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  #1  
Old 11-02-2004, 08:44 PM
73Elsinore's Avatar
'93 300E 2.8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: People's Glorious Revolutionary Democratic Socialist Collective of Kalifornia
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Looking at '93 300E - what should I look for?

Guys I am a new member here. I am looking at a '93 300E with 116k miles, $6500. This will be my first Mercedes.

The car has a clean Carfax. The owner is selling it due to age (they are seniors). The car has no maintenance records; at least that's what she says. I am going to look at it on Saturday. They bought it without the maintenance records and haven't driven it too much. The Carfax says it wouldn't pass smog back in January of this year but the next entry says it did pass. I really wonder about the accuracy of Carfax becuase the only information in there is whatever was reported to the DMV.

It looks really clean in the photos. Owner's daughter is using it as a daily driver until it sells. Daughter has four other Mercedes. She says it drives perfectly. Owner's daughter says none of her Mercedes have Carfax maintenance histories either because the local MB dealer (Sangera) does not report data to Carfax, and neither do the local indy service shops.

I have studied the forums here looking for problems indigenous to the 300E and I haven't found any (yet...). What do I need to look for on this vehicle? Does this car have the infamous wiring loom insulation problem? Or the head gasket problem? Or the AC evaporator problem? I am a pretty good DIY mechanic so I could handle most problems that come along, outside of a transmission rebuild or anything that requires an $800 special tool.

Thanks for any thoughts or ideas you might have about this particular model - I really appreciate your help and time.

Pete Chandler
Bakersfield, California

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  #2  
Old 11-02-2004, 09:12 PM
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1993 300E's are misbadged. MB changed the engine from the 3.0 liter M103 engine to the 3.2 liter M104 engine. In 1994, this car was rebadged as an E320. So, when you do a search, you need to include 1993 300E's with 1994-1995 E320's.

Thus, all of the problems that occur on '94-'95 E320's also exist on this year. The big issues are:

1. engine wiring harness problem.
2. oil leaking at the head gasket (if it has original gasket).
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  #3  
Old 11-02-2004, 09:18 PM
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Location: Phoenix
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Carfax does not have maintenance records - just title, registration, emissions and in some cases accidents - it varies by state. Do you know if the car is a 3.2 or a 2.8 liter? A 3.2 has leather interior whereas a 2.8 had MB tex (leatherette) with leather optional, but most had Tex. The 3.2 had 217 hp while the 2.8 had 194. This is not a real big deal as the 2.8 is a perfectly good car - and MB tex wears very well. You've already picked up on the major problems of the car - wiring harness, head gasket, evaporator. Both 2.8 and 3.2 are 104 motors and have basically the same problems. But both very good motors once you get these things sorted out - and chances are good that they already have been. As bad as the market is that price would reflect a really nice clean car in good running condition.
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  #4  
Old 11-03-2004, 10:15 AM
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Get the VIN off of the car and go to your local MB dealer and have them run a vehicle history on it (VMI). Some of the known problems may have been addressed under warranty already. You won't get a maint history, but you should see all the warranty work that was done by any MB dealership.

I have a 93 3.2 and the evaporator and wiring harness were replaced under warranty around the 50K mark. These are fantastic cars if you can find the right one. I've had mine for about a year and a half and have had no major issues. They are a blast to drive, and if you can do the work , you'll do great with this car.

good luck.
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  #5  
Old 11-03-2004, 11:33 AM
73Elsinore's Avatar
'93 300E 2.8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: People's Glorious Revolutionary Democratic Socialist Collective of Kalifornia
Posts: 108
Guys thanks for the great replies. I have a couple questions:

1) Is the new/replacement head gasket an upgraded or improved gasket?
2) Same with the wire loom - is it shielded against heat breakdown, or otherwise improved over the original harness? Assuming the wire loom was not replaced, is this a plug-and-play affair, or is there a bunch of splicing?

Thanks ! ! ! Pete
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  #6  
Old 11-03-2004, 02:55 PM
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The new head gaskets are improved...and not all W124s have the failure.

I haven't had to deal with mine...yet.

The wiring harness is also improved...uses standard insulation material instead of the "environmentally-friendly" type...which disintegrated far sooner than expected. It is plug-n-play, but pretty extensive, so it will not be a quick install.

Other possible issues with the 300E:

Cracked plastic inlet radiator neck. No real fix except to replace the whole radiator with the improved unit (reinforced metal sleeve in same area).

Leaky timing cover seals...new seals solve this, but a bit tricky to install correctly w/o leaks.

Broken window slider on rear window assemblies...prevents rear windows from going completely up. Replacement parts cheap and DIY installation simple.

Headrests don't go up...easy fix and cheap part too. Removing front seatback to gain access easy, but not intuitive.

At the mileage you are looking at, wear and tear are more of an issue...expect over time, coolant pump, alternator, MAS...
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  #7  
Old 11-03-2004, 02:59 PM
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What GBenz said.

