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Old 01-17-2002, 07:16 PM
gsxr's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 8,074
Question OM603 head gasket replacement - DIY, yes or no??

Hi all,

I need to do two head gasket jobs, for both of my 1987 300D's with the OM603 engine (6-cylinder, aluminum head). The dealer quoted 10 hours labor, plus parts, plus whatever else may be needed (valve job, new head, etc.) An independent was slightly cheaper but not much. I have done a head replacement on a 1.6L VW diesel, and American V8's, but never anything on an MB diesel. SO, here's a few questions, hopefully for anyone out there who has actually DONE this job, and on the OM 603 specifically, not the iron-headed OM617's:

1- Should I even be thinking about this?

2- What special tools are absolutely essential? I know the manual procedure specs several, but sometimes they can be done without.

3- Any tips or tricks to the job? Stuff I should (or shouldn't) remove to make it easier?

I have the OM603 engine manual and can pretty much follow directions, I'm just looking for advice from someone who's BT, DT. I plan to use new head bolts (they're torque-to-yield types) as a precaution, as well as replace the timing chain. I'll also need to get a machine shop to pressure-test the head while it's off to check for cracks.

Or should I just spend the $1500-$2000a and let a pro do everything?


Boise, ID

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Old 01-17-2002, 08:15 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: New York, New York
Posts: 179
Just had my head replaced

Hey Dave,

I just got my car back (see the cracked head poll thread).

One thing that Nick mentioned was the special (expensive) tool to remove the prechambers. He says he broke it on my job because they were so seriously fused on. No worries though. It was warranted by MB.

Remember that the hours will increase dramatically (to 28 hours) if the stuff has to be moved to a replacement head.

Be prepared to for a possible cracked head. Nick became very sure of the crack when he tested for the rapid build-up of pressure in the coolant system. Also indicated by cold engine coolant pressure.

I hope this helps.

'87 300TD 304kmi (RIP)
'95 Toyota Camry Wagon 125kmi
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