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Old 05-03-2007, 10:59 AM
1990 300e 3L
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 10
Unhappy WTB: 1990 300e 3L motor

hmm.. situation wanted: I'm looking for a used 300e 3L motor for my newly purchased MB. Just bought my first 300e last week, and what I had taken for lifter click is looking to be a wrist pin.

Lesson learned- win some, lose some. Like my tech says, you have to work hard to screw up one of these, and it seems the PO did. Given the reliability of the motor, I was probably leaning a little too optimist when i picked the car up and didn't listen as intently as I should have. The plus.. cars in good shape, all new brake system (OEM mastercyl, lines, calipers, etc.), and tranny checks out well. Buying a MB 100K for $1900, I did put some $ aside for "worst case scenarios." Next time, its a pre-purchase inspection for me.

so, far, have gotten prices from $500 for a 140K motor, and $700 for a 153K, but given the cost of pulling bad in putting in new, I wouldn't mind finding a motor with less miles. I'm in upstate NY, and looking to find something reasonably local.. also wouldn't mind finding out whose in my neighborhood-

thanks, Jeremy
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:34 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 554
dont get angry

this is larry perkins from louisville,102 cars,5 300e cars and i sure dont want to come across as a smart *** but how can one expect to get a reliable engine for small dollars?
most mech that i know say the 300e engine is good for 100-150k and at a mininum the top end has to be rebuilt. we as conseratives go ahead and drive them,bad choice,heat then takes its toll.
i just finished a 91 te wagon,not counting my free labor i got about 1500 in the engine,new water pump,new tensioner and complete head rebuild.
just my opinion,most 500-700 engines are just that,buyer be aware.
larry perkins lou ky
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:56 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Baton Rouge La
Posts: 2,627
there is a guy on here who has a rebuilt head for a 3.0.

I just can't pull the punch and buy it.. i think he wants about 350 plus shipping..

then you would have to get someone to pull your head... get a head gasket kit..

and give it a whirl
1989 300ce 129k
( facelifted front,updated tail lights, lowered suspension,bilstein sports, lorinser front spoiler, MOMO steering wheel, remus exhaust,stainless steel brake lines). (Gone)

1997 s320 154k (what a ride). Sold with 179k miles. Replaced with Hyundai Equus

1994 e320 Cabriolet 108k

1972 280se 4.5 153k Owned for 12 yrs, sorry I sold it

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Old 05-03-2007, 10:23 PM
JimmyL's Avatar
Rogue T Intolerant!!!
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, Texas (DFW)
Posts: 9,673
Originally Posted by larry perkins View Post
most mech that i know say the 300e engine is good for 100-150k and at a mininum the top end has to be rebuilt.
See there. Perfect reason you should be going diesel.....
Jimmy L.
'05 Acura TL 6MT
2001 ML430 My Spare

'95 E300 188K "Batmobile" Texas Unfriendly Black
'85 300TD 235K "The Wagon" Texas Friendly White
'80 240D 154K "China" Scar engine installed
'81 300TD 240K "Smash"
'80 240D 230K "The Squash"
'81 240D 293K"Scar" Rear ended harder than Elton John
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Old 05-04-2007, 12:29 PM
1990 300e 3L
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 10

thanks guys.. coming from someone who's not only frequently taken as coming across as a smart ass, but just looking like one, no offense taken..

maybe my Saab has spoiled me.. I have the 100-150K expectation with an American car, but not most Euro's. Knock on wood, my 96 900s gets 32 MPG and a nice power band with 196K, and that's with nothing changed but plugs and oil (frequently). Same experience with a Nissan (225K and going). I'm thinking 100K-150K should equate to about mid to late 40s in human years

now, as you creep up above the 165K mark, my feelings change a little. But it seems a well-engineered straight should be good for at least 175K with frequent oil changes and no extravagant abuse. For me, that extra 30K gets me three more years. Driving a 1990, the rest of the car will hit the point of no return by that time. I'm in upstate NY, serious rust belt. I can spend a few extra thousand on the motor, but the car'll never last that liong. Besides, give me a good reason to pick the next model to fall in love with..

I'll have to admit, my love of euros comes from their being engineered with an appreciation of the driving experience, and the fact that they're a great value when middle-aged (could never afford new).

but who knows, this may be lesson learned number two.. or I just might stick with Saabs..

Nonetheless, appreciate the input, and I'll keep it in mind.. it's given me some cause for consideration..
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Old 05-04-2007, 12:43 PM
Parshman15's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 47
Well theres a little low down you should know. These engines the m103, or m104 3.0l engines for the 300e have 1 defect that causes them to be rebuild at around 120-150K, and that is the head gasket seal. It was a poor design and has recently been fixed by MB, other than that issue then engine is like a 400K mile engine. I believe the number 4 or 5 cylinder would leak in that style engine, but for something with low miles your looking to put a couple of grand down.
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Old 05-04-2007, 03:54 PM
1990 300e 3L
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 10
head gasket

absolutely, thanks for that.

I had figured on doing the timing chain and gear (think i've heard of a dual chain upgrade), and possibly water pump (though looks to be new, I'll have to recheck) with the engine swap, and had read about the head gasket issue, so I should've thought of that. Tech's not available until late June to so the swap (reasonable and popular, evidently), so i hadn't thought too much about specifics.

good points.. now I'm half wondering if the knock I'm getting mid-engine might be head-related, though it seems to be more mechanical than combustion-related. Swapping a head gasket sure would be an easier fix than than swapping engines..

Car seems to be lacking power, but I'm going from a Saab 2.6 liter that's much lighter, so i can't claim to be that familiar with the 300e power curve and response from a dead stop. I'll know a little more after changing plugs, cap, and rotor. looking at plugs, and doing a compression test..

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