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Old 07-22-2001, 10:21 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Accokeek, MD
Posts: 683
My 300E quit on me just at our driveway and a preliminary inspection revealed an inch layer thick black oil in the coolant expansion tank.

I had either no or irregular firing or backfiring of the engine so I assumed the problem was a head gasget. Although there was no apparent reason for the gasget to have blown.

Today I started to disassemble the engine to replace the gasget and to my amazement I found that the distributor rotor had all but disintegrated.

I have had this car for a short time and I have already put over $2,000 worth of parts in it. The former owner should have been incarserated for neglect. It appears as though the rotor has never been replace in over 220,000 miles.

I will replace the rotor, cap, and wires as soon as Parts Shop can get them too me. My bet is that the engine will run again as soon as these parts are replaced.

The question then remains why do I have an inch of oil in my expansion tank?

According to Larry Bible the possibility exists that the water jacket in the head has corroded and oil is getting mixed in with the coolant. My guess is that the former owner used water as coolant and consequently Larry's suggestion about the coroded aluminum head is right on the money.

If this is so... what must I do to repair the water jacket once I get the head off?

My intent is to replace the ignition parts... check to see if the car runs properly and if so then pull the head and then do whatever repairs are necessary.

Does anyone know what will be necessary to repair the water jacket? Epoxy? New Head?


P.S. I have a pic of the rotor cap but I don't know how to insert it in this message.


1993 190E 2.3
2000 Toyota 4x4 Tundra
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Old 07-23-2001, 08:16 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
The best news I can give is that 99% of the time, the gasket will disappear before any aluminum.
Donnie Drummonds
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Old 07-23-2001, 08:23 PM
David C Klasse's Avatar
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email the pic to me and I'll post it for you.
2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
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Old 07-23-2001, 08:56 PM
MB Medic
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Check Your Hoses!!

I would also suggest that while you have the head off:

1) Check head for straightness.
2) Check valve guide wear, it will most likely need a "valve job"
3) Check your coolant hoses closely, the oil causes the insides of the hoses to deteriorate rapidly.

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Old 07-23-2001, 10:26 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Accokeek, MD
Posts: 683
Thanks for all that great advice. I hope you are right Benzmac. I feel beter already... dreaded having to repair a water jacket.

I will take the head into a shop and have it completely checked out. A machinist friend of mine has recommended a shop to me.

And I will check the hoses. Will flush the system and then look for residue.

Dave I need your e-mail address so that I can send a pic "as an attachment" to you.


1993 190E 2.3
2000 Toyota 4x4 Tundra
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Old 07-24-2001, 11:19 AM
pmizell's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
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Per Earl's request, here's a photo of his bad rotor cap:

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Old 07-24-2001, 03:29 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Accokeek, MD
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Thanks Paul. I think the condition of that rotor explains why the engine quit on me.

I just did a compression test of all the cylinders and they are within 10 psi of each other 130 to 140 psi.

I also siphoned the expansion tank of the coolant syatem and found that there was not as much oil in there as I expected. Thick and black... enough to coat a finger but only about an ounce of it.

Looks to me like the oil has been in the system for some time and that I just dicovered it as a consequence of the engine quiting on me.

My new ignition parts will be here tomorrow and I'm betting that the engine will purr like a kitten once I get them installed.

If so .... and there is nothing wrong with the head gasget, I 'm wondering if I can return them (I have two sets) to parts shop? Are parts returnable?


PS. As I was typing this UPS pulled up in front of the house and droped off the ignition parts.

Parts shop does it again! Incredibly fast service!

Now to see if I have a kitten under that hood!

[Edited by ejsharp on 07-24-2001 at 03:34 PM]

1993 190E 2.3
2000 Toyota 4x4 Tundra
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