It would be helpful to state clearly what you are
W123 300D Turbodiesel
W124 300D Turbodiesel
because they have different engines and
This is a W123
and this is a W124
Update: Today I personally inspected a 1992 300D (not sure of any
sub-models, but it had a turbo). 198k miles, but according to the wear
on the mats and pedals, it looks to be almost entirely highway miles.
Current owner says he bought it from a woman who used it almost entirely
for highway driving back in 2001, and intended to ship it down to
Uruguay, where he lives for a few months out of the year (gas is
expensive and diesel is cheap there). Turns out that shipping is quite
expensive, and one would need to pay an import tax based on the
Uruguayan sale price, which is nearly double that here in the US.
According to him, he's only put about 3k miles on it since he bought it,
as he drives a Volkswagen around a lot more. Car's been garaged with a
cover for all that time. He says the previous owner also kept it garaged.
Body is in incredible condition, with only a few very minor dents (but
no associated paint scratching or cracking -- no signs of impact either)
and scuffs on the plastic of the bumper. Far less than I'd expect for a
13 year old car.
Interior looks really great too. Only problems I noted here were that
the ABS light was on (seller said he'd investigate and have it repaired
if necessary before the sale), and a small crack in the fake-wood trim
right by the ignition, as if someone missed the keyhole with the key. As
long as the ABS works, the little plastic bit doesn't concern me much.
Hardly a deal-breaker -- are these pieces available on eBay? Could one
just secure them with adhesive after removing the old one? All
electrical, rubber, and other parts I could readily access look to be
great. Lights are bright, with no flickering. Everything looks solid.
The only odd things was that the oil-pressure gauge kept going between 1
and 3 depending on if I was pushing on the gas or not (is that normal?)
and that the temperature gauge seemed a bit low, (~60C), even after 15
minutes on a test drive.
Engine looks to be incredibly good. No signs of being steam-cleaned, or
otherwise made to appear better than it is. Normal grit and grime from
an engine compartment is present, but things look clean. Hoses are
supple, engine sounds good (though has a sort of metallic ticking noise
when running, which I believe is normal for diesels). Transmission was
smooth, and handled cruising (with and without cruise control, which
worked) and strong, higher-rev acceleration on onramps. I didn't want to
goose this guy's engine too hard, as it /is/ his car, but it seems to
have sufficient performance for my need. He also had European-style
headlights (which I like better) installed fairly recently, for reasons
unknown. My friend says that it may appear that the hood had been
repainted at some time, possibly by the previous owner [he made no
mention of there being any trouble with the hood, even when asked
specifically about any front damage]. No big deal, as it's a really
professional job, if it was in fact repainted.
Externally, the tires and wheels look great -- plenty of tread, and it's
the eight-hole wheels, which look really good on this car and color
(dark grey finish, with lighter gray interior). Very professional
looking. Suspension seems to work well -- one hardly notices cornering,
and speed bumps feel smooth and barely noticeable. Definitely has a
luxury car feel to it.
The guy wants $8,500, but he said he's willing to deal, and is willing
for my mechanic to examine it. I can probably talk him down to $5-6k,
which seems a bit more reasonable.
I like to consult with my father as a mentor in things involving Large
Sums of Money. He says that having 198k on it is too much, and that it's
going to fall apart at the seams. I didn't get a feeling for that at all
-- everything seemed to be in top-notch working order. It sure looks
that with regular maintenance the car could definitely make it another
200k, but I'll leave that to the qualified judgement of my mechanic, who
has a great knack for estimating such things.
Then again, my dad says that if someone offered him the exact same
Toyota Avalon he owns today, with 100k miles, service records, service
performed at regular intervals, he wouldn't take it simply because of
the miles on it, even if offered for a reasonable price. My folks are
very much in the "buy something new" category, and rarely if ever buy
As an econ major way back in college, and as a marketer for 27 years, I
trust my dad (and my mother, who also was an econ major and a VP at a
major bank for several years) with financial information and decisions.
Neither of them are remotely mechanically inclined, and certainly not
familiar with cars. Thus, they tend to immediately reject things they
It's my impression that Mercedes diesel engines can run in excess of
400k if maintained regularly. This car appears to be an exceptionally
high-quality vehicle (and I like the 1992 body more than the 1980s-type
bodies), even with 198k miles on the clock.
I have a few pictures, and can make them available upon request.
Any comments, anything in particular for to be concerned about with the
1992 series of diesels? This one has a distinctive luxury-car feel about
it, and seems to be running well.
Thanks again to all for your help.
 And brought a friend who's more knowledgeable about such things. Two
pairs of eyes, and all...
That can have different reasons.
A _quick fix_ is to remove the warning light
(little bulb) from the instrument cluster... ==:-((
That is no fake-wood, but real wood (very thin
verneer, then covered with clearcoat).
You can even get it new from Mercedes.
If cold it has to stay at maximum (3 bar) in idle.
