Blown Head Gasket! Questions.... - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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Blown Head Gasket! Questions....

Hey guys, long story ahead....
Last summer, on the way to drop off kids at camp for the week, my (then) beloved 94 E320 crapped out. It had been running fine and during the 45 minute trip, I had plenty of acceleration and smooth power. However, as we got closer to our destination, the idle started becoming increasingly rough at stop signs and low speeds. Once we finally pulled into the long grass driveway/parking lot of the camp, the car was shaking and sputtering pretty badly but I could still accelerate. Once I parked it, it never started again. This was last July.
When I went to start it after getting the kids settled, the motor would make a violent ka-chunk ka-chunk noise and the motor would rock excessively. When watching it while my wife tried turning the key, it looked like the drive belt wasn't advancing at all. At this point, the car began acting like the battery was dead and after failed attempts at jumping it off someone else's car, we left it. Later that day, we brought back a brand new Bosch group 49 battery and found the car would do the exact same thing when trying to turn it over, just with much more umph behind it. At that point, I cut the drive belt right off to eliminate the possibility of a seized A/C compressor, water pump or the like. No luck.
I got the car towed home and it has sat in my driveway ever since. The winter took the newly pealing clearcoat issue to the max and now the car's once gorgeous Imperial Red paint now looks like a bad case of herpes with huge sections of clearcoat now gone.
I had a couple of hours this week for the first time since last April when we moved into this money pit of a house and finally started checking out the Mercedes. I pulled the valve cover off and started looking around. My suspicions this past year were that the timing chain tensioner or a timing chain guide had broken causing the chain to bind while trying to turn it over. I could turn the crank by hand all the way around with no bad noises. Once I pulled the valve cover, I saw nothing obvious with the chain. In fact, my top end looked immaculate with only 118k on the clock and regular Mobil 1 oil changes.
Have a look:




Next, I pulled the plugs which I installed probably 10k ago, not too long. Again, these looked pretty good.





From there, I decided to grab the ratchet again and try turning the motor over by hand. With the first quick turn, I saw a long squirt of coolant come out somewhere towards the firewall. Uh oh! This time, I started watching the last couple of cylinders and turned the crank slowly.
So, cylinder 6 is completely full of coolant. My reservoir is empty. I pulled the dipstick and the level was showing above the plastic section at the bottom, however, it looked and smelled only like oil, which is kind of perplexing. A friend at work pointed out that if my oil pan had been a mix of coolant and oil, it would have completely separated while sitting over this past year. So it is unknown at this time if coolant and oil was mixed up while it was still running. When I left that day, I had coolant in the res and my oil was recent and the level was correct; I would always check before trips.

Here's a quick vid showing what I saw:
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post #2 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Date registered: Feb 2011
Vehicle: 1994 Mercedes E320 Sedan 97K, 1995 Mercedes E320 Wagon 156K, 2009 VW EOS 45K (Wife's car)
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So, what's next? Well, I am looking to pull the head and check things out since I don't know root cause and from what I've seen on this forum over the years, this is not a common failure mode. Hopefully when that cylinder basically hydro-locked, I hope that it didn't crack the block or take out a piston with it.
How about some help with a shopping list?
1. Mercedes head gasket kit including intake and exhaust gaskets/o-rings
2. Mercedes valve cover gasket kit
3. Mercedes upper timing chain cover gasket (the green one) and proper sealant. Side note, this engine has been leaking oil from that point for a long time and it was on my to-do list.
4. Timing chain tensioner and guides
5. Fresh oil, filter and Zerex coolant
-If the motor is ok and a head gasket job will fix it, I plan on finally replacing the motor and trans mounts.
What am I missing? I know that I broke the edge off of an idler pulley while getting the fan clutch off, so that is on the list. I am tempted to pull the oil pan in order to really clean it out and inspect the bottom end. Other suggestions or additions to the plan?

One other question, when I pulled the valve cover, one half round rubber gasket fell out of something and was sitting in the valve train. Looking at photos of the kit online, I am seeing two of these little things. Where do they belong?

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post #3 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 01:58 PM
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The two rubber half moons go on either side of the back of the valve cover. Do a compression test before you pull anything else. If you think the rear cylinders are fluid filled, spin the motor with the plugs out to clear things up. The easy way to pull the oil pan is to pull the engine. Finding threads about these motors having bottom end problems isn't easy. They are very hardy motors and pulling the pan would be the very last thing on my list.

Good luck

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post #4 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jayare. It looks like just a single cylinder is full. Iíll take your advice regarding the oil pan. Itís up in the air at this point whether or not Iíll be keeping the car once itís fixed. Iíd like to have it as a 3rd car for sure, but donít want to watch another W124 rot away from sitting, mind you my sedan is in way nicer shape than my wagon was.
Either way, I figure Iím way further ahead with a running car than a broken one.

Edit to be clear, I love my MB and miss it badly. I picked up a 2010 Audi A6 as a replacement car when my 124 quit last year and itís a very nice car. I admit itís nice to own something I donít have a running parts list and to-do list on. That being said, there are some things that my old E-class has that my newer car just doesnít satisfy.
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post #5 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 05:02 PM
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That's a lot of water and I think you don't need me to think that. Sure a badly blown head gasket might cause something like that but it might be something worse (and I hate to advocate for the worst case scenario - but you should consider it and prepare accordingly). Consider getting or borrowing one of these

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Waterproo...&wl13=&veh=sem

It will let you peer into the cylinders to see if the piston crowns in the affected cylinders look okay or not, or if you have cylinder wall failure. You probably could run it down the intake runner and look at the valves too. Not the easiest thing but it might tell you more than investing a lot of time in a tear down only to have a rude awakening. You could also pull the exhaust manifolds away from the head and look at the exhaust valves too. I hope its a head gasket rather than a broken valve seat or something like that. But the bottom line is you probably would be better off having an 80% sure idea of what you are tackling before you pull it apart. Best wishes with this; you are right, this is not a common problem and I really do hope its a simple fix..

'
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post #6 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-10-2018, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks @tuttebenne I agree with you. Iíve got a buddy with one of those cams so Iíve asked to borrow it this weekend.
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post #7 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 03:15 AM
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dtsdig i am here wishing you an easy repair .Lets hope its nothing to drastic .
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post #8 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 04:49 AM
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post #9 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jayare View Post
Lacking soul
What is?
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post #10 of 103 (permalink) Old 05-11-2018, 06:15 AM
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^ would seem Jayare's butt posting.....

DSTIG, This is news to me, sorry to hear. Your car was a great time capsule like car. Hope its an easy resolution.


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