Friday, August 27, 2010

Changing rear sway bar links

Ever since I got the car, its had a horrible clunking sound from the rear suspension when going over bumps. Its almost as if there was loose firewood in the trunk. Being equipped with Mercedes' Self-Levelling-Suspension (SLS), its not an easy or cheap thing to troubleshoot and repair.

The sway bar links were pretty worn, and they're less than $20/each, so I decided to renew them. The clunking sound isn't due to the links but they needed to be renewed anyway

The clunking sound is either caused by the hydropneumatic shocks or the accumulator air cells (a.k.a "spheres"). The "test" for working spheres is to press down the rear suspension when the car is running and if the spheres are good, the suspension should go down gently about 1-1/2" and then slowly come back up. If the spheres are worn out the suspension should be stiff and bouncy - not allowing you to press the suspension down more than 1/2".

From what I can deduce from the test is that my spheres are good, but I still doubt the accuracy of it all. I took the car to Young Street Garage to get it diagnosed, and they said it was the shocks themselves. I really doubt this as the car only has 60k miles on it and these SLS rams are not known to be problematic if they're not leaking. And mine are not leaking.

I guess I'll just have to wait till I have enough money to decide whether to renew the air cells (about $200/each) and hope it solves the problem or just gut the entire SLS out and fit conventional shocks and springs. Considering the SLS maintenance schedule (flush every 30k miles, renew accumulators every 60k miles), I'm leaning towards gutting the SLS and installing some good Bilstein shocks and H&R springs all round.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Changing right tie rod assembly

Took much longer than I expected. Both ends were properly seized. Needed to go buy a Tie-Rod Puller from CanadianTire.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Euro headlight conversion

Probably the first thing anyone does when they buy a Bruno Benz is to get rid of those hideous North American Market (NAM) spec headlights. Not only are they an eye sore but also a safety hazard as they have very poor lighting.

The NAM spec headlights make use of 9004 bulb main low beams and H3 fog light bulbs. The Euro lights support both High and Low main beam using H4 bulbs as well as the sane H3 fog light bulbs. The particular Depo branded lights I purchased also support a W5W wedge bulb as a day-time driving light.

Since the Euro lights have more features the connection socket is obviously larger. The NAM spec headlights use a 4 pin socket, whereas the Euro headlights use a 6 pin socket.

North American Spec Headlight Socket
|    0    |
| 1     2 |
| 3     4 |

Pin | Colour | Purpose
1   | Green  | H3 Fog Light ( + 12v )
2   | Brown  | GND
3   | Yellow | 9004 Low beam ( + 12v )
4   | White  | High Beam?? ( + 0.11v ) 

Part Numbers
6pin Female Socket = 006 545 80 28
6pin Socket Cover = 009 545 30 28
Female Socket Pin = 003 545 26 26

Depo Euro Headlight Socket
|    0    |
| 1     2 |
| 3     4 |
| 5     6 |

Pin | Colour | Purpose
1   | N/A    | Dummy ( Open circuit )
2   | Brown  | GND
3   | Blue   | W5W Day time driving wedge bulb ( + 12v )
4   | White  | H4 High beam ( + 12v )
5   | Yellow | H4 Low beam  ( + 12v )
6   | Red    | H3 Fog light ( + 12v )

The socket and cover are both easily available from any Mercedes dealer and swapping the wires in is pretty simple as well.

Only nuance during installation is dealing with the headlight washer system. The Euro spec lights don't seem to have the exact same bolt pattern to fit the NAM spec headlight washer assembly. The washer assembly has two screws into the headlight and one into the chassis. I was only able to retain the screw in the chassis as the Euro headlight's screw holes didn't line up. Its holding up pretty well actually.

One thing I hate about the Depo Euro headlights is that they don't supply these little metal screw holders. You have to transfer the ones off the NAM lights. Usually they're pretty rusted out and could do with being renewed.

I had a VVME ($30 Chinese made) HID kit that I originally purchased to install on the 190E a few years ago, but never got round to doing it. Since I needed new bulbs anyway for the 560SEL, I decided to install the HIDs as well with the Euros. The H4 bulbs I've got have both High and Low beam. But only the low beam is Xenon. I never use the high beam, so that was fine by me. On the passenger's side, I bolted the HID ballast to one of the nuts holding down the coolant expansion bottle. On the driver's side I actually found an unused hole in the fender, so I just put a bolt through it and mounted the ballast there (see pic).

I just need to source some yellow halogen H3 bulbs for the fog lights now. Colour temperature on the HIDs is 5000k (Pure white).