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  #1  
Old 06-29-2019, 03:13 PM
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1987 300D - red flags?

Hello forum members. I'm considering my first MB -- but the car I'm looking at is a 1987 300D. Can I ask some reactions from you? (PS I've read other forum discussions about problems with this particular model.)

The seller's asking price is very good, partly because it's a slog to get there. Warning signs: The car runs and rides but "needs a new water pump and radiator." These are obvious signs that it had a coolant issue at one point. The head is not a "14" head -- it's a "15" if I'm reading it correctly. (Picture attached). I'm hoping this means it's more durable, and has less chance of being cracked. And, the seller claims the oil is clean, not milky. I figure a new water pump and radiator will run me about $800 together. Even with this, the car would be worth it to me if it runs well.

I'm going to have a local shop inspect the car, so hopefully compression numbers will tell a bigger story.

Any wisdom you could offer would be much appreciated!

Adam
Portland, OR
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  #2  
Old 06-29-2019, 04:40 PM
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The w124 evaporator issue (not whether but when). 20 shop hours (the whole dash and everything in front of the evap must be pulled).

So if there's no proof positive of that having been done...
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  #3  
Old 06-29-2019, 06:14 PM
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Having owned three 124s, the engine and drivetrain issues are important and expensive. But to me the big thing is condition of the body and interior. It is a stylish machine and it should look good and be comfortable. Therefore I would only buy a rust free or nearly rust free example. I would consider whether the seats are shredded or in good condition, dash cracked etc. Lots of little things to tinker with on these interiors some easy and some hard and some stupidly frustrating.
I'm not saying you should ignore the coolant issue or cracked head or transmission condition - but in the example you're describing, you can't know their condition until its running. You can do a compression test or have the mechanic do one. I wouldn't skip that step. Lots of advice on this forum about 124s.
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87 300D latest project!
11 GLK 350 So far, so good
08 E350 4matic, Love it.
99 E320 too rusted, sold
87 260E Donated to Newgate School
www.Newgateschool.org - check it out.
12 Ford Escape, sold, forgotten
87 300D, sold, what a mistake
06 Passat 2.0T, PITA, sold

Las Vegas NV
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  #4  
Old 06-29-2019, 10:48 PM
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Unless it's a Euro-market car, it should have the turbo engine. A #15 head is not a turbo head, US market cars came with 14 and 17 heads, 20 and 22 were sold as replacement parts. The cracked head business gets more credit than it deserves, if the engine wasn't run low on coolant and beat on, it should probably be fine. Clues that you have a cracked head or breached head gasket are coolant consumption or pressurization of the cooling system.
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 64K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'91 350SD - "The Diseasel Jr." 168K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 189K (Totaled 1/31/19)
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
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  #5  
Old 06-29-2019, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diseasel300 View Post
Unless it's a Euro-market car, it should have the turbo engine. A #15 head is not a turbo head, US market cars came with 14 and 17 heads, 20 and 22 were sold as replacement parts. The cracked head business gets more credit than it deserves, if the engine wasn't run low on coolant and beat on, it should probably be fine. Clues that you have a cracked head or breached head gasket are coolant consumption or pressurization of the cooling system.
I've been trying to sign up with Imgur to show you pics, but I can't seem to register for some reason...
Anyway, it seems the #15 head was an early revision of the #14 head... I found the following in a PeachParts Forum thread entitled "OM602 & OM603 Head Revision Reference."

"Production change for protection against cracks in water jacket"
"Since 10/87 the bolt flutes on the exhaust side have been reinforced and the recesses (hollows) between the coolant ducts on the outlet side filled to prevent cracks in the cylinder head water jacket."

This appears to be a #15 head (although a casting number change is not mentioned) which would pre-date the next change:

"The reinforcements at the valve tappet guides and exhaust passages have been reinforced. Modified cylinder heads can be recognized by the cast no. on the intake side, see table."

Engine ----- previous cast no. --- new cast no. --- Production Breakpoint
_______________________________________________________

602 ---------- 602 016 03 01 --- 602 016 07 01 --- 09/89

602 Turbo----- 602 016 06 01 --- 602 016 08 01 --- 07/89

603 ---------- 603 016 10 01 --- 603 016 16 01 --- 10/89

603 Turbo----- 603 016 15 01 --- 603 016 17 01 --- 07/89


In any case, I take your point that it's still possible the head is good. When you say "pressurization of the coolant system," do you mean this as a diagnostic test?

