Mercedes E Class W210 Front Spring Perch Failure – Repair

Take a look at this photograph do you see anything wrong?

Front Suspension E Class Mercedes

On the face of it all looks well, but it isn’t !…..

I had heard a slight groaning noise rather like a worn ball joint for the duration of the return journey from work, it was only apparent at very low speed so I dismissed it as an inspection job for the weekend.  Curiosity got the better of me the following morning and I decided to take a quick glance under the wheel arch before leaving for work, glad that I did when I noticed ‘all was not well’.  I took the van to work and when I arrived home I took off the wheel of the E Class to investigate further.

Mercedes W210 Front Spring Turret Problem

As you can see the front spring perch had pulled away from its mounting due to corrosion.  The groaning noise was in fact the road spring scraping on the inside face of the shock absorber/damper!   I had previously checked these out and all looked good at the last service as spring perches are known failure points with the Mercedes E Class W210 model series.  I had previously strengthened the passenger side perch by plating the area that looked slightly suspect.  Failure of this side was a complete surprise as the perch looked fine under my close inspection last season and I had every faith that it was sound.  Just goes to show…

Mercedes E class Front Spring Perch Failure

What happens is that over time water gets behind the perch seams that are only spot welded onto the inner wing, this corrodes the material from the back.  It is feebly protected from leaving the factory with rubberised grey mastic, applied to all the seams before  the paint process, but moisture gets behind it and gets to work.  The original factory perches are spot welded on their lower ears and then one big spot weld inside the upper cup.  Very poor design. Its not just Mercedes, Ford actually attached their suspension tops to the bodywork on the Sierra model with adhesive !  On warranty claim ‘failed’ cars, Mercedes Benz riveted new perches into place with ‘special’ rivets once they had ground off the original failed part, but in my opinion rivets are no better than poor spot weld.  Next time your car fails its MOT on corroded structural bodywork, see if you can get away with ‘riveting’ a patch over it – I don’t think so.  It is however quite easy to weld strong repair patches to this area using 1 mm steel and it does a great job in securing the perch, as you can choose where to reinforce the design and tie it to much strong inner wing metal in a several places.

W210 Spring Perch Failure

I am not going to dwell on the dire situation that would face a driver if this component completely failed at speed, but thankfully all the reports I have ever read have always been at slow speed and always driver has just heard a large bang, on rare occasion I have also read that the vehicle drops to the ground – ‘wheel inside wheel arch’.  …. Moving swiftly on with the repair…… You will need two jacks !

Stage one, open the bonnet / hood and remove the two 17mm nuts, plate washer and rubber pad that secure the shock absorber damper to the inner wing.  Support the car and remove the road wheel.  Remove the lower damper bolt and extract the damper assembly from the car.  Place a trolley jack under the lower wishbone and support the cars weight so the spring is compressed as much as possible. Remove the 17mm nut from the upper wishbone ball joint and use a lever type ball joint splitter as shown below to split the joint (It’s usually very tight !).

Ball Joint Splitter Tool - Lever Type

Once the upper joint is free, undo the lower ball joint and split it using the lever tool.  Finally undo the steering track rod end ball joint nut from the hub assembly and split the joint using the tool.  Place the whole hub assembly toward the rear of the arch in which you are working, supported on a block of wood, taking care not to stretch or damage the brake hose or cables to the ABS wheel sensor and pad warning sensor that are fitted to the brake caliper/hub.  Undo the single torx bolt from the roll bar link attached to the lower wishbone and move it out of the way.

Spring removal:  The next procedure can be hazardous so take care and go steady.

I have read many E Class Mercedes Benz W210 owners writing that they have ‘easily’ removed and refitted front road springs without even the slightest hint of using spring compressors. –  I have yet to discover how they do this as the spring is very long uncompressed indeed and not easily compressed without huge force – is just too long in its relaxed state to remove on the Elegance model anyway.

