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  #1  
Old 09-27-2004, 01:01 AM
BenzMatic's Avatar
You can do it
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: OC S. California
Posts: 120
Diesel Gods, Please Help --buying a diesel - long post, sorry

I have a 420SEL and love it, but gas prices are killing me so I am getting a fever to buy a diesel and run on Biodiesel (doughnut oil ). I am looking all over the place to buy a decent one, I came accross one yesterday. It is a 1984 300SD with 220K miles on it. First the owner told me that he had record for last 10 years but when I visited him, he said he just moved and could not find them. The car fax do not tell a whole a lot etiher, there are not enough records available.
I did a test drive today and this is what I found:

The Good stuff:
Great inside and out, interior has a 2 rips on blue lather. The color is odd (greayish blueish), according to owner the first owner especially order the color and requested to not put the clear coat, since he lives on the beach and clear coat oxidizes quick. I am not sure it is true or not but color looks pretty good.
Every thing works in the car, the electric seats, windows etc the only thing which do not work is the Tac.
The car is almost immaculate condition cosmatically.
The tranny shifts fine, the ATF fluid do not smell burned and has redish color.

The Bad stuff:
Car shakes like crazy when idle, you hear metalic sounds, but if you press on the peddle a little it smooths out. Is it engine mounts ? or IP or rack dampner bolt adjustment. or ????
Car is very slow to take off, but once start running it is OK, is this because it is diesel. I am not sure but it was really really slow to take off.
The AC do not work, blower fan works fine. Not sure it is the compressor or condensor or mearly freon refill.
The front tires has wear on inside, need algnment. Tie rod ends are shot but ride smooth though.
When I checked the oil, it was bone dry even though the oil pressure gauge was showing 2-3 on the reading. When I opened the oil filler cap, and put my finger in it, it has black slush in it ????? I put a quart of oil in the car and on the dip stick it was on a very lower end. It was BLACK OIL /SLUSH, I never saw any thing like that. Wha is it ? any tell tale signs? is it just valve guides, stem seals or just plane and simple ignored maitenance by this owner.

I really liked the looks of the car but not sure what should I do.
I am not a Diesel guy, yet , but pretty decent DIY I have change Timming chain, valve stem seals, water pump etc on my Benz. Since I do not know anything about diesel, so need your help please. The price for the car is $2000 originally he was asking 4K, is it worth it or it would be a mony pit for me.
Any advise will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance.

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87 420 SEL
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  #2  
Old 09-27-2004, 01:18 AM
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Mine is slow 2

The metallic knock could be nailing, mine does the same thing. Just ordered a new injector for #1 cylinder. My oil is sooty too, was told it is a diesel thing. AC parts are EXPENSIVE!! Seat repairs can be cheap. Go by a car lot, selling nice used cars, ask who does their interrrior work, usually this is done by a freelancer. I had a 7 inch rip on my side bolster drivers seat. This guy repaired it and dyed the repair for 30 bucks. He works out of his van. Low overhead. His franchise is called Color Glo. Front end parts are not too expensive, except upper ball joints, check eBay. Good luck.
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Last edited by tomm9298; 09-27-2004 at 01:48 AM.
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  #3  
Old 09-27-2004, 02:58 AM
sixto's Avatar
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Not much in carfax for California Diesels since they don't get inspected every two years. Makes it difficult to verify mileage.

I don't think MB would leave out clear coat from the painting process even as a special request. Maybe it was left off during a repaint.

If the tach doesn't work on a California 84, it's a good bet the AC and cruise won't work either.

Shakes like crazy could be worn mounts, worn engine shocks, worn rack damper (not sure a California 84 has a rack damper), unbalanced injectors, etc. If compression and leak down check out during the pre-purchase inspection (you are planning this, right?), it should be fixable.

Slow to take off could be relative to the 420. I found the couple of SDs I owned to be perky off the line and lethargic shortly after. But this is subjective so it's probably best left to a test drive by someone who knows.

