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  #1  
Old 12-15-2001, 06:18 AM
nick
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Buying 300TE - what do I look for?

Hi all,

I am considering purchasing a 92/93 300TE and am seeking pointers on what to check (apart from the normal things to check when buying a car).

The car belongs to someone I know and trust (so far) and has done 130,000 miles. He was given (yes given) the car by a customer (of his restaurant) who bought an SLK and has not since used the 300. The car does is not taxed and the councial are threatening to remove the car.

I have to call today and check for MOT, service history, known problems etc. I will also go over and have a good look at the car. It has definitely seen better days and has clearly been sitting at the roadside for awhile (sun dried wiper arm, missing hood ornament) but my friend has driven the car so I know it atleast actually works.

I understand that slipping transmission and noisy rear axle are the major concerns. What's the best way to check for both or is it obvious when these problems exist?

I am a reasonably capable home mechanic so replacing the odd part here and there is not scary but are there parts which are likely to need replacing and/or are very expensive or difficult to reach/replace?

TIA

Nick
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  #2  
Old 12-15-2001, 12:11 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
Typical 124 problems are:

Bad flex disk at tranny -- makes a thump when it shifts, vibrates some. Easy fix.

Broken door stops -- noisy or don't work. Easy fix ($18 each!)

Oil leak at front cover (easy fix), oil leak at head gasket front and rear at oil gallery plug -- usually requires new head gasket.

Wiper gets sticky -- if you lube it before it gets too bad, no big deal, but will eventually break the drive gears or burn out the motor.

Rear autolevel suspension can die, either by loosing nitrogen in the accumulators (hard to VERY hard ride), or pump problems (sags) or bad struts (sags). Only the pump is expensive.

If the car has really had good mainenance, I wouldn't expect much else. If not, you will probably need a valve job soon (mine got one at 160,000 miles). Tranny will be OK unless abused or allowed to run low on fluid from leaks (servo o-ring or pan gasket, both easy fixes).

AC may be bad -- not usualy, but possible. Pushbutton control unit usually goes first -- buttons won't stay down or heat won't shut off. Easy fix, not too expensive.

Cruise control may be dead, easy fix but expensive.

You can test the transmission by watching the tach at highway speeds on hills -- if there is a large increase in rpm under load without a speed increase, it is slipping. Shift timing and feel are controlled by a Bowden cable and vaccuum system, so if it shifts funny, look for tired vaccuum lines.

The TE has low rear end gears -- gets lousy milage (21-24 on the highway) and runs about 3200 rpm at 70 mph, higher than usual. Else VERY nice.

Probably needs a tuneup -- plugs, wires, cap, rotor; not too bad, but not cheap. Rough idle problems are common -- most aren't too bad to fix. See other posts.

Peter
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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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  #3  
Old 12-15-2001, 12:17 PM
nick
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Thanks psfred

I appreciate your input and will bear this all in mind when I have a good look at the car. I am hoping to find a car which has been maintained by a wealthy but ignorant owner, rather than one which has not been maintained....

nick.
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  #4  
Old 12-15-2001, 01:01 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
Nick:

I paid $4500 for mine with 196,000 miles on it. Have had to fix some vaccuum/idle control lines, put a tire on it (actually, my brother did since he was using it on a trip at the time!), a window switch, new accumulators for the rear suspension, and a tune up. It wasn't maintained all that well, but had a new rear wheel bearing, a new ignition swithc, a valve job, and rear suspension pump replaced, maybe some more, but not bad for 196,000 miles.

Unless it was really butchered, there won't be much wrong with it -- probably bad rear suspension, messy interior, etc, but if the oil got changed at all, nothing else. Probably the most reilable troublefree car MB ever made. Some think the W126 was instead, but I think it is mostly a tie!

Oil pressure at idle hot should be at least 1 bar -- if lower, the engine needs a rebuild -- big dollars, take into account on price. Make sure the oil is normal viscosity, too -- I've seen cars with straight 50 wt in them to mask bearing noise, low oil pressure, etc.

Good luck, hope it is a good car -- we love ours!

Peter
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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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  #5  
Old 12-15-2001, 01:18 PM
nick
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Oil- yes good point. Question is, how do you know what oil is in there?
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  #6  
Old 12-15-2001, 01:31 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
Synthetic will run off the dipstick and drip. Dino will slowly drip if 10W40 or so. Straight 30W or 20W50 or 40W will not drip off the dipstick at the temps we have now. Can't tell anything else about viscosity or source.

