Vario 814D 2001 Drive Train Vibration Problems

Omfinity

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2001 Vario 814D drive train vibration problems.

The vehicle referred to is a 2001 low mileage, circa 100,000 miles extra LWB Vario 814D in the throws of being converted into a motorhome. I am being quite fastidious with the conversion and naturally with its mechanical condition too. It is/was my intention of seeing my driving days out, hopefully another 25 to 30 years with this vehicle.

Following the previous bouncing suspension issue, I have to say that I now have very little faith in the integrity of the MB agent network generally. Sadly, after a few more minor issues where MB assistance has been sought this opinion has been reinforced.

After a flurry of expense to rectify the faulty rear air suspension, service and replace everything within reasonable boundaries to ensure that there was nothing mechanical likely to cause problems in the immediate future, I was confident that I had a very sound base to build on.

Wrong… Emanating from the rear of the vehicle was a vibration, very mild, almost unnoticeable at lower speeds but one that became quite imposing and worrying at higher speeds. There was no noise as such, just a nasty vibration, with rattles coming from other fixtures that were being affected by the vibration.

Wheels, tyres and prop-shaft were the most obvious elements to check first. The prop-shaft was removed and inspected, all joints were sound, slider with no play, mounting donuts were all good, no immediately apparent reason to associate the prop-shaft with the vibration. Wheels were sand balanced in an attempt to remove the vibration, no real difference was experienced.

Unfortunately or fortunately, (see below) I then had a collision with a deep pot hole, hidden by torrential rain, in the nearside of a major road. This immediately caused a number of issues. Violent vibration from the front/steering, exhaust damaged and hitting the bodywork and chassis and a very nasty sound emanating from the rear of the vehicle, most noticeable between acceleration and declaration at speeds in excess of 40mph.

After immediate inspection, it was considered that the rear differential had suffered some mechanical damage due to the way it had been severely jolted and further use would cause the diff to disintegrate. The three NS wheel rims were damaged/bent amongst other items. The repairs were quoted by MB at circa £15,000 and two local independents at circa £10,000 and £12,000. I had no choice other than to make a claim off my fully comp insurance for a “Not at Fault” accident. After a disgraceful five month battle with ERS Insurance (Equity Red Star Insurance) a settlement was finally agreed.

I did not have enough from the insurer to go through MB for the repair and there was not enough to have all new parts, mainly due to the fact that ERS had caused considerable extra expense whilst trying to wriggle out of honouring the insurance policy.

The differential was removed, rebuilt by a specialist and replaced, along with six new wheel rims and tyres, exhaust, one air tank and the OS rear hub bearing. The noise that started immediately after the collision was still there, the vibration was still there and worsening! After further inspection by running the vehicle in top gear whilst securely jacked up, the sound appeared to be coming from the gearbox. The gearbox was removed, totally rebuilt by a specialist and replaced, the complete clutch assembly was also replaced with new. The vibration and noise was still there!! The vehicle was only being used for short road tests and in these short tests, the condition was getting worse. The vehicle was now developing a violent judder in the second gear between 1500 and 2000 RPM, so much so that on a steep incline, second gear could not be used!

As previously mentioned, the prop-shaft had already been inspected carefully, it was again removed and inspected, still with no sign of trouble with any of the joints or slider. Belt and braces, the three part prop was taken to HJ Chard Engineering in Bristol for inspection as balancing was the only thing left that could be causing the problems. Chards initial view when seeing the prop was that there was no obvious issues with the joints, apart from the fact that they were the original, vey poor quality MB parts, the type that did not have grease nipples for maintenance lubrication. They checked the three sections for balance, no issues found, they replaced all joints with high quality joints, ones that could be greased. The prop-shaft was returned and refitted.

Brilliant, for a short moment! The problem was almost solved, no violent judder, no noise that sounded like the rear diff or gearbox was about to explode and a considerable reduction in vibration!

However, the vibration is still present so my question is, having replaced absolutely everything that could be the cause of vibration and finding that the prop-shaft seemed to be the centre of the troubles, which was exacerbated and accelerated by colliding with a deep pothole, what else can be wrong??

Has anybody out there had a problem with vibration and resolved it? I would be delighted to hear from anybody that can shine some light on this matter, perhaps even solve it!

I would also like to hear from anybody that has this issue and lives with it, what problems have to be regularly addressed, like prop-shaft rebuilds or other items breaking due to vibrations.

I have nasty suspicion that this vibration is a common, deep rooted issue with these vehicles. Therefore all information and stories with a paper trail will be greeted with maximum appreciation.

To recap, this is an extra LWB 2001 BUILD, Vario 814D, 100,000 miles from new, one previous owner as a library bus, has never been in a major collision whereby the chassis has been damaged and needed repair, has not had any chassis modifications.
 
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turbopete

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i presume the centre bearings on the propshaft were replaced? rubber flexi couplings replaced (if fitted, in place of the universal joints)?
diff mounts? gearbox/engine mounts? all of these can cause vibrations.
im also assuming that the propshaft aligned properly (universal joints aligned if fitted instead of rubber couplings)
 
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Omfinity

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Hi Turbopete,

Yes, absolutely everything has been replaced. The propshaft is in three sections, with two chassis mountings with rubber donut type bearings.

The alignment is a straight line when looking upwards, however, the alignment looking from the side is like a dogleg. The propshaft starts off by pointing downwards from the front/gearbox for the first two sections, then the last section changes direction and goes uphill to meet the diff! The angle of the last universal joint is quite acute where it meets the differential which actually appears to pint downward towards the front of the vehicle..

To explain better, I am taking all pertinent measurements and producing a drawing of what I mean to provide a better explanation. Please bare with me for a few days. The propshaft is corrected mounted, there is no further adjustment available to remove the dogleg and improve the alignment.

To briefly reiterate: Every part on the suspension and axle are ALL correct according to Mercedes.. The axle is the original axle as fitted by the factory, I have a data sheet printout from Mercedes for this vehicle that confirms this, so no alien or incorrect parts fitted.

Thank you again for your response.
 
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clarkmichigan55b

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Hello,

Since the pothole damage have you checked to see if the axle is running out of alinement, checking from axle centre/wheel rim edge distance N/S to O/S.

If all else fails you could try and have the chassis/axles lazer alinement.

Did you try and claim for the damage from the local highways department ?.

Adrian.
 

turbopete

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unless the body conversion is really very heavy, id expect the propshaft to follow a generally downward slope from the front (gearbox end) to the rear, without any upward movement. the acute angle at one of the joints MAY (depending on HOW acute the angle is) be the cause of the vibration
 


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