So here is how I do it…  While the spring is compressed under the weight of the vehicle (Jack under lower wish bone) attach a pair of simple spring compressors and take up the tension equally on both sides. If you are worried about the compressors jaws slipping round the spring as they choose to do rather dangerously!  Use a handful of fuel line jubilee clips either side of the jaws of the compressing tool, fixed around the spring – this works great and adds a higher degree of safety to the operation.

Once you have tension on the spring compressors, lower the jack beneath the lower wishbone or raise the body (a combination of the two works well) eventually the wishbone will descend enough allowing you to lever it down further and spring out the coil from its lower retainer. Be careful as even with the widest gap between the spring perch and lower wishbone there still may exist some tension in the coil spring. WATCH OUT!   Do remember also to remove the rubber pad from inside the perch that locates the spring – before you start grinding or welding!

Once removed the spring can be wire brushed and painted along with the damper if necessary.

Spring and shock absorber painted W210

Now clean the spring perch area with a grinder and wire brush and remove all traces of rubberised mastic, paint, under seal and rust.  Inspect the area and ascertain what will need to be done to restore the mounting.  In my case I bent the perch back into its original position and tack welded it in place.

Mercedes E Class W210 Spring Turret Repair

I then welded 1mm steel patches to either side of the perch, anchoring both sides of the perch to solid metal on the inner wing.  To add further support and strength I also welded the rear perch lip to the inner wing using a short strip of plate steel.

Welding of Spring Turret Mercedes W210 E Class copy

Once the welding is complete and you are happy with it, use a Waxoyl type spray to coat all the areas you have welded, make sure that all seams are flooded as best you can with a couple of coats of the sealer as this will hopefully prevent further corrosion of the area.  Assemble the spring using the spring compressor method as outlined above (don’t forget the jubilee clips for safety).  You will have to fit the rubber mounting top to the spring before you insert it into the perch cup on reassembly as otherwise it will be a problem to locate correctly.

Welded Mercedes E Class W210 Front Spring Perch

Once the suspension is all back together, paint on further under body protection or add more coats of Waxoyl, you may even spray the spring itself with the sealer as it aids in protecting it from the elements.  Refit the wheel and lower the car to the ground.  Job done ! (Note the slightly larger gap between the top of the tyre and wheel arch compared to the first ‘collapsed perch’ photograph)

Spring Perch Repair Completed Mercedes E Class W210

22 thoughts on “Mercedes E Class W210 Front Spring Perch Failure – Repair

  1. Aloha sir,
    Thanks for all the help as this is what i have been searching for.
    My problem is the spring DID break and the spring shot out at low speed.I just love the
    ( E-300 Turbo)motor is there a way to repair this?thanks again very helpful either way
    Brad

    1. Hi Brad,

      Sorry to hear about what happened to your car. I wonder if any of the upper perch still remains? If it does this could be re-welded back in position to the inner wing and a new/used spring fitted to replace the broken one. If you have rusting to the inner wing area around where the perch needs to be welded you may opt to get hold of one of these perch repair plates through a Mercedes Benz dealer. I understand the cost is around $300 USD, but its my guess you will be able to get someone to fashion the remainder of the cup into a serviceable welded repair. Just get hold of a replacement spring , rubber spring seat (inside the perch) and whatever else was damaged in the incident and rebuild the assembly. Good luck on the repair I am sure it will be worth it !

      All the best Steve

      1. Thank’s again Steve i really like this car and you have been most helpful.
        Look’s like i’m going with my pal Fabricating the Plate,went with the High end spring’s beef it up a bit.
        Many thank’s
        Aloha
        Brad

      2. Great news Brad,

        Just be aware that the springs and shock absorbers are different specs between Avantgarde (Lower and stiffer) and the other models in the range if you need to buy/source any replacement parts.

        Steve

  2. I caught my spring perches just as they split! They had not collapsed. Routine MB services did not identify the problem: I did!
    My W210 estate has been Mercedes dealer serviced from new. They do not necessarily do an expert job (my experience!) but the service book gets stamped.
    Because the book gets stamped there is a 30 year warranty against rust. Mercedes paid for total refurbishment of both spring perches. The MB approved repair is riveted and I have a letter of indemnity to show any UK MOT testing station that the repair is approved by VOSA.

