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Old 06-24-2002, 05:34 PM
Posts: n/a
Question Question about 420 SEL

I have searched these pages and found them very useful, however, not knowing much at all about these cars, I'm not sure if what I've read applies to me.

I have never owned a Mercedes nor have even driven in one before (my only other car I personally ownded was a 97 Jeep Cherokee), so I am a total newbie. I have no idea if any of the problems I'm having are normal or not.

I just purchased on Saturday (June 22, '02) a 1986 420 SEL with 120K miles. Silver exterior and black leather interior. Pretty close to flawless in appearance, at least for my needs.

However, I've noticed some problems mechanically. At idle, the engine seems to "jump" every few seconds. I don't know how to accurately describe this sensation, other than I feel the car shake a bit when it happens. It also seems to shift a bit hard when going from 1st to 2nd. I did not notice either of these things when I first got the car; it only seemed to happen after driving several hundred miles, some time after my second fill-up of gas.

There also seems to be an incredible amount of heat coming from the engine. When I stop at a light or something, I can put my hand out the window and towards the hood and feel the heat. I know car engines get hot but this seems like a lot. Like I said, the only other car I owned was Cherokee and unless you put your hand on the hood, you woudln't notice it at all. I do not see any noticable change in the engine temp according to the guage on the dash and I have no idea if the engine feels this hot when I am running at high speeds.

Other than that, the car seems to run smoothly. Zero problems when cruising or racing the streets of manhattan. I even got it up to 100mph once (not in the city of course) and it felt great. When I purchased it, I drove it from Boston to New York, then almost immediately to Nyack (the giant mall there) 1.5 hours north and noticed nothing wrong at all with the engine.

Other things:

Steering feels a touch loose at high speeds. Not sloppy, but just not super precise. My only other comparisson (Jeep) was pretty good about this.

Gas guage bounces around below R when the tank is less than 1/4. I would assume this has something to do with the sensor in the tank.

Rear driver window comes up slowly and makes some noise.

Purpleish tint at bottom of windows. Window tint coming off?

How much am can I expect to spend on these things to get them fixed?

Is it difficult and beneficial to switch to motorized power door locks instead of the vacuum ones? Would motorized locks make it easier for an aftermarket alarm and keyless entry

What exactly does the factory alarm do?

I don't like the wood dash; does anyone know where I can get a a new dash, preferably black. What about replacing the headliner?

I like the smooth ride, meaning I'm not interested in turning this into a sports car, but I don't like the sway in the corners. Would anit-sway bars alone fix this problem, or would I need new shocks also?

Anyone know of where I can get body kits for this?

A warning on the car says that if I remove the radio, it will destroy the electronics. I could really care less about destroying the electronics in the original radio since it doesn't work that well anyway (I am planning on replacing it with an aftermarket Sony), but I don't want to mess up the rest of the car. How do I get that darn thing out!

What are the sizes of the front speakers in the dash? I cannot get a consist response from Crutchfield, Circuit City, Best Buy or anybody. How about the rear speakers? How difficult is it to replace the radio and speakers myself? Should I trust an installer at one of these places to do it right?

Anyone have any luck installing tweeters in the A pillar? What about installing speakers in the front doors?

I am currently in New York but will be moving to Deerfield Beach, FL soon; does anyone know of a good mechanic in the Fort Lauderdale area?

I am really, really sorry about all the questions, but this is my first Mercedes and I'm excited about it!! Despite the problems, I love this car!!!
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Old 06-24-2002, 05:52 PM
Amuso's Avatar
Addicted to gadgets
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Norway
Posts: 102
Congratulations! I hope youīll get many many nice miles out of your new Benz. Sounds like a nice set of wheels. I just bought my second and third Benz too, so I am not an expert here. But some things Iīve already learned and thanks to this board alone. Great people here!

The bouncing fuel gauge is the sensor in the tank. On my 300E (I havenīt had the chance to get my 560SEL shipped to my house yet so I havenīt studied it so closely), the sensor seems to be easy to access and replace from the top of the tank in the trunk. Just remove the cardboard/trim that covers the rear seats. I havenīt changed mine yet, but will soon. Mine bounces around from 1/3 or 1/4 tank.

Speakers... My W124 dash originally had 120mm units installed (flange measure). Thatīs about 4", but Iīve seen some 4.5" units too that could fit with a mm or two extra in there. I am planning to install a custom setup consisting of 4" in the dash and separate tweeters somewhere up front. The W126-series dash might room bigger speakers. I do not know.

The rear rooms 120mm too, enclosed in some plastic "cups" under the grille there. But it seems it can contain 140+mm units without any big modifications. I plan to keep the interior looking original. 140mm would be 5.25" or thereabout.

My car came with an aftermarket Sony unit, and I couldnīt see much special wiring for it actually. Thereīs an extra wire that might have been for the factory alarm to sense if the unit got removed. There are some instructions at I believe about removing the speakers and headunit. Check out the link from my W124 site...

As for the swaying in curves I am sure itīs related to shocks. I replace my rear shocks and the handling now is excellent. Floats through the streets and is glued to the curves.

Good luck! Search around the archives and youīll probably find much more infomation about your other problems too.
99 W210 E220 cdi sedan automatic (248.000 km) 210.006
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Old 06-24-2002, 06:04 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Great White North!!!!
Posts: 400
take a breath,kid

now,first congratulations on your sounds like you never had a mb inspec prior to purchase but that doesn't matter now.alot of your questions can be answered through our/your search engine on this site.if your going to be in florida soon i would do a search on mech's in your area first.that is assumming your car will make it down there.i might be inclined to take it to a mb dealer,tell them i'm going on a long trip and ask them to go over it and do a fluid change~200$-remember you need to get down there,right.this place probably has answers to every question you can think of-it'll just take a little work to find it all.have a nice trip!
'95 s500 (bought for wife but can't bear to share!!!) 125kms
'92 legend 180kms
'88 tbirdturbo(fantastic car-only regular maint.)120kms
'87 mustang gt(gone)
'86 tbirdturbo(gone)
'85 mustang gt(gone-but not forgotten)
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Old 06-25-2002, 01:14 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Posts: 12
Welcome to Benz & So. Fla.

Hi David...
I live in Boca Raton which is the next town north of Deerfield Beach. I use Angelo at European Cars of Boca (561-392-9222). Almost as anal as I am ...he is very good, thorough, and fair. Tell him I sent you.
Can't help you much with the questions you asked. I will say this though: Be prepared to spend a lot of cash on this car. Make sure the timing chain has been done. If not, do it ASAP!!! If that sucker fails you are looking at a $4,000 rebuilt top end and at 120,000 miles you are overdue.
There are lots of things I have learned about my car that you might find valuable so when questions come up regarding things like A/C, Sunroof, wheels/tires, ...all kinds of things...feel free to ask.
Good luck and Happy Benzing!!
Boca Raton, FL
1986 420SEL 179K
Ralph S. Robbins
Boca Raton, FL
'86 420SEL
163k (as of 10/01)
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