"Vague" steering - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 05-31-2015
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"Vague" steering

Hi all
2002 51000 miles SLK 230 Komp....
Difficult to explain but steering feels vague..and not "quick to centralise" from a turn... It's not like she's all over the place but she doesn't give the confidence to place her on the apex!!!

I add.. Sitting still there's maybe 2" play on the steering wheel. (Engine off/no power steering)
The research I've done seems to point to steering damper issue;
Any comments/words of advice please

I'm not a spanner man, but as the steering damper seems to be "cheap easy fix (I was told 30/$50 for damper 15 min job) I thought as she's done 51000 miles she deserves a new damper anyway.

Anyone got any thoughts on what life a damper should give??
....and other than track rod ends... She past her mot last September with no issues but has been standing/ only done 1500 miles since I wondered if ball joints have become tight...
Any feedback from you guys would be much appreciated!

.....onwards...
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#2 Old 06-01-2015
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You're probably due for a steering damper at that mileage. That's about the time I did it on my W202 C230 Kompressor which shares much of its mechanical bits with the R170. I installed it at an MBCA DIY event, and it did improve steering feel and accuracy. Oddly enough, I had the car into the dealer for another issue just a few months later, and was told that the steering shock was leaking and needed to be replaced. When I showed them the receipt for the part I installed, they replaced it under the warranty for that individual part (car itself was several years out of warranty). I think the R170 also uses a recirculating ball steering box like the other M-B cars of that era? That system inherently doesn't have the same feel as rack & pinion. I can tell the difference when I switch from my R171 SLK into the W202 C230.
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#3 Old 06-01-2015
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When I had my 2009 SLK 300 I noticed the same thing. I had purchased it used so I just figured it was normal. I will have to say my BMW has much tighter suspension than the 2009. The car developed an intermittent shimmy. I had the rims checked, the alignment checked, etc. I was running Yokohama Avid Envigors on the car and had a mechanic recommend I go to Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. They transformed the car. I could not believe the difference. The vague steering went away as did the intermittent shimmy.
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#4 Old 06-02-2015
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Thanks for your input.. Very interesting and helpful
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#5 Old 06-02-2015
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Let me explain the feeling I had with the steering. It just felt like the front end of the car was not firmly planted with the pavement. Even when turning the car it just felt very light; the front was "floating" I wouldn't say the handling was bad, but I am a conservative driver and don't push the car anywhere the limits. The feeling

Tire Rack has a good review/comparison of the Pilot Sport.
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#6 Old 06-02-2015
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I genuinely thought my old SLK230s steering had a mind of its own. A new steering damper, 4 wheel alignment and a new set of tyres sorted it. Each one made a big difference on its own, but the combined effect restored my faith.
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#7 Old 06-02-2015
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Chaps!!!
Update ... From your kind words of wisdom and experience....

You understand exactly what I was trying to articulate.

The AMG alloys were/are in a little state of neglect, nothing too horrible other than the lacquer peeling (good old English winters!)..

So she's gone in today to have some good "all round" TLC to each corner
(Full strip back/dipped and re paint) going for silver with a very very slight hint of "look at me girls pimp black" coating.... Including the calipers and hub 300.00 with dead on balance.
As luck would have it 2 doors away is a Indy who is then going to check/change make good and suspect ball joints and replace steering damper... With a final re track so I can "aim and fire" at the apex!!

The UK is predicting 30* c this weekend... So down with the roof, on with the raybans and search for a nice country pub for lunch with a female under the age of 30 I think is in order... I can dream can't I !!???!!
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#8 Old 06-06-2015
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update update update....

Well there's good news and bad news to my sorry tale of "Vague" indiscretion!

My pride and joy has come back from having each corner beautifully restored.
What a wonderful job did my man at F1 Alloys in Chester do!
I mean fantastic, I'm really really pleased and all for the priceless sum of 300, which was paid in the expected way of a gentleman!

So with her new feckle of distinguished sparkle, my "baby" took a 100yrd trip to a one man Indy,
With his 30 odd years of main agent experience, he lifted her towards the stars, on what to me was like a pedestal reserved for beauty that enabled one, as you would lift a glass of fine wine above ones eye line to inspect it's maturity.

