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  #1  
Old 11-22-2002, 02:58 AM
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Posts: 52
Fixing my front-end damaged 300E cheap? Parts car?

I'm pretty heartbroken. The 1986 300E that I put so much time and effort into getting in top driving shape (see my post on the valve job) is now sitting in a tow company yard waiting for me to decide its fate. My girlfriend -- its her daily driver -- ran into the back of a Honda in highway traffic and did in pretty much everything forward of the fan. The bumper is bent, the grille, hood, both light assembilies and the driver's side fender are munched pretty bad, and the driver's side fender even pushed back into the driver door a bit, so that the leading edge of the door bent a bit and there is door to fender interference. I can't get the hood open, but I expect the auxillary cooling fan, radiator and condensor are probably damaged as well. Oh, yeah. The airbag deployed too.

The car had just liability insurance, so any repairs are out of pocket, and I'm trying to sort out what to do. The car is ringing up $25 per day storage charges while I am thinking.

I do enough business with a local Mercedes parts shop (All Mercedes) that I can get a discount on new parts, but even with the break there's between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of parts alone needed to get it back on the road.

I'm debating whether to walk away from the wreck and start over again with a different car or try to fix it myself. I'm a good bolt-on mechanicals guy, but I'm not much on sheet metal, so the body work would be tricky for me unless I could be sure everything just bolted on. I have a line on a 1987 with a good body but bad motor for under $1,000, so another option would be to buy that donor car and move parts one way or the other until I had one good car again.

I think my choices are:

A. Just walk away

B. Pay $600 to get the wreck out of the pound and towed home, pay up to $2,000 buying new parts, and hope I can figure out how they go together.

C. Pay $600 to get the wreck home, buy the parts car for $1,000, and spend the next several weeks transplanting parts, having to deal with removing old parts with frozen bolts but at least having the advantage of a "good example" to compare with.

I'm really not keen to do a job this big (no time), but I might if lots of folks chimed in and said, "Yes, I've done the front end on one of those, it was no big trick at all. Everything just bolted on".

So I'm looking for the collective wisdom on whether the damage I described is a do-it-yourself job versus a total loss, and what folks think of the "new parts" versus "parts car" decision. Do you think I could make much selling off the "leftovers" from the parts car after already taking the premium front end parts?

Thanks for any advice. The car is in the East Bay region of the San Franscisco Bay Area, if folks have specific suggestions about shops, etc.
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2002, 05:54 AM
Johnson Chan
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Do you have any pictures of your 300E. Its weird you mentioned this because i recently bought a benz thats a theft recovery vechicle, the front senor right at the license plate was struck and airbag deployed. they stole the radio faceplate, so the car was a salvage title from insurance claim. Its too good to go for parts in my opinion so i bought the car to fix it up as a winter snowy day driver.

If you have sentimental value for the car, then keep it, is the engine and transmission and rest of the body in good condition?

If you know the engine has problems and all sorts of things of the nature, then forget about it cause after you fix it, other things will break sooner or later.

Since i am working on my car these next couple weeks (1986 300E), we can share information and pictures and see what happens. It would be fun to have someone to talk to about the airbags and senors, etc.

Now, I just got this car a week or so ago and not really interested in selling it, but if you really need a donor car, i can sell it to you for around $2000. I wont make a profit off it since i got time and money invested, but if you need it and want to consider, then its cool with me, I got 2 other benzs. Just to let you know, the car is black on black, the engine runs and fires up fine, transmission works, power seats and other nick nacks work (except radio cause missing face plate), i got a used airbag coming to me this week, ordered new armrest from MB dealer, new airfilter, new spark plugs, and whole list of stuff. If the engine and tranny is the same as yours, you can use it as spare parts for the future. I dont want to sound like i am a salesman or something nor do i need the cash, but if you are interested email me at "ezlife69@hotmail.com" and let me know.
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2002, 12:19 PM
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Thanks for your comments, Johnson. I do have pictures, but my scanner isn't working right now, so I couldn't scan them in. It would be fun to collaborate if I end up doing this repair. Are you in my area (SF Bay Area)?

It is interesting that you're fixing just your airbag. My girlfriend was pretty traumatized by the whole airbag experience. She had a pretty nasty burn on her wrist that was caused by the airbag itself, when its deployment set the sleeve of her shirt on fire! If I put the car back together she is pretty adamant she doesn't want the airbag fixed, and in fact wants me to turn off the airbag on "her side" of my Jeep. I'm arguing that the risk/benefit balance of airbags changes in higher speed collisions, but that's easy for me to say, because unlike her I wasn't recently in danger of airbag-induced-immolatation.
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  #4  
Old 11-22-2002, 04:05 PM
haasman's Avatar
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Sorry to hear about your car.

