Older G as a daily driver - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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#1 (permalink) Old 08-21-2005, 09:34 PM
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Older G as a daily driver

I am thinking of buying an older G diesel, say pre 1990, to use as a daily driver, work truck. I have never owned a G, but my thinking is it is a soild well built truck and should be good for what I want. I just don't want it to become a money pit! (do I hear laughter?)
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#2 (permalink) Old 08-21-2005, 10:33 PM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

A better question would be "What are your motivations for buying a G-Wagon?"
Nobody on this forum will deny that the Mercedes G-Wagon is one of the best all-round and rugged trucks.
If you are looking for a "daily driver", the G-Wagon can become costly to repair. Another note I will make is that the pre-1990's G-Wagons are (in my opinion) underpowered for everyday use.

Chuck
"You can't kill em"
'74 240D - 359,000 Miles (sold) '76 300D - 350,000 Miles (sold)
'84 300CD- 280,000 Miles (sold) '85 300D - 380,000 Miles (sold)
'87 300D - 350,000+ Miles '87 300D - 300,000+ Miles (yes I have two)
'98 G320 - 200,000+ Miles (Official Range Rover Recovery Vehicle)
'07 ML320 CDI - 55,000 Miles
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#3 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 07:47 AM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

Any premium German auto can be expensive to maintain. In the Porsche community we have a phrase, deffered maintainence, which refers to work that should have been done but wasn't. This is what can make them expensive to own. Properly cared for they are not expensive to own.

An old G-wagen, 460 chassis, is actually a very simple durable machine that most can maintain and repair themselves. It most certainly can be done and doesn't ever need to become a money pit. Engine maint parts are the same as the sedans.

Depending on where you live the old G may have plenty of power. With stock tire sizes a 280GE gets around very well unless you live at pretty high altitude. You will be spending a bit on gas though as they generally don't do any better than low teens for milage.

Can it be done? Dave G. has been doing it for a couple of years now in a 1980 280GE with over 300,000 miles on it. He runs from Denver to his home even higher in the mountains, not exactly and "easy on the car" type of drive. The truck reportedly still keeps pace with most traffic.

Personally I wouldn't buy one of the stock older diesels. 88hp in a 5000lb truck is SLOW. Fuel milage is better but still under 20mpg. Good Luck

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#4 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 08:37 AM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

As a daily driver, you need to understand that if this includes lots of interstate or expressway driving, you might find this the wrong vehicle. I drive mine on country roads to my office in town, but the speed limit is 40 MPH, through hill and valley type driving. There is very little traffic and if I see five cars in the 8 miles trip it is unusual.

Dave G drives his over rather greater distances, but Dave has upgraded many parts of his G. The work that he has done requires tools, shop, time, more tools, and did I mention time?? Using a G as a daily driver is fine, but be ready to pull it off the line now and then for some upgrading or other work. The G can be very strong and dependable - I have never had a failure whereas my neigbors (three of them) have had their Land Rovers taken away on flatbed trucks for repairs. Their vehicles are much newer than mine. My G is number four is a fleet of five vehicles, and that is a perfect level of expectation for my situation. Would I drive it 65 miles to Seattle in traffic on I-5 (interstate) on a daily basis? No!

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#5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 08:58 AM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

I use my older G as a daily driver in Los Angeles. Do the maintenance (per Brent's comments) and you will be happy.

What exactly do you mean when you use the term "work truck?" Do you merely plan to drive it to work, or is there some work you expect the truck to perform?

— Spalding
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#6 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 09:50 AM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

I think you have a nice cross section of opinions. Like they said, I drive my G all the time on a 40 mile, 4000 ft commute each way. It is a 280GE though. I sure wouldn't do the same in a 300 GD. The altitude and grades around here would be pretty unbearable. That said, the fuel costs of my 280GE are pretty close to unbearable too. Brent's "low teens" number is maybe even a little optimistic. I get about 12 all the time, but due to the roads I drive, I'm in 3rd gear with my foot to the floor a good portion of the time. I bought this truck with about 210,000 miles on the clock, and in the last 4 years I've put on another 115,000. The only major maintenance service it's needed in that time was front wheel bearings replaced once. I lash valves every 12,000 miles, change drive line fluids once a year, Plugs and wires every 25,000, oil and filter every 3,000. I had some issues with one of the wiring harness plugs once so I replaced it with a better, newer style connector. Had a leaky fuel breather pipe that I replaced because it had rusted out. Wiper shafts also replaced due to wear, and right now I'm replacing a cracked exhaust manifold.

But these are things we're talking about on a truck that's seen 300,000 miles of all the kinds of use a G is supposed to get. Knowing the guy who put 200 of the 215k miles on that were there when I got it, and knowing all the things he liked to do, and how he cared for the truck, as well as my own habbits, I can say that this G is probably one of the most used, and best cared for trucks around. And it shows that by continuing to be very reliable and very capable in spite of mileage that makes everyone I tell the actual value say, "No Way!"

