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  #1  
Old 01-08-2021, 03:51 PM
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New Ride, '85 300D California

Greetings! I recently picked up a 1985 300d California, after hunting around for a while, and am looking to fix some of the quirks. Iíve owned the car since October, and the car has been a joy to drive mostly. Since the purchase, Iíve done a diesel purge, oil change/filter, and fuel filters, as well as a nice deep clean and paint buff.

Figured I'd make this thread, to document the repairs and become more informed on my car! Some before/after pictures are at the end of this post.

Some of the things I knew werenít working upon purchase were:
  • No AC compressor
  • Rust spot around fuel cap, and a few other small spots on the car
  • Odometer stopped around 162k (according to service records, that was about 10 years ago)
  • Tachometer not working
  • Bad antenna
  • Rear trunk latch doesnít automatically reset upon unlocking, making you fiddle with it before closing. Turns out to be a PITA
  • Passenger mirror got knocked, and is hardly hanging on
  • Door locks disconnected from vac system


The reasons I chose this car:
  • Fairly extensive service history
  • Little rust, and a mostly straight body, and an intact interior
  • Fired right up on a cold start, with zero blowby on the oil filler cap dance test
  • Car quickly got up to 85mph on the fwy without a struggle
  • Enthusiastic owner, who intended to own the car for a long time (until he had to move)

I paid $2400, which seemed fair

Here is a brief list of some of the service history

2/6/20, $401 - Replaced Drive Belts - Steering ContiTech V-Belt, Drive belt fan and alternator V-belt
11/16/19, $308 - Brake pads, fuel filter, oil change
11/12/18, $849 - Replace Water Pump. Glow Plug #1, 2 replaced
10/22/18, $431 - Glow plug replaced, #3, 4, 5. Glow Plug Relay Box Assembly replaced
10/18/18, $897 - Rear right axle shaft assembly replacement. Rear brake hoses
12/13/11, $60 - SL 425 Muffler
2/16/11, $351 - Brake pads, rotors, master cyl assy & rear calipers. Replace all V-belts
4/29/09, $254 - Replace transmission pan gasket and filter.

After owning the car for a bit, more issues arose, of course. Some of them are the following:
  • Oil/fluid Leaks in a few areas. Mostly seems to be in the vacuum pump area, and the transmission pan.
  • About 1Ē of left/right play on the steering wheel.
  • Thunks hard into 2nd gear, especially when itís not fully warmed up
  • Heat/Air is temperamental, often not wanting to function on cold mornings, when I am trying to defrost the windows
  • Rear window defrost doesnít seem to work
  • Car takes on water under heavy rain
  • The sound of a faint wobble in the front end (Iím assuming wheel bearings)
  • Oil pressure gauge in cluster is leaking on my left foot
  • Realized that this car was repainted at some point
  • Passenger side hood hinge is bent

Iím trying to prioritize what to repair first, but also do as much of the work myself, to save money and learn how. My goal isnít to have a show car, but a reliable/safe daily driver, that will hopefully last me many more years of enjoyment.

Here is a list of parts Iíve acquired, but not installed:
  • Front wheel bearing kits
  • 4 x zimmerman rotors & Brembo pads
  • 4 x flexible brake hoses
  • Window brushes as mine are totally destroyed
  • Door and trunk rubber seals
  • Transmission pan gasket and filter
  • Engine motor mounts and transmission mount


My first things I plan to tackle are the wheel bearings, and brakes. Figured Iíd paint the wheels, while theyíre removed too.

Seems like the vacuum system needs work too, since I'm having heat/air issues as well as hard shifts into 2nd...?




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  #2  
Old 01-13-2021, 08:53 PM
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$400 to replace belts?
where did he take it, Cheatem & howe auto?
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  #3  
Old 01-13-2021, 09:11 PM
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steering wheel play and wobble are likely the same issue. bad rubber bushings in the front suspension.
not too bad pricewise around $200 I guess.
how are the shocks? if bad, another $200

water leaks could be sunroof seal, door seals, or front windshield seal.
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  #4  
Old 01-15-2021, 10:25 AM
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Wow. I bought a 85 Cali 300d two years ago. It was about as neglected as yours. A lot of the same issues. Rather than go over them here you can read about them in my 300D rebuild thread.

