beat me to it!
 

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1972 350 SL
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Fonzi, It sort of looked like it was squished like what I was think might happen right before it cracks or tears but if this looks good as far as it should look before installing the reinforcements that makes me feel better.
 

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1972 350 SL
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Discussion Starter #11
...but do see what look like wide open grease boots for the right tie rod.





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Thanks also for this, helps me narrow it down and i’ll post some more pics when I get it on stands if I see any other suspect areas but for sure that doesn’t look good and the fact I see bright metal on an oily mess of a car, it points to being a new problem. Going to order a couple grease boots and replace them even if that’s not 100% the problem so it’s ready to go when I have time to dedicate to getting under there
 

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1972 350 SL
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I’m going to wait to buy the boot. After reading a few things on this site and if this is the reason for the popping I need to replace the whole thing so I’ll just wait and diagnose fully. I’m just so damn impatient
 

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450slc5.0cab 280sl5sp 280se4.5 500se+500slAMG +250seStkW108 350sl4spdX3 500secEuro
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Correct. Tie rods are cheap. You will need an alignment after replacing them. It is a good time to dig in and get other suspension components done before the alignment. I did end up spending over $1500 doing my first MB’s whole front suspension and rear shocks as a result of a similar tie rod problem. The car drove amazingly well after that though.

The tie rod is not the end of the world, and if you’d like to DIY it, you can use a pickle fork or a puller (easier I think) to remove the old tie rod. Then you can use some boards and a measuring tape to try and align your front wheels yourself if you don’t want to pay a shop to do it. You could be all in for like $40, but typically you will find it makes sense to replace tie rods in pairs. If one went, the other probably isn’t far from going.
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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Like Fonzi mentioned above.
I replaced just the left side Tie Rod in my 380SL myself and then paid $80 for a front-end alignment.
Then 6 months later I felt a looseness in the steering and found the right side Tie Rod needed replacement and another $80 front-end alignment. Go ahead and replace both Tie Rods. They cost something like $50/pair for Meyle and you can purchase a Tie Rod removal tool at Harbor Freight for $20.

If you have not replaced a Tie Rod before, one end will be harder to break free. Loosen the nut almost to the end, put the Tie Rod removal tool on and tighten to put pressure forcing it loose. Most likely it won't come loose, spray some PB Blaster on the nut, smack the side of the joint with a hammer a couple times and if it still won't come loose go take a coffee break. It should eventually pop loose.
 

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1998 ML320, 1975 280C
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184 Posts
There are actually four tie rod ends, inner and outer. I would think about just doing all the joints in the steering at once, but then that's just me.
 

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1972 350 SL
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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks everyone for the advise. I’m not going to be cheap about it, I’ll replace all 4 and do an inspection of all the joints and order any other rubber I’m seeing compromised. It’s going to take me a while to get all this done but i’ll chip away at it, post pictures and give updates along the way
 

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450slc5.0cab 280sl5sp 280se4.5 500se+500slAMG +250seStkW108 350sl4spdX3 500secEuro
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There are actually four tie rod ends, inner and outer. I would think about just doing all the joints in the steering at once, but then that's just me.
Buy two full tie rods (with two ends on each one) instead of four tie rod ends. I guess you could save $8-9, but I would suggest doing the whole rod for simplicity and having a new metal rod instead of a gunked up old one. The metal is recyclable.





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1998 ML320, 1975 280C
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184 Posts
And if you do it this way, just measure each rod you remove and adjust the new one to match. This will put you very close on the adjustments.
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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