The warmer the oil gets the lower gets the needle -
1 seems a bit low to me, I'd expect 1,5.
But this also has to do with environmental
temperature and oil thickness as well as oil
Yes, seems a bit low to me, I'd expect ca. 80 C.
However, the W124 suffers from different problems
than the W123, typical W124 problems are:
- Sunroof not working (properly), needs new switch
- Ignition lock not working smoothly (wears relatively
fast when the car key is on a ring with heavy other
- windshield wiper system working too slow, which
means worn which then means many $$$!
- radiator necks made from plastic(!) may break,
loosing water can mean engine dead
That would also explain the changes headlights
So look carefully on the car's front (and in
engine compartment and also below car) for any
signs of accident
Rear axle is a relatively complicated design -
the arms can wear out, have their rubber bases
Have your mechanic car checked _thoroughly_!!
I'd let him do a cylinder compression test, too:
With new diesel engine the figure should be
465 psi, minimum should be 260 psi.
Not living in the US I can not comment on the price.
Yes, if in doubt trust your mechanic.
I once drove a W124 300D NON-Turbo (109 PS) for a
year or so and it had engine and auto trans overhauled
at ca. 550.000 km (ca. 325k mi) but was heavily used
The point is buying new avoids the typical problems
one can have with a used car but of course it is
_much_ more expensive (depriciation).
But have a look into the trunk of the Mercedes W124:
The trunk lid hinge springs have two holes - In case
ever the trunk lid hinge springs weaken you can move
them from the one hole to the other (to hole 2, it is
closer to you if you are standing behind the car -
personally I have never sean any private owned W124
where it was necessary to change from hole 1 to hole 2).
And now look at your dad's Toyota Avalon, which has
gas shock absorbers for the trunk - these will fail
after a certain amount of usage, means you have to
buy and install new ones (ok, typical 10 to 15 years,
Which is natural (and of course I myself am not
free of that).
Here in Europe the W124 diesel engines were a system
(engine family OM 60X):
4-cylinder non-turbo = 200D
5-cylinder non-Turbo = 250D (200D engine block simply
lengthened by 1 cylinder)
5-cylinder Turbo = 250D Turbodiesel (turbocharger added to 250D)
6-cylinder non-Turbo = 300D (200D engine block simply
lengthened by 2 cylinders)
6-cylinder Turbo = 300D Turbodiesel (turbocharger added to 300D)
Since the mid-eighties and for more than a decade W124
were _the_ Taxi cab standard in Germany (and in other
European countries, too) and some of them collected more
than 1 million km (600+k mi) without engine and trans
overhaul (and just yesterday I noticed on a major taxi
stand that there were still some W124 around).
In a number of ways (rust, passive safety) the W124
body is superior to the body of the predecessor W123.
Can you put them somewhere on the net?
When the W124 series started it suffered from a wide
range of problems - over the years this got better
significantly and from the 1999 models on the quality
is what one expects from a Mercedes.
Heh. That would be bad...the light comes on normally when the car is
started, but is supposed to turn off shortly thereafter, right? If he
just removed it, then it wouldn't light when started. Also something I'd
have the mechanic examine.
Oh, /really/? That's excellent. Any idea how much it would cost to
replace the bit around the ignition?
Ok, I didn't notice it when it was cold, so I can't make any sort of
Well, maybe it didn't get as low as 1...maybe 1.5, I suppose. I just
wasn't sure if the fluctuation was normal.
The owner mentioned something about how would could adjust how much the
cooling system worked, depending on local climate. Presumably in colder
areas, you'd want the engine to run a bit warmer (relative to the air
temperature), and in warmer weather you'd want it to run cooler. I have
no idea about this...that's beyond my realm of knowledge.
The sunroof worked fine, both forward-and-back and up-and-down. I made
sure to check.
Didn't notice any problems -- he just had a little key-fob made from
Didn't test them. It doesn't rain much in California, so I can't imagine
it'd wear that much.
I didn't notice any flaws, but I didn't do a real up-close-and-personal
examination on the radiator.
Agreed. There didn't seem to be any damage, and the bumper had the
original finish. No damage at all anywhere in the engine compartment. I
didn't even notice any difference in paint -- is it possible that it may
have differed ever so slightly from the roof color after 200k miles of
covering a running engine?
*makes a note*
I fully intend to have the mechanic check it out very thoroughly. If I
could offer a little bit more for an even MORE thorough check, I'd have
Well, normally I don't really trust the shmucks at the local Honda
dealership...but this Mercedes shop guy is a trusted man, and runs an
excellent business. He has earned my trust.
Me neither. I just try to avoid making judgement calls when I have
little to no knowledge on a vehicle or situation. I'll seek out the
counsel of others (such as those in this group), do research, and
examine things personally before I'll make comments.
