self-levelling suspension w124t 4matic

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New Member
Apr 24, 2005
east sussex
w124t 4matic
I just bought my 300TE 4matic last week knowing I was going to have to sort out a few things, one of which is its abysmal ride which is best described as choppy.
I noticed that the hydraulic fluid reservoir was very low and the vacuum spheres seem prime candidates for overhaul. However, I notice that the self-levelling does not seem to work at all, so I'm not sure what the problem could be.
I do not want this job to cost an arm and a leg I wonder if its viable to scrap the self levelling altogether and fit ordinary shocks and springs? Perhaps some of you can enlighten or advise me? I look forward to your comments! :)
Probably that the spheres have run out of gas or one has burst internally so accept more fluid and gives no springing effect.
This system is almost identical to Citroen, so the same maintenance is required.
self level

I believe it can be scraped somewhere around the £500 and upwards mark ...some people don't like the set up but to change is probably a good idea .
First of all thanks for responding! And next an apology for posting this in the wrong forum! According to the Haynes manual the existing springs work as normal (apart from being hydraulically live) when the car is operating under normal load, with the spheres acting as dampers. So my thinking is that substituting shocks for ordinary gas/air may be theoretically feasible, providing the shock absorber is the right length. I would then just have to blank off the feed and return from the hydraulic pump. This solution seems too easy though - I must have missed something glaringly obvious! I don't want to spend money on this, I've come to Mercedes from simple VWs, and I'll sacrifice comfort for simplicity!
the springs on the back take about 20% of the load when the car is unloaded - if you need proof of that drain the hydraulic system and see how far the car sags :)

The self levelling system on the estates is superb, whatever you throw in the back it just sits level with no loss of ride quality - the only way you could keep the levels without hydraulics is with much heavier springs which would destroy the ride.

I'd change the spheres - infact I have changed mine and those of two friends, the total job costs less than £200 if you do it yourself and they will last for another 100,000 miles or so before they need replacing again

Where in Sussex are you - if you need a hand I have been known to accept beers as a bribe :)

andy_k said:
the springs on the back take about 20% of the load when the car is unloaded - if you need proof of that drain the hydraulic system and see how far the car sags :)

I thought that the self levelling wasn't supposed to come into play until the car was loaded and the rear sagging, are you sure your springs aren't worn out?
nah, the springs are fine

The system is constantly active - at least according to the "experts" I spoke to.

The load on the back changes as you drive so the amount of assistance it provides varies constantly - hence the self levelling valve which is connected to the anti roll bar - it's not as instant as the citroen system but it's pretty close and really keeps the back end stable.

You only need to put a large load in the boot area to set the system up, after that it maintains the level you set whether you add a bag of shopping or a pallette of bricks :)

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Well I changed two knackered spheres and a self-levelling valve and the suspension is fixed. What a fiddly job though - my daughter told me off for cursing! This self-levelling a la Citroen is an Achilles heel on an otherwise sensible Germanic design. The suspension did not drop a lot when the pressure was released and I wish in some ways that I'd gone for ordinary shocks and springs because I'm sure they'd fit and save a lot of time and (most importantly) MONEY! If the suspension fails again it definitely gets the low tech solution!
These might have helped. No more than dampers.

A collegue has ahd two 124T models and couldn't understand why they handled so well.

This is the answer.

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