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Old 08-02-2011, 10:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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1987 300SDL... To buy, or not to buy??

Hey guys,

I came across a 1987 Mercedes 300SDL with 145,000 original miles that I am told is in amazing condition. The asking price on it is $2300 due to "slipping first gear." When I talked to the owner he said it only slipped one time and he had to use the red 'STOP' button on the throttle linkage to shut off the engine. Another time he drove it everything seemed to be fine. To me this sounds like a vacuum issue since the shutoff solenoid is vacuum operated and so are components of the transmission. If it is a failing transmission, I have experience with the 722.3s and I could rebuild it with a few hundred dollars and a weekend if all of the hard components are in tact. If this is the case, does this seem like a fair buy? I am told there are no other mechanical issues and hardly any cosmetic. I have had the same exact transmission/shutoff issue with my old W126 and I found a disconnected vacuum line in the engine compartment.

If I could get some input on this soon it would be greatly appreciated. I am going to look at the car saturday and I desperately need a commuter so I can stop driving my Wagon into the ground every day. (I am also a huge fan of the W126 long bodies).

Thank you
-Landon
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2012 BMW G650GS- 50 miles
2001 Mercedes-Benz E320 4Matic Wagon- 139k miles
1987 Mercedes-Benz 300SDL- 146k miles
1993 Mercedes-Benz 300TE- 135k miles
1986 GMC Jimmy 6.5 Turbo Diesel- 190k miles
1993 Mercedes-Benz 400E-164k miles *SOLD*
1985 Mercedes-Benz 300SD-346k miles miles *SOLD*
1984 Mercedes-Benz 300D-294k miles *SOLD*

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Old 08-03-2011, 10:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by biodieselandon View Post
Hey guys,

I came across a 1987 Mercedes 300SDL with 145,000 original miles that I am told is in amazing condition. The asking price on it is $2300 due to "slipping first gear." When I talked to the owner he said it only slipped one time and he had to use the red 'STOP' button on the throttle linkage to shut off the engine. Another time he drove it everything seemed to be fine. To me this sounds like a vacuum issue since the shutoff solenoid is vacuum operated and so are components of the transmission. If it is a failing transmission, I have experience with the 722.3s and I could rebuild it with a few hundred dollars and a weekend if all of the hard components are in tact. If this is the case, does this seem like a fair buy? I am told there are no other mechanical issues and hardly any cosmetic. I have had the same exact transmission/shutoff issue with my old W126 and I found a disconnected vacuum line in the engine compartment.

If I could get some input on this soon it would be greatly appreciated. I am going to look at the car saturday and I desperately need a commuter so I can stop driving my Wagon into the ground every day. (I am also a huge fan of the W126 long bodies).

Thank you
-Landon
It could be a vacuum pump. These are known to fail on these cars. You can see pictures of the old pump vs. the new pump and more info in this thread:

How to replace a 603 vacuum pump. - PeachParts Mercedes ShopForum
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Would this cause intermittent issues like I explained or fail all together?
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Would this cause intermittent issues like I explained or fail all together?
probably not intermittent. There is such a thing as a "shut off valve" that can go bad. These are not super expensive fixes. Does it run good and sound good? I would have a diesel MB guy do a pre-inspection. It is well worth the money.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I won't be able to look at the car until Saturday and it will be in the evening. I will just have to use my best judgement.
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So I ended up buying the car but I am not picking it up tomorrow. First thing I found when I opened the hood was a disconnected vacuum line just as I suspected. I can't find the other end though. The transmission was doing some funny things when I drove it. The gears weren't slipping but once I got up to speed and in 4th gear it kept going out of gear completely at random.

I also checked the vacuum pump. It has not been replaced.
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Something about someone saying they are giving a low price because the transmission slipped once doesn't sound right. Of course get the vacuum stuff sorted out first, but my guess is the transmission is toast and the PO was well aware of this.
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by biodieselandon View Post
So I ended up buying the car but I am not picking it up tomorrow. First thing I found when I opened the hood was a disconnected vacuum line just as I suspected. I can't find the other end though. The transmission was doing some funny things when I drove it. The gears weren't slipping but once I got up to speed and in 4th gear it kept going out of gear completely at random.

I also checked the vacuum pump. It has not been replaced.
These vacuum pumps are known as "time bombs" while it may still work, you don't want to wait until it fails. I am assuming that the face has no torx heads? There are vacuum diagrams and much more info in general on another forum for diesels. This forum is mostly gassers. Try: Peachparts-Mercedes shopforum-diesel discussion. It is better because they have a forum dedicated to just Diesel. The have a lot of DIY stickys just for diesels. And some transmission stuff also.
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Old 08-12-2011, 08:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Trans - SDL

Congrats....I think you are going to love the SDL. I've had mine almost 10 years now and at 325k I finally had the trans rebuilt primarily due to a leaky front pump seal and other seal leaks kicking in. They just got old.

For five years I chased funny shifts, flares, & clunks. Things like old fluid or wrong fluid (dexIII only) seem to be a big deal with these trans. Even repaird a "lost 4th gear" problem by replacing a somewhat new filter and running a can of Trans-X for a few miles. Vacuum system (leaks) & the famous bowden cable too.

I'm not one to want to just replace a trans although was told to do so numerous times, but I can say now that I did I'm simply looking toward another couple of hundered thousand miles of nice motoring. Sooo since you know how I'd go "Nike" and just do it. You'll be hours ahead.

We can help you sort out other stuff as you go along as well.

You are going to like it. Especially on the open road.

P.S. Keep freshly balanced and very true tires on. A little off and they make this car feel like "something is seriously wrong" lol.

Last edited by 86-300SDL; 08-12-2011 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 08-13-2011, 10:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I am very impressed with the car. It is literally in perfect condition. I plan on replacing the vacuum pump right off the bat and if that doesn't take car of the problem at least that's one more future headache gone. I really don't think there are internal problems with the transmission. Once it is in gear it holds... It doesn't slip. Under low throttle it completely loses it's gear and goes into neutral. What is the best way to test for proper vacuum? And what values should I be looking for in what locations?
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