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Old 03-03-2002, 11:15 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Joliet Illinois
Posts: 309
Wink Valve Stem Seals Sucessfully Replaced

I just finished replacing the valve stem seals on my '88 260e and it went flawlessly thanks to the help from this board.

I used the compressed air method described by Dennis about a month ago using 100 psi air and holding the crankshaft from turning with a wrench on the crankshaft bolt. Looking thru the spark plug hole with a flashlight, I turned the engine to a little past TDC- until I could see the piston just starting to go down, and then put a big 27mm socket on the crank bolt and braced it against the garage floor. I figured with the piston up high, I wouldn't lose the valve if my air compressor quit or something. When I let the air into the cylinder the engine tried to turn and I could see the wrench tighten up.

After removing the spring from each valve, I shut off the air and checked the play in the valve guides. There was a little play in each one but not too bad yet. The valves moved down only about 1/4" before hitting the pistons. No chance of losing the valves with this repair method but this is definitely an interference engine.

The only problem I had was with the No.6 cylinder. I could not see into the cylinder and had to use a long thin screwdriver as a "feeler" to check for TDC. I also had to loosen the trans. dipstick because it was in the way of the valve compressor tool.
After compressing the springs, I had to rap the valve spring tool with a hammer to free the keepers.

Had to be very careful handling the small keepers and rocker shims because I think they could fall down into the oil drain holes in the head. I used foam ear plugs to temporarily plug the drain holes but it's very important not to forget about the plugs and leave them there.

I also sealed the upper timing cover and replaced the serpentine belt.

Thanks everyone for the excellent help and advice, and Fastlane for getting all the parts to me so quickly.

John Plut
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Old 03-03-2002, 11:45 PM
pmizell's Avatar
Benz Zealot
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838
Nice job John... feels good accomplishing something like that eh? Something about that DIY feeling that you can't really explain to the non-DIY'er.

BTW, sells a "TDC whistle" that you place in the spark plug hole. When it stops whistlin' as you're cranking you know you've reached TDC on that cylinder. Might come in handy for others thinking about tackling this type of job.


'91 300E, 208k miles
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Old 03-04-2002, 08:43 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Posts: 238
Makes you glow all over with pride when it goes right does it not ? Well done John. I plan on doing the same on my 500SEL in the next month or so, using the same method but I need a few weeks to get the bits together as I don't have the luxury of Fastlane as a quick delivery service . . .
1993 190E 2.0L (Euro.) sold
1991. 500 SEL (Euro.)
1991. 300 CE (Euro.) sold
1993. 500 E (U.S. spec.)
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Old 03-04-2002, 11:43 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: California
Posts: 327
Great job John! What was the condition of your old seals? Mine weren't cracked or hard, but the inner "sealing lips" were worn flat.

How's your back from leaning over the car for so many hours?

Were you happy with your spring compressor tool? If so, maybe you could make a recommendation to the group?


04 ML500
02 E430

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
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Old 03-04-2002, 03:27 PM
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Question Valve Spring Compressor

Valve seals is a job I need to do on my 190E also. What type valve spring compressor did you use. Did you also replace any of the timing chain hardware?
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Old 03-04-2002, 10:18 PM
mikemover's Avatar
All-seeing, all-knowing.
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 5,514
John...Well done! I have wanted to check the same thing on my car for a while now...I don't know if I have the courage to tackle it myself, though...

Paul...that whistle tool is a brilliant idea! Wonder who thought of it.....?

1979 300 SD
350,000 miles
1982 300D-gone---sold to a buddy
1985 300TD
270,000 miles
1994 E320
not my favorite, but the wife wanted it
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Old 03-04-2002, 11:37 PM
Posts: n/a
Congrats. Well done. I also thought I needed new valve seals.
My 260E is going through this surgery right now (That what I thought)
The shop called me this afternoon. After checking the car, the valve guide were found to be very bad. So.... head off. Complete valve job.
While there, the crankshaft showed quite a bit of wear on two lobes. Need a new cramshaft. The two lifters on those two lobes are also worn badly.
The timing belt tentionner (hydraulic) is at it's limit: Need a new timing chain.
Also found a small leak at the bottom of the radiator.... might as well fix that too. And the rad. hoses are in bad shape.....
Distributor cap and rotor are also in poor condition, why not, change it too.
The plug wires have too much resistance..... replace them.
Might as well put new spark plugs while you,re there.
I just hope this guy won't call me back tomorrow for more.
I'm in for about $2,800.00 so far. As a consolation, the guy is very professionnal, he has been working on Benz for 25 years and he knows his stuff.
Maybe I should have called you.......
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Old 03-05-2002, 09:49 AM
Posts: n/a
Dim Doggone Seals

Bothers of the Benz!
In reading the reports of stem seals and valve guides makes me sad for those who haven't had the performance as I have gotten.
My 1987 300E gasoline engine is approaching 200,000 miles and past an air leak down and compression test.
The stem seals are still pyable and sealing.
His oil consumption is 1 1/2 qts at change time, 3500-5000 miles.
Mobil I 15-50W. and filter.
There is an article in The Starr Magszine on this subject; fresh oil and stem and valve guide life.
You must change the motor oil.
My engine has never had the cam cover removed.
I had better quite bragging or it will blow up today.
Happy Trails Beep Beep from the Spiderman in Houston!!!
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Old 03-05-2002, 09:16 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
Posts: 4,749

Glad to hear from you. Where has the spiderman been hiding?

Drop me an E-mail, we have all missed you on here!

'92 300CE - Sold
2004 C240 - 744 - C7 Wheels - Android Radio
2002 C320 - 816 - Sport Wagon
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Old 03-05-2002, 09:43 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Jax, FL
Posts: 1,785
Talking Donald...

