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S L K Tech Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #1
06 SLK350. I wouldn't really say it pulls to the right but when I release the steering wheel it always immediately drifts to right on flat straight roads. Seems like it used to stay straight.

Several months back I hit a nasty pot hole that damaged the right front tire and immediately replaced it. And I don't recall this drifting issue right after that.

Since it was time for (3 more) new tires, last week I:
1) Had Tru-Wheel check and recondition the right front wheel, look for cracks, bends, verifying it was still true/round. They say it passes with flying colors.

2) Bought 4 new tires. The right front wheel happens to balance with just a single weight. Car feels so smooth on the road now it's like driving on cream.

3) While it was at the dealer yesterday for the 40K mile transmission service I had them perform a 4-wheel alignment, which required adding that special adjustment bolt to the left front assembly to bring it into spec.

4) Dealer supposedly checked the tire pressure. The crappy gauge at the gas station air pump pretty much looks like all 4 tires have the correct PSI.

The tires and wheels look and drive great but I just got the car back and it still slowly drifts to the right as soon as I let go of the wheel. :mad:

My older GM car drives like it's on rails right after an alignment.

Thoughts?
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding member 2006
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My daily driver got new tires, balance and alignment and drifted right so I took it back and next guy did the alignment correctly. Maybe he swapped left and right but the issue was fixed. Did you have the alignment/balance done where you bought the tires?

Gordon

PS. I will add that since I had wasted my time bringing the car back. I asked for a discount on future service and/or parts and they gave me a voucher for $40. As far as the advice to do this, do this , do this: You did not DIY so do nothing and take it back. You are helping the next customer Pay It Forward.
 

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I would do the following:

1. Get a thorough inspection of all suspension components after removal of the wheels on all 4 corners (by indy or MB)

2. Double check on the dynamic balance of each wheel (tyre shop like America's Tire Co., or MB)

3. Double check on the alignment of all 4 wheels and get a print-out of the alignment (by indy with proper equipment and has the MB specified numbers, if not there is a pdf of the alignment specs in this forum, or by MB)

4. Have technician test drive the vehicle (indy or MB)
 

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S L K Tech Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys. To those who asked: the new tires were purchased and dynamically balanced at America's Tire Store. My local store doesn't do alignments so that was performed at the dealership. I posted here in case this might be something that crops up with other SLK's, which apparently there's no tendency for this to happen.

Based on your suggestions and after reading the links my next course of action is to take it to the indie alignment place we use for the GM car. He usually test drives the car a couple times until it's perfect. I'll update this thread and let you - and the dealer - know what happens.
 

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Why not take it back to the dealer and have them drive the car? This should cost you nothing and they can confirm the "pull" and come up with a remedy if needed.
 

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first thing to do.
swop left tyres with right. (i know tyres maybe directional but for this short test no worries)
take it out and see if problem has changed sides.
this is free and also easy.
do the obvious, easy stuff first.
 

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S L K Tech Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #8
For some reason, be it comments in this post and others or maybe just my own obstinance, I have a hunch it's misalignment. Even if the dealer would correct the problem the car is not going back there for future alignments since they either didn't road test it or didn't care. A big mistake for a place that charges a premium price. I figured the transmission service was important enough to have it done at the dealership where I trust them to use the proper fluids and procedure, and since they came within $50 of the price quoted by two indie shops. I gave them the alignment job out of convenience. Regardless of what's to blame, I'll probably stick with my indie alignment shop who's a proven success with the other cars - and who test drives them until they're right. He's honest so if it's at spec already he'll tell me.

Although I love hacking SLK electronics and interior disassembly to the point of addiction I'm way too lazy to work up a sweat swapping the tires myself, so either way I have to go to somebody's shop.

Essentially, I've been lucky and had a great track record with all three shops for years - TireAm, the dealership and the indie alignment shop. Since the first two have left me in this spot, if needed the third guy can make the call. I trust he's honest enough to tell me if the alignment is to spec or not.

I'll update again after talking to TireAm and indie alignment. Further suggestions and jibes are welcome in the meantime...
 

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Could also be a dragging/sticking brake caliper, guide pins get dry and need relubed, or tight/bad wheel bearing. -rick
 

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SCBR, just maybe the employee who did the alignment needs to find a job, like at McDonalds. YOU paid the dealership good money for the work and THEY should make it right.

Do what YOU want, but I'd take it back.

Good luck.
 

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S L K Tech Enthusiast
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Discussion Starter #11
Update: Three different shops. Nobody finds anything wrong. Proves that I'm just crazy.

