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92 300e 225,000 miles
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Everyone!
So I fixed the wiper issue, and took the car to an indy this morning to determine the issue with the steering. (play from 10-12 o'clock) I was hoping tie rods or the like, but they checked it and determined that the gearbox was worn out, and that there was no more adjustment possible. They stated the best bet was to replace it. The estimate was fair, but funds are limited and if I can do it myself for less, I'd like to. I've read through the threads I could find, and it sounds like rebuilding it is much more difficult than replacing it, but I can't find a DIY on how to replace it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Adam
 

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W124 Moderator
86 190E 2.3L 16V, 2 95 320TE's, 02 S500
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adam,

Did you look at the indexed repair manual in our DIY section? I'd also investigate pulling a box from the pull yard. It is rare, rare that these boxes wear so much they need rebuilding.
 

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92 300e 225,000 miles
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Discussion Starter #3
Jayare,
Thanks for the advice, I did a more detailed search and this in the DIY section. So it looks like I have my road map there. Also you recommended that I get the part from a Pull it yard because they rarely go out, do you think that this might not be the problem, and I am barking up the wrong tree? Additionally, how long would it take someone doing it the first time to take it from the Pull it yard? or what additional tools would you recommend I take with me to the yard to make the job go easier? I actually like the idea of taking the part from another car simply because it means that the first time I take one off, it will be on someone else's car, so when I do it on mine, I know what I am doing! Any advice would be great!!! Thanks!
Adam
 

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Premium Member
'92 300TE 4matic 280,000miles, '92 300TE 4Matic 'Ice Blue Metalic' 101,000miles
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10,186 Posts
Has anyone checked the idler arm for wear/play?

Kevin
 

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92 300e 225,000 miles
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Discussion Starter #5
I know the Indy checked the Control arms and Ball joints (I asked him) as he was trying to find the least expensive fix first, I guess I can check them myself, if I knew what to check for! Thanks for the idea!
Adam
 

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1996, A124, E320 Sportline Cabriolet x 2
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1,555 Posts
I doubt you box is worn out. There is always play "off centre" even new. Attached is the instruction on how to adjust in car. Follow it exactly and you will find the play or lack of play and preload will be correct. Suggest a dealer with the proper tools though. Interview them first to see if they understand!!

All the best, Inspector.
 

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About a dozen 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 sedans, wagons, 4Matics and 1 coupe
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A competent shop should be able to tell if the box is the problem or not. I wouldn't be looking at the balljoints if the steering has as much slop as you say. The tie rod ends, idler arm, and center link are the prime suspects.

If the box is the problem replacement isn't terribly hard. I replaced the steering box in 88 TE#2 with a junkyard part. TE#2's box had 212k miles on it, had a little slop, and was a leaker. I didn't see the point of messing with a high miles box. Pulled a very clean one off an 87 300E and swapped it in without issues.

You do need to have a tie rod end splitter to safely disconnect the tapered joint in the linkage. Also an 8mm ? hex bit for the steering column connection. Replace the PS fluid return hose while you're in there -- they leak through the walls. Three long bolts hold the box to the frame rail and these are accessed by removing the left wheel.
 

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92 300e 225,000 miles
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Discussion Starter #9
I am pretty sure this shop was solid, they specialize in European cars, an usually the older ones. Actually had 2 w124 Cabrio’s on the lot! They went over my car and attempted to adjust and found that there was no more adjustment available. I am thinking that it is likely the box like they said. Also I agree that it does not seem that hard to replace. I crawled under there and checked it all out, and think that it is certainly something I can do myself. Now I have to decide to either hunt down a good used box, or buy a reconditioned one for around $350… Any advice on that one? So outside of the Return hose (as augapfel, said) and Steering Shock (as advised by the indy), anything else I should do in there?
Thanks!
 

