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Why is my suspension so....HARSH!?

28521 Views 25 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Peter B
Hi All, bought a GLC250 (petrol) for the wife in January. Its primarily her car, so I only occasionally drive it, and I don't enjoy it when I do. The reason is the incredibly harsh suspension!
We live in a hilly area, and the local council sees fit to install numerous speed bumps on the roads here. When driving the Merc over these speed bumps at anything above a walking pace the front suspension bottoms out, and gives a most unpleasant 'thump'. Her previous car was a Honda CRV, and that car could be driven over those same speed bumps at reasonable speed, and soaked up the punishment without a problem.

I'm really not impressed with this car. The GLC is an SUV after all, and at least pretends to be an 'off-roader'.

I've talked to the dealership and they say no, it's a 'sports car suspension' :confused: and the behaviour is 'normal' for a 'sports car'.
If I wanted a sports car I'd have bought a Porsche.
This was meant to be a solid SUV capable of dealing with the local terrain we drive on here. It's not working out well.

By the way, the wheels are the 20inch rims. Could that have anything to do with it?
Anyone else experienced this problem? Is it really 'normal'? Is there any way to fix it? 19inch rims perhaps?
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if its amg line it has sports suspension if the lower spec model they have a softer agility control suspension
Don't mean to sound rude, but did you not test drive one before you bought?

When buying mine, I was concerned because most of the reviews I was reading were saying it's best to spec the Air Suspension as the AMG suspension can be harsh.
Sadly my budget wouldn't extend to that - I blew it on the 3L V6 engine :), so I did some "extensive" test driving on roads I was familiar with to make sure I was happy with the ride.

I was surprised how good the AMG suspension was and couldn't really see what the fuss was about.
It soaks up the bumps really well on the very badly maintained country lanes, yet still lets me corner at a "reasonable" (ahem) speed too.
Most of my driving is in the former, and after a few test drives, including a back-to-back with a VW Touareg, I chose the GLC - with the AMG suspension and 20" wheels).
The Touareg was definitely a softer setup, but the GLC handled uneven roads way better. Bumps seemed to throw the VW all over the road.

Not noticed anything untoward on the speed humps in the work car park either.
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Thanks for the replies. No its not AMG - its the bog standard GLC250. As for test driving it, yes we did, and I didn't find it to be at all noticeably harsh then, which makes me wonder if this is really a problem with our specific car. It feels as if the front suspension is wrong in some way. Under pressure dampers/struts?
What I'm really interested to find out is if any other standard GLC250 owners have found the same behaviour, which might suggest this is common to this model.

As an aside, there are many other things I don't like about the car. One of my main gripes is the centre display is not a touch screen! When I first tested the car I started poking that screen and was really surprised when the dealer told me 'it's not a touch screen'. It looks like it has been slapped on as an after thought.
A mate of mine has a BMW X5 and it not only has a touch screen, but very functional voice control functions too.
The wife wanted a Merc, and it is her car, so I bought it for her. But I think it's a very disappointing effort compared to the BMW. I recently hired a cheaper Renault SUV on holiday in France, and even that thing had a touch sensitive screen!
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Hi Flyguy

Shame you're unhappy with the GLC so it's good job it's your wife's car not yours especially as the media interface is an issue for you, especially when you knew of that before buying.
Personally it's not a problem for me and I actually don't like them as they are continually covered in fingerprints which I find annoying, that happens on the Pioneer fitted to our Burstner motorhome.

As far as the ride is concerned, mine is an AMG-line so stiffer suspension and on 20" rims. I've driven 8000 miles in the 12 months I've owned it, mostly country roads some of which are pretty poor and I have no complaints, we have plenty of speed humps around here as well and they're there to make you go slowly!
Suspension on my GLC is certainly not as harsh as my previous Audi A6 on 20" wheels and no where near as bad as the M suspension on my previous BMW saloon cars.

What does surprise me about the GLC is how well it handles compared to some of the others I test drove only the BMW X3 and Jaguar F Pace were marginally better IMO.

