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Pelican Technical Article:
Front Shock and Spring Replacement

Jared Fenton
 

 
Time: 3 hours
Tab: $400
Talent:  
Tools:
Spring compressor, 13mm, 16mm, 17mm wrenches and sockets
Applicable Models:
W210 E320 (1996-02)
W210 E300 (1996-97)
W210 E420 (1997)
W210 E430 (1998-99)
W210 E55 (1998-02)
Parts Required:
New front Shocks
Hot Tip:
Take your time and be safe
Performance Gain:
Better handling
Complementary Modification:
Replace suspension bushings
 
   

   

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     One of the most popular Do-It-Yourself projects to perform is the replacement of the front springs and shocks. I usually recommend that you replace both the front and the rear at the same time, as they take the same abuse over their lifetime. As a rule, the shocks should always be replaced in axle pairs either front or rear (left and right together). In this article, we will focus on the replacement of the front shocks and springs.

     I recommend that you replace your shocks every five to seven years - 50,000 miles or so, or when they start to feel weak or worn out. These are gas over hydraulic shocks. The “antique” push down on a corner of the car and watch for bounce/rebound will NOT work. The gas charge IS critical to suspension handling/ride quality, and when it fails the hydraulic component will still pass a bounce/rebound test. Many owners are stunned by the drastic “it’s a new car” change in suspension handling/ride quality because the old shocks where driven years beyond failure. Different driving patterns may also affect the life of shock absorbers. Cars that are raced or driven hard on windy roads may need to have their shocks replaced more often than typical street cars. It is important to remember if you install performance springs into your car that raise or lower it from its stock level, you will need to have the car realigned and install shocks that are designed to work with the shorter springs. Changing the height of the suspension changes the values of the suspension settings.

     Changing the shocks is relatively easy, requiring the use of various sockets and a floor jack. However, changing the springs requires the use of a special Mercedes-Benz tool, a heavy duty internal spring compressor. The first thing to do is jack the car up and support it safely on jackstands. NEVER rely on a floor jack to hold the car up.
The first step is to place a floor jack under the front brake disc (Figure 2). This prevents the control arm from flying downward once the upper control arm link and shock are disconnected. Once the car is jacked up, remove both front wheels and open the hood.

     Please refer to our article on jacking up your Mercedes E320 (W210 Chassis) for more info. Once secured, remove the front wheel. Once the wheel is removed, you'll see all the components that make up the front suspension.

     At the top of the car, inside the engine bay, you'll see the upper shock mounting nuts (Figure 3). The upper connection for the shock absorber uses a rubber grommet, large washer and two lock nuts to hold it in place on the body.

 

