W212 Lower Control Arm Replacement DIY questions

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TeddyRuxpin

TeddyRuxpin

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Thanks for the tips. I went for the sway bar links as it seemed 'easiest' ('it's just two nuts!'). I'm poking around and reevaluating if the control arms job is too much for my skills at least on a driveway with tricky access...

It all needs doing, really, the car has done 160k miles.
 

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Also, with regards of torquing the drop links correctly - no chance. You have to hold the middle of the thread with an allen/hex and then tighten with a spanner, so you can't just use a torque wrench with an 18mm socket as it'll just spin... I suppose you have to use the allen/hex on the toque socket but there's just no room at the bottom... not with the tools I have anyway
Or Allen key. Anything that holds it. Jamming it into something or slipping a tube over it for extra leverage while you work the nut with a ringer will be the best you can do. Don't worry about torque numbers. Tighten it as hard as you can (don't be scared of over tightening - it won't happen) then trust the locking nut.
As before, free up the AR bar and give yourself more room to work/more options.
 

Bellow

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Thanks for the tips. I went for the sway bar links as it seemed 'easiest' ('it's just two nuts!'). I'm poking around and reevaluating if the control arms job is too much for my skills at least on a driveway with tricky access...

It all needs doing, really, the car has done 160k miles.
If you can get the bolts out of the arms at their inner ends then you can do it. Bolts if they are seized are the worst. If there's room to swing a hammer - much less to worry about!
 

MrGreedy

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I've had to replace sets of droplinks three times. Twice, I've had to resort to cutting them off with an angle grinder; both sides. Always good fun!
 

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That Allan head bolt is usually a barsteward to get out , what I used was a cut down length of an Allan key about 2 cm long and a ratchet spanner of the same size , just to hold it basically , I used a gas blow torch on the nut behind , then using a spanner and a 4lb lump hammer , shock that nut loose , once you get it moving , spray with wd40 etc , reheat the nut again if needs be . Are they similar to the w211 link arms ???
 

colinallcars

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That Allan head bolt is usually a barsteward to get out , what I used was a cut down length of an Allan key about 2 cm long and a ratchet spanner of the same size , just to hold it basically , I used a gas blow torch on the nut behind , then using a spanner and a 4lb lump hammer , shock that nut loose , once you get it moving , spray with wd40 etc , reheat the nut again if needs be . Are they similar to the w211 link arms ???
Cut it off. You don’t need an angle grinder, a hack saw will do or drill the nut and split it. You can afford to be brutal.
 
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Last night I’d replaced one side and removed the top nut from the other side, but couldn’t get that bottom one to budge. Here’s hoping that leaving it overnight has given the rust release sprays some time to act and I can get the nut off today.

If it comes off really easily I might think about tackling the control arm, but I’m likely going to leave it for now as I can’t lose another day, need to get back to work.

I was just at MB and forgot to ask how much new anti roll bar/sway bar bushings were, the reason I actually went in there :wallbash:

Has anybody replaced those?

I remember doing it on my old mk4 golf and it was a pain - really difficult to compress the new bushes and get the bolts in, but it seems easier on the 212 (he says…)

Would also make getting that bolt off the drop link a lot easier if you remove the whole thing… I’m guessing it’s not as simple as just undoing both brackets - I’ve read in some cases the bushes actually fuse to the bar and it’s a pain to get it off
 

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Got the bastard loose. Tip: keep the top nut of the link tight, not loose. This means that when you hit the breaker bar/spanner with the hammer, all the force goes into the turning of the nut, rather than the whole thing moving and shaking and absorbing the force.

Feels like I won an Olympic medal. Didn’t even finishing unscrewing it, just came inside to celebrate, caffeinate, and recalibrate my brain.

Will contemplate the control arms too…
 

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Got the bastard loose. Tip: keep the top nut of the link tight, not loose. This means that when you hit the breaker bar/spanner with the hammer, all the force goes into the turning of the nut, rather than the whole thing moving and shaking and absorbing the force.
You have to manipulate everything to your advantage! That's kinda what I was referring to with 'jamming an Allen key'.
Will contemplate the control arms too…
Slacken the nut on the inner bolt then see how freely the bolt turns. If it is pretty free then it should come out without too much of a fight. Check you can loosen the nut on the ball joint end before returning to remove the bolt. Split the BJ and you're reaching for the new part....

