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  #1  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:02 AM
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What to be looking out for on mid 90's E300

Can you share with me what to look out for on these cars?

I love my old 240. but my commute is a tad long for her, and I am looking at this model as a more appropriate alternative.

What are the "gotchas"? Where can I go wrong?
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  #2  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:22 AM
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Might search for all W124s. Much in common.

OM606 engine has it's own quirks, mainly the fuel system, and then there are things like a cooling water based engine oil heater that snakes around in the oil pan.

They are nice cars once put right. Much nicer than the W123. I know, Ive owned many examples of both....

If I were starting from scratch, I'd be looking at the W211 diesels. As much of a jump from the W124 as the W124 was from the W123.

Jim
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  #3  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:25 AM
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I own two 95 E300's and something like this is next on my short list.

E300
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  #4  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:39 AM
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211s are a bit rich for what I want to do right now, but I agree they are very nice.

The specific car that has my attention right now is a '97 with 120,xxx.

Can you share anything about the wiring harness? I have gleaned that they are problematic, but I cannot seem to find how to identify if an individual car has the defect.

The glow plug issue I understand.

Does this model have a cylinder head issue that needs to be watched for? Is this the model that needs a new MB head?


My goal is to continue with a cost effective commuter, but I want to ride in a more modern platform. The w123 is a peach, but it is a lot of work herding her back and forth in Atlanta traffic.

Thanks
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimFreeh View Post
OM606 engine has it's own quirks, mainly the fuel system, and then there are things like a cooling water based engine oil heater that snakes around in the oil pan.

Jim
Can you please provide a link to a picture of this heater in the oil pan?
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  #6  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:44 AM
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You won't see the harness issue in '97 as far as I remember. Plan on headgasket replacement anywhere from 250 to 270k miles.
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  #7  
Old 02-03-2013, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ground Loop View Post
211s are a bit rich for what I want to do right now, but I agree they are very nice.

The specific car that has my attention right now is a '97 with 120,xxx.

Can you share anything about the wiring harness? I have gleaned that they are problematic, but I cannot seem to find how to identify if an individual car has the defect.

The glow plug issue I understand.

Does this model have a cylinder head issue that needs to be watched for? Is this the model that needs a new MB head?


My goal is to continue with a cost effective commuter, but I want to ride in a more modern platform. The w123 is a peach, but it is a lot of work herding her back and forth in Atlanta traffic.

Thanks
I had a 96 E300D, non turbo. Engine ran a smooth as silk, no wiring harness, or cylinder head problems. Main concern when purchasing this model are the front spring perches. They can look perfectly intact with the naked eye, but can fail without notice. From my own experience, I had the tires rotated, and while the car was up on the lift, I examined both spring perch areas extensively. Both looked perfectly normal, with no outward signs of any problems. One week later, I parked the car for the evening, and the following morning the right front passenger side of the car was lower than the left side. The right front spring perch had failed, breaking the spring, and ripping away a good portion of the engine compartment sheet metal that it was welded to. Upon examination, you could see extensive rust that was underneath the protective coating that Mercedes applied during manufacture. Priced out having the repair for both sides, and the price came in at around $2000. Only other issue that I was dealing with was the fact that the SRS light stayed on. Had it diagnosed, and it seems that the culprit was the "child seat sensor" in the right passenger side seat. Seems to be a know problem also. To have that repaired by the dealer was approximately $500-900. With all things considered, I decided to sell the vehicle. Loved working on the car, and doing my own repairs, but my age is catching up with me, and my wrenching skills are not what they used to be. Crawl around under the car one day, and walk like a pretzel the next. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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  #8  
Old 02-03-2013, 01:52 PM
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WHich one to choose???

My '96 E300D (W210, OM606NA) has spent its life (287,000 miles so far) on the west coast, which (in my opinion) has helped it avoid the spring perch issue. One of the reasons for this rust problem is that the upper support traps dirt, which retains water, which causes rust. If the dirt is washed off occasionally there is less chance for rust.

The OM606NA engine in my '96 shows no sign of needing (at 287,000 miles) a head gasket or for that matter anything else. I had the valve cover off and the insides still look new. At most 1 degree of chain stretch, which I attribute to all three POs keeping the oil clean and fresh.

The 1996 and perhaps also 1997 W210s still have (in use from about 1994) the "environmental" wire insulation that falls apart after 10 years or so. It's much worse in areas that are exposed to heat. I had to rebuild the cable running to the starter lockout/backup switches on the transmission, under the car. My 1995 E300D (W124) had several cables replaced by the PO.

The W210 cars are nicer in some ways than the W124s -- improved front suspension, more airbags, nicer climate control. They are harder to repair and generally more expensive. For example, I'm looking at replacing the entire window switch assembly because the child lock has failed. In the W124 you can replace individual switches but the W210 has them all in a single unit. There are lots of W124s in junkyards from which to get inexpensive parts but W210s are rare.

