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Old 01-12-2002, 11:14 PM
gsxr's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 8,042
Unhappy OM603 - oil level sensor oddity

Hi all,

When I bought my second '87 300D last summer, several service records noted that the PO complained of the oil level idiot light on the dash coming on under hard left turns. The dealers never found the cause, and/or couldn't duplicate the problem. I noticed it also, it only happens when the oil is hot (20+ minutes of driving). Once I got to go around a loooooong left turn, a big sweeper on a mountainside, at 55+ MPH, for a good 30 seconds or so. The light stayed on the whole time yet the oil pressure remained pegged at "3". So, I'm not worried about screwing up the engine. I assumed the sender was flaky, and since these senders tend to start leaking anyway, I replaced it - hoping that would cure the problem. Yesterday I changed the oil (Delvac-1) and put the new sensor in. Guess what? Same problem. It's obviously not the oil type, or the sender itself (old one appeared fine when removed.) Yes, the oil level is correct, before (between marks) and after the change (put in 8.0 quarts).

Question: What could cause this? Is there some baffling in the oil pan that a previous mechanic could have removed, causing this problem? My other 1987 300D has NEVER exhibited this problem, and my b-i-l's doesn't either.


Dave M.
Sacramento, CA
1987 300D - 229kmi
1987 300D - 235kmi (flaky oil level sender)
1984 300D - 206kmi

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Old 01-12-2002, 11:18 PM
Capt Kirk's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 601
On this old 84 Diesel Rabbit my family had there was a problem with the oil level sensor (on the Rabbit, it would make a really anoying buzzing noise to warn you of problems). We ended up disabling one of them but the noise was still there. Leading us to believe that there were 2 sensors, one tucked away in a remote part of the engine.

Could be the case with your Diesel.
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Old 01-13-2002, 01:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Old Lyme, Connecticut
Posts: 3,596

I am not sure there is a lot of baffling in the oil pan, and I have this experience routinely when I get within about half a quart of having the sensor light up while running straight and level on my 1986 190E 2.3-16. I just assumed it was the oil sloshing to one side and then uncovering the sensor. When I get through the turn the light generally goes out, and when it comes on with the car going straight and level, I can make it go out by turning sharply to the right. I think the mounting hole is not directly in the center of the pan or something like that. Since the light goes out, I assumed the car was ok. I checked the level with the dip stick the first few times and when it was ok, I learned to ignore the light coming on during hard, or long, left turns. Jim
1986 Euro 190E 2.3-16 (291,000 miles),
1998 E300D TurboDiesel, 231,000 miles -purchased with 45,000,
1988 300E 5-speed 252,000 miles,
1983 240D 4-speed, purchased w/136,000, now with 222,000 miles.
2009 ML320CDI Bluetec, 89,000 miles

1971 220D (250,000 miles plus, sold to father-in-law),
1975 240D (245,000 miles - died of body rot),
1991 350SD (176,560 miles, weakest Benz I have owned),
1999 C230 Sport (45,400 miles),
1982 240D (321,000 miles, put to sleep)
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Old 01-13-2002, 08:27 PM
green dog
Posts: n/a
My 87 300D started doing this after I changed from dino oil to Mobil 1 recently. Only occurs with 'aggressive' cornering on left handers; my tech guy didn't seem concerned. He did say that the lamp lights up when the oil level is a litre or so down from full. I put it down to another MB quirk..cheers, Philip.
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Old 01-14-2002, 08:47 AM
steve hutson
Posts: n/a

my '87 wagon has the same oil level light situation but only at 60 MPH and after about 30 min. driving. Can't figure it out, either
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Old 01-16-2002, 01:06 AM
gsxr's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 8,042

Hi all,

Marshall Booth, der Dieseling Doktor, over on the email list solved the problem. The sensor is fine, and the engine is fine. The instrument cluster is supposed to have a 60-second delay before turning on the light. The engine manual (which I didn't read before posting, my bad!) explains all of this, it was explicitly to prevent what I'm seeing right now. I need to fix the instrument cluster. Marshall suspects a failed electrolytic capacitor, and I agree. I'll have to tear it apart soon and see what I can find! Thought I'd pass the info along to anyone else who has a similar problem.

Boise, ID

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