Date registered: Jun 2005
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RE: 240d gas mileage
Unless the car has not had proper servicing i.e. regular oil changes, it does not need a valve job.
144k on a MB diesel is barely broken in. Properly cared for you should get more like 500k.
Timing chain would be my guess, although could be a number of items combined, injectors, fuel injection pump, are the types of things that will fail based on age rather than mileage. If my memory serves me well the injection pump on the 240d is not lubricated by the engine oil. So if previous owners have not service the pump, big problem.