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Discussion Starter #1
I am always thankful for the mass of knowledge and experience that there is on the forum. Thank you in advance for your insight, experience and willingness to help.

My 2002 ML500 with 115,000 miles, acquired 3 weeks ago. I need help pinpointing a solution to getting this to handle like my other ML's.

Here's the history:

Purchased from original owner. I called the phone numbers on the receipts of different service places owner had listed in the history of maintenance. Checked out that it had a long service record of PM's. Plugs at 80K, transmission service 80K, acceleration position sensor, recalls, updates in software, etc. over the years. With services being done by dealers and Indy's, all checked out, so I purchased

Test drove and the car pulled to the right. Didn't handle like my others, but with worn tires, and a steering pull, I'll get it aligned and all should be ok.

Went to my go-to-shop for my suspension work and was told that he could not align because steering rack was too worn and the alignment would not work. He said "put in a rack and bring it back". I asked if it was the inner tie rod ends on the rack were loose, and he said nope, it's the rack. Ok, I'll be back. Long story short, I bought a remanufactured MAVAL rack and paid him to install, based upon my need to have this car in use, and the extensive job of the steering rack. Rack is in, new tie rod ends, inner and outer, to be sure the front end is all tight. Nothing else looked worn or wiggled, so back on the road.

With the steering fixed, I'm back on the road and now have noticed a larger underlying issue.

Here's the Problem:

At mid to higher speeds, the car starts to exhibit random tracking changes. It could be described as a car feels when driving over ice, then back on solid pavement again. Depending upon the crown of the road, it can quickly drift to one side, then back to the other, then settles down. Almost like an oscillation back and forth sometime (not up and down movements) as it feels when the shocks are worn. It feels more of a side to side movement. In the aviation world, this is movement is closest described as Positive Dynamic Stability- only the car is not moving up and down, but side to side. sorry for the illustration, but I am trying to be specific to explain what it feels like. As the diagram below shows, the movement would not be in the Z- axis, but the X-axis. Back and forth, then settles down again. Generally returning to center of travel, BUT not Always.
2639177



I had one used ML that felt similar to this when I first purchased it. I took it in for alignment, they found the upper control arm bolts loose on both sides- like someone started a job but forgot to tighten the nuts. So you can imagine what that would do to the handling of a car going straight. Sometimes it slips to the right, then back to the left, Floating as you will back and forth down the road. After that Alignment, and tightening, all went back to normal.

This was somewhat similar, so I first checked those bolts and all is tight. Need some direction (no pun) on what I am looking for to get this fixed.

Here's what I have done so far:
-New rack and pinon
-New inner and outer tie rod ends
-Alignment
-Moved better tires to front (hoping it was tires- no change in handling)
-Turned on and off ESP as driving (no change in handling)
-Inspected all 4 shocks- look dry, and I think they are good. When traveling over speedbumps, or hard stop, no extra bounce or oscillation up and down
-Inspected Sway Bar bushings and all is tight
-ordered front shock, just to see if that would change anything
-thinking about switching new tires and wheels from my other ML500 to this to eliminate the tire variable- but it does not feel like tires- and I have moved front to back hoping for a difference.

I'm open to a direction. HELP
Again, I own 3 of these, and they all drive similar, but this one is unstable.
 

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My first guess would of been shocks?

Tire issue unbalanced or delaminating

Had that problem with a car and Perelli tires. Tire shop said alignment, alignment shop said tires 3 times back and forth. But driving with it was like the car was not aligned. In your case it need to be more then one.

I doubt it but have a look at the front differential Carrier bushings. See if it is moving about, bushings worn.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll check- hope the alignment shop would have caught this when connecting the outer tie rod ends. I hope this is not the case since that means the rack may not have been bad. Is there a procedure to check this?


The car has michelin tires on it, Sounds like I will do a wheel and tire swap with my other 500 since that has less than 3K on its michelin's.
 

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More so visual the bolt should be centered in the bushing equal amount of rubber on all sides.

