Old tyres :(

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My GF and I bought ourselves two old but good MB's last year (financially very attractive company cars due to Dutch tax rules). Her's is an 88 w201, mine's a 87 w124 diesel, both have around 50,000 miles on
them. Their 80+ yo owners mostly kept them locked in the garage. They're in matching willow green with pine cloth interiors ;)
I began noticing a bit of a wobble at lower speeds recently, so I mentioned that to my mechanic when I brought it in for its service. It turned out that 1 of the rear tyres had developed a bulge (prelude to a blowout). The tyres on that car, although they had lots of tread, apparently were 12 years old. I googled around a bit and found that replacement by 6 years is advised.
I replaced all my tyres today and I just checked my GF's car: Two 1996, one 2001 and one 1988 (!) tyre. The spare wheel was also a 2001.
It seems I'll have to replace hers as well since this seems pretty dangerous to me now.
I wonder if there are other points that should be checked extra on old cars with very low mileage that spent most of their lives in the garage.
Ximinez
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Yes. Other places to look are the accessory belts eg: water pump, alternator and such, and the radiator hoses.
My mother inherited an '80 SD in 1991 (eleven years old) that had been immaculately maintained, but all the rubber had dry rotted. We had a tire decompose on the highway and then noticed all of the other tires were dry rotted. We replaced them but about a month later the upper radiator hose split on the highway so definitely give both cars the once over for rubber decomposition. Also check and make sure that the oil looks clean. If they did not keep up on their oil changes there could be sludge in the sump.
Good idea changing the tires. It is very dangerous running old tires not just from dry rot risk of blowout, but they also harden as they get older and can lose traction.
Best of luck and congrats on the new cars!!! :)
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Hazey wrote:

I already noticed that driving with the new tires. They seem to have much more grip. With the old ones the ABS seemed to kick in very early compared to my previous car. Tires, of course, I should've thought of that earlier...
Thanks for the tips. I suppose the rotting away of the rubber must be variable, perhaps by climate or storage. Our cars have been garage-kept (discoloring of the fabric is the give away, I think) so perhaps that's the reason why the hoses are still intact, but I'll have them checked out.
My GF's car seems to warm up very slowly, so I was thinking that perhaps the thermostat could be stuck. Is that another possible low-milage/old age problem?
Ximinez
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A stuck thermoststat could definitely be the problem. My GF's (now wife) 560SL had very similar problems to you: 12 year old hardened tires, bad radiator hoses, belts, and a stuck thermostat. I don't know why non-use of the car would stick the thermostat or maybe it is because the car is used so little that no one notices that the thermostat is stuck, but it wouldn't heat over 50 centigrade. Best of luck and enjoy those new cars!
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No, it's a problem with a 10 year old thermostat! You could put that thermostat in a new car and it would heat for shit too.
Order a couple. And test them. There are some parts that always work out of the box. Other parts like glow plugs and thermostats you test first, it is too much hassle to go through to find you installed a bad off the shelf new part which can and does happen.
So your choice is to possibly endure the trouble or expense of installing thermostat twice (hah! btdt) or test it and do it once. Then at the vest least you'll know it's good and not the source of any other symptoms that may remain. Flush the rad with MBs (cheap) citric acid flush and use new coolant if this hasn't been done yet. Use only MB coolant; $2 more per gallon or so. You can probably sell the empty star bearng containers on ebay ha ha.
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Richard Sexton wrote:

OK, how do I test it? Just put it in a pan of water with a thermometer and heat it until it opens? What temperature should it open? (in c if possible ;)

I'm not much of a diy guy, but I'll make sure to ask my mechanic to replace all the oil and fluids next time.
Ximinez
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It'll say on the thermostat. 86 usually.
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You are right about tire age... it is best to have new tires. the 2001 tires are acceptable for use... but you won't have matching tires for all 4.
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I think that he can make a pair of 2001s for the rear or front wheels, with the one in the trunk, then he only needs to buy two new tires assuming that the treads are in similar condition. I would try that if I were him.
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Hazey wrote:

I think I'm going to use the 2001's as spare wheels for both cars (just have to check and see if they have the same tire size). Having four new tires on both cars gives me a nice and fuzzy safe feeling and I wouldn't want the GF to think I value her life less ;)
They're forecasting black ice today, so I really should be getting winter tires as well...
Ximinez
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I know this is heresy, but I've got 15+ year old snow tires on my 300E and they appear to work just great.... tried them out earlier in the fall at high speeds for a couple of hrs just to make sure there was no problem. Yes I did inspect them for cracks - even microcracks - nada.
cheers, guenter

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Guenter Scholz wrote:

I believe you, but after seeing my 12 yo tire (that looked like new) about to burst I'm taking no more chances. The spare wheel on the w124 was made in '87. Looked absolutely new, with the little rubber spikes (term?) still on. I replaced it anyway.
Ximinez
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important is how the tires were stored. If in the dark without exposure to any UV the chances are that 10 year old tires will be just fine.
cheers

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Guenter Scholz wrote:

That could make the difference perhaps. These were probably stored under the car parked in a garage. So it would've been dark, but the tires would have been under pressure for 12 years.
Ximinez
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Get Nokian tires... You can get their all season tire series... WR...
Nokian has the only all season tire with extreme mud and snow rating... That is because they designed the tire from a snow tire into an all season tire.
I would recommend this to anyone who don't want to have a set of snow tires.
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Tiger wrote:

Sounds interesting. Too late for me, I already got new Michelins, but it might be a good option for my GF's car. Her car doesn't have ABS, so the good winter performance could be a bit of compensation.
Ximinez
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If you want your tires to be better in the snow, rain and to be quieter, you can have them "siped". I had this done to my new tires from Discount Tire company and the result is amazing. It does not affect treadlife or the warranty, but the traction change in the snow is amaazing. Just 5 bucks a tire.
Thom '89 300E 250,800 miles
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No... do not get it siped... it is not just the matter of slicing up your tires. Slicing up the tires like Michelin and other copycats are just plain hype.
You have to understand... siping is only one part of equation... the tread design for lateral grip in this extreme condition is the key point...
Sure, you can slice up your tires and get good forward grip... but you know what? That is all you get. Do you remember how when you slam on brake in icy condition and the car goes sideway? That is where lateral grip comes in. Yes, traction controls help.. but they can only control as much as they could considering what kind of "shoe" they are wearing...
All season tires are like sneakers... good for almost everything... terrible in snow right? Snow boot are great in snow? Yep... Why don't you try an experiment... get your old dress shoes with leather sole... slice it up on bottom straightward from side to side... and go walk on some ice or smow... you can move forward better than before... but you will find yourself with no side to side control... Now slice diagonally in diamond shape and you will find much better overall grip... but only problem is the tread is not deep enough for all condition.
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Your experience is different from mine, When I got my new tires, I paid for the siping. It showed the next day, and I was not impressed with the grip. I check the tires, and they had forgotten to sipe them. I took the car back, and they corrected the problem. As a test I went to the local middle school and tried some full throttle take-offs, tried some donuts, and slamming on the breaks from 30 mph. The change was significant. The car ALWAYS caught itself from sliding sideways (it would step out only about 1/2 to 1 ft.). I am not saying they as good as the Nokians, but it can save you from having to change tires every season to get improved grip, or have an extra set of wheels/tires sitting when not in use.
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Correction, that would be "SNOWED the next day", not showed.
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