A bunch of issues with "new" W201 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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A bunch of issues with "new" W201

Hello! I'm new here, but I figured I'd do better to introduce myself in the "tech" section with all the things that I'm trying to figure out. I just helped a friend of mine pick out a Benz (an elusive W201 190D 2.5 Turbo). She got a very good deal on it, but there's a ton of things going on that we're stuck on.

1. The heat doesn't work (and this is New England). It looks like a previous owner actually disconnected the heater core, and the two hoses are just dangling in the engine compartment (between the motor and firewall - I assume that's what they are at least). We're a bit scared to turn the heat on because it could mean leaks! Although even when we turn the dial to heat, nothing comes out. My assumption is that the heater core leaked (we bought a new one to put in) and was disconnected, along with related climate control elements. The question is - for someone who has not been inside an MB climate control system before - what do I do to fix it?

2. Alignment - ball joints and tie rod ends. The car has seen a lot of miles in her time, and the steering is a bit loose. Any tips/tricks on this job? I figure it shouldn't be any different than any other car but you guys probably know more than I do.

3. Door locks. They're not working at all. No vacuum pump running, and no luck getting the doors to unlock with only the key either. Does the 190 have an auxiliary vacuum pump like other models? Where is it so I can get at it with a multimeter? And is there any other obvious things that could be going wrong?

4. Shifting. The car is an automatic, but under acceleration it only goes to ~2000 RPMs before upshifting - not even enough for the turbo to kick in! This is with the pedal on the floor. We're in top gear by 25 mph. What is the adjustment to change this so we get a bit more revs and acceleration? It's super slow up to about 50, then the turbo kicks in and it scoots right up. But it would be great to get that boost at lower speeds and in lower gears.

Please and thank you for any tricks or advice you have - I'm trying to help get this all fixed up and on the road in the next few days.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 04:07 PM
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The question is - for someone who has not been inside an MB climate control system before - what do I do to fix it?
The heater core is on the inside of the cabin and does have a known propensity to leak, just like the VW, BMW, and Volvos of that period. Mercedes was the only company that didn't settle the lawsuits that ensued and sucessfully defended itself at trial in the US. You're probably right about the reason someone disconnected the coolant hoses. You'll have to remove the entire dashboard and center console to R&R the core.

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2. Alignment - ball joints and tie rod ends. The car has seen a lot of miles in her time, and the steering is a bit loose. Any tips/tricks on this job? I figure it shouldn't be any different than any other car but you guys probably know more than I do.
At that age, it's a fair bet that the rubber/metal joints in the front suspension need refreshing. There's the control arm ball joints, the tie rods, steering damper and all the bushings that should be done. A conservative estimate is that a shop would likely charge $1K to do it all. The parts are readily available if you're willing to do a DIY. When you do get an alignment, remember that the Mercedes suspension does need to be aligned using a spreader bar to get the proper setting.

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3. Door locks. They're not working at all. No vacuum pump running, and no luck getting the doors to unlock with only the key either. Does the 190 have an auxiliary vacuum pump like other models? Where is it so I can get at it with a multimeter? And is there any other obvious things that could be going wrong?
Vaccum pump is under the rear seat cushion. You release the red tabs at the front of the cushion and lift it up like a box lid, then pull forward to remove. The pump is in the large foam box.

Quote:
4. Shifting. The car is an automatic, but under acceleration it only goes to ~2000 RPMs before upshifting - not even enough for the turbo to kick in! This is with the pedal on the floor. We're in top gear by 25 mph. What is the adjustment to change this so we get a bit more revs and acceleration? It's super slow up to about 50, then the turbo kicks in and it scoots right up. But it would be great to get that boost at lower speeds and in lower gears.
Start with some fresh fluid and filter. Just don't over torque the bolts on that flimsy thin trans fluid pan. If that doesn't help, consider adjusting/replacing the vacuum modulator on the side of the trans to improve the shifting.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-10-2010, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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Here's an update on progress with the Benz... in case anyone has the same issues that we did. Also, thanks MTI for the help!

Heater core (FIXED): The Haynes manual and http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w201...01-heater.html were huge helps. A long job, but nothing particularly challenging to do. Fitting everything back together was a pain, since the foot vent pieces that sit under the heater housing did not want to fit back together right. Did not have to remove the steering wheel at all either.

Alignment (FIXED): Replaced passenger's side ball joint using a two-arm puller and the autozone ball joint rental tool. The job took a while, but everything went smoothly overall. It's a real pain to remove and reinstall the coil springs (those things are huge compared to the space they sit in) with the cheapo compressor I have - if I did it again I would try to put a compressor on to hold the spring in place (and a jack under the control arm) and do the whole job with the spring still installed. One nice side effect: I found and repaired a frayed ABS sensor wire while I was in there and the ABS now works again!

