Cheap(er) strut bar for SLK55 - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

Performance MODS for the R171 Tuning and Performance modifications for your SLK

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#1 Old 03-27-2014
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Cheap(er) strut bar for SLK55

So I decided to order a strut bar for my SLK55. Now I wasn't wild about paying the 300+ that I would have to pay for a Wiechers one, so I decided to do what anyone looking to modify on a budget does: I went to eBay.

I found a bunch of sellers all selling R171 bars, specifically "Ultra Racing" ones. Whatever. Cheap steel is cheap steel. I bought the bar.

After some dismay at the fact that the "ships from California" part of the description actually meant "ships from Malaysia" (welcome to the world of eBay), I was pleased to see that the bar both arrived and was exactly what I expected. One single piece, decent-looking welds, fully painted.

I installed it tonight. I think I put it on the right way (with the slope going towards the front of the car), but since I foolishly already removed the stickers before the install I don't know for sure. I can't imagine it fitting any better the other way though...

Anyways, here are some pictures:

Overall shot

Drivers side, med.

Driver's side, close

As you can see, it seems to fit nearly perfectly. I did have to bend the insulation bracket very, very slightly (maybe 1/4 inch?) on the driver's side, but it was nothing compared to what the other bar options would require.

I have two concerns with the bar though:

1) White? Really? Nothing a $5 can of high-temp enamel can't fix though...

2) The mount plate is thick, so the nuts are only about halfway on the studs. I guess that gravity is on my side here, though, right? I mean... they're torqued down pretty well, and most of the time the studs are being driven up, so the nuts shouldn't come off, right? Edit: Apparently the Wiechers bars have this problem as well, and I haven't heard of any of those coming off...

Hood clearance seems fine, from what I can tell. The bar is rectangular, not tubular, so it's not very tall. And it seems to sit pretty close to the engine. Obviously I don't have a way to tell for sure, but I suspect that it fits right in the mandated safety distance between the engine and the hood. I'll check for signs of the bar left in the hood insulation after I drive with it for a bit -- but I don't think I'll find any.

All in all, it looks decent, considering that I paid 160 shipped.

Guess it's time to paint it if I decide to keep it on...

Last edited by ThinkRob; 03-28-2014 at 12:50 AM.
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#2 Old 03-27-2014
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I'm not sure how much benefit a strut bar will be on an SLK as I've never noticed much in the way of scuttle shake.
However, I would be concerned that so little of the strut bolt is available for the nut. It looks as if only a couple of threads have caught. Perhaps, as a minimum, some thread-lock might be a good idea.
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#3 Old 03-27-2014
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HI Rob

Yeah them nuts only using afew threads is a big no no , There is a reason nuts are a standard thickness . they are designed to meet a level of stress/ load .

Cheers

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#4 Old 03-27-2014
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At over half the price of the Weichers bar, this one looks pretty terrible I have to say. If you don't care about the looks, I'm sure it is functional.

I wouldn't worry about the bolts not threading all the way through; this can be fixed with longer bolts, but it's not easy. There are quite a few people on the forum with these bars and as far as I know no one has gone through the trouble of lengthening the bolts, and no one has had any problems with their suspension falling apart because of the missed threads . If you want to be extra sure, put on some Loctite.

These bars actually have been proven by a forum member to significantly reduce the tilt angle of the front of the car. There is a nice thread on this where he put a military grade accelerometer on the hood to measure this.
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#5 Old 03-27-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThinkRob View Post
So I decided to order a strut bar for my SLK55. Now I wasn't wild about paying the 300+ that I would have to pay for a Wiechers one, so I decided to do what anyone looking to modify on a budget does: I went to eBay.

I found a bunch of sellers all selling R171 bars, specifically "Ultra Racing" ones. Whatever. Cheap steel is cheap steel. I bought the bar.

After some dismay at the fact that the "ships from California" part of the description actually meant "ships from Malaysia" (welcome to the world of eBay), I was pleased to see that the bar both arrived and was exactly what I expected. One single piece, decent-looking welds, fully painted.

I installed it tonight. I think I put it on the right way (with the slope going towards the front of the car), but since I foolishly already removed the stickers before the install I don't know for sure. I can't imagine it fitting any better the other way though...

Anyways, here are some pictures:

Overall shot

Drivers side, med.

Driver's side, close

As you can see, it seems to fit nearly perfectly. I did have to bend the insulation bracket very, very slightly (maybe 1/4 inch?) on the driver's side, but it was nothing compared to what the other bar options would require.

I have two concerns with the bar though:

1) White? Really? Nothing a $5 can of high-temp enamel can't fix though...

