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Old 09-03-2002, 03:51 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Portland Oregon, USA
Posts: 65
Q's on potential 1986 300e Purchase!

Hello All,

I am considering purchasing a beautiful white 86 300e w/ 5-speed manual Transmission...This would be my 2nd Benz (replacing my previous 240d).. The lot this car is on is a fairly high-end lot that caters to higher end european cars. They are asking $4995, and it has approx 137k miles on it... I have a few questions!

-is 137k alot of milage, in general,for one of the gas engines (I come from Diesel territory!)? I have not driven the car yet, but.. it did start right over and seem to idle/rev freely and smoothly.This car has the 3.0 6cyl. I do remember hearing a *minor* valve-tappet -type noise for the first minute or so..but that dissappeared quickly.
-The car is a 5-speed, which I understand is somewhat rare??? Would you say that the manual transmissions in these are reliable (compared to the automatics)..
-I am going to see if the lot has any paperwork on the car.- Are there particular areas of the engine that would be good areas to check? Do these suffer from headgasket or valve seal issues (that some MB's i have heard rumors about)? How long to timing belts/chains last on these? Any other maintenence areas of concern?
-The interior of the car is Dark Blue/Navy MB-Tex. Its in fine shape, but the driver's door panel skin [that runs along the base of the drivers side window] seems to be starting to "seperate/stretch".. can this section be replaced, or does one have to replace the entire door panel??
-the A/C turned on from what i could tell- and appeared to blow cold, but I did not know much about how to operate the ACC controls (remember, i was used to a 240d!).. i've heard these can be troublesome- is there a correct procedure i can try to verify if things are actually working right?

I am also looking at a 89 190e (which i'll write about in another post).. I'm kinda debating on the 2!..

Thanks so much guys!, This group is wonderful!!.. Look forward to hearing what you think about the 300e!..

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Old 09-03-2002, 09:39 AM
J.HIDALGO's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Jax, FL
Posts: 1,785
Hi there!

At 137K, the milage should NOT be a problem. Documentation of proper maintenance i.e. oil changes is paramount in these vehicles. I recommend that, if you are really interested, take it to a MB mechanic for a pre-purchased inspection. It is the best money you can spend in a MB purchase.
A manual transmission is rare. As far as being more reliable than an auto. May be a tech can help you with that.
Valve seals are a big concern with the '86's. They improved the material in later years. A valve seal job is around $300 or you can do it yourself, like some people in this forum have done already. As far as leaks, look in the rear of the engine for head gasket problems. A leak in the front upper cover is not unusual but, most likely is NOT the head gasket.
Door panel skin can be repared or replaced $$. Use that as a barganing tool.
The AC is a BIG problem in these cars. Specifically, the evaporator. If it is leaking, it is at least $1500 to replaced. The only way to find a leak is with dye.
Paperwork. Check that real close. Otherwise, take for an inspection.

'86 300E
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Old 09-03-2002, 02:05 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 378
There are a lot of posts on this board about the early 300e cars.
The 5 speed works fine as Larry Bible will confirm. My car went
well over 200,000 miles before the original clutch was replaced.
The car now has 258K and may need a synchro gear or two.
I would recommend the 300e 5 speed over a similar 190e. The
back seat is small enough in the 300e; it is hardly there in the
1967 250SL
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Old 09-03-2002, 07:56 PM
dtanesq's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Northern California/Western Washington
Posts: 386
You might want to check with Larry Bible, but I believe it correct to say that the manual transmission version of the car, by contrast to the automatics, gets spectacular gas mileage.

Good luck.

2003 Dodge Durango SLT
2002 BMW E39 530i Sport
1988 Mercedes 300TE
2003 Chevrolet Suburban
1999 E430
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Old 09-03-2002, 08:59 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 378
You would have to tell me about mileage with an automatic. My
best was 24mpg, but it could be good for a little more in very
controlled circumstances. What I do know is that it goes a
long way on a tank. I drove back from California in 5th gear
most of the way. It has a lot of torque on the freeway so
even the cruise control works well. (I don't use it much, though.)
My car gets between 1500 and 2500 miles before having to add
a quart of oil. The difference depends on how much freeway
driving is done.
There is a good post to see at:
5 Speed Roll Call
1967 250SL
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