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Old 06-25-2001, 03:37 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: NW Arkansas
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The usual...what to look for?

I know about the "gurggle" in the A/C and I pulled this off Carpoint:

"Occasional problems on this vehicle are failures of the Cylinder Head Gasket, the Engine Control Systems Unit (MAS Unit) and the Electro-Hydraulic Actuator (EHA). Failure of the MAS Unit will prevent the vehicle from starting"

Anyone have this problem or anything related?

Anything else?



1994 C280 115k (getting better MPG now than when I bought it at 44k)
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Old 06-25-2001, 04:58 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
The 300E (W124) models are one of the most popular. They are fairly easy to work on yourself, and the parts are relatively inexpensive.

Head gasket failure is a problem on some 300E models, and as you pile on the miles, probably inevitable. When it occurs is more a matter of the extent of the care and maintenance during its life.

If your car is overheating and the cooling components are verified to be doing their jobs, then the head gasket is probably on its way out.

The problem I believe is due to the different alloys used in the head and block and over time, their different expansion rates place more stress than the tired head gasket can withstand.

Eventually, you will be due for some light head-related work of some sort, such as valve seals. Most W124 owners when faced with the same, have opted to pull the head and go for a complete valvetrain rebuild while they were at it, so the gasket gets replaced as well.

While on the issue of cooling, if the radiator is original, you will be needing another during its life. The combination plastic/aluminum radiator notoriously cracks at the plastic neck nearly 99% of the time. Mine went out a month ago. Radiator was about $300, and I replaced it myself in a couple of hours.

As far as failures of the MAS or the EHA, (both REAL expensive) I feel that given the W124 threads I've read on this forum that it is not common. There has been a defective wiring harness problem that would have caused symptoms erroneously traced to either of these components by non-seasoned technicians, but considering your current mileage, should have been corrected under warranty some time ago.

What you may experience one day, is problems traced to a little component called the OVP, or Over Voltage Protection relay. This relay prevents voltage surges from destroying sensitive (and expensive) circuitry (like the MAS). When it's not doing its job, you will experience one or all of these problems including rough idling, stalling while driving, problems with hot starts, and diagnostic dash lights (like the ABS) staying lit. The relay is $65 at most, and installs in about 5 minutes. Do a seach on OVP and you will find PAGES of threads on this topic.

I haven't experienced the "gurgle" you refer to in the A/C, but the fan blower does get a little noisy as it ages. Others here have concurred.

The rear power windows may give you problems in the future. The plastic regulator track sliders self destruct and cause the assembly to bind up. Fortunately, the fix is cheap ($2) and can be done at home. Even the whole assembly with motor runs about $140 if you choose not to fool with cracking open the regulator gearbox to respool the cable...not knowing about the $2 fix (both of mine failed within a year of each other) I replaced the regulator assemblies myself.

Other than those mentioned, I think everything else is related to normal wear and tear. Interior bulbs do burn out (even in the Becker radio), and worn suspension components will call themselves to attention with their peculiar noises.

If you think about all that can go wrong, you WILL go nuts! This goes for ANY car you may own, not just the W124. The great thing about this forum is the wealth of information available about your particular model. The unfortunate thing is you get to read about problems others have had with their W124s, so you start thinking that you will inevitably find yourself in the same situation for EVERY case! Not so...

If you peruse through some of these threads you will find that many seemingly catastrophic problems were traced to a worn vacuum hose, a blown fuse, a toasted relay, or even bad gas! But even the simple solutions may take days or weeks
to track down, so don't fret, be persistent, keep checking the forum, and buy your parts from FastLane and PartsShop.

Good luck with your 300E!

2009 ML350 (106K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (80K) - Wife's car
2005 BMW 645CI (138K) - My daily driver
2016 Mustang (32K) - Daughter's car
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Old 06-25-2001, 06:31 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
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The gurgle in the A/c is from bubbles trapped in the heater core. Common 124 issue. Not a problem, just an issue. If it bothers you, here's how to fix. Take to a dealer where they have hoists where you can lift just the front of the car way up. THen run engine at 4,000+ rpm for about 3 minutes with the defroster and heat on full blast. This will cure the problem.
1988 Mercedes-Benz 260E
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Old 06-28-2001, 12:09 PM
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We have been kicking around the idea of picking up a 300TE or E320 wagon, but, frankly, these head gasket leaks and head cracking problems common to the M103 scare me.
Is the M104 used from 1993 on significantly better in this regard? How about valve seals on M104? Longer life than on M103?
Are the 124.092 wagon / 124.032 sedan chassis used from 1993 to 1995 better than previous versions in regard to the power window problems and other chassis problems?
I understand the front side of the engine is a bit unique. In general, what is the lifespan of the serpentine belt and associated hardware? What is the cost of renewing the front of the engine (water pump, pulleys, tensioners, shock, belt, etc.)?
Thanks in advance.

2004 C240 Wagon 203.261 Baby Benz
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Old 06-28-2001, 03:04 PM
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I have heard of a valve guide/seal problem on the 103 engine, but not the head cracking problem you discuss. I asked my tech about the engines when I was looking to buy another 300E, and he said he liked the 103 engine better than the 104, that he had seen more head gasket problems on 104s than 103s. If you are really worried, you could find one of the rare diesel wagons or sedans and maybe bypass the issue altogether. I understand they have alloy heads as well, but I haven't seen many posts on their gasket failures, even though I would have thought they would be greater due to the compression/temperature of a diesel.

I would be more worried about the AC systems than the head gaskets/seals/guides. I was more inclined to buy a later w124 because they had already been converted to the new 134, as we can no longer legally install r12 in Orange county, I am told.

Blackmercedes posted this link - it is a good overview of the w124 models.,2001.htm

[Edited by JCE on 06-28-2001 at 03:22 PM]

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Old 06-28-2001, 03:42 PM
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Oops. Head cracking was not what I meant to say. There is another current thread on that topic, but the conclusion seemed to be that actual cracking was rare. Corrosion to the point of leakage, apparently may not quite so rare. I can deal with routine valve seal replacement at 100k or so, and even complete valve job/head reconditioning at very high mileage, but head gasket leaks being accepted as "routine" worries me on these engines. I know these are not usually sudden catastrophic failures, but, even so, I have never had to have a head removed in 40 years of driving, so I don't care to start now.
I have looked for 300TD's, but most of them I see for sale nowdays are pretty tired. I passed up a good one about a year ago, and been kicking myself ever since for not buying it.

2004 C240 Wagon 203.261 Baby Benz
2008 ML320 CDI Highway Cruiser
2006 Toyota Prius, Saving the Planet @ 48 mpg
2000 F-150, Destroying the Planet @ 20 mpg

0BAMA .......... OUTHOUSE
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