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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone. I come seeking your counsel and experience with regard to suspension issues on my 2000 SLK 200(k). Before posting I have read through forums both here and elsewhere on the web. Whilst I have gleaned some "general" information, my search has not given me enough confidence on what to do next.

My challenge is as follows - my cars suspension and driving dynamics have put me to the point of considering selling and buying something "regular". The ride over cobblestone pathways for example is actually quite acceptable. However, uneven spots on roads (think patchwork repairs) cause the rear end to get thrown up to the point that I get thrown off my seat. Also, at speed the car feels nervous - tends to follow road imperfections readily. Which makes it quite tiring to drive long distances.

I realise that the car has a short wheelbase and has also been lowered (by the previous owner), but still the ride seems to be too extreme for a Mercedes. Through a process a trying to change things I have had suspension components checked (and re-checked) to change out bushings, one swing arm, the front trailing arm, and also installed Bilstein B4s at all corners. The Bilsteins helped somewhat, but overall the ride is still unacceptable.

While I had the alignment checked and "corrected" previously, this week I asked for it to be checked and for a print out. Turns out the camber is excessive and so is the front toe-in (read out attached). I suspect that the camber has always been excessive and that they didn't think it could/should be fixed. I assume the camber issue is due to the lowering - which btw results in a wheel center to wheel arch top height of 30.5 cms front and back (got more pictures here).

My theory to get things sorted is to do the following - install Eibach pro-kit which I think will be better than whatever is in there now (not able to determine this by looking at the springs). This way it's still lowered, but at least on springs that are supposed to have a decent ride. Also for front camber/caster to install camber bolts and for the rear to install the adjustable arms. With this I think the ride could/should be better in terms of comfort and handling.

Questions:
1. In general is a lowered SLK always going to be the way mine is or do I really have a problem?
2. If I do have a problem - is my approach of new springs + camber adjustment going to rectify (within reason) the issue? Especially the nervous handling?
3. Am I just overthinking it and missed out on something else? :|

Thank you for your patience with reading such a long post and for any inputs you can provide.
 

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My previous 2010 SLK had 18in wheels, low profile tyres and sports suspension - it was like sitting on a lump of concrete! Too much for my old bones, and one reson I got shot of it!
Recently, including today, I have spoken to a number of SLK drivers who had 16/17in wheels and I guess what I call normal suspension, and they ALL said the ride was fine. This included several ladies!! Hope this helps you realise what is causing the problem!

Mike
 

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Hi Skyflex! I'm fighting with similar problems with my SLK320 with Eibach springs and stock shocks. I have own the car for a couple months now and i'm litte bit annoyed about the poor driveability and nervous behavior. I can feel all of the small repairs and and wear tracks of the asphalt road (studded winter tires eat the road here in Finland). You really have to drive the car or it will start to pull left or right form the dents. Car seems to drive more straight when accelerating. My guess is that front of the car(suspension) rises and the tire angle changes more normal.

I believe that the main problem in my case is somewhere else than in the springs. My car has et37 17" rims with 225/45 tires and also 20mm H&R spacers at the rear. Spring pads(rubbers) are now number 4 at front and number 3 at back totaling ride height approx 32cm. I have look through the front and rear bushings and there should be no abnormal clearances after changing steering damper and idler arm bushing. (btw. You should also check the damper) I had my tire angles checked and found out that toe in and both cambers are not in the "normal" range. Unfortunately there was not much to adjust because I don't have camber or caster bolts. With the mechanic we decided to adjust all of the angles after I have installed the bolts. My next move is to fit camber and caster adjusting bolts to the front. I'm hoping that my problems will go away after the adjustment can be made. My biggest worry is that problem is caused by worn steering gear.(car has been driven 260 tKm)

I'm sorry but this is my best knowledge right now. :)

What is your tire and wheel setup? I have read stories about having mixed set of tires are causing problems. Some tires have stronger sidewalls than others.
Has your car been always like that or how long have you own it?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Juti - thank you so very much for your detailed inputs. One of the first things that occurs to me looking at your car is that sitting 1.5 cm higher improves the camber issues a lot! Also, looking at your alignment readings two things stood out, firstly that the tolerance levels between our readings is quite different - for example front camber limits on your readings are max -1.35 and min -0.56, whereas mine show max -1.29 and min -0.49. These are not huge differences, but a 1.4 ton vehicle these changes might be something. The other interesting thing about your reading is that the right front camber got corrected by nearly 0.5 degrees, to me that's strange given that you do not currently have camber bolts. Overall though I am quite envious of you since you are so close to spec! With the 0.3 +/- adjustment that the camber bolts will give you can definitely sort out the front end. For what it is worth, if you don't already know - with an additional camber bolt on each end you can also adjust caster - again by +/- 0.3 deg. For the rear though you will need camber adjustment arms. To my knowledge getting camber within spec should help to some (possibly) large extent with the tendency of the front end to wander. Can you clarify what you mean by feeling road imperfections? Is it through the steering wheel or rather do you get bounced around in your seat or feel it on your backside? If it's the latter then I might give up on the idea of changing my springs, and just try to sort out the camber.