    1. Thanks for the information.
      Fastidious dealer servicing is a truly great thing. The benefits of 30 year MobiloLife extends only to those who have rigorously kept up with the handbook schedules, over time the premium costs paid for lifetime comprehensive MB servicing would probably pay for this type of repair twice over on 12 year old plus dealer maintained vehicles. Of course as vehicles exchange hands at a three year average, its rare for 4th owner cars to keep up with the cost of MB dedicated maintenance and owners can fall fowl of previously overlooked and unidentified areas of weakness. There is an interesting read on MB rust here: http://tinyurl.com/p9d25hh The perch mounting issue is well documented and commonplace in the W210 but if the truth be known, I doubt Mercedes technicians would continue to look too hard to find a problem that would in some cases realise a high repair cost to be absorbed by their company. (My own thoughts only)

      All the best Steve

  3. Driving along,a loud bang and a scraping noise,pulled up up.The front ,nearside was almost touching the tyre.
    Looked back down the road and there on the grass by the road was the spring,unbroken,intact.
    I have since purchased a replacement part from merc. and I have to say ,that the standard of build is unacceptable. Not having examined the car apart from seeing which part was needed, when I picked the part up from merc. I just did not believe it ,a piece of steel not much stronger than a bean can.
    The cup needs to be thicker,the concept of fixing on two small tabs is blasphemy ,it denies any integrity to what is acceptable.
    Mercedes should remember that we carry precious cargo,s.
    Mr mercedes man please beef up the fixing points and re,think it through,It will cost you another 20 dollars but don,t worry we will pay you for it. Ps love the car,what a car! perfect. (almost)

  4. Hi I have just had the same experience with my 210 it was the off side , it was lucky I had slowed down to go into another street, when it went bang , had to have it loaded out to the garage that my son works at, the spring had broken so new spring and cup ordered from motor factor as he said they were much cheaper and stronger than from Mercedes benz, , had to have some of the inner wing cut out though to get better metal to weld to , but top job done ,

    1. Its quite amazing that the upper spring cup (perch) is only spot welded in 4 places. The back is not welded to the inner wing, just the ‘ears’ that are formed on either side of it. I welded the back edge to the inner wing, as this must add strength to the perch. The spring itself is a pretty amazing piece of steel, as you will know if you did the job, they are fairly uncompressible unless the full weight of the car is on them – hell of a spring!

      Out of curiosity did the lower last turn of the spring break? This seems a common weakness borne of the aluminium cup washer deteriorating altogether and allowing the spring to bear directly on the lower wishbone – seems to stress the spring as it is no longer allowed a smooth soft alloy surface on which to seat.

      Job well done.
      Regards Steve

  5. Hi Steve (also anyone else who might know)

    I’d like to know how often this problem occurs realistically in the w210? Is it pretty rare, or can I basically expect it to happen if I get a w210? I’ve talked to many taxi drivers who have them, with well over 400,000-500,000 km, and they all praise the car, saying there have been no problems or expensive repairs required.

    A different question is – does your solution avoid the problem for good?

    Thank

    1. Hi Felix,
      There is a problem here with corrosion. Its likelihood depends mainly on where in the world you drive the car, if its dry and importantly has salt free roads you are not going to see this issue. A Taxi driver in Spain or California may never see this problem but here in the UK for instance, the perch is susceptible to corrosion. The cup spot welds either break away from the inner wing or the perch ‘ears’ crack. The latter is a slower process and can be detected by careful inspection. The former weld corrosion is hidden by the grey rubberised mastic seam sealer that MB use under the black body sealant on the joins between cup and inner wing. The only way to to check out the precise state of the perch is to dig out all the seam sealer and inspect. More often than not you will find that it has become rusty beneath the sealer and then it does pick out quite easily, revealing red rust in the crevices. As the spot welds are behind the cup seams and ears, rust gets to work on them in secret, that is why it is a huge surprise when the suspension collapses. (Normally at slow speed – thankfully) Unless you dig out the sealer it can go unnoticed – especially at MOT test time.

