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Old 07-07-2002, 10:30 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Posts: 200
1989 560 SEL - Known problems?

I am looking at a 1989 560 SEL with about 180,000 miles on it. The car looks immaculate except for a couple of minor cosmetic issues. I currently have a diesel, but am not familiar with the gas Mercedes and how well they are expected to hold up.

Since the body, climate control, etc., should be the same as on the diesel, I'm wondering if anyone has any specifics that I should be on the lookout for on this gas car. Is the expected longevity of the gas engines equivalent to that of the diesel?

Thanks for any insight...
1987 300SDL 265,000 mi.
1982 300SD 325,000 mi. (and holding)
1956 Packard Clipper 150,000 mi.
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Old 07-07-2002, 11:41 PM
Posts: n/a
The only real issues to look at are timing chain and rails, and possible cams/lifters if they are noisy and or worn at that milage. Most of the other things should be the same as with any other W126. The 560 will have self levelling rear so if you aren't familar with that it's worth getting someone to have a look at it. A good PPI is usually well worth the money.

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Old 07-08-2002, 08:51 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Posts: 200

Thanks. The dealer said that they did about $2900 worth of work on it. I'll see if these items are on the list and done at a reputable place. Interesting about the self-leveling rear end. I forgot that it was on these cars. My other car, a 1956 Packard, has an automatic load leveling torsion bar suspension. The kids really get a kick out of sitting on the back bumper and having it pick them up. Of course, none of them are going to be around when all of that playing causes me to have to fix it down the road... :-)

- Ted
1987 300SDL 265,000 mi.
1982 300SD 325,000 mi. (and holding)
1956 Packard Clipper 150,000 mi.
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Old 07-09-2002, 12:28 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Sunny Florida
Posts: 199
Do a search by my name. I also own an 89 560SEL, and have done lots of work on it. Besides the timing chain and rails, (very important), and the self leveling rear accumulators, I did the reaction ball joints in the front end, (failure is indicated by a "klunk" while braking), front rotors and pads, rear sway bar links, (other klunk noise, inside rear wheel), steering shock, all tie rod ends, replaced idler arm bushings, and intend to re seal the steering box sometime real soon. Another thing to check is the dome light. If it does not come on with the driver's door, but does with passenger door, there may be troubles with the relay controlling the alarm and light. Usually problems on the PC board in the relay. Check the idle speed. 550 rpm in park when warm. Anything higher is trouble in the idle control circuit someplace.

I think I have about $2000 in parts over the past couple of years, and 20,000 miles, since I bought mine, (with 125K on it then.) This cost includes flushing and replacing all fluids, a new battery, everything above I listed, a CD changer, bubble over the sunroof, hood pad insulation, and a handfull of other things I am sure I forgot. I do all my own labor, (sucker for punishment), as that is my idea of a good time. I have a florida car too, so no rust issues exist here.

I posted questions on most of these items, so really take a look. Parts are not too expensive, really, if you can order them in advance off the board here. Walk into a dealership and prepare to get robbed!

Gas is also expensive. Expect under 15 mpg in traffic, around 20 highway. But it is the best car on the road, IMHO. I love mine.

Good luck, and have fun!
1989 560SEL (172k)
1989 325IC (122K)
2004 Suzuki Volusia LE (3500 miles)
2005 Yamaha Road Star (20 K miles)
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Old 07-09-2002, 04:14 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: LaPorte, IN
Posts: 400
Ditto what John says

I've done about 2,000 in parts in 6 months, starter will be installed tonight, timing chain and guide rails soon. My 560 grew up in south Florida and we brought it to Indiana last December. Most of the parts I have replaced were from the car sitting idle for a few years before we bought it with 89,000 miles on it, and would be considered wear items. First car I've ever worked on myself, and with the CD-rom (full shop manuals), FastLane (parts through this site) and this forum (DIYers who have done the job before), it has become a labor of love.
Earl McLain
'02 C230 Kompressor
'89 560 SEL "Frau BlueCar" (retired April 2004)
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Old 07-09-2002, 08:59 PM
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Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: So. Cal
Posts: 4,430
I can only restate what everyone's already said. They are great cars.

I rescued mine from the junkyard with 166K on it. Put a few months of work into getting it back on the road and have put 6K trouble free miles on it. My shakedown cruise was a trip to Las Vegas, saw a shade over 20 MPG on the trip. Averaging 14.4 MPG for the 6K miles. I find the mileage to be better than my 4.5.

Bottom ends on the V-8's seem to last forever (maybe 350-400K, not bad for gassers) if properly taken care of. Many repairs are doable by able DIYers, so that helps to cut repair costs dramatically. Only a few of the "specialized" parts for the 560 fall in the steep range.

PS: Earl, I didn't forget about you (but your email got buried in the massive mails I get). I looked through my spares box and only have that one center console panel. It has a couple small cracks at the window switch cut outs and slight clouding, plus the rubber trim ring is about shot. If you are still interested, drop a line.
Mike Tangas
'73 280SEL 4.5 (9/72)- RIP
Only 8,173 units built from 5/71 thru 11/72

'02 CLK320 Cabriolet - wifey's mid-life crisis

2012 VW Jetta Sportwagon least its a diesel

Non illegitemae carborundum.
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:28 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Posts: 200
To all,

Thanks for the replies. It sounds as if it's roughly comparable to the diesels, with poorer mileage. I do almost all of my own work, so mostly I pay for the parts only. I'll check that the rails and timing chain have been taken care of. It sounds like that has potential catastrophic consequences.
I once had a Monte Carlo with a V-8 engine in it which got comparable mileage. But the car ran great and was big and quiet - so it's a tradeoff like everything in life. If I end up buying this car, the shakedown cruise will be from Maryland to Mississippi (Gautier) for our summer vacation.
I'll let you know how it goes. I also want to make sure that the climate control works properly from the start. I have had so many headaches with the climate control on my 300SD. If not for that, I would have had pretty troublefree driving. Oh, and vacuum leaks, too.
Anyway, thanks for the info. I'll look at all of these issues when I look at it this week.
1987 300SDL 265,000 mi.
1982 300SD 325,000 mi. (and holding)
1956 Packard Clipper 150,000 mi.
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