Do I need SHOCKS/STRUTS or ACCUMULATORS?


#1

My 1994 Mercedes-Benz E-320 Wagon suffers from rapid, long “Jounces” with every road dip. M-B mechanic I use says I need “ACCUMULATORS”? for $800! Can’t I get and FIT adequate SHOCKS or STRUTS and SPRINGS? Please advise me. I’m REALLY CONFUSED and $$$ is a factor. Thanks, Carl.


#2

Your accumulators have probably leaked and lost their charge. Extremely common on older Benz wagons

The result is a yo-yo ride

Without even seeing your car, I can tell you the struts, shocks and springs are almost certainly not the problem

Having worked on many of these cars myself, I have absolutely no reason to doubt your mechanic

By the way, do you doubt your mechanic’s diagnosis?

Or are you just confused about your car’s suspension setup?

If you’re confused, simply ask him to explain how your suspension works, what has failed, and how that is affecting the car


#3

Welcome to German hydraulic leveling. The system adds hydraulic fluid with a pump into the accumulators (balls with a bladder inside to separate oil and air) connected to each rear shock. It raises the rear of the car to the proper height once you add luggage and passengers. It keeps the car level and the headlights aimed (a German legal requirement). In the US, we usually use air shocks with an on-board air compressor for the same thing. MUCH less expensive and complicated.

Welcome to the world of high priced Mercedes Benz replacement parts. You may be able to remove the hydraulic system and replace it with normal rear shocks but a 'Benz mechanic would likely already know if that can be done.

At least it isn’t a French Citroen with 4 accumulators!


#4

It’s a 1994.
An $800 repair on a 1994 MB is a sign that the Gods are favoring you. Let the mechanic fix it and move on.

You do realize that if you needed new struts on a 1994 Camry, and if they were original you probably would, you’d be talking roughly the same cost???


#5

From other postings, you have some parts that differ wildly from Plain Jane shocks, springs and nuts & bolts. If you want the car to work right, it really looks like you have to go with the original way the car was built or some modification that you invent on your own. There may not be a hot rod magazine type of mod with parts available over the net. This car doesn’t inspire many people to go all fast and furious.


#6

You could easily spend more than 800 bucks on a regular set of struts or shocks on a ho-hum car.

What you’re facing is the cost of driving and I would say that if the accumulators are leaking then then they’ve done very well over 20 years and quite likely exceeded their projected service life.


#7

$800 sounds like a bargain to me. I’d jump on it and enjoy a better ride. If you want to buy shocks, struts, and springs instead of accumlators, trade it in and buy a Honda Civic.


#8

Or find some good used parts. Parts from an another car might be good and better than yours.


#9

db4690 is our resident Mercedes expert. I agree with him that the accumulators are certainly the cause of the trouble. It’s a very common failure on those suspension systems.

I would be surprised if the repair is only $800. I would expect much more.

I don’t mean to be rude or snarky, but $$$ being a factor and driving a 20 year old Benz are completely incongruent.


#10

@Mustangman writes

Welcome to German hydraulic leveling. The system adds hydraulic fluid with a pump into the accumulators (balls with a bladder inside to separate oil and air) connected to each rear shock. It raises the rear of the car to the proper height once you add luggage and passengers. It keeps the car level and the headlights aimed (a German legal requirement).

It’s a legal requirement in Germany that all cars have to have this fancy hydraulic shock technology so that the car stays level and the headlights are pointing the right direction?

The reason I ask is because there’s no such requirement in the USA, and very few cars in the USA have this hydraulic shock equipment. In the USA it is mostly coil springs over shocks. Yet I’ve never had a problem with my car’s headlights pointing the wrong way. Or anyone complaining to me about my headlights. And I’ve never had a problem with another car’s headlights being pointed the wrong way. Is there something I’m missing?


#11

@GeorgeSanJose‌

No, it’s not a legal requirement in Germany to have hydraulic leveling suspension

That said, I believe the headlamps themselves might have some self-leveling feature. That might be a requirement.

But I haven’t lived there for 15 years

It seems to me it’s simpler to have self-leveling headlamps versus self-leveling suspension


#12

I’m just wondering what it is about Germany that makes headlight aiming more important than the USA? Is it because they can drive at higher speeds I wonder, on the autobahn?


#13

No, it’s considered important for a few reasons

First, all cars in Germany have to go through rigorous safety inspections, far more demanding than any US inspections

No offense intended, but that is the truth

Second, it’s considered crucial that your headlamps not blind oncoming drivers, yet optimally illuminate the road ahead of you, versus aiming at the moon, illuminating the field to the side of the road, too shallow, etc.

As far as the autobahn goes, there are no longer many unrestricted sections

Third, there are many xenon headlamps on the road, and they’re pretty bright. It’s crucial that you not blind oncoming traffic, due to poorly aimed headlights. This can easily happen after getting in a minor accident


#14

@GeorgeSanJose Germany has a requirement to level the lights with added load. That means either the lights move with a selector knob on the dash or some kind of automatic leveling. Either an air shock or hydraulic system needs to be added to do the same thing. as @db4690 says, the specifications are tougher for safety systems. We have tighter emission standards here (for gas and diesel) but they have more stringent safety standards.


#15

I think I’m getting the idea now. You mean if you go to the hardware store and bring a trunk load of bricks home, the headlights will point too high. So if you don’t have the auto-leveling suspension in your car, instead, you’d have a dash knob that you set to “bricks in the trunk” or “no bricks”, etc. Thanks for clarifying.


#16

For what it’s worth anyway, at a few dealers where I worked in the past they were pretty thorough with the PDI (pre-delivery inspection) and checking headlight aim was part of it. Almost every single new car we did a PDI on had out of adjustment headlamps no matter if it was VW, Honda, SAAB, or Subaru.
Granted, it often wasn’t enough to be a distraction to oncoming traffic but off is off and since they were going to be adjusted they were always adjusted to meet the state statute which meant a center of beam 1" drop for every 25 feet and a 1" veer to the right for every 25 feet.