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Old 11-25-2001, 10:23 AM
Tump's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Westchester, NY USA
Posts: 183
HeadGasket -- Help&Opinions Requested

Hello fellow MB owners,

I have a 1987 300E vin # WDBEA ... HA541743, and I fear that I need a rebuilt head for it with new head bolts, gaskets, new valves, stems and seals; and a new timing chain. The car came with about 115K on it and now has about 135K -- I believe that the cam was replaced at about 100K, and a valve job was done then as well. (My goal is to restore it to pristine condition for under $20K -- body and interior are perfect; it gets 20 miles to the gallon, drives like a dream, and uses 1 quart of oil every 1200 to 2000 miles, depending).

Unfortuneately for my wallet I believe that I will have to do this head job within one month. I see little specs of oil floating on top of the coolant every day, even though just two weeks ago a by-pass test (a mechanical sensor sniffing the coolant for the presence of oil) came out negative, or within spec's. Could it be that the PTFE (Slick50) that I added to the crank case two weeks ago leaked into the coolant and not the oil?

When I Called Metric Motors (800-622-6867) they told me that they would sell me a rebuilt head completely assembled with new valve stems, guides and valves for my car ($940) , new head bolts ($42), a new head gasket set ($55) and a new timing chain ($32 ) for a grand total of $1,069 plus $30 shipping and handling. There is no core charge but, there is an agreement that if I either fail to return to them my old head or if the head that I do return to them is not able to be rebuilt I will pay them an additional $500.

My mechanic states that he can swap out these items for about 5 to 6 hours of labor charges ($80/hr) $500 to $700. (I do not want to do this job myself outside in the winter). Do you owners or mechanical experts think that this is reasonable? The job will involve removing the old head, cam shaft and lifters, replacing the timing chain and reinstalling the new gaskets and head and refiting same with the old cam and lifters.

Do you guys think that these prices are fair or that this comprehensive head job is a good idea?

You guys are the best,
Marc87300E -- Obsidian black, Beige MB-Tex (Perfect Wood).
New: Alternator, Wires, Plugs and Ignition Coil; New: Pressure Tank, Overfow Tank, Water pump, Radiator and hoses; New A/C compressor, Suction Hose, Receiver Dryer and Expansion Valve; New: Fuel Sender, P.B.C. Unit, Cruise Control Amplifier, Mono Belt, Tensioner Pulley and Shock Absorber; New: Flex discs, Rear differential bushings, idler arm bushings, HD Bilsteins, Wheels and Conti's; New: Alpine Head Unit, CD changer, & 8 MB Quart competition speakers with a Kenwood equalizer. On order euro head lights. Additionally, I did most of the above work myself, with OEM or rebuilt OEM parts.
C55: Evosport headers & UDP's; AMS crank; TVT thermo; phenolic spacers; Denso IK16's; EuroTech ECU; RennTech cf airbox w/ Green filters; Z06 catch can; Sprintbooster; Optima RedTop; Quaife LSD; AMG: shift paddles, 030 rear calipers & rotors; Rotera brake lines; Euroteck CF lip; "C63" rear diffuser; 18" SLK AMG Turbines (summer); 18" OZ Superleggera's (winter); K40 dual f&r radar w/ laser jammers; MB: digital climate control, iPod kit & mp3 CD changer; iTronic B/T for MOST.
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Old 11-25-2001, 03:30 PM
94 E320
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Fairfax, VA
Posts: 437
What your mechanic quoted is very reasonable and in the ballpark of what most mechanics should do it for.

I have to have to have my head gasket changed so i've looked into it quite a bit.

Good luck,
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Old 11-26-2001, 08:32 PM
Posts: n/a
Head gasket--87 300E

If your car had the head off at 100k and a valve job at the same time, I find it hard to believe that the head gasket would be leaking internally in just 35,000 miles.

Sometimes oil residue in the cooling system from a PREVIOUS head gasket leak will never "clean out." Before you spend all of that time and money to do a valve job on a car that basically just had one, you may want to consider replacing the coolant expansion tank, all of the coolant hoses and the thermostat. These things are simple to replace on your own, and should run you under $200.00. Then fill the system with fresh MB coolant and run your car for a few hundred miles. I would not be surprised if NONE of the oil residue returns!

Please let me know how it goes...

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Old 11-26-2001, 08:39 PM
Posts: n/a
300 E head gasket

A couple of other thoughts:

Even IF your head GASKET is leaking, you should not automatically draw the conclusion that you need a new CYLINDER HEAD. Do not confuse these two things: a head gasket is only a gasket and costs a little over $100.00.

