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Old 08-05-2003, 02:35 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Princeton, NJ
Posts: 44
560 SEL - 1988 Life Extension Q's

I have a 1988 560 SEL with about 207,000 miles on it!

The engine is strong and quiet, but, burns oil and smokes after long drives and when I start it up after it has sat for a few days.

Clearly it seems I need valve seals and may be more ....

I read about the Auto Rx on the site - it seems like a reasonable experiment ....

But, what I would truly like to know is -

Should I replace the entire engine once and for all? I intend to keep this baby for a long time. If so, what and where are my best options. I see sites that have engines from $2500 to $9000 (low miles)!! Truthfully, if I were to replace the engine, I would love to put an AMG version in there - but, don't know what to ask for and where I can get it and cost it. Would like to get the entire AMG engine and headers and exhaust.

The other is - replace the top - head and the valves etc .... now, I think (and I need your help) I can do this myself .... am a level B DIY'er ..... would this cure the ills and keep me going for a long time?

Am not sure what condition the pistons and rings are in. But, when I have the head off, I can change the rings too right?

The front seems soft, I did change the shocks recently and I am led to belive that I need new spring/coil as well ..... would a soft front end with understeer be due to coils? It drifts a bit, but I did change the steering shock and the car is aligned.

THe last question should be easy - there are so many squeaks and plastic groans - I have put conditioner on the seats and door, but, I still can't get these noises stopped. It feels less solid due to the noise alone! Any suggestions? I have tightened, where possible, all the screws and the like ..... still creaks and chirps inside.

Thanks for all your insight ...... the car is doing well. I put a lot of time into it ........

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Old 08-05-2003, 03:55 PM
Thomaspin's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: CA
Posts: 531
These will run 400k+ miles if you change the chain, tensioner and rails every 100k or so and do frequent engine oil changes. Valve seals would be worth doing - far cheaper than a new engine, if your compression is good. Check the latter first. Low compression would suggest a rebuild or replacement.

One pro on this board has referred to a cuatomer's 420 engine (same design family as your 560) with over 700k on it, albeit after 2 blown chains as the 100k replacement was not done. Bottom line is that, if you care for the engine, the car will rot before the engine wears out. Moving to California helps with the latter, if doing nothing for your income taxes.

As for the creaks, many of these emanate from the doors' movement in their frames, especially if your car has the vinyl door frame trim in contrast to the later velvet style material. If its vinyl, try some vinyl/rubber preservative on the door trim where it abuts the frame when the door is closed. Leather cleaner/conditioner where the seat blosters meet the backs can also work wonders, preventing squeaks from dry , abrading leather.
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Old 08-05-2003, 05:36 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Kingsport, TN
Posts: 375
Hi McLaren,

besides using a lot of lanolin on the leather to keep it soft, there is one change I did that made a big difference. There is a small lip on the door sill plastic cover that was ment to act as a seal, but over time has hardened and now seems to rub on the door. I cut it off with a razor blade on all 4 door openings. It is right under the silver trim and you can't see it here, because I cut it off. But you know where to look now. I got this info from somebody else and would give him credit, but I forgot from whom.

I have not noted any negative effect from this 1mm lip missing.

Good luck

Reinhard Kreutzer
Attached Thumbnails
560 SEL - 1988 Life Extension Q's-lip-entrance-trim.jpg  
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Old 08-05-2003, 05:51 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
Posts: 856
I have squeaks from various places, too ... some are seat related ... even with well treated leather they still squeak and creak ... I think age is an issue with springs, too.

I would do compression checks as noted and then rebuild, as needed.

I am assuming you are using synthetic oil ... if not, you might try a few thousand miles on Mobil 1 just in case it can soften the seals more ... might get lucky.
George Stephenson
1991 350 SDL (200K and she ain't bent, yet)
former 2002 E320 4Matic Wagon - good car
former 1985 300 CD - great car
former 1981 300 TD - good car
former 1972 280 SEL - not so good car
a couple of those diesel Rabbits ...40-45 mpg
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Old 08-06-2003, 07:31 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Central Kentucky
Posts: 1,061
My '87 560SEL has 340k miles on it and the heads have never been off as far as I know. I'm the third owner. Both P.O. were very good about basic maintenance and the car shows it. Do the compression check, change the oil, keep after the chain and rails, drive it forever. Besides tune ups, only engine work I have done so far was replace the fuel injectors. Cured my hot start problem. Oh yeah, did have to replace the starter, but I consider that a basic wear item. Sorta like wiper blades, but lasts a lot longer.
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Old 08-06-2003, 10:01 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Trenton, NJ
Posts: 248

I'm with everyone else so far, just keep up with the regular oil changes and the chain and guides and you should be fine. My '87 has about 130K on the current engine (first one got killed by a broken chain guide that should have been replaced earler) and runs strong.

Last fall I did the chain, guides, and valve stem seals as you have already concluded that you need and it now is smoke free. I'll add one very inexpensive additional item to your list while you have the valve covers off - cam oilers. They're about $5, take about 30 minutes to install and will ensure a good oil supply to the cam lobes.

Good luck with everything!

'87 560SEL 267K (177K on motor) Blue/Blue
'98 Buick LeSebre 60K (wife's car)
'56 Imperial Sedan 124K
Past Cars:
'67 Dodge Monaco 130K (Sold)
'87 Chrysler 5th Ave 245K and going strong (sold)
'73 Plymouth Satillite 175K (sold)
'96 Chrysler LHS 80K (totaled)
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