“A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.” –Solomon
There has been a problem with our 2000 Mercedes-Benz S430 that has been bothering me for the past several months. Although I installed a new pair of tires, the back end of the car would jump to one side whenever I would hit a bump or pothole. Someone suggested that the rear air shocks might need to be replaced. But they weren’t sure. The other suggestion sounded a lot better to me: It could be the wheels themselves.
A mechanic at Mercedes-Benz of Willoughby noted that the 17″ wheels on the car were clever counterfeits — probably a Chinese imitation of the real deal. Stop for a minute and consider who I am. I have never tried to come across as some pompous buffoon who must have the original product or die trying. Not so. I don’t care where the wheels were manufactured or whether they are genuine OEM wheels. I just want them to work right! But what I found in this situation was that OEM was the better option.
The 2000 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was designed with hub centric wheels. That means exactly what it sounds like. The wheel is centered on the hub as opposed to the lug bolts. With that in mind, you can’t just slap any wheel on the rotor with five lug bolts and drive away. They have to be centered perfectly or you will quickly notice a vibration in the steering wheel at highway speeds. What happens is that the wheel is actually out of round because it is not centered with the hub. Does that make sense?
I was able to purchase a used set of 16″ Mercedes-Benz wheels with like new tires for a very reasonable price. However, they were from a pre-2000 S-Class meaning that they fit the front but rubbed on the caliper in the rear. You can imagine my disappointment. Thankfully, I was able to find a set of 15mm wheel spacers and longer lug bolts for the rear. That was my project tonight with my oldest son, Jefferson. With the help of a long guide bolt (borrowed from one of our mechanics) and a spacer on each wheel, there is now plenty of room for the brake components.
Last week pictured with 16″ front wheels and 17″ rear wheels
The “new” wheels are a bit worn and don’t look as snazzy as the 17″ aftermarket wheels but they work! The ride is much more comfortable. And the back end of the car no longer jumps to the side when going over bumps. I find it interesting that OEM parts often do make a difference. This job didn’t require brand new OEM wheels but using genuine Mercedes-Benz wheels did solve the problem. I had the car up for sale but now I may decide to keep it after all. We shall see.