Check to see if your car actually had a VALVE JOB at 100,000 miles, or just a camshaft replacement. It is not necessary to remove the cylinder head on an M103 motor to replace the camshaft. It concerns me that an engine that supposedly had new valve guides and seals just 35,000 miles ago would burn a quart of oil every 1200 miles.
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Old 01-22-2002, 10:16 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Westchester, NY USA
Posts: 183
Update on HeadGasket Replacement -- MPG Question?

Fellow MB nuts,

Well I did some research and found that the camshaft and stem seals were replaced in 1994, 7 years or approx 100,000 miles ago. Before doing my head I replaced the radiator, expansion tank and overflow tank myself, flushed the cooling system and still after 3 weeks found oil reappearing in the coolant.

So I had the head gasket replaced and the head redone with new Stem Seals, etc. During the job it was found that one pre cat in the OEM exhaust was completely clogged and fused with oil ( I checked this myself and tried after the mechanic did to dislodge this mass with a screw driver -- it would not budge). Apparently, this is where the oil was leaking to. In any case I replaced the header and pre-cat to cat system (its one OEM piece) with a stainless piece manufactured to OEM spec.'s by TimeValve without pre-cats (the new cat I'm told is sufficient to pass inspection -- we will see). This whole job was expensive (I bought my own parts and had the specialists do the work (@$80/hr) coming in for a total cost at a little under $3,600.00. Not bad, however, for a new header-cat system, remachined head and stem seats, replaced valve guides, valve seals, timing chain and timing chain tensioner. The head bolts were within spec.

The car performs amazingly well now, its much quicker and smooter, etc. and burns no oil whatsoever at this point. Job was done 1 month ago. But, after averaging 19 mpg before the job for 6 months, the car now is averaging 17 mpg since the job -- the mechanics' claim to be baffled and they readjusted my air fuel mixture (without charge). Readjusting the mixture did not seem to solve this decrease in mpg.

Do you guys have any ideas or suspicions as to why my car dropped 2 to 3 mpg from its previous average when is should be 2 to 3 mpg better -- at 20 to 22 mpg (as per MB rating on this car 20 city 25 highway)? (I do drive the car a little more agressively -- but drive the same roads the same distances and use the same gas and gas stations).

Rebuit and restored Obsidian Black/Palmino Interior '87300E with Euro Headlights (they are amazing). Wanted OEM 8-Hole 16" Rims with decent tires.

Last edited by Tump; 01-22-2002 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 01-22-2002, 11:56 AM
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Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
With the new-found power, are you exercising your right foot a little more? Doesn't take too much ankle flex to drop a mpg or two.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 01-23-2002, 07:35 AM
Posts: n/a
The head gasket is not the only place that could possibly be getting oil in the coolant. You said you replaced the radiator, but it is possible that the transmission cooler is leaking.

Has there been any evidence of coolant in the oil? This would be a more common head problem than oil in the coolant. I may be wrong, but I find it hard to imagine how oil would make it into the coolant without the reverse occurring.

If the car had not had coolant replacement periodically, a corrosion problem could possibly be the problem. Even if corrosion is the culprit, the cylinder head can be welded up (after removal of course) instead of purchasing a new head. There are machine shops that specialize in welding cracks and corroded areas. It would be a rare instance where the entire head must be replaced, maybe if there was catastrophic damage such as a broken valve or piston, it might become necessary.

Good luck,
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Old 01-28-2002, 06:30 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Westchester, NY USA
Posts: 183
Revised update on Head Gasket cost

Fellow enthusiasts

I misquoted the final price to machine my head & valve seats; replace the stem guides, valve seals & head gasket; and to replace the fused OE header/catalytic converter assembly with a stainless steel unit from TimeValve (w/ a modern cat and no pre-cat's). The total price was $2,600 (including parts) not $3,600. I saved a lot by buying parts through Phil at PartsShop -- listening to the advice in this forum (I did not replace the head -- wasn't necessary & it did not need to be welded [thanks for the concern Larry]) and developing a good relationship with my MB specialist mechanic. He cut 5 hours from his bill.

Regarding the drop in MPG -- you're right, it was completely due to my faster and more agressive driving. When I pretend to be a grandmother I get 19 to 20 mpg.

Thanks for all your help!
Restored & Rebuilt '87300E Obsidian Black, Palmino Interior, Euro Lights, new Bilsten HD's.
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