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  #1  
Old 09-08-2004, 01:36 AM
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1990 300SEL- have good engines? 85 380SE (require chain replacements?)

Before reading this original thread, read the last "updated" thread.... as this original thread was typed 5 years ago.... LOL.




I am not sure what all years this engine was used, but I am wondering if these are good engines in these cars. I am considering a very nice local 1990 300SEL, with 99K original miles- 1-owner, ALL records available for $4900.

I am guessing it is an inline 6-cylinder? Do these engines also require timing chain replacements like the V8?

Can someone verify this- someone with a 85 380SE I am interested in said that the 85' and older engines do not require timing chain replacements like the 86+ V8s do. Is this true?

Thanks!!
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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; 04-28-2009 at 02:04 AM. Reason: updates....
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  #2  
Old 09-08-2004, 01:48 AM
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The 85 380 Sel will have a double row tining chain witch is not as likely to break as the single row in the earlier 380,s but the double row still needs to be dhecked for strecth and the uppper guides checked and probably changed if the car has over 100 k on it, all timing chains wear out over time...............

William Rogers.........
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  #3  
Old 09-08-2004, 01:35 PM
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Thanks William. What about the 90 300SEL engine? Do you know if they are
basically "trouble free" engines? This car has 99K. I think it is an inline 6-cylinder.
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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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  #4  
Old 09-08-2004, 03:40 PM
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The 300SEL uses the M103 six cylinder. It's the same engine as found in the 300E of that vintage. A very good, solid, smooth engine. There are two or three minor troublesome areas with the M103. Some of them do occasionally need a head gasket replacement. Oil leaks around the timing cover are somewhat common. And finally, the valve seals tended to wear early, resulting in much oil burning and blue smoke. This last one almost certainly has been addressed already. If it hasn't, probably best to avoid the car - burning oil for extended periods will cause other damage.

That's about it for the M103. The timing chain lasts a very long time - at least 200K miles in a reasonably cared for engine. Other than head gasket replacement, the engine should not require any mechanical work unitl it is past 200K miles. At that point a valve job may be required. Oh, the water pump is a pain in the knuckles to replace!

You can try searching for discussions on 300E engine problems for more info. The 300SEL (and 300SE) are somewhat uncommon, so you won't find too much past discussion about them here. Just be careful not to confuse issues with the M104 used in later 300E/E320 cars with the M103 used in the 300E from 1986-1992.

The 300SEL isn't exactly going to be a hotrod. It's a large, heavy car. The 3.0 liter six makes reasonably power, but only at high RPM. And the transmission probably starts in second gear. It ain't exactly going to pin you to the seat leaving stoplights.

- JimY
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  #5  
Old 09-08-2004, 04:54 PM
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If it is in good shape go for it! An I6 in a W126 gives you a lot of room to fix things. If you can live with a slower car than the V8's, their great cars. The 300SEL's also seem to get worse mileage than the 420's.
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  #6  
Old 09-08-2004, 07:39 PM
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Thanks, despite the heavy rain here today, I stopped and took a quick (but closer) look at the car a little while ago around 6:00. I thought it was a 300SEL, but it is a 300SE (shorter wheelbase)- which is OK with me. It has 114K miles (I thought he said 99K, but I was wrong). It is in beautiful condition, but needs detailed. The interior condition reflects the mileage. I told him I would come back on Saturday and take a closer look at it - supposed to be sunny that day.

Thanks again.
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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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  #7  
Old 09-09-2004, 12:07 PM
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They didn't import many short wheelbase W126's, they are rare. If it is in good shape it would be a good buy, just have a few grand set aside to deal with the usual old Mercedes issues.
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  #8  
Old 09-09-2004, 06:47 PM
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Interesting. I thought it was odd that it was a shorter wheelbase model. Still a large car though. I wonder how much difference in the ride quality is between the 300SE and 300SEL?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatterasguy
They didn't import many short wheelbase W126's, they are rare. If it is in good shape it would be a good buy, just have a few grand set aside to deal with the usual old Mercedes issues.
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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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  #9  
Old 09-09-2004, 09:40 PM
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Well ride quality is subjective, I think my W126 rides hard but it handles well for it's size. It will definitly ride harder than an American/Japanese luxury car.

They imported 2,400 give or take 350SD's I don't know how many 300SE's came to this country but if I had to guess under 5k.
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2004, 11:39 PM
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Thanks for that information Hatterasguy. I am hoping that this one has a soft and supple ride. At any rate- I am going to go take a closer look at the 90 300SE tomorrow to make an assessment. He initially said he wanted "around" $4900 for it, but I am not sure at this time. He really does not even seem that motivated to sell it. He owns the car lot, but he is driving the car daily and keeping it parked behind or to the side of the building. He said it was his wifes car, but he bought her a newer S-Class sedan and he has been driving the 90 SE. My uncle that has the 89 300 wagon (also with the 3.0L I6), said these engines are bulletproof. At 161K, his has been totally trouble free. Thanks again.
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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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  #11  
Old 09-14-2004, 12:50 AM
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Also- forgot to ask- when/if I go drive this car tomorrow- how should the transmission properly shift? I have driven the 300SD's and know they can be harsh. Should the transmission in this 300SE be as silky smooth as the transmission in my 90 Lexus LS400, or should it be even more noticable on this 300SE? Thanks!
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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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  #12  
Old 09-14-2004, 05:38 AM
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the '88 > W126 had firmer shocks than the earlier S class sedans , so the ride is noticeably firmer .. but that just means the car sits nicer on the road at 100
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  #13  
Old 09-14-2004, 08:54 AM
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Hi 86....

I owned a 300SEL and it was a great car, unfortunately its life was cut short by a bad driver. The engine bay is huge and you can do all sorts of work without much worrying. The oil filter is a spin on located in the back and easy to get to..

My advice is to look at the front of engine for any oil. They are known to have some oil leaks up at the front, and its only a minor problem. However, you might be able to use it as a bargaining tool when it comes to buy. If the car is in great shape.. i guarantee you will like it.
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  #14  
Old 09-14-2004, 10:20 AM
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Hello,
I can only agree with the other posts that a W126 300SE is a bomb-proof car, aside from normal wear items it should be trouble free. My friend in Raleigh has a 1990 300SE and I drove it down to Charleston and back in a day, cruising at or near 100mph all the way
It needed the lip seal at the front timing cover, exhaust manifold gaskets(DIY) and the valve stem seals(shop)replaced and routine maintainence
There may be a *clonk* in the driveline when shifting from P to D or R, but I was told by indies that it is the rubber mounts for the differential as the facelift W126s have a completely rubber bushed mounting for the diff, earlier cars having a solid mount. You could perhaps use this as a bargaining point :p
Have a good week.
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  #15  
Old 09-14-2004, 11:46 AM
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Their is no right way a W126 should shift, you can adjust them to shift as hard or soft as you want. But you should feel every gear. As far as ride goes, German cars ride harder than luxury American cars. But they handle much much better. ie no large barge floating down the road feel.
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2017 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ
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