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Thread: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

  1. #1
    E500E Guru RicardoD's Avatar
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    HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Part of any front end suspension refurbishment should include replacing the Idler Arm Bushing which is part of the overall steering linkage. It is supposed to cure all sorts of front end feel issues on your car and yours is probably 24 years old like mine. So per the 500eboard guidance I tackled this job.

    Idler Arm Bushing Kit: 129 460 00 19 (nut, bolts, washers, bushings)

    Special tools needed:
    24mm deep socket, 6 sided hex & Wrench (larger than typical found in most home garages)
    Torque Wrench capable of 150Nm

    WIS Document #: 46-6317

    Jack up the front of your car properly or put it on your handy lift (I have a MaxJax mid-rise two post lift in my garage, best tool in it).

    Drop the lower engine tray, 8mm socket required

    Location of Idler Arm Bushing: passenger side of car, accessible from underneath, after removing lower engine cover (engine out photos below courtesy of GXSR).
    engine_compartment02.jpgengine_compartment11.jpg

    You should also consult Lowman's awesome general overview of the World's Most Expensive Bushing Kit video (330 Euro he said! What? Half that in USA via mboemparts). Lowmania forever!!!



    First thing is to remove the Idler Arm Heat Shield. I removed the pair of heat shields by removing the two 10mm bolts. Note the loose strap piece comes off as well.


    IMG_1146.jpgIMG_1148.jpgIMG_1150.jpgIMG_1169.JPG


    Now you are faced with removing the monster 24mm nut. I applied some Kroil in the morning and then hit it with my Ingersol Rand Air Impact gun an hour or so later and got no where. Nut wouldn't move. Then I proceeded to strip the nut with my breaker bar because I did not have a proper impact wrench 6 sided 24mm deep socket. I just had my regular Craftsman multi-point 24mm socket. So let this be a warning to you. Perhaps, Kroil or PB blaster overnight, followed by heat via blow torch, followed by proper 24mm 6 sided deep impact gun socket would have done the trick. Lowman, of course, must have proper tools, and isn't a Shade Tree Mechanic Hack like I am.

    So now we brute force it by cutting off the Idler Arm nut via a Dremel (multiple cutting wheels and 1/2 hr - thx nocfn for the tip) or if you have an 4 1/2" Angle Grinder and cutting wheel this will take a few minutes. However, to fit a larger angle grinder with cutting wheel you need to remove the C shaped cross member that is held on by four 6mm Allen Bolts (13mm wrench to hold nut on back side).

    (Shade Tree Mechanic Pro Tip: Go to Harbor Freight and buy the cheapest angle grinder they sell. Its like $15 and then buy the grinder disc multi-pak which includes some cut-off wheels for around $5. This will leave you $20 poorer and it works just fine for occasional homeowner use. I've used mine like 5 times in 6 years. You will be amazed the jams this China special grinder will get you out of)

    IMG_1160.JPGIMG_1155.JPG

    Now sparks will fly, wear goggles, mask, etc and let the tool do cutting work. Be careful you don't want to be grinding anywhere else like the transmission fluid line nearby but with the back side guard on the wheel I had no issues. And then Viola! Nut is gone!

    IMG_1161.JPG


    Now you can tap out the bolt a bit , and use a large pair of pliers to remove the lower bushing.

    IMG_1162.JPG
    Last edited by RicardoD; 08-06-2018 at 12:01 PM.
    RicardoD
    1990 964 C4 / 1991 964 C2 tip
    1994 E500
    1991 560SEC
    2014 E350 for wife

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  3. #2
    E500E Guru RicardoD's Avatar
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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Part 2:

    With a long screwdriver and hammer you can start to tap out the upper bushing which is required to remove the bolt. You can then slide out the bolt and bushing (just like Lowman shows you in his video). Lowmania forever!!

    IMG_1166.JPG

    Now you need to put the bushings, bolt, washer back in to the tube. Lowman's tip was that you don't need to remove the tie rod and drag link per WIS. This is where you will start to understand why the workshop manual tells you to do so. You may in fact start cursing our Norweigan brother Lowman at this point as well (I was guilty of this). However, remember that putting this new bushings back in is the exact reverse of removal and watch how Lowman does it in his video. Do NOT put the bottom bushing in first. Look at the photo below, here I am mid step. I did lube up my bushing with Dow (molykote) 111 a o-ring lubricant I use. You need to use a rubber safe lubricant not some petroleum based product that will destroy the bushing.

    Note you must use the correct order on the bolt, idler arm, washer, bushing cap, bushing..

    Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 6.34.25 PM.pngIMG_1170.JPG

    Just with hand force I was able to get most of the bushing in. You can get just enough of the bolt to stick through through the bottom of the tube, then you can temporarily use the large bottom washer and nut to help screw drive the rest of the top assembly into the idler arm tube.