On jobs like this, I'll often do each stage on each side simultaneously. Say a nut is awkward on one side and I find it isn't on the other, then I have a gauge of just how difficult the recalcitrant one might be - ie, in that scenario, relatively easy, but harder than the other side. It also lets me use the tools better ie, the tool is in my hand - why lay it down and have to re-find it later?
 
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Thanks so much. So far I can’t get that inner nut on the control arm to budge. Will try a little longer before putting the link back on and calling it… a lost battle but not a lost war.

I think the neighbours might be getting annoyed by me banging away at a spanner, too 😂
 
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Bellow

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Thanks so much. So far I can’t get that inner nut on the control arm to budge. Will try a little longer before putting the link back on and calling it… a lost battle but not a lost war.
Try tightening it. It can (sometimes!) break the stiction and doesn't jeopardise the flanks/flats on the nut required for loosening. If you have a cold cut chisel... you could try giving it a nudge...
 
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As a quick update, the vast majority of the clunking has vanished since replacing the drop links alone, which is a bit of a result (I noticed one clunk in driving 200 miles!).

Still doesn’t doesn’t feel brand new and my OCD doesn’t like just swapping one component and leaving everything else, so it’s made me want to refresh most everything down there. There are no tears in any of the ball joint rubber, but obviously given the mileage, I’m sure everything is shot. I can see that the rubber on the large control arms and the antirollbar bushings are looking a little worse for wear.

I think I learned a lot from this experience and also saw the condition of everything, so it was worthwhile. The car did slip off the stands and I thought I’d truly f-ed up, but luckily the sills are plastic…

I’ll probably purchase some of the other components when AUTODOC has a 40 to 50% off, and likely take it to PCS or TM Motors (or perhaps somewhere in wales if it’s cheaper) to get the work done.

I think it’ll be really expensive, though, but I think I learned that I don’t have the tools (or lift) or know how/experience to do the job - not on a driveway with 12 inches of room to work anyhow! I could not budge that control arm nut/bolt on the inside, and I’d bet it was just the start of the problems. If I had a week off to worry about it, or a lift, I might consider it.

I’ll also research the rear suspension, too, although I haven’t noticed any noises or knocking coming from the rear.

Cheers for your help chaps, will update again soon!
 

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I think I learned that I don’t have the tools (or lift) or know how/experience to do the job - not on a driveway with 12 inches of room to work anyhow! I could not budge that control arm nut/bolt on the inside, and I’d bet it was just the start of the problems. If I had a week off to worry about it, or a lift, I might consider it.
That's a realistic assessment that could only come from hands-on getting down and dirty with it! The biggest issue there is having the time. Jobs take however long jobs take - you've seen how a recalcitrant nut turns a schedule upside down.
Don't totally give up on doing more work yourself though. Most of us manage without a lift - which sometimes does little more than save a lot of sitting down and then getting up again. You just have to be more cunning in how you deploy the tools with less room to play in. Assessing tools needed in advance helps and as that's your first time underneath that car you are already better prepared for future work. A cold cut chisel BTW is a must. Used sparingly it will get a stubborn nut moving enough to be spannered off. Or cut it off if all else fails.
You got rid of the worst of the clunking - result! Ditto getting it back on its wheels and drivable for when needed. You've done better than you are crediting yourself with.
 

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Good call in my view. For DIY spannering it's a skill in itself knowing when you should stop.

I've done suspension work on an old Volvo (every arm and bush) with little problem, and the drop links and ARBs on my old Merc with little issue.

However, my general rule of thumb for large suspension arms and hubs is be prepared to pay someone else to do it.

I bought a second hand nearly new hub and arms for the Insignia I had. Thought this will be a piece of cake. 5 bolts, all fairly accessible from barely under the car. Got the wheel off, all chocked and jack standed up. Tried the first big bolt and bugger me, I could barely turn it with the breaker. For whatever reason the nuts were almost impossible to turn with hand tools.
Booked into local garage to swap it over and they blasted it all off in 1 minute with a quick squirt of penetrating fluid and a 1000Nm impact driver. They could get better angles due to the car lift which also helped.

