After all the weight reduction, the CLK was riding high and it needed to come back down to earth. The fender gap was 3″ in the rear and 2-1/2″ in the front. I wanted it closer to zero, with the top of the tire about even with the top of the fender, or within a half inch.
There are a couple different approaches to lowering a W208 CLK. You could buy a set of lowering springs, or just cut the appropriate amount off the factory springs. I decided to take the old-school route and cut some coils out of the springs instead of spending money.
The rearward bushings in the front lower control arms of the W208 CLK are known to wear out rather quickly. They are “loose” by design, having an air gap around more than half the perimeter of the bushing, meaning there is only about 2″ of rubber holding the outer shell to the inner sleeve. This not only leads to premature failure, but often leads to vibrations in the car, even when the bushings are new. I’m sure the Mercedes engineers had good intentions, but in practice these bushings have been a sore spot for many CLK owners. You can replace the factory units with aftermarket polyurethane bushings from Powerflex if you want a performance and reliability upgrade.
This typically happens under hard acceleration and can cause a lot of expensive damage to the car. The rear subframe is held in by four bolts, and it always seems to be the rear two that have the problem, never the front two. This makes sense, since under acceleration the rear end is trying to squat while the front end rises due to the torque imparted on the chassis by the drive axles. The front half of the subframe, ahead of the axles, is pushing up into the body, while the rear part, behind the drive axles, is pulling down on the body. With 516 ft-lb of torque available from even the stock engine, those two rear mounting points tend to fatigue and fail when you least expect it.
Adding the large-diameter washers is the key to this fix.
The fix is pretty straight forward, especially if you do it before it becomes a problem. It’s a simple matter of replacing the factory rear subframe bolts with a pair of new bolts with nuts and large washers on them, creating a “sandwich” that is much stronger than the original setup. Adding the large-diameter washers is the key to this fix. They spread the load out over a much larger surface area than the original mounting bosses, thereby making it nearly impossible to tear them out of the body. My car has over 180 dragstrip passes on it, all on sticky Hoosier drag radials, and the bolts have held strong. Continue reading “E55 Subframe Bolt Replacement”→