    IMG_1172.JPG

    Then when enough of the bolt sticks through the bottom you can install the bottom bushing, washer and nut and start screwing everything together. I eventually had to use a 24mm combination wrench on the top bolt head to prevent it from spinning.

    IMG_1174.JPG

    Everything compresses down together nicely and you have to finish off the nut with 150 Nm of torque per the workshop manual.

    IMG_1175.JPG

    Re-assemble the heat shield and put the cross member back on if you had to remove it to cut off the bolt. And that's it.
    Last edited by RicardoD; 08-06-2018 at 12:07 AM.
    RicardoD
    1990 964 C4 / 1991 964 C2 tip
    1994 E500
    1991 560SEC
    2014 E350 for wife

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Thanks to both of you, I just ordered two bushing sets from mboemparts.com (one for each car) and I'll be heading to Sears tomorrow to look for a hex-sided 24mm socket. On this side of the pond the bushings are only $134.68 each, presuming they are still available.

    Lowman: Glad you didn't go with the URO part!

    Ricardo: Did you find a hex 24mm socket at Harbor Freight?
    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Great write up, Ricardo.

    I'm surprised at how difficult it was. I think when you get around to doing this job on your C126, you'll be very pleasantly surprised. It was a piece of cake on both of ours.

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    E500E Guru RicardoD's Avatar
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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post
    Ricardo: Did you find a hex 24mm socket at Harbor Freight?
    I never bought one, too late by the time I damaged the nut. 24mm slightly deep hex sides socket is best. Something like this though not sure its deep enough. Im sure hazet has the perfect one for $100!!

    TEKTON 14297 1/2-Inch Drive by 24 mm Shallow Socket, Cr-V, 6-Point https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000NQ1802..._cz-zBb500C6B4

    EDIT: found it
    TEKTON 47814 1/2-Inch Drive by 24 mm Deep Impact Socket, Cr-V, 6-Point https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000NPXKDQ..._mD-zBbC553454
    RicardoD
    1990 964 C4 / 1991 964 C2 tip
    1994 E500
    1991 560SEC
    2014 E350 for wife

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    You can get the 24mm six-point deep socket at any Northern Tool store for $5.00. It has a number of uses beyond just this one, so it's a good one to buy.

    https://www.northerntool.com/shop/to...3935_200653935

    Unfortunately for those folks out West, Northern Tool stores are only in the Eastern USA.

    Craftsman also has an impact socket that will work: https://www.craftsman.com/products/c...-2-00916086000

    Cheers,
    Gerry


    Indeed....lowmania 4-ever!

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Way to Go Ricardo!!

    You and Stephan are the new “International Tech Team”

    On my car a while back I replaced all tie rod bushings , steering links the dragstrut and the shock absorber but NOT the Idler Arm Bushing.

    At the time I was not aware that it should be changed. So far no problem but it’s nice to know that I can do this job if I have to.

    Great Info!!

    Take Care
    Last edited by TerryA; 08-06-2018 at 05:31 AM.
    Terry

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    While I had the right socket, she was just about welded on and I too had to cut mine off, or as they say in England - Saw It Off!
    1994 E500
    249/275 - 8F19 or 8F32 or 8320

    1991 560 SEC
    199/268
    2014 E350 Cab 799/264

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    I just bought this 1/2 drive deep socket , 6 sided, set from Tekton via Amazon. Goes up to 24mm. Reasonable price.

    ADMIN EDIT: Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-2-Inch...dp/B009447UOC/
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    RicardoD
    1990 964 C4 / 1991 964 C2 tip
    1994 E500
    1991 560SEC
    2014 E350 for wife

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by RicardoD View Post
    I just bought this 1/2 drive deep socket , 6 sided, set from Tekton via Amazon. Goes up to 24mm. Reasonable price.
    Excellent with breaker bars too.
    1994 E500
    249/275 - 8F19 or 8F32 or 8320

    1991 560 SEC
    199/268
    2014 E350 Cab 799/264

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by RicardoD View Post
    I just bought this 1/2 drive deep socket , 6 sided, set from Tekton via Amazon. Goes up to 24mm. Reasonable price.
    Nice. No skips and easy to read sizes!
    '94 E500 (744) | '94 E500 (199)         Misc. snapshots

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post
    Thanks to both of you,

    Lowman: Glad you didn't go with the URO part!
    you are welcome

    Well..yeah in many ways im glad that i didnt..but i have to say i would love to buy one..just to see how it "feels like".
    As i did say in the video...often stuff about quality is hearsay...and not first hand information and experience..so like in this case..i havent tried the URO part myself.
    I did get a cheap idler arm bushing at first for my 190e though..and that i experienced was pretty much a crap part..so indeed cheaper parts "tend" to be "you get what you pay for "material.

