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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm considering an older diesel mercedes as a daily driver. I'm looking into the W116, W126 and W123. Any pros/cons between these is welcome.

Let's say I could find a nice example that was properly taken care of, would you hesitate to drive it every day? What are some thinks to look for in a used 123 diesel?

Thanks
 

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1984 300dt 1985 300 dt 1992 300e just added another 92 300e 1994 e420 1993 300te 4matic
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2,506 Posts
...personally i prefer the w123 turbo diesel. look for good condition to the eye and lowest miles as always even tho these are extreme high mileage potential if cared for. after you find the car youre interested in, pay the best mb Indy shop in town to inspect it, thats the info youre going to want to have available when you consider what youre willing to pay.

imo, if you have a driving distance thats going to allow you to get the car warmed up thru and thru and not too heavy on stop and go id say yeah, its the best daily driver you can own for pennies on a dollar. i have 2 300 turbos and i prefer not to use them unless im going to give it a good hiway roll, its the most pleasurable experience for me. i also tend to baby my equipment, i can still hear dad say, 'its only mechanical, you can break it if you drive it hard'. (gas cars he was talking about).

i can get carried away with that sort of thing tho, ive resisted using air conditioning in hot weather on lots of cars of all kinds unless im really freeway rolling because i feel the dip in the engine, the demand being put on it and i dont ever hurt any of my babies.
 

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1979 & 1985 300D's
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The more manual stuff on the car, the better. The drive trains are known for their reliability when serviced but some of the accessories are not. Automatic climate control, power windows, power sunroof, power antenna, etc. are (as with any older car) more prone to failure.

Of course, I enjoy the comforts, so my car has all of the above! All are working relatively well, currently, and I'm comfortable with what is necessary to keep them that way.

That said, cared for well, it may be one of the last cars you need to buy which is the most economical ways to approach car ownership. Even if you drop $2000/year in to maintenance it's still cheaper than a car payment on almost any new car.

As for the cars themselves, try and find one with maintenance records - oil changes, transmission fluid and filter changes, valve adjustments and such at regular appropriate intervals are the key here.
 

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1984 300D
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I say No to the Daily Driver if it is your only Car.

Even if the Car is well cared for there is vital suspension, Oil Cooling, Drive Shaft and Rear Axle Part that are made of Rubber. Unless they have been previousl replaced the Rubber parts are at the end of their life Cycle.

I am going to give you a lot of time in this example. You came Home Friday Night and you find that your Lower Control Arm Bushings have Rotted out. With out another way to work you would have to finish the job by Monday or take some Vacation time.

So you have 2 full days to round up decent quality Parts, the Special Spring Compressor (the ones People use on the Gas Cars are not strong enough and if you are lucky they only get bent up and you don't get hurt; this happend to Me) and the knowlege of how to do the Job.
You will find how other people have fixed stuff and the trouble they did or did not have in the 2 threads below.

Take a peek at replacing the Rear Wheel Bearings, changing the Engine Oil Cooler Hoses and the issues involved if you found the Rear CV Axle Boots were leaking (Mercedes fills them with Oil).
Repair Links
DIY Links by Parts Category - PeachParts Mercedes ShopForum

PeachPartsWiki: Do It Yourself Articles - Mercedes Vehicles
 

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1979 & 1985 300D's
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Or in a pinch you could take it to a decent suspension shop.

And it will still be cheaper to fix than doing repairs on something new, even if you do it yourself. My 2001 BMW has all the same issues as my 1979 Mercedes might - cracked plastic cooling parts, bad rubber suspension components, etc.

Just saying. An old car that will last you a long time will always be a better value than a new car even with regular maintenance expense.

The main choice, then, is whether to get a boring old car that is even more reliable or something you'll really enjoy. I love driving my car, not so much an older Honda.
 

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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #6
The main choice, then, is whether to get a boring old car that is even more reliable or something you'll really enjoy. I love driving my car, not so much an older Honda.
I think you're hitting the nail on the head here... I'd rather repair something once every few months than drive a boring Honda. I enjoy working on my cars when it's needed.

