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  #1  
Old 07-31-2002, 01:30 PM
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Location: Stony Brook, NY
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Question Any specific concern with 88 year for 300E?

I have located a 300E which sounds promising except for 2 things. One it's a 1988 and two, it's a 2 hour drive away form me. On the first, I have only looked at 1990-1992 300Es previously. The car only has 98,300 on it, but convincing the wife on a car that is already 14 years old is not an easy thing. The "it's only 2 years older than the 1990 we saw" argument is going to fall short.

Anyway, is there anything of particular concern with the 1988 year? To me, the mileage and records are the key. That's more important to me than whether it's a 1988 or a 1992.
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  #2  
Old 07-31-2002, 02:03 PM
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I love my 87 - great car and low maintenance costs. The m103 engines had a reputation for valve guide issues and leaks at the timing chain cover, but the late m104 had a reputation for head gasket problems. My tech says he prefers the m103 to the m104, and I believe some others have said the same thing on this forum. All the w124 bodies have similar issues regarding the AC. The earlier w124s were lighter and faster than the later ones, but the later ones had a bit better gas mileage. All had the same rock solid body, but the later ones added extra goodies like dual air bags, front door speakers, 8 hole wheels which were easier to clean, etc. The early ones could be had with MB Tex vinyl interior, which I have, and prefer to leather (looks identical, wears better).

There are quite a few threads in the archives on buying a 300E, relative performance between years, Sportline suspension option, stereo upgrades, etc. A search would be worth the effort. I would take the best condition and records documentation regardless of year. If you find one that has already had the evaporator coil replaced, so much the better.
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2003 Firemist Red/grey leather SL 500
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  #3  
Old 07-31-2002, 02:12 PM
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This car has the MB Tex vinyl which does not bother me at all and I'm happy to hear it wears well. I am not familiar with the 124 A/C issues. Is it just the evapoator coil or is there more ot it than that?

How much does the evaporator coil cost?
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  #4  
Old 07-31-2002, 02:25 PM
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evap itself is about $300, labor is another story. the short of it is that it could cost you $1500+...
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  #5  
Old 07-31-2002, 03:12 PM
LarryBible
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My 300E now has 225,000 miles. If mine is any guide, you are looking at a low mileage example. The only problem I've had was a corroded cylinder head that had to be removed and welded because of lack of antifreeze changing by previous owner and myself. This is definitely not the fault of the car. It would easily happen with any aluminum head engine if antifreeze is not changed.

My evaporator, the factory original is still holding and has not been recharged since 1996. It is definitely the best performing a/c of any of my cars, foreign or domestic.

I believe that the valve seals are a non issue on the '88, they had it fixed by then, if it needs them it's not a big deal. You don't have the head gasket worry that you have on the later 104 engine, so I think this is the preferred 124. Mine is definitely preferred by me because it is from the two years of production that gave us Americans a manual transmission. If I was an automatic person, I still believe I would pefer an '88 up through whenever was the end of the 103 engine.

Another plus is that you theoretically should be able to buy this car cheaper than a '90's model and IT IS BASICALLY THE SAME CAR.

Tell your wife that these cars are differentiated by series, not year model. This means that an '86 to '95 are virtually the same, why pay extra money simply because it was put together more recently? Miles would be more important to me than year.

My $0.02,
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  #6  
Old 07-31-2002, 03:16 PM
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The A/C is certainly the budget-buster for the 124.

Suspension and steering components can also add up quickly.
No one big item, but so many little things...
I can't say the 124 is so much worse than other cars in this regard, other than the extra moving parts compared the more common rack & pinion config, and the multilink setup in the rear.
Look closely for tire wear, steering play, and check for unstability at speed.

Oil leaks are common, but not particularly expensive to repair.
Everyone seems to agree that headgaskets are not problematic on the m103 engine, so the earlier models do have the edge there.

These are great cars. Good balance of performance, comfort, reliabily, and surprising fuel economy.

If you like to do your own repairs, the 124 is relatively straight-forward.

99k in 14 years is amazingly low, though some components age regardless of mileage.

Good luck with your search.
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  #7  
Old 07-31-2002, 03:27 PM
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I thank you all for your replies. Right now I have only 2 concerns. One, the unknown issue of the A/C and two, the 2 hour drive to get to this car. Right now I'm waiting for an e-mail pic of the interior. It's burgundy and I'm not sure at all how that will look. I've never seen that color interior in the 300E. If any of you happen to have a pic of your burgundy interior I'd appreciate a look. I wish the car were closer I'll tell you that. A 4 hour round trip drive to see a car that I could say "nah" about is not somehting I'm feeling good about doing.
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  #8  
Old 07-31-2002, 04:01 PM
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Ron:

I agree with Larry Bible's assesment. I have no problems with my AC evaporator. When/if I do, it will be expensive to repair the Evaporator. I emphasize evaporator, because many cars, including MB on the w124, have the evaporator installed such that is time intensive to remove. My Acura Legend was that way as well. Plus, the compressor and other parts on the Legend all failed about the same time - the price I was quoted by several shops for repairing the Acura (without needing the evaporator) was MORE EXPENSIVE than the price I was quoted as a max 'replace everything including the evaporator' worst case price I was quoted when my 87 300E AC started loosing coolant. As it turned out, it was only a minor charge for recharge with r12/dye mixture, which showed a lminor eak in a fitting. Held up for another 18 months, then was $345 for a proper r134a conversion, overhaul, and replacement of essential parts. (I converted to r134a because no shop in our south Coast Air Quality Management District could install r12 - I tried a number of places.) The car is still running the original compressor, evaporator, etc. and works great.

I have a burgandy interior with my smoke silver 300E. The dash and steering wheel are black, the headliner is beige colored, everything else is burgandy. Some pics are under the tab at the top of the page in the DIY section under the Stereo Removal article. I like the combination, personally. I may install black floor mats just to preserve the factory original mats and to try something a little different, but the interior looks very nice, and Vinylex makes the MBTex look like new leather. I will look to see if I have any other interior pics i can scan.
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1987 Smoke Silver/burgundy mbtex 300E Sportline (SOLD)

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  #9  
Old 07-31-2002, 05:31 PM
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If you have been looking at W124s a while, you probably already know that they are absent of any woodgrain appointments. That came around '93 (I think). But you also don't have to deal with cracks in the veneer (primarily on the console).

The evaporator is buried deep in the recesses of the cockpit, so replacement calls for stripping the dashboard completely out of the car. With today's labor rates, that's $1500+ just for that.

Fortunately, mine went dead during the extended warranty period, so I was just out the $250 deductible.

The great thing about these cars is ease of maintenance. Parts are relatively inexpensive, and you only need a few specialized tools to get really dangerous. Invest in a metric allen socket set for starters...
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  #10  
Old 08-01-2002, 05:21 PM
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I've read from Stevebfl and euro287 that they charge 15.5 hours labor to replace an evaporator in a W124.

Expect to pay $300-$400 for an ACM evaporator, and at $60 / hour for labor, you're talking $930 for labor.

Totals out to $1,300-$1,400.

FWIW, Hi-Power has a 1986 300E, and his a/c blows ice cold and has never suffered a failure of the evaporator or any other a/c related component. Never even needed a recharge of R-12.
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  #11  
Old 08-01-2002, 09:16 PM
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My '92 300E has consumed over $3000 in A/C related work between the previous owner and myself, so newer isn't necessarily better.

Appears to be the luck o' the draw on the A/C.
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