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  #1  
Old 02-13-2004, 11:25 PM
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Anyone here buy a 81-85 300SD when it was brand new?

Is there anyone here who bought a 1981-1985 Mercedes 300SD, or ANY 1985 or older diesel Mercedes when it was brand new?

If so- how did the transmission shift when it was brand new? All of the ones I have test drove (except for a 83' 300SD w/224K) had harsh shifting transmissions. Releasing the accelerator to make it shift has been required on all of the Mercedes I have driven except the one I mentioned. Also- at what mileage did you start experiencing the most problems (if any)?

Thanks in advance.
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1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive (33k miles)
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (77k miles)
1992 Toyota Camry LE (177k miles)
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon (44k miles)
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville 4-dr hardtop sedan (94k miles)
1988 Mercedes 300SEL (was mine, now mothers)
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D)
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2004, 12:11 AM
Bailey'sBenz
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Problems ? What Problems ?! Ok - a few minors.

I bought my 1980 300D (non-turbo) new. I can’t say I remember exactly how it shifted new. I was 17 at the time, and a lot has happened in my life since. I know I would remember any serious transmission issues, and I don’t. Now, at 294K+ miles, my records show that I’ve serviced it 6 times, put 2 new neutral switches on it, and put a total of three new modulator valves in it over the years. And I do know that when the modulator valve goes bad, the thing will slam itself into second gear. Hard enough to chirp the tires. Not adjusted properly, it will either slam second or slip (rev up) between first and second. At $35 each, I’m not *****’n about new M-Valves. If you have shifting issues, go there first.
As for when I started having problems with it. That was about 4 months ago with an occasional slip between second and third. I can remedy it by manually shifting it back to second for a second or two then back to “D” and all’s well. I am concerned that the life of the transmission could be soon to see it’s end. But then, at 24 years this May, and near 295K, I’m not going to ***** at a $2k overhaul. (Call it crazy, but I’ll be keeping the same trans # as is on my build sheet.)
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Old 02-14-2004, 12:20 AM
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I bought my 1984 300SD new in Feb., 1984; almost 20 yrs ago, to the day. I sold it in 1988, and bought it back in 2001, and have driven it since. It has ~185k miles.

With a 13 yr. hiatus, it's a little far back for really accurate memory, but I recall that I was surprised that a car that sold for the price it did in '84, had such a hard 1-2 shift. It was "crisp", to say the least.

After going through most all of the car's systems and adjusting and/or R/R most of what's needed to make it very right, I have to say it still shifts very firmly, 20 yrs. later. Only now I like (or am used to) the firm shifts.

My guess is that at least some of the cars you've been testing are in need of some minor vacuum system rehab. and a modulator adj. I used 2.9 bar at 30 mph for the 722.303, but I didn't have a Tech. Serv. Manual and my ATSG doesn't give a figure for my trans., so I extrapolated the 2.9 figure from a G-Wagon manual. Some of the folk here claim to adjust the modulator by feel, but I'm not that good.
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Old 02-14-2004, 12:27 AM
edge's Avatar
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jbaj007, did you actually buy the same car back? Congrats Bailey'sBenz, you got your money's worth.
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85 300CD Signal Red/Tan sold
83 300D Manganese Brown 109K
97 E420 Midnight Blue 197K sold
98 BMW 328i Vert White 100K, sold
95 BMW 525i White 125K, sold
93 BMW 525iT Red 193K, sold
95 E320 Green Wagon 125K, sold
94 E320 White 127K, sold
85 300SD 156K Grey (Annie), sold
84 300D Lapis Blue 170K (Judy), sold
99 ML 320 Black (lease), 1998 C230 White (lease)
00 Honda S2000 Red (lease)
86 Mercedes 300E (sold)
84 Porsche 911 Red (sold), 1965 Porsche 911 White (sold)
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  #5  
Old 02-14-2004, 12:53 AM
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Thanks for the quick replies. JBA- interesting that you ended up with the same car that you bought new after all of these years.

I have been concerned with the way these transmissions shift in these cars, as the way that they shift is something that I am not accustomed to.

I was interested in the 84 300SD with 236K a while back- that had the bad engine shake @ idle. When I test drove it- even at idle- the engine would smooth at at times. The transmission did have that very firm 1-2 shift and a very quick 2-3 shift. I did not let the car warm completely up however. I only drove it for a mile. Also- it was very low on power. Going back up the owners driveway- it would barely go 5 mph- even with the accelerator to the floor panel. It was in 1st gear as well. Also- I had noticed a small radiator leak from the front passenger area. Perhaps a hose? I did not check closely, as I was disgusted with the transmission, low power and engine shake. It was still not easy for me to pass up, as it had a perfect, 100% rust free body and near mint interior- even with 336K. It was also white, with gray interior- which is one of my favorite colors on these cars. He also had all of the service records since 1986. He bought it in 1989 and it was garage kept. He was asking $2495 at the time, but said for me to make an offer. When I did not know what to say- he said he was looking for around $2100. for it. If I had of known 100% for sure that the engine shake and LOW power was not something major- as well as the transmission- I would have bought it. It is still for sale in the local trading post, now at a $2195. price. He had said when I looked at it- if no one buys it he will just keep it in the garage and work on it.
Now there is another local early 80s 300SD, for $2995. It has the newer 86+ wheels on it. The dark blue paint is faded on the hood, trunk and top however.