The last time you were bragging about your AC. I remember what happened after that. Do you?
Like you said, better stop bragging...
Glad to hear from you again!
'86 300E
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Old 03-05-2002, 11:32 PM
Posts: n/a
Foot in One's Mouth

Well you've got me alright, I'd better watch what I,m saying for fear of what will happen.
But when your riding a thorough bred you like to let people know about him.
Joan and I thought we would trade our beloved "Donka" in on a small machine we could tow behind our Motor Home. You know same engine standard transmission. Well we tried a few on for size. Not only did they not fit but they weren't the least bite as well suited as our old 1987 MB. You have to drive them to realize the difference, yuke!
Not only are their toy cars bad but the sales clerk, you notice I didn't say salesman, are so insulting. They noticed the miles on my Benz and immediately start running him down.
One clerk at a "Focus" dealer asked if I trade him in would I take 10% more for Donka to allow him to purchase my Benz personally. He test drove him for evaluation and test the accessories.
The next morning we had a dead battery, he played everything, and the overhead lighting control and I never paid any attention that the interior light stayed on.
As you've already guest, we're shotting for 200K, only have a few to go.
Happy Trails Beep beep from the Spiderman, Donald in Houston!!!
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Old 03-05-2002, 11:44 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Joliet Illinois
Posts: 309
Valve Spring Compressor

The valve spring compressor I used is a K-D Model No. 2078 (Made in USA). I bought it about 10 years ago and I can't remember where, could have been NAPA or J.C. Whitney. I have seen similar ones at Pep Boy's for about $20 that should work just as well. The compressor looks like a hub puller and has two hooked arms for grabbing the spring coils. It is made specifically for removing valve springs with the head on.

A small magnetic retriever is also an essential tool for this job. You need it to grab out the small keepers from the top of the valve stem after compressing the spring. I also have a set of sharp picks that came in very handy for manipulating the keepers so I could grab them.

Note that on the M103 engines, there is plenty of working room around the valve springs. I saw pictures of other MB engines in repair manuals that have double valve springs or have the valve springs recessed in a well and I'm afraid the compresser probably won't work on those models.

The valve stem seals that I removed did not look as bad as I thought they would. They were still soft and the ridges that seal against the valve stem were worn slightly when compared to the new seals. The new seals I bought were brown and black. The old ones were all brown. Regardless of color, the intake and exhaust seals can be distingusihed by the hole size and by their shape. The exhaust seals have more of a domed top.

I have not noticed any oil loss yet but have only driven the car a couple hundred miles since the work.
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Old 03-06-2002, 09:23 AM
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Thanz All, The Spiderman has blossumed

Brothers of the Benz, You can't imagine how humble I feel with all of your concern. Ofcourse I deserve your love and effection.
A small bout with Mr. Illness and I'm partial back prepared to spend hait and discontent, Ha Ha.
It appears that we the owners of the MBs with high miles are experiencing the dreaded hardening of the Ole Stemo Seals and enlargening of our stem guides I.D.
One would think we should see our groinacolgist? As Archie Bunker would say.
The barn door was left open and the stem guides and seal have runded away.
Let's hope that on the next chapter that we do as we as supposed to.
Motor oil costs less than major engine repair.
I'm one who has over the past 15 years has thrown away good motor oil by making the premature changing frquency per others schedules and the engine and oil companies recommendations. All I could see at the early stages was momey down the drain,(before we had to collect our old stinky oil.)
But now with my 300 having passed 180Kmiles approaching 200K and the cam cover never been removed it makes one wonder?
I've always been a topsider, long before it was chique.
At 3500-5000 mile frequencies and it has paid off.
I had the opportunity on my last trip to New Mexico and in the west Texas Hill Country; to let Joan drop me off at the bottum of a LONG down hill grade. See approached the top at 80mph released the cruise control and coasted to the bottom using engine braking then she applied full throttle to go up the other side.
Yep you guessed it, NO BLUE puffy smoke.
Fresh oil is the life of the valve guides and the stem seals.
Soooo, the next time around, you can pay me now or pay me later, so the commercial says.
I've never calulated the dollars spent on oil vs. that on cylinder head repair, has anyone?
Well to close I AINT BRAGGEN just saying it like it is!
Happy Trails Beep Beep from Donal The Spiderman in Houston!!!
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Old 03-06-2002, 11:39 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: California
Posts: 327

While frequent oil changes are certainly a good suggestion, you have come to the conclusion that worn seals and guides are due to infrequent oil changes. There are countless other factors. I change my oil even more frequently than you (2,500 - 3,000 miles) and I feel that my engine benefitted from the new seals. It was a fun job to do anyway since I had never done it before.

John, the KD tool sounds like the way to go. I did my seals with the Pep Boys $20 tool and it was a very poor quality tool.


04 ML500
02 E430

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
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Old 03-06-2002, 07:03 PM
Posts: n/a
Caught Again

Brother of The Benz 300EE20
Well you surely put to rest the falicy that only fresh motor oil extends the life of the guides and seals.
I would imagine that combustion chamber pressures resulting from a heavy throttle plays a large part as well.
Also, we never consider the climate the machine lives in.
The tools both of you have used sounds similair, yet the quality of one apparently is better than the other, KD being the better one.
Neither mentions air applied throught the spark plug opening; isn't this required using you new(?) type tool?
I'm trying for 200K miles then a three angle valve seat with guides and valves where required. I also want the cumbustiion chambers C.C'd.
I've toyed with the option of renewing the camshaft with a grind that would improve on all around engine performance with out revving the heart out of Him.
I've 13K miles to make my decision(approx.1 yr).
I've rambled on and haven't added anything to the party so,
Happy Trails Beep Beep from Donald The Spiderman in Houston!!!
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