He's under the impression that any engine that reaches 200k is
worthless, worn out, and should not be trusted at all. One of my army
buddies, who knows a lot about diesels said that with a turbo-diesel
properly maintained, it's not uncommon to get more than 400k miles, and
in some cases double that out of them. This car appears to have been
properly maintained in all respects, with only the most mild of
scuffings on the plastic parts of the bumper, which is normal for a car
of that age and not a problem at all.
Hmm. He said that it was a five-cylinder, and I could clearly see the
turbocharger and the air intake on the front-right for it. However, it's
listed on his AutoTrader.com listing as a 300D. Hmm.
Jeeez. That's impressive.
Certainly. They are available at the following URL:
Alas, I didn't take more photographs as the battery was low.
I've looked on Google for other 1992 300D series vehicles, and the
headlights look the same, only that these seem to have mini-wipers on
The slight swirls in the finish are due to waxing, I'm sure, and are not
noticeable (or offensive) when looking at the car. A combination of the
flash and sun reflecting seems to have caused them to be emphasized. I
cannot discern any damage to the front, nor can I perceive that the hood
is even the slightest difference in color. Unfortunately, my friend only
mentioned it AFTER we left the place...
Hmm. Well, since this is a 1992 with 198k miles on it, can I assume that
most of the bugs have been shaken out, so to speak? If it's survived
this long with the original engine and transmission, surely any minor
issues have been detected and/or resolved, right?
It certainly seems like a high-quality automobile, though I'm curious
about how much maintenance costs would cost me on an annual basis?
Not sure what that means.
If you look at
1086.jpg>, you can clearly see the intake grill on the side for the
Also, Edmunds.com describes it as a "Turbo Diesel" for that particular
The one picture of the engine is inconclusive because it does not show the
passenger side of the engine where the turbo lives on those models that come
so equipped. The slots forward of the wheel are not indicative of a turbo.
After the problems with the trap oxidizer on the 1987 300D (W124), the 1987
300TD (W124 wagon), the 86/87 300 SDL (W126) models, MB did not import
another turbocharged diesel for quite a while after 1992.
These models used various versions of the OM603.9xx engine. The ceramic
trap oxidizer which was supposed to burn up exhaust particulates instead
tended to clog. MB replaced them and in some cases the turbos and exhaust
systems that had been ruined because of them. These engines also had a
problem with heads and head gaskets if overheated. That is why my 1987 300D
had a factory crate engine installed at 200Kmi.
Later models use the OM606 engine. Some NA and some with turbo.
Still, except for the hood that looks like a pretty clean specimen. I
especially like that color and that interior.
According to Edmunds.com, the only 300-series diesels in 1992 were
turbocharged diesels. There is no mention of naturally-aspirated diesels
on their site for that year. Similarly, the owner of the vehicle pointed
out the turbocharger, and said repeatedly that the car has a turbo. My
diesel-savvy friend also confirmed this.
Hmm. Something more for me to look at. Interesting.
*nods* The color and interior go really well together. The car looks
quite classy and very well-maintained. I'm trying to negotiate a time
that would work for both the seller, myself, and the mechanic for an
Assuming the car's been properly maintained throughout its life, do you
think it reasonable to expect another 200k miles out of this vehicle
(total of around 400k)? I wouldn't mind buying a high-mileage vehicle if
it is well-built, well-maintained, and will last for years to come.
I stand corrected. See:
Note that MB resurrected the 5 cylinder OM602 engine with substantially less
power than the OM 603 engine. OM603 in 87 produced 148HP vs OM602 in 92
which produced 121HP.
I do not have the W124 part number for a crystal ball. YMMV. The car will
have many issues other than just the viability of the engine. Front end,
AC, transmission, steering box, wheel bearings will likely go before the
engine has a problem. You then have to make an economic decision long
before the engine is an issue.
Indeed. The owner says the AC needs to be recharged a bit, it blows cool
air, but not cold air. Not a big deal.
As for the rest of them, I would assume that a qualified mechanic would
be able to identify potential problems before they occurred and alert me
to any mechanical issues like that...or are some of these parts in
sealed, non-inspectable units?
Because of your quote:
" The owner says the AC needs to be recharged a bit, it blows cool air,
but not cold air. Not a big deal."
Maybe you should take a look at the climate control service manual for
the car in question. Mercedes cars are not simple and problems like
the above often are a bigger deal to resolve then you might imagine.
If you were satisfied with the feel of your Honda, you don't want a mercedes.
I will, of course, have the car inspected by a competent mechanic. The
owner of the vehicle indicated that the air conditioning works (and it
does), but that it likely needs to be recharged.
It may simply need a recharge (it has, after all, operated for 13 years,
perhaps not continuously, but still), or there may be something more
serious. Only a detailed inspection will determine that.
If I /were/ satisfied with my Honda, I wouldn't be considering a
Mercedes. There are numerous reasons (which I've listed previously) that
lead me to want to sell the Honda and buy this Mercedes. The fact that
the Mercedes is a solid, reliable, and robust vehicle is among those
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