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Old 01-27-2010, 01:03 PM
...much to learn...
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Central VA
Posts: 44
How should I drive my 240D?

Ok, I cherish my "new" 240D, and my wife seems to as well. But we are not sure "how" one should drive it. It is a 4-speed btw.

There is the "drive it like you stole it" school. There is a notion floating about that these cars are happy to rev up, that it is therapeutic somehow. I don't see how this can be true. This is also very noisy, and there are times when - to my gasser-tuned ears - I say to myself "that can't be good for anybody". If you use the shift guides to determine when to change gears, you are driving as if you have stolen it. This is, however, often the most fun way to drive the car, and it moves you around town at roughly the same pace as the myriad SUVs that tailgate you.

Then there is the "protect the old lady" school. Keep RPMs as low as possible. This is quieter, and leisurely, and the car fits the old lady sunday drive mentality if you are in that mood. I will say that you can make the car struggle to fight the fact that it is accelerating from too high a gear...that may be worse than the RPMs, which is the gist of my question.

While we are at it, one more thing. The diesel idles slowly and steadily, like a ticking clock. I love the sound. There is a tendency among diesel drivers to keep the thing idling when the option is there. My view is, yeah, I love the sound, but she would rather be off than running, all else being equal.

Am I being too spiritual about this?
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:11 PM
elchivito's Avatar
ĦAy Jodido!
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I have a manual 240D. It is not particularly slow, having a Euro injection pump, but still no race car. My understanding is that those little "shift guideline" dots on your speedo are REDLINES, not "guides" My opinion: don't drive it any faster than you need to, shift well before the dots, and on the highway, get used to 65-70. I can push mine faster on flats, but that speed seems to be a real sweet spot for the engine.
You're a daisy if you do.
84 Euro 240D 4spd. 220.5k sold
04 Honda Element AWD
1985 F150 XLT 4x4, 351W with 270k miles, hay hauler
1997 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4
1993 Toyota 4wd Pickup 226K and counting
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:35 PM
JB3 JB3 is offline
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Id like to add to that-

Drive it like you stole it IF you maintain it.

Protect the old lady IF its just a beater car.

I had a rusted out horrible 81 240 4-speed for a long time, and I maintained and protected the drivetrain, but the rest of the car was too far gone. I also drove as fast as possible everywhere I could go.

It only seemed to run better being pushed, I actually managed to pass someone on highway 1 on the california coast in it! This was after a year of driving and bringing the maintenance up to current. I would keep it under 75 for a top speed. Smoked for a lot of months getting rid of carbon in the exhaust system, but after a while it burned it all out and purred like a kitten.
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:48 PM
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Location: NW WA
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I'm more the "drive it like you stole it" type, but I'll let one of our "chief engineers' discuss that.

Those little "shift guideline" dots on your speedo are for down shifting, so you wont drop her into a lower gear to soon. My 64 VW bug has those which I assumed were to tell how far to wind her out, maybe I better check the manual

1985 Euro 300TD 5 spd 220K
1985 Euro 240D 5 spd 130K
1979 240D 5 spd, 40K on engine rebuild
1994 Dodge/Cummins, 5 spd, 121K
1964 Allice Chalmers D15 tractor
2014 Kubota L3800 tractor
1964 VW bug

"Lifes too short to drive a boring car"
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:22 PM
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Location: Phoenix Arizona. Ex Durban R.S.A.
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There is no reason to drive it like you stole it. That's just stupid. The shift points on the speedometer are not there at guides but as warnings. You are not to exceed them in the relevant gear, both upshifting and downshifting. The best way to drive it is smoothely and without strain.

- Peter.
81 240D stick. 316000 miles at purchase. 340000 now
2000 GMC Sonoma
2002 Kia Rio. Worst crap on four wheels
1981 240D 4spd stick. 389000 miles. Deceased Jan 08
1984 123 200
1979 116 280S
1972 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1971 108 280S
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:37 PM
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Location: Santa Rosa, Ca
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i dont drive my 240d manual hard but it seems to like revving. for a diesel engine it sure is gutless if the RPMS are low. i shift as soon as i feel the power dropping off
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:02 PM
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Location: Albany, OR
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A lot of it is going to depend on the car. If it's loud, rattley, and shakey when you accelerate hard you probably don't want to do it to often. But if it feels smooth and happy accelerating hard than you are probably okay. I've noticed changes in my 240 manual as I've done various maintainance and repair. New tires increase the MPH on the highway due to less noise. A new clutch, PP, etc resulted in a few more MPH on the highway again to less noise. Same thing with new injectors.