It just occurred to me that maybe my friend in the wrecking business in San Jose might be of help, either to give an idea of what the car is worth or for parts for the new one.

Tell him Jeff told you to contact him. His name is Hooshie at American Imports

800-610-0070
408-275-9261

Haasman
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2002, 06:51 PM
Johnson Chan
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I understand where your GF is coming from with the airbag expereince. I have been in many accidents and luckily have not had it set off, i was thinking of turning it off for my car. An airbag coming at your face at 200 mph causes burns, shock, and temporaily disorient you so you cant steer or anything, you just sit and wait.

If your situation is like mine, with the airbag deployed, your car looks bad. Like right now, the interior looks great but the steering wheel has a big hole in the center of it so it looks bad, so you can buy another airbag and install it, but not hook it up. The SRS light will stay on if you no connect the cable though. this way the interior "looks" good and you dont have to worry about it poping out again.

PS. i just got my airbag in the mail today so tommorow i will be messing with it, i can tell you more about it then.

If you decided to email me, send it to ezlife69@hotmail.com thats my personal email and i check it more often.
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  #6  
Old 11-23-2002, 02:31 PM
1992300e
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Air bag

I undersand the trauma part. But Airbags save lives. I look at it this way.

Serious head-on accident with airbag=minor injuries and much improved probability of survival with limited critical injuries.

Serious head-on accident without airbag=critical head injuries.

Always always always improve your probabilities of survival and avoidance of head trauma.

My brother worked at a head trauma facility and told me time and again of horror stories where people, in relatively minor traffic accidents 30mph and below getting one good wack to the head and suddenly everything is different.

I'll take burns over brain damage any day.

Absolutely a no brainer (no pun intended)!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Airbags are there for a reason, to save your life and your head.

A saying we had in motocross, "if you have a ten dollar head then buy a ten dollar helmet".

Take care,
Joel
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  #7  
Old 11-23-2002, 06:58 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 52
Thanks for the guidance. Here is what I decided to do for now. After showing my pictures at some reputable body shops, and getting guesstimates in the $5,000 and up range, I knew my options were "do a cheap hack repair" or "walk away", and I was really, really leaning towards walking away, because I just did not have the time or energy to do the work.

So I ultimately decided to look for a less spit-and-polish body shop... to find somebody else willing to do the hack repair instead of me. I knew that in the local classified paper were advertisements for shade tree mechnics like, "Head Gasket, any car $300, fixed or free".

With some reluctance I called one of the mobile body repair guys, to see if they were willing to work on transplanting parts from a donor car. So far -- with no work yet done -- the experience has been good. The guy met me at the yard where the car was. He was quite professional, asking a lot of detailed questions about what I wanted to do about the airbag and such, and filling out a real written estimate. I could tell he has done this a lot.

I asked about parts, and he told me that by using the "pick-your-part" type junkyards which offer flat rate pricing (any hood, $29, even a Mercedes hood... any fender, $27, even a Mercedes fender) instead of the premium dismanters that seem to price based on fraction-of-retail, he could get all used parts for way less then the donor car cost. He said the "pick-your-part" places were actually a good place for Mercedes in particular, since its a rare Mercedes owner who also wants to wrench parts off a wreck.

So for less than $750 parts and labor, he purports to give me my car back reassembled with junkyard parts, ready for painting. I decided to chance it. Included in the cost was him towing the car on a rented dolly to *his* garage -- he charged me only for gas and the dolly rental -- and he would have charged the same to tow it to my garage and do the work there. His doing the dolly tow saved me $250 in towing. I'll post again when the work is done. I know it will be a hack, but I figure his hack will be no better or worse than mine would, and he's doing basically all the parts chasing and wrenching I did not have any time to do.

The cost did not include the airbag, since at that time I was thinking of not doing it, but based on the earlier comments, I think I will call him and ask him to replace the airbag, too.

My justification was, "it will cost me $250 just to tow the wreck home, so for $500 more than that, I can *drive* the car home from this repair shop and even if the repair isn't pretty (and I don't think it will be), I can at least have the car home safe while I sort out what to do.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.
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  #8  
Old 11-23-2002, 07:58 PM
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marinmbfan

I think you made a good decision.

I have re-read the thread. Life is about weighing alternatives. It seems you were open to a good solution and .... there it was.

My only concern regards the frame and thus driving quality. See if you can visit with the guy regularly and get him into the idea of checking the front frame area .... and to think of it the engine/trans mounts. Sometimes a good wallop can hurt these items.

We are all cheering you on. Good luck and go for it!

