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Mercedes 300D Suggestions

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    Yes I'm sure he thought you were making a mistake.

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  • dyates773dyates773 Posts: 24
    Please pass along to me a generous portion of sympathy for my decision today to buy my SECOND M/B Diesel. Just when my '79 300D needs absolutely no attention and the A/C is finally working I just jumped off a cliff today and bought a '87 300SDL. Bought it from a private owner who had it for 10+ years, lotsa service records, and the interior is great and the exterior fair. It has 207K miles, starts cold like a new car, and has many new parts. Two major issues: 1) The turbo doesn't appear to work 2) The A/C compressor cycles but in "Auto" the fan never turns on, in manual the blower comes on with heat only.

    Please share some advice on the turbo. What's the best approach? The reason I think its not working is it accelerates without that slight feeling of "boost" as the engine revs. Its as flat as my 300D with the A/C on. Is the Boost Pressure switch something to look into?

    With the A/C I know this car does not have the A/C Servo Unit my '79 has. The previous owner said an A/C Shop said the Pushbutton control Unit was bad. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Well, there goes my free time for the next several months. (My wife says I'm a masochist!)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    Isn't there a boost gauge on this car?

    You got some real scary problems there pard.

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  • dyates773dyates773 Posts: 24
    No boost gage.

    When I bought my '79 300D I had some similar scary problems. A little persistence and a lot of patience go along way. I try to look at the problems as being basic in nature and some are easy to fix. Just cleaning electrical contacts, replacing vacuum hoses/fittings, lubricating moving parts, changing all fluids/filters, makes a world of difference.

    I really enjoy the challenge as my project progresses. My '79 300D gave me a real sense of accomplishment as I worked on it. It now runs great, looks terrific, and is a joy to drive. My wife drives it everyday to work.

    I take great care in picking out a car. I give it a 100% inspection and a good test drive. Understanding how the previous owner treated it is HUGELY important. A good engine and a sound tranny are the keys. Shopping for parts saves big bucks.

    As always thanks for the feedback and I enjoy the forum.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    Well you could have a stuck waste gate, or loose piping in the turbo plumbing, but really you need to find out if there is any boost at all. Can you determine if the turbo is even spinning anymore? If the turbo's shot, they can be sent out UPS to be rebuilt for maybe $400---it's not the end of the world. There's a place in Houston that I found in Road & Track magazine that did a nice job on my Saab turbo(s). Pain to get them in and out, but since you like projects, not so bad. I've done a few but not on a 300. Biggest challenge is getting the engine-baked rusty bolts off the turbo/exhaust system.

    You can also usually find climate control units on Ebay or through places like www.mercedesshop.com.

    If you had vacuum leaks generally your engine would not shut off as I recall, as it bleeds the vacuum reservoir, but I'm not sure on your model whether the engine has that same vacuum shutoff mechanism as the earlier cars.