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'92 300TE 4matic 280,000miles, '92 300TE 4Matic 'Ice Blue Metalic' 101,000miles
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I'd be inclined to go with a low mileage pick 'n pull....just because this boxes are pretty bulletproof. Nothing has been done to mine and it's still tight as...well, let's just say it's tight and let it go at that.:eek:

Kevin
 

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About a dozen 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 sedans, wagons, 4Matics and 1 coupe
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I think my used box cost me $25. Which made my decision about what to do quite easy...
 

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2013 SL550 Grey/ Red/Black Ash wood with every option
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STEERING BOX

Adam, at 205K miles, your steering box is worn beyond adjustment. I've seen over the years when working as an MB Tech (along time ago).
Inspector, the PDF you provided is for a newer style. The one Adam has is like the one pictured by augapfel.
I would try a U-Pull-It for a used one. or this link may help.
Mercedes Steering Rack - Mercedes Steering Box - Mercedes Steering Gearbox
They are not that difficult to rebuild. I would say that 99% of the steering boxes that are rebuilt by shops and owners are actually just resealed with no new parts. They are usually replaced when they are worn beyond adjustment. Good Luck,,,,,,Thor
 

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92 300e 225,000 miles
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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you to everyone for your help and advice. I went up to my "local" pull it yard and found one 300E locally. It was certainly picked over but low and behold the Steering gear box was there, and it was in decent shape. It took me a lot longer to get the box out, due to my lack of having a decent Allen wrench and my stubbornness in not wanting to get a Tie Rod fork... Well after humbling myself and getting the correct tools, I was able to get the job done fairly quickly and was able to get the part out and home for 40 bucks.
Now that I have it sitting on my work bench to put in, is there any additional advice about doing it right the first time? I know this sounds like a dumb question, but I had never taken a tie rod off before (thus my stubbornness in getting the tool, MUCH easier ) but is there anything special that I need to do to put it back on, or do I just tighten down the bolts? In the benz manual, it basically just says to put things back together. I plan to follow the instructions very closely, but wanted to make sure I do it right, and would love any advice. I also plan to have the vehicle re-aligned after the job is done.
Thanks!
 

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About a dozen 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 sedans, wagons, 4Matics and 1 coupe
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Most important thing:

Turn the wheels to the straight ahead position with the steering wheel centered before beginning the job. That way the allen head screw at the base of the column will be straight up and down for easy access.

Tie rods forks are great -- for destroying the grease boots on tapered joints. Get a claw type tie rod splitter for no-destruction-disassembly.

Grab the pitman arm and exercise your new box from one end of travel to the other several times. Check for smooth operation. And clean up all the fluid that has squirted out all over the place.

Center the replacement box as best you can by counting input shaft rotations and then diving by half. The input shaft flat should then be positioned to mate with the column shaft.

You may find that you don't need an alignment.

Clean the tapered pins and bores carefully to make sure that no gunk prevents a good fit between parts.
 

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STEERING BOX INFO

Adam, you don't need to pull any of the steering links from the Pitman Arm. Unbolt and pull the Pitman Arm for the steering gear output shaft at the steering box. Center the new box and slide on the Pitman arm. It should only go on one way, you'll see as it's indexed with a notch for the bolt. This is an R & R job, and has no bearing on the alignment. The steering couplers bolts tend to be tight. I would suggest having good 6mm allen wrench. You need to remove the allens with one good shot at loosening with a continuous motion. You''ll see what I mean when they snap as the loosen. If you ruin the inside of the allen screw head you'll be very unhappy, so get positioned so you can apply all the torque needed to break it loose in the first shot. When you install the new box, you'll have to get the steering coupler in the right position in order to to center the steering wheel. You'll know if it's off a tooth when you go down the road. At this point you can move the steering wheel a tooth, or re-do the coupler aligment. I prefer to do the coupler, but after the test drive she'll be hot. It's easier to mark the spline of the box you're R & R'ing with a center punch at the gap in the coupler. But in your case you are using a new steering box, so hopefully you'll get it aligned the first time. Hope this helps.....Thor
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Recap

