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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings All. Thanks if you’ve seen and / or made helpful comments on my previous posts, but the stiff ride problem continues despite eliminating a few things. Here’s a reminder / update:

The car & history: 2004 S320L cdi, 128k gentle miles, well maintained, mine for past 3 years. Runs on OE 17” alloys with new Continental OE 225/55/17 97Y rated tyres (not XL) at correct pressures, no mods. Recent new front suspension arms, track control arms, wheel bearings, tracking perfect & drives straight. New Compressor & relay at 70k miles. New OE Valve Block just fitted (tested voltage from compressor / solenoids working), new engine mounts. Strut ADS module connectors checked for seating, appear ok.

Persisting Symptoms (despite the above): very stiff / almost non-existent damping at ALL 4 struts (as if defaulting to setting ‘4’ Safety Mode / hard compression & rebound?) even at very low speeds over ruts and ridges (Thump / Bounce, Ouch!). New Valve Block has made ZERO difference to the stiff, skateboard-like ride. ‘Sport’ 1 & 2 setting switches illuminate, but little difference (unsurprisingly?). I did notice a brief burning smell from the front of the car early in my ownership (hidden shorted wiring as someone suggested?), but nothing obvious when inspected.

(Before you ask): Never any ‘sagging’ even when car not used for a few days. No hint of air leaks, struts actuate ok, ride height even & correct, raises and lowers on dash switch. 3 x previous SDS (‘STAR’) diagnostics NO faults shown or stored even when tested on the move. No ‘Airmatic Warning’ signs on instrument cluster. (Before you ask): no, the harsh ride is not q. ‘maybe in my imagination?’ (as one Indie politely suggested - Mmmmm.. no comment). And yes: I’ve driven a ‘healthy’ (suspension-wise) W220 S Class. The difference is night and day - even allowing for the UK’s often poor road surfaces.

I see that a few W220 S Class owners with a similar problem have replaced air struts at huge expense but with no improvement: so I don’t want to go down this route on the off-chance. And, since the problem is affecting all 4 struts (+ no leaks), it seems unlikely that they have all gone bad.

My Question(s): 1. What might cause the apparent default to setting ‘4’ on my Airmatic / ADS but NOT show any fault codes on STAR? (Mechanical, electrical, or a combination?) 2. Has anyone had a similar experience / symptoms and managed to resolve their stiff damping the problem?

Any suggestions to diagnose the problem / restore the Magic Carpet ride which the S Class is famous for? I’m posting this on a few Mercedes forums so will try to keep track of and respond to all replies. Many thanks for your interest in the meantime.

Mark B (UK).

2647187
 

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Do a search under my name. Had the same problem and tried everything that you have including new front shocks. ( BTW all my replacements were brand new from the dealer, do not know what your replacements are ) .... What fixed mine was a ride calibration via SDS along with an alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Do a search under my name. Had the same problem and tried everything that you have including new front shocks. ( BTW all my replacements were brand new from the dealer, do not know what your replacements are ) .... What fixed mine was a ride calibration via SDS along with an alignment.
Thanks for your super quick reply Doni. Yep, my replacements were all new OE parts from a Mercedes dealer, but fitted by my local garage (who don't have SDS - only a Bosch equivalent - that might be relevant). I'll be on the case and let you know the outcome. Many thanks in the meantime. Will also look you up here for more details on your experiences. Regards, MB.
 

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The Airmatic system has two subsystems - the air system and the strut dampening system. Your problem is almost certainly due to the dampening subsystem, and I think that it almost certainly has nothing to do with the air subsystem.

Go here Airmatic - W220 S-Class Encyclopedia and go to section 6.14 and study it carefully.

Do you have any problems at all with the brake lights?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Greetings Wally, I remember your helpful advice from my last impassioned post! Yes, I've studied the encyclopedia 6.14 and it does suggest an ADS fault rather than on the airmatic side of things. The confusing thing is, why doesn't it produce any fault codes on STAR? No problem ever with brake lights. Maybe I should print section 6.14 and give it to an Indie as a guide to troubleshooting? Will report back, many thanks again. MB
 