Shown here is a new front shock absorber for the Mercedes E320.
Figure 1
Shown here is a new front shock absorber for the Mercedes-Benz E320. Along with the shock, you'll receive the rubber mounts and new hardware to bolt the shock into the car.
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Place a floor jack under the front control arm as shown here.
Figure 2
Place a floor jack under the front control arm as shown here. This will support the front suspension as you loosen and remove the mounting nuts at the top and prevent the control arm from flying downward once the top shock absorber nut is removed.
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Shown here are the two lock nuts that hold the shock absorber to the car at the top (green arrow).
Figure 3
Shown here are the two lock nuts that hold the shock absorber to the car at the top (green arrow).
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Carefully pull the brake booster hose (purple arrow) out of the rubber grommet (green arrow).
Figure 4
Carefully pull the brake booster hose (purple arrow) out of the rubber grommet (green arrow).
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Now pull the hose out of the brake booster by rocking it back and forth (green arrow).
Figure 5
Now pull the hose out of the brake booster by rocking it back and forth (green arrow).
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With the brake booster hose moved out of the way, you have access to the two lock nuts holding the top of the shock inside the car.
Figure 6
With the brake booster hose moved out of the way, you have access to the two lock nuts holding the top of the shock inside the car. Hold the bottom 17mm nut with an open end wrench while you loosen and remove the top nut with a socket as shown here.
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Now use a set of vise grips or adjustable wrench to hold the flat part at the top of the shock rod and remove the 17mm nut at the bottom.
Figure 7
Now use a set of vise grips or adjustable wrench to hold the flat part at the top of the shock rod and remove the 17mm nut at the bottom.
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Remove the upper washer securing the rubber grommet to the body (green arrow).
Figure 8
Remove the upper washer securing the rubber grommet to the body (green arrow).
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Now pry the rubber grommet up and off the shock rod (green arrow).
Figure 9
Now pry the rubber grommet up and off the shock rod (green arrow). This might take a little effort, but it should come right off.
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Shown here is the shock rod with all the mounting hardware removed.
Figure 10
Shown here is the shock rod with all the mounting hardware removed. At this point, there is nothing securing the top of the shock to the body of the car.
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Shown here is the 17mm bolt that secures the shock to the control arm (green arrow).
Figure 11
Shown here is the 17mm bolt that secures the shock to the control arm (green arrow).
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From below, remove the 17mm nut securing the shock to the lower control arm.
Figure 12
From below, remove the 17mm nut securing the shock to the lower control arm. Counterhold the bolt with a 17mm on the other side of the shock.
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Now pull the shock out of the bracket on the control arm.
Figure 13
Now pull the shock out of the bracket on the control arm. You may need to lower the control arm to have enough room to move the shock up and out the bracket.
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Slide the new protective grommet over the top of the new shock.
Figure 14
Slide the new protective grommet over the top of the new shock.
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Now slide the new shock up through the hole at the top of the wheel housing.
Figure 15
Now slide the new shock up through the hole at the top of the wheel housing.
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Seat the bottom of the new shock into the bracket on the control arm, take the new 17mm bolt and slide it into the bracket, through the shock (green arrow) and fit the new 16mm nut on the end.
Figure 16
Seat the bottom of the new shock into the bracket on the control arm, take the new 17mm bolt and slide it into the bracket, through the shock (green arrow) and fit the new 16mm nut on the end. Tighten the nut and bolt to 30ft-lbs.
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Use a floor jack to jack the top of the shock through the hole at the top.
Figure 17
Use a floor jack to jack the top of the shock through the hole at the top. Once through, fit the new rubber grommet over the shock rod, then the flat washer and the new nut at the top. Don’t tighten it down just yet.
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Install the new rubber grommet over the shock rod (green arrow).
Figure 18
Install the new rubber grommet over the shock rod (green arrow).
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Install the new upper washer over the rubber grommet (green arrow).
Figure 19
Install the new upper washer over the rubber grommet (green arrow).
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Now install the new top nut on the shock until it bottoms out on the shock threads (green arrow).
Figure 20
Now install the new top nut on the shock until it bottoms out on the shock threads (green arrow). Re-insert the vacuum line into the brake booster and the bracket. At this point, if you are just replacing the shocks, you can put the wheels back on and lower the car down.
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This is the heavy duty Mercedes spring compressor that is required to compress the springs on the W210.
Figure 21
This is the heavy duty Mercedes spring compressor that is required to compress the springs on the W210. Don’t try to compress the springs with external type compressors. You risk damage top both yourself and the car.
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Take the upper plate of the compressor for the front spring and place it as high up on the spring as possible.
