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Thread: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

  1. #1
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    1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    Maybe off topic, maybe not as it's a close relative to E500E. My 1998 SL500 has been a little clunky in recent months so the kid that does some side work for me and I threw it onto the lift last Monday to see what was going on. At first, it just looked like outer tie rods were shot but on closer inspection. The ball joints were also bad so we decided the best coarse of action was to pull everything apart.
    The car has 65,500 miles and the struts (MB originals) are completely shot to the extent that you can collapse them by hand and they won't come back up. The steering damper is the same way.

    At this point, we're doing the following:
    Control Arm Bushings
    Ball Joints
    Tie Rod
    Steering Damper
    Wheel bearings
    Shocks

    Idler arm looks OK.

    Everything going back on is either Lemforder or Bilstien for shocks.

    What amazes me is how well the car drove while needing so much work. Is there anything else I should look for while I'm under there and is there anything in the rear suspension that I need to pay attention to?

    The car is 20 years old but the mileage is pretty low.
    Last edited by alabbasi; 03-16-2017 at 10:41 AM.

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  3. #2
    .036 Hoonigan™
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    If you are changing tie rod assemblies and rebuilding LCA's, I'd install a new center/drag link as well and consider the idler arm bushings too. Strut mounts also if they are original. With all new steering / suspension stuff up front, you should not need to touch anything for another 10-15 years. Dealer alignments are spendy and I like to replace everything at once and pay for one $180 alignment rather than repeat the process a year later.

    Side note - the LCA bushings have a very specific orientation, see photos on my website. The FSM is not very clear and you don't want to screw this up.


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  5. #3
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    1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    For the idler arm bushings, ONLY use the Factory rubber/kit. No aftermarket. I don't think that quality aftermarket (Lemforder) is available. Not cheap to go Factory but for this item, cheap URO rubber is not the way to go.


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  7. #4
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    Thanks all, the strut mounts were purchased (Corteco) . I'll take a second look at the idler arm. The job looks like a PITA as the exhaust system gets in the way.
    If it's not supposed to, I may need engine mounts. We have a great alignment shop called Dallas frame and alignment here which does great work. Everybody else is CRAP but those guys really know what they're doing.

    GSXR, got a link to your website?

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  9. #5
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    Quote Originally Posted by alabbasi View Post
    GSXR, got a link to your website?
    Sure thing - here is a direct link to the pics with the bushing orientation:
    http://124performance.com/images/W12...124-330-30-07/

    Site front page:
    http://124performance.com/


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  11. #6
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    There is some information on the forum here about the idler arm bushing replacement - authored by samiam44 IIRC. I know the 129 geometry/layout may be a bit different than the .036, but IIRC there was also an issue with removal of the idler arm bushing on the .036 per clearance issues, but there was a workaround for it. Do a little searching on that and you'll find it.

    Put the car up on your lift and if there is any play at all in the idler arm bushings, replace them. Heck, if you don't know they've been replaced ... replace them.

    Have you replaced the motor mounts ?

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  13. #7
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    I've not replaced the motor mounts on this car. Matter of fact, I bought it with 57k miles and I've done is an oil change, plugs, belt , air filters and new tires. It's well overdue for differed maintenance. As are all my other cars.

    GSXR: thank you for the link!

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  15. #8
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    The work is coming along nicely. the best is that I'm not doing any of it. Next will be a transmission flush and oil change before it goes in for an alignment.


    1.jpg2.jpg3.jpg

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  17. #9
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    Re: 1998 SL500 front end rebuild

    I was able to do my Idler bush R/R without exhaust removal. I did have to cut off the nut to remove it, but after reading and fiddling, and encouragement from a few, I shook it a bit and it fell into place. One of those things that tired eyes and sore back couldn't do. Next morning fresh it was a snap and yes I was on ramps.
    1994 E500
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    2014 E350 Cab 799/264

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