I am having a look around the SW USA region, and I'm finding mostly a lot of 126's. They seem to be the most plentiful, being a bit newer and more common (i think)... we'll see what I come across, but as of right now it looks like it may be easier to find one of those, plus I would enjoy the larger car I think.
 

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1981 W123 300D non turbo, 1992 190E 1.8 <=> 2.0
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6,561 Posts
I say No to the Daily Driver if it is your only Car.

...
I agree with this if you need to get somewhere on time. If however, reaching the destination isn't so much of a big deal then I'd go for it. They are nice cars to own.

For any of the types that you mention I would expect to have to replace all of the suspension components and do a lot of work on the car to make it a reliable daily driver. Spending a healthy amount of money up front may not buy you more future reliability. If you were to spend the same amount of money on a modern vehicle I would expect you to end up with a more reliable vehicle. Difference in reliability between a 5 to 10 year old vehicle and a 20 year + old vehicle can be great. It comes down to luck.

Saying that, however, I personally wouldn't have any problems buying any old piece of junk and trying to driive it across Europe if I needed to do so! I just wouldn't make any appointments to reach certain destinations at specific times. A change in your state of mind can work wonders. And decent break down cover helps a lot too!
 

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1977 W123.123 1995 W124.034
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I used a 84 300D as a daily for about a year and I loved it. It is much easier to live with in modern traffic than a NA Diesel. You will need to be your own mechanic and be willing to work on the car every weekend if its your daily. That is one of the reasons why I sold the car and bought a new car. I don't have the time to work on more than one W123.
 

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1985 300CD
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My wife uses her 300CD as a daily driver and I use the 300SDL as my daily driver. We also have the 300TD so I can take my time on any repairs and still have a running vehicle for both of us.

In the past 5 years there was only one time that two vehicles needed work at the same time and they were still drivable.

I prefer to drive my w123s during the winter months because the transmission in my w126 doesn't like being cold.
 

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1984 300D
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I think you're hitting the nail on the head here... I'd rather repair something once every few months than drive a boring Honda. I enjoy working on my cars when it's needed.

I am having a look around the SW USA region, and I'm finding mostly a lot of 126's. They seem to be the most plentiful, being a bit newer and more common (i think)... we'll see what I come across, but as of right now it looks like it may be easier to find one of those, plus I would enjoy the larger car I think.
The above in red is kind of against the Daily Driver issue and sort of supports what I said.
When I am fixing the Mercedes we have 2 other Vehicles that can be driven.

I can say that the car is sort of a Daily Driver to the Extent that when it is not being fixed my Wife drives the Car to Work. The catch is that She only works 2 miles away and most of the driving the Car gets is within a 3 mile or so radius so if there is a prlblem the Car is going to be close by.
Also We are an Auto Club Member.
So to that extent it is a Daily Driver.
 

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1983 300SD, 2013 C250
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374 Posts
Go for a w126 300SD. I have one as my DD. while a w123 is great, a w126 is much more of a car in my opinion. Bigger, more comfortable. Great on the highway. Can be hard to park though :D
 

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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #12
I am probably more interested in the 126... also looking at a Volvo 850. I want something large, comfortable, well built (quality), and reliable.. the Volvo may fit the bill quite well, but will keep my options open for a very nice 126 (or other MB) at the right price.
 

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W-1-2-3 Go!
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16,161 Posts
I am probably more interested in the 126... also looking at a Volvo 850. I want something large, comfortable, well built (quality), and reliable.. the Volvo may fit the bill quite well, but will keep my options open for a very nice 126 (or other MB) at the right price.
These cars were built in a very similar fashion. The main differences would be primarily in creature comfort and ease of maintenance.

The W116 was the older S-class, typically a larger W123. The W116 had the AC Servo to the end of its life in 1980. This means it may have climate control problems, but depending on which unit you get, you could luck out on one with a good servo.

The W126 is a larger but more modern W123. Its creature comforts have a blend of W124/W201 in them, in that the design is more ergonomic. They're easier to live with than the W123, especially the 2nd generation W126 which ended in 1991.

