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Mercedes 300D Suggestions

Hello all I am the owner of a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300D Non-Turbo. While driving it last year the oil pressure suddenly dropped the temperature shot up and then blap blap blap bammmm! Blew a rod right out of the bottom of the block. I would like to fix it again to drive to college, any suggestions and price info? All suggestions appreciated.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Hmmmm.....well, you have a tough problem here in that fixing the engine is worth the price of the car, more or less.

    There are a few ways you can go.

    1. Used engine --these engines should be good for 250K or more if they are well-maintained. If you can find one that's still running to listen to before the yard yanks it out, all the better. A good Mercedes diesel starts instantly when cold. If it cranks and cranks, the engine is worn or something is wrong.

    2. I have seen used engines on Ebay, but of course you don't know when they might come up.

    3. You can just find another 300D. You often see very clean ones for $3,500 or less.

    good luck

    Shiftright the Host

    (I have one of these cars myself with 226K on it. I'm surprised yours blew up).
  • My mechanic told me it was a common mistake with my car the oil filler cap has a gasket inside it and " meine ist kaputt" in friendly words and it literally blew all the oil out of the top while I was driving.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Posts: 227
    ...of an oil leak out of the filler hole. (Cap wasn't on properly.) But my question: Didn't you smell that ? In my case, the oil dripped onto the engine block, ran down the side and was "cooked" quiet nicely on the way down. It was a rather smelly affair.
  • When I heard the terrible noise I got it into a drive and there was a terrible sulfuric smell, like bad eggs. Other than that...Well tomorrow I am looking at a MBZ 190E, I may just buy it instead of fixing the 300.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Posts: 227
    That would be a pity. They have a lot of character, and are truly a dying breed these days.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes, but who would put $5,000 in a $3,000 car. Many old 4-doors will die for this reason.

    I have been gathering parts for mine for over a year. I have three crates filled with hard to find items--no complete engine though! I'm not planning on replacing that.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Posts: 227
    Mr. Shiftright, the last thing I remember about yours was that your neighbors boat hit it during a storm ? Did his insurance end up paying for it ?

    I would agree that a $5K engine is a lot of money for a car that old. When faced with such a decision, I'm always trying to consider the overall state of the car (How much longer will the rest of it last ?) and how attached I am to this vehicle. If it will keep me from buying a new one, it may still work out, unless the car gets totaled somehow.

    But overall I agree, $5K is probably too much.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yep, the boat owner's insurance footed the bill and the car looks great! Damage was $1,980 on the low bid, so that's a perfect example. I doubt seriously that I would have repaired the car out of my own pocket....maybe....$2,000 is right on the fence, I'd almost be tempted to put that money towards something else.
  • I was on this website helping a friend and I stumbled upon this conversation...

    I have an 82 300SD (214K) that has difficulty starting in temperatures below 15 to 20 degrees (which unfortunately is common during Iowa winters). Note - when the block heater is used it will always start no problem.

    What I'm trying to figure out is if this problem starting in cold temperatures is normal / expected or if there is some sort of fix. One dealer told me there were different glow plug types and that I might try 'hotter' glow plugs.

    After reading through the earlier messages, perhaps 'autojunkyjosh' would like to buy my car. It's very clean and he could get the whole car instead of a replacement engine - and have a lot of spare parts.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Diesels often have trouble starting in cold weather. There are some possible solutions

    1. Using a very good anti-gel + conditioning additive to the diesel fuel

    2. Replacing the glow plugs and checking the glow plug relay

    3. Making sure you have a very strong battery

    On my car, I rigged up a direct line from my battery to the #1 glow plug (which is in series with all the others). On very cold days, I would connect the battery directly to #1 glow plug (with an inline fuse installed, 80 amps) and in this way I can leave it "glow" for as long as I need to start the car. Works great. Of course, you MUST remember to disconnect that battery wire once the car has started.

    I use a Redline additive, but any truck stop would have equally good additives. Cheap STP stuff in o good, you want something that is not only anti-gel but a "cetane enhancer" and an injection nozzle cleaner. It's not cheap but it really helps a diesel perform better.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Where in IA are you located?
  • Oskaloosa, Iowa.
  • I know that oil viscosity plays some part in the difficulty with starting in cold temperatures.

    I generally use 10-30 in winter months and 20-50 in summer months.

    Someone suggested I go to 5-30 in winter since the lower viscosity should help with the starting. But, I have never been comfortable with 5-30 fearing it will break down rapidly - especially in a diesel engine which seems to be so much harder on oil than a gas engime.

