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Old 06-03-2002, 08:14 PM
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Question Bad news...please advise

Bad news....

Looks like the 380SE's timing chain broke, and now two of the cylinders have no compression.

More than one mechanic has advised dropping a replacement engine into the car. About the only rebuilder I know of for Mercedes is Adsit....any experience with them?

does anyone know of any other rebuilders or sellers of used Mercedes engines, also, that are reputable?

Also, if we end up getting a used engine for the car, would an M116 4.2 liter out of a 420SEL drop right in, and hook up to the existing accessories fine? I'm thinking 200 stock hp here in the car with that setup.......

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Old 06-03-2002, 08:39 PM
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That sucks -- Sorry to hear about that...

I'm not sure about engine swapping question, but one thing you have to weigh is the condition of the rest of the car with the cost of replacing the motor. Is the body and interior in good shape? Does the trans have many more years of use ahead? In other words, if you spend some $bucks$ on another motor, can you get many more years of reliable use out of it? Also, how will the trans and existing exhaust system mate up with a 4.2L? Will be interesting to see!

Just some thoughts and I wish you luck! Maybe an opportunity to turn her into a real sleeper.
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Old 06-03-2002, 09:01 PM
Holson Adi's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,561
I'm really sorry to hear that. It does suck....

I agree though. If the whole car is still in great condition, try the 4.2L engine or better yet find a 5.6L. Make that 560SE or take the badge off and let people think it's a 300SD.

I'm not sure how different the tranny and rear end are, so let's wait for the techs!

The brakes on the 420 and 560 are bigger too I think (at least the fronts)

I'm also almost positive that the exhaust would be different.
2008 BMW 335i Coupe
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Old 06-03-2002, 09:03 PM
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Well, the car's pretty damn good, I have to say. Put a custom exhaust system on it in sept 2000, that ran close to $1500. Interior is great, the car drives with no discernable problems, trans works well, shifts at the right times and is responsive enough. Body is nice too, and the paint is good.

So, yeah, I feel like the car's worth saving. It's been very reliable up to this point.

Still wondering about others' experiences with mercedes engine builders, sellers of used engines, etc.

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Old 06-03-2002, 10:34 PM
ymsin's Avatar
Driver, Mercedes-Benz
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 1,645
I know of that feels. My timing chain snapped once while cruising - but fortunately it was covered under warranty.

However, if that were to ever happen again, I would consider an engine swap as it would be less hassle and cheaper than having to rebuild.

The rule of thumb is to swap for the same engine capacity of course. But if you're thinking of a more powerful engine, i.e. 380 to 420, its a question of whether your tranny is able to take the additional power load without breaking down. In most cases, you'd find that your tranny would have to be replaced too.

I would suggest getting the facts in order before taking the plunge ...
... Kerry

126 tailed by a 203, 129 leading the pack.
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Old 06-04-2002, 11:18 AM
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 1,562
Hi Sam-

although it appears entirely possible to use your chassis to swap to the v8 motor,,,,you'll most likely need tons more parts off of the 420 chassis to gain a proper car ie> upgraded motor mounts, upgraded front suspension/chassis and brakes/steering, bushings, handle the extra weight of the V8 (as engineered by MB in the 420 chassis)

perhaps the most economical solution is to seek out a used 380 motor from one of the reputable MB boneyards (it would be the least labor intensive exercise to get you quickly back on the road)- - I'd search for one w/ a compression and leak down test and w/ a guarantee

another option is to seek out another vehicle w/ the timing chains done (w/ records) and go from there....complete running 380's appear to be very affordable and perhaps more economical to acquire vs. repairing the current vehicle?

in either case, rebuilt MB motors are not cheap, reputable re-builders do exist and offer decent warranties (if you like your particular car enough- it maybe worth it to you to fix it)

hope this helps
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Old 06-04-2002, 11:27 AM
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Good advice -fad,

Lesse -- in '84 MB switched to a double-row timing chain, so Sam, make sure you go with that year or later (you probably know that ). Converting from single -> double is a couple grand proposition.

If you have the money, how about a nice 450SLC? ($4-7 grand) They're not too expensive, you have decent performance and 2 doors.

