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Old 06-30-2001, 12:56 PM
Lance Allison Lance Allison is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 264
I recently took my 87 300SDL in to my local MB dealer for a problem with the climate control. It seemed to take for EVER for the unit to switch from cool air to heat. Sometimes there was no heat at all. At the same time, I had them check for a loss of coolant. It wasn't leaking, nor was there any strange smells or smoke. It lost about 1/2 pint every couple of weeks.

The climate control problem was solved by rebuilding a secondary water pump. Not a big deal. The coolant loss was a very different story, however.

To give some background, I am the second owner of the car. The pervious owner had a top end rebuild at 165k miles (now has around 230k) due to having oil pooling at the top of the coolant. The head, gasket, and (for whatever reason) only two valves were replaced. On the service order, the charge for the head was $750. It didn't say if it was new, used, whatever. I am assuming it was a used part given the low cost.

At first, the dealer thought the gasket was needing replaced and the head milled. The quote for this was around $1400. I gave them permission to start that job.

A few weeks later, they called and said the head was cracked in a few places and would need to be replaced. The estimate was $2000 for a rebuilt head with valve guides, but no valves. They did give me the option to check around, as they know I work in the computer industry and may have some connections via the internet. I was able to locate a new complete MB head with valves and related hardware for about $1850, including rush shipping. It appears the total job will cost between $3500 and $3800. I gave them the go-ahead to continue. BUT...

I would appreciate any comments on the following issues:

1. The new head is supposed to be of an improved design. According to the place it was ordered from, the old heads have a history or developing cracks. What changes were made to prevent this from happening?

2. The car did overheat once, and the gauge went to about 115. My local dealer didn't think this was hot enough to cause the head to crack, but wasn't able to offer any ideas as to why it did...any insight here?

3. Does the price seem fair? As I understand, this is a rather involved job and given the cost of parts, the labor doesn't really seem out of line.

4. The dealership has had the car for about 6 weeks now. This seems unreasonable. I call about twice a week and am always told "we need a few more days". A few weeks ago, they said they were down to two MB techs (down from 5). It was to be done last Thursday or Friday. I called Wed afternoon and was told "we should be able to get started on it tomorrow sometime and should be done by the end of next week" Now the story is they only have one senior MB tech there and one new tech. It may be another 1 to 1 1/2 weeks. They did offer me a complete dealership detail free of charge.

5. Given the car has all the service records from when it was new up until the last oil change before I took delivery, I find it hard to believe the previous owner knew of this. The car was maintained VERY well and has all the documentation to back it up. The owner was an MD from a large hospital. He didn't let anything go. Even things like replacing the dash pad due to cracks to refinishing the wheels because of peeling. From the service advisor's notes, he would drop the car off with a list of things needing looked at and they would deliver the car when done. There are several of these instances where the service bill was $2500 or more. What could I have done to have caused this ordeal?

As always, any advice would be appreciated.
Lance Allison

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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