I posted earlier in the week that I had a quick and cheap fix for two of my 4 MOT advisories and have now been looking at the other two.
The first was for slight play in the steering system detected at the steering wheel. I have checked this (with the engine running) and am now officially ignoring it! When I check it I feel very slight free play of a max of about 5mm or so at the wheel (with steering centred). I think this is probably what you'd expect with a recirculating ball system. WIS gives the max as 25mm and I am nowhere near that. Also I see both front wheels move at the slightest turn of the steering wheel. I guess it's possible the tester thought it had rack and pinion steering and expected no play at all.
The second was for "Power steering component(s) has slight seepage from a component". Well this one is spot on - the bottom of the steering box is damp with fluid to say the least (see photo). After careful study I have decided this is coming from seal on the output shaft to the pitman arm. Using one of those clever little mirrors with a built in light and a telescopic arm I was able to inspect the top of the box and there are no leaks at the high pressure and return pipes or at the input shaft - all bone dry. So I ordered up a new seal (A0199975047) which duly arrived so earlier today I started to fit it and could do with some advice if anyone has done this job before.
The WIS page on this makes it sound very simple (PDF is attached) - basically measure the position of the pitman arm on the output shaft, remove the lower circlip, detach the pitman arm, remove the inner circlip, pull out the seal, press in the new seal and assembly is the reverse of the above...
So far I have driven the car onto a pair of ramps. Cleaned off the area with de-greaser. Marked the bottom of output shaft so it goes back on the pitman arm in the same place. Removed the lower circlip and loosened the pitman arm clamp bolt. Using a puler I can move the pitman arm toward the end of the output shaft OK but I am not convinced it will move far enough to come off the shaft without damage occurring somewhere. So play stopped early for today to take stock and seek advice.
My Haynes manual for Mercedes C Class (1993 to 2000) which uses similar steering gear says to detach the pitman arm at the ball joint on the drag link before the output shaft - but this isn't mentioned in WIS.
I am also wondering if I need to jack to car up and take the driver side wheel off to unload the steering and suspension and give more access.
Any thoughts appreciated and advice form anyone who has been there and got the T shirt on this particular job would be gratefully appreciated. My searching of the "interweb" hasn't thrown up anything too helpful so far but I will keep looking.
I just hammered a flat-head screwdriver into the crimp on the pitman arm enough for it to release it's grip and then forcefully pryed the pitman arm off.
my steering box is out of the car if you need any pictures of it.
Many thanks for the tip. I will try this but I suspect my issue is not the tightness of the pitman arm clamp but a lack of free movement to get the arm off while still attached the other end. I am afraid I wimped out today of starting round two on this as it was pretty cold and fixing a friend's dead PC inside in the warm was a tad more appealing.
I see your point, it may not rotate enough with the ball joint still attached.
if you undo the pivot arm at the passenger side of the car, the whole steering mechanism should slide down with the pitman arm.
Update after this afternoon's effort. First I took the car off the ramps and jacked up the front onto axle stands with the suspension unloaded. This seemed to help and after loosening the Pitman arm clamp a bit more with a suitable pry bar I was able to gently lever off the pitman arm from the shaft. WIS is correct (of course!) as there does seem to be sufficient free play to get the arm of the shaft with removing anything else. It was then obvious that this seal had not been replaced previously as the circlip was in such an awkward position. I was unable get any my various circlip pliers onto it at all. Eventually using a suitable pointy implement I was able to rotate the clip in its grove to a suitable place and then remove it.
At this point I thought I was home and dry but I was wrong. So far I have been unable to pry out the old seal. It is very hard and tends to break up. In the past I have removed this type of seal by screwing in a small self tapper and pulling on that but I could not get a screw to "bite". After further investigation (I was being mega careful so as not to damage any sealing surfaces) I discovered that just under to bottom surface of the seal there is a metal ring. Bad light and falling temperatures have called a halt for today but I think the next step is to carefully drill a small hole (or two) through the metal ring and then hook the seal out that way unless anybody has a better suggestion.
Well the job is finally completed but only time will tell if the leak is now cured.
Getting that old seal out was a total pain in the backside. I really struggled with this and it wasn't helped by having to lie on the ground under the car in temperatures of around 4 degrees C. In the end I had to resort to a small drill as the only way to get past that metal ring and pull the seal out with a small hooked pick tool. I attach a photo the shows the ring and the problem is that somehow you need to get under this to lever or pull the seal out. Of course when it does come out there is high risk of oil in your face or down your sleeve. I was lucky and got both.
Putting the new seal in was in comparison a complete doddle. After coating with power steering fluid you can just push it into the opening (right way round of course). Following the Haynes manual approach (for the C class) i wrapped masking tape around the splines of the shaft so as to protect the new seal. The seal was then gently tapped home using a small piece of 40mm domestic waste drain pipe which had an outside diameter of slightly less the seal so was perfect (some luck at last!).
The pitman arm went back on so much more easily than it came off. Just a question of lining up the location mark I made before removal and tapping it home to the position measured before removal. A quick top up with fluid and the jobs a "good un" - I hope. If I am indeed leak free then I will change the fluid when the warmer weather gets here.
Now I just need to get my E Class through its MOT next week - a tad worried about that rattle in the front suspension over bumps at low speed... but that's another forum.
Not that I'm ever going to do this BUT what happened to the ring you had to drill a hole through? Just put it back in place or did you need a replacement? Just for interests sake ya know
It is part of the old seal. The seal is formed around it during manufacture. My problem was that the seal material was so crumbly that when I tried levering it out with a small screwdriver it just disintegrated exposing the metal underneath. If you look at the photo of the old seal (not a good picture I am afraid) you can see the metal exposed in the area I was working on.