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Old 08-28-1999, 04:09 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 239
Just thinking ahead, is the 300SDL and 350SD/SDL totally different creatures compared to the 300SD in terms of maintenance ?
Is there a huge jump in the cost of replacement parts and availability ?
Is the 6 cylinder comparable in durability compared to the 617.95X engine ?
One more thing - how dependable is the hydraulic suspension found in some of these S-class sedans ?

Just as I'm getting the hang of knowing what to keep an eye on in an SD, it's probably not a bad idea keep a replacement in mind in case someone decides to broadside it.
Also, there are probably some SDLs out there that have 150,000 or less miles with years of good service left in their lives.

Thanks -
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Old 08-29-1999, 09:03 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
These questions are so subjective that I will just give My OPINION. I think that I have seen less problems out of the 5cyl than the 6. The cost of maintainace is probably less on the 6 because of the elimination of the 15k mile valve adjustment. Over all both were great and served their purpose.


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Old 08-29-1999, 09:17 PM
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Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935

I think that the 603 diesel can be a very serviceable engine on ONE major condition. That is to make sure the trap oxidizer modification was done. They remove the trap and in it's place (well, under the car) they put in a catalytic converter. As some of you may know, those trap oxidizers were known for coming apart and sending bits and pieces of themselves into the turbo, therefore burning up the turbo and in some cases, even the engine. Our neighbors have a 1987 300TD with 137,000 miles on it. They have owned it since new and I have always serviced it. When MB had the trap recalls, I had them immediately go and have the modification done. Fortunately, they have never had any type of major problems with the car, even when the trap was still in it. I think that if you find a 300D, TD, or SD with reasonably low mileage that has had the trap removed, it will make an extremely nice car. The 603 is much quieter and smoother than the 616 and 617 motors, and turns about the same economy give or take a couple of miles. So just make sure it has had proper servicing carried out, and I think you will be extremely satisfied, and not to mention surprised at how gas-like this motor is!

Aaron Greenberg
MB technician
'67 250SE Cabriolet
'77 450SL
'79 6.9
'79 6.9
'80 300SD
'81 240D
'85 380SE
'89 420SEL
'93 300E 2.8
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Old 08-30-1999, 05:28 PM
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The 603 engine is a marvel to own. My '86 300SDL is probably one of the most enjoyable cars I have driven. The 603 is a very smooth, quiet diesel and is easily serviced. The available torque moves the car along very nicely, especially at lower elevations where turbo lag is virtually nonexistent. The increased interior space in the long wheelbase models is extremely nice to have on long trips. The car has been impeccably reliable, in part because it has been regularly serviced. The one area to keep an eye on is the EGR system. Make sure the EGR valve has been 'modified' to prevent coking of motor oil on the valve. If coking occurs, pieces of it can break off and be aspirated by the engine where interference between the piston/carbon/head can result in a very slightly bent rod that is hard to detect. With this caveat, I would expect the 603 to be a very long lived engine.
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Old 08-30-1999, 06:39 PM
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Posts: 239
Thanks so much -

Just the sort of practical insight I was seeking.
Are there any rough shifting gremlins ? (As reported by 617 engine car owners ?)
Lots of complaints about head snapping shifts between 1 and 2 or 2 to 3 and all the tweaking needed for adjustments. Any such problems with the 603 cars ?
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Old 08-31-1999, 09:46 AM
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Location: Austin, Texas
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Thought I'd jump in as long as we're talking about 300SDL's. my '87 300SDL (111,000 miles) is in Houston at the mechanics due to a bad alternator - common stuff for any car. We have a small oil leak that is from a tiny crack in the timing chain cover. We also are getting the AC Manifold rebuild because of a small freon leak - I had this same AC problem in my '86 300E.

Overall we are very pleased. I'm convinced that this car will run for a long time. The black smoke, like any diesel, will build up with infrequent use OR continuous 'putting' to the school or HEB. It's important to get the car out on the road and punch it to burn off the carbon accumulation. On our trip to Houston this weekend, once I cleared out the soot, the car 'breaths' much easier and performance is greatly enhanced. I just winsh there was a way to keep the soot from building up in the first place.

We've really enjoyed the freeway driving and the size of the car; it's great when you have an 8 and 10 year old that want to 'interact' the entire trip.

As a maintenance package, I like the fact that I can work on the car myself. I buy all my filters here at the Parts Forum which give me a lot of confidence about the quality of what I'm putting in the car. Not to invoke the 'lubrication wars', but I switched to Mobil 1 oil (15-50) and use Redline Diesel catalyst from time to time. There seems to be a lot of great experience among other diesel owners and it's a nice community to be a part of.

anyway...just some random experiences.

