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HOW-TO: Replacing Odometer Gears

emerydc8

Active member
I did this job last night. It took about 20 minutes to get the instrument cluster out of the car and would have taken even less had I known I didn't have to unplug everything. All I had to do was unscrew the rheostat, speedometer and tach. I had to remove the tach and rheostat to get the speedometer out of the cluster. Pay attention to how they are arranged. There is a small plate that holds a light in the corner of the cluster that sandwiches in there as well.

The symptoms I have on both my E420's are that the odometer and trip odometer have stopped working. I ordered a gear set on ebay for $40, which came within a few days.

Basically there are three shafts for three plastic gears that usually need to be replaced. There is a small 12-tooth gear and two larger gears. For some reason the other gears involved were fine (I'm sure the people selling the kit knew this). The small gear completely disintegrated, which caused the initial problem. One of the larger gears was also coming apart and missing a tooth.

Replacement of the gears is not difficult. There is a small brass retainer sleeve that holds the small gear on. This sleeve comes off with pliers. [GSXR edit: Do not pull off the sleeve with pliers! Deform it with side-cutters so it slides off the shaft with finger pressure only. Forcing it off with tools will damage the motor.] You DO NOT need the sleeve with the replacement gear. It slides on with enough friction to stay in place. You can access the sleeve and small gear without removing the clear plastic cover. The other two gears require removal of the plastic cover. I removed the sleeve and small gear without first removing the cover because I had only intended on changing the small gear, until I saw that a large gear had a tooth missing too and I determined that all three gears should be replaced.

When you remove the plastic cover, the two shafts with the large gears are actually sticking in the cover, unlike the shaft for the small gear that goes into the unit. Take pictures before you start pulling these gears apart so you know how to get them back together. All the gears slide off the shafts with a little effort.

The two larger gears look the same but are actually different, so make sure you match them up with the existing gears when you replace them.

I was concerned about how far to push the shafts into the gears but it seems that it is engineered such that once the plastic cover is screwed back on, everything falls into place.

I am going to order another kit today and do my 95 E420 this week. It is nice to have the trip odometer back. All in all, it took about an hour to do the job.
 

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fudgitive

Member
Re: Replacing Odometer Gears

Nice write up, what mileage did your odometer give up at by the way? Both units that I have replaced gears on in the past were in the range of 160,000km.
 

superstar

Member
Re: Replacing Odometer Gears

Great write up!
I have replaced my odometer gears in the past and they just work perfectly. The only downside with these Ebay gears, are the ticking noise they make when they rotate against each other and that is due to the hard materials that are made of. The OEM gears are made from softer materials. I tried to lubricate them; the noise was minimized but still noticeable if you pay attention to it.
 

emerydc8

Active member
I tried to lubricate them; the noise was minimized but still noticeable if you pay attention to it.
Did you try Gleitpaste? When I do my 95 this week, maybe I'll try that. Thanks guys.
 

superstar

Member
No I did not try it . It may help indeed.However, the above-mentioned lube isn't just any lube and it's used by the dealers only in certain places to lube areas such as Panorama Roof noises , Sun Roofs, etc. Part number is Mercedes-Benz Gleitpaste 001 989 14 51. If you have access to it , please give it a try and report back .
 

emerydc8

Active member
Okay, I replaced the same gears in my 1995 last night and this time I used Gleitpaste on the gears. I'll let you know if I hear any difference. So far, I can't even hear the gears on the car without the Gleitpaste.

I did notice something interesting on both cars -- a bulb (I'm not sure if it's for the tach or the right turn signal) melted the plastic around the socket in the instrument cluster. [Separate thread here.]
 
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If I'm driving at ~35 or below on an asphalt road, (cement is louder) no radio on, windows closed, I can hear each click of the gear which is moving the 1/10's digit, and if you look closely you can see that digit bump a tiny bit with each click. Very faint tick tick tick....

That means either the car is quiet, or the odo is loud!

Rgds,
Chris
 

emerydc8

Active member
That means either the car is quiet, or the odo is loud!
Or your hi-frequency hearing is not yet shot. I can't hear a thing from my odometer. Maybe too many hours at M.84 for me.
 

