I've been looking, very casually, for a 240D as a second car, and I am
considering an '83 that has just come up for sale in my area...in fact,
here's the URL for the listing (have not seen it in person yet):
147K miles, looks (from photos only, mind you) good, the dealer is a
reputable local auto broker (though I don't know how he came by this
car)...what should I be looking for in evaluating this car? What, if
anything, should cause me to run, not walk, away? And what is a fair price
for a 1983 240D? (The Euro-spec headlights on a 1983 model make me think
this might be a European Delivery vehicle, I'm wondering if he'll jack up
the price on that basis.)
Thanks in advance for your input.
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A 240D is a fine car for local use and this one looks to be clean and
without rust. Some owner added the headlights, it looks otherwise to be
a USA spec car. (European delivery is simply delivery in Europe of a new
USA spec car that one orders here; after its European use the car is
shipped to the local ordering dealer, cleaned up and delivered again to
The ideal used car will have all its maintenance and repair records,
very few do, so one has to evaluate the car. The condition of any diesel
engine can be determined by a compression test. The condition of the
steering and driveline can be judged by a mechanic's inspection. Rust is
a factor so be sure there is none.
That said, the most important aspect is this model's limited power - 68
H.P.. OK for local driving and non-competitive freeways but if you need
to accelerate to 65 mph on short acceleration ramps this car can't do
that, especially if it's an automatic; the 4 speed stick is marginally
The 240D is a tough little workhorse but think German taxi economy, not
American luxury car. It's a bit noisy and vibrates a lot at idle. It's a
pretty simple car and that's its attraction to many DIY owners.
That's exactly what I'm looking for (well, not the vibration at idle
necessarily, the simplicity and ruggedness). Where could I expect to get a
more thorough inspection and honest opinion by a mechanic--the local M-B
dealer, or an independent Mercedes shop (in general)?
Choose an established independent M-B shop over any dealer for dealers
always want to make a new car out of whatever is driven into their shop.
An oil stain becomes an oil leak that will cost $XXXX to fix etc.
This $1,500 car shouldn't be held to the standards of a new car whose
warranty will cover such repairs. And always remember, the dealer's
"service advisors" are commissioned salesmen.
On Tue, 7 Dec 2004 14:39:35 -0600,
had to open a new box of zerones to say:
If the 240D vibrates at idle, it's time to look for the source... Were
it not for the sound of the engine at idle, I'd have no indication
mine was running...
<! -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- >
Rust of course:
Look at the sunroof frame inside from the roof top,
the little body part between the rear doors and the
rear wheel arches, the wheel arches, the door sills
and especially the car jack holes, the little grooves
in the front fenders at the corners below the bumper/
the front turn signals, in the engine compartment
at the wheel houses and the A-pillars, that is the
parts inside close to the windshield and also look
at the doors, especially their undersides.
Apart from that all things electrical should be
checked, especially the Tempomat (if any, with these
cars only available with auto trans, not with manual
trans), the the air condition and the power windows
Also check if the vacuum system for e.g. the
central power locking is intact, it also controls
things like engine shut-off, headlight adjustment
(at least with the European versions) and automatic
transmission gear changes.
Another part wearing out easily is the steering
box, when aging steering play become get too much,
sometimes the speedo cable may cause weird speedo
indications and sometimes the odometer is broken,
especially the trip meter - and the water hoses
between the water cooler and the engine may be
too old, one can see cracks then.
All other things to be checked are as with any old
Juergen - W123 diesels since 1983
Another hint: At that age, the suspension of the drivers seat may have become
general the seats of this car are more like a sofa than like a Recaro sports
AFAIK Mercedes can deliver a package of seat springs, which can be used to
seat to almost new condition. This is far cheaper than buying an entirely new
you look after the car, ask the dealer not to start the car at that particular
Start it yourself and check if the glow time is reasonable and if the car starts
properly (problems here may indicate broken glow plugs or a damaged glow control
After your test drive switch off the engine with the key, repeat this several
The engine must stop immediately after you have turned the key to the
not, the vacuum line system may have a leak (Experienced that on my `81 240D).
usual that the oil pressure gauge drops down during idle, expecially with a warm
engine. As soon as you hit the accelerator, the needle has to go to maximum at
otherwise the engine may have a problem.
BTW: IIRC all 240D made after 1982 had 72 instead of 68 HP. I found mine (with
trans) surprisingly vivid, if you take into consideration the limited power.
at speeds up to 80 mph was very pleasant.
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True - once I had a Recaro in a W123 diesel which
gave me 12 hours of relaxed driving, as opposed to
the original seat which only gave me 10.
Yes - a new seat is costly (and I don't know if still
all cloth/leather/tex versions are available).
I have never seen any other behaviour with a W123 diesel.
I must admit I don't know with the US versions
(Danny?!?), but with the European versions it were
65 PS until June 1978, from August 1978 on (that
means modelyear 1979 until end of production in
November 1985) it were 72 PS.
In relation to the car's weight and the very low
power output it indeed _feels_ vivid, but the pure
figures show it is not:
4-Speed auto trans with 65 PS has a top speed of
83 mph and 0 - 62 mph is 27,4 secs (!), the figures
for the 72 PS auto trans are 86 mph and 24,7 sec.;
that means compared by today's standards the 240Ds
are _extremely_ slow.
It may depend on the shape of your ass;-) We had two 123s with stock seats,
and both my wife and me complained a lot about hurting backs after three
hours. Absolutely no competition to the sports seats of my BMW, made by
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I drove one until it quit at 325K and loved it. Still would be running if
my son had kept up wiht the oil. Frist check to see if has a stick shift;
if not, leave.
After the 240 I got a 83 300D with the Turbo. It is night an day from a
240. Would suggest the the few ex t ra $$ and look at the 83-85 series
300d and SD. I bought a 85 300D 4 years ago for $5000 that was in excellent
haute in die Tasten:
Follow-up to this thread...finally got a chance to go and look at the
car...it's in reasonably good shape, no rust that I could find, started
right up, seemed to drive OK...one ominous sign, though...the maintenance
book went blank after about 1991. From reading this and other forums I
consider that a very bad sign...so I walked. (Gives me an excuse to hold out
for a 300D instead...I drive by a nice one every day that I keep hoping the
owner will put up for sale.)
Thanks for all your advice...
haute in die Tasten:
I am second owner of an '84 Carrera. It has service records in the
maintenance book until the end of the two year warranty. After that it's
blank Car has only 50K miles, and has had regular service - I have the
records - but it doesn't need a stamp and a squiggle in the book to prove
it. Independent shops ( who in their right mind would have an out of
warranty car serviced at the dealer) in my experience don't do book stamps.
I've leased three BMW's, and all have been dealer serviced, by two different
dealers. None had service noted in the book. Last service on the new MB, I
left the book on the dash, thinking that since I own this one, I'd try to
keep the book up to date. Even then, had to go back and ask the dealer to
I wouldn't base a purchase decision on the lack of stamps in the service
book. Did you ask if service records (other than the book) were available.
If the owner didn't have them, but had owned the car for some time and had
it serviced at the same shop, perhaps the shop would have some of the
I totally agree. Buy the car based on it's condition, not some stamp.
Although it is always nice to see that the former owner took care of
the car... I usually ask them to show me where the oil dipstick and
tranny dipstick too (if it's an auto). If the previous owner doesn't
know where these are, then that to me is a red flag.
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