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  #1  
Old 06-09-2004, 01:40 PM
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thoughts on an '85 300SD?

Hello folks,

I've been looking for an '84-'85 turbodiesel, and an '85 300SD has turned up that might be within striking distance (it's in the Atlanta area). I've read a lot of messages on the forum, but I'll fish for some more information here now.

So far, I've only been able to play phone tag with the seller, so I haven't yet been able to ask questions interactively. Based on the distance from me, I'm trying to get as much information as possible before committing to a trip (8+ hours one way by Greyhound). What's been claimed so far:

1985 300 SD
151k miles
AC doesn't work
radio is gone
- some records (don't know how comprehensive yet)
- seller (dealer) purchased from second owner
- claimed that previous owner had lots of work done (again, haven't seen the papers)
$1950.

Now, I would dearly love to have air conditioning (what's a guy called eskimo doing in Florida anyway?), but if that's truly all that's really wrong with the car, I'd still consider it. I'd prefer something flawless, but I'm consider whether or not it might be a fair deal to get a no-AC car for this price (and then pay for AC repairs) rather than pay quite a lot more for a car with an AC system that's working, but hanging by a thread (it could happen).

There's no way that I can expect anyone to diagnose the AC system telepathically, but would any here care to throw out ideas for possible AC scenarios? Best case is of course something simple and cheap (a fuse, for example). How about more-likely-case and worst-case scenarios for the AC? (Yes, when and if I can, I'll ask the seller if he actually knows what's wrong with it - but hey, he sells cars, he might not know, and he might not be telling all he knows anyway.)


Sorry I don't have more details now, but I'm working with what I can get.


Thanks in advance,

eskimo
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  #2  
Old 06-09-2004, 02:25 PM
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i would say take it to an independent shop in atl and have them tell you whats wrong with it before you buy it....before you even go up there you could call around and find a shop that isnt far from where the car is located and then just let them diagnose it with the knowledge that a diagnosis is all you want...that should keep everything honest...you dont want the dealer to reccomend a place for you to take it because odds are the mechanic is going to downplay whatever problem there is with the car to help the guy sell it....but for $1950, as long as the rest of the car is decent, sounds like a steal
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  #3  
Old 06-09-2004, 02:29 PM
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Eskimo,

i own a 85 300SD with 200,000+++ miles on it. When the A/C went on the previous owner it was a leak in the lines. The PO decided to convert the A/C to R134 and it has not quit since. Now, one area that might be of concern to you and that is a problem on these W126 is the climate control module in the dash. They seem to crap out. My suggestion is, when you get there see if the compressor turns when you engage the A/C. If the A/C engages and runs, then you know there are no leaks in the system and its just the A/C control module. But! This is not an inexpensive part...you might be looking at about $200.00. Ebay usually has used ones for cheaper but I's Beware of those!! The 300SD is a great car. The engince, as you probably have already read around here is litterally bomb-proof. So if the A/C is the only thing wrong with it....Go for it!
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  #4  
Old 06-09-2004, 02:30 PM
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See the MBAutowerks banner at the top of every page? They're the people who built this site. And they are in Atlanta. Ask if the seller will take it to MBAutowerks for a prepurchase inspection.
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  #5  
Old 06-09-2004, 03:58 PM
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Ding, Ding, Ding.

Quote:
Originally posted by Rick Miley
See the MBAutowerks banner at the top of every page? They're the people who built this site. And they are in Atlanta. Ask if the seller will take it to MBAutowerks for a prepurchase inspection.
We have a winner.
Smart, logical and with experts on tap.
Great advice, take it to MBAutowerks.
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  #6  
Old 06-09-2004, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ayalar007
Now, one area that might be of concern to you and that is a problem on these W126 is the climate control module in the dash. They seem to crap out. My suggestion is, when you get there see if the compressor turns when you engage the A/C. If the A/C engages and runs, then you know there are no leaks in the system and its just the A/C control module. But! This is not an inexpensive part...you might be looking at about $200.00.
Thanks for the tips. I've spoken with the seller once since I posted, and asked him if he's had the AC diagnosed. He said that he hadn't, and claimed that the compressor ran, but still no AC.

I'm not pinning my hopes on it, but personally, I'd love it if the AC could be fixed with a replacement control module. By my lights, anything in the AC that can be fixed without opening the refrigerant system is good, and I'd consider ~$200 to be pretty tame for a real "repair". AC can just get real expensive real fast.

For the price, I agree, worry first about engine, drivetrain, etc., and engage the AC issue if and when those are clear.


-- eskimo
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  #7  
Old 06-09-2004, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rick Miley
See the MBAutowerks banner at the top of every page? They're the people who built this site. And they are in Atlanta. Ask if the seller will take it to MBAutowerks for a prepurchase inspection.
Excellent suggestion, but no joy there. I called, and was told that they're really too swamped with performance work on newer Mercedes to want to get involved with a serious PPI on a model this old.

I can't say that I blame them for a lack of enthusiasm. I can imagine that a top-notch place wouldn't be interested in performing a second-rate inspection, and a really first-rate inspection could take so much time that it would amount to a significant fraction of the value of the car. It's hard to give "guarantees of goodness" on any car that old, and that's really what a lot of people want from a PPI. I'm not putting words in their mouth here, just thinking how I would probably feel about it if I were in the mech's shoes.