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  • anasanas Posts: 7
    The newest posting on the site where the 1982 coupe was listed says it sold for $3600....it is a crazy market in the Northwest!
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    If that's true then the new owner has my best wishes. What's the price for diesel per gallon around there?
  • anasanas Posts: 7
    It averages about $2.50.
  • My 82 300D was totalled by another driver in February, so I hastily purchased an 85 300SD that appeared to be in mint condition - the seller was moving back to Europe. $5,400 was probably high, but the leather was mint, so was EVERYTHING else. Well, first it was brake pads, new caliper, a leaking condensation (?) hose that made the carpet under the driver's seat get wet, broken plastic thing in the rear window, the RADIATOR, and 2 new tires (which I knew before I bought it that those had to be purchased). The AC worked great too. Till this weekend, it was in the 90's, and all it does is blow air. Not hot air, but "just" air. We nearly died. I can take it to the mechanic to spend hours looking for leak and fixing it - $$$$ - OR to a friend with a used car lot will put in some freon for a temporary fix. Might last for weeks or months, even. I'm just fed up to here spending money on repairs on this stupid car... it never lets up, and I'm in too deep to ditch the car. So I may as well ride it out and hope each repair is the last. Is there anything wrong with that plan? Anything I need to know, such as what KIND of freon, etc? It has now become a very expensive car, as you know. My old 300D didn't give me this much trouble!!
    Thanks for any answers.
    Sandra
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    Pretty much all of these things are normal maintenance items. Brakes, tires, etc will wear and need service, and replacing a radiator in a 20 year old car isn't very surprising.
    Unless it's been converted to R134, that year would use R12 freon. If you don't want the expense of having it tested and repaired then my gut feeling is to have it recharged and see how it does. If it stops working real soon then you know it has a major leak and needs major repairs. If it keeps working then it's probably a minor leak and you can charge it from time to time as needed (but more than likely it will only get worse). R12 freon isn't cheap, you need a license to buy it legally.
    Be aware that in many locations in the US it's illegal to recharge an R12 system that is KNOWN to be leaking. If you take it to a licensed shop then they will have to go through all the steps to insure that R12 isn't released into the atmosphere, which is where a lot of the cost comes in.
  • Thanks for your answer, Burdawg, I appreciate it. (I don't think the radiator was original, and actually I question whether the mechanic who fixed the condensation hose earlier that same day did it). Either way, I'm glad you have prepared me for the possibility of R12 freon. Yikes. All I know is that this car came with "California emissions controls" on it, that causes it to use more diesel per gallon than if it didn't have it. I told the seller that in Texas, diesels don't need to have that emission stuff on them, but apparently it was shipped from Germany to California (??) and came built like that. And that California was the strictest state regarding emission control. Now, whether that has anything to do with freon, I don't know, but maybe maybe it will take the cheaper freon??
    By the time I paid the tax & title and $1,000+ in these repairs, it has become too expensive to get rid of, and I'm hoping everything will let up and run problem-free for a year or so till I catch up. In hindsight, I wish I'd just bought a Ford pickup truck. My husband's has NEVER been in the shop in the 4 years we've been together. Between my old 300D and this one, I seem to always be needing a ride to/from work because the car is in the shop. I keep sayin' its cheaper than car payments, but maybe I am making some poor car choices just to have that 3-pointed star on the hood. I had the other car for 15 years.... I don't know any other vehicle that could have run for over 300,000 miles.
    Back to freon, I have a shade tree mechanic who is damn good, so I can get around quite a few things that way. I just wish it didn't require that problematic R12 freon.
  • Just for grins (me again), how much is the R12, approximately? Here in Texas a can of R134 is $10.99.
    Sandra
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    R12 is quite expensive....but it also works a lot better than the new stuff. Please don't put R12 in a leaky system BTW, and also be sure to check and see WHAT it is you have in your system. These don't mix, and some nuts even stuff propane in there to just get rid of a car.

    You might start off by checking to see if your AC compressor clutch is even working. If it isn't, you can start with that problem as it is the primary cause of your troubles.

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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,095
    If you live close to the Mexican border they do not charge a fraction for th R12 that is charged in the states. Find a good shop there to fix your air conditioning. I took an older car into Tijuana and found an AC shop that charged pennies on the dollar.
  • ellennbellennb Posts: 1
    greetings! mr. shiftright, I am offered to buy a ' 92 300(350?) diesel sedan from my boss for $2000. I drove the car for a month 1 1/2 years ago, after she bought it from a lil' ol' lady (very low mileage). My bosses' daughter drove it for a while (not badly), but now it is sitting in a shop needing repairs to the starting system and climate control. The shop mechanic hasn't been around to fix the car, so they just want to sell it.
    Now, it seems I had heard somewhere years ago that you have to have a/c running/working on a diesel engine or you''ll get big trouble after awhile. I kept telling them so whenever I saw the car, and next she was raising the hood to shut off the engine.(sheesh) I've got the gist of the problem from reading most of this site,lol, I couldn"t stand too much repair and would dread looking for the right mechanic (after dad, who could meet up!) Oh, and if I want to buy it, the bosses' husband will put a 'pulling lever thing" onto the starting-knob 'til it gets fixed. Hows that sound? Is this deal worth it? It is a beautiful car, I would love to get it, I just want to be able to get it right. ( I'm in socal)
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    Around $25 per 12oz can. Just check Ebay. R12 is still plentiful, but you need a license to buy it legally (in the US). Also it can be recycled. The regulations for use of R12 are not generally well understood by the public. I agree with Shifty. If you have an R134 conversion then it's easy to tell if you know what to look for because the valves have been changed. There's a multitude of dubious products to replace R12 on the market, most of them aren't any good.
    I wasn't aware that diesels sold in California had any emission controls or requirements. Shifty, do you have any comments on that?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,095
    Around $25 per 12oz can.

