2006 Mercedes Benz S430


Richard Lucas

August, 9, 2009 AT 9:39 AM

2006 Mercedes Benz S430 V8 Four Wheel Drive Automatic 39,000 miles

Front end floats.
Doesn't track straight intermitantly.
Significant body roll, platform does not absorb dips and depressions which contributes to roll.

Back ground: Purchased as a MB certified vehicle on 11/27/07 from Ramano MB with 27610 miles on odometer.
Initial test drive revealed the car had front right out of balance condition. Mechanics attributed to a bent wheel. Romano switched wheels and tires (like new Goodyear Comfort Treads) with another S430. Salesperson said they balance tires and aligned car during pre-delivery prep. Car seemed ok during test drive. On way to home on interstate I noted car drifted to right and did not seem track right or hold the road. Had a follow up call from Romano and informed sale person of the problem. Sales person asked that I return it to the dealer to have them take a look at it.
04/14/08 (29209 miles). Returned to Romano as requested. Romano had no record of the car being aligned. Split the cost with Romano $182.22.
On way back to Binghamton I noted car still drifted to right had handling problems.
6/26/08 (29807 miles) Empire Motors replaced front struts under warranty and realigned $173.50. Handling problems persisted. Mechanic suggested that the tires may be cause.
4/8/09 (34523 miles) Replaced the tires with Michelin Primacy MX4 $785.44
Precision Automotive installed the tires and Hunter Road Force balanced $115.34. At that time they checked the alignment and found that the front end Camber was way out.
4/16/09 (34543 miles) Car was realigned with new Hunter Hawkeye alignment machine $105.45
Total spent to date $1,361.95 Total miles driven 6933.

Objectionable handling and ride characteristics:
When driving on an interstate the car travels along well for a mile or miles then the front end shifts to the right or left. The steering wheel is not being turned and is being held steady. At times I must reduce speed to minimize the roll and minimize the shifting of the front end. It's like flying in an airplane and continually having to trim the aircraft to keep it going in a straight line.
At times I've noticed when turning into a left sweeping bend in the road, the car wants to travel to the right, sometimes even when the crown of the road is on the high side it tends to want to push up and out into the right lane.
On a relatively smooth surface the car seems to react to every minor irregularity in the road. At 70 or 80 MPH a minor irregularities in the road surface sometimes translates into ones head rocking back and forth.
On a irregular city street surface the body rocks back and forth excessively like there is insufficient or no body roll control in the suspension.
For a relatively low profile heavy vehicle the car seems like its being buffeted by wind causing the car to rock.
When suspension setting is changed the suspension stiffening is minimal, roll is reduced slightly, but there is little or no suppression or dampening of the front end. When encountering a expansion joint or bump the shock and sound is significant.
Requested a MB factory rep. And or factory mechanic to come in and drive this car for 30 to 60 miles.
This car is not pleasure to drive and clearly it is not how a certified flagship S430 is supposed to handle.

A person with 20 years in the car business indicated that the ongoing handling problems documented since I purchased the vehicle maybe due to the fact that the vehicle may have been in an accident.

Your thoughts and advice will be appreciated.


4 Answers



August, 11, 2009 AT 8:10 AM

I have forwarded your question to our M/B tech. He will be with you shortly, thank you for your patience



August, 12, 2009 AT 12:57 PM

This is a very abnormal condition and in my years working with MB I have never heard of anything quite like you are explaining in a car that has not been in an accident. It seems to me that this is not a problem your mechanic is going to easily identify. I would recommend running a carfax report on your vehicle (perhaps Ramano would do this for free since they sold you the car). If it turns out that it does have an accident history then the vehicle was misrepresented at the time of sale since you were sold a " certified" vehicle. This would give you a legal coarse of action. Furthermore I would check with any lemon laws you may have in your state as you may have some recoarse there as well.

First lets start with what type of suspension your S class is equipped with, ABC or Airmatic suspension? Have you noted any leaks under the vehicle? When under the vehicle look at the suspension components of the right and left side. Inspect them for any evidence of impact, scraps or anything that may lead you to believe there has been significant impact in this area? Also this is a 2006 model and so the parts that you have not had replaced should show signs of being worn and should be covered in road dirt. Do there appear to be any newer components that could lead you to believe that repairs have been made to this area prior to your purchase. Also inspect the lower control arms for any small bends or uneven areas. Let me know what you find.


Richard Lucas

August, 13, 2009 AT 8:52 PM

Thank you for your prompt reply.
Carfax was supplied at purchase and was clean.
Checked with consumer protection in NY Lemon Law only applies if first report of defect is within 90 days of purchase.
Also found that a dealer is not obligated to divulge accident info. I believe it is a airmatic suspension. I will check and confirm. Also will check other items you mentioned.
However circumstances are such that it may week or so.
A MB tech inspected and drove the at the car yesterday.
He indicated that do to the engine location, torque and direction of rotation that these cars may have a tendency to drift to the right when under acceleration?
Checked the paint thickness and it appeared to be correct and original. Felt a slight tightness in steering and felt slight movement of front end when hitting a bump. He could not feel anything else out of the ordinary. I was in the passenger seat and did not feel much front end movement and ride was good. However, when asked about body roll he attributed it to the road condition. Could not answer satisfactorily why suspension did not correct to minimize roll and why the car rocks in reaction to every irregularity in a relatively smooth parking lot surface at 5 mph. Checked ride height, tire pressure and struts LF.6 RF.9 LR-.5, RR-.8. Apparently all were in spec? Was almost convinced I was being overly critical then I drove some of same streets in my 2000 ML with 170,000 miles on it one hour later. ML had significantly less bodyroll than the the S class.



August, 14, 2009 AT 2:30 PM

If you have ABC, on your button to select the suspension setting it will say ABC. If not it is an airmatic vehicle. Furhtermore I am aware of a slight drift on this model however from what you are explaining this is no slight drift and usually this is only noticable under hard acceleration. Also the body roll should be less than your ML as it has a higher center of gravity. Have you ever had the front end sitting very low in the morning, almost like the front suspension is saging? This could be a sign of a leak in the suspension system that may cause some pressure issues upon rebound during turns? If the struts are not properly filling or constantly loosing pressure you may get a poor ride performance like what you are describing? Please let me know if this has ever occured.

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