8899

Active member
If I'm driving at ~35 or below on an asphalt road, (cement is louder) no radio on, windows closed, I can hear each click of the gear which is moving the 1/10's digit, and if you look closely you can see that digit bump a tiny bit with each click. Very faint tick tick tick....

That means either the car is quiet, or the odo is loud!

Rgds,
Chris
I can hear it as well. And I think the odo is loud.
 

emerydc8

Active member
I can hear it as well. And I think the odo is loud.
Okay, I finally did hear the clicking tonight after driving it on a really smooth road. I used Gleitpaste on the other car and haven't heard the gears in that one yet. Maybe I'll pull the odometer out of the noisy car and try Gleitpaste on that one too.
 

jano

E500E Newbie
My odometer and trip meter stopped working. I've replaced gears on a 1984 w126, easy, piece of cake. About to order the ones in the OP's thread. But before I do, just want to make sure:

gsxr said:
Yellow Box is required when changing axle ratios, tire diameter, or speedometer heads with different calibration (K number)
Correct, that the gears inside the various model speedometers are the same, with only the calibrations being different? Since I am not changing axles ratios, tire diameter, nor the calibration in the speedometer head, then I don't need to worry about the yellow box, and mileage will remain consistent.
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
Good question, Jano. I am not 100% certain. I believe the gears are the same, and the difference between 034 and 036 is electronic. Have you taken the speedo out to visually inspect the gears, to see if any are stripped like Jon's were?

UPDATE: The statement above is incorrect - the electronics are the same between 034 and 036 odometers; there are different tooth counts on certain gears. See post #29 below.

The difference between 034/036 speedometers appears to be electronic, not mechanical.


:tumble:
 

gerryvz

Site Honcho
Staff member
One safety item of note for anyone removing the instrument cluster from the car.

Before you remove the cluster and disconnect the electrical connectors from the back end of the cluster, DISCONNECT THE BATTERY IN THE TRUNK first.

Before disconnecting the battery, be sure to pull the adjustable steering column all the way out (toward you, sitting in the driver's seat) so the removed cluster will clear the space between the dashboard and the steering wheel rim.

It is really imperative to disconnect battery power to the cluster before removing it - it is possible to ruin a gauge.

Cheers,
Gerry
 

gerryvz

Site Honcho
Staff member
I just ordered two sets of the replacement odometer gears for my parts stock. They are applicable both to the 126 and the 124 (and probably to my G-wagen too, as it uses a W124 instrument cluster). For $17 per kit, it's worth having a set or two of replacement gears on hand.

Euro (km) gears are also available from this vendor. Payment is via PayPal.

https://store.garagistic.com/odometer-gears/benz-odometer-repair/mercedes-odometer-repair

If you plan to keep your car, it's probably not a bad item to keep on hand. You never know when the gears may fail (particularly if you are a 126 owner) and, this is one part that I wouldn't really want to replace with a set from a wrecking yard car .. which are likely to be as bad or worse than the failed gear itself!

Cheers,
Gerry
 

clarkz71

Clark Vader
So I'm guessing you counted the teeth on the E3 gear, it's different on all 3 cars. Because they guess on what gear you need. They send a 16 tooth default on the 126. The 034 & 036 use a 17 tooth. The E3 gear can have anywhere from 12 to 21 teeth. You have to count yours before you order from a multi vehicle seller. I picked my kit based on 034/036 only description. We'll see how I do.

It's time as well as mileage, mine just failed at 124K.
 
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DarkStar

Member
I used the gears from odometergears.com. They worked well, loud, but sunroof lube works well to tame the clicking of the gears.

Also used their wiper gear - worked great!
 

gerryvz

Site Honcho
Staff member
Yes, the last time I was inside of my 126 cluster, I used Gleitpaste on the gear surfaces. The old lube had gotten quite hard and yellowed in there. It's also important to lube the trip odometer "reset" mechanism and lever whilst in there.

Also a good time to clean and replace the light bulbs for the instrument cluster illumination.
 

nocfn

E500E Guru
Got it done!


As an edit, the gargastic gears did not make any noise, the Gleitpaste was applied to every moving part I could reach with a syringe.. I cleaned what I could with compressed air and isopropyl alcohol then lubed.
 
