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Mercedes suspension failure

I saw this in a parking garage a couple of days ago and thought you might be amused. The driver said it happened all of a sudden. I’ll bet it did.

I got driver’s permission to take photo’s and post.

Now THAT is a problem … lol …

Looks like a lower ball joint end let go.

There were indications of this failure before it occurred.



Maybe, maybe not. There’s no way to know for sure from here.

I got rid of my Vega after the rear wheel and axle slid out of the axle housing completely as I was pulling into a gas station. There’d been a recall and I’d had it checked for the recall at two different dealers… and it still came out. I no longer felt safe in it.

For the record, GM had designed an insufficient retainer system. The “C-clip” that held the axle in the differential fell off and the axle just slid out. It was a common problem on Vegas. All the GM recall required was an end-play check. Clearly that was not a “fix”, just a farce to make the owners feel better.

This picture makes a good case to go back to the 1948 and earlier Fords with the solid front axle and king pins. Not only would it eliminate the ball joints failing, but it would increase the sales revenue of Preparation-H.
The pre 1956 Checkers had the solid front axle. The old time cabbies insisted that an independent front suspension would never hold up. If I were president, I would sign an executive order to abolish independent front suspensions and ball joints.


Lower ball joint gave up as Tester correctly points out.

If people would read their owners manuals (Ha…) they will find references at certain mileage intervals which state something to the effect of “Inspect chassis and steering”.
If this had been done and any needed repairs performed at the time the owner of this car would not be in this predicament. Now the repair costs are going to be much higher.

Either the lower ball joint broke, or the lower control arm was so rusty, that it broke

I’m guessing the warning signs were present, and the last few mechanics who worked on it could have seen them, were they looking

A couple of years ago I was road testing a SC430 after replacing the airbag inflator, while driving though the parking lot to the exit the front suspension was knocking. After the road test I lifted the car and inspected the suspension, there was 1/2" of play in each ball joint. I checked the vehicles history in our system and the customer declined ball joint replacement a year earlier. We normally don’t see ball joint wear like this, water intrusion into ball joints isn’t a problem here, the car was from New Jersey. Perhaps there is a reason for safety inspections in some areas.

Good way to make a RIGHT turn!! :wink:

There were millions of axles with that design manufactured before the Vega and after, the design was not faulty.

If the side gear thrust washers wore or failed, excessive end play would allow movement in the axle shaft and the C-clip could fall out. On those vehicles I could hear the axles knock when pulling into a driveway from a street due to the uneven surfaces, rear axle end play is noticeable while driving.

Based on the deterioration on the wheels, I’m guessing it’s been awhile since that thing’s been properly cared for.

I have to agree with Nevada about the C-clip axles. GM is not the only one to use this design.

When end play was excessive it was very noticeable; to me anyway.

Than would you kindly explain why the ones in the Vegas were coming out often enough to trigger a recall and to become a well known problem? And would you kindly explain why after countless people including me had their end play checked the axles still came out? Yes, there were lawsuits.

The overwhelming evidence says you are wrong. Some design variation in that particular application caused chronic failures. THE DESIGN WAS FAULTY. And GM admitted it.
The design does not only include the design concept, it includes the details as well. The devil is in the details. If you think the concept is all there is to the design, than you’ve clearly never designed anything.

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I don’t know the specifics on the GM 6 1/2" axle but the I believe thrust washers at the time were made of a brass clad material on light duty applications. Chrysler had thrush washer failures in the 1980’s 413 transaxle, the axle shafts did not use the C-clip type of retention.

Ford had a recall the same year for axle shafts sliding out of the housing when the wheel bearing failed, the Ford 9" rear axle does not use the C-clip retainers.

What caused the C-clip rear axle to be an “insufficient retainer system” on the Vega? Poorly designed thrust washers? A part supplier problem? Gear oil that corroded the thrust washers?

I wish I knew, but GM was not forthcoming with that information.
My understanding is that there was no deformation on the retainers, and based solely on that I’d have to assume that the retention system was unable to withstand the stresses of everyday use and stay intact. The only things I know for certain is that it was a chronic problem with the Vega, the endplay check that they instituted as a forced recall was clearly a farce, and I damned near soiled myself when the rear end of my car dropped to the tarmac and I got out and saw what had happened! Thank God it happened when it did. I was headed for the highway at the time.

It should be said that while the axle retention concept was not unusual, the axle was of a bespoke design specifically for the Vega. Much as two front fenders are of the same principle but different stampings, the Vega axle had its own version of the axle. Unfortunately, it also had its own version of the cooling system, the cylinder materials, the idle stop solenoid bracket, the door hinges, the seats, and numerous other things that failed. I loved the car when it was new. After the axle came out I couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.

I agree, but our esteemed governor eliminated them ~6 years ago.

My buddy had the same thing happen with his 1966 AH Sprite Mk2. Fortunately he was in a parking lot.

there were 2 mercs recently on CL with that issue. both were 4matic so the cv axle was probably messed up also. they were for sale for a fair price as is.

People treat cars like home appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. Just use them until they break, then complain they are junk, throw them in the trash and get another.

For those of us that pick up their trash and fiddle with their machines (for me it’s old scooters) it’s fine, but really it’s just terribly wasteful and ignorant.

Not in my case. I take care of my cars obsessively with the goal of keeping them running well forever. The philosophy worked beautifully with all my Toyotas over the years. Had my '89 Toyota Pickup not gotten hit at 338,000 miles, it’d probably still be on the road. And had I not decided to give it to my daughter at about 300,000 miles, which motivated me to give my Camry with 242,000 miles to my son and treat myself to a new car, I’d probably still be driving the Camry too.

But the Vega, as much as I liked the overall design concept, truly was junk. And after having driven Toyotas and Honda for many years, the '95 Saturn my wife talked me into turned out to be less than impressive. And it didn’t hold up for the long term.

For the record, nobody I know fits your description of how people treat cars. Can my circle of acquaintances be that unique? I suspect not.