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Old 12-01-2001, 03:55 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 94
Stuck Odometer

OK, forgive me if you've heard this one before, but any advice on
how to remedy a stuck odometer? Bought the car, odometer worked fine. Reset the trip odometer once, and it all froze up. Everything but the odometer and the trip odometer seem normal. As wonderful a fantasy as it is to be driving a car that apparently never puts on miles, I don't think it's entirely legal.


92 300CE
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Old 12-01-2001, 11:14 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150

Did you reset the odometer while moving? I've busted more than one doing this, although I think they were already going! There appears to be a problem with the gears binding while you are resetting them, and that causes the zinc drive gear to start slipping on the steel drive shaft. Probably a safty feature so you don't damage the rest of the speedo head.

The drive gear for the odometer is slipping, or the little star gear that flips the next plastic wheel is missing a tooth -- both are common failures.

VDO does repairs for about $100 -- take odometer out and send in, takes about a week.

There are also other places -- PaloAlto Speedometer advertizes in Hemmings Motor News, for instance (fun publication if you've not seen it!).

If it were a W115 or W123 I'd tell you how to fix it yourself, but I've not taken one from a W124 apart yet (the 300TE trip odo is broken, main odo works still), so I've not got any specific advice.

It's legal to drive the car with no odometer as long as you don't attempt to sell the car while stating the milage is actual -- you must sign an affidavit that the odometer reading is not accurate (this is on the title in Indiana, probably in other states as well).

Lots of these VDO odometers die around 200,000 miles.

You might try punching the reset button a couple times while the car is sitting still, too -- the trip odometer on the Volvo sticks once in a while when reset and won't register until I push the button again.

1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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Old 12-01-2001, 11:39 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Western Michigan
Posts: 1,080
In Michigan, they do not require odometer reading for cars older than 10 years.

I just transferred the title of my 1987 300TD and they put zeros on the title. I asked and that was what they told me.
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Old 12-02-2001, 01:42 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Posts: 758
Remove the cluster and Look

Greetings Zach,

Remove the cluster to find the real problem with the non moving odometer. I found mine in one of my Benz's with a broken end piece where the steel pin slides through the assembly numbers. A dab of JB weld on the end and it operates like new now. Generally the trip odometer can cause you havic if that's the pin piece that is stuck and then has broken. Take a look at the back of the speedo with it removed and you'll soon see the problem. If you aren't comfortable with removing this component than I suggest you send it to VDO to do the repair. Personally I like to keep as much of my hard earned green in my own pocket.

"Tell me and I will listen, Teach me and I will learn, Show me and I will accomplish, Involve me and I will succeed."
'84 300SD 256,000 Gold on Brown (Mileage Award)
'86 300E 246,000 Blue on Tan
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Old 12-03-2001, 04:12 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 437
Palo Alto Speedometer, 323-0243 (650) does great work. Also try the yellow pages under "speedometer" for a local place that will do all the work for you, including removal and replacement.
'76 240D-Sold
'78 240D-Sold
'85 300 SD, 165K-Sold
'88 300 TE, 165K-Sold
'64 Porsche 356C Cabriolet
'86 560SL 124K Miles
'94 320E Wagon, 74K Miles-128K Miles JUNKED
'06 E350 Wagon, 84K Miles
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Old 02-25-2002, 03:47 PM
Former Dieselholic
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: West Michigan
Posts: 380
Thumbs up odometer fix

My '81 300TD has an electronic speedo/odo and was a snap to fix!
I took it out and examined the gears. (which were VERY visible!)
The small gear and the first main (larger)gear had about as many teeth on them as a 90 year old Tennesee woman (no offense to any 90 year old Tennesee women).

I went to the local auto salvage yard and purchased a new entire instrument cluster for $40...that included the housing and all gauges. Removed the gears from the junk yard one, and swapped out the bad gears for good. First I made sure that no extra teeth were floating around! I could have just swapped out the entire assembly, but call me a purist...

Now it works like new! Best $40 I have ever spent.
Current: '91 300TE 4MATIC 317k and climbing...
'81 300TD Wagon 168K "Tank"
'83 240D 216K 4spd manual "Da Bear" (aka best car ever)

"Never sweat the petty things...
and never pet the sweaty things."
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