Last edited by ToeDipper; 06-29-2019 at 11:50 PM.
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  #6  
Old 06-29-2019, 11:41 PM
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US-market cars had the turbo engine. Turbo engines have a crossover pipe across the valve cover. Non-turbo (Euro-market) engines have a massive airbox on the driver's side with no crossover pipe across the valve cover. Your picture is not attached to your post, so it's hard to say what you have. The head is probably a 14 casting, it was the only head used from the factory on '86/87 cars and is by far the most common.
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'11 Honda Accord EX - "The Daily" 64K
'83 500SL Euro - "The Money Pit" 116K
'91 350SD - "The Diseasel Jr." 168K
'86 300SDL - "The Diseasel" 189K (Totaled 1/31/19)
The Diseasel Thread - Everything You Didn't Know You Wanted To Know
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  #7  
Old 06-30-2019, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToeDipper View Post
Hello forum members. I'm considering my first MB -- but the car I'm looking at is a 1987 300D. Can I ask some reactions from you? (PS I've read other forum discussions about problems with this particular model.)

The seller's asking price is very good, partly because it's a slog to get there. Warning signs: The car runs and rides but "needs a new water pump and radiator." These are obvious signs that it had a coolant issue at one point. The head is not a "14" head -- it's a "15" if I'm reading it correctly. (Picture attached). I'm hoping this means it's more durable, and has less chance of being cracked. And, the seller claims the oil is clean, not milky. I figure a new water pump and radiator will run me about $800 together. Even with this, the car would be worth it to me if it runs well.

I'm going to have a local shop inspect the car, so hopefully compression numbers will tell a bigger story.

Any wisdom you could offer would be much appreciated!

Adam
Portland, OR
My blue '87 300D is still my pet car. I got it needing a lot of parts to get it running again, including a replacement #14 head (also a #14) which has been reliable and served me well for almost 10 years. The 124 has minimal electronics which makes it reliable. I get as much as 28.3 MPG when on the highway.
Many feel the W124 chassis was the last of the hand made Benz's.

I echo the other comments about rust, it is hard to stop and anything significant means you should walk away and don't regret it.
Examine the bottom side closely and poke any bubbles in the paint that might be covering rust.

Unless you price was for Dealer Parts only (to be avoided unless for items which are dealer only in nature) the quoted $800 should include about $500 in labor which you could DIY if you are inclined and have the tools.
With the radiator out access to the water pump is easy.
Change the thermostat with a good quality one unless you have service records that show it was changed.
Refill with the proper antifreeze. MB is now blue, or I believe they are switching to lavender shade now. Forum members get real picky abut what the right antifreeze to be used in a car with an aluminum cylinder head (for good reason) its probably OK as long as you don't use the green goo they still sell for "older" cars.

Count on needing some rubber bushings in the suspension, and the engine mounts are known for short life, this is where service records are necessary to put together a list of what will need to be replaced eventually if not ASAP. If it drives straight and the steering is tight and responsive you are way ahead of a car that hasn't had much attention over its life.

I would check how the transmission fluid looks and smell it - it should be bright red and not smell burnt. If it slides thru a shift instead of feeling crisp then it may need to be repaired.
Let us know what you find when / if you go to check it out.
DDH
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2019, 01:19 AM
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Thumbs up Adam's New Whip

You didn't mention the ballpark price, what you've described is a $1,000 car tops .

Unless you enjoy tinkering and are reasonably good at it, DO NOT buy any used Mercedes vehicle ! .

Yes, they're great cars but also like ALL German vehicles they require a certain amount of routine touching (very different from breaking down often).

Once you get it sorted out and running well, these InLine 6 cylinder Diesel engines are -fantastic- drivers but, unless you personally can swing the wrenches, walk away now and go buy the newest Mercedes you can if you simply *must* have a Mercedes .

The good folks here are telling you this indirectly , pay attention .