    What is funny is that on the 129 idler arm bushing...the "manufacturer"s stamp" is unknown to me..and i havent had any luck in diggin for more info either.
    1992 w124 500e "Blackbeauty"
    1989 w201 190e 2.5-16 Evo spec "Evoltwin"
    2003 Ford Focus Rs (Sold )

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Nice documentation. I've replaced two of these in the last 6-months: S124.092 and 036

    I gave rubber bushing a quick wipe-down of Protectant 303 and I used my jack's bar (about 3-feet long) as a breaker-bar on the 1/2" drive ratchet.

    Came off like butter.

    neil
    Last edited by M104-AMG; 08-13-2018 at 09:05 AM.

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Yeah, I'm convinced if I had the right socket, and wasn't so impatient, I could have gotten that nut off. But then I would have missed out on all the sparks flying grinder fun!!
    RicardoD
    1990 964 C4 / 1991 964 C2 tip
    1994 E500
    1991 560SEC
    2014 E350 for wife

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by lowman View Post
    As i did say in the video...often stuff about quality is hearsay...and not first hand information and experience..so like in this case..i havent tried the URO part myself.
    I would just as soon leave the old part on the car than install a URO part on it. Although, I am getting concerned that some of the once-reputable aftermarket brands are falling into the junk category.
    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Would an impact gun help in removing he bolt?

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Not in my case....
    1994 E500
    249/275 - 8F19 or 8F32 or 8320

    1991 560 SEC
    199/268
    2014 E350 Cab 799/264

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by HowardK View Post
    Would an impact gun help in removing he bolt?
    I'll let you know when the parts come. My plan is to soak it with PB Blaster first and then hit it with an impact driver on the first turn.
    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Dont bother with an impact gun.you need a long extended wrench, and it will come loose pretty much straight away
    1992 w124 500e "Blackbeauty"
    1989 w201 190e 2.5-16 Evo spec "Evoltwin"
    2003 Ford Focus Rs (Sold )

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Thanks. Did you have any problems getting a wrench on the bolt head on top or did you even need to hold it to loosen the nut below?
    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    I just had no luck with a breaker bar or an impact gun. No matter the size socket (points) or heat - she was too tight. I was on my back on ramps, but the last resort was to cut in my case.
    1994 E500
    249/275 - 8F19 or 8F32 or 8320

    1991 560 SEC
    199/268
    2014 E350 Cab 799/264

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Breaker bar with a six foot piece of pipe slipped over it. Has worked for me many times, the only issue being able to get enough room to move it with the car on jack stands or ramps.

    Dan

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    If you can get an impact wrench on it, a high-torque 1/2" (or 3/4") should zip it right off. A weaker impact may not do anything.

    Very much depends on how much power your impact wrench has. Mine is rated something like 800 lb-ft peak and I have yet to encounter a fastener it won't break free. Next idler arm job, I'll give it a try.


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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Indeed, per LWB250, I've yet to find anything that a breaker bar with a three- or four-foot piece of pipe on it, won't break free.

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    I will be 77 if I need to replace this again if past is prologue!
    1994 E500
    249/275 - 8F19 or 8F32 or 8320

    1991 560 SEC
    199/268
    2014 E350 Cab 799/264

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post
    Thanks. Did you have any problems getting a wrench on the bolt head on top or did you even need to hold it to loosen the nut below?
    hey
    no i had no problem getting the wrench on top,with the enclosed end of the wrench on the topside of the bolt..and a breaker bar as long as the torque wrench..about 60cm length.it was stuck ..but did not have an issue getting that sucker off.
    With that said..i noticed a huge difference in loosening"torque" between the 201 one..and the 036 one..hence the tightening torque is very different.150 on the 036...and 120 on the 124 standard ones and 201"s.
    1992 w124 500e "Blackbeauty"
    1989 w201 190e 2.5-16 Evo spec "Evoltwin"
    2003 Ford Focus Rs (Sold )

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Just got my parts today and did one car. It took about an hour from the time I walked into the garage to the time I was finished. I don't have much to add to Ricardo's and Lowman's excellent posts. Had I not known about maneuvering the large bolt and bushing in order to get the bolt head in and out, and having the bottom bushing removed to allow room at the bottom for the bolt thread side to maneuver, I would have thought that the right exhaust manifold would have to be removed. Thanks again guys.