Ya, I know, as a student, "messing around" with car issues is not a top priority... Been there, done it (and doing it again as an adult student.)

Again, good luck and let us know what transires...

Last edited by BlackE55; 06-04-2002 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 06-04-2002, 01:05 PM
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If money is an issue, (as it would be for me) I would condsider replacing the head. I removed the head after the chain broke on mine. I acquired the parts and had a machine shop recondition the head. I put it back on and the total cost was about $1200.

You could also get a reconditioned head and swap it out. Why do the whole engine?
Michael LaFleur

'05 E320 CDI - 86,000 miles
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Old 06-04-2002, 02:06 PM
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How many miles did it take to break the timing chain?
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Old 06-04-2002, 02:55 PM
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Check out Steve Brotherton's comments in this post:

Anyone know any reputation of these 3 engine rebuilders?
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Old 06-04-2002, 03:01 PM
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Sam, check out Benz Friends in south Seattle a few blocks south of Michigan, Aurora Auto wrecking on about 80th and Aurora. Also perhaps you can get a crated (rebuilt) engine from one of the advertisers in the Star?

Good luck!

'00 ML320 "Casper"
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Old 06-04-2002, 05:32 PM
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Hi all:

An update on the car situation:

Since the car isn't totally mine at the time (still in the parents name, and I don't have it over with me in Seattle) it looks like this will happen:

My dad wants to get a rebuilt 3.8 liter from Adsit or another engine rebuilder. Sure, it'll cost $5000 plus, but it will give the car a new lease on life. And yes, it'll come with the double chains...which our old engine had, being an '85.

I did call Aurora Auto Wrecking, and they had some 3.8s, as well as 4.2s and 5.6s. They did say a 4.2 liter swap would be less messy than a 5.6 swap, but also said that in their experience that a 4.2 liter was a "junky engine" that smoked & burned a lot of oil after 150,000 miles. That made me less enthused about putting a 4.2 liter in there, because in all fairness, the 3.8 was quite troublefree with regular maintenance until the chain broke.

Our indie mechanic was of the opinion that "If you're going to do the heads, why not just buy a rebuilt or used engine and drop it in there?" He said that the heads would be pretty labor-intensive and be around $2000 for parts and labor. That's almost a used engine right there....

Besides, we like the car enough that putting a rebuilt in seems like a good proposition. A 450SLC would be nice; my uncle has a lovely red '73, but it only has a 3-speed automatic and the 380's automatic overdrive is nice. Maybe in the future.

And when I get an MB that is truly my own, after college, it'll most likely have an M103 engine. With the head gasket/top end work already done, to boot. V8s are great, but kind of costly to fix.

Anyway, can anyone recommend any other decent engine builders that advertise in the Star (which I don't have a copy of) or otherwise? I have heard some good things about Adsit on the board, and also know of Metric Motors in LA. Other ideas?

Thanks a lot,

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Old 06-04-2002, 05:43 PM
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Posts: 565
Read what one member here had to say about ADSIT.

Any body ever used or heard of these transmisson rebuilders?

You may which to use the search facility here and elsewhere before doing business with any supplier.
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Old 06-04-2002, 08:27 PM
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I wish that guy had elaborated about Adsit. I have heard good things about them on this site and others.....

Oh yes, and for yosshimura, the car had 197K miles on it. Our fault for not doing the chain earlier. I guess we assumed it had already been done by the p.o. (the car was bought with 140K miles on it, and there was a gap in the service records from 110-140K.

This is a reminder: Buy a car with all records!

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Old 06-04-2002, 09:16 PM
it leaks, its german
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Personally, I'd pull and do the heads but, being a tech I like taking things apart. :-)

Look at it like this, you know what the engine was like before the chain broke and there is no reason it should not be like that or better after doing the top end.

I always recomend taking the route with the least unknowns. One other source to check with is Potomic in VA, reasonable prices and pretty good service. (we bought a 103 from them with 90k and 195 average compression for 1700.00) I also installed a 102 from them that was exactly as described, 175 average and appeared to have fresh top end.

Weigh out the costs and benifits before proceding and from what I've heard I'd buy a mill from Potomic long before I bought one from adsit.

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