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1998 E320
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Good day to all.

I have owned my '98 E320 for approx. 2-years. I have had my fair share of normal maintenance issues including the big-one, tranny. I have been chasing a strange noise in the drivetrain for a couple of months now and have run into a dead end. I will list the symptoms/work done and will appreciate any/all input.

Description:
Upon acceleration there is a whine from the dirvetrain, mainly in the read end. At around 30 MPH there is a second noise, almost like a high pitched squeal, like a loose brake pad. Maybe a wheel bearing? Not a brake pad, noise does not stop under braking.

One major thing worth noting, the car does not vibrate at all. Just had all 4 tires replaced and the car is just as smooth as always.

Work done:
- Inspected flex joints. They look OK for a car of this age. No cracks apparent.
- Changed diff. fluid. Mobil 1 synthetic 70W-90. No obvious change.
- Inspected driveshaft center support bearing. Basically removed heat shield and dropped braring bracket. Was only able to rotate bearing 1/16 of a turn, but seemed smooth and no axial/radial play. (Have one in the tool box, just ran out of weekend, looks like at least a couple of hours).
- Put rear of car in the air and tried to run it. At around 10 MPH the rear end started jerking. Turned off traction control, thinking this was the issue and she still would not run. Is it possible to run this car in the air??

Thanks for reading. If you have any ideas, they will be much appreciated.
 

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1999 E300 TD
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2,045 Posts
I guess I would start by first having someone stay with the car while putting the car on a lift. Turn off all the antitheft and towing stuff. Start the car,shift the car, apply breaks and listen to the rear end.

Hopefully you can localize the noise. Good luck
 

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2001 E55 //AMG
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44 Posts
Good day to all.

I have owned my '98 E320 for approx. 2-years. I have had my fair share of normal maintenance issues including the big-one, tranny. I have been chasing a strange noise in the drivetrain for a couple of months now and have run into a dead end. I will list the symptoms/work done and will appreciate any/all input.

Description:
Upon acceleration there is a whine from the dirvetrain, mainly in the read end. At around 30 MPH there is a second noise, almost like a high pitched squeal, like a loose brake pad. Maybe a wheel bearing? Not a brake pad, noise does not stop under braking.

One major thing worth noting, the car does not vibrate at all. Just had all 4 tires replaced and the car is just as smooth as always.

Thanks for reading. If you have any ideas, they will be much appreciated.
I am having a similar problem on my 2001 E55 (131K miles). Have you been able to resolve the issue ?

I have stumped the dealership and a indy Master MB tech as to what it could be. Basically I was told to drive with the noise until it gets worse b/c they can't pinpoint the issue. Essentially my indy didn't want to recommend a couple thousand dollars in work if he wasn't sure it was going to fix the issue. I can appreciate that, however this noise is driving me nuts.

At about 10 mph i get bit of a squeal (sometimes seems like a bit of a grinding) that increases/decreases with speed at the passenger rear wheel.

Slight vibration between 38 mph and 50 mph, but this might be an additional issue.

The noise is not audibly present in reverse. And is not reproducible with the car in the air and manually spinning the wheel by hand.

Both Flex discs are new.
Trans mount new.
Tires are good and relatively new.
All Brakes are about 2 years old with < 5k miles on them.
Wheels are not bent...confirmed by 2 different shops.
Doesn't appear to be a dragging rear brake pad.
Parking brake is good.
Rear wheel bearing play is acceptable.

I'm leaning towards something with the driveshaft as the noise seems a bit more pronounced when letting foot off the gas pedal.

Braking has no impact on the noise.

I would like to put the car in the air with the car running to help pinpoint the sound/issue. Is there a way to do that with w210 and its ESP ?

Any ideas/suggestions are welcome.
 

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1997 E320, 1997 S320
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2,946 Posts
it's probably from the rear differential. plutoe's idea of putting car on lift with someone in the car is pretty good at pinpointing where it is coming from, but i would bet money it is from the differential. mine has whined for over 6 years now. a thicker gear fluid (mobil1 75w140) did reduce the noise quite a bit. later on i added 1 tube of "lubro moly mos2 antifriction for gears" (autohausaz stocks it, part# 2019), and that eliminated most of the whine. if i listen very carefully though, i can still hear it a little bit but most of the whine is gone. by the way the 75w140 gear oil didn't affect gas mileage at all.
 

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2001 E55 //AMG
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44 Posts
The indie mechanic I took my car too said it's not possible to lift the car and put it in drive without the ESP going bonkers because the wheels are not touching the ground. The OP seemed to echo those sentiments as well. I will try to this weekend and see what I get by putting the car up and running it in drive to try and pinpoint the noise myself.

Another piece of info for diagnosis...a cold front came through DC last night so I drove my car this morning at it was 55 degrees outside and I did not hear the sound at all. So temperature seems to play a role.

I will have to double check the newly installed flex discs since they are rubber and rotating and they could be affected by temperature.
 

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12 GL450
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13,900 Posts
I had similar problems. It was the center support drive shaft bearing. I went crazy thinking it were the wheel bearing or rear end. It seemed to be coming from passenger side front wheel or rear wheel but I just couldn't localize it. I then decided to go ahead and change the drive shaft center support and bearing and the small rubber boot. Everything is quiet.

1. You can't really "inspect" the center support bearing just by looking at it. Mine looked perfect.
2. You still may not be able to tell it is bad when the drive shaft is off the car and you turn it by hand. It still looked perfect. Not much noise but then, you cant turn it by hand at speeds of 30+ MPH.;)
3. After I had it changed and paid $130 labor and ordered all the parts from BMA parts for $50 with free shipping which only took 2 days to arrive.
4. If you really want to diagnose it, borrow a stethoscope, have someone drive and you listen with it placing it on the floor in all different positions.