With a gentle but concentrated swirl of a prising bar checked every ball joint and uncorked the steering damper to see how the rigours of time had effected my 2002 vintage.

With a moment of deep thought and reflection, the master of indepedance declared "sir, in all my years I've never seen such a perfect example, all of your ladies ball joints including steering damper is in perfect condition. There is nothing for me to do, my work here is done"
"But she feels vague" I repeated in a shy and disappointed tone, as I hoped he would of said he had found the culprit that is causing the inability to nail the apexes.
"Well the only recommendation make, is to change those horrible unbranded tyres you have on the front to something more befitting such as continental contacts" said the dark voice of experience, which in tone wasn't too dissimilar to the words that one day will welcome me through the pearly gates of a better life.
With an hour of his time wasted and a initial refusal to be compensated for his considered statements, I insisted he allow me to make a 30 "donation" to the offerings tray thinking one day I will want to return to the hallowed ground of his temple of rectification and ask for, and we've all said it I declare "can you just have a quick look...." Which hopefully my gesture will part the waves and turn water into wine (you see how I managed to take from story from wine to religion back to wine again!!)

So to conclude: alloys are done, bugger all wrong with ball joints or steering damper.. She needs decent tyres on the front.... Which is happening today (Saturday)
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#9 Old 06-08-2015
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Update ... There's more...

So with a pair of 225/17 contact sports on the front... Wowwwww what a difference!!
No more "squirrelling" and vague feeling...

Although from my previous little ditty you will note how pleased I was with the alloy refurb that took place 50 miles ago...

So.. As I hand my keys to the manager of the tyre house to fit said ordered conti' contact sports.. With us both holding the key like a Christmas cracker, I take my newly found friend willing to sample an experience of moving my "baby" into a bay to each front corner, explaining and "sincerely" pointing out to seek is agreement that the 17" AMG alloys are PERFECT, not even a drop of marking either!

With a roll of his eyes, expiditly explained to me and I quote " Sir we know what we are doing, in all my years we have never marked an alloy yet"!

(You can guess where this going can't you...??)

So I sit in the customer refreshment area reading a copy of 3 week last Monday daily express newspaper, I catch the reflection of my sparkling piece of engineering magic arrive to yet another lifting ramp.

Not wanting to watch what felt like open heart surgery, I continued to read the latest on how the general election was predicted to end.

After 20 minutes or so, a voice shouted across the work shop to the trusted manager who had put my mind at rest, demanding he "get here now"!!
Thinking it couldn't possibly have anything to do with my wheels and tyres, buried my head in the sand, choosing to not even think I had bad news about to be delivered.

The manager after a couple of minutes, came back to his front counter without any reference as to why he been "summoned".

45 minutes later, the tyre fitter, with his unique style of metal work through his ears, nose, lips and eyebrow, beckoned the same manager to step just outside the reception door to have a "quiet word" just like they do in the emergency ward when they need to plan how they are going to explain that "they did all they could but unfortunately "he" didn't make it.

Once the impromptu conference had been completed the manager walked towards me in such a way it felt like a lifetime to reach an audible distance.

With all background noise becoming muffled to my highly sensed ears, he muttered the dreaded words...

No longer was I "sir" I suddenly became his "mate" followed by "sorry we've gashed your alloy!!!!"

Nooooooo!!!!!!! I exclaimed!!' To recieve his attempt of sympathy by saying "it's only the one alloy"!!!

Seeing the state of shock and disbelief on my face the manager offered to relieve me of my 200.00 but would pay for the alloy "repair".

At which I "expressed" my wish for a refurbishment NOT repair and once that had taken place I would consider paying for the tyres!

So, off to alloy refurb man I did go, for him to point out the "national/big brand tyre house" hadn't managed to apply the balance weights correctly and only applied them to the inside of the rim instead of both inner and outer or line up the red valve mark.

So moral of this story is don't use Halfords tyre house, as the only thing they seem to be good for is swinging on tyres!
Rant over... But still gutted!!
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