    I believe it was $6 for the same 12 oz. Dupont R12 in Mexico. It is all tax in the US.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    Well I don't like amateurs messing around with R12, both for their safety and everyone else's. I don't know why everyone makes a big deal out of this. You just go to an authorized shop and they have plenty of R12 to sell you. I just got an R12 recharge on my Porsche, including of course leak testing and the whole bill was $100. Screwing around with cans on eBay or going to Mexico instead of sipping coffee and watching a pro do it for $100---well I don't get it. Sure, if you need actual mechanical WORK on your AC, that's expensive, but that's expensive no matter where you go. Any pro AC shop is going to charge you, and parts prices are parts prices. I have used a used compressor on one 300D, to good result, so that saved money.

    1992 300D Purchase: Well, look, if the car was in good mechanical and cosmetic condition it might be worth $6,500. So you have $4,500 worth of room here, which is pretty good.

    I'm not a big fan of "Mickey-Mousing" these cars to get them to work. The climate control issue can be diagnosed and you can get an estimate....always think "worst case scenario"...be a complete and utter PESSIMIST when the buyer. The seller can afford to be an optimist, you can't.

    As for the "starting problem", you weren't clear what that was about but if the mileage is very high on this car you may very well want to have a compression test or cylinder leakdown test done. Most Benz diesels don't start because of minor things like bad fuel or bad glow plugs (they do need replacement every few years) but sometimes they are just tired in the cylinder head region. Diesels rely purely on compression to ignite the fuel so if it's low the car isnt' going to start easily no matter what you do.

    AC and diesel operation have no connection that I can recall, unless you mean that if you have a leak in the vacuum lines that control some AC systems, then yes, this vacuum leak can affect engine operation. But if your vacuum lines are tight, you can just throw away your rather fussy and marginally cold 300D AC system if you wish. Climate control problems are especially bad on the W123 models, gas or diesel. A common issue is that dirty coolant (a maintenance boo-boo) jams the valve on the servo that controls coolant flow. Another common problem is the loss of vacuum to the ducting (air flaps), and of course, the electronic issues associated with a bad control head in the dash. These systems really aren't very good and you will have to deal with them time and time again, so suck it up W123 owners and be of good cheer about it.

    EMISSIONS -- yes, starting in 1985 Mercedes fitted diesels with a "trap oxidizer", which is upstream of the turbo and was meant to trap particulate matter in a ceramic shield---this particulate matter was theoretically burned off during hard acceleration. Unfortunately, the oxidizer on these cars usually either clogs and causes power loss and overheating, or worse, the mesh inside broke up and sent metal into the blades of your turbo (ouch!). The oxidizer got better for 1986 and 87 and then quit using it for obvious reasons.

    So the problem cars with the oxidizer are:

    US models: 1985 300D, 300CD, 300TD 300SD (California models, sold in western states of the USA); 1986 300SDL (again, California version) and the 1987 300D turbo, 300TD turbo and 300SDL (California AND federal versions).

    You'd be advised to avoid these models or if you are having problems with one, this is no doubt why.