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Shocks can go bad mechanically, not just electrically ;)
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Greetings Dave, thanks for your thoughts re. bad shocks. My only worry is that it seems unlikely that all 4 have gone 'bad' / failed mechanically since the hard ride problem is at all 4 corners? Also, quite a few ppl here report having replaced shocks at great cost, and still have the hard ride (!). Re. SDS Dx... your other comment ('properly diagnosed etc...') does resonate. I've had a concern that a couple of the Indies I went to maybe (stress maybe) did only basic system checks and didn't investigate the hard ride problem more thoroughly, as the main issue they often have to deal with is leaks etc - which can affect the safety and driveability (or not!) on S Class. Maybe that explains the 'it drives ok' feedback from a couple of them - when it clearly doesn't (or at least in terms of how it ideally should). Either way, thanks for your input and I'll report back. I'm determined to get to the root cause, since the car is immaculate otherwise. Cheers, MB :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Greetings Dave, thanks for your thoughts re. bad shocks. My only worry is that it seems unlikely that all 4 have gone 'bad' / failed mechanically since the hard ride problem is at all 4 corners? Also, quite a few ppl here report having replaced shocks at great cost, and still have the hard ride (!). Re. SDS Dx... your other comment ('properly diagnosed etc...') does resonate. I've had a concern that a couple of the Indies I went to maybe (stress maybe) did only basic system checks and didn't investigate the hard ride problem more thoroughly, as the main issue they often have to deal with is leaks etc - which can affect the safety and driveability (or not!) on S Class. Maybe that explains the 'it drives ok' feedback from a couple of them - when it clearly doesn't (or at least in terms of how it ideally should). Either way, thanks for your input and I'll report back. I'm determined to get to the root cause, since the car is immaculate otherwise. Cheers, MB :)
p.s. Dave... do you have any more thoughts on the 'bad mechanically' side? When the valve block was changed (new OE), my local garage didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with the struts as they deflated and re-inflated ok. The plot thickens... ;-) :-D
 

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Greetings Dave, thanks for your thoughts re. bad shocks. My only worry is that it seems unlikely that all 4 have gone 'bad' / failed mechanically since the hard ride problem is at all 4 corners? Also, quite a few ppl here report having replaced shocks at great cost, and still have the hard ride (!). Re. SDS Dx... your other comment ('properly diagnosed etc...') does resonate. I've had a concern that a couple of the Indies I went to maybe (stress maybe) did only basic system checks and didn't investigate the hard ride problem more thoroughly, as the main issue they often have to deal with is leaks etc - which can affect the safety and driveability (or not!) on S Class. Maybe that explains the 'it drives ok' feedback from a couple of them - when it clearly doesn't (or at least in terms of how it ideally should). Either way, thanks for your input and I'll report back. I'm determined to get to the root cause, since the car is immaculate otherwise. Cheers, MB :)
Mark,

I know exactly what you are going through since I was there myself not too long ago. Mine started with a left front accelerator code. Ride was horrible in every corner. Car had gone on a safety mode. At the time I had no SDS and the Indy was one of my very good friends. We cleared the code via his SDS and drove the car for a while but the ride never got any better and the code never came back either. He ran every test that he can thought via the SDS but nothing was out of spec. NO CODES that the SDS can show!! I even replaced bunch of parts out of desperation. ( Pump, it was very noisy and needed it anyways, valve block, none wrong with it, accelerator sensor, none wrong with it. First I thought maybe I was crazy but the indy confirmed as well that something was not right. At the end just like Dave pointed out, we thought maybe the shocks had gone bad mechanically since the car had just turn to 100k with what appeared the oem shocks. Two new shocks from the dealer and same crap. I even went to the dealer to get an alignment. That was a shit show. Three times and the steering wheel was still off to the side. So at that point the only thing that was left, it was the air control module. My friend/indy had an old spare laying around but for some odd reason I wanted to calibrate my ride. So I asked him to let me borrow his SDS home and try to re-calibrate it myself. It was the weekend and I must have read the forum for hours. Also sent a thousand messages to @Dave which was more than happy to even get on skype with me and help. ( A true Gentleman (y) ) Long story short, I was able to to re-calibrate/alignment. I felt the change right away pulling out of my garage and that is right there and then when I decided to buy my own SDS!!
Do not know if that is your issue but worth a try. So my advice is, find someone with the SDS ( or buy your own if you plan on keeping the car ) or try calling your dealer and ask on how much they want to calibrate your ride. Any other questions, let me know and I will try to help as much as I can (y)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks doni, that's reassuring (i.e. it's not 'in my imagination' - as one Merc un-named Indie suggested! More about the car: it's had an easy life (previous owner for 12 years was a retired doctor, as if that matters), no expense spared in maintenance. Recent OE Continental tyres all round and tracking (alignment) set absolutely spot on. Like yours, steering wheel was at first approx 5 degrees offset to L, then adjusted on the gauge but offset to right (annoying or what?!). Then, aligned using a spirit level on the steering wheel (conclusion: the gauge isn't always right). Result: perfect s/wheel centering, noticeably lighter and sharper steering, and I swear a slight improvement in damping too. I was pretty peeved that the new valve block didn't make any difference (£500 fitted - ouch!) but as you say, it at least eliminates that variable. From what you and Dave are saying, it does point more towards a calibration issue than anything. I'm not savvy enough with SDS to buy the kit and do a calibration myself, so will try to find a Merc Techie locally in south west UK who has the expertise (+ patience?) to troubleshoot & resolve things properly. I'm reluctant to hand myself over to a main Merc dealer as I've heard some horror stories on the forums about them charging a fortune for achieving nothing with SDS and scratching their heads: or worse still, taking lots of money for new parts with the same result. I've dipped-in to your other posts, thanks. You and Dave are a goldmine of help and I really appreciate it. To be continued.... thanks again ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
p.s. doni / Dave - yes I intend to keep the car as it's otherwise superb mechanically and cosmetically. And.. I can't afford £56k for the new equivalent :-D
 