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Stevester 500E

Active member
Any new odometer gear sources specifically for 500e clusters?
Would like to buy the correct odo gears and hopefully a quite set too.
Thanks
 

nocfn

E500E Guru
I got mine at garagastic dot com for the 124 and 126

When you have the system open just take time to clean all the old grease off the moving parts and use synthetic grease or gleitpaste on all the nylon moving parts. Also you can clean the contact points on the spring of the potentiometer as the brass gets dirty and the lights can dim.
Open
 

lowman

E500E Resto God, Hierarki-Man
hey people
I just found this thread..as recently my odometer has started to make a small clickin sound every second or two. depending on speed..going slow the clicking goes slower tooo..
i can see that the clickin matches the movement on the trip counter at the bottom.

Is this the gears failing you think ...or ?
any suggestions are apreaciated.

thanx alot.
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
If the odometer is still counting correctly, just ignore the clicking, if it's very quiet (i.e., difficult to hear).

BTW, there is no problem to zero out the trip counter when moving. If you take apart the speedo and see how it works, you can see there is pretty much no scenario where resetting in motion can break anything. All resetting does is disengage the gears.

http://124performance.com/images/W124_speedos/

:stirthepot:
 

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lowman

E500E Resto God, Hierarki-Man
If the odometer is still counting correctly, just ignore the clicking, if it's very quiet (i.e., difficult to hear).

BTW, there is no problem to zero out the trip counter when moving. If you take apart the speedo and see how it works, you can see there is pretty much no scenario where resetting in motion can break anything. All resetting does is disengage the gears.

http://124performance.com/images/W124_speedos/

:stirthepot:

hey man

thanx alot :)
well i always had the opinion that you were not supposed to do the resetting while rolling..but thanx for that info..though i still gonna do it when standing still.."just in case".heh or of old habit.

well..the sound is not very loud..it sounds and the volume is like if it would have been the clock "ticking"...
so..as the car is so quiet...you can definetly hear it..and i do find it abit annoying as i actually STARTED to hear it..and im shure it wasnt there before..
so i think i will maybe take out the cluster..and have a look and see if i can do anything with it.

thanx again :)
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
The "don't reset while in motion" thing has been around the internet for decades. I'm not sure where it started. I'm surprised we don't hear the same claim on the W210 electronic (LED) odometers. :p

The 500E odometers never move smoothly. I've always wondered if they were smooth when they were new, or if that is just a 'feature' of the 1980's design...

:scratchchin:
 

mistermiata

Member
The "don't reset while in motion" thing has been around the internet for decades. I'm not sure where it started. I'm surprised we don't hear the same claim on the W210 electronic (LED) odometers. :p

The 500E odometers never move smoothly. I've always wondered if they were smooth when they were new, or if that is just a 'feature' of the 1980's design...

:scratchchin:
Thats good to know Dave! One less thing to worry about! I've taken that as gospel as I've read it so many times I thought it had to be true. Damn interwebs...
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
I broke two odometer gears while pushing in the reset while leaving a filling station. No clue if that broke 25 year old gears or just coincidental.
Likely a coincidence and it probably would have happened if the car was stationary too. If the gears were that brittle, it was just a matter of time. I've never actually experienced the odometer gear failure. I'm curious if this is more of an issue in very hot climates, or some other external influence based on vehicle location?

[Update: I shoulda kept my mouth shut... experienced the gear failure a few months after I posted this, on a car that spent years in Florida.]


:scratchchin:
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
So I'm guessing you counted the teeth on the E3 gear, it's different on all 3 cars. Because they guess on what gear you need. They send a 16 tooth default on the 126. The 034 & 036 use a 17 tooth...
UPDATE 1: The E4 and E5 gears will have different tooth count on .034 (400E/E420) and .036 (500E/E500) odometers. If you use USA-spec .034 E4/E5 gears in an .036 odometer, the odo will be off by 25-28%, reading much higher miles traveled than actual. Don't ask how I know. Thankfully, the E4/E5 gears are made of a different material and should NOT require replacement. The E1, E2, and E3 are apparently made from stale Oreo cookie dough.

I'm working on confirming the proper tooth count for each, I don't see this documented elsewhere in the thread. (See update 2 below.)