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  • Thanks for everyone's insight, it has been an education! Wish I had known of this site and had the luxury of time before I bought a replace 1980's Mercedes. Well I'm stuck with it now. Turns out it HAS been converted to the 134 freon, and my "shade tree" mechanic whom I adore found the leak in 2 minutes. It's really small, is in some little valve thing that is up front close to the grill work. He put almost 2 pounds of freon in it, and it might last weeks, or maybe months. When it gets low again, then he'll replace the valve thing and "drain" the system and put in new freon? Hey, I'm a woman, this is the best I understand. He fixed the AC (for the time being) and did an oil change, all for $75. REgarding the oxidizer problem and California models, is there anything I can do to prevent this, or tell if it is happening, etc? Is this another difficult and expensive item to replace? I do have the 1985 300SD, as you might recall. Thanks so much, this site is really interesting, even to a female!!!!!!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    Symptoms of a bad oxidizer are bad fuel mileage, a drop in performance, and overheating at times.

    No there is no cure, you just keep replacing the defective part when it dies. I don't recall the replacement cost but I'd presume it is substantial given the labor involved.

    As for climate control issues, you might be sure to flush your radiator coolant.

    Other good things to do is always add a fuel additive when you fill up. Redline diesel fuel conditioner is a good product. Read the label and follow the instructions.

    Let's see....if you have a Becker radio you can throw that over a fence, it won't last long.

    But don't worry, the oxidizer could last quite a while. If you are in California that's a plus as you have fuel with a lower sulphur content.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,881
    Could read through all 444 of these postings and still go out and buy one of these cars is beyond me!

    Still, for some perverse reason, I like these cars. Not enough to go out and buy one but I do like them.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    I think you could say the same about the 300D as Mark Twain said about the music of Wagner: "It's better than it sounds".

    Some cars get this kind of "mythology" built around them, so when you actually bring out the true facts behind the myth, it makes it sound worse than it is. It's all relative. If a hyped-up Hollywood celebrity ends up selling shoes it's a tragedy, but if a drunk sobers up and sells shoes, it's a great thing.

    All cars have faults and it's best to know them and with this knowledge you can anticipate them and work them out. If someone tells me "I just bought a 300D and the seller says all it needs is a recharge" well I know that if probably not true, because we are dealing with a chronic problem here.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,881
    These forums are like hospitals. They attract people with problems and we don't hear the success stories very often.

    I've learned that when a car's A/C isn't working, it's never "just a charge" that's needed. That freon had to go somewhere and that applies to ALL cars!
  • bio0rb100bio0rb100 Posts: 4
    “..These forums are like hospitals..”

    Well here is a success story that didn’t have anything to do with a “hospital” :0).

    5 years ago I was Sunday driving in Gastonia NC and I happened across a 1984 Mercedes Benz 190D forsale so I stopped, checked it out and drove it, the guy was a car dealer selling the vehicle off a private lot. He seemed honest enough and had a whole list of things that he thought was wrong with the car. I went back the next morning unannounced because I wanted to verify that the vehicle started up ok and didn’t smoke, it did and it didn’t, I bought it for $2100. I drove it almost 80,000 miles (pur. OD reading was 194,000 and 270,000 +/- when I got rid of it.) and I probably could have gotten another 20,000 out of it. The week before I got rid of it I took it to an inexperienced non-diesel mechanic, he over filled the vehicle with oil, instead of blowing out any number of gaskets, it blew a huge spooge of oil straight into one, many or all of the cylinders…that day will be forever known to me as “the day I shutdown the road”, Interstate 85 Concord exit looked like a white cloud…all 6 lanes. I had the vehicle towed to back to my house outside of Charlotte. I called my buddy in Charleston SC and asked him if he wanted it for scrap (thinking I blew it up)…he came up, tinkered with it a little and drove it home, 180 + miles. To this day he still runs it around town…

    When I was younger buying a vehicle with 100k on the motor was foolhardy at best and with very few exceptions…Mercedes Benz Diesels being one of them. Now, not only is the reliability and dependability well known, but the environmentally freindy aspects are being highlighted and with biodiesel and B100 on the front pages, those old vehicles are drying up. People are buying the hell out of ‘em in the Northwest as can be testified to by the $3600 purchase price we had seen a few posts ago…from where is it I come from, we call them treehuggers under our breath but watch fad after fad, turn trend into trend, turn commonplace into commonplace…the old diesels are drying up here in NC as well…diesel mechanics better be honing their skills...

