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Old 11-01-2011, 02:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Date registered: Jun 2006
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1996 E300 Diesel with black smoke

Hi guys, after much research I have yet to find the answer to why my E300 shoots out too much black smoke upon acceleration. For the most part I always figured all diesels emit at least a little black smoke and I would never have cared to fix it as there is nothing else wrong with the car, but here in BC the car has repeatedly failed the emissions test. The test only checks for opacity which is simply the thickness of the smoke. The car starts up instantly on a cold start and feels like it has the right amount of power for a non turbo car maybe a little less, but I feel that maybe due to the auto transmission which seems to shift too early. I've had the injectors cleaned and re-calibrated. I even thought I'd let the dealership themselves try to get the car to pass and they decided to clean the exhaust system which helped ever so slightly but the readings are still no where near where they should be. The previous owner had the head replaced at one point because of a broken glow plug and I believe its after that job that the car has not been able to pass again. At this point in time I'm thinking it is something to do with the amount of fuel that the pump is injecting, but I have no idea how to adjust it or what tools I may require to do so. Any advice on the matter will be greatly appreciated as I'm running out of ideas.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
Date registered: Oct 2010
Vehicle: 1999 E300 TD
Posts: 2,045
You are correct, smoke typically suggests a long period of city driving and then you take the car on the freeway and you notice black smoke in the exhaust which is no more than the unburned particles collecting in cold weather and city driving in the exhaust system being blown out.

Alternatively, you have many bad glow plugs that are not functioning in the post start up glow.---Very strange as you dash would lite up indicating a bad glow plug.

You indicated that your injectors were cleaned and springs changed or shimmed to bring back to factory specs---that's good.

Our injector pump is only adjustable for injector release timing in relation to TDC---that is not a DIY takes special mechanical and electrical equipment to correctly change.

A last thing to concern or check is compression---you could have a couple of bad cylinders, but she starts in the cold and runs like a champ---

All I can do is list the suspects for smoke, because smoke to you may not be smoke to others and when smoke occurs and doesn't is also important-----

I would take the car to a diesel truck mechanic---they hate working on cars, but they know diesels!!

Last edited by Plutoe; 11-01-2011 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Date registered: Jun 2006
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As for the glow plugs I know that they have all been replaced previously. Like I mentioned earlier then entire head was rebuilt because when they were pulling out the old glow plugs one snapped in there and they ruined that head trying to get it out. In regards to the after glow function, I think you may be on to something. When I initially start the car it starts instantly and is actually rather quiet. However, after about 30 seconds or so you start to hear more of the typical diesel knocking sound. Does that indicate the after glow function not working? I don't have any lights on the dash at the moment either.

The only other issue the car has is the climate control unit turning on after I take the key out of the ignition. But, as I understand it that simply a matter of replacing the unit.
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Old 11-01-2011, 03:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Also, the car only lets out the smoke upon heavy acceleration. During the opacity test they need to get the car up to about 100km/h and they need to give it full throttle to keep up to the testing machine. This being a non turbo diesel it's not quite as peppy as other cars and I feel that if they didn't need to give it full throttle to get up to speed it would pass. But, then again the car has obviously passed the test at some point prior to the head work.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
Date registered: Oct 2010
Vehicle: 1999 E300 TD
Posts: 2,045
Based on what you have said I think that you have a normal older diesel, makes smoke upon accelertation.

If you had a glow plug or relay issue, that would produce a fault.

Run the car for 30 minutes at 80mph(clean it out) and then take the car for the test.

Remember you have a an almost 16 year old smoker--and like a Chevy owner once said ---enjoy the ride
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Date registered: Dec 2005
Vehicle: W210 E300DT x2/w211wagon4M / Ford SD. Seeking diesel pushmower
Location: CA Bay Area
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The engine should not need pedal on the floor for 100kph, or 60 mph.
Checking the compression would be a good test, but a bit expensive. You can make initial test with infra red thermometer and comparing the head or exhaust temperatures. That will tell you if some cylinders perform differently than others.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Date registered: Aug 2006
Vehicle: 1986 190E 16V Cosworth SOLD 1999 BMW M3 Convertible (fun summer car) 1999 E300 (daily driver)
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Try and get some B20 Bio-Diesel into it. It will burn with much less smoke, you can also use an additive.
I spent most of my money on beer and women, the rest I just wasted.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
Date registered: Oct 2010
Vehicle: 1999 E300 TD
Posts: 2,045
You have a 16 year old car, forget all the additives/waste of money-----just run the car
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Date registered: Jun 2006
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Plutoe, trust me I've driven the car quite hard for about 400km and it did make a difference, but no where near enough.

Kajtek1 I too considered low compression, but considering the way the car starts up even when cold I figured not. I guess investigating with a infrared thermometer is worth a shot though.

I think using some B20 might be a good idea, at this point I'm willing to do anything that will decrease the smoke so thanks EDBSO.

To be honest though I'm still thinking the car is running rich as the smell of the exhaust also suggests so.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Date registered: Apr 2006
Vehicle: '98 E300, '03 3.2TL-S 'A-Spec', '92 S500 (sold), '87 190D 2.5 Turbo (RIP)
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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Perhaps you have a problem with the EGR valve?
Seems to me like you are in the lower mainland (Aircare), I know someone in Richmond who is good with these cars.
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