The fronts 2 you can see from under the bumper

The one rear visual and by placing a large screw driver or bar in there and prying.
2639199
2639200
 

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Notice the 2 slots they have to be at 12 and 6 o’clock. If you don’t see the bottom slot it’s bad.

The rear was replaced, it was so bad once the bolt was out the metal center sleeve came right out. Leaving the rubber and outer sleeve in place.

Fronts untouched driver side front gets abused by leaking PS fluid though.
 

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2000 ML55 sold? 2013 ML500,? 2015 C250 estate wagon, 1927 Dodge 4 sedan, 1929 Dodge
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I know exactly what your feeling when driving. That’s exactly how I described it in a thread years ago when I had the issue. I tried everything to fix it. I hate to say it but I’ll bet my left nut you have a bad rack. Tell them you want a refund or replacement. I put it down to the valveing in the tower part of the rack. It’s not repairable. I did the swap twice in 10 years with mine. Fixes it straight away. I bought used units.


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I'm open to a direction. HELP
Again, I own 3 of these, and they all drive similar, but this one is unstable.
Make sure to check rear tie rods. Any change in rear toe will make it drive like dog wagging its tail.
 

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Both Matt and Witek bring up good points.

I am not going to go through the whole saga,talked about it several times here but for my gmc I went through 3 (depends if you count a bad bushing then later a leak on the same unit as 2 events) bad rebuilt racks. So Matt has a good point. After install did they correctly bleed it?

So it is possible.


Totally forgot Witek’s point did they do a 2 wheel or 4 wheel alignment? I assumed the shop would know to do all 4 wheels?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
1.) Carrier bushings checked and they look fine

2.) Mattml430 - The rack has a lifetime warranty-but not the labor since I supplied the part. Initially I was to install, but after I looked at the time required, and I would be doing it on a garage floor, I asked my shop for a quote. Since a valving problem would account for the hard to describe handling symptoms, you may be 100% right- although I hope not because when I purchased the car, I had the same issue, but it was masked since it pulled to the right. It would be beyond frustrating that the old rack (not leaking) and new rack (remanufactured) were both defective.

But if all other things check out, I am left with returning to the rack as the issue. I printed out the bleed procedures, highlighted these and went over these in detail with the shop owner. Suspensions, alignments and brakes are all the shop does, and the other shops send out their work to him. The job was finished, no noise in the pump, and no bubbles in the reservoir. So, I would think the bleed procedure was done correctly.

Is there a in-car test procedure to verify the correction operation of the valve operation?. Also I noticed that you had the ML55 which had variable speed adjustment electrical connector the rack. This one does not have that feature. But I would like to know if there is a way to check the operation in the car as opposed to removing the rack and trying another one, since the labor is so intensive.

3.) I will check Witek's suggestions and check out the rear suspension. I will also verify that this was a 4-wheel alignment with the shop. I have ordered front shocks (don't think these could be it, but there are 115K on the car) and this is a simple DYI, and I am trying to eliminate variables one at a time, with out throwing tons of money into replacing everything. The rack expense was a surprise, I thought it was just an alignment that was need. So I am into this $1,200 more than I wanted to be. The thought was to have my daughter drive this car for 4 years. I would go through all PM's including, Brakes, hoses, tires, fluid changes, coolant, coolant tank, transmission and connector, etc. so she would have something solid. She will be across the country with no access to a Dad garage. Was hoping to leave her with just oil changes, and filters to maintain.

4.) Matt- your suspicions of a bad valve are now in the back of my mind and I hope there is a in car test procedure. I will chase down all of these other items since they are smaller dollar and time items, before I look at removing the rack, and hoping the next one will fix the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes it does, and since this is a no expense wheel swap from my other ML500, I will do this and report back.
 

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2000 ML55 sold? 2013 ML500,? 2015 C250 estate wagon, 1927 Dodge 4 sedan, 1929 Dodge
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When mine got to bad to drive with, I found one day parked on a slopping gutter. I put just one finger weight on it with the tyre leaning into the gutter the steering wheel would actually pulse. Using one finger slowly increase your weight on the steering wheel but make sure the tyre is against the gutter if you know what I mean.