Good luck. Looks like a lot of projects. We had a lot of the same issues. All of them are fixable.

Got a 1985 300D turbo
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  #5  
Old 01-15-2021, 01:12 PM
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Welcome. It looks like you have a good project on your hands and most of that stuff is the typical stuff that wears down on these cars. I'm assuming you are doing all of the work which will make it significantly cheaper to repair. Those recent repair bills are high up there. I guess that is good to note for people looking to get into these cars.

Where are you in Northern California?
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  #6  
Old 01-15-2021, 09:37 PM
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Buff that paint out and it will come back.. I think $2400 is a fair price for that, especially with 0 blow by, 85 model, red color, and it seems to be getting A LOT harder to find w123's let alone good ones.
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  #7  
Old 01-15-2021, 10:40 PM
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If your Oil Cooler Hoses are seeping change them as some have lost engines because the Rubber under the crimped collars shrinks and the hoses can slide out or simply break off under the crimp (oil pressure can be as high as 110 pis).

Oil cooler hoses again. If the drivers side motor mount collapses some have had the power steering belt cut through one of the Oil Cooler Hoses.

You can try adjusting the steering Box Play. There a Nut (often well rusted) with an Allen screw in the center. Once the Nut is loose turning the Screw counter clockwise takes up the play. If you adjust it to tight you will be rocking your wheel back and forth to go straight.

"Oil pressure gauge in cluster is leaking on my left foot" I suppose the fitting could be loose but usually the inside of the gauges has cracked.

Under the floor mates are rubber plugs you can remove so the water drains out.
Usually plugged drains and in the Body or the results of plugged drains which is rusted holes into the interior.

Highly suspected area is the area the hood springs are in and below the Battery on the Fire wall.
Next would be rust holes under the Windshield and Rear Window Seals.

Inspect the Rubber Flex Discs on the Drive Shaft. The Transmission end one is hard to inspect. If the Transmission one comes apart it has been know to crack off the Transmission Tail Shaft. Don't use Chinese Flex Discs and each Drive Shaft End has a Centering Bearing.

Lemforder Motor Mounts are the same as the genuine Mercedes ones and are made by the Phoenix company. Lemforder Flex Discs are made in Germany.

See post #10 for some cracked flex disc pics: 1985 CA 300D- Newly bought, need help big time
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  #8  
Old 01-16-2021, 01:04 PM
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Rule #1, don't freak out.
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 881
Ya for the leaky oil pressure gauge you gotta get a new cluster. Or just the the part of the the cluster that the oil pressure gauge is on, if you wanna keep your origainal odo and speedo.

I think I remember removing the actually gauge from the cluster was a PITA so that's why I changed the whole left panel. (gas gauge, oil, and temp)
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  #9  
Old 01-16-2021, 01:32 PM
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I paid $2500 for my 1985 CA 300D in 2001 w/ 280K miles, so dealt w/ most issues and posted many fixes w/ repairs here. The OE engine failed at 330K, replaced w/ used 1982 engine $300 craigslist which proved perfect (>400 psig compression, new camshaft). Before I found that, I bought a 1984 300D for $400 for its engine. It had been stolen and crashed and supposedly had a broken frame repaired which failed again, but fixed that so now own two 300D. Many parts are now "not avail", but can improvise. On quick view, you are spending way too much, like $400 for new belts, but if paying $200/hr labor it makes sense as loosen the alternator is a bit$ch until you lose the EGR valve and reroute the stupid "up R side of engine" H.P. AC tube. I'll reply to your #1 post w/ some answers.
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  #10  
Old 01-16-2021, 02:10 PM
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[*]No AC compressor
Same Harrison R4 as Chevy's. Cheap in winter on ebay. I have at least one spare ~$50 new. I tried a Sanden on Rollguy's brackets but the bracket cracked apart after a few years. Didn't cool any better.