We who love to tinker and repair or those few who are both rich enough and lucky enough to have a competent and (more importantly) HONEST Mercedes knowledgable garage nearby love and cherish our Mercedes' old and new bot those who don't fit that arrow slot wind up hating them in the end, every time .
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1982 240D creampuff 370,000 miles
1978 300CD back from the dead&1980 300CD ~ SOLD
1984 300CD KEEPER ! 440,XXX miles
1984 Euro 300TD Fully optioned SWMBO's
1974 350SLC 4 speed stickshift SOLD & missed
Krazy Kommie Ural Motos (3)
BMW Moto R60/6 Barn Find, 8,000miles
1959 VW #113 Deuxe Beetle, 36hp engine, stock
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2019, 12:35 PM
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I bought a 300d 87, for $1300. Good compression and good shifting, no rust. But lots of little things with 270k miles on the clock. All in, including a cheap paint job I've spent about $11,000. Unfortunately, I didn't do all of the work myself. All of the suspension work including replacing every bushing and ball joint was done in a shop. I think around $5,000 of that is small stuff, seat parts and switches and stereo and whatnot. Someday I'll post a play by play of the resto. But, I now have a fine car. Love the 124 and especially the 87 d.
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87 300D latest project!
11 GLK 350 So far, so good
08 E350 4matic, Love it.
99 E320 too rusted, sold
87 260E Donated to Newgate School
www.Newgateschool.org - check it out.
12 Ford Escape, sold, forgotten
87 300D, sold, what a mistake
06 Passat 2.0T, PITA, sold

Las Vegas NV
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2019, 05:33 PM
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1987 300D - red flags?

Thank you all, for your replies. I learned a lot from them. I appreciate the caveats you've given. Initially I was impressed with the asking price ($1000) and the mileage (151k). But, I'm probably going to walk away from the car. I'm not shy with wrenches, and could install the water pump and radiator myself... but I was impressed by comments from several of you about the number of niggling problems and the constant expense.

Below (I think) are attached some images.

I'm curious if you think the fluid/oil that has stained the top of the engine suggests an overheat...?
Attached Thumbnails
1987 300D - red flags?-idaho300d-engine.jpg   1987 300D - red flags?-idaho300d.jpg   1987 300D - red flags?-idaho300d-crossmember.jpg  
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  #11  
Old 06-30-2019, 09:15 PM
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$1,000 is way too much for a car that needs that much work, especially when its probably been overheated. I would say exactly the opposite on dealer parts, most of the time OEM parts (although maybe not from the dealer) are the way to go, cheap aftermarket stuff is a good way to make any car into an unreliable beater that needs the same things fixed multiple times.
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  #12  
Old 06-30-2019, 10:52 PM
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Post

That's about normal for a old engine, I see *much* worse on daily drivers .

That much weepage would drive me insane but it's no big deal until the oil you see is glossy and wet ~ dry oil like this is nothing to the average old car .
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-Nate
1982 240D creampuff 370,000 miles
1978 300CD back from the dead&1980 300CD ~ SOLD
1984 300CD KEEPER ! 440,XXX miles
1984 Euro 300TD Fully optioned SWMBO's
1974 350SLC 4 speed stickshift SOLD & missed
Krazy Kommie Ural Motos (3)
BMW Moto R60/6 Barn Find, 8,000miles
1959 VW #113 Deuxe Beetle, 36hp engine, stock
Junk, Rust, Arthritis, Crushed Spine,Broken Neck&Back
Memories, Peace Of Mind
facts & reality don't change because you can't handle them
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  #13  
Old 07-01-2019, 01:12 AM
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If it starts fine COLD and shifts strong I'd buy it. As long as thr head is ok.

If it's smokey with a f*cked up idle I'd run away. I got burned by the 300SDL, glad I'm not driving that piece of junk. I would of been gotten rid of it, but it's my brother's.
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  #14  
Old 07-01-2019, 09:48 AM
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Let me give you an example: I paid $1400 for my W124 diesel. It immediately needed new monovalve and fluids. ($250)
Then new turbo, because the old one was worn out beyond resealing. ($200)
Then plenty of small bits here and there, mainly interior. Tie rods, alignment ($250).
All vacuum pods replaced ($50) so the AC could be cold.
New battery ($200).
Now it needs new tranny with seals and fluid ($500). And that should make it solid for a while. I bought it with a worn out tranny with the intent to swap it someday, but as you daily drive it, it comes sooner than later.
Everything I did myself in the parking lot except the alignment, so no labor costs.
You have to be ready for it.
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