About to buy a 1992 300sl, any tips?? - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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#1 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 02:47 AM
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About to buy a 1992 300sl, any tips??

Hi Im thinking of buying a clean 100k mile 1992 300sl, what are the problem areas I should look out for?

Are there any problems common to all these cars such as wire harness, ??? Or do these not apply to 1992?

Ive read the 129 buyers guides etc online but most have little coverage of the 300sl and focus on the 500sl

Its being sold at an independent non mercedes used car dealer with no service history.

Beyond having it scanned on Star and getting a PPI, Any tips appreciated.
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#2 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 03:04 AM
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How about completing your user profile, we'll then know if you're in Siberia or in the Sahara desert region, both climates would affect the car in different ways.

Is the car an auto or manual?
How much is the dealer asking?

No trees were harmed creating this message, however some electrons were very inconvenienced.
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#3 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 04:55 AM
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Im in California, automatic, asking price is $7000
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#4 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 05:17 AM
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The 3.0 straight six engine is rock-solid. It is widespread namely on w124 e-class.
With 100,000 miles, it still has a lot to go.
Watch for the overhead gasket and oil vapors.
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#5 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 06:08 AM
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I have a 92 300sl that now has 107,000 miles. I have had the car just shy of three years. I use it in conjunction with another car and try to drive it less than 1,000 miles per month. Overall the car has been great. I bought it in 2007 with about 75,000 and paid less than $11k. The repairs I have done include:

New hydraulic cylinders in the windshield top at 85,000 miles. The job cost $100 and I did it in about three hours.

Head gasket replacement at 104,000 miles. I knew it was coming for some time as there was a oil leak at the back of the block. Finally I got some oil in the coolant and had it done at a great Indy. Cost about $1,300 and the inside of the engine looked great. Of course the coolant was flushed and replaced. Be sure to determine if this has been done. If not, reduce the price as I understand that it is just a matter of when, not if, the gasket will go. Check with your dealers and Indies as to cost. I found the range here was from $1,200 to $3,000.

I have replaced a few rubber items under the hood as they get very hard and crack. Nothing major just $25 here and $25 there and 20 minutes of time. I have also replaced all the fuses with the copper style.

The hardtop headliner separated from the foam and it took an afternoon to fix that.

I am currently replacing the strut mounts.....an easy job at home.

I am due for brakes and have assembled all my rotors and pads, just waiting on another Saturday to complete the job. It last had pads and rotors at 55,000 miles before I bought the car.

I will also be servicing the trans, replacing the motor mounts, and flex discs. Not major items, but anything rubber based fails after nearly 20 years.

My biggest problem is that it won't go into fifth gear and the cruise control doesn't work. I understand they are related so I am chasing down those gremlins.

I have been meticulous on maintenance and the car asks for very little. Cosmetically the car is very good. Only interrior wear is on the drivers side seat bolster. Other than that the leather looks new. I will have to do a soft top but I will wait on that at least another year. I understand the wiring problems were with 93-95 so shouldn't be a problem.

The 300sl has great and seems to be less expensive to maintain and easier to work on than the other models. Gets very good mileage. I get 27-30 on the road without fifth gear!
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#6 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 10:03 PM
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check the hydraulic cylinders and check the head gasket those are major problems with this car. As far as the engine goes I had mine for 3 years and no engine problems and its not bad on gas either. But my softop needs to be redone and i need to fix my hydraulic leaks because they are leaking all over the car and on the floor by the rear wheel.

1992 300 sl (sold)

2005 C240 4MATIC (SILVER moms

1999 SL 500 77K (SILVER) bros
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#7 (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 10:13 PM
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Yeah the headgasket and top cylinders seem to be the common issues on this car

where should I look for top cylinder leaks specifically?

inside the trunk, or inside passenger compartment by the wheelwell?

I read i should also look somewhere on the windshield header panel, but where exactly?

Any way to check for a bad headgasket besides the "exhaust in coolant" test?
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#8 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:10 AM
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For the cylinders, you really won't know until they show the leak. The windshield header is easy, you will get a drip of oil from the little trim piece where the sunvisor meets the header. When the cylinder seal finally goes it may be a gush.....I have been there and seen it as I was putting up the top one day and got a few ounces of oil on me! For the others look underneath the car just ahead of the rear wheels. Also check the condition of the oil in the storage cylinder just under and in front of the spare tire (has to be removed, but is easy to get to). If it is dark in color you should suction as much as possible out and replace with fresh MB fluid. If the storage cylinder is low it is a good bet that you have a leak somewhere. I found that these can leak and still operate the top just fine. Others have also pointed out that if the top is not properly operating it could be due to low oil level from leaks.

For the headgasket look along the passenger side of the engine from front to back just under the exhaust manifold for oil seepage. Also check the oil to see if it is milky and check the coolant to see if any oil is making its way into the coolant. If the gasket is going you will more likely see the oil seepage/leak first. It might be easiest to see this from underneath the car. I had enough of a seepage that it was dripping onto the belly pan. That kept it from dripping on the driveway or I might have seen it sooner.

Also check the strut mounts, motor mounts, and flexdiscs on the drive shaft. These will all go at some point as they are rubber based. If they are looking bad now, it would be good to use that to lower the price. If the previous owner has replaced them, you will dodge some maintenance. None of them are major expenses especially if you can do some of the work yourself.

Check the brakes. How much pad is left and is there a ridge that you can feel with your finger on outer edge of the rotor. Also check the brake fluid. If it is dark, it means it hasn't been changed for awhile and may be indicative of some missed maintenance.
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#9 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:06 PM
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To add to the previous post. The leaks in my top cylinders didn't appear until after the paper towels wedged under the cylinders inside the headliner became sodden, and couldn't conceal the leak. This didn't happen for the first half dozen cycles, but we had problems latching the hardtop for the drive home - then the dripping started. The small coolant leak was caught by the paper towel wedged along the engine block. Miscellaneous oil leaks are trapped by the factory installed sponge in the skid plate. One flex disc failed on the drive home, my strut mounts need replacing, haven't checked the motor mounts yet.

I think it's almost safe to assume that if you've no proof of the cylinders being refurbished/replaced, assume they'll need to be done and negotiate the price accordingly.

Oh well, it's still a fun car.
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#10 (permalink) Old 11-01-2010, 04:43 PM
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Too much fun to pass up. If you are using it for your primary car - you may have expenses as others have stated. As a secondary "Fun Car" - its the best one to have for such in my opinion. As long as you know expenses can be $700-$1,000 here and there (at mechanic) if you are not handy.

Confident enough to be dangerous
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