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Old 11-14-2011, 09:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Date registered: Nov 2011
Vehicle: 84 300D, We are Driving Her. Working out the bugs!
Location: Leavittsburg, Ohio
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How reliable are these cars?

Hi all,

Getting ready to get one back on the road that's parked in a friends garage about an hour away. Going to be a DD.The wife is squaking in my ear already about she doesn't want a project car or a car that breaks all the time.

What do I need to be on the look out for? Going to change all the fluids, filters, new rad. He did a compression ck after adjusting the valves, 280-350.

BTW, gr8 site, & thanks for your expertise,
Dave
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Date registered: Aug 2010
Vehicle: 1984 300D
Posts: 492
Well, let's see, it's a 27 year old car. When it was new, it cost something like $33,000 which would be about $70K in today's dollars, so it was a very expensive car. It was also very well engineered and built. I doubt if Mercedes intended it to be a daily driver nearly 30 years later. So, if you want to make it a daily driver, you are going to have to renew quite a bit of the car. You can either do this piecemeal as it fails (which will make it seem like the car is unreliable), or you can do some research on this board and others to discover for yourself what the common failures are at this point in time for these cars and fix them all proactively. Then, your car will most likely be as reliable as a new car for a few years.

I'll share a list of the things I am doing to mine for your reference. FWIW

Timing Chain
Rear Axles
Driveshaft assembly including new carrier bearing, u-joint and flex disks
Nearly all rubber parts including motor mounts, seals, hoses, belts and bushings
Front end parts including shocks, ball joints, tie rod ends, and control arms
Repair/replace Automatic Climate Control (ACC) vacuum actuators (requires dash removal and replacement.)
Replace Voltage Regulator
Rebuilt injectors
New seals and hoses to stop oil leaks
Drain/flush all fluids

I'm also updating the headlights, the stereo system to blue tooth enabled for hands free phone operation, and a new auto dimming Gentex rear view mirror with compass and outside air temp.

It will cost more than the $3000 I paid for the car for me to do all this work. If I paid a mechanic to do it, it would double the cost for the maintenance, which would most likely push the total somewhere over 10 or 12 thousand dollars. I expect to drive the car 10 years and 100,000 miles before I retire it. I bought my 2 owner car with 200,000 miles and no rust. It came with the past 15 years of maintenance history. I suspect it will be in better shape at the end of the 10 years than most cars that are purchased new today and driven for the same 10 year period. We shall see.

Last edited by slcturbo; 11-14-2011 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Date registered: May 2009
Vehicle: 1984 Mercedes 230E 4spd & 1983 Toyota Corolla Sprinter Auto
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 157
In terms of reliability, I can vouch for these cars.

My car was laid out for a year, with nothing done to prepare it. When I fetched it, the battery and two wheels were flat. I pumped them up, and connected a donor battery, and she started right on the button. All she needed was an oil change.

Would that qualify as being reliable?
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Date registered: Dec 2010
Vehicle: 1984 300D, 1985 380 SL, 2009 E350
Location: northeast
Posts: 271
What i did when i purchased my 84 TD 2 years ago - took to a Mercedes dealer for oil change and inspection. They inspected the car and listed immediate issues like glow plugs, worn bushings in front suspension and coolant flush based on color of the liquid in the reservoir. Then i took time to research remedies and find ways to do myself but left complicated jobs to dealer or good indy garage.
Reliable? After 2.5 years, this partial DD has provided 30k miles trouble free. But i must admit spending a lot of time to keep in shape like changing pil every 3 k miles, flushed rear diff oil, brake fluid flush every year, diesel purge..... Fun stuff really and not a chore at all.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slcturbo View Post
Well, let's see, it's a 27 year old car. When it was new, it cost something like $33,000 which would be about $70K in today's dollars, so it was a very expensive car. It was also very well engineered and built. I doubt if Mercedes intended it to be a daily driver nearly 30 years later. So, if you want to make it a daily driver, you are going to have to renew quite a bit of the car. You can either do this piecemeal as it fails (which will make it seem like the car is unreliable), or you can do some research on this board and others to discover for yourself what the common failures are at this point in time for these cars and fix them all proactively. Then, your car will most likely be as reliable as a new car for a few years.

I'll share a list of the things I am doing to mine for your reference. FWIW

Timing Chain
Rear Axles
Driveshaft assembly including new carrier bearing, u-joint and flex disks
Nearly all rubber parts including motor mounts, seals, hoses, belts and bushings
Front end parts including shocks, ball joints, tie rod ends, and control arms
Repair/replace Automatic Climate Control (ACC) vacuum actuators (requires dash removal and replacement.)
Replace Voltage Regulator
Rebuilt injectors
New seals and hoses to stop oil leaks
Drain/flush all fluids

I'm also updating the headlights, the stereo system to blue tooth enabled for hands free phone operation, and a new auto dimming Gentex rear view mirror with compass and outside air temp.

It will cost more than the $3000 I paid for the car for me to do all this work. If I paid a mechanic to do it, it would double the cost for the maintenance, which would most likely push the total somewhere over 10 or 12 thousand dollars. I expect to drive the car 10 years and 100,000 miles before I retire it. I bought my 2 owner car with 200,000 miles and no rust. It came with the past 15 years of maintenance history. I suspect it will be in better shape at the end of the 10 years than most cars that are purchased new today and driven for the same 10 year period. We shall see.
Thanks slc, this is what I wanted to see & read about. I can deal with that. I plan on making this the last car I buy. I'm going to oil the panels to keep the rust away too!
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaco View Post
In terms of reliability, I can vouch for these cars.

