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1979 Mercedes Benz 300TD Wagon

simplesimple Posts: 7
edited April 2014 in Mercedes-Benz
I am considering buying a 1979 300TD Wagon. It has about 123K on it. The body and interior are in excellent condition. I have not driven it yet. Is this a turbo or non-turbo diesel? Is there anything I should be looking for specifically? Does anyone know anything about this model year and engine?

Mr. Shiftright...any advice?


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    The 300TD is the same car as the 300D, but with a station wagon body. It is not a turbo, but like the 300D, it is one of the toughest cars on earth.

    As good as these cars are, they have their little "issues". One is power....consider that you have around 85HP pushing around 3,500 lbs of weight. So you will have to learn to use the auto trans shifter with art and grace. If you just stick it in D and hope for the best, you may scare yourself on the freeway on-ramp. You have to be a bit aggressive to get the most out of this engine.

    Another issue is the climate control system...there is a servo that often test the climate control system thoroughly. If you have the a/c compressor that is mounted high on the right (passenger) side of the engine, it will fail. It is called I believe a YORK and is pure junk. Don't even bother to fix it. If you have the a/c unit mounted down low on the driver's side of the engine, it is a Frigiking and is okay. But still, the servo that controls heat/ac can is connected to the dial you use to dial in the temperature you want in the car.

    Be sure you use diesel fuel additives regularly and also get frequent oil changes every 3,000 miles. There are also a number of fuel filters that need changing periodically.

    Other than that, it's just a matter of normal wear and tear as the miles pile up. You get around 25 mpg average city/hwy, and your engine will use oil, so keep an eye on it.

    Last of all, be sure the car is fairly priced...sometimes people have a silly notion of what they are worth. Keep in mind that they are low and noisy, and that the turbo diesel models that are newer are more desirable and hence worth more than the older diesels such as this one.
  • simplesimple Posts: 7
    I am considering buying this car as a second vehicle for those times when I need to transport the dog or haul stuff. The current owners have replaced the exhaust, brakes, battery, and head gasket, but haven't done any major repairs in the three years they've owned it. All the electrical accessories work and they installed a fancy new stereo and additional speakers.

    They are asking $3,000.00 which doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

    This car will see regular use, but won't be my primary vehicle. Given that it is 22 years old, my expectations aren't that it be an impeccable daily driver, but a reasonably reliable work car. Should I be concerned about the extremely low mileage on this car? Is a car that has barely been used likely to be troublsome?

    I'll be able to drive it this weekend and will give you a full report. Thanks for the advice...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I wouldn't consider the miles "extremely low"....lower than average, but still 100K+, which is a lot for any car.

    No reason why this car shouldn't be as reliable as a daily driver, and the price seems fair if the body is decent. If it's really near mint, you could sell it for more than that easily.
  • simplesimple Posts: 7
    I drove the car this weekend and loved it. It started right up and happily drove around town. I did not take it onto the interstate. The engine seemed strong and was reasonably powerful using the D S L settings of the automatic transmission (what does the S stand for?).

    As you might expect with any 22 year old car, there were a few problems...the hatch does not open. The vacuum lock system is inoperable. The rear driver-side window does not open. The interior panel on the rear passenger-side door is loose. The window button on the rear driver-side door is loose. The climate control doesn't work.

    That's about it. I was impressed and felt good about the car. I would have it looked at by a mechanic before finalizing the deal.

    Based on this information, can anyone tell if this car is suffering from typical problems, or if it is prone to larger typical problems?

    Thanks for your help.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    VERY typical problems....I really laughed when I read your list...I said "Hey, I know about ALL those things!"

    The climate control is probably the servo unit but may be something worse. This could be very expensive, so heads up on that one. The door locks is a vacuum problem, shouldn't be too bad.
  • shehzadshehzad Posts: 52
    make sure you check the engine compression. I'm not a mechanic, but I believe that the compression goes bad if the car is not driven a lot. From what I understand, the only remedy for this is engine replacement.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490, I don't see why compression should fail if the car is not driven much. Compression is really a wear problem, not an age problem alone. Besides, the car has plenty miles on it, it's hardly a low miles auto.

    Just remember, don't go sticking a regular compression gauge into a diesel, or you'll get a REAL surprise!
  • shehzadshehzad Posts: 52
    I'll take your word for it, with this exception--I have a 1985 300d, which I didn't drive with great frequency in the first few years of ownership. I was about to sell it, and actually listed it in the newspaper and had a number of individuals come and look at the car. The first question they all asked was "how's the compression?" Not being a mechanic or mechanically incline, and having, never having heard of it, I replied--"I have no idea, but I have all the service records." One of the individuals who came to look at the car took it to his mechanic for a compression test--and when he came back told me that the compression was not what it should be. I only had about 90k on the car, and other than some difficulty starting it, it seemed fine to me. In the end, my wife was very attached to the car, and I decided not to sell it even though I thought it needed some major engine work, and when I called the mechanic who had told the individual who was about to purchase the car that the compression was bad, he told me to drive the car more--and the more I drove it, the better the compression would be, and the better the car would drive. This has been documented in my car--in the first 7 years of ownership, I spend 13,000 dollars in 99k of service. After 1992, I drove the car with greater frequency, and now have over 300k on it, and in the past 200k, have only spent about 6000 dollars on service costs. Although I haven't checked the compression on the car since I was originally going to sell it, it certainly drives better, starts easier, and feels stronger on the road than it did before. Now, once again, I'm admitting to complete ignorance about the mechanics of maintaining an automobile--but whatever it was that he said about compression seemed to be right on target as far as I'm concerned. . .
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, okay, there's some good empirical evidence that SOMETHING got better. My only point was sort of a thinking out loud....that compression is determined by actual machine tolerances and I don't see how that changes by driving the car more or less. I'd be more inclined, especially in a diesel, to attribute it to cleaner fuel and injectors.

    Now if the car were DEAD for years, and you just stuck in a compression tester, well, then, sure, the engine is not up to operating temperature, etc.....but otherwise I don't know how it could change just by sitting. I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just saying I don't know yet how it is possible.
This discussion has been closed.