    But cheer up little Honda dood, there is hope for you yet…if you are still not buying a MB, from the looks of things, one day you will be able to “get in the game”

    “..Honda’s new Accord 2.2 i-CTDi Sport has this week set no fewer than 19 world speed records and achieved 3.07 litres / 100 km (92 mpg) fuel economy to boot. British racing driver Robin Liddell and freelance journalist Iain Robertson were part of the European record-setting team…”

    Honda diesel set record

    for the rest of us that don't want to wait around for a *concept* car, wondering if Honda "got it right"...the MB is the answer :0)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,881
    I guess only time will tell if you are correct.

    The big problem I have is the outrageous price of diesel. If it were priced where it should be...much less than gasoline, it would make a lot more sense!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    But this is all anecdotal, not evidence as we know it. That car you bought might have had a new engine installed, you have no idea, right?

    Most old 300Ds I see are worn out pieces of junk and buyer beware is definitely the rule.

    But if you find a well cared-for 300D or SD or TD, they can be great cars and quite reliable (mine was, after I fixed all the botched up things done by previous cheapskate owners). I'm sure mine is still running happily.

    My point was this: Just because it's a 300D doesn't mean it's any good. It could be the biggest money pit you ever walked into if you aren't careful. People "bought the hell" out of tech stocks, too, some years ago, but it wasn't being smart, because they didn't know what they were buying, they were just following a mini-trend.

    B100 is great, but it's expensive, so it's really a "feel-good" thing and in some ways quite noble----but it's not economical and therefore will not be any wave of any future until it makes sense in dollars AND cents. That's how new tech succeeds, in the realm of the user's checkbook. (see SOLAR energy as an example of this).

    Right now, where I live, driving a 300D on biodiesel is the financial equivalent of driving a gas car getting 17 mpg. If it were a totally modern 2005 gas car, the emissions differences between it and a diesel running on B100 would be negligible, and perhaps the gas engine actually better. The area where the B100 car does best is that it is using a renewable energy source.

    California doesn't even allow new diesel cars at the moment, but they should be back in a couple of years. I"m not sure how manufacturers are going to meet the Calif. standards. Low sulphur fuels will help, and possibly they will use urea injection to eliminate nox. Whether owners will refill their urea supply to keep the engines clean enough is a problem for the EPA.

    You wanna jump on the B100 bandwagon? GREAT! GOOD FOR YOU! But have that old 300D checked out top to bottom and keep shopping, shopping, shopping.

    4 out of 5 300Ds you see for sale will be beaters and not worth fixing. This is why when you shop for used parts in the wrecking yard, you will see LOTS of them.

    The reason 300D prices are going up is because of supply and demand. The old ones are getting junked out, the beaters are on the road limping along, and finding a nice clean one is getting harder and harder.

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  • Well, without even seeing the car (which makes my question ridiculous), what's the best and worst I might have accomplished by buying this 1985 300SD (turbo diesel) with 147,000 miles on it? Now I have 150,000 miles. That's the one with the A/C I discovered had a minuscule leak (I got it charged, and will fix the leak next oil change). I replaced the radiator, thermostat, one brake caliper, the brake pads. Everything now seems to be working in perfect order ... and thank you for telling me about that additive for the diesel, by the way.... I'll get some right away. Wheels have been updated to new ones so the car looks newer than 1985. It's ivory, 2nd paint job, looks very good. Leather interior is mint. Bought it from a European guy who bought it from his brother who is the 1st owner. They "spruced" it up with improved sound system, the wheels, new headlights (they gave me the old ones... said these were more expensive and I guess made it look newer, I dunno), and the stupid chrome wheel trim that I immediately ripped off. He wanted $6K, it was all I could do to get him down to $5400. Think this car would ever be desirable as a "collectible"? Anything else I can have my trusted mechanic to keep an eye on, or other things I can do to keep it going as long as possible? I drive a lot of miles, and I really don't want to always be in the shop like I was with my old 300D that was wrecked. NOBODY at my office has had their auto in for anything but an oil change in the last 2 years. Seems like I was always having to hitch a ride to work. I was hoping this purchase was a wise one, that I'd have the most dependable car on the road that would last another 200,000 miles. Thoughts, anyone?
  • bio0rb100bio0rb100 Posts: 4
    "..The big problem I have is the outrageous price of diesel. If it were priced where it should be...much less than gasoline, it would make a lot more sense..!"