      You have to remember MB did not officially recognise this as a problem, though some repairs were done under warranty depending on dealers and how you followed the service regimes for the continuation of the anti perforation warranty. It is likely that in world-wide sales the corrosion in wetter, more salty countries made up a very small proportion of failures in the bigger picture of global W210 sales.

      In a collapse the lower arm would raise to a position derived from the absolute length of the compressed damper/bump stop. This could place the wheel onto the wing if you were steering anything other than straight ahead. What of the spring? This could sever a brake hose or jam the steering on its exit. The spring collapse in itself may be only one of several outcomes – all of which we would all rather not think about!

      Most UK mechanics dealing with W210 (which is no longer a modern car these days) comment on rust being a problem. Indeed many ‘engine perfect’ cars are sent to the scrap yard because of sill corrosion, thinning of the area near rear suspension subframe mounts and of course the spring perches. Cosmetically rear arches and the arch area at the lower rear door corner will show signs first.

      Don’t be put off by this, just be sure what you are buying, considering a vehicle with intent to purchase is a great deal easier if you know what to look for and you enter into the relationship with your eyes open – simple. They make a great car and I was very sad to see my W210 320CDI go, it was insurance written off due to another driver hitting me on my side of the road!

      I hope that has helped a little.

      All the best
      Steve

  6. One more question – when this issue went to the authorities, they tested the car with broken perches and said the car could be maneuvered with the springs completely out!

    This sounds incredible, and was probably cited as a way to get Mercedes out of legal trouble or recalls.

    Does anyone think it’s possible, however? This would mean basically that if the spring tore off, that the car would not cause a dangerous maneuver and could be safely steered off to the side. Any ideas/experiences, especially those of you to whom this has happened?

    Thanks!

  7. Hi all, the part is £21.48 + Vat and suggest you replace the part rather than re-weld the edges for the sake of £20 quid

    This when i researched some time back was a recall in canada but not usa or europe its so bad that this happens and the problem is that it does take some years before it breaks so in court mercedes would get away with it due to age, but its a bad design and the replacement part is like thin coke can metal.

    My eclass rust like hell and i complained to MB but i went 1000 mls over my service due to have a busy life and so they refused to do the rust. Same on my S class that rust too like in space of 9mths it had caught a disease. My later E class is not looking like its going to rust and fingers crossed all issue have been sorted… er well kind of as my front near side coil spring has just snapped fortunate i have mobilio so will get a replacement car and they will take it to mercs to be fixed.

    1. Hi Gaffer
      W210 626 01 19 is the Mercedes part number for the repair cup/perch. In my case it was easier to just remove the spring, bend back the perch into its correct position and re-weld the ears. Whilst I agree it could be better to replace the complete perch with a new repair panel, If you were to remove the old perch and dress/grind out the surrounding area repositioning the new item in its correct position could be an issue – one reason for repairing the original I suppose. The larger square repair panel that attaches to the inner wing would be a better option as its alignment follows parts of the sculpture of the inner arch – this was I understood the preferred method of repair by MB and not just the cup. It also allowed them to use pop rivets over a larger area to fix the panel and caused less heat damage to paint finish in inaccessible underbody areas than welding.

      Thanks for the great input
      All the best
      Steve

  8. Ok. So I have a w210 Wagon. Just purchased it and haven’t got under it yet. However I am doing a pretty full restore. My question is this… Is there another Mercedes perch that has a better design that would be just as easily welded/riveted in but with better integrity. We live in a salty location so Id rather do this right the first time and not have to worry about it before resale.