The W126 diesel was up to 1985 for the 300SD OM617 powered unit. The second generation W126 had a diesel in 2 variants: 300SDL OM603 in 1986 and 1987, as well as the later model 350SDL. Some call these later 350SDLs as rod-benders due to the frequency of them causing engine problems. On the other hand, the 1981 to 1985 300SD's were basically the same W123 in a W126 body.

I wouldn't hesitate to drive any of these on a regular basis.
 

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1996 E320, 2005 Toyota Camry
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?

I have a '78 280SE, a '77 300D, and an '85 190D, and all three are excellent cars in their own way. But they are old, and things fail sooner or later. My main point, however, is that the design of the a/c systems in these older MBs are simply not able to handle 95-degree plus weather (rare "up north?"); they just CAN'T, period, end of discussion on that issue. However, if that's not a problem for you, go for any good example of one of these models and you'll be a happy camper.
Hemersam
 

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1981 300D
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I have very low mileage a 81 300D that I bought a little over a year ago as a daily driver. I absolutely love the car, and driving it.

The issue that I did not realize at the time is that a car of this age that has sat forever, and not been driven probably needs more attention. All the possible maintenance / repair issues will show up all at once when you start driving it.

I have spent a ton, replaced almost everything, but I don't regret it. You cant find a car with this kind of character, period. it's the best car I have ever owned.
 

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300 CDT 4 speed manual trans
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48 Posts
300 CDT daily driver

Hi folks, so count me in the enthusiast category
I've been driving one of two 300 CDT's for almost 30 years
( sadly, one was recently rear ended and totaled )
in my experience, if you proactively deal with the wear items
the only thing that might surprise you is a flat tire once in a while

I've completely rejuvenated the front suspension, like new again
( lots of cussing, but worth it )
I fully expect to drive it another 25 + years
( idiot other drivers not withstanding )

on an annual basis, my operational costs are a fraction the cost of a new
( or near new ), car. Particularly when including modest depreciation
On a 10 year + basis, the difference is even greater

So, compared to my neighbor who buys a new car every 5 or 6 years
My car(s), have been paid for for 25 years, and start more dependably,
I give him a ride to the car shop about twice a year, yuk, yuk
 

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87 300SDL, 82 300SD, 81 300D, 81 240D, 82 300SD, 87 300SDL#2, 87 300TD, 94 S350D, 85 300D, 90 350SDL
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469 Posts
I have W123's, 126's and 124's. The latter are more complex, but more modern feeling.

That said, my 1980 240D has been my daily driver for over 9 years. It's an amazing testament to what a car should be. Minimal work has been done to it and it just keeps going. Last night, it was treated to new motor mounts. The passenger side OEM MB mount had collapsed, and the anchor mount on the driver side I installed 3 years ago still looked new, but since they were cheap, I renewed both sides. Back to being smooooth again, no bridgework loosening vibrations at idle now.

In summation, they are all great cars, just some are much simpler, and a bit more durable. The OM616 and 617 were where MB got their rep. It wasn't by accident.
 

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2013 MINI Copper S Clubman, '84 300CD-weekend car
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I agree with having another car to use when this thing is down. It's going to happen and parts are not always available locally.

The two cars I own are in my avatar.

When one is laid up, I use the other, no problems with that strategy in almost a decade.
 

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'82 Euro 500SEL, '85 Euro 500SEC AMG WB Cabriolet,'86 Euro 500SEC RUF
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I have a beater 1977 240D 4 speed as a DD. I do not drive it far, but do drive it every weekday. Weekends driver's are one of the two SEC's. This 240D has well over 200,000 miles and I have owned it almost a year. I adjusted the valves for the first time today and was surprised to see the majority of the valves were in spec. The old girl just keeps running and I upgraded to fast glow DuroTherm Bosch Glow plugs and she starts better than she ever did, uses the stock .
She's a beater, she's ugly, but she's MINE! May look for a better example someday, but I will keep "Ciselle the Diesel" until she will go no more.
 
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