1987 300TD; several questions

Hello all. I recently purchased a 1987 300TD (~230K). It is my first MB. I have always loved these cars, and kind of stumbled onto this one and it seemed to be a good deal. From what I have read in this group,
this vintage is a good one to have.
It has several issues, which kind of scare me a little, not having much money to put into the car nor being a mechanic. I would like to get some advice on whether I should keep this particular car, given what I mentioned about the $, etc. Ultimately, I want to own one, but now may not be the best time.
-It will eventually need a head gasket repair, but that is under control temporarily (via Bar's Stop Leak, at the recomendation of a MB mechanic). -There are miscellaneous non-critical concerns, e.g., the speedo and tach do not work, bad speakers, sunroof issues, etc. -The self-levelling suspension system leaks; I added an entire container of fluid, only to have it leak right out onto my driveway. -The front end creaks horribly during any kind of weight transfer (and steering at low speeds) - Any idea what this might be?? I read about different possibilities in this group, like struts, rubber "pieces", etc. -It needs a new AC compressor.
These are the main concerns. I would not be writing if I had money to put right into it. I thought about keeping it and making it kind of a "project" car, making repairs as I had the money and time, but do not know if it is worth it, particularly given that I would like it to be my primary.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. The car really is amazing and I love driving it.
Regards,
Rick Lusher Tallahassee, FL
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You MUST diagnose the front end noises. If from the ball joint(s) they MUST be replaced before one breaks and causes a wreck. If the noise is only from steering movements it could be just the $20 steering damper or the $30 idler arm bushings but the stakes rise when its noisy from weight changes as well.
The cylinder head gasket will need to be replaced, pray that the head itself isn't cracked.
The rear suspension is a few hundred to restore the self leveling, sedans don't have it; perhaps it could be abandoned and regular shocks substituted.
The front end diagnosis will determine the car's future. A costly repair estimate makes it a parts car; there's too much else to restore to justify the expenditure vs. its market value, IMHO.
Not what you wanted to read but take heart, there are lots of M-Bs to pick from.
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Aww shit. Groan. The head is specific to the wagon. The self levelling is expensive to fix. The front end needs, at this age to be completly rebuilt.
On the good side, in good nick these cars are NOT cheap and have almost a cult following.
Buckle up though, this is gonna be a rough ride.
If it were me first thing I'd do would be the brakes, you're running around on 20 year old hydraulics. Check the date code on the soft lines, if they're older than 5 years replace all 4 of them immediatly and replace (REPLACE) all the brake fluid.
Start looking for a good wagon head http://car-part.com is your friend.
Start identifying and saving for all those suspension bits you're going to need.
Replace the sunroof seals sooner than later (assuming it leaks, if it's just slow to open that's just a matter of taking it apart, cleaning and lubing it with the CORRECT MB sunroof track lube - use NOTHING ELSE)
Send me email and I'll put yo uin touch with a wagon expert who can help you mare than I can here (he doesn't read usenet but does answer email)
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Hope it was bought cheap, and now you know why it was cheap.
Sorry to say so. It may not be what you like to hear. I am just trying to 'help'. My first MB was cheap too. It was a project car and a secondary one. I had the time and I was trying to learn. That made the big difference. Counting my free labor fixing it, plus the parts cost, I could probably buy a brand new basic car.
If you want to keep it, you must learn to DIY, or you can spend many times of the purchase price in the first 6 months.
Evaluate the front end first, and urgently, because it is a safety issue. Even if it needs complete rebuilt, many portions can be done by DIYer. You need some good, basic tools, and a little bit of more than beginner skills. Many people here and google can tell you what/how to do.
The second thing I would worry is the head. The gasket can be replaced (though quite a job and not cheap). But if the head has cracks, used ones are VERY difficult to find. New one runs like 1-2K (parts only).
A/C compressor is necessary in Florida. Parts (compressor, dryer and some switches and seals) cost about $300-$400. Count $1000 if you have someone else do it.
Have someone professionally evaluate the car and get the estimation. If you love the car, have the money and time (all of them), keep it and repair it. If not, sell it.
rlusher wrote:

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Used 123 heads are easy to find. Used WAGON 123 heads are tough as nails to find.

Option 3 is to part it out. You can probably make enough to buy a decent wagon from doing that.
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Note to the owner about this cylinder head discussion. The wagon's self leveling is driven by a hydraulic pump that's on the cylinder head. Only wagons have these heads, not sedans. So to cut potential cylinder head replacement cost consider dumping the self leveling in favor of standard shocks.
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Thanks to all for the valuable input!! I am thinking it may be best to sell the car for now and either find one that is in better condition, or eventually purchase another one that I can, as several of you have either said or implied, learn to work on myself.
I have to say that, even with all the problems this one has, it drives and fits really well. You can tell these cars really want to be driven and I will definitely own another one.
Thanks again!!
Regards,
Rick Lusher
T.G. Lambach wrote:

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Oh, I thought 87 is W124, hence OM603 engine (6 cylinders). I have not verified the model yet. If it is W123, the sedan head can be found everywhere, and cheaply. That older head (5 cylinders) is iron, not like the aluminum in OM60x engines. The latter is easy to crack, but not the iron one.
Richard Sexton wrote:

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Wan-ning Tan wrote:

Damn, so mine is aluminium too.
I did some preventive Googling in case I'd ever run into such problems and found this nice pictorial (with a copy of the manual) of a guy who did his own OM602 head gasket replacement:
http://www.racki.ca/MB300D/index.html
(as if I'd ever dare something like that, breaking bolts give me the creeps)
Ximinez
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