They did try to initially get me to cough up for new parts because they don't fit what customers supply, but after confirming the hub was a minimum 3 month back order, and looking at the basically new condition of what I'd sourced from Spain and brought them, they agreed to take pity on me and do it.


I'm just in the process of the trials and tribulations of replacing my aircon condenser. Which in turn needs a new aircon pipe. Access is okay, and I'm telling myself in this instance the garage would have just the same problems on a ramp that I'm having, therefore this would all be labour cost, so I'm persevering myself on this occasion.
 
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Hey folks, just wanted to say thanks again for your help, I didn’t have broadband for a couple of days after posting and forgot all about this thread!

I’d definitely consider tackling the anti roll bar bushes myself; removing them in the first place would probably make the drop links a lot easier to change! Does anybody know how easy it is to swap out the ARB bushings themselves? It LOOKS easy, but I remember on my old mk4 Golf it was a real pain to get the new rubber compressed enough to actually bolt them clamp around the bushing back in place….

I also haven’t gotten a realignment. Not convinced it’s entirely necessary with just doing the drop links, but I might reconsider if you think it’s crucial.

I’m keeping an eye on Autodoc - the 45% was only on the arms and not the ball joints - looks like whichever way they swing the discounts, the total is always around the same: £178 for 2x ball joints and lower/rear (front axle) control arms (i.e. the ones I don't already have). Winter seems fast approaching so not sure I’ll be wanting to do much myself anyway.

To be honest, I haven't purchased the parts as I have no idea ho much an indie would charge for labour on both control arms + ball joints; I'm guessing this would be quoted @ 4h total labour, so this could all spiral out of control a bit.

MOT early December and I need to sort new parking shoes and get a brake fluid flush. Oh and a gearbox service in a couple of months too! Not to mention the strange split vacuum hose I'd repaired with silicone tape, the wheel and door dent repair and that 'top up coolant' warning that popped up the other day...

If I see a real flash bargain in my cart on Autodoc I'll grab the parts for sure as they need to be bought in any case.

Anyway, thanks again!
 
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So uh... call me crazy but uh... I might be about to order this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002PMJ2LE/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=AS627NMCZ743&psc=1

o_O

I now realise I was trying to do it with a relatively small socket wrench and a wheel nut breaker bar with a weird bend in it, which are literally the wrong tools for the job. I do really feel a bit nervous about putting the car on stands as the MB jack stand blocks are really weird to me. It works well for the spare wheel suicide jack, but for actual jack stands... it's the most stressful bit for me.

Once you buy all the front control arms and ball joints, it's looking like another £400/4 hours just for the labour to get them replaced at an indie, plus £100 all wheel tracking. I'll have already spent that on all the arms, so I simply can't afford to spend £850-1000 in total just to partially refresh the front suspension (still doesn't include new shocks, top mounts, tie rod ends/track rods, and nothing at all to the rear suspension).

Just in the next few weeks I need to get the car MOT'd, brake fluid flush and a gearbox service. All around xmas/new year!

I'm going to order the remaining front control arms and ball joints from AUTODOC on a Black Friday deal, but the problem is the weather... far too cold until March probably. Thought my 17" winter wheels on at the moment so hoping the extra rubber (vs the 18") will ease things a bit, but I don't really notice much difference to be honest!

Anyway, simply due to the economics of it, I'm going to have another go at this. When exactly, I'm not sure! Would be so much easier with a lift...
 
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43% off black friday deal on Autodoc, so got the two remaining control arms and two ball joints for £164.56. I know they've done bigger discounts than that (45% as @MrGreedy said, or possibly more?!), and maybe I should have waited until tomorrow/Black Friday arrives 'properly', but I suppose I can always cancel my order if they announce a bigger flash sale. Used up my 'daily check in' bonus though :rolleyes:

The ARB drop links I fitted previously were £46.62 (could have been under £30 for the pair), and the other larger control arms were £153 for the pair. All Lemforder.

So 'only' £365 in total for these parts so far by being extremely patient with Autodoc sales. This of course does not include the strut, spring, bump stops etc, nor the top mount.... nor the tie rods or track rod ends. Or anything to do with the rear of the car! But one thing at a time...

Fitting them is of course another matter.
 
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