Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Vehicle: 02 SLK 320 w/ AMG Sport package
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Another suspension post
I've been tossing around my issue with the ride of my SLK320 in various threads and forums for a while now and between; old/bad tires, questionable shocks and possibly warn bushing, have found myself bouncing back and forth on how to tackle the problem.
Since buying my car a year and a half ago both myself and even my mechanic have commented on the ride quality of my SLK not being what we would expect from a Merc. I initially blamed the KYB Gas-Adjust shocks, which I am not much of a fan of, and even questioned at one point the springs on this car with only 94k miles.
Recently I have narrowed my focus to the tires themselves, and despite having 7/32 - 8/32 tread left on them am starting to think that between their age (2006) and quality (Uniroyal TigerPaw) they are as much the problem as everything else.
My question is; In trying to sort things out how would you guys proceed?
I had planned on starting with the rear end, and replace all my rear suspension parts with new bushings and a new control arm kit, which is costly if I go with a high quality OEM or MB parts, but their are lessor brands than even Meyle that can be had cheaply. I hesitate here, wondering if cheap bushings and control arms even if new are better than old MB parts with 90k miles. (MB parts are $500, Lemforder $380, Meyle $250 and Kayle- something is under $100).
Secondly I had planned on doing new shocks and had even contemplated doing new springs; although I hadn't decided on OEM or aftermarket parts (Sachs, versus Bilstein and HR and whether or not I wanted to get the original factory ride, or a firmer sporting aftermarket one new springs and high valved shocks would bring.
Lastly is the tires, part of me thinks I could just get a new set of quality tires and see if it helps, then work backwards, but since I had planned on upgrading to 18-inch wheels from my stock 17's, I almost want to work on the suspension first to see if I can feel a difference on the existing tires, before I go to a shorter side-walled tire. Is that foolish?
I'm sort of at a loss and figured I would toss my ideas around to the forum and see what you folks think.
Basically, my ride is harsh and bouncy, but I never bottom the suspension out or hear the requisite noise which would indicate bushing or spring issues. The traction in the wet is horrible and under braking I have no grip as well, leading me to thing the single biggest upgrade or change would be tires. However, I worry about tossing $800 or more worth of tires at a problem that might require additional parts and in turn wear out a perfectly good set of tires unnecessarily (if other components are bad, I don't want to trash a brand new set of tires while I trouble shoot). But at the same time, I worry about tossing cheap inferior parts at the suspension only to have them fail, or not work as well as even the current warn OE, although I would think initially at least any new would be better than ones with 90k miles.
As for the shocks and springs, I still don't know if I should waste my money/time here or not. The springs are the originals, the KYB's are obviously previous owner installed and would hope they were done more recently than longer ago, so would guess they have less than 40k miles on them. I had hoped to keep everything, under $1100 including tires so that makes it difficult to do everything, so I wonder. What say you guys?