Oil in Diesel engines is like that. Clean oil rarely lasts a trip around the block. On the plus side it's easy to read the dipstick

Look for a local MB specialist who can do a pre-purchase inspection. Contact the shop now and get an idea or a list of what is covered in the inspection. Maybe they can offer some acid tests.

Sixto
95 S420
87 300SDL
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  #4  
Old 09-27-2004, 07:56 AM
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How bad of a metallic knock are we talking about? Mine had one from the time I got the car in 2000. Changing injectors, etc did not help. That sound was the connecting rod bearings giving way. Engine held together for 50,000 miles before depositing pieces in the oil pan. At over 200,000 miles and no service records, I would be concerned. Do take the car for a mechanical inspection. I now know what a healthy OM 617.952 sounds like. A really loud knock is a sign of trouble.
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  #5  
Old 09-27-2004, 08:39 AM
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Be careful

Be careful before you proceed. I speak from experience.

I once bought a 300td with what I thought was nailing for only $300. I thought it was a steal. It ended up being a loose connecting rod bearing.

Needless to say, I had a $300 parts car.
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2004, 08:53 AM
rdanz's Avatar
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I would suggest you read your own post carefully how you describe whats bad about the car. The oil stick being DRY should be your best clue how the owner took care the car, the difference between the two marks on the stick is 2 quarts. Guess he doesn't check it often. Also lets be realistic for $2000 what can you expect. The good deals are out there but you have to look hard.
And another thing are you looking for a 20 year old project car?
I would pass on this one.
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  #7  
Old 09-27-2004, 08:56 AM
Geezer
 
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Location: Holland, MI
Posts: 1,316
A few thoughts to add

I didn't know clear coat could be damaged because you lived near a beach.... sounds more like he didn't want to pay $$$$ for the proper paint. However, if it looks good, that's up to you.

A/C may still be ozone-not-friendly R-12 Freon, $ just to fill, $$ if leaking or parts need to be replaced.

A metallic clanging sound may be loose/broken air filter bracket, common weakness on OM617. See if the air filter housing is loose, watch it and listen to it while engine is running, try to stop the noise by holding/moving the filter housing. If this is the source of the noise, it's annoying and a relatively easy/cheap fix. It could also be 'nailing' which sounds like it says, someone trying to hammer a nail into the block. It's a side effect of diesel compression ignition, and to some extent normal. Too much can mean injector or other problems.

Slow takeoff may be that you're not used to a diesel, or could mean it's slow even for a diesel. Could just mean a few vacuum/pressure lines need cleaning.

Black oil in a diesel is common, even new oil turns black in just about the time it takes to drive around the block.

Slushy oil, and not enough of it, could mean Previous Owner (PO) is not inclined to regular, or even irregular maintenance, and the oil is way past its due date for an oil and filter change. It may not have damaged the engine, but it's not a good sign.

Overall, I'd offer no more than $1,000 given the A/C and alignment issues, along what appears to be a bit of engine compartment neglect. It might require $1-$3k to address those issues, and then you'd have paid up to the $4,000 that he was asking.

Best regards,
Jim

Last edited by Jim H; 09-27-2004 at 10:52 AM.
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  #8  
Old 09-27-2004, 09:42 AM
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Thumbs up

Couldn't put it better than Jim just did.

The very low oil level means that car wasn't being taken care of well. In fact, I consider the PO to be stupid because if I were to put my car for sale, even if I neglected it, I'd at least make sure it has fresh oil in it so as to make a good impression. I really wouldn't care about the questionable paint stuff, the A/C or the tach. The fact is, the oil was low in the engine, the engine makes some nailing noise (none of us can accurately say what the problem is - as already stated by several people, such a sound could be many things), the owner lied about service records, and he was also willing to sell the car for 50% of his original asking price which to me seems like he went down really low.