#1 Went back to dealer
My usual rep put me at the front of the service line, rechecked the car even running diagnostics on it. Over an hour of me consuming as much of their fancy gourmet coffees, pastries and WiFi as humanly possibly while spying on them through the glass. The verdict "Everything checks out. It's the roads. You're car is in really great condition." The next day he emails to thank me for being a customer, reiterated to bring it back if I find anything wrong. Maybe I should have insisted upon a ride along with their tech but was seduced by the fancy waiting area, and really expected they'd find something wrong.

#2 America's Tire Store
Great customer service as usual. Without hesitation the Assistant Mgr double checked that the tires could be swapped side to side, said that usually fixes it and if it didn't they'd replace or take back the tires. 30 minutes after arriving for my appointment I was back on the road. Unfortunately, there was no change at all, the same slight drift to the right when I take my hands off the wheel. I wasted AmTire's time. At least I buy all my tires there with certs so...

#3 Firestone Store (nearby, clean shop, my usual indie guy is still closed for holiday)
First time customer. Called manager, never mentioned any problem only that I'd just bought new tires and wanted alignment checked. He said he'd check it for free. If needed it'd be $89 (2/3 of what the dealer charged) and he'd guaranteed it for 5 months. Whole process was done in about an hour including test drive before and after. Oddly, his tech said the car "seemed fine but maybe drifted a little to the LEFT?" Printout indicated front toe-in slightly off (attached). I agree to alignment and asked them to also check other suspension parts and brakes, go over stuff. Two guys work on my car. Verdict "Everything looks really good, especially for a car this age. Your filters look new. It's even really clean underneath. We can't find anything. Come back for another alignment in 5 months." At checkout he applies a $10 discount without me asking.

Back on the freeway and...hmm...maybe it's a little better? Maybe it's something harder to detect, like stuff xavair mentioned. Maybe I'm crazy. And now this is even wasting your time to read about my lunacy.

Alignment report attached.
 

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Premium Member 2013 SLK250
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2,339 Posts
Many/most roads have what is called a crown. This is the center is higher than the out side so water will drain off. This crown is very small and not noticed by the eye. This can cause a car to drift to the right where you have left hand drive as in the USA.
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding member 2006
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As Chuck stated:

ROAD CROWN

Definition: The slope of a road surface to the outside for proper drainage. Excessive road crown can cause a vehicle to lead to the right. Reducing caster on the left front wheel is sometimes used to compensate for road crown.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Putting to rest "my SLK drifts to the right"

Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions, most of which I tried within reason. For the moment it's resulted in a second-second option that my car checks out, so putting this issue to rest.

Is there a page here that lists all the alignment specs for the major SLK models? I found random posts where people share their stories but is there anything like a complete set of links or a table? Couldn't even find it in the packet of manuals that came with the car. I'd be glad to organize something to post if provided with the information. Most people won't DIY Alignment but it'd be handy for sanity checking the official specs against what non-dealership printouts indicate as the correct range.
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding member 2006
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R170 from a Bazzle post:

Standard SLK Alignment should be about--------------

Camber.....
Front: -1.22 +/- .33 degrees
Rear: -1.5 +/- .5 degrees

Toe in .....
Front: 2.28mm +/- 1.14mm total
Rear: 3.78mm +/- .8mm total

Caster......
Front: 5.2 degrees +/- .5 (.5 diff max between sides)

Suspension height.........measured from wheel centre to lip of guard
Front: 350mm standard /325mm minumum
Rear: 370mm standard / 340mm minimum

Wider and more offset rims may need to have settings tweaked to suit, ie less camber etc


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r170 again:

SLK 230 Specifications
For the 2000 SLK 230 Mercedes Benz model, the wheelbase is 94.5 inches. The tread width of the front is 58.5 inches, and in the rear it is 58.5 inches. For alignment specifications, the caster should be 5.96 degrees with a margin of error of 0.50 degrees. The camber in the front should be -1.27 degrees with a margin of error of 0.33 degrees. In the rear, the camber should be -1.25 degrees with a margin of error of 0.50 degrees. In addition, the toe-in of the front end of the SLK 230 should be 0.16 inches with a margin of error of 0.08 inches, or 0.33 degrees with a margin of error of 0.16 degrees. The rear end's toe-in should be 0.28 inches with a margin of error of 0.06 inches, or 0.55 degrees with a margin of error of 0.12. The turning angle of the outside wheel should be 18.58, and 20 for the inside wheel.
 

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Premium Member 2005 SLK55 AMG; 2005 SLK350
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Try driving down the centerline (straddling the crown) or even on the wrong side of the road to see if the pattern changes?
 
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