I got the steering gearbox replaced, and am grateful for all the advice from those on this forum. Looking back, a few things that I would recommend to anyone attempting this job.
1. Get the part at the Pull-it yard: This is a big money saver(40 dollars at the Yard, 400 online), but more important, if this is the first time you are doing this job, it is nice to pull the part of a car that is a goner, instead of off of your w124. The education of being able to figure out the easy and hard parts of the job, at the yard was worth the 40 bucks.
2. Get the right tools, the first time: The Allen wrench is a must. I got the kind that is attached to a socket. Made the job of removing the gear box much easier. Also the tie rod puller was essential. I used Advanced Auto Parts tool rental program, so I was out the money for a few hours, and it was all back after I was done. I used the fork tool on the junk car. This worked, but was a bit of a pain and destroyed the boot. I used the Puller style on my car, and it was MUCH easier and faster to use and did not damage the boots. The puller was more expensive, but when you get the money back in the end anyway, does it really matter?
3. Watch how tight you tighten the Allen bolt: I over tightened this when I went to install, then realized that I was a rotation off on the alignment, when I went back and removed the part, I had closed the gap in the bracket enough to prevent it from slipping back on. After an hour of laying under the car, prying it back open, I was able to get it back on… I would have been done much sooner had I not over tightened that bolt.
4. Put the telescoping steering wheel all the way in: This sounds silly, but the gear box is easier to install if this is in.
5. Review the etchings on the motor for alignment: I was counting revolutions, and trying to make it right, with luck, but then reviewed the Manual, and noticed the etchings. This made lining everything up much easier, especially when you are hoisting the box over your head and trying to get it all lined up.
6. Make sure that the tie rod ends are clean, but more important make sure the housing that is on the steering gear box are clean. I forgot this part, and after getting the part at the yard, that portion of the part was very dirty, which prevented the tapered bolts from catching. I was advised to do this,(Thanks Augapfel) and only cleaned up the taper pins, not the inside of the bores. Thus the bolts spun on me, until I figured it out, got the nuts off again, and cleaned the joint up right.
7. Buy power steering fluid before you start the job. I had to drive over to Walmart at 11:30 at night because everything else was closed. I took the wife’s car, but she sure made fun of me for doing a job and forgetting the fluid. Even though the manual says to extract the fluid from the reservoir, it is dirty, and old and basically useless. Additionally a lot of the fluid is in the old box and the lines, so it all drips onto you or the floor anyway.
8. Be prepared to feel how good your car used to drive. I had gotten so used to the bad box, that it was amazing to see how tight the steer was.

Again, thanks for all the help and advice! Next, to the A/C, but I think I’ll take a few weeks off and get caught up on all of my other to do list items!:)
 

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1995 Mercedes E320 (W124, M104)
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Hi All,
I' am trying to figure out on how do you test if the steering box is the issue.
I started having a clicking noise on the left when you turn the wheel all the way to the left and then slightly to the right. Have checked all ball joints, rod ends, ect... all looks good.
It looks like the noise is coming from the box, it also has excessive play which affects the left wheel only.
Could anyone comment on how do you test it ? and if it is getting bad, how long can it live while clicking....
Thanks

Vlad
 

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1995 Mercedes E320 (W124, M104)
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190 Posts
Hi,
I' am not the original poster. Just thought I ask my question on the existing thread. My car is 1995 E320 not 500E ( I wish :D ).

Thanks,

Vlad
 

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1989 300CE Blue-Black (M103-C124), 1993 500 SEL (M119-V140), 1985 500 SEC (M117-C126)
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85 Posts
Word of advice on anyone changing their steering box - always use your original pitman arm.

The reason - Not all pitman arms are the same!
The early version (Pre-89) had the smaller type taper on the rod ends, the later type had larger type taper ends on the rod ends.


Just some friendly advice!
 
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