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1972 350SL 1974 280C 1984 500SEL 1986 560 SEL 1987 420 SEL 1989 190E 1989 560SL 1991 300SE
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Discussion Starter #1
1898 560SL, US spec., 91,000 miles.

I have owned this car for 6 years and have driven it about 10,000 miles in that time. Ever since I've owned it the steering has been very easy to the left (almost too easy, like. 1975 Cadillac) and a little stiffer than normal to the right. A couple M-B mechanic buddies have driven the car for unrelated reasons and the first thing out of their mouth has been "How long has your steering been like that? I can fix it for you." They both were looking to get body work done to their cars at the time and I got the vibe that it was an easy fix that they were trying to trade for a complete paint job. They were not willing to tell me how to do it. Kinda bugged me.

I've learned to live with it and honestly don't notice, but my wife drove it the other day and it makes her very nervous.

I'm sure there's a thread about this issue somewhere on this site, but I couldn't find it this morning when I was searching. Sorry
 

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It Is What It Is, Dude
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Does the steering gear need to be centered? That's been discussed here, but I don't recall hearing what you're describing mentioned as a symptom.
 

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL
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973 Posts
Some thoughts...

Is the steering effort unbalanced when the car is stationary? If so it could be a steering problem. (You can more objectively test this with a torque wrench on the nut that mounts the steering wheel, comparing readings turning the wheel left versus right.)

If steering effort is same when stationary, and if the tire pressures and wear patterns are normal, then a rolling unbalanced effort sounds like an alignment might be needed.

Does the car drive straight hands-off? Power steering can sometimes mask a misalignment's slight pull to one direction but makes the car seem easier to steer into that direction and harder to the opposite.

Good road,
 

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One of the BW Old Guard/R129, W204 Moderator
1997 SL500- 40th Anniversary
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7,150 Posts
Some thoughts...

Is the steering effort unbalanced when the car is stationary? If so it could be a steering problem. (You can more objectively test this with a torque wrench on the nut that mounts the steering wheel, comparing readings turning the wheel left versus right.)

If steering effort is same when stationary, and if the tire pressures and wear patterns are normal, then a rolling unbalanced effort sounds like an alignment might be needed.

Does the car drive straight hands-off? Power steering can sometimes mask a misalignment's slight pull to one direction but makes the car seem easier to steer into that direction and harder to the opposite.

Good road,
Excellent post.
If you read the manual on steering effort, you will see a graph of how the effort is, related to the centering of the steering box. The manual also provides the specs, and instructions to measure.

Good luck sorting this out.
 

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1980 380SL
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65 Posts
I have to admit I'm a newbie but I'm learning fast!I've just adjusted my steering box to reduce the free play at the wheel and in the setting up it suggests there should be an equal increase in steering resistance both sides of straight ahead then a drop in resistance.
It sounds like at some time the pitman arm has been removed from the steering box output shaft and then put back in a slightly different position so the increased torque position is all on one side.
A clue would be if the steering wheel is off to one side when driving straight, but of course the wheel may have been moved to mask the other fault!
There is a full explanation in the manual, hope this helps, I believe a special puller is available to remove the pitman arm.
Hope this gets you back on track!(sorry about that I couldn't help it)
 

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1986 560 SL
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7,300 Posts
Good luck with removing that blasted Pitman arm.
I couldn't budge it and the front-end shop had no better luck despite its tools and experience.
 

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1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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9,767 Posts
More than likely the stearing box is bad. But because the 560SL has 10° caster it is woth checkin alignment as well and certainly pitman installation and toe with a centering pin installed.
 

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1972 350SL 1974 280C 1984 500SEL 1986 560 SEL 1987 420 SEL 1989 190E 1989 560SL 1991 300SE
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Discussion Starter #9
OK, I'm back home and checking out the items suggested. My report is as follows:
The steering wheel is centered
The turn count from center to locks the same, approx. 1:65 turns to lock, left or right
The steering effort is easier to the left when stationary, as well.
It tracks perfectly down the road and has no abnormal tire wear.

Anyone gain any insights from that?
 

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Always Remembered RIP
1979 280sl 4 sp w/ac 1957 MGA 1998 volvo xc/70 2004 F150
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Do like UPS and only make right turns !!!!!!! ( Ok, 1 short of the tenth post, shoot me ).
 

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1972 350SL 1974 280C 1984 500SEL 1986 560 SEL 1987 420 SEL 1989 190E 1989 560SL 1991 300SE
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Discussion Starter #11
^^^^
I tried that line on a customer once. I would not describe his response as a positive interactive experience.
:confused::D:confused:
 

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Always Remembered RIP
1979 280sl 4 sp w/ac 1957 MGA 1998 volvo xc/70 2004 F150
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6,050 Posts
I believe you, but I wasn't kidding, do a search on UPS RIGHT HAND TURNS ONLY !!
 

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82 380SL 96 SL500 03 SL500
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OK, I'm back home and checking out the items suggested. My report is as follows:
The steering wheel is centered
The turn count from center to locks the same, approx. 1:65 turns to lock, left or right
The steering effort is easier to the left when stationary, as well.
It tracks perfectly down the road and has no abnormal tire wear.

Anyone gain any insights from that?
Bad steering box...

Of course Roncallo already said that, which makes my diagnosis much easier and more probably correct. :)
 

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL
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973 Posts
OK, I'm back home and checking out the items suggested. My report is as follows:
The steering wheel is centered
The turn count from center to locks the same, approx. 1:65 turns to lock, left or right
The steering effort is easier to the left when stationary, as well.
It tracks perfectly down the road and has no abnormal tire wear.

Anyone gain any insights from that?
If you think the steering wheel was moved to compensate for the pitman arm adjustment, a look under the airbag will tell the tale. The 560 SL has an index mark on the steering shaft that matches a mark on the steering wheel when reassembled correctly.

Since you're getting the unbalanced resistance when stationary, I think that points right to the steering box, and especially so because you adjusted it recently. Folks here who know generally advise against that adjustment, looking for play elsewhere in the system first and recognizing that even an inch of play at the steering wheel's outer rim is within factory spec.

Best of luck, bud, as you continue your efforts. Keep us posted.

Good road,
 

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It Is What It Is, Dude
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The hands on responses Jeff recounts for his two tech buddies sure makes it sound like something relatively simple. I'd try checking/adjusting the box back to center if it needs it.
 

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1972 350SL 1974 280C 1984 500SEL 1986 560 SEL 1987 420 SEL 1989 190E 1989 560SL 1991 300SE
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469 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
In my business, we are strongly in favor of left turns and driving backwards.
:thumbsup::thumbsup:
 
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