Checklist for 240D purchase?

Hi,
I'm a newbie here... been lurking a while to see if I could learn a little before asking too many stupid questions.
I'm interested in joining the ranks of "classic diesel" owners, and have
located a couple of '80-'83 240Ds that don't have a zillion miles (125k to 180k--most I see are around 220k to almost 300k), but haven't had a chance to view them in person yet. Though I've been a shadetree mechanic on gas engines for close to 40 years, I'm just learning enough about diesels to be dangerous.
So my question is, what kinds of special things should I put on my checklist of "gotta look at this item" things for these cars? Are they prone to rust or other body/suspension problems? Any drivetrain issues? Any "obvious" red flags w/ the engines? Anything else of special interest? And which are simply "need to fix" vs "dealbreaker" things?
Also, while I'd prefer a stick, the nicest one I've found to go look at is an auto. I'm confused on the auto in this particular model: is it a 3 or 4 spd, and, does it make an already "leisurely" car "impossible" to get going past city traffic speeds? And are there any particular problems w/ the autos to watch for?
Thanks for any suggestions!
Rick
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That's a lot of territory to cover.
Automatic is a 4 speed - that starts off in 2nd gear by default. Shifting into L at a dead stop or flooring it will engage 1st gear. The 2nd gear default is to limit stop light creep.
Any diesel's health is judged by its compression so I suggest a compression test be part of "the deal". Ideally the car will have service records, unfortunately few do so the compression test becomes more important.
The service schedule is engine oil & filter at 5K miles, valve adjustment at 15K miles, (auto) transmission, air & fuel filters at 30K miles. These are all things that you can do.
Rust is a factor so don't buy a rusty car.
The 4 speed manual is the better car, IMHO, only for its relative rarity that may translate into a somewhat better resale value. Yes, the manual is the better relative performer of the two. As you know, performance is not the reason to buy a (68 HP) 240D. These are fine for city use but lack the acceleration to keep up with anything other than polite traffic so YOU must satisfy yourself if that's satisfactory for your location and intended use.
I suggest you add some '83 - '85 300D Turbodiesels to your menu because they have sufficient power (120 HP) at relatively low extra fuel cost and are otherwise the same efficient vehicle.
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Top speed still exceeds 85 mph; it just might take a few days to get there...
DAS
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-->> T.G. Lambach <<-- wrote:

the earlier 240ds have a series glow plug system, if one goes, then all go.
later models have glow plugs parallel, better, you can still start car w one out.
if you get the earlier model, you can buy a a parallel glow plug system and install it. I recommend it, Since i put one in, I have had no problem starting in even the coldest weather.
j.
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I have a 78 240D that has a couple of bad glow plugs.I was about to order a set. Ebay Item number: 230182510081 Can you give me more info on the glow plug update? Does it use the same glow plugs and a different relay or are they just wired differently? Steve
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Up North wrote:

http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/search/?N 124+1668+4294966774+5700
    1974-1983 Mercedes Benz 240D Bosch Glow Plug Kit
Kit Includes: 4 Glow plugs, 0 250 201 044; 1 Control Unit - 0 281 003 005, 1 Service Kit = 1 235 345 001 - Nut; 0 332 002 156 - Relay; 0 354 010 001 - Fuse Holder; 1 904 520 017 - Fuse; "ADD 1 extra glow plug for 5 cylinders"
It was a little tricky to install.
You need the electrical diagram
and need to connect three wires from the plug of old glow plug relay ( under the dash) to the new relay, mounted under the hood.
the cost of the kit is about the same are replacing all 4 glow plug (loop type).
I live in Oklahoma, I have started my 79 md 240 d with out any problem in 20 deg temp.
I strongly recommend it.
I put it in over a year ago.
j.
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I just installed this fast start glow plug system on my 78 240D and I can't believe it will start in 5 seconds! cold at 45 degrees! 15 minute install. Steve
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Up North wrote:

yeah that looks like it too.
j.
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"-->> T.G. Lambach <<--" wrote:

Hi,
Thanks for that suggestion--it looks like really clean and well kept 300Ds are more prevalent around here than similarly kept 240Ds.
Question on the 300 chassis: did they use two chassis in that time period? I thought my limited research indicated the 300s were all W123s, but I see some ads showing the mfr's plate w/ a 126 on it, so maybe I read something wrong? Any significant differences to be aware of there?
Add a question on biodiesel-veggie oil conversions: are these ok, or something to shy away from? It doesn't get "cold" where I am, so that's not a factor, but it looks like there are different types of conversions (single tank, dual tank, several mfrs), which makes me wonder what's good, bad or ugly.
Thanks again,
Rick
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The 126 was the SD and SDL cars. They were the slightly larger more luxurious cars. Unfortunately they had the same engine, and were therefore slower.

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The 123 chassis was used for the 240D, 300D (Turbo and non turbo) and 280E, the six cylinder gas version. The 126 is the S Class chassis, 300SD, somewhat larger and more comfortable but not as much fun to drive as the 123 300D.
The 3.0L 5 cylinder turbodiesel was used in both the 123 (300D) and 126 (300SD) chassis, also the older 116 S Class 300SD.
Being new to diesels I suggest you first run it on #2 diesel, get used to the car and its maintenance THEN investigate the Bio fuels. Yes, these engines do run on various forms of bio. The question is how much mess are YOU prepared to endure to do so.
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"-->> T.G. Lambach <<--" wrote:

Hi,
Thanks!
My concern is less w/ the future and more w/ finding an actual car first... I've seen quite a few advertisements that make it look like the car's already been converted. I'd prefer to "start" w/ a pure stock vehicle--not only being a newbie to the diesel world, but also because I don't want to "undo" what somebody's already done if it's not really a good job.
So I guess what I was asking is what should I worry about and put on my "reject" list, what should I just gloss over w/ these "conversions?"
Rick
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Rick Courtright wrote:

It depends on your needs and goals.
When I first got my 123 I just started pouring soybean oil into it that I got at Costco, mixing up to 50/50 with petrodiesel and still getting decent (starting) performance. Once the car is warm it'll burn 'most anything, but starting it was tough on a thicker mixture of virgin veggie oil when it was really cold here (which means, "around freezing").
I now have a fuel heating setup that routes coolant around fuel in a couple of places. I expect this winter it may still be tricky to start, but I'm also running 100% recycled (i.e. "used") vegetable oil. Unfortunately it's tough to find places who use the non-hydrogenated oil in their fryers, but I've got a few places. Between the two cars in my family running on veggie oil we consume the entire output of three local restaurants, and it's not quite as much as we need. We get about 20mpg on veggie oil which is about the same as diesel (but it's tough to know exactly how much we're pouring in at any time), and power is slightly reduced but it's acceptable since it aligns with our dirty, long-haired hippie lifestyle. ;)
-tom!
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