    1. Hi Tmkikk,
      You can get the standard repair perch like the one pictured. The actual fact that it will be seam welded into position is a huge plus as the original was only spot-welded on 6 points. If you still feel things could be improved there is enough space above the perch to add bracing. This would be in the form of diagonal webs from the upper perch cup to the inner wing. Obviously this would be a ‘special’ welding operation and you would have to instruct your engineer to fabricate these extra pieces and weld them in. All in all anything is possible but I am confident that the repair part if seam welded will be way stronger than how it left the factory.
      w210 Repair Spring Perch
      (photo with thanks to mbcluster – Benzworld.org)
      Hope that helps.
      All the best
      Steve

  9. Hello to all. I just wanted to leave a comment regarding the poor and failed design directive of mercedes-benz design-freeze and release-it- decisions that took place in the w210 and w201actual unveilings, common everyone, they are absolutely horrible designs. Its a world mystery that Bruno Sacco would actually had aprooved these horrible designs. I myself would have really analised the w124 and w201 visual architecture and musculature to produced the outcoming new cars. Think about the w210 mistake, they even forgot the conversions of the obligated coupe and cabriolet releases of it!! And appearing afterwards with the poor and horrible clk class. Study this. The w202 is horribly small, its not a true benz from its back. Compare it with the w201.
    And how come that Bruno really did an outstanding job with the w140? I dont understand.

    1. Hi Fer,

      I do agree that there were some design flaws with this specific W210 weakness, it was compounded with the paint problems and inherent rust of the day due in most to an issue with the dipping baths. As the new processes were introduced to accommodate water based paint the dipping baths were susceptible to micro-organisms breeding in the contents, this did not present an issue with the toxic environment of the acrylic lines of previous years. It was these micro-organisms that polluted the dipping process and in a lot of respects caused some repeatable rust issues in this build era, not just centred around the W210 but all of the range. It was later addressed after much research and has now been eradicated.

      The front suspension design although in many ways different from the W124 still used a welded spring perch/support so really didn’t change much in the spring mounting department. However the W210 spot weld pattern could have been stronger and the strength of the whole cup support a little better thought out. This design would have certainly been an engineering department task and not really attributable to either Bruno Sacco or Steve Mattin, the latter who actually lead the W210 design – both of these guys were ‘artists’ more focussed on the aesthetic design and visual lines of the bodies and would have had little input to the engineering aspects of the undercarriage or engine, that would have been designed by engineering sub teams.

      So a great looking car of the day, that held its youth well into modern times, that handled very well and offered the huge step change from their ‘box’ shaped predecessors paving the way to the modern Benz style we know today. Not to everyones taste, especially perhaps those who preferred up to the 1990s model ranges.

      Thanks for a great comment.
      All the best
      Steve

  10. I have a 98 E300 with 99k miles. I have thought about, as a preventive measure, getting the perches redone. Last summer my mechanic replaced the front springs and said the perches looked to be in good shape. (Yes I recognize that the corrosion is not visible in many cases.) I am about to take another close look when I put the summer tires on.

    My auto body guy will do both perches for about $600, which isn’t bad. Maybe I should just get it done for peace of mind. Added to the peace of mind issue is the fact that this is the car my 20 year old son drives.

  11. Hi fellow Mercedes-Benz W210 owners! Just over a year ago, my wife was driving our E280 which I had just finished respraying “Gunsmoke Silver”! She was driving a!long “Stirling Way in our South-Eastern south-westerly facing seaside town of Ramsgate in Kent. Stirling Way was used as a main arterial road, linking the peripheral eastern and western outside edges of the infamous Newington Estate! Unfortunately for my wife Stirling Way had a handful of ” Sleeping Policemen” laying fast asleep on their backs with their fat underbellies pointing skywards for an unsuspecting owner, (like my wife) to drive very slowly at about 4 mph over one of the speed calming bumps! My wife was just nearing her friend’s legs which were now just level with our trusty steed’s front bumper when all of a sudden there was an almighty explosion as the nearside spring bulged out sideways, tearing through it’s topmost cover like an old fashioned tin opener completely shredding the cover before shooting out of its location and missing the bare legs of my wife’s friend before rebounding off of a low wall and across to the other side of the road and through a hedge and out it sight!
    The free-flying spring could have caused an untold amount of damage to my wife’s friend’s legs! After all, it seems to hold up over 2 tons of metal rusting or not?

    1. Continued
      and ……. this could be the end of the story….?
      On the otherside of the hedge, a child could be playing as the spring hit the little girl full in the face…..?

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