Thanks again for the replies.
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1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive (33k miles)
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (77k miles)
1992 Toyota Camry LE (177k miles)
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon (44k miles)
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville 4-dr hardtop sedan (94k miles)
1988 Mercedes 300SEL (was mine, now mothers)
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D)

Last edited by 86560SEL; 02-14-2004 at 12:59 AM.
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  #6  
Old 02-14-2004, 02:17 AM
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My SD is very sluggish until it warms up.
Once my car is up to operating temps, power is very good.

My shop wants me to get a Mercedes-Benz rebuilt tranny with the warranty and everything.

He tells me, one day it's going to go.
He wants $3K for the Mercedes rebuilt tranny with warranty, and that includes labor.

I put Mobil 1 synthetic ATF in it about 30 K ago, and I think it's helping postpone a serious tranny failure.
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73 Olds 88, 72 MB 280SE, 78 Datsun 280Z, 71 T-Bird, 72 Olds 88, 83 Nissan Sentra, 85 Sentra, 73 230.6, 91 Integra, 83 300SD, 91 Volvo 940GLE wagon, 84 300SD, 95 Subaru Legacy L wagon, 02 Mountaineer, 91 300TE, 08 Murano, 2007 R320CDI 4Matic 52K, some Hyundai, 2008 BMW 535xi wagon all gone... currently
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  #7  
Old 02-14-2004, 02:27 AM
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Oh, yeah, one other thing.

I don't want to brag, but I did get to test drive a brand new 1979 or 1980 (I forget) W116 SD.
Stupid me didn't buy it of course, but we did get to take it up to 90 mph, drive it around pylons along PA Route 33 (going pretty fast considering the salesman was driving it from grass to shoulder, grass to shoulder, over and over, and then he does panic stop from 60 mph with no hands on the wheel to show that it stops straight, and very very well.
Some wild and crazy stuff was happening back in the 1970's when these cars were designed.

Now that I'm driving my SD more, I appreciate the engineering that went into these 20 year old cars.
25 mpg highway, and that's for a tank, as in "ancient steel land yacht".

And something about that diesel clatter helps my wife and daughter sleep.... Weird.
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73 Olds 88, 72 MB 280SE, 78 Datsun 280Z, 71 T-Bird, 72 Olds 88, 83 Nissan Sentra, 85 Sentra, 73 230.6, 91 Integra, 83 300SD, 91 Volvo 940GLE wagon, 84 300SD, 95 Subaru Legacy L wagon, 02 Mountaineer, 91 300TE, 08 Murano, 2007 R320CDI 4Matic 52K, some Hyundai, 2008 BMW 535xi wagon all gone... currently
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring, 2017 Mazda 3 hatchback
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2004, 02:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 86560SEL
Also- it was very low on power. Going back up the owners driveway- it would barely go 5 mph- even with the accelerator to the floor panel. It was in 1st gear as well. Also- I had noticed a small radiator leak from the front passenger area. Perhaps a hose? I did not check closely, as I was disgusted with the transmission, low power and engine shake.

Did you ask the owner why the power was so low?
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  #9  
Old 02-14-2004, 07:57 AM
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I remember driving a 116 SD when new and being alarmed about the harsh shifting between 1st and 2nd, even when warm. Now, neither of my 126s shift that hard, but, when cold they do shift a lot harder than when warm. When warm, the shift into 2nd feels really hard when doing that slow, light throttle traffic creep.

The trans in my 84 is a recent rebuild, and shifts quite well, but I too thought that the car shifted quite harsh for the $$$ it would have cost when new.

Jerry
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Running:
85 300SD, 300K+, anthracite gray
97 S320, 188K black
02 E320 4matic Wagon, 150K green
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  #10  
Old 02-14-2004, 08:40 AM
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I bought my 1984 300D new in April 1984.

325,000 miles and still going strong.

Biggest problems are the A/C, which is inadequate for Florida.
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  #11  
Old 02-14-2004, 03:08 PM
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Re: Problems ? What Problems ?! Ok - a few minors.

