Steering wobble at ~70mph

leeppp222

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A few weeks back, I swapped my 20" wheels for 18"...wish I didn't!

After fitting them, I got balancing and wheel alignment checked. After this, I noticed a slight wobble in the steering wheel. Took them to get balanced, noticed a "small" improvement but nothing drastic. Took them to a third garage today and they said the balancing was still off so they corrected it. However, now it's worse than ever! The steering feels all over the place!

So after three wheel balancings and an alignment, what else could possibly be wrong?

I've got them booked at a FOURTH garage for Monday - this one specialises in wheels only and isn't a general servicing garage so hopefully they'll have more ideas?
 

Flyinspanner

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Flat spot on a rim....or slight buckle?
 

Droverunner

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>>>Flat spot on a rim....or slight buckle?

Yes or an irregular tyre tread.

I've seen loads of guys balance wheels spot on by the machine while ignoring a physical irregularity in the tyre or rim thinking if the machine says OK it is. I DIY such issues and my first step would be to jack up each wheel in turn and spin it slowly looking at the inner and outer rim edges plus all across the tyre tread for anything not rotationally accurate. I judge this by placing something like an axle stand just touching the tyre/rim so you can measure any out of round or deviation.
 
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leeppp222

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Cheers, everyone - we'll see if the garage can find anything on Monday. @DREAMER NO2 - they're Goodyear Asymetric3
 

DREAMER NO2

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Sounds good to me . Ypu need to look at the rims jack it up and put an item close to the rim and spin the wheel while looking for run out /
 
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leeppp222

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Hi Guys - as an update:

Finally found a decent garage who knew what they were doing. Turns out it's a mixture of two things:
1) One of the new tyres is slightly deformed (you can only see this as suggested above by spinning the wheel and manually checking it).
2) Both front wheels look like wheel bearings need replacing as there's a bit of movement in them (ie, if you manually rock them while jacked up, they move a little bit).

For now, the garage checked the balancing one last time and then swapped the front and back wheels. This made an instant MASSIVE different in ride quality (it was terrible before and the shaking steering wheel really didn't feel safe). I can now drive at 70 and not feel like I'm going to get RSI in my wrists from the wobbling / shaking.

The garage have suggested replacing the bearings for both front wheels at a cost of around £350. He said to see how it goes as there's a chance just swapping the wheels would help (which it did).

However, should I still get the bearings done (now I know they need doing it'll only bug me). Will that also help with the "feel" of the drive?

Thanks again for all the suggestions above!
 

DREAMER NO2

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Well i would say that the play in the bearing wants sorting out , by fitting new ones . And over time the original bearings wont get any better .The play in the bearing centre is small but on the wheel ends its more than 10 times the play..Its up to you ,the mot chap will spot this out ,,and you car will be off the road at a time you may need it the most .
 

Droverunner

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Well that's a good result on the wobble. If the tyres were new from a dealer I'd be asking they replace that one with the tread defect... even if you can't feel it on the rear. If you bought it used or from a private Ebay seller or similar then I'd consider replacing at your own expense. Tread misalignment could be in the casting of the rubber... or it could be a fault with the internal construction which is potentially a problem.

Re the wheel bearings I have no experience of your model but there is a very good chance your bearings can be adjusted for play... they can on many MBs. Two aspects to this assuming they aren't already noisy... First bearings that are adjustable are usually set so there is a tiny amount of play and this can usually be felt if judging play with the wheel on so they could be OK anyway. Secondly if it is excessive then it's way cheaper to adjust than replace.
 
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leeppp222

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Well that's a good result on the wobble. If the tyres were new from a dealer I'd be asking they replace that one with the tread defect... even if you can't feel it on the rear. If you bought it used or from a private Ebay seller or similar then I'd consider replacing at your own expense. Tread misalignment could be in the casting of the rubber... or it could be a fault with the internal construction which is potentially a problem.

Re the wheel bearings I have no experience of your model but there is a very good chance your bearings can be adjusted for play... they can on many MBs. Two aspects to this assuming they aren't already noisy... First bearings that are adjustable are usually set so there is a tiny amount of play and this can usually be felt if judging play with the wheel on so they could be OK anyway. Secondly if it is excessive then it's way cheaper to adjust than replace.

Cheers for your advice.

Basically, when they advised the bearings needed doing, he had the front jacked up and he could move the wheels slightly by pushing and pulling?

I have a 2013 S350L. I also had an adjustment made by Blackboots in Milton Keynes a while back to prevent the car pulling left - could this be related? Would replacing the bearings affect that? Sorry if these are stupid questions, I just have no idea :)
 

Droverunner

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If the wheel bearings aren't noisy or worn and if they are the adjustable type then I'd get that done at a MB specialist or garage you trust... it's not that hard but some folks are rubbish at it. I'm old enough to have started working on cars where all the wheel bearings could be adjusted so it was the norm... bit of a lost art in some folks eyes these days. For example as I said above there should be slight play, it's judging that which is the art. The by the book way is with a dial test indicator.

