IF they've been properly maintained (few are) then they are ideal and thrifty
daily drivers. Everything should work, the original paint should be
immaculate as shuld the interior. No funny smells, leaks or noises.
Any little problem is gonna cost you time and money, possibly lots of
both so adjust the asking price accordginly. Find somebody who KNOWS
the cars and have them give theit opinion. Don't be fooled by lots
of service records, I can show you an utter POW in my garage with
all books and records going back to the original bill of sale, it's
Look long, look hard they are out there. Don't be seduced by the
first few you see. BEcome an expert on them, look at lots
and you'll end uo ok. Probably.
The major areas to look at are the transmission and engine. Has either
one had major work or already been replaced/rebuilt? The transmissions
start to slip, and the engines start to lose compression and start
smoking, eventually getting hard to start in cold weather. If you want
a good car, look for one with the least milage and service records. I
would not buy one with over 200,000 miles unless you are looking to
spend a lot of money on an engine and transmission in the next go round
of the odometer.
enough to tell me wheather or not this car would be worth having. are they
dependable or durable enough to be a daily driver?. do they have any notorious
problems? anything about this model would be helpful, good or bad. thanx.
I'd debate the 200K-mile point with regard to engine/trans. I recently
bought an '82 300TD with 227K miles that has a terrific drivetrain. It isn't
cosmetically perfect, but I know the prior owner had the interest and
wherewithal to maintain it by the book. The car also got a lot of front-end
work, which is certainly going to be a necessity at that mileage.
Yeah, there are a lot of rolling wrecks out there, but 200K is nothing for
a meticulously maintained MB diesel. In fact, unnaturally LOW mileage can
suggest long periods of inactivity, which can create its own set of
To the OP: These are durable cars, but after 15-20 years they will require
repairs. Some DiY skills are a must. And diesels are oily, dirty engines to
My deal-breaker: I wouldn't think of buying a Mercedes diesel from before
1982. Barring any gray-market imports with manual climate controls, the main
component of the early automatic climate control is trouble-prone and
expensive to replace. There's also the lack of a turbo, which is a nice
addition on the later model years.
Richard is too modest to mention it, but he runs a very active and congenial
diesel mailing list at his web site, mbz.org. Cars come up for sale on it
from time to time, usually with accurate assessments of their condition from
diesel enthusiasts. Some correspondents even post "for sale" ads in their
sigs. If I were in the market for a diesel I'd look there first.
I bought mine with 189,000 miles. It needed a transmission, but the
engine ran smooth and didn't smoke. As it approached the 250,000 mile
mark, it was indeed smoking and getting hard to start. I overhauled it
at 264,000 miles. That is why I warn against anything over 200,000
miles-- it is on a shorter life span.
Russ Maki wrote:
Fair enough, Geoff. We're just swapping anecdotes here, really. I buy these
cars for highway commuter vehicles; they seem to thrive running an hour or
so each day at 3500 rpm. The transmissions don't see much shifting on that
kind of regimen either, so I've been pretty lucky with regard to
engine/trans life. Not that I've taken one past 300,000 miles yet, but we'll
see if the wagon makes it with 68K to go. That's about three years worth of
trips to work and back for me!
These came in two models: the 300D and the larger bodied 300SD. From
'82 to '85 both used the same engine and transmission. This is old,
mechanical technology that's simple by today's standards, easily
understood and easy to maintain as a DIY owner. Due to the relatively
low cost of these cars and the high shop labor rates a DIY approach is
necessary or there's no sense in buying a 20 year old M-B.
These diesels have mechanical valve adjustment so you need to adjust
their ten valves between 15K and 20K miles, a 2 to 3 hour job. The oil
and filter should be changed after 5K miles, the transmission oil and
its filter after 30K miles, also the engine's air and fuel filters. You
begin to see why some owners let maintenance slide as the car ages; you
don't want to buy their cars.
I've owned one of these since new and found, after 24 years and 107K
miles, that its repair and scheduled maintenance cost is approximately
equal to its 24 mpg fuel cost. I do the valve adjustments, the shop the
oil & filters etc.
IMHO a reasonably maintained M-B diesel engine has a useful life of
about 275K miles, +/- 10%; the transmission is similar.
These are nice drivers but they're also old cars that need repairs. If
you enjoy projects buy one and it will be satisfying otherwise don't for
every expense will be an annoyance and that's not what you were after
when you bought the car.
My neighbor has a 1983 300D, the last time I drove her car, the odometer read,
389,000 miles. This car has the original engine and transmission. I know that
she has had the oil changed every 3,000 miles with mobile 1, and the tranny
fluid and filter changed every 15K. And trust me she is very hard on this car.
That depends on which Mercedes diesel engine you're referring to. The 3 liter
five cylinder engine built to 1985 has a two piece rope rear main seal. You
need to pull the engine and remove the crankshaft to replace that seal. The
other seals on the engine are not difficult to replace with the engine in the
car. The later five and six cylinder Mercedes diesels have a one piece rear
main seal which can be replaced with the engine and crankshaft in the car.
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