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p.s. doni / Dave - yes I intend to keep the car as it's otherwise superb mechanically and cosmetically. And.. I can't afford £56k for the new equivalent :-D
I hear you on the dealer and don't blame you. That is where I went for my alignment and it took three times. Too bad you are not close to Dave. He would have taken care of you...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yep, ironic too, because many years ago I worked as a sales exec for my local Merc dealer! In those days of course I would have recommended customers to only use a franchised dealer. But that was 30 years, and their labour charges are £100+ per hour + VAT @ 20%. Last week I bought a new bootlid spring from my local dealer (the old one broke and the lid wouldn't stay up - another common problem - I risked concussing myself every time). The spring was £92, dealer labour charge to fit would have been £100. So I fitted it myself - easily and safely in 10 minutes with a useful tip from someone on this forum. Enough said? I'll try to find out where Dave is based in the UK. If not far away and he wants to get involved / drive the car etc / give an opinion, that would be great. Thanks again doni, will update as things progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ha - probably Dave (bootlid hinge washers + illustration?). It worked a treat - thanks. Pity you're at the other end of the country or I'd come and thank you in person / ask you to drive 'the Limo' for your opinion. Isle of Skye is a lovely place, had a couple of caravanning holidays there years ago.
 

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Time for a road trip - see if you can book a holiday in a facility that you would consider "safe", book an appointment with Dave, load up the masks and go!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Nice idea Wally! An expensive way to sort things out - but it might be worth it.
 

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see if you can book a holiday in a facility that you would consider "safe"
He'll be lucky to find anywhere, and I wouldn't take work on from that far away, mainly due to the logistics if there is a problem later down the line ;)

The whole of the Highlands is invaded by selfish b4$t4rd$ coming from far an' wide and starting little outbreaks of C19 all over Scotland, leaving their rubbish littering the landscapes, abusing our shop assistants as they all claim they are "exempt" from masks, dawdling along A roads at 25 mph and still braking for the corners or just pulling up in the middle of the road to take pictures, then there is the dumb assed hairdresser sports car brigade who insist on driving through our village (and all the others at at least double the 40 speed limit) etc etc

Most Tourists are a royal PITA, many spend naff all so they aren't really putting much into the local economy, they fill their vehicles with shopping from cities :( ....................

If it was up to me it would all still be locked down, Hadrians Wall rebuilt, I thoroughly enjoyed my lockdown, gave me time to get the V8 Install done on the R170 SLK and a whole heap of other jobs got caught up on :) Roads were deserted, outside was quiet ............... Just like it was when I first came up here 14 + years ago

The "Tourism" up here is out of hand now, has been for the last 5 years, the place is no longer the peaceful tranquility that it once was :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ohhhh that's a pity Dave - was just about to set off from Weston super Mare with a load of my mates lol :-D
 

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:ROFLMAO:

I'll ask some buddies down your way if they can recommend a good indie nearer, I work to a high standard and give a personal guarantee, plus whatever warranty is on parts, but of course it does have to be RTB, which is why I only do work locally, and also I'm that busy there is currently at least a 3 week wait ;)
 
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