Also replaced tie rod ends... or rather replaced the tie rods. The outer rod ends on both sides were bad, but unfortunately were also so frozen into the tie rods that the rod ends actually sheared off before they would turn. I guess that's what happens after 22 years. Found one junkyard tie rod in good shape (replaced the ends), and bought one new one to put it all back together. Steering is much, much tighter now than it used to be.

Door locks (UP NEXT): still non-functional. It seems that the little bits on the end of the lock cylinders are also cracked, which I assume are what actually operate the locks. The passenger side one is getting the JB-Weld treatment right now, and I have yet to pull out the driver's side lock cylinder. Vacuum pump is still not operating at all (before the wiring for it was bad, now it should have power but isn't actually running), but I've got a spare from the junkyard to plug in and test.

Transmission (STILL QUESTIONS): Still shifting super-early. It turns out that the dipstick itself broke at some point (?!) - snapped off at the "high" notch on it. Got a new dipstick from the junkyard and the fluid level seems a bit high. Previous owner said he changed the filter/fluid in April so I'm not worried about that, but my guess is he filled it too much because the dipstick had no markings on it! Could this be the problem and is there a way to drain just some of the fluid?

Two other major things that have been fixed up:
Fuse box: Someone (dare I say idiot) apparently decided a few years back that the fuse box cover was unnecessary. As a consequence, there was quite a bit of corrosion in there. Fuses 12 and 13 were not getting any power. Luckily they are ones that run off the battery, so I spliced in two wires and a couple blade fuses to cover for them. Suddenly all (well, some of) the accessories that were inoperable before have magically started working. A new fuse box cover from the junkyard is also working wonders.

Rust: Rust, rust, rust. The car has spent its entire life int he northeast, so no real surprise here. All in all, it's actually done pretty well. Front passenger's side jack point was particularly bad (spread into floorboards) but is all welded up and should hopefully serve for another couple decades. Possible cause: the little rubber overhang that deflects water on the passenger's side of the hood was missing and could have been letting more water/salt in than would otherwise be. Possible resultant problem: vacuum lock troubles. You wouldn't believe the amount of damp sand we pulled out from under the rear passenger's seat. Haven't checked the wiring extensively yet, but I'd be willing to bet that the hole in the rocker panel contributed to the downfall (via corrosion/shorting out) of the vacuum pump. The other jack points are rusty too, but nowhere near as bad as that one.

Last edited by jakemw; 01-10-2010 at 09:47 AM.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-24-2010, 08:14 AM
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It's good to read that the heater core is, while big, a possible job to do in the garage. I just noticed that my 2.6 is losing coolant slowly (about 2 or so fluid ounces in a month and a half). I occasionally get a whiff of coolant odor when I turn on the heat, so it follows that the core could be leaking, but no liquid is dripping down (that I can see anyway). Is there a drain in the core compartment?

I can also smell coolant under the hood, so I am not certain as to the source of the leak. I'll have to dive into it when it warms up in Chicago. Anyone have any experience with Bars leaks as a short-term fix?

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-26-2010, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mick829 View Post
It's good to read that the heater core is, while big, a possible job to do in the garage. I just noticed that my 2.6 is losing coolant slowly (about 2 or so fluid ounces in a month and a half). I occasionally get a whiff of coolant odor when I turn on the heat, so it follows that the core could be leaking, but no liquid is dripping down (that I can see anyway). Is there a drain in the core compartment?

I can also smell coolant under the hood, so I am not certain as to the source of the leak. I'll have to dive into it when it warms up in Chicago. Anyone have any experience with Bars leaks as a short-term fix?
When we poured water into the old heater core to make sure it was leaking, it spilled right into the driver's footwell. So as far as I can tell, there is no drain for the heater core.

I have also read that the vacuum valve which turns the heat on and off can leak too, which could explain the coolant in the engine compartment.

Finally, I have used Bars stop-leak for a radiator pinhole (not in a Benz), and it really didn't work for me - the leak was still there until I swapped out the radiator a couple weeks later. I have heard horror stories about the stuff, but it didn't give me any trouble either. Just made the coolant kind of brown and oily-looking until I changed it.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-28-2010, 08:27 PM
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You can take the radiator to any local radiator shop and get it repaired if you can't find a good deal on a new one. I have done this several times and it will fix the problem for you for about $30.
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