Although the 1995 E300D with the OM606NA engine is perhaps the most desired W124 because it's the last year and has all of the 'facelift' upgrades, don't over look the earlier W124s with the OM602 Turbo 5-cylinder engine. The OM602 did not have the head problems of the OM603 and gets excellent fuel economy with about as much power as the 606.

If you choose a W210, remember that the first two years (1996-97) have the OM606NA engine while 1998-99 have the turbocharged version of that same engine. Much more power and the same or better fuel economy. Also much more electronic. The 5-speed electronic transmission was introduced for 1997; older cars have the 4-speed vacuum-mechanical box that is the same all the way back to the W123 cars.

The w210 has a slightly stiffer suspension than the W124. Try to drive at least one of each before making up your mind.

Note that the 1995 E300D (W124) got a 24 gallon fuel tank so the marketing folks could brag "750 mile range" (and it's true). However, Americans decided they would rather have more trunk and back seat room so for the 1996 E300 (W210) the fuel tank was reduced to 16 gallons.

Many other details are available if you wish.

Jeremy
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Our all-biodiesel family
1995 E300D (W124) . .239,000 miles My car
1996 E300D (W210) . .313,000 miles Wife's car
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  #9  
Old 02-03-2013, 04:34 PM
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I'm impressed with the acceleration of the '99 E300 over the '95 E300. I currently own two '95 models and will probably add a '99 to the fleet eventually.
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  #10  
Old 02-03-2013, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy5848 View Post
My '96 E300D (W210, OM606NA) has spent its life (287,000 miles so far) on the west coast, which (in my opinion) has helped it avoid the spring perch issue. One of the reasons for this rust problem is that the upper support traps dirt, which retains water, which causes rust. If the dirt is washed off occasionally there is less chance for rust.

The OM606NA engine in my '96 shows no sign of needing (at 287,000 miles) a head gasket or for that matter anything else. I had the valve cover off and the insides still look new. At most 1 degree of chain stretch, which I attribute to all three POs keeping the oil clean and fresh.

The 1996 and perhaps also 1997 W210s still have (in use from about 1994) the "environmental" wire insulation that falls apart after 10 years or so. It's much worse in areas that are exposed to heat. I had to rebuild the cable running to the starter lockout/backup switches on the transmission, under the car. My 1995 E300D (W124) had several cables replaced by the PO.

The W210 cars are nicer in some ways than the W124s -- improved front suspension, more airbags, nicer climate control. They are harder to repair and generally more expensive. For example, I'm looking at replacing the entire window switch assembly because the child lock has failed. In the W124 you can replace individual switches but the W210 has them all in a single unit. There are lots of W124s in junkyards from which to get inexpensive parts but W210s are rare.

Although the 1995 E300D with the OM606NA engine is perhaps the most desired W124 because it's the last year and has all of the 'facelift' upgrades, don't over look the earlier W124s with the OM602 Turbo 5-cylinder engine. The OM602 did not have the head problems of the OM603 and gets excellent fuel economy with about as much power as the 606.

If you choose a W210, remember that the first two years (1996-97) have the OM606NA engine while 1998-99 have the turbocharged version of that same engine. Much more power and the same or better fuel economy. Also much more electronic. The 5-speed electronic transmission was introduced for 1997; older cars have the 4-speed vacuum-mechanical box that is the same all the way back to the W123 cars.

The w210 has a slightly stiffer suspension than the W124. Try to drive at least one of each before making up your mind.

Note that the 1995 E300D (W124) got a 24 gallon fuel tank so the marketing folks could brag "750 mile range" (and it's true). However, Americans decided they would rather have more trunk and back seat room so for the 1996 E300 (W210) the fuel tank was reduced to 16 gallons.

Many other details are available if you wish.

Jeremy

Thanks, Jeremy! Great information. I will take you up on your offer of more info soon.
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  #11  
Old 02-03-2013, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ground Loop View Post
Can you share with me what to look out for on these cars?

I love my old 240. but my commute is a tad long for her, and I am looking at this model as a more appropriate alternative.

What are the "gotchas"? Where can I go wrong?
If you can afford the leap to a 2005-'06 W211 E320 CDI - that's where I'd be spending my money. Much newer everything, and perhaps the best mpg return of any MB sedan diesel in recent history. I've never owned/driven any MB diesel that returned over 30-32 mpg, ever. Some here report a solid return of; "41 mpg, doing 75 - 80 mph in their CDIs" if I recall correctly. That's pretty hard to beat in my book.

I'm a strong proponent of buying as dependable a car you can, when allocating dollars on a car's purchase price. Unless you don't need it to be dependable. If you have two, three or more old(er) 'hobby cars,' this isn't as important. But for me, I have to have a dependable car to start when I need it to get somewhere.

Instead of having to spend untold dollars possibly in the thousands, fixing-up, or patching-up a worn W124 or W210, I'd consider spending my dollars forward for a longer run with a newer/better car. Hence, the '05/'06 CDI.
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