Figure 22
Take the upper plate of the compressor for the front spring and place it as high up on the spring as possible.
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Now do the same for the lower spring plate, just at the bottom of the spring.
Figure 23
Now do the same for the lower spring plate, just at the bottom of the spring.
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Feed the compressor strut through the access hole on the bottom of the control arm, the rotate it to lock the tabs into the upper plate.
Figure 24
Feed the compressor strut through the access hole on the bottom of the control arm, the rotate it to lock the tabs into the upper plate. Once secured, use a 19mm socket to turn the strut. As it turns, it will compress the spring.
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Feed the compressor strut through the access hole on the bottom of the control arm, the rotate it to lock the tabs into the upper plate.
Figure 25
This is how it's suppose to look.
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Comments and Suggestions:
kazman Comments: this is great, except it is totally different for the 4matic as the shaft goes through the fork on the bottom of the shock, and you would need a different spring compressor. Where can i get a spring compressor for the 4matic
October 15, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right tool. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
serge Comments: so my front and started to bones more frequently than beforeand is made it a thumping noise when the wheels were down like when I hit a bump it would be okay going up but when the wheels came down it would make a noiseso I went do the Auto sup how to parts store and got some new shocks and when I get my old sharks are awesome the new ones were shorter about in 2 inches maybe one and a half inch shorter than my old shock so I put them on the new shocks and it still making the noise the phone no worries and it doesn't feel the same anymore what should I do about this sure the shocks is that okay or should I get different ?
May 3, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would keep the factory height shocks, do not install shorter models. I would also inspect the front end for what is thumping or loose before replacing any parts. Try bouncing the front end or wiggling the suspension with it unloaded. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Zoli Comments: Hmm, you had 2 lock nuts originally Figure 3, but at the end, you put back only 1 nut Figure 20.
Is this ok?
April 18, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The factory uses two nuts to lock it. A self-locking nut was used with the new parts. This is OK. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
don Comments: i replaced the control arms of my car and now the ride height is super high ive checked it 3 times and had other mechanics look at it and measure the replacement parts and its all the same but the ride height is higher now need help...
January 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Did you torque the control arm bushings in the loaded position? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bob Comments: Pictures show nut removal from driver side. How about the passenger side. No room for two tools. How do you manage that please
October 9, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't know if you are talking about the upper or lower mount of the shock. If something is in the way on the passenger side upper or lower mount then you are going to have to remove that part to gain access to the passenger side shock mounts. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Nick Comments: Does any one know how much a job would cost to replace both forint springs on a Mercedes 320 ,rough idea
September 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Assuming you have an e320 and it's not 4matic the labor time is 2.2 hours. I don't know what the going labor rate in your area is. You're probably looking at about $200 labor - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
ManupMerc Comments: Nick..... Where would i find the repair kit for the spring perch in a 1998 E320 wagon ?.... What would it be called???..... This is the best news I've had in a while.... I'll let you know how it comes out...DTF
September 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
ManupMercWagon Comments: The spring perch that my front spring fits into on my 1998 E320 Wagon broke... Can it be replaced?..... I was going to weld it back on but I'm not sure that is safe.... Can it be replaced with a new part or can it be safely welded on????.. I love the car and it's not bad on maintenance...
September 4, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: if I remember correctly, there is a repair kit that has to be riveted in. This is depending on the overall conditon of your vehicle and if there isn't too much damage. Any body shop should be able to perform the repair. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
merk Comments: Great Stuff
October 24, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Glad you like it.
roy@pelicanparts.com
 
DLSSMITH Comments: I love the explanations, however in this one, front shock and spring replacement for W210, the text is not matched to the photos. Also, I can't find the second page to finish the job
June 2, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There seem to be two pictures missing, here is the text.

You tilt the top of the spring out.
Lift the spring assembly out.
Mark the compressor plate orientation with crayon on the old spring.
Relax and remove the compressor.
Swap the compressor and plates to the new spring.
Be sure the plate orientation matches the old spring.
Compress the spring, and reinstall it in the car.

roy@pelicanparts.com
 

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  Applies to: 1992 300SE, 1993 300SE, 1993 300E, 1994 C280, 1995 C280, 1996 C280, 1997 C280, 1995 C36, 1996 C36, 1997 C36, 1994 E320, 1995 E320, 1994 SL320, 1995 SL320, 1996 SL320, 1997 SL320, 1994 S320, 1995 S320, 1996 S320, 1997 S320, 1998 S320, 1999 S320, 1990 300CE, 1991 300CE, 1992 300CE, 1990 300SL, 1991 300SL, 1992 300SL, 1993 300SL
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