Like Jim said, $1,000 is all I'd pay for it. In fact, a few months ago, I acquired an '84 Euro 500SEL with a bad blower motor (and of course no A/C), the car had four previous owners, a sunroof that was stuck, front passenger window and outside power mirror that weren't working, hydroneumatic rear suspension that also wasn't working and a transmission that was slipping in the fourth gear. However the owner was 100% truthful about everything and actually had the most comprehensive service records I've ever seen or heard of - all records were kept by all the owners, all the way back to the first oil change in Germany before the car was shipped over to the USA!! I paid $1,000 for it. The main reason why I purchased it at all was because I knew that if I decided not to pour money into it in fixing it, I could just part it out, afterall, the headlamps alone are selling for about $250 used on eBay and my 300SD could do with some of those.

So, pay only a $1,000 for the 300SD, knowing you can eventually sell it for the same price as a parts car. The part about the service records worries me a lot. If he lied about that, who knows what else he will be lying about? If I were you, if he refuses to go to $1,000, I'd pass on it!!
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  #9  
Old 09-27-2004, 10:54 AM
Brent Laatsch's Avatar
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Columbus, Oh
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Diesel Gods, please help...

Sounds like you have just described my 300sd. The only thing I didin't have at purchase for $825 was the lound metalic sounds. Heres the run down, replaced all front end parts and wheel bearings to get rid of shaking-$1420,new shocks back and front-$360-new tires -$300. Brakes were this summer all lines replaced and master cylinder-$130 plus change. Oh yeah motor mounts and shocks this weekend coming up-$168 total=$2368. This is not adding up the small stuff like new battery and any thing related to hose rubber and vavle gasket-I forgot used turbo from Brimms in Kenton,Oh for $260. CHA CHING Baby CHA CHING! This car sat for eight years with only 68k on the almost broken odometer. The only repair I didn't do was the front end work. I've enjoyed every minute of this car. I've had it for two years now and have seen alot of the USA in it.
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  #10  
Old 09-27-2004, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixto
If the tach doesn't work on a California 84, it's a good bet the AC and cruise won't work either.
why is that? i have a 300cd (82) and the tach nor the ac work, could they really be realted? i guess mine's is a euro model, not CA, if that makes a difference. sorry for the hijack

on the car. well i haven't been doing this long. but it doesn't sound good to me either. no clear coat on factory paint? sounds fishy, i bet its been repainted...and the question is why? i have seen what "appear" to be better deals right here in the classifieds section.
good luck
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  #11  
Old 09-27-2004, 02:36 PM
sixto's Avatar
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Early 617s with tachs use a sensor at the crank pulley and a tach amp on the left wheel mound. Pressing firmly the connectors in the tach amp cap onto the receptacle usually gets the tach working again. Do a search on "cigarette butt" (seriously). The rpm signal is only for the tach. Later 617s (IIRC, CA 84 and all 85) take an engine rpm signal from the flywheel, route it through the EGR controller then to the tach, ACC, cruise, etc.

This is from memory so someone with better info please provide corrections.

Sixto
95 S420
87 300SDL
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  #12  
Old 09-27-2004, 04:50 PM
BenzMatic's Avatar
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Thanks guys, appreciate all the comments and help. I like the idea of $1000 as the purchase price, since it will cost 2K to fix it, but the owner might not like it .

Jim the metalic sound is not the air cleaner bracket, which is broken also by the way. I hold it still but sound will not go away.

Sixto, it might be relative to 420 that it feel like slow to take off. But is deisel that slow, I can walk faster than that. But on a serious node you are right about PPI, and let some one try who knows the diesels.
I will agree on the clear coat part of the paint, I think it is repainted. But it was done very nice, the record part bothers me more.
All in all It would be a good car for $1000, couple of months and 2K will bring it back to they I want it.

Another thought is pass this one and find a car which has most of the work done and pay 3k and enjoy the ride, but then where is the fun of being DIYer :p . If any of you guys know some one selling a mid 80's diesle within 200 miles of LA, I would appreciate the info. Meanwhile I will keep on looking, unless the owner decide to give the 300SD for 1K but I would doubt it. But you never know if he is stupid enough to not put oil before a test drive, he might be smart enough to sell it for a grand. I will keep you guys updated.

Once again thanks a lot guys.
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  #13  
Old 09-28-2004, 12:27 AM
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buzzzzzzzzz

www.sfgate.com

car classifieds

4 diesels up for grabs.

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