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Old 07-17-2003, 03:00 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Colorado
Posts: 22
Question 1988 300 SEL, A/C, not used for long time?

I'm new to the forum and have been reviewing a number of threads pertaining to A/C. I'm hesitant to begin a new thread on what is likely a known situation, but I couldn't find a specific match either. I test drove a very nice '88 300 SEL (92k miles) over the weekend. We couldn't get the A/C to work, however. When pushing the button (idling or driving), nothing would happen at all. Later while driving, upon pushing the button, the fan started blowing, but only hot air. I do know that the owner had not driven the car for several months prior to our test drive, so I wonder if this might be related? When inspected at a dealership a few days later, they found no issue with the A/C at all - they said the car was clean in every respect. I'm still leaning towards purchasing the car, but it would be nice to know possible causes behind the A/C, or possible worst-case costs downstream if issue resurfaces. I've read through a variety of threads on the A/C subject, but didn't see anything relating to a case where the car hadn't been in use for some time. I know that car was converted from R12 two years ago, and that the A/C was working fine (apparently) until we happened to try it on the test drive - the owner was surprised too. Any thoughts? (I hope this is post-worthy and not a rehash... I'm a newbie to the group and Mercedes too, and not a technical or diy'er type, so I'm somewhat at a disadvantage when it comes to this stuff. Any reply would be greatly appreciated.) Regards, Bob (rbellamy1)
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Old 07-17-2003, 06:30 PM
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Since you are looking at the car and don't have access to it for troubleshooting steps as if it were yours, there is very little we can do hear to help you determine the problem.

Converting to 134 is not a good idea on these cars, but if you are not in a warm or hot area of the country, you might get by with it.

If you buy the car, we can help you step through some troubleshooting steps.

Good luck,
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Old 07-18-2003, 11:18 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Colorado
Posts: 22
Update: Inspection person spoke prematurely - didn't have report in front of him. Agreed problem with A/C. Also noted cracked "flex discs" to be replaced, otherwise just minor stuff. A/C fix could be anywhere from $100 to $1000 to fix (I'm told), but requires more diagnostics to know ($250 to test at dealership, $70/hr. to test at local repair shop). Seller asking $5500 as-is... I might be able to negotiate down to $5000. Would then sink $600 into misc. things including flex discs... then just have A/C variable. Love the car otherwise - great condition all around. Am attracted to low mileage (92000), but don't want to blind myself to the possibly significant A/C costs either. Opinions?
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Old 07-18-2003, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3,289
Sounds like a good deal! Go for it!
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Old 07-18-2003, 03:46 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Southern California
Posts: 2,011
Assuming the body and interior are in expected condition for the low mileage the "as is" asking price is reasonable. If everything worked and the car is clean the retail price would be about $7900 according to NADA, plus maybe a little premium for the mileage. The flex disks are a common wear item and, if the they are original, certainly would need replacement at the current mileage. They are usually crack by about 60K miles.

The older car A/C problems are not unique to Mercedes, but apply to almost any nearly 15 year old car, even with low mileage. These cars have very solid engines and drivetrains, but it's the accessories and gadgets that cause problems as these and most cars get older.

Even if you have to put two grand into it, it's probably a decent value, and listen carefully to Larry Bible's advice on repair and service of the A/C system. Don't skimp or take shortcuts. Get it done right, including going back to R-12, and a reputable independent A/C shop should be able to fix it as well as an average Mercedes dealer. The important thing is to contract with a shop that has a tech with W126 A/C experience.

For about the same money you could buy a five or six year old Camry or Accord with everything working, but it's not a Merc!

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