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Old 10-31-2000, 10:42 PM
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Hello Mercedes DIYer's,

I've been looking for a commuter car for and found a gorgeous 92' 300E with 95k. The car is excellent condition inside and out. There is only one small problem, upon taking it for a test drive it appears to have the infamous Valve Guide problems related to this engine.

Thick white smoke upon startup for about 10 seconds, and after driving the car around for about 10 minutes to warm things up, it still had noticable white smoke coming from the exhaust. My heart sank as I have been looking for many months and finally thought I had found the one.

My questions are; 1) Is it possible that only the valve seals might need to be replaced due to the mileage or is it more likely that a complete valve job be performed? 2) What is the average cost for valve job? Doing a search produced anywhere from $1500-2000, should this include new valves? and 3) Should I keep shopping as they are asking high retail for the car?

Any insights will be most appreciated.

Ross Newcomb
96 C280, Greenish Black
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Old 10-31-2000, 11:11 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 412
If you you have noticable smoke on start up I think you probably need valve guides. My 103 engine burns a quart every thosuand miles and I get smoke only when I put the petal to the metal. My spark plugs look white when I change them and there is no oil leaking onto the floor underneath the vehicle. I've got close to 200,000 miles on my 90 190 E. I'm thinking about doing the valve seals. I can have the car down for a while. I've just almost finished restoring my 85 Mustang GT 5.0 5 Speed. ( I wish my 2.6 was a 5 speed).
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Old 10-31-2000, 11:20 PM
MikeTangas's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 4,430
Was it white smoke or light blue/grey smoke? White smoke usually signifies a bad head gasket leaking H2O into the combustion chamber.

Mike Tangas
73 280 SEL 4.5

[This message has been edited by MikeTangas (edited 10-31-2000).]
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Old 10-31-2000, 11:38 PM
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It was thick white smoke upon startup, when it was running at idle, it seemed grey white, enough to fit right in in Mexic City, j/k.

I tried to to gun it up to 4k rpm and notice if anything; little smoke while increasing, not much at steady rate and much more after I took my foot off the accelerator pedal. This is the valves leaking, right?

Also, after first startup, I got out and looked at the exhuast (after the cloud has dissipated), it smelled like burning oil and there was some moisture on the ground (maybe 3-4 oz)?


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Old 11-01-2000, 12:12 AM
MikeTangas's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 4,430
Almost sounds like it is suffering from both a leaking head gasket and valve stem seals. Easy to verify the head gasket if your local shop has a sniffer to detect hydrocarbons in the coolant - a quick, easy and accurate test, only takes a few seconds once at operating temperature.

I am basing this guess on your description of the smoke. While any engine is coming up to operating temps, it will emit liquid condensate through the exhaust as H2O is a byproduct. This is usually emitted in vapor form, due to the operating temperature, and therefore not usually seen (execpt on cool/cold mornings). Although 3-4 ounces for the short duration you say you ran the engine sounds a bit much.

Not what I would call "terminal", but could be that the engine had been overheated which may have warped the head.
Mike Tangas
73 280 SEL 4.5

[This message has been edited by MikeTangas (edited 11-01-2000).]
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Old 11-01-2000, 12:24 AM
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If it is also the Head gasket that needs to be replaced along with the Valve Job, how much should that add to the cost?

With the head off already,(VJ) it would seem that putting a new head gasket should be relatively cheap ($40), or is there something I am not taking into account? Seems only a check of the deck for square would be required, is that hard (flat ruler)?


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Old 11-01-2000, 03:44 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
Posts: 4,748
If a 124 300E is what you want, check out auto trader. I am sure you can find a car that doesn't have this problem.

I spent over a year searching for my car, and am glad I didn't jump into the first one and kept looking for the right car.

Mine is a 1992 300CE with the M104 24 valve engine. Not sure if the 92 300E had that engine, but I really like my car.

You might want to look into a 94-95 model as they have updated body and lights a bit, and have the 3.2 litre engine with 217 hp.

There are plenty of 300E's out there, Search around check the auto trader and local classifieds etc. You will find the car you want.

Have any car you are thinking of buying, checked out throughly before you buy it. I took mine to my mechanic, he looked at it, checked it, drove it and gave me the go ahead to buy it. If he had said well it needs this or that etc etc etc, or this major work needs to be done, then I would have passed on the car and kept on looking.


'92 300CE
Metallic Black (Blue Flaked) on Parchment
Clear Corners
94-95 Tail-Lights
Black Grille Insert
78.5k Miles

Future Upgrades:
Sportline Suspension
17" AMG Monoblocks or EVO II's
Euro Headlights
Performance Chip
AMG Exhaust

Click here to Go To My 300CE Page
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Old 11-01-2000, 06:42 AM
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First of all the valve seal problem is not related to this engine. I believe the '92 has the M104 engine. This engine is known for blowing head gaskets, not having the poor valve seals.

It's very likely that it needs a headgasket, but the problem may not stop there. If the head is warped it must be straightened. Unlike a pushrod engine head, you can't simply mill it flat and slap it back on. If the head warps, it will misalign the camshaft bores, this means straightening the head, or buying a new or straight casting. MB does not recommend straightening this head, probably because they enjoy so much selling you a new one for nearly $2,000.

Unless this car is at an absolutely bargain basement price, I would look for one in better condition. These cars are quite plentiful, and you can find one that has been well cared for and garaged all it's life.

The good news is that if you do decide to have headwork done, it's an operation that most of the dealer techs do alot. So if they do it alot, they're most likely quite good at it.

My personal thoughts are, even though I would enjoy the added power of the two cam motor, I would prefer an M103 engine. The valve seals have been updated on most of them by now, and they seem to be more trouble free. If it does come down to a head removal and replacement on an M103 engine, it's not too tough.

Best of luck,

Larry Bible
'01 C Class, Six Speed
'84 Euro 240D, manual, 533K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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