Log of the E320 #3's life with us.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Daniel bought the car. The seller kept the license plates.

I ran a VIN check, it looks like that car might have been sold for $3,995 in late 2017.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

I had a look over the car. Pretty good overall condition.
  1. Vacuumed leaves and dirt out of firewall area.
  2. Checked TCM for oil wicking. Looks clean.
  3. Checked belt idler pulleys, they're good.
  4. Checked spare tire and tools. Good.
  5. Test drive (short) felt OK. ESP works (on gravel).
  6. Mechanical key works in glovebox and door, but not in trunk.
  7. Windows and sunroof all operable.
  8. Headliner is starting to come down in back.
  9. Interior trunk release feels mechanically broken, but indicator works. (So it's not unplugged, and probably needs replacement.)
  10. Blizzak snow tires are very worn, they're really not much good anymore. (These particular tires age poorly anyway.)
  11. Lubricated the driver's-side sunvisor. Now works properly.
The only bad thing I noted was that the front sits 3" lower than Jill's car. Has some boy racer been f-ing with the front suspension? Is something broken? (But the camber looks OK.) Is this a 2wd vs 4wd thing?

Saturday, August 12, 2023

I investigated using the other E320's key as a probe, a shorter key I'm more familiar with, and there's definitely something in the trunk lock preventing full entry. Broken-off original key?

I took a much closer look at the front wheels, with a tape measure, framing square, and level. The ground-to-wheel-arch measurement is the same on both sides, and much less than on the reference car. The camber is off, now that I look much closer. Using a framing square on the (metal) wheel face, the level on the other leg is off a full bubble compared to the reference car. If you put the tape measure against the top edge of the rim and look straight down from the wheel arch, it's notably more inset than on the reference car. Both sides.

My guess is tired or cut springs, as I doubt that they'd both break the same. This will need to be addressed before too much time goes by.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

I dropped by the junkyard, and picked up some parts that may or may not be useful:
  1. Trunk latch. To practice on, and perhaps to rob parts from.
  2. Vanity mirror cover. Broken hinge pin and the wrong color, but perhaps something can be done with it.
  3. Trunk release switch from a C330. This is completely wrong as it's part of a combined switch unit specific to the C330, but the visible part looks and feels the same, so perhaps it can be disassembled and used for donor parts.
Sadly, the one E320 they had was 4wd, so it won't be a potential spring donor, if that should be necessary.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

I removed and took apart the trunk lock. It was very corroded and sludgy inside, it looked like there was vaseline packed in there. It was the corrosion preventing the key from inserting, some of the wafers simply wouldn't slide. The secret to disassembly is the internal snap-ring at the back of the lock cylinder, which holds it all together. After that it was careful wafer freeing and a minor filing to get the corrosion off of the wafers. I used a lot of brake cleaner to sluice out all the dirt, grease, and etc.

Then correct (graphite) lubrication, and reassembly. This all took a lot more time than it should have, mostly because of unfamiliarity. The trunk lock works much as in older cars, except there is not a mechanical 2-state tab that lets the trunk be opened manually when the car is unlocked. On this car that is done electro-pneumatically, via the locking system computer. Summary:

  1. The trunk can be locked, mechanically, so that it can only be opened with the key, by turning it hard to the right and removing it. (Valet function, you remove the mechanical key from the fob and keep it, and give the valet the fob. They can't get into either the trunk or the glovebox if those have been locked with the key. Also useful if you want to secure the trunk contents against a potential thief bashing in a window and using the interior trunk release.)

  2. The trunk can be unlocked, mechanically, by turning the key hard to the left, reversing the above condition. (The key is spring-loaded and cannot be left in that position, it'll move back to the center position afterwards.) The key can be removed in the center position, which is 'normal', or the right position, which is locked.

  3. The trunk can be opened, mechanically, by turning the key hard to the left and then pushing in. This will work even if the car is completely dead.

  4. With the lock in the center position, 'normal', the trunk can be opened electro-pneumatically, with one of:

    1. Interior switch;

    2. Key fob;

    3. Pushing in the trunk lock, if the car is unlocked.

    All of these (4.X) require the car to be 'alive', with no electrical or pneumatic faults in the locking system.
This car, at acquisition, could only do the very last two of these. At the moment it's only 4.1 that it can't do.

I then removed the interior trunk release switch, by pulling up on the panel. Now the reason for the extreme expense of this (also apparently NLA) switch became apparent: it is all the switches! Windows, mirror, trunk release, child switch, airbag indicator, all in one large assembly. P/N 210 821 39 51. Good news, and bad news. Good news: yes, the C330 trunk switch mechanicals I scored at the junkyard are the same, right down to the numbers molded into them. Bad news: it's the housing, containing the hinge pins, that is broken, not the moving parts. The housing is very large and specific to this particular switch assembly.