As far as reliability goes, they really don't require much in the way of repairs, but as with any vehicle, you'll save a lot of money if you can do things like change plugs, adjust valve clearance, and change drive line fluids yourself. I think that shop labor rates are responsible for most of the "deferred maintenance" (great term Brent!) that is seen on european cars. If one has the time and inclination to do these himself, they get done. If not, they get "deferred" since the car seems to be running fine, so why spend $500 in the shop? Pay now, or pay later. The G will take more abuse and neglect than most vehicles and still seem "okay" to drive, so you have to know your stuff when buying one in order to not end up with someone's cast-off beater, and inherit a lot of bills to make it right.

So what kind of driving will you be doing with this truck?

-Dave G.
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#7 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 10:59 AM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

I have a 1989 280ge and although it’s not my daily driver I regularly take 200 plus mile trips in it at highway speeds (80 mph) even on 31 inch TA tyres -with no problems. It had 115k miles when I got it and apart from fluid changes, valve clearance, timing, screen wiper replacement, new steering damper and the odd niggles with a sticky solenoid it’s been great.

The later 80s ones are better rust protected being wax injected from new helps too.

Most of the non-heavy work can be done by a competent home mechanic – the 460 is a simple beast and very well built. Well looked after it will last and last. You do need to be careful that you get one that’s been well looked after and its nearly always better to pay more for a good one than buy a dog with a view to restoring it. A dog of any make can quickly become a money pit

The key to longevity is good preventive maintenance – top quality fluids and regular changes goes a long way there.

The 280s do eat fuel: I get around 18-20 miles/US gall – does not seem to make any difference if I drive at 50 or 80 though.

The only reason I don’t use it every day is fuel cost - $6 a gallon makes you think.

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#8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 12:25 PM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

Quote:
Ernest T Bass - 8/22/2005 10:59 AM
....I get around 18-20 miles/US gall....
Holy Cow! Many of the diesels don't do that well! If I was getting 20 MPG I wouldn't be doing the diesel swap. Not sure what kind of mojo you put on that thing, but you're the first I've heard of getting over 15 mpg in a 280GE. You sure the odo is reading right? Have you done anything tuning-wise? KNow what kind of spark timing you're running? Premium fuel? Just curious.

-Dave G.
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#9 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 03:12 PM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

I would have no problem running a 460 G as a daily driver. Maybe it is costly to maintain due to the front wheel bearing services at every 100 000 km or so, and the compulsory rear corner rust job. But then again, it will last 4 times as long as most ordinary cars. The army specs the G was built for states 25 years of military service (daily driver in extreme situations for 25 years...).

As for parts, I guess I am spoiled as I live in Norway where the G is far from exotic. But still, I know a lot of people using their 460 G as a daily driver and having less time and money wasted on service/garage visits than most people with brand new cars.

As for the convenience of speed... If you need to get from A to B as fast as possible and in style, you want a Porsche or anything AMG. The G is equally lifestyle oriented, but on a different level. You can always buy a 463 G500/G55/G55K/G400CDI but then youre back to the Porsche problem. Do you want a fast beast? Then dont buy a G. If you buy a fast G (the expensive V8 models), then youre not likely going to use it for what it's worth (cheers to the ones of you that do).

Define your needs first and save us from another "how can I make my 460 go faster" post. Highway or scenic route? Speedboat or barge? Armani suit or plaid flannel? etc...


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#10 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 04:42 PM
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RE: Older G as a daily driver

Quote:
Hipine - 8/23/2005 7:25 PM

Quote:
Ernest T Bass - 8/22/2005 10:59 AM
....I get around 18-20 miles/US gall....
Holy Cow! Many of the diesels don't do that well! If I was getting 20 MPG I wouldn't be doing the diesel swap. Not sure what kind of mojo you put on that thing, but you're the first I've heard of getting over 15 mpg in a 280GE. You sure the odo is reading right? Have you done anything tuning-wise? KNow what kind of spark timing you're running? Premium fuel? Just curious.

-Dave G.
Well – I checked with my garmin GPS and the speedo is OK and with 15w40 oil and standard dino in the transfer, auto box and diffs I am getting about 15-18 miles to a UK gallon. Certainly 15 mpg/Imp Gall is pretty normal Using 34 BTDC instead of 30 with cheapo (sic) Brit gas 92 (in whatever method we use) I haven’t dared try the high octane Opimax stuff – I am too cheap. But I don’t hammer the acceleration and try and be as gentle as I can with the engine – my pilot training taught me to respect engines when it comes to rapid acceleration. Also I am rarely higher than 600ft AMSL – don’t know if the G injection compensates for altitude – on my Piper PA 22 leaning really reduces fuel burn above 3000 ft

With your gas prices I would be driving it every day……

[}:)]
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