In the meantime, here is yet another vendor, offering Made in USA gears... they are more costly than the ones from Spain or Turkey, but have lifetime warranty:
http://www.odometergears.com/products/Mercedes-Benz/E+class+(124)++92-1995+Elec./51


UPDATE 2:

All 124.036 (E500E) USA-spec with stock 160mph speedos and 2.82 differential should use the following gears:
E1 = 12
E2 = 48x12
E3 = 48x17
E4 = 43x31 <-- this gear is different based on gearing and tire size, and must match E5
E5 = 26x19 <-- this gear is different based on gearing and tire size, and must match E4​

All 124.034 (400E/E420) USA-spec with stock 160mph speedos and 2.24 differential should use the following gears:
E1 = 12
E2 = 48x12
E3 = 48x17
E4 = 43x34 <-- this gear is different based on gearing and tire size, and must match E5
E5 = 26x16 <-- this gear is different based on gearing and tire size, and must match E4​


UPDATE 3: I ordered the custom 48x17 gearset from Garagistic on 9/30, and received the package on 10/7... with the wrong E3 gear. They shipped 48x13 instead. They sent out the correct replacement, received about a week later, all is well again.


:matrix:
 

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Stevester 500E

Active member
I am currently at the Garagistic site. Just want to make sure I am ordering the correctly.
I ended up selecting the flowing gears individually, and the total came out to $40.
E1 = 12
E2 = 48x12
E3 = 48x17

They have a kit of 3 gears for W126/W124/W107 KM cars for a total of $17. Am I missing something here?


Where can the following gears be purchased? I did not see them on the Garagistic site.
E4 = 43x31
E5 = 26x19
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
They have a kit of 3 gears for W126/W124/W107 KM cars for a total of $17. Am I missing something here?
That kit is for Euro cars with kph/km speedo/odo, and the E3 gear is different. Won't work on the USA-spec W124.034/.036 cars.


Where can the following gears be purchased? I did not see them on the Garagistic site.
E4 = 43x31
E5 = 26x19
E4 and E5 are made from a different material and should not need replacement; as mentioned in post #29.
 

Stevester 500E

Active member
I was going to try and convert a 400e cluster to a 500e cluster.
I was going to start with the gearing first.
Then I was going to try and adjust the gas gauge.

That kit is for Euro cars with kph/km speedo/odo, and the E3 gear is different. Won't work on the USA-spec W124.034/.036 cars.



E4 and E5 are made from a different material and should not need replacement; as mentioned in post #29.
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
I was going to try and convert a 400e cluster to a 500e cluster. I was going to start with the gearing first.
If you only changed the gears, the speedometer would be out of sync with the odometer reading.

The easier way to do this is with an electronic conversion box from Dakota Digital or YellowBox. No need to mess with the gears that way, and it keeps the speedo + Odo in sync.

:gsxrock:
 

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Stevester 500E

Active member
What other parts would need to be changed if you didn't go the route of the conversion box?
If you only changed the gears, the speedometer would be out of sync with the odometer reading.

The easier way to do this is with an electronic conversion box from Dakota Digital or YellowBox. No need to mess with the gears that way, and it keeps the speedo + Odo in sync.

:gsxrock:
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
What other parts would need to be changed if you didn't go the route of the conversion box?
I believe the speedo would need to be electronically recalibrated. I don't know how to do this, but a VDO shop could get everything working properly. The $100 converter box is way easier and allows adjustment for different gears or tire size. Make sure to get one for a 2-wire inductive sensor, NOT the more-common 3-wire Hall sensor.

http://www.yellr.com/ordering.htm

:mushroom1:
 

samiam44

Active member
I found this link- Looks like dow makes a special grease to keep them gears quiet.

[video=youtube;7b-jr-LL9b8]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b-jr-LL9b8[/video]
 

gerryvz

Site Honcho
Staff member
Just get the full-on tub. There are so many uses for it. What you don't use, you can find a buyer for....
 

Stutz

E500E Newbie
Well, I changed the gears but the odometer still does not work. Would the likely culprit be that motor then or a signal from somewhere in the tranny. Is there a way to test the motor in the speedometer housing? Thanks
 

LWB250

"But - but - he'll see the big board!!!"
Just an FYI if you’re considering using Garagistic for a supplier of the gears- they seem to be one of those suppliers who likes to generate a shipping label then send the item out several weeks later. I ordered a set of gears from them on 2/14 yet they didn’t ship until 2/28. This is after I sent two emails requesting the status of my order, the second of which was followed with a “Your order has shipped” email.

i opted for First Class Mail, but that shouldn’t have affected the time it took to fill the order. My point being that should you want your gears in a more timely manner you might want to consider another supplier....