    Well we could go on all day about the political aspects of gas and oil prices and point fingers at just about any (if not all) of the Presidential Administrations over the past four decades. But you are correct the price of diesel "round these here parts" was at $1.35 not 4 years ago. The price held pretty constant even when the fluctuations of regular unleaded drove the price per gallon to $2.00+.

    "..B100 is great, but it's expensive, so it's really a "feel-good" thing and in some ways quite noble----but it's not economical and therefore will not be any wave of any future until it makes sense in dollars AND cents.."

    I think what we are currently seeing is artificial manipulation to bring the cost of petroleum diesel comparatively equal to the cost of the latest and greatest technologies. Or maybe we are seeing the governmental subsidies being removed to bring the cost of fuel to where it should really be based on economic growth over the past decades. In either event after taking the advice of Mr_ShiftRight (Thanks!), this week I filled my tank with B20 biodiesel blended fuel ($2.19p/g) , I am unprepared to run a B100 as it will probably blow "gunk" into my fuel filters ...I'll need to figure out how to change them out in short order...and I need to replace hoses, seals and o-rings with viton. It is my understanding that this has to happen to any vehicle pre '93.Some people are claiming B100 for 70 cents a gallon although I think it might be pretty far fetched and alot of work...


    Taking into consideration that many warranties on new diesel vehicles (more specifically VW) are void if you run blended fuels greater than B5 (please see owners manual if you drive one), older model diesels are probably the right way to go...

    The Benz Diesel is a tough car to beat and of course the story of my 190d is only one story, as requested - a success story, but show me a 1984 vehicle that'd go 200,000 + miles? It can be done but on a VERY limited basis...

    I like my '92 300D and after I get some of the quirks addressed, the black smoke when the turbo kicks in is my biggest concern but I found out today high heat and black smoke appear to be a problem while running the AC as well :0/...I am sure I will love it. I have scheduled an appointment for next week... unless you own the tools and have the time, the most dreaded part of owning an MB (or any import really).... is the "appointment" ... :0)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,717
    No, the car will never be a collectible, so forget about that. Your "investment" will only be in the miles driven. Since it costs about 40 to 45 cents a mile to drive a new car (with depreciation included and all maintenance and repairs but not of course insurance costs), then if you beat .40 cents a mile you're doing fine. Your car has already depreciated most of the way down. If you keep it nice it can't go too much lower, maybe another $1,000 at most. Remember, car payments these days are at least $300 a month.

    No reason why you can't get many years of use out of it but 340,000 miles is quite unrealistic unless you're planning to sink a lot more money into it. Another 100K is more in keeping with the fat part of the bell curve. A 340K car is like a 100 year old man...it happens, but not very often and the odds definitely aren't with you. Get those numbers out of your head and lower your sights to the achievable is my advice.

    "dependable" is a strange word these days. Most new cars are more dependable than old ones because very weird stuff happens when you crank over 200K on a car---stuff that engineers never planned for---like metal fatigue and stresses from 20 years of constant pounding.

    You must remember that the 300D earned its reputation for dependability in the 1980s, when most other cars were really second rate. There was no Lexus and 10 year warranties were unheard of then.

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  • amonra22amonra22 Posts: 11
    i am a new owner of a 82 300D turbo with 140k. Changed all the filters and fluids as I dont know when the last owner changed them. Did a full pad and disk change on the front brakes but forgot to put grease on the new pads and after packing the new bearings forgot to put grease on the spindle where the new disks sits. Should I break it apart to regrease the spindle and pads or will it be ok? Also, the idle is a little rough at a stop light, not sure how to tell if that is "normal" for a diesel or should i get a tune up? other than that the car is fine, nice body no rust, interior is clean with no wear and dash is not cracked. Tach is not working but was told to check the amplifier before replacing the tach unit in the dash.
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