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Old 11-01-2002, 03:12 PM
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560SL New Owner Start Up Cost

All Tech Heads,

Need some input as to where I am relative to the "comfort zone" with a recently acquired '86 560SL. Prior to purchase, I factored in $2K - $3K over initial cost based on my assessment of vehicle condition (looks great, runs strong, handles good) and known maint history (spotty). So Far:

1. Find a Tech: I think I got lucky. Found MB trained indie with a first-rate shop who loves the breed & is easy to talk to.
2. Timing Chain & ancillary parts: Doubtful maint background made exploratory work advisable. Replaced chain all guides/rails. Sprockets good.
3. With front cover off: What else can we do while we're here? Repl oil pump sprocket, chain, main seal.
4. Gaskets & piddly items on the way in and out.

TEST DRIVE: 30 Miles at 3200 - 4000 rpm. Heading back - - - -

1. Smoke & despair: No rattle, clunk or heat up but pouring oil from lower rear section of engine. Front & top of engine clean. Only thing I can think is rear main.
2. Diagnostics: Flat bed back to shop. Tech & owner await & seemed as worried as I was. On the rack - best guess, rear main, closer look next day - confirmed.
3. Work: Repl rear main.
4. While you'r there: Service trans (which seems to be in great shape), change seals, filter, gaskets, fluid - anything that can be done without gutting it.

At this point I'm feeling good. I believe the work is being well done and the items being addressed are inevitable at this mileage. The cost is reasonable for the work being done. I am looking to do more because I intend to be totally confident in this vehicle regardless of how far or fast I drive it.

Now, tell me straight Doc, I can take it. Am I crazy to feel good? Rhetorical question - what I really want to know is, given what I have done thus far, what can I or should I plan for next?

I do know that I want to have the rubber suspension parts replaced - everything I read tells me that it really tightens up these old cars - and I imagine the shocks will come into the picture at the same time. Beyond that, I think I'm OK for a while.

At any rate, I would be obliged for your thoughts on:

1. The relationship, if any, between front end engine work & rear main failure ( I think none).
2. Did the moderately elevated RPMs precipitate the failure? ( I don't see how).
3. I pick the vehicle up tomorrow - any suggestions on next test drive?

Live from Ft. Worth - Mike
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Old 11-01-2002, 03:31 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 18,745
My two cents:

Your tech seems knowledgable enough to distinguish a rear mail seal failure from a failure in the area of the oil pressure sensor or oil pressure port. I don't know if your oil pressure gauge is electrical or mechanical. No reason to touch the rear main seal or oil pressure sensor during a timing chain job.

The next major expense will probably be a valve job. Depending on current oil consumption, you might get a few more miles out of it by changing just the valve seals.

Even with regular maintenance your tranny will be on the luckier side to see 150K miles without a rebuild.

I can't comment on the longevity of canvas tops and stowing mechanisms.

There was a front subframe recall on some 107s. I don't know if it applies to your car.

Even when dealing with the best techs, there is a strangely high likelihood of something breaking right after picking up the car. The AT kickdown switch in my 91 SE decided to stick within 100miles of having my tranny rebuilt. My tech made no worthwhile money fixing it. In your case, what tech has the time to drop a tranny to poke holes in a rear main seal? Yet how strange that things like these wait until you're driving away from the shop to give up the ghost.

91 300SE
87 300SDL
83 300SD
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