2) The mount plate is thick, so the nuts are only about halfway on the studs. I guess that gravity is on my side here, though, right? I mean... they're torqued down pretty well, and most of the time the studs are being driven up, so the nuts shouldn't come off, right?

Hood clearance seems fine, from what I can tell. The bar is rectangular, not tubular, so it's not very tall. And it seems to sit pretty close to the engine. Obviously I don't have a way to tell for sure, but I suspect that it fits right in the mandated safety distance between the engine and the hood. I'll check for signs of the bar left in the hood insulation after I drive with it for a bit -- but I don't think I'll find any.

All in all, it looks decent, considering that I paid 160 shipped.

Guess it's time to paint it if I decide to keep it on...
I have to agree the white color seems bizarre. I guess with the money saved you could get it professionally polished/painted (or DI so that it looks like a proper strut bar. Maybe just polish the mount plates and wrap the center in real CF!

The Wiechers bar has the same "issue" with the nuts. I haven't had an issue with the nuts for years.


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#6 Old 03-27-2014
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Originally Posted by Durkatlon View Post
At over half the price of the Weichers bar, this one looks pretty terrible I have to say. If you don't care about the looks, I'm sure it is functional.
Eh. The white sucks, I'll admit, but I like the one-piece design. I think it'd look a *lot* closer to stock if it were painted a suitable color.

I'm pretty good at painting, so I figured I'll just throw some black high temp-resistant enamel on there. Then again, aside from a couple times a year in Cary, the only people who see my engine bay are myself and my local indie performance shop.

Quote:
I wouldn't worry about the bolts not threading all the way through; this can be fixed with longer bolts, but it's not easy. There are quite a few people on the forum with these bars and as far as I know no one has gone through the trouble of lengthening the bolts, and no one has had any problems with their suspension falling apart because of the missed threads . If you want to be extra sure, put on some Loctite.
I'd honestly be more worried about stress causing the threads to warp -- but I figured that since other people had basically the same issue with other bars that it wasn't likely to be a big deal.

Quote:
There is a reason nuts are a standard thickness . they are designed to meet a level of stress/ load
Loctite is forthcoming.

But unless my front wheels are hanging off a cliff, doesn't it logically make sense that the stress wouldn't be pulling *down* on the bolts? If anything, it would be exerting force upwards -- so the nuts shouldn't be pulled down against the bar.... right?

Or am I thinking about this backwards?

Quote:
These bars actually have been proven by a forum member to significantly reduce the tilt angle of the front of the car. There is a nice thread on this where he put a military grade accelerometer on the hood to measure this.
Yeah, that's honestly the only reason why I considered it. I figured that since some people had verified there was an improvement I'd give it a shot and see if I felt it.

That, and that AMG put one on the black series -- and while some things about that car are massively wasteful, I'm pretty convinced they don't do mechanical mods just for aesthetics (especially when you consider how they designed the bar -- it's not exactly prominent in the engine bay.)
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They're supposedly a worthwhile upgrade if you like to hoon around at high speeds in the twisties or on a track ... you'd probably be hard pushed to notice the difference a normal driving speeds.

I remember reading the thread Durk mentioned - it made perfect sense and makes you realise why they're fitted to hi-performace race & rally cars...

Could do with being black though ...!

Thanks for sharing ..

Cheers
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#8 Old 03-27-2014
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Originally Posted by Seanhump View Post
They're supposedly a worthwhile upgrade if you like to hoon around at high speeds in the twisties or on a track ... you'd probably be hard pushed to notice the difference a normal driving speeds.

I remember reading the thread Durk mentioned - it made perfect sense and makes you realise why they're fitted to hi-performace race & rally cars...
Hooning around at high speeds on twisties does sound like something that I do from time to time... or frequently, if it's warm out...

I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to extend the bolts, maybe with sleeve nuts so that I don't have to remove the entire strut. I think that should be doable without too much effort, and it would help me rest a little easier...
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#9 Old 03-27-2014
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The bolts appear (according to the EPC diagram) to be fixed to the top of the shock absorber - they don't appear to be seperate parts.

As Durk said, a reasonable amount of work needed to remove / drill out and change the bolts for longer ones...

Cheers
Sean
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#10 Old 03-27-2014
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Originally Posted by Seanhump View Post
The bolts appear (according to the EPC diagram) to be fixed to the top of the shock absorber - they don't appear to be seperate parts.
Damn.

Well, maybe sleeve/coupler nuts could work. I'd need to bore out the strut bar slightly, but that's easy enough.

Or I could just Loctite it and figure that it's probably safe.