[*]Odometer stopped
Perhaps a broken cable inside the shaft. Push dash out (remove bottom dash cover), then pull cable remnants out of shaft. If broken at transmission end, a bit grubbier access. You can buy a new generic cut-to-length cable on ebay ($8), which I recall is same as old U.S. cars (vague memory). You slide it into the shaft from the dash end.

[*]Tachometer not working
In 1985 (and 1984?), the tach signal routes thru the EGR brain box (behind passenger kick panel below glovebox). An over-voltage relay above that powers that box and often fails (or just fuse on top). If you rip out all the EGR underhood stuff (if no longer working), you can forget about the EGR box. You just jumper 2 pins on its connector to get the dash tach working. I recall "no tach" also disables the AC compressor. You can find posts w/ photos and details.

[*]Bad antenna
Common. Expensive part. Telescopic shaft might just need lube. M-B provided an oiled cloth for that since a regular task.

[*]Rear trunk latch doesn’t automatically reset upon unlocking, making you fiddle with it before closing. Turns out to be a PITA
Vacuum trunk lock actuator is a common leak source. "Not avail" affordably and most junkyard ones leak. Simple fix is unhook it and use your key like many cars. Can cap off the tubes for it and the fuel door lock at the passenger kick-panel under the carpet.

[*]Passenger mirror got knocked, and is hardly hanging on
Easy junkyard pick. Use row52 to find cars at PicNPull. Look for VIN w/ "WBAB***".

[*]Door locks disconnected from vac system
Check actuators w/ a vac pump. I have junkyard spares. Most test OK. The driver's door has a master vac switch which controls all the other doors.

[*]Fired right up on a cold start, with zero blowby on the oil filler cap dance test
My 1985 was getting hard to start on mornings <45 F, requiring a block heater. Compression was ~250 psig in most cyl. A few years later, the engine failed. Chunks were missing from several pistons around the rings and some cylinders scored. My 1984 has no block heater and always starts after 1 glow cycle even if 30 F. ~400 psig compression last I checked.


11/12/18, $849 - Replace Water Pump. Glow Plug #1, 2 replaced
10/22/18, $431 - Glow plug replaced, #3, 4, 5. Glow Plug Relay Box
Costly service. I have been documenting glow plugs since many brands seem to fail early. I've verified that the Chinese brands (CFP, ...) only last 20K miles, failing like clockwork. All were Bosch originally, and all failed, but don't know mileage. Have some Autolite now which haven't failed yet.

[*]About 1” of left/right play on the steering wheel.
Check sector-shaft adjustment on gear-box. You back out the screw to tighten and remove play. If showing >6 threads, that is about max adjustment. I have yet to find a junkyard box which isn't at max, other than one which showed 2 threads, but I adjusted out the play and it hit max too. I have one I'll try rebuilding and see if new balls or bronze bushings tighten it.

[*]Thunks hard into 2nd gear, especially when it’s not fully warmed up
Common when the vacuum is low (use gage) or VCV is mis-adjusted. You need better than 15"Hg vacuum from the pump (everything else capped off) for things to work well. Hard to find a pump rebuild kit today for <$150, except for the earlier 2-tube pumps. Even used outlet check valves sell for $100. Could just be a leak, so capping off branches until you find it.

[*]Heat/Air is temperamental, often not wanting to function on cold mornings, when I am trying to defrost the windows
Common for the "bridge too far" auto-temp control w/ mostly analog electronics. 3 boxes are involved, plus a temp sensor, and 5 vacuum switches ("codes"). An EE here used to rebuild the boxes. One small company sells refurb'ed push-button boxes. I have changed all 3 and still acts quirky in both my cars. I suspect the TempRegular box (above glovebox).

[*]Rear window defrost doesn’t seem to work
Measure applied voltage at the grid connections w/ a multimeter. In many cars, the grid gets cracks, but not common in these M-B.

