1996 300D sedan - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Date registered: Feb 2007
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1996 300D sedan

I am looking at a one owner 103k miles sedan with voluminous maintenance records from the local Mercedes dealer, and some substantial repairs (complete recent A/C overhaul and injection pump replacement) new tires, brakes, suspension work, and some other repairs. No rust on the body, original paint with just some clear coat fade, not sure if it can be buffed out. The inside rear view mirror mount is loose for some reason, it this a common problem? Also, the power rear headrests do not seem to work, maybe a bad relay or broken cable? The remote keyless entry fob seems to work only at very close distance, perhaps a weak fob battery?

The car runs well and is very smooth at highway speeds. The coolant temperature seems a tad high - at times about 95 degrees C. Maybe the fan clutch is not working properly? I am very concerned about questionable reliability of this particular model. I have found references to horrible electrical problems some owners have experienced, bulbs burning out left and right, and even something about "vegetable base coating" on the car's electrical harness requiring complete harness replacement, as the insulation will degrade in time. Is this true? I am somewhat surprised by the sheer volume of repair bills that came with the car, seems way too much for a diesel car with such low mileage. Why injection pump replacement? Supposedly it was leaking. This makes me wonder if this injection pump will not degrade from the new ultra low sulfur diesel. I also read that glow plugs are a common problem with this model and that glow plug replacement requires intake manifold removal. And in some cases they are so difficult to remove that the head has to be taken off. Ouch! Is this true?

I read some comments by owners of this particular model and some gave it very poor reliability marks. Some said that these cars develop electrical problems every 3-4k miles. Also, there is a reference to front spring mounts literally rusting away on these cars and springs falling out.

I am looking for some solid and fair technical assessment here. The car is not expensive to buy, I would only use it as a work car. The mileage rating is quite good on this model - EPA 28 city and 35 highway. I am not sure if this is realistic at 75-80 MPH highway speeds though. I do not want something that will require $ 3k in routine maintenance every year (besides repairs).

I have a low mileage 1985 300D turbo which is a very reliable car. However, it is not as plush or quiet as this car and the performance isn't any better and mileage is worse. It seems that many interior materials on this 1996 model are inferior to my '85 300D. Gone is the real wood trim and headliner looks real cheap.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 06:54 PM
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I am surprised with the pump replacement as well. Those engines are 1 million miles rated and the highest I have seen was over 300k. The only weaker point on them are plastic fuel lines, that need to be replaced about every 10 years and occasionally pump orings.
The 35 mpg is realistic if you keep it below 65 mph. The turbo version offers better mpg on the top of more power.
You hear lot of myths. Those engines don't have deteriorating harness. Actually they don't have any harness at all, just few cables going to sensors.
Coming back to the car -too many suspicious things. Why 95C during drive?
My diesel exceed 80 only on long grades.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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I think they were talking about the car systems electrical harness, not engine electrical harness.

Maybe the injection pump was replaced due to leaky seals and the dealer simply replaced the pump as the owner did not know any better. 90-95 degree running temperature could be well the result of a bad fan clutch.

I would consider a near complete A/C system replacement (compressor, condenser, evaporator, receiver-dryer plus expansion valve normal for a car 14 years old.

Last edited by p100; 10-01-2010 at 07:16 PM.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 07:26 PM
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I think they were talking about the car systems electrical harness, not engine electrical harness.

Maybe the injection pump was replaced due to leaky seals and the dealer simply replaced the pump as the owner did not know any better. 90-95 degree running temperature could be well the result of a bad fan clutch.

I would consider a near complete A/C system replacement (compressor, condenser, evaporator, receiver-dryer plus expansion valve normal for a car 14 years old.
I drive whole summer with fan removed. Fact that summer was mostly cold and I didn't got stuck in traffic at 105F.
Those compressors last as well.
I don't know how much AC rebuild cost the dealer, but the car is worth $3000-6000. I would guess the job was close to the car value.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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I drive whole summer with fan removed. Fact that summer was mostly cold and I didn't got stuck in traffic at 105F.
Those compressors last as well.
I don't know how much AC rebuild cost the dealer, but the car is worth $3000-6000. I would guess the job was close to the car value.
The total A/C repair bill was around $ 4,800, and $ 2,800 of that was labor. I assume the entire dash must be gutted to access the evaporator.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 07:37 PM
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So who in his right mind would put $4800 AC repair into the car that might not be even worth that much?
Again, something very fishy about the car.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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So who in his right mind would put $4800 AC repair into the car that might not be even worth that much?
Again, something very fishy about the car.
This is a one owner car. Many original MB owners perform expensive repairs at their MB dealership. Even on older cars. Nothing unusual about that.

If this was a 2-3 owner car, i would expect a rebuilt a/c compressor from Auto Zone in it.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-01-2010, 08:16 PM
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I would suggest you take the car to a good indie and pay the $250 or so to give you a complete report.

To me, the repairs are in-line with dealer prices, and the evaporator has been done so that is out of the way. The small stuff is the small stuff.

I look on edmunds.com for the realistic value of the car, clean condition, and take it for a good PPI, then make the purcahse decision based on the PPI and the right price.

Keep the faith !
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-02-2010, 08:38 AM
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Things to look for in the repair records on that model that you have not already mentioned are pinion seals, control arm bushings, ball joints, and possibly steering rack rebuild. Also have indie pull the corss pipe and make sure it looks clean inside as the EGR has a tendency to foul the cross over and intake and even exhaust, especially if car was in coller climes or was running good ol'low grade American diesel pre-ULSD. Most of these things would have needed to have been done on a car this old, and can be expensive if your not an advanced DIYer. Other than that the engine and 4 speed trannie in the 96 are rock solid, same engine in the 95 diesel and I see those cars listed with 300k plus all the time in southern California. 103k is low miles, so lots of life left
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-02-2010, 08:52 AM
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Evaporator replacement doesn't seem very common on the 210 yet, but we'll see as time progresses.

Search for info about the front spring perches, and have those checked.

For the rear headrests, do you mean that they don't lower with the switch? You have to put them into the "up" position manually.

Check the key battery by holding the button for about 5 seconds, until a red lamp flashes. If the lamp doesn't flash, your batteries are about gone and should be replaced immediately. If you replace them quickly, you won't have to synchronize the remote. Another indication of low transmitter batteries are the red and green lamps on the mirror flashing simultaneously.

When you say the mirror is loose, do you mean the stalk, or the mirror head on the stalk? I am going to guess the latter. The mirror is secured to the pivot on the stalk by a pair of springs that catch into the housing. The plastic on the housing is weak, and the springs break loose. A few people have fixed them, myself included.

My car did have the engine wiring harness replaced before I got it. Also one spring perch.
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