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Pelican Technical Article:

Center Link Removal and Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$125

Talent:

**

Tools:

19mm socket with ratchet or wrench

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz R129 (1990-02)

Parts Required:

Center link

Hot Tip:

Spray fasteners with penetrating oil and let soak for a while

Performance Gain:

Improve handling and achieve even tire wear

Complementary Modification:

Change inner and outer tie rod ends as well

As you turn your steering wheel, a steering column shaft rotates in the steering column. At the other end of the steering column is the power steering gearbox. This power steering gearbox changes the rotating motion of the steering column shaft into a side-to-side movement of the Pitman Arm. The Pitman Arm is connected to a center link. This center link connects the left side of the tie rod ends to the right side tie rod ends. This maintains the alignment of the left and right side wheels during turning maneuvers. The center link has ball joints on the end of it to flex with steering inputs. Over time the ball sockets can wear out. This allows the inner and outer tie rod ends to move around and allows small deviations in front wheel alignment. This can cause handling problems, steering wheel vibrations and uneven tire wear. In this tech article I will go over the steps to remove the center link.

Lift and support the front axle of the vehicle, after putting those stylish safety glasses on your face. You don't have to remove the front tires to perform this job but it does make access much easier since you may not have access to an automotive lift. See our tech article on jacking and supporting your vehicle and removing the front tires.

ThisPicture illustrates under the left side of the car where the center link (green arrow) meets the Pitman Arm.
Figure 1

ThisPicture illustrates under the left side of the car where the center link (green arrow) meets the Pitman Arm. Remove the 19mm fastener (yellow arrow) above the center link.

You may have to rotate the steering wheel until you can put a wrench on the fastenerPictured here.
Figure 2

You may have to rotate the steering wheel until you can put a wrench on the fastenerPictured here. Be sure to shut the ignition key off and pull it out of the ignition cylinder. This will lock the steering wheel and hold the steering linkage still while you loosen the fastener. If you leave the key in the on position, the steering wheel will not be locked. As you try to loosen the fastener, the linkage would move around with the key left in the on position.

ThisPicture illustrates under the car on the right side looking up.
Figure 3

ThisPicture illustrates under the car on the right side looking up. Remove the 19mm fastener (green arrow) that attaches the right side of the center link.

Here I am under the car back at the left side of the vehicle.
Figure 4

Here I am under the car back at the left side of the vehicle. You can use your splitting fork to separate the center link from the Pitman Arm.

I removed the lower control arm to provide you with a better view of what we're doing and still at the left side wheel well.
Figure 5

I removed the lower control arm to provide you with a better view of what we're doing and still at the left side wheel well. You do not have to remove the lower control arm. Using a 17mm wrench remove the 17mm fastener. Make sure the ignition key is out of the ignition cylinder so the steering wheel is locked. This will prevent the steering linkages from moving as you try to loosen fasteners.

Slide the bolt (green arrow) out of the steering dampener mounting bracket.
Figure 6

Slide the bolt (green arrow) out of the steering dampener mounting bracket.

Working back at the right side of the center link, use a splitting fork to separate the center link from the idler arm.
Figure 7

Working back at the right side of the center link, use a splitting fork to separate the center link from the idler arm.

With both sides of the center link disconnected, slide the center link over the support braces and remove it from the car.
Figure 8

With both sides of the center link disconnected, slide the center link over the support braces and remove it from the car. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedures. Position the center link over the support braces. Install the ball sockets on each side of the center link into their mounting holes on the Pitman Arm and idler arm.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:28:23 AM