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offroad_boy 08-27-2005 01:56 PM

looking to buy a turbo diesel
i have been looking to buy a mercedes turbo diesel and have found one in my area for sale. it is a 84 300sd with 334k miles for $1800. im planning to go look at it and wonder what i should look for. any info would help. thanks. -justin

andmoon 08-27-2005 02:24 PM

I am a noob too but have looked at close to 100 diesels in the past year. I'll let the experts advise on the drivetrain.

Vacuum controls lots of things in these cars and although the parts are relatively cheap, tracking leaks is time consuming and frustrating. I now show up to look at cars w/ a mityvac (if you don't have one, buy one as you will need it as part of diesel ownership or brake bleeding).
I start at the firewall by the brake booster. 2 lines going in, I think 1 controls the climate control and the other the door locks. Door locks aren't as important as the Climate may have to take the dash apart to get to certain sections. If the CC holds vac but the center vents don't pass air, you have more than simple leaks.
If the motor doesn't shut down right as the key is turned, you may have a leak in the engine compartment (provided the lines going into the car hold vac. If the car shuts down faster w/ the driver's door locked than w/out, then you have a leak in the locking system.
Vac leaks affect the transmission as well.
I passed on many cars earlier that I should have bought because the seller and I didn't know about Vac in these cars.

I hope the experts chime in to cover rust, suspension, smoke, trans and cruise control (also vac related).

Good luck

Brian Carlton 08-27-2005 03:19 PM


Originally Posted by offroad_boy
i have been looking to buy a mercedes turbo diesel and have found one in my area for sale. it is a 84 300sd with 334k miles for $1800. im planning to go look at it and wonder what i should look for. any info would help. thanks. -justin

Welcome to the forum.

As a new fellow to diesels, I would advise you to avoid a machine with 334K on the clock unless you know exactly what was done to it regarding maintenance over the last 20 years. If the engine is original, it's getting a bit tired at 334K and you will need to plan on replacing it within the next 100K.

There are better choices in the 150-200K range with prices from $3K to $5K. These vehicles would be a much better value, especially for a person who is new to diesels and doesn't need a full blown project to maintain.

vwbuge 08-27-2005 05:46 PM

I agree with Brian. Definatley look at the maintenance history. If there are not any sevice records walk away quickly. However, if it was properly maintained with that many miles you could get alot of life out of her yet.
I bought my '85 with 235,000 miles and now it has 303,000. You wouldn't know it by looking at it and certainly not by driving it. I guess I just got lucky. My car was dealer serviced to 110,000 miles and then owner records until I bought it. I have pages and pages of records.

offroad_boy 08-27-2005 06:05 PM

thanks, i have found another one also in my area, its an 82 300d that has 216,000 miles for a little more $. i'm planning to ask about service records, but one question i have is that it says a/c doesnt work and i was wondering if these thing have a common problem or something i could check and any guesses on how much to fix, i know its kinda hard to guess without seeing the car but i figured id ask. thanks again

vwbuge 08-27-2005 08:59 PM

A/C problems are as typical as any other car. No more $$ to fix than others. Most early 80's MB have GM ac compressors.

MS Fowler 08-27-2005 10:50 PM

Welcome to the forum, You've come to the right place.
Spend as much time as you can reading the archives--there is a lot of good information there.
RUST is the principle reason I would walk away from a car. Minor rust is acceptable and repairable; if it has gotten into the main structural members, its time to walk away. Places to look for rust include under the carpet in front of the rear seats, as well as around the jack points, and rear suspension mounts. Don't confuse surface rust with deep rot.
Vacuum----the door locks on a "S"class are run by a different vacuum system than the W123. There is a pump in the trunk that provides vacuum to run the door locks. You may hear it run--kind of a dull hum, when you lock and unlock the drivers door.
Don't be overly impressed by a pristine interior--Most Mercedes' interiors look pristine, even after 20+ years. The top of the back seat may have become dried out from the sun beating down on it, but otherwise the seats should look good. The drivers seat gets the most wear, and may even have some broken springs. This is an easy fix with a W126 ( 300SD) as a good passenger seat from a junk yard caris a perfect replacement.
A/C is typical complaint. Most lesser cars are long gone before the A/C is old enough to fail. These cars last long enough that we have the opportunity to repair this system. Look up any A/C posts by Larry Bible--he is a trustworthy authority on the subject. Often A/C problems are leaking/broken seals, which are not too difficult. If you replace the compressor, replace the reciever-drier, also. If the evaporator is shot ( thats the part behind the passenger side of the dash, its about a 20 hour proposition to remove it.
(I think thats why you see so many W123 cars with all the windows open in the summer.)
Typical areas of concern are A/C, dim dash lighting and a lack of cup holders. Thats about it for me. The more time I spend working on my S, the more impressed I am by the amount of thought that went into EVERYTHING. Its truly amazing.
Oh, one more thing, perhaps the most true of all truisms on this forum,-- There is nothing more expensive to own, than a cheap Mercedes.
In other words, if you are buying a poorly maintained car that the previous owner (PO) has neglected, you will spend a lot of money on deferred maintenance. Its better to spend more money up front on a well-maintained car than to buy a cheap one. The more maintenance records you have, the higher level of confidence that you are getting a good car.

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