With the new bearings............BAM! PROBLEMS SOLVED and I can hear myself breathe now!:thumbsup:

ADVICE:

1. Don't pay any shop that wants to charge more than 2 hours. It only takes 45-60 minutes in a shop.
2. Don't follow the Mercedes procedure and remove the whole drive shaft from front and rear. You can only remove the rear part of the drive shaft for this job which makes it extremely fast job.
3. Don't let a shop tell you that they have to drop the whole exhaust. THEY ARE LYING!! Only the muffler needs to be let down from the clips.

Tell the shop #1-3 and tell them that you will only pay by the job and you will not pay more than $130 and this is easier than a Ford or a Toyota. Otherwise find another shop. This job is as simple as changing a tire. I would have done it myself if I had access to a lift and hammer drill.
 

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12 GL450
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13,900 Posts
I am having a similar problem on my 2001 E55 (131K miles). Have you been able to resolve the issue ?

I have stumped the dealership and a indy Master MB tech as to what it could be. Basically I was told to drive with the noise until it gets worse b/c they can't pinpoint the issue. Essentially my indy didn't want to recommend a couple thousand dollars in work if he wasn't sure it was going to fix the issue. I can appreciate that, however this noise is driving me nuts.

At about 10 mph i get bit of a squeal (sometimes seems like a bit of a grinding) that increases/decreases with speed at the passenger rear wheel.

Slight vibration between 38 mph and 50 mph, but this might be an additional issue.

The noise is not audibly present in reverse. And is not reproducible with the car in the air and manually spinning the wheel by hand.

Both Flex discs are new.
Trans mount new.
Tires are good and relatively new.
All Brakes are about 2 years old with < 5k miles on them.
Wheels are not bent...confirmed by 2 different shops.
Doesn't appear to be a dragging rear brake pad.
Parking brake is good.
Rear wheel bearing play is acceptable.

I'm leaning towards something with the driveshaft as the noise seems a bit more pronounced when letting foot off the gas pedal.
You are right. Letting foot off the pedal make engine quieter so you are able to hear the noise better.
Braking has no impact on the noise.

I would like to put the car in the air with the car running to help pinpoint the sound/issue. Is there a way to do that with w210 and its ESP ?

Any ideas/suggestions are welcome.
See my post above for the rest of the answer.
 

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1999 E430; 2005 ML500
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1,719 Posts
You can also get, or find someone with, a set of chassis ears to help localize the noise while driving. Helped me localize mine to the driver's rear wheel bearing.

Cancer Researcher: what do you need the hammer drill for the center support bearing for?
 

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12 GL450
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13,900 Posts
You can also get, or find someone with, a set of chassis ears to help localize the noise while driving. Helped me localize mine to the driver's rear wheel bearing.

Cancer Researcher: what do you need the hammer drill for the center support bearing for?
To attach a socket on the end to remove the bolts on the drive shaft to remove it from the rear diff.
 

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2001 E55 //AMG
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44 Posts
Update with more info.

Finally put my car up on ramps and jack stands and disabled ESP/BAS/ABS module by the washer fluid reservoir in order to spin the wheels without the electronics going bonkers.

Hit the gas and spun the wheels up quite fast, and I am completely unable to reproduce the noise. I double checked both flex disks and they seem fine.
Drive-shaft spins freely and appears to be vibration free.

I'm seriously going out of my mind trying to figure this out.

So my question is what could make a squealing noise that is speed sensitive only when the suspension is under load ??

Am I off base ruling out flex discs, wheel bearing, parking brake, rear brakes ? I believe if any of those were an issue then my car would make the noise no matter if the suspension is loaded or not.
 

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1999 E430; 2005 ML500
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1,719 Posts
My logic: must be a wheel or center support bearing. Wheel bearings are more sensitive to suspension load, so probably one of those. Recommendation: find someone with chassis ears to confirm.
 

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2001 E55 //AMG
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44 Posts
My logic: must be a wheel or center support bearing. Wheel bearings are more sensitive to suspension load, so probably one of those. Recommendation: find someone with chassis ears to confirm.
UPDATE. Driving til it got worse definitely ended up getting worse for my wallet. :surrender:

After trying to troubleshoot the noise from my last post in that thread about 3 months ago, the noise had disappeared until this past weekend. The noise came back much worse and began a slight grinding sound when I took off ramps or corners. Before I could get it to a shop to look at it...clunk, bang,BOOM. I pull over immediately to my amazement, my rear passenger wheel was so close to completely coming off (about 1/2"). Two hours of trying to get a lowered, non-rolling AMG onto a flatbed tow, I finally dropped it off at my shop.

I pretty much destroyed my whole right rear side. What I speculate happened was the hub/bearing began to separate from the wheel carrier, stripping the axle nut thread by thread until it popped and the whole rear end came apart.

My gut feeling was I should've replaced the bearings back in September when the noise began and was a bit hesitant when my indie told me he couldn't pinpoint it to the rear bearings. Well about $1200 to guess and replace the bearings ended up costing me almost 3x that to repair once the bearing deteriorated. Fortunately, I was able to pull over in time and didn't lose the wheel at highway speed and get into a serious accident.

I ended up having to repair the following:
bearing
hub
wheel carrier
Axle
rotor
rear pads
parking brake
lugs

Live and learn.
 

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98 E-320, 2003 E-500
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685 Posts
Sorry to hear about your problem however the positive side at least you caught it before an accident happened.

Hopefully, now can go back to enjoy driving the car without these irritating noises.

Regards,
 
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