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I am always thankful for the mass of knowledge and experience that there is on the forum. Thank you in advance for your insight, experience and willingness to help.

My 2002 ML500 with 115,000 miles, acquired 3 weeks ago. I need help pinpointing a solution to getting this to handle like my other ML's.

Here's the history:

Purchased from original owner. I called the phone numbers on the receipts of different service places owner had listed in the history of maintenance. Checked out that it had a long service record of PM's. Plugs at 80K, transmission service 80K, acceleration position sensor, recalls, updates in software, etc. over the years. With services being done by dealers and Indy's, all checked out, so I purchased

Test drove and the car pulled to the right. Didn't handle like my others, but with worn tires, and a steering pull, I'll get it aligned and all should be ok.

Went to my go-to-shop for my suspension work and was told that he could not align because steering rack was too worn and the alignment would not work. He said "put in a rack and bring it back". I asked if it was the inner tie rod ends on the rack were loose, and he said nope, it's the rack. Ok, I'll be back. Long story short, I bought a remanufactured MAVAL rack and paid him to install, based upon my need to have this car in use, and the extensive job of the steering rack. Rack is in, new tie rod ends, inner and outer, to be sure the front end is all tight. Nothing else looked worn or wiggled, so back on the road.

With the steering fixed, I'm back on the road and now have noticed a larger underlying issue.

Here's the Problem:

At mid to higher speeds, the car starts to exhibit random tracking changes. It could be described as a car feels when driving over ice, then back on solid pavement again. Depending upon the crown of the road, it can quickly drift to one side, then back to the other, then settles down. Almost like an oscillation back and forth sometime (not up and down movements) as it feels when the shocks are worn. It feels more of a side to side movement. In the aviation world, this is movement is closest described as Positive Dynamic Stability- only the car is not moving up and down, but side to side. sorry for the illustration, but I am trying to be specific to explain what it feels like. As the diagram below shows, the movement would not be in the Z- axis, but the X-axis. Back and forth, then settles down again. Generally returning to center of travel, BUT not Always.
View attachment 2639177


I had one used ML that felt similar to this when I first purchased it. I took it in for alignment, they found the upper control arm bolts loose on both sides- like someone started a job but forgot to tighten the nuts. So you can imagine what that would do to the handling of a car going straight. Sometimes it slips to the right, then back to the left, Floating as you will back and forth down the road. After that Alignment, and tightening, all went back to normal.

This was somewhat similar, so I first checked those bolts and all is tight. Need some direction (no pun) on what I am looking for to get this fixed.

Here's what I have done so far:
-New rack and pinon
-New inner and outer tie rod ends
-Alignment
-Moved better tires to front (hoping it was tires- no change in handling)
-Turned on and off ESP as driving (no change in handling)
-Inspected all 4 shocks- look dry, and I think they are good. When traveling over speedbumps, or hard stop, no extra bounce or oscillation up and down
-Inspected Sway Bar bushings and all is tight
-ordered front shock, just to see if that would change anything
-thinking about switching new tires and wheels from my other ML500 to this to eliminate the tire variable- but it does not feel like tires- and I have moved front to back hoping for a difference.

I'm open to a direction. HELP
Again, I own 3 of these, and they all drive similar, but this one is unstable.
I read every post so far. I have a 1999 ML430 and just bought an ML55 that I’m restoring and it handles exactly like yours. Everything was aligned, including new tires after I put in shocks and outer tie rods. Inner tie were perfect, so I’d like to hear the outcome as well...
 

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Ok this has had all of us wondering.

But something Witek said keeps in echoing in my head. Sort of “if you build it they will come” type thing.

Now I know nothing about alignments except when I need one it is the one thing I pay for. But MB’s are weird creatures, I poked a bit and saw this go to post 24. Yes it is not an ml but there are similar kits made.

Folks say toe in is adjustable, BUT not castor or camber! For that adjustment one needs a special bolt and yes they are made for mls as well.

So I don’t know; Bob and Alex ask your shop did they adjust more then the toe.