[*]Car takes on water under heavy rain
Insure the sunroof drains are clear at 4 corners. Both mine have trunk leaks. The neglected 1984 had 6" of water in the trunk wells, causing cabin mold on the seats. Insure the trunk channels are free of tree gunk, and parking outside on a slope helps. Often, the metal rusts under the rear window gasket in the middle. Fold the rubber back to peek and try flowable silicone windshield seal after cleaning well.

[*]The sound of a faint wobble in the front end (I’m assuming wheel bearings)
Bad wheel bearings give a whining sound, starting ~40 mph. Common PN (Timken SET4 and SET6, recall or such), same as Chevy pickups. Need repacking and adjusting every 100K miles or so.

[*]Oil pressure gauge in cluster is leaking on my left foot
Leaks on the right foot are from the vacuum switch on the key stalk. That oil is sucked in past a bad "shutdown valve" w/ cracked diaphragm at rear of Injection Pump. If the gage, that is a tougher repair.

[*]Passenger side hood hinge is bent
Often caused by owner mistake. There are latches that allow propping the hood straight vertical. If not released, one can bend the hinge in trying to force it down.

Motor Mounts: many posts. These greatly affect how the engine shakes at idle. The Indian ones are bad (Anchor, etc). Try to find OE quality.
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  #11  
Old 01-18-2021, 09:50 AM
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Sunroof seals usually aren't the leak problem. The drains are.
Aftermarket seals won't let the roof seat correctly. MB seals aren't expensive.

Search the many thread arguments about how to properly adjust the bearings. Replace hoses the 1st time you get into the brakes. Hoses have been neglected on every vehicle I've ever bought (with over 100,000 mi).
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  #12  
Old 01-18-2021, 09:13 PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. Since starting the thread, I've made some repairs. I installed new zimmerman front rotors, brembo brake pads, and new front wheel bearings. Upon the removal of one bearing, I found it was totally shredded, which made for a difficult time removing the races. The car now tracks straighter, with no wobbling sound, or brake wobble.

While the car was on jack stands, I tore into the doors to replace the window scraping rubbers on all four windows. These had to have been original, because they were in horrible shape, and likely the culprit for water in the cab. They were especially warped around the lock, probably from someone trying to break in at some point. I wire brushed the rust off the bottom of the doors, and used Rust Bullet paint to prevent more corrosion. With the doors cards removed, I also lubricated the check straps and window tracks, and added some soundproofing.

I thought the driver door check strap was broken, but it seems like the receiver for the strap, on the frame of the car is the issue. When the ball rolls out of the check strap, the receiver slaps against the frame in a cracking sound. I'm not really sure how to access this from inside the frame. Maybe I need to drill and tap a screw from the outside, to hold the receiver tightly against the frame?

Just removed the EGR controller and did the wiring trick, to revive my tachometer. That was an easy 10min fix!

Quote:
Originally Posted by resago2000 View Post
steering wheel play and wobble are likely the same issue. bad rubber bushings in the front suspension.
not too bad pricewise around $200 I guess.
how are the shocks? if bad, another $200

water leaks could be sunroof seal, door seals, or front windshield seal.
I plan to diagnose which steering pieces are loose in the near future, but fixing the wheel bearing fixed a lot of steering play.

Shocks are in great shape, the rears look to have been replaced just a year or two ago.

Windshield seals are being looked at closely. Probably my last resort if water is still intruding in the cab, because they look to be a pain to replace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ykobayashi View Post
Wow. I bought a 85 Cali 300d two years ago. It was about as neglected as yours. A lot of the same issues. Rather than go over them here you can read about them in my 300D rebuild thread.

Good luck. Looks like a lot of projects. We had a lot of the same issues. All of them are fixable.

Got a 1985 300D turbo
I'll read thru! Glad to hear most of my car woes are fixable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonnyMorrow View Post
Welcome. It looks like you have a good project on your hands and most of that stuff is the typical stuff that wears down on these cars. I'm assuming you are doing all of the work which will make it significantly cheaper to repair. Those recent repair bills are high up there. I guess that is good to note for people looking to get into these cars.

Where are you in Northern California?
Thanks! I plan do do as much of the work myself as possible, even though I'm not too experienced as a car mechanic...