Haasman
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'95 E320 Wagon-Went to Ex
'93 190E 2.6-Wrecked
'91 300E-Went to Ex
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Last edited by haasman; 11-24-2002 at 02:10 AM.
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  #9  
Old 11-24-2002, 06:45 PM
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Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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You have already made a decision, but keep this in mind - find a 300E with a blowed motor, and dump your rebuilt motor in it. Should be able to get a 300E with bad motor for cheap, and it may be in good condition - the lady that drove it out of coolant, etc...

-brian
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  #10  
Old 11-27-2002, 02:49 PM
1992300e
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on your way

Looks like you are on your way to a solution that fits your wallet and requirements, a win win.

Good luck with the repairs and I hope the results of the work are in line with your first impression of the gentleman you are dealing with.

Who knows maybe you've found a great new mutually beneficial relationship.

Good luck,
Joel
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  #11  
Old 12-05-2002, 09:07 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 52
Had to buy parts car to fix my 300E. Will have leftover parts.

Time for a followup. I wish the news was all good, but things have not developed as I hoped. My inexpensive body guy did what he promised and scoured the "pick-your-part" junkyards and found a number of 300E's as he expected. What he did not expect was that 100% of them had been hit in the front, whereas other makes tended to be a better distribution of front versus rear or side damage. Insert your own comments about MB drivers here. Long story short (too late), there were no good front end parts to be had in the junkyards, so I have reluctantly bought an intact car with a bad head gasket for $850, and am now looking at tow costs of about $350 to get the dead car the 100 miles from its current home to the body shop where it can act as a donor car. Although the cost of the car plus towing is high -- and might have even been comparable to buying parts new -- what pushed me into buying the parts car was the discovery that my wrecked car even has engine parts damaged in the front (fan bearing bracket, squashed pulleys) and ringing up all those engine parts one by exceed the cost the parts car easy, and I know it has everything I need.

When I am done, I will have a leftover 1987 300E with 208,000 miles, a blown head gasket, and missing its hood, left fender and goodies from the front of the motor but otherwise intact, 50 miles from my house. The interior is pretty rough (brittle, dried leather, apholstery tears), but the body is real straight, so in a separate post under Parts I'll try to recoup some of my parts car cost by selling that car in the largest chunks I can. Perhaps someone really, really needs 4 nice doors, or a trunk lid, or a rear end. We'll see.

Will post again when I have some news.
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  #12  
Old 12-09-2002, 08:22 AM
1992300e
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good luck my friend

Sounds as though you are still ahead of the game as compared to buying another road worthy car and dealing with all the inevitable problems you'd come across.

Joel
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  #13  
Old 12-09-2002, 08:14 PM
Wendell Allen
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Where Are You Located?

I know it's a long shot, but if I can be of any help, I'd be glad to pitch in. I'm in Houston.

My wife nailed a HUGE trailer hitch in our '89 300E, and it was more than I wanted to tackle. It doesn't sound as bad as yours even, but I still didn't want to mess with it. The parts were only half the bill. Labor sucked up the other half of $2400.

Let me know, and I'll help where I can if we're close enough.

Wendell
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2002, 03:43 AM
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Things are looking up. I visited my torn up car at the shop where it was waiting for parts, and after removing the bent up fan was able to start it up and hear it purr for a few seconds (no more, cause it has no cooling system just now) and the motor sounds great. I hadn't really seen the motor, and the body guy made it sound worse than it was. Just the fan bearing shaft bent out of whack, and maybe, just maybe, the tandem pump out of line a bit. Everything else looked OK. Timing cover (delicate aluminum thing that it is) looked intact.

The transmission linkage is out of whack, I think because the whole motor/trans might be shifted back an inch or two. The motor mounts seem a little deflected to the rear and the bolts don't look like they're completely vertical. I'm hopeful it might just pop back if I loosen the rear transmission mount and give it a little encouragement. The rubber on the mounts look like they're under some tension.

And in the parts car department, more good news. It turned out another mercedesshop member had been chasing the same car I was, but had less luck than I in hooking up with the hard to reach seller. Anyway, he and I reached a deal where he'll tow the car to his place which was kind of in the middle geographically and keep most of the car, and I'll just pick off my parts there. That'll saves me quite a bit in the towing, and gives the rest of the car a good home.

With any luck, in a few days or a week, my inexpensive body guy will be pushing through the reassembly work with parts in hand. I looked at the work he did already straightening the leading edge of the driver door and such, and it looks pretty good.
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  #15  
Old 02-02-2003, 02:14 AM
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Location: MINNEAPOLIS, MN
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Do you have a transmission from the donor car?

Do you still have the transmission from the donor car?

Thanks, Igor.
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