What should one look for in a diesel Mercedes?

I am currently considering a diesel Mercedes, the W124 chassis (sold from 1986 through 1995 in the U.S. market), such as a 300D, 300D 2.5 Turbo, or an E300D. My main reason to consider a diesel Mercedes is
the fuel economy and the luxury/comfort. From my research, I have learned that Mercedes diesels can last almost forever and are lower maintenance than the gasoline powered Mercedes counterpart model (such as 300E-the gasoline model versus 300D-the diesel model). I am considering a 1990-1995 W124 diesel. Mechanically, what should I look for in a W124 diesel Mercedes and what should I beware of when shopping for one? What repair record do these W124 diesels have and what is the costs of maintenance and repairs for these cars? I am used to rather high maintenance and repair costs of European cars, as I currently own a BMW and have owned a Volvo in the past. I would greatly appreciate any advice and insight regarding purchasing tips and the like of the W124 diesel Mercedes. Thank you in advance for your help.
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You can have a look at: http://www.mindspring.com/~houlihan/mb.htm
John M. '94 E320 gasser
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John,
I looked at your 1993 300D 2.5 Turbo on your web site. Is this car for sale? And if it is for sale, what is price that you would like to sell it for? Also, what part of the USA are you located in. I am located in Saint Louis, MO. Please advise and reply. Thank you in advance.
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Sorry, but it ain't mine to sell. I've got a '94 W124 all right, but it is neither a diesel nor for sale. Sorry for the confusion.
John M.
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The internal condition of any diesel is appraised by a compression test. So make that part of any purchase agreement; it costs a bit but will avoid a lot of expense afterward.
I've owned a '80 300SD M-B diesel since it was new and have a few opinions about diesels. The old, all iron motors (thru '85) are tough, durable engines that can take a lot of use and abuse. Old, all mechanical technology that lends itself to the DIY owner. The later engines have better performance but are not as tough as these old dogs.
Yes, some engines have lasted for vast mileages but those were fastidiously maintained, perhaps over maintained. IMHO the useful life of a reasonably maintained all iron diesel is about 275K miles +/- 10% after which it will need an overhaul, probably the transmission as well. The newer motors' iron blocks and aluminum cylinder heads may need a head gasket before they reach an overhaul.
As to fuel economy, the old 300SD consistently delivers 24 mpg in commute driving. Notice the diesels' relatively high city mileage for it's their main benefit, a reasonably sized gas engine will approach diesel mileage on the open road. My '97 E320 which has much better performance achieves and 26 - 28 mpg on the road, about the same as the old diesel.
M-B will be selling a new E320 V-6 diesel starting in October. This motor has better acceleration than their 3.5L V-6 gas engine and the diesel's mileage is about 33% better than the gas motor! Both of these motors are "state of the art" producing 75 HP/L and I relate this so you see what can be achieved. But this new diesel is more complicated than its V-6 gas sibling and that forsakes the diesel's traditional simplicity. I'm thinking about buying one but am quite wary of its complexity.
You should know that the diesels require more frequent oil and filter changes than do the gas motors - it varies by engine so check that before you buy. Diesel fuel now costs more than premium gas (San Francisco Bay Area) so the fuel isn't "cheap" and it will head higher when the sulfur is removed this summer.
A diesel helps but it isn't the magic solution to high fuel costs; that can only come from lighter cars and smaller engines.
The MBUSA site has a menu of "prior models" that may help your investigation.
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I came across this on Ebay.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/BUYERS-GUIDE-FOR-MERCEDES-116-DIESEL-300SD-SEDAN_W0QQitemZ8060389740QQcategoryZ34227QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
It's a buyers guide to MB diesels from 1968 - 1995. Don't know how good it is or anything else about it.
This same seller also has 2 books on how to repair MB vacuum system problems, for anyone interested in that.
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An engine.
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You are on the right track. Full service record is a plus... Have a MB diesel mechanic look over the car... dealer might be your best bet for overall checkup unless you find one locally. Do this before you buy the car.
Check the tranny operation... is it smooth and responsive?
You really have to test drive them. I got a 1995 and I love it.
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Tiger,
What does a 1992-1995 diesel Mercedes (300D 2.5 Turbo / E300 Diesel) typically cost in today's 2nd hand car market? What type of fuel economy does your 1995 have, both city/commute and highway? And what has been your experience with repairs, trouble spots in the mechanics, and the repair costs? I would greatly appreciate your answers and help regarding my questions. Thank you in advance.
Best Regards,
Kevin Shen
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This is hot topic. I'd rather get a good car for fair price rather than pay high price for good car. Edmunds.com give you good average...
What type of fuel

I get 27 city and 34 highway.About 30 MPG average as I do live in hilly neighborhood. That's about 600 miles a tank.
And what

My E300D is non-turbo. It is very responsive engine and I can start car no problem in winter without plugging in the engine heater.
Turbo on older model is what I'd be concern... whethet it puffs when in between shifting... or revving. Fuel lines are the most critical... they do leak as they get older. I'd worry more about chassis than than engine if they check out olay...
Steering play is concern if higher mileage in 200 range... which would means idle arm bushing, lower control arm... shock absorbers.
Tranny is also of concern. it must engage smoothly... hold gear long enough before shifting to next... downshift when you gun throttle...
I did all repair by myself... so my cost is super low.
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What year is your E300D?
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I seem to be getting hauled along on Mercedes hunts these days when a friend wants something to run on bio or a big, safe car that gets good mileage. These are some of the instant disqualifiers. If I see this, we move on to the next car without even bothering to take it to the MB mechanic: --Torn CV boots. CVs ain't cheap and they can be very expensive if you have a shop do the work. --Water in the trunk. It has been my experience that this is the rear window seal rather than the trunk seal. That means there is probably some rust happening around the window. --Make sure the cruise control works. Otherwise you are looking at around $300 to have the amp and the actuator rebuilt. --Keys. Get as many as you can from the previous owner since dealers charge up to $50 each to copy them. --Rust. Get under the car and look. They are usually old. That means even if you are looking at a car in AZ, it might have lived in place that used salt on the roads. --Gauges. Make sure all the gauges work. Odometers tend to be shot. This might tell you how much stock you should put into the odometer having actual mileage. --Open the oil filler cap on the engine and see how much vapor is rising when the engine is running. This gives you an idea of how bad the blow by is without having to do a (much more conclusive) compression test right away. Btw, a worn diesel engine may run very well. Don't mistake easy starting and smooth running as signs of good engine condition. Here in the PNW, a good 123, 124, or 116 body with good interior goes for about $500 with a bad motor/tranny. If you fall in love with a car with a bad motor, no matter how perfect the body/interior, remember after getting the new/used engine in it, it will never be worth what you have into it. You may think you're going to drive it forever so it won't matter. And it won't matter, until some asshole comes over the centerline and turns your car into metal origami. What they gave me for my mechanically perfect '83 300DT didn't even cover the price of a good transmission.     I'm sure others will have other things they look for as well.
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    http://articles.mbz.org/buying/checklists/124 /
--
Need Mercedes parts? http://parts.mbz.org
Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
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