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Old 08-26-2000, 10:03 AM
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I'm thinking it's pretty serious. There was a little pop and hiss from the left front, almost like the sound was coming from the wheel well. The radio was on so I wasn't able to hear anything all that well, but I even thought for a second the tire blew out. I was lucky enough to get the car all the way off the road and I opened the hood; there is a nice little crack, maybe 4 inches long, in the head cover, and a little oil has leaked out of it. Any ideas on what the problem is, cost to fix, etc... would be appreciated.
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Old 08-26-2000, 12:38 PM
Alain V.'s Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: KS.
Posts: 458
Are you saying there is a crack in the valve cover now?- If so, it sounds like your engine "jumped time", either the timing chain broke or skipped a few teeth,,,,either of which is a bad bad thing.

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Old 08-26-2000, 12:44 PM
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Yeah, that's exactly what it is. After closer examination, I noticed another crack. The distance between the 2 cracks is the exacty thickness of the timing chain...
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Old 08-26-2000, 02:22 PM
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how many miles on your car? did u have any symptoms before this happened? How long have you had the car?

looks like you may need a full rebuild . won't know until u take it apart

'89 420 SEL
'90 300 SEL
'68 Olds 88 Convertible
'84 300 SD (sold it)
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Old 08-26-2000, 02:46 PM
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112k or so...

Not sure what I should have been looking for but I haven't noticed anything new about the car. As far as running, it has been solid for the 15 years it's been in my family. And that was true up until the very moment it died this morning. I've only been driving it for about 6 months, so any symptoms which may have surfaced before then would have seemed completely normal to me.

My mechanic towed it this afternoon and will take a look at it Monday and I'll know more then.

[This message has been edited by SoundAdvice (edited 08-26-2000).]
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Old 08-26-2000, 03:18 PM
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I'm trying to get an idea on the maintenance history. 112k is just break in time for a Mercedes engine. Then again, for a timing chain that could be normal.

How often do you think your family changed the oil in the last 15 years, Meticulous or touch and go. I'm meticulous. I've seen some sorry looking 380 SEs before from people who treat their car worse than I do my lawnmower.

I was told that you may see your tach flucuate a little bit when the timing chain starts to give. DOn'y know if that is true.
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Old 08-26-2000, 03:51 PM
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My father knows nothing about cars, so, in turn, neither do it. He accepts this, though, and is very willing to pay others to do the work he so loathes. As far as I know, he's always been good about getting the car in as often as necessary for tune-ups, etc; he's a pretty careful guy. He won't change the oil himself, but will not hesitate to have it done either, and I'm pretty sure, although not positive, that it's been done often enough. I've only now started to make an attempt to understand cars; it seems a shame to love/drive a car yet know so little about it. Another thing to consider is that for the last 6 years, the car has been driven in the Virgin Islands (haven't made it to NY yet, but I'm getting there). Roads here are rough, to say the least. Pot holes, sharp corners, tons of hills, and incessant accelerating and braking fill almost every drive you take. I don't know how much of an effect this could have, but I know other parts of the car suffer (brake pads, tires, etc...). Another concern is rust. My house is about 60 ft. above the Atlantic ocean, and the cars are parked probably 300 yards from waterfront. Again, not sure how big an effect this could have had, but it seems sensible to mention it.

I know it's probably a long explaination, but could someone give me an idea of what a timing chain does and how it's related to the way the engine works, etc...
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Old 08-26-2000, 04:31 PM
JCE's Avatar
JCE JCE is offline
Down to the Wear Bars
Join Date: May 1999
Location: So Kalifornia
Posts: 2,189
I'm not a MB tech, but here is my idea of what goes on in an engine (hope I am right - this is what I told my kids when they got drivers licenses)!

The engine has a lot of moving parts used to get power to the rear wheels. At the top of the engine, a cam shaft (or 2 on Double overhead cam engines) and valves sit on top of a cylinder containing a movable piston, which in turn is connected to a crankshaft at the bottom of the engine.

The cam rotates and has egg shaped lobes that push down on intake valves to let gas be sprayed in to the cylinder by the fuel injection system (or carburetor), and likewise at a later time push down on exhaust valves to let exhaust out.

After gasoline vapor is let into the cylinder through the intake valve, the piston at the bottom of the cylinder is pushed up by the rotating crankshaft and compresses the gas for ignition by a spark plug. This ignition pushes the piston down, turning the crankshaft, your transmission, and your rear wheels.

The flywheel is attached to the crankshaft, and provides the inertia/momentum to keep the crankshaft spinning long enough to push the piston up to expell the burned waste gas out the exhaust valves and to the tailpipe.

All this is for 1 piston, and cars have 3 - 12 or more pistons, usually 4, 6, or 8 for most autos. Almost all the above working parts - fuel injection, ignition system, intake/exhaust valves, etc. - are controlled by a computerized engine management system on modern cars.

The timing chain is the mechanical chain that physically connects and coordinates the rotations of the cam shaft and valve train with the rotations of the crankshaft and pistons. If it breaks, these rotations are no longer coordinated, and the valves and pistons may collide, usually with expen$ive re$ults.

Now you know everything about car engines that I do. (For a nifty illustration and better description, after I wrote the above I found this site with a description, an animated illustration, and a 3D illustration!)

Hope this helps.

87 300E, 65k miles
Smoke Silver

[This message has been edited by JCE (edited 08-26-2000).]

[This message has been edited by JCE (edited 08-26-2000).]
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