    Any thoughts on the oil issue?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    I recently moved to Cedar Rapids...have NO clue where Oskaloosa is... :-)
  • It wasn't long ago that I moved to Oskaloosa. The joke I tell people is...

    Do you remember Radar O'Reilly from M*A*S*H ? Radar was the stereotypical small town boy from rural America. He was from Ottumwa.

    I now live in a town that Radar would consider small !

    (Oskaloosa is about 30 miles Northwest of Ottumwa and about 60 miles Southeast of Des Moines.)
  • Mark how much do you want for the 300SD, I am actually looking to buy another Mercedes. My latest find a 86 560SEL. My e-mail is [email protected] Thanks for everything Mr. Shiftright. I am still open to suggestions.
  • frankievfrankiev Posts: 1
    Hello everybody. I've enjoyed the discussion. I have an old bronco and a 10 day old son, hence I've been looking for a more family friendly car. I've come across an '87 300 turbo diesel with 199K miles. They say they have all the maintenance records and has had a recent engine overhaul (valves, timing chain, vacuum pump, drive belt, rear main seal)and new brakes. I live in Atlanta, GA so our winters are not that cold. Any recommendations or warnings? Thanks
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    That's a hell of a lot of miles. It may have life left in it, but I hope you are buying it very cheap. Even with an engine overhaul, the rest of the car still has 199K, as does the bottom half of the engine. I'd certainly drop the transmission oil pan and have a look, and lift the car and check the front end, driveline and rear CV joints. These are rugged cars, and not too hard to work on, but not cheap to fix either. Oh, check all the heat and a/c functions thoroughly. Play with everything electric 10X.
  • Mr. Shiftright, when you have time please comment on my oil questions in #14 above? Recently someone recommended that I use motor oils available at truck stops (that are commonly used in semis). Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I'm no fan of 5 weight oils, no. I think a 10-40W is just fine and especially oils formulated for diesels.. There are additives and block heaters for easier diesel starting, I would not risk using oils that try to do too much at once. Your little diesel is not a Peterbuilt. Those engines are HUGE. They have a lot more friction to contend with and lots more oil capacity to churn through on cold starts.
  • montaigmontaig Posts: 1
    I'm a newcomer to this forum & to Mercedes Benz. Any advice would be most welcomed. Presently I am in the market for an older sedan. Aside from the price of a new MB, I truly much prefer the classic look & style. Today I drove a 1979 ~ 300SD with 119,000 miles. The dealer was asking $8,900, and when I did some research, this appeared to be way out of line. What do you suggest?

    Another thing ~ after reading all of the discussion about start-up difficulty in the winter, I am now feeling somewhat hesitant, because I live in PA!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh, the dealer is only about triple the retail price, but think positively---all that ROOM for bargaining.--LOL!

    Diesel cold starts are definitely a problem and you have to take the steps necessary to address it. That includes additives and a block heater. If you can't hook the car up to a heater on frigid mornings, you may have to resort to starting ether (like the big rigs do sometimes--they have injection systems for it). My 300D is hard starting at around 25 degrees or lower.
  • haspelbeinhaspelbein Posts: 227 neighbor can't sell his early 80s 300D for $4K. (Some repairs on one door, but the interior is real nice.) And we're talking about a California car here. The body is otherwise perfect.

    As Shifty said, the dealer price may be a little on the high side.
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    It would have to be in very good condition, with fully functioning climate control and other vacuum powered systems, plus have excellent rubber (door, windshield seals), not to mention paint/rust condition and then I would only go to $2500 or so.
    If you can't do your own general repairs and troubleshooting then it will be a money pit.
  • rocquerocque Posts: 37
    Lately I ve found some nice 240d for sale. One is a 1977 that is in mint condition and there asking about 3800$. I've also found some others in there early 80's going for about 2500$. I would like to know how reliable these car's are.(p.s I know they are REALLY slow.)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    They are pretty reliable if you start with a good one. The trick is to buy one that is very well cared for. A 240D is a real chore to drive, though, so be sure you can tolerate that level of performance, or lack thereof.
  • mbdrivermbdriver Posts: 426
    Mr. Shiftright - Are you certain about your statement that 300Ds that crank a few times before starting means excessive wear or other trouble? My wife has a 1977 300D with 97,000 miles. It's almost perfect inside and out, has been garaged even during daytime (usually), and runs and drives much like my 2000 E320 (except for the acceleration).