How thick is the Wiechers bar?
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Some bar manufacturers provide special nuts that deal effectively with the factory short stud. This pic is from ECS Tuning (ecstuning.com) and is included with a bar for a BMW M3. I did a quick check and both cars use an M8 nut for the strut. You may be able to get ECS to send you a set of six (you just bought a used ECS strut bar ;>) didn't you). Installation may require a little opening up of the holes where the stud passes through.

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#12 Old 03-27-2014
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Originally Posted by mchild View Post
Some bar manufacturers provide special nuts that deal effectively with the factory short stud. This pic is from ECS Tuning (ecstuning.com) and is included with a bar for a BMW M3. Not sure of the stud size and thread pitch, but it would not surprise me if they were the same between the two cars. Shouldn't be too hard to confirm. You may be able to get ECS to send you a set of six. Installation may require a little opening up of the holes where the stud pass through.
If anyone's going to try out a set of these, I'd love to hear about the results!
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#13 Old 03-27-2014
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Originally Posted by mchild View Post
Some bar manufacturers provide special nuts that deal effectively with the factory short stud. This pic is from ECS Tuning (ecstuning.com) and is included with a bar for a BMW M3. I did a quick check and both cars use an M8 nut for the strut. You may be able to get ECS to send you a set of six (you just bought a used ECS strut bar ;>) didn't you). Installation may require a little opening up of the holes where the stud passes through.
What's the part number for this or the direct link on the ECS site?


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#14 Old 03-27-2014
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What's the part number for this or the direct link on the ECS site?
Looks like they only sell them as part of the entire brace kit:

http://www.ecstuning.com/ES2500896/

You'd probably have to contact them directly to see if they'd be willing to send you just the hex-nuts.
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It says it is a genuine BMW kit...perhaps you could buy the nuts from BMW?
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#16 Old 03-28-2014
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The BMW nut seems to be be part #51717895702, which is shared with the Mini.

... and which costs ten dollars per nut.
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It says it is a genuine BMW kit...perhaps you could buy the nuts from BMW?
The nuts are not a BMW item. They come with the aftermarket strut bar kit from ECS as the thickness of the plate creates the same problem as ThinkRob has.

These nuts are the correct solution; not trying to keep the nuts on with only one or two treads. There is little mechanical connect if done that way. While others may not have had a problem, the potential for one is increased significantly with only a couple of threads holding the nuts on. If there is ever an insurance claim you can bet the insurance company is going to have an issue which means the car owner is going to have a problem. I'm not suggesting for a minute that our cars should not be modded - just don't arm your insurance adjuster to deny a claim.

I did a quick look around to see if nuts like the ones included in the ECS kit were generally available but could not find them. They may be out there as I did not spend a lot of time looking.

A call to ECS may reveal where they source the nuts or that they may be willing to sell a set. Also, other aftermarket manufacturers of strut bar kits may include the same type of nuts. So, if ECS is not a willing player keep checking around. Along those lines there are many tuner shops around the country installing this stuff all the time. If they are a big enough reseller of the ECS bar - or any others that use that type of nut, I would bet they have those nuts sitting on the shelf by the box full. Just need to look around a bit.
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Some suppliers do 'shoulder nuts' - it'll just be a case of getting the right dimensions (size, shoulder depth etc etc) http://www.ebay.com/itm/OEM-Polaris-...8a6164&vxp=mtr

It may be easier to get a local metal shop to make some up ....

A lot of lug nuts tend to be the shouldered type ..

Cheers
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If there is ever an insurance claim you can bet the insurance company is going to have an issue which means the car owner is going to have a problem. I'm not suggesting for a minute that our cars should not be modded - just don't arm your insurance adjuster to deny a claim.
If I had a wreck resulting from my struts falling out of the car, it'd be wrong to even make a claim in the first place. I know the risks of modifications. The only insurance claims I've ever made thus far have been from parts of mother nature hitting me, not vice versa (tree branch, deer, etc.)

I may take off the bar until I can find suitable nuts, but even if I do leave it on, I'm not worried that it'll factor into insurance claims.

Back on topic, I found a bunch of shoulder nuts, but almost all of them seem to a rounded shoulder, not a hex one. Argh! Still looking...

And yeah, failing that I'll see if I can get a shop to make some for me.
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Ok, well I think I may have found some, provided that the nut I need is an M8x1.25. If so, then this site's got them for a much more reasonable price: http://www.toughnutz.com/refills.mgi

Alldata doesn't list the nut size (of course it lists *every other nut* for the struts...) so I'm just going on what the poster above said...
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