    [EDIT] I just replaced the second set and it only took about 30 minutes this time, since the tools were all out. Looking at the old bushings, they don't seem to have any more play than the new ones between the bushings and the long bolt. I'm wondering if they even needed to be changed. Maybe it's the rubber that goes bad, but the rubber seemed to be securely wedged in the tube so I don't see how that would make a difference. I guess it's too late now. It didn't seem to make any noticeable difference in the steering wheel play, not that there was much to begin with.
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    Last edited by emerydc8; 08-10-2018 at 07:31 PM.
    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Yeah, I did not get a wow bit of difference (steering damper made a much bigger impact for me). I think if I do LCA, struts, and mounts, I may notice a change.
    RicardoD
    1990 964 C4 / 1991 964 C2 tip
    1994 E500
    1991 560SEC
    2014 E350 for wife

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Looking at the rubber on these things -- and I'm presuming they are original 25-year-old parts -- it looks pretty good. Maybe I'll change the idler arms next. I need to do LCAs and tie rod ends on the '94, so that would be the time to do the idler arm too. What I thought was interesting about the MB idler arm is that there is no adjustment as there is on the domestics, which makes it simpler for amateur hacks like myself.
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    Jon D.
    1994 E420
    1995 E420

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Ric and Em..... Remember,if the idler arm bushing does not have "that much play" in it..you will not notice a huge difference.
    If it doesnt have play..it does nothing to the steering feel if beeing replaced.
    This part has to do with alignment accuracy on the right hand side,if it does have play,,the toe in on the right hand side will vary/shift as you ride

    The steering damper does alot more to the "tighteness" of the steering feel..because if it beeing a component that controls the whole steering linkage

    EDIT:if you do have a wandering car,,,two components is critical to check.One of them beeing the steering damper..the other one is the drag link.
    The drag link i mention,,because it is often overlooked..as the play in it cannot be felt by doing the 3 and 9 o clock wiggle on the wheels.You will have to check it by pressing the balljoints together when mounted on the car.
    Last edited by lowman; 08-11-2018 at 02:58 AM.
    1992 w124 500e "Blackbeauty"
    1989 w201 190e 2.5-16 Evo spec "Evoltwin"
    2003 Ford Focus Rs (Sold )

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Quote Originally Posted by emerydc8 View Post

    [EDIT]. Looking at the old bushings, they don't seem to have any more play than the new ones between the bushings and the long bolt. I'm wondering if they even needed to be changed. Maybe it's the rubber that goes bad, .
    The play is developed between the tube that has the rubber "welded" on to it..and the center massive metal insert.It is a bearing without rollers basically.that is what develops play..and in most cases not the rubber.unless completely deterioated that is

    So like mentioned..if the idler arm does not have any play to begin with..you wont feel any difference when replacing the part.
    1992 w124 500e "Blackbeauty"
    1989 w201 190e 2.5-16 Evo spec "Evoltwin"
    2003 Ford Focus Rs (Sold )

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    The play is developed between the tube that has the rubber "welded" on to it..and the center massive metal insert.It is a bearing without rollers basically.that is what develops play..and in most cases not the rubber.unless completely deteriorated that is
    They must wear incredibly well because I checked the play in the new part versus the old and there seemed to be about the same amount of play. In any case, I'm glad I learned how to do this because the large bolt will have to come out in order to change the idler arm itself. I wouldn't change the tie rod ends without changing the center rod link. I'll have to check the availability on these parts. Hopefully the steering parts are still available.

    [EDIT]
    Looking at the EPC, it appears there's no reason to change the actual idler arm because there is no ball joint on the other end where it connects to the right tie rod and center link. It's just a hole. Does this wear out?

    The price of the tie rod ends at mboemparts is about $85 each and the center drag link is $93.98, presuming (hoping) they are all still available.
    Last edited by emerydc8; 08-11-2018 at 03:28 AM.
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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Jon, the idler arm itself should never require replacement unless damaged - it's not a wear item.

    Lemforder (aftermarket) has a drag link but it's made in Turkey now, not Germany as in the past... cost is ~1/3 OE but I'm not sure if the kwality is the same anymore.

    You generally want to replace the assembly, not just the ends; the cost isn't much more and it's nice to have an adjustment tube that isn't frozen. Lemforder (aftermarket) tie rod assemblies (both ends, plus adjustment tube) were still made in Germany for the last few I picked up at FCP earlier this year. The left (green) side is up to $71 now, right (black) side is still <$50. IIRC both are painted black now, maybe they ran out of green paint.

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    Re: HOW-TO: Replace Idler Arm Bushing

    Thanks, Dave. The last time I replaced the tie rods on my '95 I did the whole assembly so I will do that for the '94 as well. I didn't take a close look at the other end of the idler arm when I replaced the bushings, so I just presumed there was a ball joint there like the domestics.

    I wonder how much QC Mercedes can accomplish with more and more of their parts made outside of Germany, and sometimes in third-world countries.
    Jon D.
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