Quote:
Originally posted by Bailey'sBenz
I bought my 1980 300D (non-turbo) new. I can’t say I remember exactly how it shifted new. I was 17 at the time...
I'm impressed, a 17 Y.O. buying a brand new MB. I was 17 at about that same time as Bailey was. At that age all I could afford was an old '70 Maverick and it was given to me. My parents were looking to buy an SD back then but they couldn't see spending $36K for a car then.
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Old 02-14-2004, 03:44 PM
Bailey'sBenz
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All it took was lots of grass. Legal grass that is.

Lietuviai,
At that time, I was the youngest customer by far that Stevenson (in Dallas) had seen. The actual purchase of the car was not too impressive actually. (I actually had to come up here from San Antonio to get the one I wanted.) It’s the amount of odd jobs and yards I mowed starting in the 7th grade that most find impressive. Mom and Dad did put 5K into the pot. The rest was acquired at about $8.50 per yard and whatever the savings account interest rates were back then. If you do the math: 500+ yards a summer for 6 years is why the wife does her share of the mowing now. I made a promise to myself then that I’d only get rid of it when it quits. Little did I know, it wont. My daughter Bailey, now 6, says it’s hers. I think there’s a good chance she’ll be driving it in 10 years. Part of that dream will depend a bit on the advice from this board. That, I might add has been wonderful so far. My thanks to you all.
As for the SD your folks looked at. Well, when I brought this car home new, mom and dad drove a Ford Escort Wagon and a Torino. That got the neighbors talk’n for sure. They’ve since wised up to an M430 and an E55.
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Old 02-14-2004, 04:21 PM
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Bailey'sBenz, I can see that you've probably done fairly well in life as I can tell by your signature. Owning airplanes probably required moving up the corporate ladder a bit more than mowing more lawns. Good Job! I'm further impressed by the mere fact that you have be able to own the same car for 24 years. At your age I was more interested in being able to someday buy my first house which I did by the time I was 23. I did move on to owning better cars but I didn't buy my first new car until 1992 and it was for my wife. I bought two more new cars over the following year and I have not bought another new car since. Every other car that I have owned since have been used. I only own one of those three "new" cars now and that it the '93 Silverado that is in my signature. That is a keeper. The only car that comes close to your 24 year length of ownership is my '51 Cadillac. I've owned it since '86. I may sell it someday for something that won't become the garage queen that it has recently become since moving here to the NW.
At the time my parents looked at the SD, they owned a '77 Plymouth Volare S/W and an '80 VW diesel P/U. My parents never bought a MB and I don't know if they ever will. Their best friends bought a new MB a few years ago and it gave them a lot of problems. My dad has always had an appreciation for MB diesels and he briefly had a desire to buy an older low-mileage example like mine or an SD like they had looked at many years before after I bought my '85 300D. I don't think my mom would go for the idea of a used car though.
BTW: What is a MDHC/B MD520N?
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84 300D Turbodiesel 190K with 4 speed manual sold in 03/2012
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Old 02-14-2004, 06:50 PM
Bailey'sBenz
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I think we're both doing well.

The MDHC/B 520N is a McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. (Some called it MDHI, but I’m too traditional for that) (Now owned by Boeing (sort of)) helicopter. What folks like me prefer calling a “Fling-Wing”.
It has 5 main rotor blades but no tail rotor at all. Much safer than a tail rotor ship, and much (MUCH) quieter.
As for the corporate ladder. I tried to avoid it at all costs. Flying runs in the family. I started young. Insisted on trying all aspects of it. Loved being an A&P mechanic. Hated the though of being an airline “pilot”, though everyone said I should be one. Did ok in school. Texas A&M and ERAU. And most importantly: Never said “no” to anyone. Put myself through school smuggling electronics into Mexico. Could of made more bringing drugs out, but did say “NO” to that. Learned early that the aviation industry is very small and everyone pretty much knows everyone else. Never burned a bridge. Called on old friends for help. Poured everything I had into an old DC-3 and flew fresh shrimp to a restaurant in Chicago before they went bankrupt from paying me too much. I got into test/cert flying part 91 privately owned 727s, 737s and 757s for folks that don’t live in this country, for their post modification certification(s). Only said “no” to them when I couldn’t take their Arab BS anymore, and retired at 38 to be a stay at home dad to the two greatest kids on the planet, and a wonderful wife.
As for doing “well in life”. I guess we have. But to us, doing well is what shows in you as a person, not in how many toys you have. In our book - A person is doing well when the first new car they buy is for their wife.
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Old 02-16-2004, 12:06 AM
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Thanks for the replies. Perhaps I should have bought the Mercedes. However, I had no way knowing if the engine was damaged- what with the severe shaking side to side @ idle and extremely low power.
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1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive (33k miles)
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (77k miles)
1992 Toyota Camry LE (177k miles)
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon (44k miles)
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville 4-dr hardtop sedan (94k miles)
1988 Mercedes 300SEL (was mine, now mothers)
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D)
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