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  #1  
Old 07-27-2006, 07:49 PM
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Oil in Expansion Tank - 87 300D

I went to check the coolant level today, and since I replaced the old green coolant with the proper clear coolant, I can't see the level from outside the tank. So I took the cap off, looked inside, and it was up to the proper level, but there were several drops of oil floating on top of the coolant This car does have the #14 head But when cold the upper hose does not have a bit of pressure. The car does have a little white smoke, but it doesn't smell like antifreeze at all. I have not noticed a drop in the oil level or the coolant level since I replaced both a few weeks ago. I had just purchased the car, and didn't notice oil in the coolant before I flushed the system. And I did flush it well, and made sure to open up the top, rear hose to bleed it properly. Haven't noticed any overheating issues either. I imagine the presence of oil is not a good sign. But since it doesn't have any pressure when cold, does this mean it's not coming from the head? Is it more likely a head gasket? How bad of a job is it to replace the gasket? Is there any hazards involved in driving it this way until I can get time to tear it apart?
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  #2  
Old 07-27-2006, 08:24 PM
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I think you've jumped the gun. With no indications of an issue except for the oil? in the tank, have a radiator shop test for combustion present in the cooling system. Water pump lubricants in some cooling system sealants can give the appearance of oil. Could have been added from prior owner? bottom line, diagnose before tearing apart!
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  #3  
Old 07-27-2006, 09:08 PM
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Since you have no other symptoms just keep an eye on it for now. Sending an oil sample to the lab next oil change is probably a good idea. See if they red flag coolant.


You could either have a cracked head or blown head gasket. You won't know until you get it off.
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  #4  
Old 07-27-2006, 09:50 PM
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So I could still have a cracked head, even though there isn't pressure in the cooling system when cold? That sucks. But it does have 260k miles on the original head. What really makes me mad is the previous owner had $12k in reciepts from the guy he bought it from, but his wife threw them all out, so I have no idea what all was done to the car. I am pretty sure that when I flushed the system out, that I would have gotten any oil that could have been in the system out, but who knows. Maybe I should do another flush? I did add Water Wetter to the coolant, is it possible that it could do something to cause the oil? I know one thing I am going to check tomorrow morning is if there are any bubbles in the expansion tank at startup. If there is then I guess I can assume the head has to come off
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  #5  
Old 07-27-2006, 10:17 PM
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Answer

If you want to save money, and stop worrying???

Have a cooling system pressure test done.
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  #6  
Old 07-27-2006, 11:32 PM
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Oh trust me, even that won't stop me from worrying Ever since I bought this car I have done nothing be worry about every little flaw. I think because I sold my 300SD which was a tank, and bought this which seems so much more fragile in it's build. And with it having the #14 head, I know that someday in the future I will be having a bad day
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  #7  
Old 07-28-2006, 12:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmana
Oh trust me, even that won't stop me from worrying Ever since I bought this car I have done nothing be worry about every little flaw. I think because I sold my 300SD which was a tank, and bought this which seems so much more fragile in it's build. And with it having the #14 head, I know that someday in the future I will be having a bad day
I hope you won't ever need one but please don't be so certain about that!
Aren't you the person who once used the term "Dreaded #14 head"? Well, I was going to reply then but figured it wasn't the right thread or I got busy or something. Anyhow DON'T live in fear because you have a car with a 603 engine having a #14 cyl head on it! If you find any issues with overheating on hot days OR if you find some oil leaking around the head or something tells you there may be oil in the coolant, just plan on fixing it before it fails! If you've made it this far its most likely OK. I have seen 603 engines with over 300K miles on them still using a #14 head. I own 2 '87 300D's both around 260K and both use #14 heads. Both have no cooling problems and run like bats outtahell. I replaced the cooling system and resurfaced the heads and had a valve job on them, new timing chains and new waterpumps. They run cool! Even on hot days I have to drive up a long incline to see 100 degrees, and 105 was as hot as I ever could make it go, flat out for 5 minutes straight up the Grapevine behind slow moving traffic. It normally runs under 90 on the roads on a hot day. 95 on a very hot day w/ AC on. I don't care if they have number 14 casting numbers! That won't slow me down!

I believe there were factors involved in failing #14 heads such as the Nasty Trap Oxidizer (Now that is something Mercedes used that was truly dreaded!) which cause engines to run hot because the exhaust gets plugged, sometimes so slowly that it creeps on the owner, and many owners were not inclined to watch their gauges at all, they drive around with radiators that are partially blocked (that is another problem with older cars in general) and non functioning rad fans and dead thermo clutches etc. and then there is the lack of proper coolant maintenance (using the wrong antifreeze or never changing it!) so the heads got a bad rap. Especially since the Internet and all the talk abouit it on the Shopforum.
Granted there were failures and many were at less than 200K miles on the clock but there is no general design flaw that says each and every #14 head is going to fail. Some even failed because the heater hose broke!
The #14 and other aluminum heads are not very forgiving if you overheat them because aluminum warps slightly even if marginally overheated and then they need to be surfaced at which time its usually wise to do a valve and new selas.
Head gaskets also wear at critical places with thermal expansion. There have also been improvements made in the head gaskets (keep the name Victor Reinz in mind if you ever happen to need one) so don't be surprised that having to replace a head gasket on the I6 engines (gas as well as diesel) is fairly common. The 617 was a battleship of engines and occasionally they need a headgasket but thats very few of them.

Join the crowd of high performance diesels and don't worry! If you take care of any issues that start to develop you should be able to run with a #14 head for a very long time! (provided it hasn't already been abused).
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  #8  
Old 07-28-2006, 12:33 AM
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Just out of curiosity, how much does it cost to have a head resurfaced and a valve job? Is it possible to do the valve job yourself?
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2006, 01:06 AM
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My SDL not only has the original head, which are well known to cause problems if overheated. It has the original head gasket which I think is pretty amazing since those are a weak point, on not only these engines but several other MB I6 designs.

I can honestly say I don't give it much thought or worry.

You could go out and buy a late model Toyota tomarrow and the next day the trans could blow up.

If it blows fix it, until then drive it. It could be nothing, you simply do not have enough info at this point to come to a conclusion.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2006, 01:08 AM
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E-Gad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmana
Oh trust me, even that won't stop me from worrying Ever since I bought this car I have done nothing be worry about every little flaw. I think because I sold my 300SD which was a tank, and bought this which seems so much more fragile in it's build. And with it having the #14 head, I know that someday in the future I will be having a bad day
If any vehicle caused me that much worry, it would be sold or scrap metal before the week was done.

I don't need or want any stress from my own vehicle, I get enough of that working upon other peoples vehicles.

This is why it was a decision between a 240D, 300D or a 300SD for me...

Have a great day.
whunter
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  #11  
Old 07-28-2006, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmana
Just out of curiosity, how much does it cost to have a head resurfaced and a valve job? Is it possible to do the valve job yourself?
Including a pressure test and resurfacing, about $325 here. Its not really a DIY job, the resurfacing bit takes a $20K machine. Lapping valves is something old school mechanics will do. If they have the time.
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