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Old 04-08-2012, 03:32 PM
MB diesel Newbie
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Corrales/Albuquerque, New Mexico
Posts: 24
1986 300 SDL Issues to look for

I just found a 300 SDL locally for 1400 and I gave the guy a deposit because I do not really want to miss the deal if it is indeed one. 320K miles

The car has a lot of (maybe even complete) service history records and most notable is the head work. Looks like MB error and they did the head repair. 2 owners but the current one (2 years - he showed me the title) did not drive it enough and is moving because of his job

It has not been converted to 134 and it doesn't blow cold air.

Radiator fluid warning light is on, but engine runs cool and he has been told it is the sensor to the overfill tank. Engine relatively clean, no blow-by and need to just replace the fuel return lines. Also there is documentation on shocks replaced and glow plug work.

Little things like one missing window switch and the sunroof is stuck.

The car is larger than I would really want to drive but we did reach 100 mph (as per the speedo ) and climbed some grades with no problem. I live in Albuquerque-Santa Fe NM area.

I would like to know what issues I could expect with the car. I have a 300D beater (actually well adjusted engine and drive train but some rust and a couple body dents) and also just inherited a 92 300D (not with me yet need to pick it up in WA)

So if the head work has been done (by Mercedes) will I be facing head gasket issues again. I did not look enough at the service history folder to know about the transmission. It did shift fine but on low speeds not so much throttle it did have a hard shift but when I layed on it from a stop merging to the highway, I did not notice anything more.

To top this off, I am also looking at a 80 300D wagon with the lovecraft system and just a tad bit more. I am partial to the W123 because I know them and know how much they cost and the luxury saloons is just intimidating but I do know it has the coveted 86-87 MB engine (is it the 606?).


pic attached but I do not really care about the cosmetics one bit.

1986 300 SDL Issues to look for-mb-300-sdl.jpg
Stuck on older cars
1983 W123 Sedan 300D Diesel Federal
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:26 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 342
Lovecraft is junk. The wagon has no turbo, so around 75 Hp (loose 3% per thousand feet elevation), vs 140 for the 603A engine at virtually any driveable altitude.

Same issues as any older Benz: rust, vacuum leaks. Idle the engine with the radiator cap off. There should be no bubbling or steaming (and temperature should indicate about 82 dC), which would indicate head/gasket trouble.

The shifting sounds fine.

I'd buy it.
James Marriott
2003 Buick Regal
1983 300D (228k, frau Auto)
1996 Suburban K2500 (192k, 6.5 turbo diesel/4WD towmaster 10,000)
1987 300SDL junker 170k
1982 300SD junker, 265k
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:39 PM
MB diesel Newbie
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Corrales/Albuquerque, New Mexico
Posts: 24
Thanks BoiseBenz. I do not know if the gauge is reliable but it did hover just past 80. Also non green coolant was used. Thank you for telling me that the 300D Wagon has no turbo as it is not really worth my while then. I still have to see the wagon.

Always an NM car so I am lucky about the rust factor. But for no rust we pay for faded paint jobs because of the intense sun at high altitudes.

For AC is it better to convert to R134 or just refill with R12?
Stuck on older cars
1983 W123 Sedan 300D Diesel Federal
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:25 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Beachwood, NJ
Posts: 462
Recommend R12.

1987 300SDL
1991 300SL
1990 560SEL
2001 ML320

1969 200D 1979-82
1983 300SD 1984-85
1972 250C 1982-02
1995 S350 2011
1997 S320 2012
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Old 04-08-2012, 08:12 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: North West CT
Posts: 378
The 3.0 litre 603 is a fine engine. If it has been well maintained you won't have any complaints. And you will come to vastly prefer the 126 over the 123.

1991 350SD
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