As to my own issues, I had done a bunch of things before including the steering damper change, dampers at each corner changed. I use 17s as well - 215 in front and 245 rear - all from Nokian (Finnish eh?). And to be honest while I can somewhat live with the ride for now, this business of chasing road imperfections is really annoying me. So I look forward to your response to decide if I get only camber adjustment stuff or also the springs. One last try before I move on to a "regular" car!
 

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Actually at the previous wheel alignment nothing was adjusted. Difference between before and after comes from mechanic sitting on the car at first measurement.

Here is my current situation:
I installed the camber and caster bolts to the front. It was pretty straight forward job. Today the car was again in the wheel alignment shop and I think the car is driving pretty well. I can still feel the imperfections but the car won't change it's direction any more. Steering centers itself nicely and it also went little bit heavier but I think that is only a good thing to have. My assumption is that this is the closest to the perfect with car's current condition. Now I can feel little play on the steering what I believe comes from the steering gear. It may get better by adjusting but I think the over 10 year and 260 tkm has weared it but it is something that can easily lived with.

My recommendation is that you should install those adjustment bolts and get the car aligned one more time. One partwise cheap experiment could be to try thicker spring pads and lift the ride height to correct the rear camber. New springs won't bring the drivability any better if you can't get wheel alignment correct.

I hope you get your car running good and you don't have to get rid if otherwise such a nice car . :)





- Juti
 

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This is perfect example of what happens when people take a perfectly good tuned suspension " the best IMO" and try to upgrade with bs aftermarket parts. Unfortunately the only fix is to put back to original (if it can be) which will be a costly nightmare and would have to be done by expert tech. Unless you are really in love with it, I would suggest selling it and starting over with one that has not been modified in anyway. I am sorry that you could not experience the car the way it was meant to be:|
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Juti and Robrowdy, firstly I want to take a moment to appreciate that a Finn, an American, and an Indian can sit down and talk about a sixteen year old German car. What a time to be alive! Also, a big thanks to both of you for your inputs and thoughts.

@ Juti - I am happy to see that things have moved in the right direction for you. The steering bits can perhaps be changed further down the road, you'll know when it's a must have! As for me, I will take the car in to the garage in the coming days, a bit tied up with work at the moment. The pads for sure are on the list. Fortunately they seem to be available aftermarket as well, in case the MB dealer does not have them in stock. I take comfort in seeing that you have not mentioned a harsh ride, so there is yet some hope :) Also, you seem mostly in spec so hooray! It might take me some time, but I will get back and report on progress.

@ Robrowdy - It is indeed a shame they way things are. By all accounts the main issue is not just that parts were replaced, but that all of it was done in such a half-a***d manner. That said, deep down I know I am in love with this car, else I'd never put up with it. So I will hang on for just a little bit and see what I can do to make it get close to my vision.

Thanks again - and I wish you happy driving!
 

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Juti and Robrowdy, firstly I want to take a moment to appreciate that a Finn, an American, and an Indian can sit down and talk about a sixteen year old German car. What a time to be alive! Also, a big thanks to both of you for your inputs and thoughts.

@ Juti - I am happy to see that things have moved in the right direction for you. The steering bits can perhaps be changed further down the road, you'll know when it's a must have! As for me, I will take the car in to the garage in the coming days, a bit tied up with work at the moment. The pads for sure are on the list. Fortunately they seem to be available aftermarket as well, in case the MB dealer does not have them in stock. I take comfort in seeing that you have not mentioned a harsh ride, so there is yet some hope :) Also, you seem mostly in spec so hooray! It might take me some time, but I will get back and report on progress.

@ Robrowdy - It is indeed a shame they way things are. By all accounts the main issue is not just that parts were replaced, but that all of it was done in such a half-a***d manner. That said, deep down I know I am in love with this car, else I'd never put up with it. So I will hang on for just a little bit and see what I can do to make it get close to my vision.

Thanks again - and I wish you happy driving!
Its good you have made your decision, now you know what to do. Love her/him and care for her/him one piece at a time, from the ground up is the best way to go that way you know there is nothing half past a monky's butt on her/him. I always enjoyed working on earlier model cars I liked or loved that had potential regardless of condition. I hope you get her/him in perfect harmony with your driving needs. Mine is a she by the way:grin:
 

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I realize I'm coming to the party a bit late, but....I have a 99 R170 Sport with the AMG goodies. It was a sweet deal after my other SLK got shorted up a bit. :-( I've found out that what Mercedes means by Sport is they weld pipes in place of the suspension. My issue is this thing wanders all over the road with the Bridgestone Potenzia tires. I had an alignment done and specifically asked the tech to make sure everything was perfect. He'd found a problem in my Volvo XC70, among several. Anyway, after the alignment this thing is still wandering, to the point of being dangerous. This is much more pronounced at low speeds. I'm open to suggestions before I find someone to take it off my hands. TIA
 
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