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you may have to wait for a reply from someone with the same suspension set up. I'm guessing you have a SE or SPORTS (urban edition) model which has the agility comfort control suspension not the sports suspension like the amg line does.
Hi I have GLC urban edtion on 20 inch wheels and have absolutely no complaints of harshness if anything it’s on the soft side I feel it glides over bumps but that’s just my personal opinion .
Hi brizo are you still on summer tyres mate
Yes but I don’t want to talk about it and tempt fate 🙈🤞😂
One of my main gripes is the centre display is not a touch screen! When I first tested the car I started poking that screen and was really surprised when the dealer told me 'it's not a touch screen'.
Not being a touch screen is actually a good thing.
We have a touch screen on the Discovery multimedia system on our van, and while its a great system (actually think the satnav is better than the Merc Comand Satnav), using a touch screen on the move, you have to watch the display (rather than the road) until your finger makes contact. Hit a bump in the road at the wrong time and you'll select the wrong thing.
With the Merc Control Wheel you can glance back and forth between road and display while operating it, and over time you just know where things are and can select things without even having to look at it all.
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We have 250d with AMG wheel,suspension option on steel springs. Generally like driving and handling, can be very harsh with front suspension on speed humps. Anything higher than 24kph then I need to visit a dentist to have my fillings checked !!!. First time I hit at 30kpm I stopped to check if shockers had come through the bonnet....... We have experienced some side (slide) chatter or skipping when on slight bend and uneven pavement.
We run run flats, so they do not soak impacts, also on 20” AMG rims.
Wife’s 250d Coupe, we paid extra for air suspension, has 20” staggered AMG setup, did have tubeless tyres and they were softer, changed to run flats to minimise crabbing of cold tyres. Air suspension is so much better. Can ‘hit’ same speed humps at around 35kph. Some skip on slight bends and uneven pavement, but a smoother ride overall. Hopefully air suspension will be trouble free in future.
Check your tyre pressures, we run ours at 36psi. Some dealers have overinflated tyres to 42psi and that hurts ride and behaviour.
I may wait till car is out of factory warranty and have a suspension specialist look at fronts, possibly alter spring rate or different shocks, oil or air damp type ....
Our older Skoda Superb, Lexus RX, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mazda 3 SP and our BMW 330ci glide over same speed humps with ease and no chatter so I understand your disappointment with the GLC and speed humps.
I’m told its a ‘characteristic” !!
Good luck and remember the rest of the car is excellent by most other manuf standards.
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Change the wheels for 18s with higher profile tyres, will improve the ride as tyres will help absorb more of the road imperfections.
Deeper side wall more give
It seems to be a UK thing that we must have big wheels and condom profile tyres, it’s not just a merc thing look at many SUVS

And if you think the GLC ride is harsh try a Nissan X trail on 19 wheels

Got rid of one for a 250 petrol sport on 18 rims, much more compliant and relaxing ride.
Yes agree with you. In Oz, we too have a facination for bigger rims and thin rubber.
MB Oz decide what packages are avail for customers, as do most other manuf, like BMW, VW, etc.
It’s all on looks and perceived buyer bling.....
As a lot of the higher end vehs are leased, via a business, then the attitude of the driver is to put up with issues till lease ends and they move onto another car; so there is no ground swell from most owners to seek a more practical solution to set up and features that are pre packaged to increase sales revenue.
I have been looking around overseas to try and get MB part numbers for 17” and 18” rims that would be approved to fit on the GLC. Insurance, warranty and the readily avail of particular tyre sizing critical - no point in getting smaller rims if no tyre importers sell the required profile, as we are a small market.
For a population of 26 million, not all licensed car drivers, we have over 60 Veh manufactures selling their wares here, would hate to think what the 60 means in model types and variants for the small customer base.... 10,000 car variants ? As a minimum, And growing ??
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Hi All - so I finally got time to visit my Merc Dealer and test drive another GLC250. Their aftersales guy first came on a drive in my own car and I took him over my local humps and bumps. After a few sharp intakes of breath he admitted being surprised and concerned by the cars harsh ride even at low speeds over the obstacles.
We then returned to the garage and picked up an identical brand new GLC250. We drove the same route, and got exactly the same result.
This was somewhat comforting because it meant the problem is not unique to my car. There’s nothing unusual or faulty about my suspension. This is MB standard!
Back at the garage I noted a display model GLC200. The 250 has 20” rims, and low profile Pirelli’s. The 200 rides on 19” rims with a high profile Pirelli tyre. I didn’t ask to take one out, hadn’t got time, but I really wonder now if the issue is present with the 200 or not. I suspect it’s a bit less rough, and this may all just be a function of the wheels size.

