280SE 4.5 engine trouble - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Vehicle: 1972 Mercedes Benz 280SE 4.5
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280SE 4.5 engine trouble

Hi folks,

My "new" 1972 280SE 4.5 arrived on the truck yesterday - I'm so happy it finally got here!

I did notice a few issues with the car though. When driving it on level ground, the engine does alright (shifts are tad late, and it feels like it wants to stall sometimes, some kicking noises). However, when I take the car on a hill it loses almost all of its power, even after downshifting and throttling pretty high. Also, the kicking noises get more frequent when doing this.

I plan to take this car into the shop for diagnostics, but I wanted to check here first to know what I'm getting into. Could this be a fuel pressure issue, a timing issue, spark plugs, or perhaps the fact that it has only been driven 4k miles since 1987 (the last oil change noted in the manual)?

I'd love you assistance, as this might just be a simple thing I can manage myself and not get naively screwed over at the repair shop. I just want this baby to purr like I know it can...

Thanks!
-Brian
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:27 PM
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Rings are shot. Low compression causes late shift and power loss too. Did you get a compression check? How many miles? Blowing smoke at start?
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Ed, I have an appt at a local shop on Monday to get the car looked at, otherwise I have not had anything checked.

It has 85K miles and I haven't seen any smoke. This is my first car to really work on, so I'm unfamiliar with what rings you're referring to... can you clarify? Also, is this something a beginner, such as myself, could repair? Should I not drive the car in the meantime?

Thank you sir,
-Brian
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 10:03 PM
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Brian, This is a very bold endeavor you have embarked upon.
Please realize that there are many potential problems.
With the low mileage reported, is the body and interior good?
Mechanical items can be fixed, although it can get scary $$ to the newcomer.
Start with the fuel system, tank, on up to the injectors.

You must tell us your prior auto knowledge, current, and future intents with this class of car.

All answers are here, and even the reward at completion of this is known.

Brian O
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-25-2009, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Brian, I do realize this is bold indeed, but I fully intend to get this car into proper driving shape. I have been researching the issue at hand and it seems the most likely candidates are the piston rings and perhaps clogged cats. As I mentioned, my background in auto knowledge is limited to how a car works, i.e. I've never fixed up a motor, etc. With this in mind, I'll definitely be utilizing my local shop to help with some of the larger items (such as engine issues if necessary).

The car itself is in good shape, both the interior and exterior. This problem I've noted is the primary item, with the front windows sticking being the only other item of note and a minor issue of reattaching the windshield wipers (they are sitting in the trunk).

As I mentioned, I'd love for this car to work as intended and I plan to use it for a weekend driver. I'm looking forward to getting to know my car much better in the process.

-Brian

Last edited by betoface326; 04-25-2009 at 11:26 AM.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-25-2009, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Also, I just checked and there is some whitish smoke coming from the exhaust. Not sure what this means... is it safe to drive <5 miles or should i tow it to a shop?

Thanks!
-Brian
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-25-2009, 09:20 PM
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I'm not sure your car has a cat. I've got the same thing and after having replaced the whole exhaust system, I never paid for a cat. converter.

Whitish smoke could mean a small coolant leak into a cylinder or two. If it goes away after the car warms up, it might be condensation in your exhaust system.

As for driving 5 miles, I'd do it!
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-25-2009, 11:40 PM
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Hi Brian,
Insure the shop you are taking your car to is INTIMATE with D-jetronic. My coupe came with many $$ of new parts the PO had spent trying to get it to run correctly and it still ran very badly when I bought it. Cleaning the trigger points cured 90% of the trouble. Also-is the milage on your car documented? Even if it was only driven from 1972 to 1987that's 15 years. It's easy to put a few 100K on in 15 years.
All rubber parts should be suspect and there is a lot of rubber on these cars. I would start by checking compression and vacuum. Pull your distributor and check the trigger points-I bet they will be oily. Good luck with your project.

Tony
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Stick shift
3.27 Axle
5.6 Iron block build in progress
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-26-2009, 03:04 PM
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There are no cat converters but a few smog devices on this car, The one I had is pushing 300k miles on the original rings. one valve job, it had many $$ of maintenance on the original owner. As mentioned, check compression, trigger points, and many more items. A recent one we purchased and send to europe needed a pressure regulator, and a few adjustments to reach perfect running. 18 mpg Prior owner literally gave it away because of it not running correct. $1200. and couldn't cope with the cost quoted by the local shark independent mechanic.... so be aware of sharks with wrenches and a smile.

Brian O
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 04-26-2009, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. Yes the miles are documented and according to the PO the car has been sitting for awhile and just needs to be driven. He mentioned that he had added stabilizer and that the gas is old. Is there a good/recommended fuel additive I can use when I fill up the tank?

I really appreciate all of your insight on this great car.

Last edited by betoface326; 04-27-2009 at 12:28 AM.
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