So I got out the Shoe Goo, and started trying to fix the breaks. I'm trying to splint the breaks using sheet metal. If there's room for the necessary splints. Being a hinge it's a high-stress point, simple glue will not be sufficient.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

After some filing the splint works, and the pivoting piece can still move. Now for the other side, which is entirely missing the plastic double-ended hinge pin. (Broken out of the housing, and missing.)

After some thought I got a piece of 12ga copper wire and started hammering it down in diameter on one end until it fit into the holes in the pivoting pieces. I then cut off a bit of about the right length, and Shoe-Gooed it into place centered in the housing. One plastic piece will pivot on the inside nub, and one on the outside nub.

Friday, August 25, 2023

After some careful filing to make the new copper hinge nubs the right length I snapped the two moving plastic pieces of the switch into place. Mechanically it seems OK again, though I shall have to caution Daniel to be very careful with it, as I'm sure it's not very strong.

I installed it in the car, and it works perfectly. Now all the trunk functions are correct.

The S.O.S. switch was broken, and falling down out of the headliner. I cut up a large paperclip and used its pieces to secure the flip-down red cover, and to secure the switch body into the headliner. Very ghetto, but definitely better than before.

I used Goo Gone to clean off the door handles and such that were grimy. A little better looking inside.

Three of the jack point covers were in the ashtray, and looking at them I see why. The plastic protrusions that hold them in place are broken off. Looking at the fourth I can see that it's probably the same, as clear tape is being used to hold it in place on the car. I got out the clear packing tape and did the same to the others. It looks better with the holes plugged, at least.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

I jacked the front of the car up, which was difficult because the floor jack barely would go under the lower-than-stock car. The purple springs look intact, but are clearly not stock. They are Vogtland VA 952083/952033 JFS (front) and 952082 (rear) springs. The front shocks are paint-labeled "V4", and stamped with MB P/N 210 323 25 00. The MB numbering makes me think they're stock. The rear shocks also appear to be stock.

Current Vogtland spring-only product for this car is the 952085 spring set, about $330. It claims a 1.6" drop.

Les Schwab says:

Lowering changes the geometry of your wheel-tire fitment. If it's done improperly, your car may have an alignment problem that results in premature or extreme wear patterns. Even an inch-and-a-half lower suspension can cause problems around corners, with slight potholes or on speed bumps.
There is also:
Cause premature wear on the factory shocks: Since the lowering springs and shock might not match, the lowered ride height and stiffer spring rate could cause the shocks to wear out prematurely.
...there is no worse suspension than no suspension at all, so limiting compression travel is one of the worst things you can do for your ride quality. With increased frequency of bottoming your shock out, you are likely to cause your shock to prematurely wear out and become completely ineffective.
See: Lowering Springs And Factory Shocks: A Doomed Romance

So, it looks like cheap-o boy racer PO did the least thing you can do, installing lowering springs, which can be about the worst thing you can do:

  1. Stiffer ride.
  2. Increased road noise.
  3. Potential tire rubbing on fenders when cornering, especially if bumpy.
  4. Less ground clearance, vs speed bumps, ruts, rocks, washboarding, potholes, snow and ice.
  5. Towing, jacking, raising on ramps potentially difficult or impossible.
  6. Decreased grip when cornering due to camber problems, spring rate not matching shock absorber characteristics.
  7. Accelerated and/or uneven tire wear due to camber error.
  8. Bottoming out suspension on bumps due to decreased suspension travel, potential to bend car if severe enough.
  9. Increased scraping on driveway inclines, parking lot entrances.
  10. Decreased shock absorber life.
  11. Increased danger of front air dam damage on curbs when parking.
  12. Increased danger of 'submarining' under a big truck or SUV in a collision, missing the bumper entirely.
But, I guess it looks cooler or something—if you don't care about any of the above! (Not to me!)

Automotive suspension design is actually quite involved engineering, highly sophisticated, and is neither effectively nor safely done by hacks!

Otherwise the underneath generally looks good. The exhaust system looks stock and intact, nothing overtly missing or damaged.

The vanity mirror cover I procured is slightly the wrong size. So, no joy there.

Friday, December 22, 2023

POS aftermarket lowering springs replaced with stock. $1000.00 at A&B.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

A&B E320 Tie rod end estimate: $400. Call tomorrow.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

A&B: new Tie rod end, and two new lower ball joints. $1196.41. Brian's Automotive: alignment. $163.36. Car should be ready for service now.

Return to Site Home