Shouldn't be very dark, either -- TE is a gas engine, so the oil shouldn't be black. If it is, it's been in there a long, long time!

If the tranny oil is dark brown or smells burnt, the tranny is probably slipping -- MB recommends regular tranmission oil changes. Probably why they go 250,000 miles with nothing but oil changes!

Peter
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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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  #7  
Old 12-15-2001, 11:23 PM
CEC CEC is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: GA
Posts: 48
Let me tell you about my experience with a 300TE. I wanted a 300TE to replace my wife's 190E but just could not afford one. Then I stumbled accross an neglected abused 1990 300TE. I bought it for $2800. It had a hole in the oil pan, no back window and was utterly discussting. Well this just goes to show you how well these cars are built. I took a chance buying this car. Now I have put on a new oil pan, rear window, and spent countless hours cleaning this thing. Its not perfect but runs like a dream. Starts everytime (so far) and runs great. I tell you if you saw it in its condition you would lock the doors and hide the children. Luckily for me I think the original owner changed the oil and took care of it. It was the second owner that abused it. You should look for the basic things. A/C, brakes, transmission etc. Of course if the price is right!

chuck
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  #8  
Old 12-16-2001, 08:09 AM
Mark Stetson's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 262
A couple other things to add:

Timing chain and tensioners should be replaced for preventive maintenance after 100K miles.

Motor mounts seem to go around 50K miles.

Air pumps (US models - are they on the Euro models?) seem to go around 80K miles. They get progressively noisier on cold start.

The rear suspension can be flushed every year or two to lengthen the life of the system. It really improves the ride.

I'm currently experiencing a fluctuating idle speed problem in my 300TE at 54K miles - idle speed control switch or OVP relay are suspects at the moment.
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  #9  
Old 12-16-2001, 10:40 AM
someguyfromMaryland
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I would argue that MB inline 6 gas engines are very easy on timing chains and can go a long time without replacement if oil and filter changes are done religiously on time. The chain is running a short, simple oval loop and therefore doesn't see alot of wear. V-8's, OTOH, see a more tortuous path and have greater travel, hence more stretch over time.

If you really want to talk timing chain nightmare, find a shop to let you see the inside of a 600 V-12. Four cams, gears in contact with chain for only about 120 degrees of rotation, I'd hate to be paying to maintain one of those!

Also, on the point of mileage and engine speed, most MBs are built and geared to run at higher rpm's than American cars for a reason. They want the car in the power band when you're at normal speeds. Also, they're designed for that engine speed. I drove my '91 300TE (4matic) (if you're looking for a TE, these aren't for the faint of heart) from Maryalnd to Florida, and it saw 22 mpg at an average speed of 70 mph with a full load of people and luggage. It normally sees about 60 mph and gets 20-21 mpg. I was amazed but figure that's where it was designed to run. Also, a 300TE is a 4000 lb car with 177 hp (M103) or 216 hp (M104). You still have a good load to push when the car is empty.

Good luck, hope you find the right car for you!

someguyfromMaryland
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  #10  
Old 12-19-2001, 12:58 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: MN
Posts: 5
Radiator

Don't forget about the radiators. The nozzle where the upper hose attaches tends to break off. I had to replace my radiator at 185K, make sure you get the updated BEHR one with the reinforced nozzles.
Not too expensive. I was able to get a new BEHR for $225 shipped and it took about 1 hour to replace.

Later,

Enrique
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  #11  
Old 12-19-2001, 06:33 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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Quote:
Originally posted by someguyfromMaryland

If you really want to talk timing chain nightmare, find a shop to let you see the inside of a 600 V-12. Four cams, gears in contact with chain for only about 120 degrees of rotation, I'd hate to be paying to maintain one of those!
The Infiniti Q45 has a labour charge of over 40 hours for a timing chain change. It's one huge job that requires removal of the engine from the chassis. I see quite a few early '90's Q45's on the market for cheap, and I suspect the owners have gotten a quote for timing chain replacement. I think the V-12 MB and the Infiniti V-8 are about the same in $$$ for this job.

The Q45 with active suspension is also an expensive nightmare, as the suspension is failure prone and unbeliveably expensive to fix.

So next time you're sitting next to a Q in traffic in your W140, don't envy "Japanese low maintenance costs."
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