The rpm versus road speed sounds about right to me. These cars always revved
quite fast in 4th gear.
The 260E is a nice car. Watch for rust (unless you are in some warm, dry
part of the world, unlike me in rainy old UK!). Beware of head gasket
problems. My 260E never had any problems here but they can occur. Oil leaks
are common from many places, don't worry about them too much, unless you
have coolant loss as well as this probably indicates a failed or failing
head gasket. The valve stem oil seals usually fail on this engine as they go
brittle. This will allow oil to leak into the combustion chambers giving a
smoky exhaust (eventually) and showing up as increased oil consumption. It's
possible to replace the seals in situ quite easily, and it isn't too
Other things that wear are differential mounts, engine mounts and (at high
mileage) subframe mounts. Rubber bushes in the rear suspension can wear as
well leading to odd and exciting handling! My car also experienced a failed
fan and this showed up as overheating in heavy traffic. Not to bad to
Watch out for fuel injectors failing, or leaking so you get a blubber when
the car has been left for a while hot and then restarted. The fuel
accumulator can also cause this when it fails.
The camshaft can also fail if oil changes have not been done as they should,
and this can lead to a noisy engine. It's quite common to have a light
tapping on start up from the hydraulic tappets (valve lifters) not pumping
up properly, but this goes after a short while and may get better if you use
synthetic oil. A rather harsher knocking or clattering noise may be caused
by a worn timing chain or tensioner but this is unlikely on a car of your
age that has been well cared for. The chain can be replaced in situ again.
Enjoy your 260E!
Al Bolton, G4VSQ
1990 Mercedes 500SE 132,000 miles
1988 Mercedes 260E 159, 000 miles
I didn't mention the transmission. They are quite reliable if you change the
fluid and filter from time to time. Typical signs of wear from the
transmission are "flaring" or slipping between gears or taking a long time
to engage gear from park. Otherwise they are good for many miles (I know of
several 260/300E's here in the UK still on the original transmissions at
Al Bolton, G4VSQ
1990 Mercedes 500SE 130,000 miles
1988 Mercedes 260E 155, 000 miles
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