I think it is likely your previous adjustment to stop pulling to the left would be the tracking??

This vid is for a W220... yours might be a W221 but if it has the same bearing arrangement the procedure would be broadly similar.

 
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leeppp222

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Thanks, @Droverunner . I'll have a look at the video. So hard knowing who to trust - the only people who truly seem to know are Blackboots, but they're in Milton Keynes and I'm in Essex. The garage I went to today knew they're stuff about tyres, etc., but don't specialise in Mercedes.

My local Mercedes dealer are useless (that's putting it nicely).
 

Droverunner

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I've only been on here 6mths but one of the longer term members might know a specialist near you. Might have to start a new thread to get their attention though.
 
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leeppp222

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Good idea - I'll give that a try.
 

DREAMER NO2

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Droverunner i thought the last model that used this cresent nut system was the W123 . Most others if rear wheel drive had the castle nut and cotter pin idea . But checking it out,, and yes its still used on newer model of rearwheel drive cars and both can be adjusted .Like you i have done it, myself and on some i have put a thin washer in so i get the right play in the bearing after cotter pin is refitted .But front wheel drive cars is another kettle of fish .
 

AlexM

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Cheers for your advice.

Basically, when they advised the bearings needed doing, he had the front jacked up and he could move the wheels slightly by pushing and pulling?

I have a 2013 S350L. I also had an adjustment made by Blackboots in Milton Keynes a while back to prevent the car pulling left - could this be related? Would replacing the bearings affect that? Sorry if these are stupid questions, I just have no idea :)
I had horrible, incurable vibration problems on my E63 that weren't solvable by wheel balancing. The rims were checked and had minimal runout / out of roundness, but I could see the tyre tread walking up and down by about 5mm as the wheel rotated.

I had a road force balance test done and sure enough, both front tyres were out of tolerance to the extent that it couldn't have been corrected by balancing or repositioning the tyre on the rim.

There was nothing for it other than to replace the tyres, but I also called continental to discuss the problem. They took the tyres back for examination, and deemed them to be defective and gave me a 100% refund, even though they were 30% worn by this stage. I would definately approach the tyre manufacturers customer services team for advice and to find out whether they will help. You will need to be sure that the tyres are the problem rather than wheels, bearings or anything else in the suspension.

I would definately have the rims check for buckling and have them straightened if there is an issue. If they are buckled they will cause the tyres to wear abnormally, which will cause the problem to come back even if they can be balanced initially.

My vibration problems cause premature wear of the steering rack and that had to be replaced, so don't leave it or it could get very expensive.

Once I had got my tyre problem fixed, the car felt absolutely transformed, so do persist with getting the problem diagnosed and fixed properly.

Do also get your wheel bearings replaced or adjusted if there is excessive movement. Your shouldn't have free play, and it will affect steering response as well as potentially being unsafe.

Good luck!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A5010 using Tapatalk
 
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leeppp222

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Just as an update to this (in case anyone else ever has the same issues).

Finally all sorted (after weeks of wasted journeys to local garages that should know better...

Visited a local garage (specialising in wheels) who found the main issue with the "wobble" instantly: the wheel bearings. At first, they recommended replacing them so I booked them in. However, it turned out, they only needed adjusting (saving me £000s!)

All this has showed me is how poor the majority of local garages are:
  1. Jet Tyres in Rayleigh TWICE balanced the wheels and blamed the issue on alignment despite alignment being pretty much spot on (I visited them twice as it was them who fitted the new wheels and tyres for me).
  2. Jet Tyres in Benfleet claimed I needed to spend £700 on a special part to fix an issue with alignment (again, not the issue). I visited them on the advice of Jet Tyres Rayleigh as they had a Hunter machine to check the alignment.
  3. F1 in Basildon claimed Jet Tyres did the balancing wrong and also incorrectly inflated the tyres (yes, I know!) They claimed to fix the issue, however, all they did was make it MUCH MUCH worse (to the point the car felt unsafe to drive).
  4. Local Merc garage couldn't fit me in for nearly 2 months so couldn't get them to resolve it!
  5. All the specialists recommended in the posts above didn't both replying when I got in touch (they obviously don't need the work).
  6. Alloy Wheels in Rochford swapped the wheels from back to front and then adjusted the wheel bearings (for £80) and fixed within a couple of hours - literally transforming the ride quality.
 

Droverunner

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Thanks for updating, I take more care of the oily bits than the shiny bits so very interesting. What is sad is that 1-3 totally failed to resolve what is, to me as a private "DIY" mechanic, an obvious issue.
 
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