The transmission in my signal red 1988 300E died 5 or 6 years ago and I replaced it with a supposedly good trans from a 1988 300E parts car. It worked and continues to work but the car hasn't been driven very much. It's teh car that my daughter bent the driver's door past 90 degrees open while backing up with the door open. It took a while to recover from that unhappy event.
The method of failure was fluid boiling out the filler tube from (I assume) clutch disc slipping. I had just completed a 60 mile highway run and pulled onto a secondary road. Drive for a mile or so and suddenly no drive. That's when I noticed the stink and smokescreen behind me.
was in my daily driver smoke silver 1988 300TE. On the highway and lots of smoke with fluid boiling out the filler tube. Again, I replaced the bad trans with a used one, this time a known good genuine MBZ factory rebuilt unit with maybe 60k miles on it.
A couple of weeks ago I bought a clean 1988 300E with 156k miles. Bad trans. No reverse. No 3rd gear. No 4th gear. I replaced the trans with a supposedly good unit from a 1988 300TE parts car. Crossed my fingers and went for a drive -- it seems to be a good trans.
Fast forward to this morning when my wife took the TE to work. I got a phone call and she told me that the car was spewing smoke "from everywhere" and she pulled over. I went to her rescue and found -- wait for it -- the trans had overheated and pushed fluid out the filler tube. This was the genuine MBZ factory rebuilt unit I had pulled from a donor car so I was more than a little bit disappointed. Looking at receipts for that donor car, however, I see that the rebuilt trans was installed in December of 2002, about 14 years ago. How long should a transmission last?
My point is that any or all of the used units that I installed in my cars are questionable. They could last 2 weeks, 6 months, or 5 years. But I'll be replacing them and they're not cheap at about $2k my price and then I have to find the time to install them.
Swapping a 124 trans isn't particularly hard but it's not how I'd choose to spend my weekend. I'm thinking that I need to either a) learn how to rebuild a 722.320 box or b) throw in the towel regarding 124s. Using cars that are almost 30 years old as daily drivers doesn't suit most people but I kind of like it. Finding the time that is necessary to keep them going is something altogether different.
To compound my aggravation I've been learning that the quality parts previously available for our 124s seem to be disappearing. The thread on the Behr fan clutch is an example. I got stung by that one, expecting the new Behr unit I bought to last the 18 years that the old one did. Nope. It locked up after about 2 years. The beautiful green 91 300E I bought in Tampa and drove back to PA is currently down due to accessory belt noise. I thought it was the alternator but I think it's the a/c compressor bearing. I thought I'd replace the idler pulleys and fan bearing bracket at the same time. From what I've seen online the freakin' fan bearing bracket is only available as a rebuilt part! What?
It seems that the quality parts availability for our 124 is far, far, far from what it was 8 or 10 years ago. Which I guess is no surprise from a market standpoint but I was ready to drive these things until I died. I can't do it if only shitty aftermarket parts are available.
It's time to make some tough choices.