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Old 10-28-2007, 08:10 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Deary, Idaho
Posts: 158
Winter diesel daily driver dilema

I'm in a quandary tying to decide which of my two diesels to designate the daily winter driver. One is a '96 E300D that just turned 140K miles, the other is an '84 300DT getting ready to turn 60K miles. My commute is ~35 miles each way on rather poorly maintained highways in northern Idaho and the temperature in the winter typically averages in the lower to mid 20s (though it can get down to -20 for a couple of weeks on occasion.)

Both cars are kept in the barn and both have block heaters so will, I'm sure, start fine in the morning. The concern is whether they will start at the end of the day after sitting outside in cold weather for 8 hours. I don't mind being stranded at home, but the prospect of being stranded at work gives me the willies!

Another concern is, as that the roads here are rather harsh on vehicles due to sanding, gravel, and magnesium chloride. I am thinking that the '96 would fair the best as it has plastic linings and mud flaps. The '84 has no plastic in the wheel wells and I can't seem to find mud flaps for love nor money.

I hate to beat either of these cars up with winter driving conditions (both are in beautiful shape... no rust), but I specifically bought them for commuting, so have resigned myself to the fact that they are bound for some battle scarring.

Any thoughts regarding which car would be the best winter driver and tips on winterizing would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!


'84 300d turbodiesel (83K miles)
'96 300d (226K miles)
other fine diesels...
'99 Polaris diesel (Fuji Heavy Industries single)
'01 Diesel Trail gator (Yanmar triple)
'95 John Deere 970 (Yanmar quad)
'11 BMW 335d
'12 VW Jetta TDI

'00 BMW K1200LT
'02 BMW R1150RS

'15 BMW R1200GSA

Last edited by landev; 10-28-2007 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:42 PM
vstech's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Mount Holly, NC
Posts: 26,389
whichever you choose, be sure and hose the underside down after any salted road driving... when I lived in SD, that was pretty much every night in the late fall, through spring... does your garage have a drain in the floor for snow? heated? really, you should not drive the 84, you should sell it to me. 60K wow! keep it cherry. the 96 will fall apart more quickly, but keep it clean and it should fair well. preserve the 84.
John HAUL AWAY, OR CRUSHED CARS!!! HELP ME keep the cars out of the crusher! A/C Thread
"as I ride with my a/c on... I have fond memories of sweaty oily saturdays and spewing R12 into the air. THANKS for all you do!

My drivers:
1987 190D 2.5Turbo
1987 190D 2.5Turbo
1987 190D 2.5-5SPEED!!!

1987 300TD
1987 300TD
1994GMC 2500 6.5Turbo truck... I had to put the ladder somewhere!
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:48 PM
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Tout doit accélèrent.
Join Date: May 2007
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I commuted almost three hours per day over last winter with my '85 300D in upstate NY where there's lots of salt on the road. Once a week I just spent a little extra time hosing her down and there's no signs (that I can find) of any beginning corrosion. Secondly, for 3 days per week I had class for 8+ hours and my car sat outside in 10-20 degrees. It started up fine everytime but I've also mixed a quart of Marvel Mystery oil in her once a month during oil changes. I'm thinking about running Stanadyne this year. Its supposed to be a gel inhibitor but only when temps run above freezing, otherwise its known to gel. So if its above freezing, I don't need a gel inhibitor right? And if its below zero why do I want something to compound the effects of gelling from a product that supposed to prevent it??? (I said to myself outloud). Hands, Hands, Fingers, Dumb...
1985 300D / 175k

29' HackerCraft - Gentleman's Racer...
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:49 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 322
I would drive the '96, soley for the reason that your 300DT is very low miles and pristine - that makes it almost irreplaceable - don't haul it around in the salt and crap.
Houston, Texas
1984 300CD 235K miles, Elvira, one owner
1987 300TD 180K miles
1974 TR6 78K miles Sarah Jane, one owner
OBK #27

Last edited by 123Guy; 10-28-2007 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:55 PM
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Location: PA
Posts: 5,440

Drive neither. Get a inexpensive beater for the winter, maybe even one with a gasoline engine. Cold weather weather is one place where a gasoline engine may be a better choice than a Diesel. Gasoline does not gel and gasoline engines are easier to start when cold.

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Old 10-28-2007, 09:04 PM
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Location: Southeast Wisconsin
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The 210 is a bit rust prone like the 123, but being newer it should have no starting issues. Either get a $1000 winter beater or wash the 96 regularly, like 2-3 times a week.
1959 Gravely LI, 1963 Gravely L8, 1973 Gravely C12
1982 380SL
1978 450 SEL 6.9 euro restoration at 63% and climbing
1987 300 D
2005 CDI European Delivery
2006 CDI Handed down to daughter
2007 GL CDI. Wifes

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Old 10-28-2007, 09:33 PM
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Location: Northeast Indiana
Posts: 10,767
The '84 will rust quickly, they didn't get the zinc dip of the 124 and later cars. The 96 is a good car, traction control? Heated seats? The aluminum head alone makes it a faster heating car and it will also start much easier in the cold if it is in good mechanical condition.

