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Old 11-29-2009, 05:58 PM
retmil46's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Mooresville, NC
Posts: 344
W210 Diesel Questions

OK, I'm getting that itch again - Rudolph needs too much work before he'd be ready for Texas (ie, replacing the vacuum vent pods in the dash - no A/C in Texas is akin to cruel and unusual punishment) and it'd probably cost a fortune to get a shop to do it - no real place to work staying in an apartment for the forseeable future. So I'm getting the notion to get a newer used MB diesel - one that's ready to drive from the get-go - to have down here until such time I can decide what to do with Rudolph.

Seems to be several mid to late 90's W210 diesels down in this area for under 10K in price. My trouble would be deciding which year with which features would be the most trouble-free and which engine/drivetrain combo would suit me. Here's the breakdown the way I understand it from wiki-world -

'96 - NA 606, old reliable 4 speed auto tranny
'97 - NA 606, new electronic 5 speed auto tranny, fuel tank upped to 21 gal
'98 - turbo 606, electronic 5 speed auto tranny
'99 - turbo 606, electronic 5 speed auto tranny w/ select-shift

And at some point in this progression, they went from a LSD rear end to traction control as well.

Other than that, I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to this model. Within a 200 mile radius, there's at least one of each year listed above for sale used - both a '99 and a '97 within 15 miles of me.

Opinions, common problems, years to avoid? Any input would be welcome.
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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Old 11-29-2009, 07:24 PM
oldiesel's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: florida
Posts: 677
Do a search for "W210 spring perch" You will find plenty to read about and be well informed about what seems to be the major problem with that model. Don
Red Green "This is only temporary,Unless it works!"

97 E300D 157000 miles
87 300TD ?141k? miles
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: SoCal
Posts: 60
96' w210 owner

Chose 96 for the 4 speed tranny, solid and reliable. When the 97 w210 came out with the 5 sp the trannies were touted as 'sealed for life' by mb and as a result many never had the tranny serviced until mb change the 'sealed for life' statement after many had 100k on them already. THe 5 sp is also electronically controlled and very subject to damage via spilled coffee on the shifter area, as this shorts one of the relays. Also EGR issues with the W210 are notorious as the recycling of the exhaust in this system clogged the cross over pipe and ultimately the intake manifold with tarry gunk. The EGR in the 96, and I believe 97, can be easily mechanically bypassed, though I would never suggest this as a viable option as it is illegal to modify a car's pollution control system. The turbo models still have the EGR issue and from what I hear are very difficult to beat without throwing codes.

Spring Perch in the front end is highly susceptible to rust and collapse, that being said if you get car from where they don't salt roads, ie warm climate, not too close to the coast, this should not be an issue. Some other minor issues like problematic rear window regulators and glowplugs sometimes getting stuck (most likely related to carbon build due to EGR issue) cars are solid and many are approaching 200-300k on engines and drives (at least the 96 4 speeds) with no significant issues a competent DIYer couldn't handle.
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:51 AM
Jeremy5848's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Sonoma Wine Country
Posts: 8,393
Shopping for a 210

The turbo version of the OM606 is considerably more powerful than the NA version in my '96 and in the '97. The NA engines do OK if you allow them to wind up but they don't produce as much torque at low RPMs as the turbo version.

The '98-99 models are far more electronic and therefore harder to diagnose and repair; personally I prefer older models like the 123 and the 124 -- simpler and easier to work on. A code scanner is pretty much required for any of the W210s. Front and side airbags are standard beginning in '96; I don't know if the later models added any others.

The engine in our '96 has 265,000 miles on it but has never had any serious maintenance. It's a really nice engine. Everything including the timing chain is original and I have not had any glow plug sticking issues, having had to change only two glow plugs so far. The engine compartment of the NA version is less busy; it gets pretty crowded with the turbo and intercooler stuffed in.

At 248,000 miles I put Mobil-1 synthetic transmission fluid in the 4-speed and caused a front pump seal leak that I could not stop. Ended up having to get the transmission overhauled. The mechanic said that the "hard" parts were all good and the "wear" parts would have been good for another 50,000 miles if I had not messed up the seals. Not having to replace any "hard" parts saved me a lot of money. Mercedes used that 4-speed for over ten years and it is pretty bullet-proof.

The 5-speed transmission was new in '97 and is said to have been troublesome that first year. There are a number of people on this forum who are very fond of the '98-99 version of the 210 with the 606 turbo engine; I'm sure you will hear from them.

Regardless of the year-model you choose, pick the one with the best set of service records showing that all of the needed maintenance has been done. This is especially true of later owners, who sometimes skimp on maintenance if it is "non-essential" or "expensive" or both. Even my car had a few things that needed doing when I got it.


"Buster" in the '95

Our all-biodiesel family
1995 E300D (W124) . .239,000 miles My car
1996 E300D (W210) . .313,000 miles Wife's car
Santa Rosa population 170,685 (2012)
Total. . . . . . . . . . . . 722,685
"Oh lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz."
-- Janis Joplin, October 1, 1970
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:24 AM
shoe's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Baton Rouge, LA.
Posts: 583
I agree with the post so far so it all comes down to how much electronics you are willing to contend with. I have a 96 and 97 both are pretty trouble free except for some resonance valves sticking causing the CEL to come on. This is due to the as mentioned egr causing a sooted up intake. Easy to repair just a task to be done every 75k to 100k miles. My 96 is 400 miles short of 400K and it is all original inside the engine. I put glow plugs in the 96 at 300K miles and none stuck. As mentioned if none of the cars you listed are from salted roads then the spring perch will not he an issue. If you want performance I suggest the 98 or 99 with the turbo; I hear they are rockets and a blast to drive. I hope to move up to one some day but as long as the two I have are reasonably trouble free I have no reason to change. Good luck.
Keith Schuster
2006 E350 98K miles
2013 Ford Explorer 15K miles
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