Dan
 
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LWB250

"But - but - he'll see the big board!!!"
I'm not sure why, but an order with Garagistic was placed yesterday and has shipped today - for real - the USPS has it in their possession and it's scheduled for Friday delivery. So maybe my previous experience was an exception.

Dan
 

nocfn

E500E Guru
I suspect the USPS. Captruff sent me two packages from Socal to houston. One went to hawaii and the other to miami via charlotte NC.
 

gerryvz

Site Honcho
Staff member
I'm not sure why, but an order with Garagistic was placed yesterday and has shipped today - for real - the USPS has it in their possession and it's scheduled for Friday delivery. So maybe my previous experience was an exception.

Dan
I’ve ordered from them a couple of times in the past and things were delivered in a normal (a few business days) time frame.
 

samm

Member
I did this job last night. It took about 20 minutes to get the instrument cluster out of the car and would have taken even less had I known I didn't have to unplug everything. All I had to do was unscrew the rheostat, speedometer and tach. I had to remove the tach and rheostat to get the speedometer out of the cluster. Pay attention to how they are arranged. There is a small plate that holds a light in the corner of the cluster that sandwiches in there as well.

The symptoms I have on both my E420's are that the odometer and trip odometer have stopped working. I ordered a gear set on ebay for $40, which came within a few days.

Basically there are three shafts for three plastic gears that usually need to be replaced. There is a small 12-tooth gear and two larger gears. For some reason the other gears involved were fine (I'm sure the people selling the kit knew this). The small gear completely disintegrated, which caused the initial problem. One of the larger gears was also coming apart and missing a tooth.

Replacement of the gears is not difficult. There is a small brass retainer sleeve that holds the small gear on. This sleeve comes off with pliers. [GSXR edit: Do not pull off the sleeve with pliers! Deform it with side-cutters so it slides off the shaft with finger pressure only. Forcing it off with tools will damage the motor.] You DO NOT need the sleeve with the replacement gear. It slides on with enough friction to stay in place. You can access the sleeve and small gear without removing the clear plastic cover. The other two gears require removal of the plastic cover. I removed the sleeve and small gear without first removing the cover because I had only intended on changing the small gear, until I saw that a large gear had a tooth missing too and I determined that all three gears should be replaced.

When you remove the plastic cover, the two shafts with the large gears are actually sticking in the cover, unlike the shaft for the small gear that goes into the unit. Take pictures before you start pulling these gears apart so you know how to get them back together. All the gears slide off the shafts with a little effort.

The two larger gears look the same but are actually different, so make sure you match them up with the existing gears when you replace them.

I was concerned about how far to push the shafts into the gears but it seems that it is engineered such that once the plastic cover is screwed back on, everything falls into place.

I am going to order another kit today and do my 95 E420 this week. It is nice to have the trip odometer back. All in all, it took about an hour to do the job.


SO I have a question regarding the shaft that holds the smallest gear:

When I came to replace that small gear I noticed that the shaft moves up and down a few millimeters.

So when I out it all back together the miles for the trip meter were working for 0.5 miles only and then stopped completely.

Is this movement of the shaft proof that the shaft is actually broken where it connects to the motor?
 

gsxr

.036 Hoonigan™, E500E Boffin
Staff member
SO I have a question regarding the shaft that holds the smallest gear... S,o when I out it all back together the miles for the trip meter were working for 0.5 miles only and then stopped completely.

Is this movement of the shaft proof that the shaft is actually broken where it connects to the motor?
Did you replace only 1 gear, or several gears?
 

samm

Member
Hi Dave,

I replaced all 3.

I noticed that the brass piece was on there pretty tight as well.

Miles are low on this car but I guess the plastic degraded over the years.
 

samm

Member
I'll take it out again today when I get back home and take a look at whats going on with the little gear. I think maybe I pushed it down too much? But the little gear was engaging the other (larger) gear at in all positions. (up a few mm or down a few mm)
 
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