My car was laid out for a year, with nothing done to prepare it. When I fetched it, the battery and two wheels were flat. I pumped them up, and connected a donor battery, and she started right on the button. All she needed was an oil change.

Would that qualify as being reliable?
Yes, for sure!
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe1973 View Post
What i did when i purchased my 84 TD 2 years ago - took to a Mercedes dealer for oil change and inspection. They inspected the car and listed immediate issues like glow plugs, worn bushings in front suspension and coolant flush based on color of the liquid in the reservoir. Then i took time to research remedies and find ways to do myself but left complicated jobs to dealer or good indy garage.
Reliable? After 2.5 years, this partial DD has provided 30k miles trouble free. But i must admit spending a lot of time to keep in shape like changing pil every 3 k miles, flushed rear diff oil, brake fluid flush every year, diesel purge..... Fun stuff really and not a chore at all.
I have a friend that owns a Cooper tire garage. I'll get it up on the rack & have him give it the once over!

Yep, all new fluids for sure!

Thanks guys,
Dave
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Vehicle: 1985 380SE
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.
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Well, considering my 240D is a former WVO car it has never left me stranded, not once. Not even the time when the left rear caliper seized up and caused the brake fluid to boil leading to a loss in brake pressure. I was still able to limp it to my house.

Stuff I've had to do on it since I got it,

-Fixed injector noise
-Fixed cluster lights
-All new brakes (rotors, pads, calipers, hoses)
-All new clutch components
-New axles
-New flex discs
-New driveshaft center bearing
-Lots of rust repair in the floor and a tad in the trunk
-Fixed hood hinge rust
-Some new weather stripping (still needs some)
-Upgraded to Euro H4 headlights
-Added E30 fog lights
-Replaced weathered front corner lenses with Euro amber corners
-Replaced the tail light trims
-Replaced right rear tail light lens
-Replaced the horns
-Replaced the horn contacts
-Repaired wiring underneath the dash
-Added a tachometer
-Replaced pedal pads
-Swapped in the steering wheel from my parts car
-Replaced gas cap seal
-New oil cap
-Repaired the air cleaner
-Fixed rust under the battery tray
-Swapped in the battery tray from the parts car
-New belts
-New thermostat + coolant system flush
-New radiator cap
-Got the suspension aligned
-Replaced the fuel tank
-New tank strainer
-New fuel hoses
-The usual fluids/filters
-Did a couple deep cleanings of the interior
-Detailed the exterior to get the paint back to good condition
-Fixed various stupid electrical gremlins
-New radio
-Fixed seat belt / B pillar vinyl covering
-Refurbished interior wood trim
-Fixed the power antenna
-New shifter bushings
-Fixed the trip odometer
-R&R'd the fuel sender unit
-Repaired exhaust to eliminate fumes and leaks
-Wired the 2 blank red lights in back to be used as rear fogs

I could go on as there are probably countless other things I've had to deal with in the 3 (going on 4) years that I've had this car. I think it's safe to say I've gone over and through the entire car several times. I know exactly where everything is on it. Some people may see that and look at me like I'm nuts to have bought what was formerly a heap. Honestly, I've really enjoyed restoring it and at present, it's turned out to be a great daily driver. She's definitely a keeper. These cars, as simple and spartan as they are when compared to the stuff that today's cars have, are made to be worked on. And when properly maintained they are super reliable!
__________________
1982 240D - selling soon
1985 380SE - laid up
1987 Vanagon - sold
Currently looking for a new car

Last edited by 240_benz; 11-14-2011 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 11-15-2011, 05:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You the man Matt,

So is it a Ca car? If it is, why the rust? Did you weld in pieces &make your own?

What makes axles go bad?

What was the most expensive repair? How about most time consuming repair?

Was there a 2 tank system in the car for running WVO? Why did you get rid of that?

Thanks,
Dave
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Vehicle: 1985 380SE
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MB300Dave View Post
You the man Matt,

So is it a Ca car? If it is, why the rust? Did you weld in pieces &make your own?

What makes axles go bad?

What was the most expensive repair? How about most time consuming repair?

Was there a 2 tank system in the car for running WVO? Why did you get rid of that?

Thanks,
Dave
Yep, the car was from San Diego. My best guess was that it was a beach/surf car because I must've vacuumed a metric ton of sand out of it. I'm not kidding! I have the floor held together with sheet metal and epoxy, however once I get some more practice with welding thin metal I will go through it and weld it up, but so far the epoxy is holding up nicely. None of the rust is structural. I coated everything with POR-15 which has done a nice job of stopping the rust.

The old axles had cracked boots so the grease dried up. No grease = no lubrication over a long enough time = busted axles.

Most expensive repair had to be the brakes. All new parts are a bit pricey but very worth it in the end. The car stops really well now.

Yep, there was a 2 tank system in it, with a big hole in the bottom of the trunk for the hoses. The PO took it out upon sale (although he did offer to include it) and haphazardly put the fuel delivery system back together. I had to go through all that to get it sorted out. I don't like the idea of running WVO as I've seen what it does to these cars particularly when people don't filter the oil right. I'm ok with biodiesel as it's much safer to use because it doesn't have any contaminants like glycerin in it (glycerin is what gums the IP and engine internals up). I don't want to go far into that because it always starts a flame war on here.
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