Mark Herzig
1992 500E (82,000 miles)
1987 300SDL (105,000)

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Old 08-31-1999, 12:32 PM
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Shifting gremlins, hmmmm. No, on the whole, I would have to say that becuse I needed to think about that question for a minute, it must mean that the automatic has not drawn attention to itself. I just performed fluid and filter service on it over this last weekend and there were no surprises. One issue, however, that I did notice is that at high elevations, say, above 12000 feet, the shifting did seem to be a little more sluggish, possibly due to lower vacuum developed by the pump at high altitudes. I doubt this will be an issue with most folks. Aside from that, the transmission has been very well behaved. A note on Mark Herzig's comments: yes, Mark, I agree. This car definitely responds favorably to extended freeway driving. As this car is used almost exclusively for freeway trips over 30 miles, it always seems to be running at its best. Fuel mileage at about 85mph cruise is around 27 MPG.

Finally, a note on corrosion. Here in Colorado, we don't have huge problems with corrosion. More commonly, we have issues with UV damage. There can, however, occasionally be some salt on the roads in the winter time. I don't drive the car at those times, but if you do, one thing to watch out for is corrosion of the lower control arms in the rear suspension. One of the lower control arms in my car rusted in the area around the lower shock mount. Apparently, there can sometimes be small pinholes in the welds of the arm that can allow moisture to enter. The arms are apparently hollow. Once this moisture enters it slowly corrodes from the inside out (faster with salt, I imagine). This is difficult to detect and expensive to repair. The repair job for my car approached $1000. Keep an eye out for this when you evaluate a 300 SDL.
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Old 02-12-2000, 03:02 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Philippines
Posts: 157
Hi! I have an 85' (EURO) 300D. Where do I find th EGR valve and how do I modify it? I just got the car a week ago. Does MB acknowledge this modification? Did they recall the EGR valves? I just want to make sure that before I "modify" my EGR valve that it is recommended by most.

Thank you!


[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited 02-18-2000).]
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Old 02-17-2000, 11:10 PM
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glad to find all these experts here.I have a bunch of questions regarding my 300SDL.
Overall an awesome car but here some of the problems:

1.Small oil leak.I was told is from the head gasket.One piece of advise I got is don't touch it unless it's pouring(it is not)
because other issues can come up when the job is done.True ?

2.Learn from this forum about EGR valve problems.How can I tell if mine is OK ?

3.I had a diff put in(used).When I go from reverse to drive I hear a big clunk.Too much play ?

4.Two weeks ago my rpm went suddenly up to 3000 for 20 seconds or so.It did it again last week when climbing a hill.I think the transmission went in the lower gear.Any ideas ?

5.The shifting is kind of abrupt.Last time it was a vacuum leak.I have the feeling that the major problem is finding someone that can properly troubleshoot the shfting issues.
I do have a tiny transmission leak.Mechanic fixed the wrong thing and now i have to take it back for some other seal.Is there a systematic way of troubleshooting the shifting ?

6.Also I noticed on this forum about the noise level (very quiet compare to 5 cylinder)My car has appreciable noise exhaust .I have not driven another 300 SDL so I can tell if its normal.The car does not have a trap oxidizer or catalytic converter.
Do they come with catalytic converter ?
Can this be the cause of the noise?

Thanks very much.Great forum !!
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Old 02-18-2000, 10:58 AM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 380
I have an '87 SDL with 119,000 miles. Some of you issues I have had. Recently I had a similiar oil leak... small but screws up the garage floor. It was diagnosed as a crack around the timing chain cover. My machanic sealed it from the outside and there are no leaks now. I also had a clogged valve around the turbo that had affected performance ever since I got the car (around 102K miles). Once this was fixed, the performance is incredible and we LOVE the car. The transmission shifts much more smoothly since that valve was replaced. It was clogged with oil. I don't have the technical details with me but maybe someone can fill in the blanks.

We also replaced the tie rods and it's just an incredible traveling car.
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Old 02-25-2000, 12:59 AM
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Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Los Angeles, Calif, USA
Posts: 521
The 603 engine is powerful, less maintenance, better fuel mileage, less noise. But it comes with a price. The parts for 603 engine are usually priced more than the 617's. For example, vacuum pump, $400 for 603, $230 for 300SD (617). Other items, such as, fan belt, fan clutch, oil pan, coolant tank, are generally higher for 603 engine.

603 has an aluminum head which is expensive and easy to crack or wrap, especially the early model. I think the 617 has a better timing chain than the 603.

Stay away from 350SD/SDL.

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Old 02-25-2000, 02:00 AM
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Location: San Francisco, Ca
Posts: 2,207
I second the opinion. My friend has a '94 S350D that has a rod into the piston. Low miles and needs new engine $$$$ Ouch !

Hope this helps.

p.s. ( '84 300SD 130K may soon be available
in San Fran. U-Can e-mail )

1979 300D
133K miles
1989 300SE
1995 C280
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Old 02-25-2000, 12:29 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Philippines
Posts: 157
What about the 603.912 engine? I have an 85' Euro 300D (124)? Any porblems with this one?

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