Other wise steering pump itself:

Yes I know it is not an ML post 24

 

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Folks say toe in is adjustable, BUT not castor or camber! For that adjustment one needs a special bolt and yes they are made for mls as well.
There is no need for any special bolts.

Rear camber/caster and rear toe:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Reporting back with good news!. I parked my car with my tire against the curb (hoping this is what you meant by a gutter) gently applied pressure to the steering wheel and increased and decreased the pressure on the wheel. No pulsation.
2639429



Problem Solved!

I swapped the wheels off my 2005 MI500 that has new Michelin's and took this 2002 ML500 for a drive last night. Drove like the ML should! Tires were the problem! Drove over crowns, rough roads, though dips, in ruts, quick lane changes, hard braking, on and off the shoulder of the road, and all was stable. I have never had tire issues that impacted the handling as much as these old Michelin's on the '02 did. Wallyo nailed the issue.

So here's how I got myself down this rabbit hole:

1.) My past experiences were that handling was related to suspension.
2.) I purchased this car knowing it needed tires, but with a pull to the right and weird handling, I was not going to spend dollars on new tires until the car drove right.
3.) Was told rack was worn and could not align until new rack was installed. Logically - a worn rack and pinion with so much slop that an alignment could not be done, I ASSUMED that the wandering was due to the play in the rack.
4.) After new rack and alignment did NOT fix it, I was not about to put on $800 in Michelin's until this dove right.
5.) I started looking for other suspension related items that would account for the bad handling, but was hitting walls when everything was tight and the whole steering and tie rod ends were new.
6.) If I did not have another set of tires to swap, I am not sure that I would have spent the money on tires since I was so focused on suspension.

Here's what I think happened (hindsight 20/20)
1.) Before I bought the car the rack started to wear (115,000mi) when I took ownership.
2.) The failing rack caused the tires to wear, and even though past tires were rotated, it scrubbed and carved all tires unevenly.
3.) So there were two issues, worn tires causing handling issues, and worn rack causing handling issues.


Thank all of you again for getting me out of the wrong rabbit hole and to the solution. Even though I could not believe it was the tires, I learned from someone's knowledge and experience and followed their lead to eliminate this variable.

I've been driving and working on these cars for the past 17 years. Every now and then, when I hit a wall, I feel I know nothing about these cars, and it's great to be able to go to a group with the depth of experience and knowledge that all of you bring.
 

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2000 ML55 sold? 2013 ML500,? 2015 C250 estate wagon, 1927 Dodge 4 sedan, 1929 Dodge
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That’s great news. Looks like my left nut is on the chopping block. Haha.


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Discussion Starter #18
Alex- If your is aligned, and you have new tires and new shocks, and all upper and lower control arm bushings are good (I could get a prybar between them and the frame to try to wiggle them-no movement), It sounds like everything is solid as it was on mine. There is still the steering rack as the variable. Could the valve be going bad, or do you have play in the rack as mine did that led to the replacement of it?
 

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Reporting back with good news!.
Thanks for giving us the answer so many times the OP never lets in what the solution was about, Sharing that is what this forum is about.

When I had my issue with the back and forth, the tires were brand new and from and installed by Costco. Alignment was a sears life time. The one sears shop said after the second check to bring it to the downtown store , they had the best alignment man in the state.

I don’t blame anyone but who would of thought brand new tires had a delam issue?
 

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Alex- If your is aligned, and you have new tires and new shocks, and all upper and lower control arm bushings are good (I could get a prybar between them and the frame to try to wiggle them-no movement), It sounds like everything is solid as it was on mine. There is still the steering rack as the variable. Could the valve be going bad, or do you have play in the rack as mine did that led to the replacement of it?
I’ll have to check. The other item is that while I had adjusted my torsión bar bolts both to 35mm, I was way off on the height. About 1.5” difference (measured from top of fender to bottom of tire). Suspension mechanic said to adjust them by floor height to fender and not at bolt with digital caliper. I’m with in .5” now put want to put them even. Before making any further guesses. But will then require a 3rd realignment? I figure maybe torsión bar tension is affecting handling?
 
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