Poor brakes & front-end grip on '02 Vito 108 cdi

Discussion in 'Wheels, Tyres, Brakes & Suspension' started by BK127, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. BK127

    BK127 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Car:
    Mercedes-Benz Vito 108cdi
    Hi. My 2002 Vito 108cdi (ex-Traveliner, now dayvan conversion) seems to be in possession of a braking system that can only be described as terrifyingly inadequate. The brake pedal requires a very firm right foot, and, even on dry roads, slows to a leisurely stop at best. On wet roads, there is even less stopping power, as it is all too easy to lock up the front wheels. It makes me wonder if the back brakes are working at all. And aren't these Vitos supposed to have ABS? If so, it definitely isn't working on my van.

    Along with this, the front end grip in corners is not exactly confidence-inspiring, either. On wet roads, it will quite happily plough on in a straight line if asked to negotiate a corner at medium speed, and frequently exhibits the same behaviour on wet roundabouts.

    When I am driving, as I turn the wheel from the straight-ahead position, I can feel a reduction in resistance against my turning force, which certainly feels like a loss of grip. This is far more noticeable in wet conditions. I can see no uneven wear on the tyres, which would suggest that the tracking, toe-in/out etc isn't to blame.

    I have also noticed that the suspension seems excessively bouncy. While this soaks up the bumps of the worst roads in Western Europe (I live in south-west Ireland) nicely, could perhaps worn shock absorbers/anti-roll bar bushes be an issue? Would they affect the roadholding to such a degree, though? As far as I am aware, and judging by the extensive rust, all body panels are original, so this vehicle has had no major accident damage in a past life.

    I'm not expecting car-like handling, but is this normal? My old '99 "Smiley-face" Transit, slow old dog that it was, handled and stopped far better than this Vito. And that was on exactly the same tyres, too.

    Any ideas and suggestions gratefully received.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  2. Stratman

    Stratman Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    4,568
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2003
    Location:
    Sunbury
    Car:
    W203 C200 CDI '04Estate
    Worn shocks would certainly cause poor grip and braking. If the wheel isn't on the ground it can't be gripping or braking.
     
  3. BTB 500

    BTB 500 MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    18,545
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Car:
    R129 SL500, W639 Vito 120, S203 C230
    I test drove the 638 Vito against other vans at Millbrook and was not impressed with the brakes then (brand new). Why not stick yours in for a cheap MOT (e.g. £35 at Kwik Fit) - should give you an idea whether there's really a problem or not.
     
  4. bolide

    bolide Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    3,726
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Brighton
    Car:
    BMW E39 525 Diesel Touring
    That reduction in steering force at the wheel as you wind lock on is something I hated on FWD cars. It can really put the wind up you!

    Has the van been lowered or have the springs been replaced? It sounds like the front end is too stiff, the tyres are shot, the alignment is way out or the shockers are knackered - or a combination of all four

    Nick Froome
    the independent Mercedes Estate specialists
     
  5. OP
    OP
    BK127

    BK127 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2011
    Car:
    Mercedes-Benz Vito 108cdi
    Well the suspension is standard, I would say. It definitely hasn't been lowered, and nowhere is the suspension too stiff, believe me! The tyres are in good condition, although I would say that the previous owner selected them with an eye on his budget, and with more interest in high milage capabilities than grip (they are Maxmiler). The alignment could be out, but the tyres show no uneven wear (not ruling this one out though). I think that the shockers are probably the chief suspects.

    I need to get those brakes looked at. Is there a split system on these W638s? Is it possible for just the front brakes to be working? And is this van supposed to have ABS fitted as standard?
     
  6. Stratman

    Stratman Hardcore MB Enthusiast

    Messages:
    4,568
    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2003
    Location:
    Sunbury
    Car:
    W203 C200 CDI '04Estate
    Split systems are usually arranged diagonally rather than front and rear. Check for ABS by looking for the distributor unit. Trace a brake pipe from the master cylinder and see where it ends up.
     
  7. BTB 500

    BTB 500 MB Club Veteran

    Messages:
    18,545
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2005
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Car:
    R129 SL500, W639 Vito 120, S203 C230
    I'm pretty sure the 638 had ABS as standard.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.