They were very friendly and polite, and were willing to give me a recommendation for another shop that might be able to work in an inspection. I spoke with that shop (Eurostar), and was told that they were pretty busy, but that they might be able to work in a PPI. I think they charge something like $75. I asked about a compression check, and was told that it was involved enough on a diesel that they normally wouldn't do it for a PPI, opting instead for checking the blowby by pulling the oil filler cap. They were also nice enough to recommend a couple of other places (BMI, German Motor Tech) with whom I might want to check, and that might be physically convenient to the seller's location.

I'll make a few calls tomorrow, and see what I can come up with. The seller didn't seem to bridle at the suggestion of a PPI, so I might take an approach of, "If shop X gives it a clean bill of health, then I'll make the trip with the intention of driving it home at your asking price." Since I'd be footing the bill for the PPI, that might be enough of a show of confidence to get him to hold it without a deposit.

Hey, if it works out, I might not even have to do the miserable Greyhound thing again (see my tale of woe here). A friend tells me there are some pretty tasty Tallahassee-Atlanta one-way plane fares.


-- eskimo
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  #8  
Old 06-09-2004, 06:32 PM
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Thumbs up

If the mileage is legitimate, it's a good deal, working air or not. Even if you put in $1,000, you'll have a hard time finding a car as well made. Make your determination on the records and the test drive, but make sure you get it inspected by a reputable place.
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  #9  
Old 06-09-2004, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rdsw
If the mileage is legitimate, it's a good deal, working air or not. Even if you put in $1,000, you'll have a hard time finding a car as well made. Make your determination on the records and the test drive, but make sure you get it inspected by a reputable place.
Those are my thoughts exactly with respect to the AC and the mileage. I've already asked the seller to check the VIN, as the one in the ad isn't recognized by Carfax. I don't consider Carfax to be the be-all and end-all, but $20 there might show something (such as hocus-pocus with the mileage, or long term disuse) that causes me to stand down operations immediately.


-- eskimo
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  #10  
Old 06-09-2004, 07:13 PM
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Hmmm

It may be a grey market import.
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  #11  
Old 06-09-2004, 09:42 PM
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Re: Hmmm

Quote:
Originally posted by whunter
It may be a grey market import.
OK, someone throw me a bone here: Are there any convenient external visual cues that one might use to ID this as a gray market car? The seller has pictures from several different angles.

My first guess would be a typographical error when the seller typed the VIN in - we'll see if he gets back to me on it.


-- eskimo
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  #12  
Old 06-10-2004, 11:05 AM
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All right, I've had a couple of recommendations for BMI as a good Atlanta area indy for a PPI. I spoke with them this morning, and got very good vibes from them. They think they could perform a PPI Monday or Tuesday next week, if that's agreeable with the seller.

I've got a call in to the seller, and left a message, so it's his ball at the moment...

Again, thanks for some good suggestions, folks.


-- eskimo
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  #13  
Old 06-10-2004, 11:21 AM
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Exclamation Are we all forgetting something?

Sure... even though the car is a great deal for the price if everything else is in good working order and the car has a clean history from carfax, the A/C repairs can get very expensive. For instance, we're all forgetting to talk about the evaporator. If the evaporator is leaking and is bad, it will cost you thousands to repair - mostly in labor expenses. It takes a professional Mercedes mechanic 18 hours (yes 18, for the W140 chassis, that's 40 hours!!) to replace it The reason for that is due to the location of the evaporator in the car: it is buried deep inside the dash, so you have to take the dash off from the right side of the dash to get to it. Tearing a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus to pieces can be difficult due to the solid assembly quality of those cars.

Also, when I purchased my 1984 300SD three months ago, the A/C was leaking from the compressor and as a result I had to replace the compressor and the accumulator/dryer. Those parts alone have a retail value of $800 here in Kansas City, Missouri. I got them deeply discounted for $250.50. Additionally, I got the labor for the replacement of those parts done for $270.00. That was at $45/hr, a rate that you can't get anywhere. In fact, I got that rate because my girlfriend's dad owns an autoshop and he did the work pretty much for free for me. The $45/hr charge was what he paid the three of his mechanics who did the work. He made no profit on it.

I'm just giving the above numbers so that you can be better prepared for the expenses that might accompany an A/C repair.

Hope my suggestions aren't too late... Good luck!

Richard
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  #14  
Old 06-10-2004, 12:16 PM
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There were no gray market 300SD's.
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  #15  
Old 06-10-2004, 01:19 PM
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Re: Are we all forgetting something?

Quote:
Originally posted by braverichard

I'm just giving the above numbers so that you can be better prepared for the expenses that might accompany an A/C repair.

Hope my suggestions aren't too late... Good luck!

Richard
Richard,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate from them that the A/C could be a very, very big thing.

All other things being equal, a car with working A/C would certainly be more desirable. Even more desirable would be the same car, but with an A/C system that had been thoroughly and professionally reworked not all that far back.

The purchase of a used car, especially one of this age, always involves a certain amount of risk. Even with everything working, and with a favorable PPI, a real show-stopper of a problem could turn up a few months (or days, or hours) down the road. It helps to know how bad such an "ouch" might be.

Like most people, I'm trying to find a combination of all factors (price, condition, location, etc.) that falls within my "comfort zone". This is highly personal, as it has much to do with any given individual's willingness to spend money, spend time, tolerate inconvenience, etc. If one is willing to do work himself, then it has much to do with one's abilities and resources.

The A/C may turn out not to be an issue anyway (things could go sour), but for my personal situation, the A/C wouldn't by itself disqualify the car from consideration.

Again, thanks - I wanted to know about worst-case scenarios. If the car works out, I hope that I get to experience them vicariously through this message board rather than in person with a car.


-- eskimo
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