I've tried the beater route, did it when I was young. Eventually I figured out that I didn't want to leave cars that I love to drive in the garage for half the year and drive junk. The '96 is also the easiest to replace some day, just drive and enjoy it or find a reasonably late-model quattro for the winter with good hakks all-around and live it up.

Gone to the dark side

- Jeff
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Old 10-28-2007, 11:14 PM
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Which one would you miss the most if you slid off in the ice and totaled it?

Seriously, I'd drive the 96... it's less of a unique, it's got more coatings and things to help it fare better, and it's the one I'd place my money on to cold start despite the fact that nobody has too much terrible trouble starting the others anyway.

Wash the salt off of it every night when you get home and enjoy it.

I don't see much economy in buying a "beater" car for the express purpose of letting it take abuse... I'd just drive them, enjoy them, and take care of them by washing the salt off every chance you get. Drive the one that's worth the least to you from a "Slipped in the snow" point of view.

"What could possibly go wrong?"

~Michael S.~ -
1986 M-B 300SDL, retired due to rust and electrical problems. Donated engine to:
1987 M-B 300SDL, odo dead. New project.
1982 M-B 240D, odo stopped at 308,000
1982 M-B 300SD, 175,000
1989 Dodge Ramcharger, 87,000 - 4wd, 318
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Old 10-28-2007, 11:32 PM
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Location: PA
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Wash it every night? That wouldn't be enjoying it.

Anyway a wash job doesn't get the salt inside the fenders, inside the doors, under the hood or any place else where salt will splash into.

Only way to defeat salt is to park car in a garage all winter and that's what I always do.

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Old 10-29-2007, 12:44 AM
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Location: Walnut Creek, CA & 1,150 miles S of Key West
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I'd drive the 96. Two or three generations safer vehicle to drive and to royally screw up in and it will also start easier if you hit a really cold spell.

A 60k W123 should be kept as pristine as possible.
Terry Allison
N. Calif. & Boca Chica, Panama

09' E320 Bluetec 77k (USA)
09' Hyundai Santa Fe Diesel 48k (S.A.)
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Old 10-29-2007, 01:33 AM
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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I agree, drive the '96, it will be the easiest to start in the cold, and will probably handle a little better in the snow. Not to mention a 60k mile W123 should NEVER see bad weather. Thats a mint car! Keep it that way! Also, the '96 has much better rust protection than the '84.

Imagine how you'd feel if the 60k mile car was destroyed in a snow-related accident. That'd be beyond horrible.
-diesel is not just a fuel, its a way of life-
'15 GLK250 Bluetec 90k - mine - (OC-91,200)
'17 Metris(VITO!) - 18k - wifes (OC-25k)
'01 E320 Wagon - 161k - mine (OC-165,000)
'01 E320 - 180k - dad's (OC-182,500)
'07 E350 Wagon - 134k - dad's (OC-139,500)
'01 SL500 - 56k - dad's (OC-59,000)
'16 E400 4matic Sedan - 81k - Brothers (OC-88,000)
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Old 10-29-2007, 01:49 AM
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Location: Wichita, Ks
Posts: 5,188

and it only has 60,000 original miles. Please don't let this be your car.
1985 500SL Euro w/ AMG bits 130k
1984 300SD Turbodiesel 192k
1980 240D Stick China 188k
2001 CLK55 AMG 101k
2007 S600 Biturbo 149k Overheated Project, IT'S ALIVE!!!
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Old 10-29-2007, 01:50 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 9,087
Thumbs up

I'd drive neither, get a 300E for that that's tired. M103 is a great lil motor.
I'm not a doctor, but I'll have a look.

'85 300SD 245k
'87 300SDL 251k
'90 300SEL 326k

Six others from BMW, GM, and Ford.

Liberty will not descend to a people; a people must raise themselves to liberty.
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Old 10-29-2007, 01:52 AM
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Originally Posted by Hit Man X View Post
I'd drive neither, get a 300E for that that's tired. M103 is a great lil motor.
But how reliable. I've been wondering about doing that too.....but the costs could be huge. There's nothing so expensive as a cheap MB..... old granny buick is cheap to maintain and probably very reliable overall for that purpose.....I may look into it.
-diesel is not just a fuel, its a way of life-
'15 GLK250 Bluetec 90k - mine - (OC-91,200)
'17 Metris(VITO!) - 18k - wifes (OC-25k)
'01 E320 Wagon - 161k - mine (OC-165,000)
'01 E320 - 180k - dad's (OC-182,500)
'07 E350 Wagon - 134k - dad's (OC-139,500)
'01 SL500 - 56k - dad's (OC-59,000)
'16 E400 4matic Sedan - 81k - Brothers (OC-88,000)
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Old 10-29-2007, 06:47 AM
Registered Diesel Burner
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 2,911
The ideal solution is a 12 year old 4x4 pickup of some sort to drive in the salt and snow, and leave the cars in the barn for the winter.

But I understand the economic problems with doing that in terms of taxes, fees and insurance.

With respect to the MBs, you just have to decide which one you're going to sacrifice. Chances are you will get longer salt service out of the later model car. But it won't be pretty for long.


1982 300D at 351K miles
1984 300SD at 217K miles
1987 300D at 370K miles
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