You want to drive it like you stole it once in a while. The rest of the time drive it where you feel is most comfortable. Driving hard blows out carbon build up in the engine, that big black could coming out your tailpipe. Once a week or every few weeks, depending on how much you drive it, do a full acceleration onto the freeway. This will keep and carbon build up from getting out of hand. Other than that make sure the back end and drivers side are polished up and looking good, cause those are the two sides people are going to see most when they are coming up from behind and then passing you.
'04 Jetta TDI Wagon
'82 300TD ~ Winnie ~ Sold
'77 300D ~ Sold
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:07 PM
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I probably drive it harder that I should, but I don't think it really matters. A good guideline would be to drive it hard at least once a week, which means bringing it up to red line a few times, not mashing the pedal into the ground. As for the red line argument, I read somewhere that the red line is the end of the "safe" speed range for the engine. You don't want to pamper it all the time, those old lady cars suffer from the build-up.
1983 240D 3.0T 4-speed manual, now sold

1989 Subaru GL Wagon 5-speed Touring Edition
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:10 PM
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I think about the most important thing to remember is, like the old VWs, dont "lug" the engine. thats no myth

1985 Euro 300TD 5 spd 220K
1985 Euro 240D 5 spd 130K
1979 240D 5 spd, 40K on engine rebuild
1994 Dodge/Cummins, 5 spd, 121K
1964 Allice Chalmers D15 tractor
2014 Kubota L3800 tractor
1964 VW bug

"Lifes too short to drive a boring car"
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:06 PM
Diesel forever
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 291
WHat about automatics?

Unlike you, my 240D is automatic.... Yeah, a bit sluggish is an understatement! It's a later model (82) so I was told the HP was a little higher, and the tranny seems to be reasonably well adjusted (I have often wanted to tweak with the adjustment knob to try to get it to shift up later, or shift down sooner, but no time to do that yet, and I prefer to "leave well enough alone"!). So I can live with it in most situations (except getting on the freeway with the AC on, for example! )

I was getting tired of having the car go up a non-highway hill sluggishly in 4th (kickdown to 3rd doesn't always automatically engage, or manually with the foot "switch"), or starting from a rolling stop in a sluggish higher gear. A thread on this forum suggested that we drive an auto a bit like a manual, shifting down to 3rd (or 2nd) whenever required, and even leaving the car in 3rd when city driving, to keep the revs up and prevent that dreaded shift to 4th and subsequent dreadful acceleration. Works for me. (still wish I had a manual though!!)
1983 300TD 240K - 1982 240D 215K - 1996 Dodge Cummins 70K
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:31 PM
...much to learn...
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Central VA
Posts: 44
The guides on the speedo....

I think I was using them the right way, if you go up there you are accelerating as fast as you can.

I think the carbon buildup notion is the only rational reason I can see for driving it hard..."burn the gunk out" as we used to say. Is that really necessary or should this be in the "Diesel Myth" thread?

1982 240D (4-speed)
1988 Volvo 240DL (5-speed wagon)
1999 Volvo V70
2002 Volvo XC70 (the grocery getter)
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:57 PM
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Take a look around at the diesels that get to very high mileages, they are not driven like they were stolen. The boy racers generally end up wrapped around a tree long before their motors are worn out.
My old 300d mainly did long trips, steady at about 65mph. It did 800k miles before I retired it. The motor was never pulled down in that time. In the mid 80's the diesel w123 was the most common taxi in the world, you dont see taxis driven like they are doing a lap at Daytona! The main thing for "cleaning the gunk out" is to make sure the motor runs for much of its life at the correct operating temp. A motor that is only used for short runs and so run cold for most of its life generally has a short life.
Grumpy Old Diesel Owners Club group

I no longer question authority, I annoy authority. More effect, less effort....

1967 230-6 auto parts car. rust bucket.
1980 300D now parts car 800k miles
1984 300D 500k miles
1987 250td 160k miles English import
2001 jeep turbo diesel 130k miles
1998 jeep tdi ~ followed me home. Needs a turbo.
1968 Ford F750 truck. 6-354 diesel conversion.
Other toys ~J.D.,Cat & GM ~ mainly earth moving
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:20 PM
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Location: Weston, FL
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Once the engine has warmed up, I drive my 240 with the pedal on the floor.

1982 Mercedes 240D, 4 speed, 275,000
1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S (70,000)
1987 Porsche 911 Coupe 109,000 (sold)
1998 Mercedes E300 TurboDiesel 147,000 (sold)
1985 Mercedes 300D 227,000 (totaled by inattentive driver with no insurance!)
1997 Mercedes E300 Diesel 236,000 (sold)
1995 Ducati 900SS (sold)
1987 VW Jetta GLI 157,000 (sold)
1986 Camaro 125,000 (sold - P.O.S.)
1977 Corvette L82 125,000 (sold)
1965 Pontiac GTO 15,000 restored (sold)
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:33 PM
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Location: Sunsites, AZ
Posts: 692
I drive mine alot, so should you!

About once a tank full, when I'm on the interstate where the limit is 75 . . . I find a up hill coming up, and about .5 mi before the start of the uphill, I floor it, let it climb to about 80-85mph, and keep it to the floor all the way up . . . of course it slows down by the top . . . but that is my workout for it . . . usually I just cruise along at 65 even though the limit is 75!

Also . . . BOTH manual and Auto's are four speeds . . .

I never run past the dots on the speedo per gear . . . usually shift 5 - 10 mph BEFORE that . . . saves on fuel too!
82 240D Manual 277K and still rolling!
02 Volvo S60 AWD For Sale
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Old 01-27-2010, 09:51 PM
okyoureabeast's Avatar
Rogue T Tolerant
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: North America
Posts: 1,394
Thanks for posting this thread. I was going to ask the same question a couple of days ago.

After I fixed my car, I was driving it pretty hard. I like torquey pull
Originally Posted by Yak View Post
Going back to the original post: "Can you get the vac to blow instead?" No. Vacuums are low pressure so they by nature "suck" and nature abhors them.
1984 380SL
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