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Old 10-31-2007, 01:54 PM
MB Diesel Wannabe
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9
How hard are short trips on MB diesels?

I have been looking into purchasing an 80-85 300SD next Spring to replace a car that gets driven about 7500miles a year. Will driving this little mileage per year wear the MB diesel (engine in particular) faster, slower or the same as higher mileage. A lot of the driving we do would be short trips around town in the winter which would be less than 2 miles (this car will not be a commuter since we don't commute). I am wondering since a friend who has a TDI and I were talking and he was concerned about the engine not getting up to temperature before being turned off. I said, well my other cars haven't complained, but they have all been gassers. Answers?

Wishing to purchase an early to mid '80s MB Turbo Diesel. Interested in the 300SD or 300D, but still a big fan of the wagons.
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Old 10-31-2007, 01:59 PM
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Yes. That is considered extreme operating conditions for any engine, not just MB diesels. The engine won't have time to get warm and the oil won't have time to get hot and boil out moisture.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:06 PM
bustedbenz's Avatar
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Lexington, NC or Boone, NC
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The main results will be what ForcedInduction said plus

1. A byproduct of combustion is H20. This will condense in your exhaust and cause premature rusting and wearing out of the exhaust system towards the muffler end, if you don't let it get up to temp to boil that water out.

2. Possible "plug fouling" of diesel injection system. I know there's no spark plugs but it's the best example.

All these problems should be fixed if you'll just give it a good hard run on an interstate somewhere every week or two. Just get everything good and hot and blown out, and it should be fine if you maintain it that way. Maybe consider shorter than usual oil change intervals if you're a mileage pusher.

"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 10-31-2007, 02:14 PM
rrgrassi's Avatar
mmmmmm Diesel...
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Royse City Tx
Posts: 4,872
Short trips like that are hard on any internal combustion engine.

Diesels really need to be driven.

I did have a gasser that did not like the city living. I moved from the rural area to the city. Drive distance to work was 3 miles. Every week I would take a highway run, but I did notice after 3 months, the engine did not run as smooth, power dropped and fuel consumption increased. After two years I was able to move back out to a rural area (I hated and still hate city living). The vehicle was back to it's happy self soon after. BTW regular oil changes and tune ups were performed. I had to rebuild the carb every 6 months while living in the city. Spark pluges fouled quick and the cap/rotor fouled quickly also.

70's SPM #5608 Fairmont A-4 MOW car

06 VW Jetta TDI 210K miles

03 VW Golf TDI 5 speed 372K Miles

RIP--Lost in fire...82 300D 322K was My Daily Driver-On the search for a w126 now...

90 Dodge D250 5.9 Cummins/5 speed. 350K
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:19 PM
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Location: Cicero, Hamilton County, Indiana about 30 miles north of downtown Indianapolis
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Well, Joe

I think you have to look at it like this. Short, cold weather trips are hard on any of our fueled engines. If it burns gasoline or diesel, they just don't like cold - period, and so you just have to work around it. If I was going to do that type of driving and I really wanted the engine to last, I would keep the engine heater plugged in most of the time, I would be tempted to idle the engine as much as possible at short stops. Not always possible as a running vehicle is easy to steal and some communities will even ticket an idle vehicle if the operator isn't around. I would also change the oil often, probably as often as 1000 miles in very cold weather with a lot of starts but very little mileage. I wouldn't always change the filter, probably would do that every 3000 or 4000 miles. If the cooling system is good, I would look into removing the fan for the whole winter season. They are cool runners, I drive mine around central Indiana often with out the fan. If it doesn't overheat, and won't if everything is in good shape, it is very good for the engine and is good for extra mileage also. For January and February in Wisconsin, I think you could easily make a cardboard type closure for the front of the radiator that is somewhat easy to open up or close up. Again it will bring engine temperatures up quicker and a little higher. Always keep an eye on that temperature gauge - actually if you are a good operator you can usually smell overheating very quickly.
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. C.S. Lewis

1983 Mercedes W123 240D 4 Speed 285,000 on the road with a 617 turbo, beautiful butter yellow, license plate # 83 240D INDIANA

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Old 10-31-2007, 02:32 PM
WTB: 94/95 E320 Wagon
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Charleston SC
Posts: 2,687
A diesel engine will not tolerate this life very well; a gasoline engine would do better. Short trips that don't allow the engine oil to fully heat up (requires at least 15 minutes of driving after the coolant reaches normal temperature) will allow water to remain in the oil. Also, inadequate heat in the pre-chambers means incomplete combustion means additional soot deposits and poor fuel mileage.

Diesel engines make great sense if you drive a lot of highway miles. I'd recommend finding a nice 124 300E or 201 190E for your use.
M. Dillon
'87 124.193 (300TD) "White Whale", ~392k miles, 3.5l IP fitted
'95 124.131 (E300) "Sapphire", 380k miles
'73 Balboa 20 "Sanctification"
Charleston SC
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:38 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 163
I drove my 240D in the city last winter, every day (weekday, at least). I would try and clean it out on the highway once a week or so. Get it up to temp, and then give it a good 0-60 run, topping the gears. Mine blows a cloud out the first time i do this in a while.

The other problem I did run into was the battery had a hard time getting a good charge, glowing +1min every start in the cold and then running 10 minutes or whatever. Keep a charger on it when you can. Block heater would help too, I'm gettin me one o' those for this winter. Maybe even a battery heater if you are in a colder climate.
'79 240D 4 speed manual 105k miles
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Old 10-31-2007, 03:14 PM
MB Diesel Wannabe
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9
I should say that for my car and truck, I change the oil and filter twice a year (the oil and filter service interval according to the owners manual for the car is every 6000 miles and the truck 7500 miles, but I consider our type of driving extreme on the engine). I put ~7500miles on the car and ~1200 miles on the truck each year. I follow the time table rather than the mile table for service.
I won't be aquiring a MB diesel until after the snow is gone so I will have the summer to check this out and get ready. The glow plug/battery issue will be interesting to check.
What am I getting myself into?
Wishing to purchase an early to mid '80s MB Turbo Diesel. Interested in the 300SD or 300D, but still a big fan of the wagons.
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Old 10-31-2007, 03:26 PM
patbob's Avatar
Its a Whatsit
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 837
Originally Posted by Rmcfarland View Post
Keep a charger on it when you can. Block heater would help too, I'm gettin me one o' those for this winter. Maybe even a battery heater if you are in a colder climate.
Maybe permanently wire in a trickle charger for the battery with the block heater so it charges and keeps the block warm.
'83 300DTurbo

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Old 10-31-2007, 03:28 PM
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Location: Milford, CT
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My brokers 300SDL has done nothing but short trips, mostly city driving since it was new, 205k miles and still going strong.

Seems to bother the trans more than anything, they only seem to go about 100k in that duty cycle.
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:38 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 2,075
I drove my 300D 10 minutes to school every morning with a faulty thermostat for 2 years, the temp barely got to 60 degrees celsius. I changed oil every 3K miles but it would start up every morning with barely a crank.
1985 CA 300D Turbo , 213K mi
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:51 PM
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Now Y2K Compliant
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 4,201
I think they're built to withstand such abuse. Just take a look at the W123s still being used today as taxis. How many 70s and 80s American autos do you see still in taxi service? (though I saw more than a few in DC recently).

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81 MB 300SD, 82 MB 300D Turbo (sold), 04 Lincoln Town Car Ultimate

Sooner or later every car falls apart, ours does it later!
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