As regards the desirability of having a touchscreen or not - there was a display model of the latest A class, complete with touchscreenAND voice control, just like BMW has had for a while now. The salesman told me the screen will be rolled out to all upgrade Mercs over the next few years. So you’ll get it, like it or not.
I liked it!
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I have 20 wheels but none AMG line and don't have this problem with the agility control put it down to the sports suspension
Just to confirm what I've already said really, I have a 250d AMG-Line not air suspension on 20" wheels. My car is fitted with Vredestein all season tyres and I don't consider the ride to be at all harsh, firm yes by all means but nowhere near the hard ride of my previous BMW M sport and Audi S-line cars although they weren't SUVs.

I live in a rural area and the roads around here are shocking with loads of badly repaired potholes however unless you hit a deep one or go over a speed hump too fast it's perfectly acceptable imho.

Either I'm more tolerant than others, just plain lucky or the difference as I strongly suspect is down to the tyres.

BTW only once in 13 months and 9000 miles have I noticed crabbing and that was in a car park on loose gravel surface and was very slight.

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We live in a hilly area, and the local council sees fit to install numerous speed bumps on the roads here. When driving the Merc over these speed bumps at anything above a walking pace the front suspension bottoms out, and gives a most unpleasant 'thump'.
Hi FlyGuy,

Australian model GLC 250 here, with the AMG Line package installed. 20" inch Bridgestone Duellers. In Oz the 3 suspension variants available are, base model steel springs, AMG Line steel springs (slightly stiffer than base model), or ABC Air springs with variable damping, as an upgrade option.

On my initial pre-purchase test drive, I deemed that the base model was a little too soft to my liking and the AMG line car was better. Decided not to go with ABC, due to complexity and possible failure point.

Firstly, let me say that I am very happy with my selection of the AMG Line 'sports' suspension. However, just on the odd occasion now and then, I experience the same bottoming out of the suspension. This can occur on the very abrupt speed bumps, (Shopping centre car parks, I am looking at you!), or on a very bad deep pothole (not uncommon on Oz secondary 'roads').

To my view this is due to a combination of things: Run Flat tyre (stiff sidewalls), low profile tyre 255/45 R20, not enough suspension travel, not enough spring rate and damping. ( have experienced all 4 wheels bottom-out on 3 occasions ...not pleasant)
Also the bump stops appear to come up very harshly!

99.9% of the time the suspension behaves very I am thinking the springs rates and damping are not too bad.
The key factor I think is the Run flat tyres and the inherent design of very stiff side walls.

If this is a real concern in your area of travels, I would advocate, changing to 19"rims and higher profile standard tyres (not run flats... I will be changing to non Run-flats when current Bridgestones need replacing, but keeping the 20" rims)
Talk to your dealer about a low cost or better a no cost swap!! (no harm in asking)
Also check your tyre pressures. Placarded 32psi is too low. Dealer handed my vehicle over with 42psi ...too high. I have found 35-36psi a good compromise between comfort and tyre wear pattern.

Of course, better road building/maintenance skills in our country could negate all of above!! Ahhh!! ...….but I jest!!!!!
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Hi Citizen613 - great post, a good read, thanks. I think you're right and your solution may indeed be my best option.Good tip about tyre pressure in the meantime too. I'll try it.
I've got 21" alloys on mine and I find the ride softer than the previous 2015 Audi A6 Black Ed with 20" rotors.
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