    A year or two ago, our master MB mechanic and independent shop owner said something in the fuel system might be responsible for the delayed starting and occasional excessive cranking. I forgot what he did, but it helped. Most of the time the engine starts almost immediately or after a crank or two. But once in a while it cranks for two or three seconds and then starts.

    Should I be concerned? My wife would cry for days if her "baby" had to be replaced.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, a diesel should fire off pretty quickly. If it cranks and cranks and cranks when warm, that isn't a good sign. When cold I wouldn't worry so much.

    You know, with 21:1 compression ratio, a warm engine and good fuel, there shouldn't be any problem firing right up unless the compression were down.
  • rocquerocque Posts: 37
    Mr Shiftright, I have another question for you. Does it matter what the year is of the car. Well a 70's model be better than a 80's model(for diesel's) because some of the older models still look very appealing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think any of the W123 chassis are about the same, but some of the earlier 70s diesels are really slow, rough cars. I think a 300D is the minimum acceptable older Mercedes diesel, and of course a turbo diesel (if well cared for) would be even better.
  • rocquerocque Posts: 37
    Mr. Shiftright, How durable are the transmission's and motors and the old MB diesels.
    Could I expect to get 500 000km and more, or am I dreaming in I really want to buy one of these car, but I'm afraid to end up with a nightmare like my old 300zx(A REAL MONEY PIT) thanx
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think 500,000 KM is feasible but not without investment in the car. Mine has about 400,000 KM and seems reasonably solid on its original engine and transmission (I inherited all service records) but I and the previous owner certainly have invested money in all the "expendables". Right now I spend about $75 a month in maintenance and repair on average, not including fuel and insurance.
  • I've just purchased a 1999 E300 Turbo Diesel (58K miles) and would like your opinion on oil weight and change frequency. My driving style is 80% highway, about 30K per year. Would a synthetic blend increase engine life and performance? I live in New England. My aim is to keep the vehicle in top condition for many years.
  • wrighttwrightt Posts: 4
    For anyone who is looking for buying a Mercedes diesel. I bought my wife a used 1987 300 TD in 1991 for $17,000 kept it until last month sold it for $7000 and thought I had a good deal and found out that My mechanic would have paid more for the car if he had known it was for sale. I did not advertize the car for sale but a person approached me and ask me if I was willing to sell the Benz. It was very close to needing a paint job and wheels redone, but every thing else perfect for that old a car.
    I found that the Benz was no more expensive to repair than my suburban. Yes some parts are more expensive and you need to find a competent mechanic who will only do what is necessary to keep the car safe and running. But you do need to do basic service on the car religiously. The car at 150000 miles was as sound as a rock. By the way I found my wife a 1991 190e 2.6 with 50,000 miles on it I hope the gas version is as good to me as the diesel.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Is anybody aware of the '68 Mercedes 220D sedan, now owned by the company, that had 1.2 million miles on it when it was retired? I recall reading somewhere that the owner used to make a 150-mile round-trip commute in it daily. Weird, since it's slower than a VW Beetle.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I just re-did my maintenance and repair calculations for the last two years and it's actually more than $75 a month, it's $109. I kinda splurged on the tires I think and this jumped it up quite a bit.

    I'm also switching to a better brake rotor and metallic linings. The brakes on a 300D are really really excellent but as you know Mercedes does not allow turning rotors. You have to junk your rotors when they go past accepted thickness. So buying the better-stopping metallic pads works for me, even though they are harder on rotors, because the rotors are not salvageable anyway, even with regular pads.
  • Hello again, I have done it...I think...Found a used 3.0 L5 for my '81. Fairly low miles and for only 400 dollars. I also found a rebuilt trans for 1400 or would it be less expensive to have mine rebuilt. Danke.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Sometimes you cannot estimate transmission rebuild costs until you break down the unit. I would guess that your automatic would cost more than $1,400 to rebuild professionally.

    If you are buying an already "rebuilt" transmission, I would be sure that there is written evidence of what was done and by whom. This is not something I would just take someone's word for, since many times automatics are just opened up and given a "small parts" rebuild, a kind of "quickie" to get them going again.
  • anibalbanibalb Posts: 193
    Mr. Shiftright,

    I just bought an 82 300D TurboDiesel. It has 123K miles on it. And everything on it works. The engine compartment was clean and the interior does not have a single crack, hence I believe that indeed it only has the 123K miles on the odometer. After it was off, I turned it on and it cranked right up. And while stopped I stepped on the gas and the car actually moved more than I thought. They aren't that slow, so it seems. What problems should I look for in the car? What do you think this car is really worth? I am in CA. I am just curious. The body is good not great! Do you think this is a good catch? Any ideas on how much it costs to have all the windows and doors resealed? And I see service bulletins and recalls with recent dates as late as 1999. Does that mean if I take this 20 year old car to a mercedes dealer they will still provide those services free? I would really appreciate the comments.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Now why on earth do the doors and windows need to be resealed? That seems a peculiar thing for you to mention.