I'm located in Napa...Cheers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdoublenastywitit View Post
Buff that paint out and it will come back.. I think $2400 is a fair price for that, especially with 0 blow by, 85 model, red color, and it seems to be getting A LOT harder to find w123's let alone good ones.
I did a quick buff when I brought home the car. If you click the photo, you'll see an 'after' shot!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diesel911 View Post
If your Oil Cooler Hoses are seeping change them as some have lost engines because the Rubber under the crimped collars shrinks and the hoses can slide out or simply break off under the crimp (oil pressure can be as high as 110 pis).

Oil cooler hoses again. If the drivers side motor mount collapses some have had the power steering belt cut through one of the Oil Cooler Hoses.

You can try adjusting the steering Box Play. There a Nut (often well rusted) with an Allen screw in the center. Once the Nut is loose turning the Screw counter clockwise takes up the play. If you adjust it to tight you will be rocking your wheel back and forth to go straight.

"Oil pressure gauge in cluster is leaking on my left foot" I suppose the fitting could be loose but usually the inside of the gauges has cracked.

Under the floor mates are rubber plugs you can remove so the water drains out.
Usually plugged drains and in the Body or the results of plugged drains which is rusted holes into the interior.

Highly suspected area is the area the hood springs are in and below the Battery on the Fire wall.
Next would be rust holes under the Windshield and Rear Window Seals.

Inspect the Rubber Flex Discs on the Drive Shaft. The Transmission end one is hard to inspect. If the Transmission one comes apart it has been know to crack off the Transmission Tail Shaft. Don't use Chinese Flex Discs and each Drive Shaft End has a Centering Bearing.

Lemforder Motor Mounts are the same as the genuine Mercedes ones and are made by the Phoenix company. Lemforder Flex Discs are made in Germany.

See post #10 for some cracked flex disc pics: 1985 CA 300D- Newly bought, need help big time
This is valueble info, thank you. I'll check on the condition of the Oil cooler hoses. Planned on replacing my motor mounts sooner, but I wanted to solve some of the oil leaking issues first, as I heard that will degrade the rubber quickly. I didn't know faulty mounts could destroy the hoses however, so maybe those will need to be replaced sooner than I planned.

Is the flex disc relatively easy to remove for inspection? I'll do some research on that project as well.
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Old 01-22-2021, 12:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric4 View Post
I didn't know faulty mounts could destroy the hoses however, so maybe those will need to be replaced sooner than I planned.

Is the flex disc relatively easy to remove for inspection? I'll do some research on that project as well.
The power steering belt wore a hole in the upper oil cooler hose in my 1984 300D. The motor mount was sagged a bit, but the main reason was that a fan belt broke and must have tangled in the p.s. belt to flip it over so it stuck out more and its "teeth" facing outward was like a chainsaw. Spewed oil all over and must have happened just a few miles from our house since still 2 qt of oil in the pan when my son arrived after a 600 mile drive. I cut the new hose 1" longer to keep it away from the belt, as M-B should have. I used 5/8" AC hose and crimps, but you could use Oeticker stepless ear clamps if you don't have an AC ferrule crimper.

The rear flex disk is fairly easy. I disconnected it and wired the driveshaft so the rear could spin freely when I flat-towed my 1985 300D, then re-attached it in a Walmart parking lot near my son's university, just drove one side up on a curb to crawl underneath. Walmarts are usually understanding about sleeping in an RV in the parking lot or people towing things, so I frequent them.

BTW, don't scream when you see the $50 price for the air filter for your 1985 CA car, if you can even find one. Just stack 2 cheap filters - Wix 46070, for a 1985 Toyota MR2. Others combinations might work.
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Old 01-22-2021, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillGrissom View Post
...Walmarts are usually understanding about sleeping in an RV in the parking lot or people towing things, so I frequent them...
Not anymore
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Old 01-22-2021, 01:22 AM
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Depends on the area. Some have had problems with big rigs so they stop all overnight parking, others have local ordinances against camping. Most are ok with RV/car camping so long as you're in the back 9, you're not making a disturbance and you're not "tailgating".

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