I also have not had a head gasket issue yet, and I'm at about 93K. My VMI did indicate that the radiator was replaced at some point, and yes one of my headrests does not retract. I have not however had the enthusiasm for taking the back off of the seat.
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  #8  
Old 11-03-2004, 03:19 PM
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The 124.032 (300E/E320 with 3.2L M104 engine) is a great car, IMO, one of the best MB built. It has many improvements over the earlier E-class cars. The previous 3.0L engine was pretty gutless. The wiring harness is not a big deal, IMO. The head gasket leak would have to get pretty bad before it's worth replacing. The A/C is known to be problematic, so be aware that if it doesn't work, it could be expen$ive to fix.

As a side note, the radiators last longer if you use the proper Mercedes antifreeze, which is low silicate, low pH, and yellow/clear in color. If the car has Green Death in it, flush it out pronto. Ignore anyone claiming antifreeze is all the same or that the new "universal" types are acceptable. The green, and other, A/F types can make the plastic radiator tanks brittle.

HTH,
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  #9  
Old 11-03-2004, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsxr
The 124.032 (300E/E320 with 3.2L M104 engine) is a great car, IMO, one of the best MB built. It has many improvements over the earlier E-class cars. The previous 3.0L engine was pretty gutless. The wiring harness is not a big deal, IMO. The head gasket leak would have to get pretty bad before it's worth replacing. The A/C is known to be problematic, so be aware that if it doesn't work, it could be expen$ive to fix.

As a side note, the radiators last longer if you use the proper Mercedes antifreeze, which is low silicate, low pH, and yellow/clear in color. If the car has Green Death in it, flush it out pronto. Ignore anyone claiming antifreeze is all the same or that the new "universal" types are acceptable. The green, and other, A/F types can make the plastic radiator tanks brittle.

HTH,
What he said.

I've owned a lot of cars (American, Japanese, and German), and my 124.032 ('93 300E 3.2) is the best car I've ever owned.

My engine wiring harness was replaced by the dealer under warranty, but I don't know when.

My head gasket started to fail at around the 130,000 mile mark. It started out as a slow oil leak, and I let it go for about two years. I guess it was at about 145,000 miles, and the oil leak was so bad that my exhaust manifold would get covered with oil, and the oil would burn off as smoke at startup when cold. When we got the car on a lift, the whole undercarriage of the car was covered in oil.

The new head gaskets have metal inserts than keep the head gasket indexed in the block, preventing it from moving.

My mechanic tells me that he has never had a new head gasket leak.

Some say that evaporator failures are common on all W124 cars (300E / 400E / E320 / E420), but it is very clear that the failures were on very early cars. My mechanic tells me that he very, very seldom sees them go out, and that it is the exception, not the rule.

However, if it does go out, it will cost you about $2,000 to have a mechanic replace it, along with the necessary vacum-actuated pods.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #10  
Old 11-03-2004, 06:40 PM
73Elsinore's Avatar
'93 300E 2.8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: People's Glorious Revolutionary Democratic Socialist Collective of Kalifornia
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Guys thanks again for the help - I appreciate your time to write the replies.

So I got the VIN and called the local dealer and he says he can't run the VMI history unless the car was serviced there. That sounds like horse puckey to me but I have no bargaining room. Shoot, I can get a history on my F150 from any Ford dealer in the country. Maybe if I offered to pay for it?

Oh yeah this car has the 2.8 in it, at least that's what the owner says. Any comments on that motor?

Thanks again! - Pete
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  #11  
Old 11-03-2004, 06:57 PM
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The 2.8L and 3.2L are both variations of the M104 motor, just different displacement.

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  #12  
Old 11-03-2004, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 73Elsinore
So I got the VIN and called the local dealer and he says he can't run the VMI history unless the car was serviced there.

Oh yeah this car has the 2.8 in it, at least that's what the owner says. Any comments on that motor?
Not true - dealer should be able to run VMI on any MB.

If it's a 2.8 the VIN should have a "28" in it, or if a 3.2 a "32" in it. Perfectly good motor - just not as much power. An oldtimer once told me to always go for the smallest displacement in a given block - they run cooler and last longer. Don't know how much truth to that but if you like the way the car drives there's no reason to avoid a 2.8.
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  #13  
Old 11-03-2004, 07:45 PM
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To be more specific:

VIN prefix WDBEA28... is a 124.028 with the 2.8L M104 motor.
VIN prefix WDBEA32... is a 124.032 with the 3.2L M104 motor.



And no, the VIN digits do NOT always indicate displacement, that was a nice coinkydink on the inline-6, gas-engined 124 sedans. The 4.2L and 5.0L V8's are .034 and .036 respectively, the 3.0L turbo diesel is .133 (non-turbo is .131), the 2.5L diesel is .128, etc - as you can see things don't always match up so nicely.

More useless info: for the W124.xyz format,the "x" indicates fuel type and 2wd/4wd:
.0yz = gas 2wd
.1yz = diesel 2wd
.2yz = gas 4Matic
.3yz = diesel 4Matic

and, the "y" approximately indicates chassis type:
.x2z = sedan (wimpy engine)
.x3z = sedan (non-wimpy engine)
.x5z = coupe
.x6z = cabrio
.x9z = wagon

the "z" is pretty convoluted, I won't even attempt to go there, I'm not sure there even are guidelines for what this digit will always indicate.

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