    I'd say that if you have some cosmetic issues with this car, it can't be worth much more than a couple thousand dollars. Much of the car's value is in the cosmetics when it comes to a Benz.

    As for service bulletins, no, you are on your own paycheck for those. And for a car that old, I don't think going to the dealer is the best idea. But the dealer is a good source for most parts. Mercedes has a great inventory on old diesels, it's pretty amazing. I just walked in and bought right off the shelf an oil filler cap, some dashboard bulbs, a hood release handle and a directional switch rubber boot. Not bad inventory on a 22 year old car, huh?
  • anibalbanibalb Posts: 193

    Thanks. About the sealing, I have seen that mentioned several times. And I did notice the rubber on the doors was in ok shape....dried out. So I am sure that new rubber would cut the noise. Maybe you and I are thinking different on the sealing. I am thinking the black rubber moldings around the doors.

    It is more expensive than a couple thousand (3500). And I think I will be willing to pay a premium because of its low mileage. Most have close to 200K. I guess the car was just in really great shape and that impressed me. Am I going overboard? The ones I see selling here are all above 4K and they all have incredibly more mileage! I don't get it. It may just be CA. I do see a lot of them on the road and I have been searching for one for a long time. Let me know if you think that is totally too much. I still have not picked it up and can change my mind I suppose!
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,524
    I wouldn't rush to replace the door seals (weatherstrip) unless needed. If they're resonably soft and pliable then try treating them with a rubber preservative. They will be quieter, but it will need to be done on a regular basis. If you replace them yourself figure about $60 per door (4 door, 2 door a little more). Be advised though that the replacement seals, even if said to be OEM, usually don't fit as well as the originals. They always seem to just a tad to large, resulting in insisting on not staying glued down somewhere (usually a corner where they're needed the most).
    I have found the best prices on "OEM" parts to be from one of the many independent suppliers.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You indicated that the car was "good" but not great, so I downgraded the price on that basis. If it's a sharp car, sure $3,500 is okay. I wouldn't call the miles "low" in an absolute sense, but they are low for a 20 year old car that's true. Still, over 100K is over 100K and you have to deal with that. Lots of things can wear out at 100K+, especially suspension parts. And they are often neglected.

    These cars do seem to run forever. It may be, in terms of reliability, one of the world's best cars ever made. Think of a Mercedes 300D as a Toyota with real sheet metal.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Don't forget the Volvo 240s, too. Those cars can run forever, and they were pretty reliable.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Much overated car in my estimation, but they did run a long time, even if every interior and exterior trim piece fell off them, along with their exhaust systems. They are no Benz in build quality, that's for sure. Sort of a Swedish Chevrolet.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    That's very true; 240s are an overrated car. That's why my father avoided Volvos for a very long time before buying one (an 850). Another comment; old Chevy Caprices are like Volvo 240s. They run a long time, but just about every part of the body falls off.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It's the Benz build quality that really sets the car apart from most. No matter what your intention and skill and budget, it is very difficult to build on a crumbling platform
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    #45 of 48 by jrosasmc May 23, 2002 (07:34 am)

    Don't forget the Volvo 240s, too. Those cars can run forever, and they were pretty reliable.

    #47 of 48 by jrosasmc May 23, 2002 (09:58 am)

    That's very true; 240s are an overrated car. That's why my father avoided Volvos for a very long time before buying one (an 850). Another comment; old Chevy Caprices are like Volvo 240s. They run a long time, but just about every part of the body falls off.

    Jeez, kid, form your own opinion and stick with it.
  • Being German I am biased to a MBZ, but I am currently driving an 88 245DL Wagon and have been pretty satisfied. I don't rate it against my Benz because its not in the same class. 1) 1981 MBZ 300D $27,000.<>1988 Volvo 245DL Wagon $17,999. SURVEY SAYS! But both very good cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes, that's a fair statement. Not in the same class. Both are good in their respective classes.

    I just did an appraisal on a 300SD that rear end a Toyota Solara. Mercedes is running still, Toyota is a total loss. Nobody hurt, that's good!
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