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Old 10-29-2001, 07:50 AM
yosshimura's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Liberty City, FL
Posts: 653
Question Reworded question - working on M103 & M104

Since my prior post got locked, let me reword my question....

Bottom line, what I want to know is ... is it feasible for the average enthusiast with some mechanical experience say buy parts on here and go home and work on the car himself or is that unrealistc the majority of cases?

Based on what I have read the M103 is easier to work on than the M104?

thank you

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Old 10-29-2001, 08:32 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
I have a 1986 300E and have above-average interest, average mechanical abilities and decent tools. I have found the car enjoyable to work on. In the past two years, I have:

- Done a major tune-up, including cap, rotor, and wires
- Replaced AC compressor/manifold hose/Schraeder valve
- Replaced ABS sensors
- Replaced shocks
- Changed oil and filter
- Replaced alternator brushes
- Replaced fan pulley carrier

I farmed out replacing the rear subframe mounts and tracing an intermediate ABS electrical problem. I am contmplating doing valve seals and the head gasket.

I use the combination of the Haynes manual and the 124 spare parts book as a guide.

All of the work that I did went reasonably well, but if you want it done right the first time on-time, then there is no substitute for an experienced tech working in a shop with all the tools, lifts, helpers, diagnostic equipment, manual, bulletins, and parts deliveries four times a day!
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 10-29-2001, 09:25 AM
Glen's Avatar enthusiast
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Carlsbad, CA USA
Posts: 1,187
I think to be successful working on these engines the most important thing to possess is PATIENCE. If you're starting with a decent set of tools you should be fine but at some point you'll find that you need a special tool. This is when you need to exercise some self control and patience. At this point you should stop what your doing and seek out a tool that will make the job easier.

From a mechanical standpoint, the M104 isn't that much more difficult to work on than the M103. Access is better on the M103 but the basic layout of the block is about identical. Obviously, the head is different and the fuel injection is different.
Glen Tokuhara
Beauty & the Beast and the wagon that could!
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Old 10-29-2001, 09:40 AM
yosshimura's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Liberty City, FL
Posts: 653
I concur with you on having the right tool. As a do it yourselfer, before I start doing a new task on a car, I find out if any specialty tool is needed. If so, then I analyze cost of tool vs cost of paying shop to do it vs how often will I use said tool. As an example, if the Snap On rep sells the tool for $450, and the local MB shop will charge me $500 for the job, I would probably buy the tool and have it there for next time.

I don't have a problem with buying the "specialty" tools on an as needed basis. I have had to do that when I have worked on Fords, Nissan, VW, etc.
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Old 10-29-2001, 10:58 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
For someone like me, with average mechanical skills with a set of tools given to him/her last Christmas, you "buy as you go".

As a teen, I started out with a Sears Craftsman 13-piece metric/american socket set, and was able to do most top-end work with that. Borrowed (and eventually kept) my dad's crescent wrenches, and bought more as I needed.

Then I got some feeler gauges from mechanic friends, got some hex wrenches from raffles at car shows I attended, bought some specialty tools along the way...

...twenty-odd years later, my wife bought me one of those big Sears tool chests with the wheels for Christmas, so now I have all my tools arranged nicely in drawers. When I got the MBs, I found those hex bolts to be quite annoying and would have to stop short of all sorts of projects. So my recent purchase was a a set of hex sockets.

If I decide to tackle the head gasket job (when it happens), I will then get any specialty tools I need to do that job.

I had my garage wired for 220 when it was built, in anticipation of buying a compressor and assorted air tools to boot...then I can REALLY get into trouble!!!
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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