late to early 80's diesels

How reliable are the early to late 80's MB diesels? I am considering buying one for a daily driver. Also what kind of mileage can I expect and are there
any chronic problems with them?
Kirk
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If you ignore the later 6 cylinder ones then I'd say they are among if not the most reliable engines MB ever built.
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I've got an early 80's w123 diesel and my brother has a w123 and w126 diesel, excellent cars. Mine has about 500,000 kilometers and it can take other cars when the light turns green, don't know why that is, as my brother's car is slow.
Any time I take taxis (w124 diesels or newer ones) in Europe I ask the drivers (mainly in Germany) how many kilometers their cars have and it's always between 700K-900K kilometers, they say that no engine or transmission work was done, don't know if that's true but my father's w124 200D sure makes it seem as possible.
WELL maintained MB diesels of any age are the most reliable cars ever built. Period. This from the experience of MANY people around the world.
cp
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The 1979 to 1985 300SD model has a 5 cylinder 120 HP turbodiesel, I've owned one of these since new. The 1981 or '82 300D model has the same 5 cylinder engine as the SD model. The 300D models up to '81 or '82 have a non-turbo 77 HP 5 cylinder diesel. The 240D has a 68 HP 4 cylinder diesel. The 240D is the simplest model but underpowered, IMHO. Be sure YOU can live with its low power before you buy a 240D - manual is better than an automatic.
All the above engines are tough and durable engines but have old technology. That means more maintenance than say a '05 car. Oil and filter change every 5K miles, their valves ought to be adjusted every 15K miles, transmission oil and filter change every 35K miles. These are not physically hard jobs for an organized DIY owner; parts and supplies are easily available.
So their reliability depends on the maintenance level - shortcuts are just that, and don't count.
During my commuting my 300SD delivered 24 mpg city and freeway.
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Well, yeah but any competant mechanic even if they haven't seen an MB before can change the oil and adjust the valves. And there's non of this "uh, your idle speed manifold CLAN modulator is fried you need a new one it's $2399" stuff.
The 126 was the last MB to give the DIY owner a fighting chance.
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You guys are a wealth of knowledge and I really appreciate the help! So is 20 something the average mpg on the 5 cyl? What is it on the 6?
Kirk

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A tad less, but, the 3.0L has an aluminum head and if you overheat it once it seems to warp and crack. There are apparantly no good used heads anywhere. The 3.5L had problems beesides this - it appears they were meant to run on 50 cetane fuel such as what is found in Europe. The 40 cetane fuel here seems to cause the rods to stretch, then the bores go ovoid and it uses copious amounts of oil. There was an upgrade to the rods that apparantly fixes this, but it's not exacly a quick or cheap fix. Great engines otherwise.
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My '80 300SD 5-cylinder and '86 300SDL both get 22.5 mpg no matter how hard or easy I drive them. My son said the '80 300SD once got 29 mpg on a trip, but you know how tough it is to get a good high school math education these days.
Come to think of it, my old '66 170 cu in slant 6 Dodge Dart and my '86 3 l DOHC Toyota Cressida also got a consistant 22 mph. I just can't seem to do any better.

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Very reliable. I have a '79 W123, originally a 240D, now with a 5cyl. turbo out of an '83 300SD. Only reason the engine got swapped was the oil pump on the 240 croaked...and took the engine with it. Easier to swap for my friend's 300 turbo than to rebuild the 240.
Manual tranny is definately better in the 240. They are rather underpowered for that heavy a car. Rated at 67 hp, I think. If you are just doing city driving, mostly flatland, it's probably not an issue. My dad drove it for years in the Silicon Valley area with no problems. I live in the mountains however, and I REALLY like the extra horses that the turbo gives. I don't feel as if I'm going to be the hood ornament on a Kenworth now <G>.
I get around 24 mpg average (US), not much variance with city or highway milage. The only major difference I noticed was when I was able to get biodiesel. Went through about a years worth and was getting 26-28mpg. Shrug. Don't know why, but the old girl really likes the biodiesel.
Rochelle (looking for another station that sells biodiesel...)
kirk.johnson wrote:

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