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  #1  
Old 10-06-2006, 12:48 PM
retmil46's Avatar
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'87 300D Cracked Head?

Yesterday I checked out an '87 300D that a local small dealer had gotten in, both for someone else on the forum and a friend down in TX.

Coolant tank had what appeared to be something black in it when viewed from the outside, along with the same color material splattered on the inside.

Pulled the cap off to check, and the cap came off in pieces, so old it had literally fallen apart. Looked inside the tank, it had what looked to be reddish brown slime inside it, and what appeared to be dirty brown oil floating on top. Some of the slime was coating the bottom part of the radiator cap.

Car has the original 14 head on it, 136K miles. While the radiator hose didn't have any pressure on it, the shape the radiator cap was in makes me wonder if any pressure could even build up in the system. Glad I didn't have time to drive it!

Engine did start right up, idled smooth and quiet, quieter than mine. But aside from a brand new vacuum pump and new fluid in the master cylinder reservoir, from the appearance of the engine bay this car has seen very little maintenance. Carfax doesn't pick up until '92 and 56K miles, been thru at least 3 owners since then.

There was also fresh black oil underneath on the drivers side, most likely from the oil filter I'd guess. Underbody panels were long since gone, some good rust starting in the rocker panels. guy is asking $5K for it.

The status of the cooling system tank threw a red flag for me, some major potential problems indicated with what I saw. That right there made me want to shy away from this vehicle.

Does this sound like a cracked head or leaking head gasket, or at the least, the potential buyer looking at some expensive rework right off the bat?
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Mitchell Oates
Mooresville, NC
'87 300D 212K miles
'87 300D 151K miles - R.I.P. 12/08
'05 Jeep Liberty CRD 67K miles
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2006, 01:21 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
 
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With the engine running and reservoir cap off, how much air comes out of the reservoir neck? Should be none.

Red stuff in the coolant could be rust from a very neglected cooling system. Probably not terminal but how well can it cool the engine?

603s do blow head gaskets without harming the head. Kind of a crapshoot to replace the head gasket and keep the -14- head*.

Oil on the driver side of the engine is usually from the IP - either the IP cover panels or the junction of the IP and block.

* = but look what I drive

Sixto
93 300SD
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  #3  
Old 10-06-2006, 01:24 PM
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Sounds like a crap shoot to me. Offer him $2,500 because you may need the other $2,500 to rework the head.
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  #4  
Old 10-06-2006, 02:15 PM
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Yep, I'd say mechanical neglect are the key words here. Interior of the car was perfect, close to showroom condition - everything worked, including the temp sensor and original radio, wood looked great with no cracks anywhere, no loose door panels or switches, etc.

But when you moved to underneath the car and the engine bay, well......

I ran the VIN decoder on this beast, it's the CA version, but has had the trap ox recall done on it. That, and a brand spanking new Pierburg vacuum pump look to be the only real maintenance done on this puppy in quite a while. A couple of the original 3-line plastic fuel clips were still hanging in place by one side, in an advanced state of decay.

That brand new vacuum pump, and the state of the cooling system, might explain why the previous owner decided to part with it.

It isn't just red colored coolant in the tank, it's a thick gooey slime. Just like the mung that grows inside the water drain pipe of your heat pump or air conditioner - fungus/mold that grows in a dark, cool, wet environment.

That, and the broken radiator cap (original factory), says neglect big time.

There wasn't any oil down the side or underneath the engine, I made a point of checking that and the IP closely for fuel and oil leaks. It was all underneath the body, drivers side, and on the steering tie rod. That seems to point to either a leaking power steering seal or something off the oil filter/oil cooler lines. Given it's color, I'd have to vote for engine oil.

I'm going back tomorrow to specifically hit on the problems I noted, but I don't believe this one would suit my friend in TX. He needs something in good running order, that he can drive off the bat with some minor fixes down the road, not a project car he's immediately going to have to sink a good bit of money into.
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Just say "NO" to Ethanol - Drive Diesel

Mitchell Oates
Mooresville, NC
'87 300D 212K miles
'87 300D 151K miles - R.I.P. 12/08
'05 Jeep Liberty CRD 67K miles
Grumpy Old Diesel Owners Club
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  #5  
Old 10-06-2006, 02:49 PM
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Check the oil too, with the engine cold and look for any type of "milk shake" on the dip stick. If there is, then you know for sure you are looking at oil and water mixing. Blown gasket, or cracked head or block. Had a gasser with a blown gasket. Oil looked good when checked hot, cold revealed the "milk shake" on the upper part of the dip stick.
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  #6  
Old 10-06-2006, 04:00 PM
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My resevoir bottle has a layer of black oil on top of the coolant also. It showed up after I flushed the system of the old green coolant, and put in the proper Zerex coolant. The amount of oil hasn't increased so I am not sure what it means, just thought I'd let you know because I've put over 10k miles on it since then, and there still isn't any indication of a head or gasket problem. But $5,000 seems a lot for a rusty car. You can fix mechanicals, but I have found it's really difficult to fix rust on these cars once it starts to grow.
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  #7  
Old 10-06-2006, 07:12 PM
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That brown slime could also be from not having any coolant/conditioner in the system and only water and it will do the same thing. Brown gooey slime as the algae will grow in the system if it sits for a long while and not used. Like they said offer him $2500 and let him know what it will cost for a new head and engine maintenance as if the cooling system hasn't been maintained then you can assume that the whole mechanical aspect of the car is the same.
Bud
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  #8  
Old 10-06-2006, 08:09 PM
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In my book the body and the interior are the expensive parts. Long as the engine has good oil pressure, and have no blow by its tight enough. If you can get it for $2,500 or so, figure on putting at least $2k into it.
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2006, 02:52 AM
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robinSP (from here on the forum) went over today and looked at it as well, got an e-mail on what he found.

His take on it generally agrees with mine and everyone else on this thread - this is a project car that would take some time and serious money to set right. It's got a pretty face, but when you ask it to smile all you see is a row of buck teeth.

He described hearing an eggbeater sound coming from the cam chain area.

Hmmm, eggbeater sound from chain + new vacuum pump = old vacuum pump failed and sprayed guts inside engine?

I'd say the algae/plain water/not driven scenario would explain the muck in the surge tank. Dealer did mention that this was a second car for the previous owner and wasn't driven much.

He also mentioned that the oil leak looked to be coming from one of the trans cooler hoses at the radiator, and that he could hear an occasional miss and what sounded like a "woosh".

For my friend in TX, I'd have to give a pass on this one. He has limited funds for purchasing (as in taking out a loan), and certainly none for any major rework. Even though most of the mechanical faults might have a simple cause and fix (and the head might be fine after all), the general state of neglect under the hood leaves me feeling this car has far too much potential for turning into a money pit.
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Just say "NO" to Ethanol - Drive Diesel

Mitchell Oates
Mooresville, NC
'87 300D 212K miles
'87 300D 151K miles - R.I.P. 12/08
'05 Jeep Liberty CRD 67K miles
Grumpy Old Diesel Owners Club
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