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Old 12-03-2009, 05:22 PM
Redefining normal daily
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Frederick, MD
Posts: 438
W124: 1991 300TE leak advice please

Bottom line: 1991 300TE 4matic, 160k miles, sound body and motor, mild undercarriage rust. Counting on her for winter hauling of multiple people. Leaking transfer case sealed ~ 6 months ago, successfully ($1,400 since I didn't have time, lift, or inclination to tinker in that zone).

Started getting smoke at highway speeds and losing hydraulic fluid (same symptoms that led us to getting the t-case seals & lines redone). Back to the same shop - isn't hydraulic fluid hitting the exhaust and making smoke, it's transmission fluid. Leaking from "a connector on the passenger side." Also, lose of hydraulic fluid is from valve at self leveler (rear of wagon).

Prognosis: shop (Deutsche American in Ijamsville, MD, FWIW) doesn't do auto tranny's, suggests taking it to a transmission shop for that leak. New self leveler valve plus 4 lines to/from the valve, $440 parts, labor to be actual hours ($89/hour).

What to do now? If the she wasn't making smoke clouds at highway speed, I'd be inclined to keep topping up fluids through the winter.

Other options?

1) Figure out if I can change/reseal the leaking "connector" (will get more specifics on what/where when I pick up the car) myself. Stop that leak, worry about leveler when funds are more available.

2) Do #1 and do the leveler myself. Save what - 2, 3 hours labor? Not peanuts, but not sure at this point is worth my fighting rusty hydraulic lines.

3) Pay a trans shop to fix the trans leak. Any guesses/recommendations? Deutsche is recommending AAMCO because I'd get a national warranty, and he's had good luck with the local shop.

4) Punt the car keys into the field and let 'er sit. Not much of an option - got Ma in a wheel chair, Ed not far from one. We're (me and Darling Wife) the full time care for these too, and our only other snow worthy transportation have either only two seats or has no heat.

Any other ideas? Suggestions? Words of wisdom?

1961 220b: first project car - sold.
2000 CLK 430: first modern Benz - sold.
2001 CLK 55: OMG the torque!!! - sold
1972 280SE 4.5: Baby Gustav
1991 300TE 4Matic: Gretel the Snow Bunny - sold
1978 300SD: Katz the Free Man
1980 Redhead: Darling Wife
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:00 AM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 570
5. Buy the FSM asap.

There are two hoses on either side of the engine that connect between the transmission and the radiator, one side of which is a separate ATF cooler. It is likely that that hose is leaking which you can easily replace. You have a dealer in Germantown I think, which is where to get the hose (or mail order from Phil here).

It is possible for a driveway mechanic to replace the self leveling valve, but you need open end box wrenches (to avoid distorting the connectors on the hydraulic lines), and you need to bleed the system after you replace the valve.

Search here for that bleeding procedure, And I strongly rec you get the FSM on CD to not screw things up.

I'll see if I can attach a pdf of the replacement steps from FSM.
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Old 12-04-2009, 12:58 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Southeastern PA
Posts: 2,970
A flare wrench is the proper tool to loosen/tighten hydraulic line fittings to prevent rounding off the flats. Using an adjustable or open-end wrench on hydraulic line fittings is asking for trouble.
Fred Hoelzle
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Old 12-04-2009, 01:03 PM
Crazy_Nate's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Hampton Roads
Posts: 567
Originally Posted by ds190 View Post
You have a dealer in Germantown I think, which is where to get the hose (or mail order from Phil here).
I've used the EuroMotorcars in Germantown for parts. They're pretty quick. I don't think their parts department is open on the weekends

Here's their website:
1982 240D, sold 9/17/2008
1987 300D Turbo
W124.133 - 603.960, 722.317 - Smoke Silver Metallic / Medium Red (702/177), acquired 8/15/2009
262,715 and counting
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:34 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 557

have you turned the AWD off and checked that out? I'm not sure that would tell you anything but it might...worth a try at least.....
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