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Registered
1999 - W210 320 CDI Estate & 2004 - W220 320 CDI
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43 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I have just purchased my first Benz. Dreamed about having one from when I was 4, now finally got it. Its a lovely W126 300SE 1989 (or 1990, it was sold to me as 1989 but paperwork says 1990) with a meagre 145.000KM on the odo and looks great. No rust, excellent car.

Had a few questions though. I am mainly familiar with manual cars, so Automatic transmissions are new to me...

1) When I put it into "D" or "R" in both cases you can notice it really kind of settles into the gear and gently starts moving in the direction selected. There is not really a thud or any clunking noise, just the RPM goes down a bit and you can definitely notice the gear engagement. From what I read here and there is that this might be a too-agressively tuned clutch? When driving the gears shift very smoothly and there are no weird or worrisome sounds at all, its just when the car is parked with engine switched on and I want to start driving.

2) Can the steering wheel be height-adjusted? It now rests on my legs which is not really a major problem, only when trying to get in or out of the car. It has the electric steering wheel distance switch (see question 3) but height adjustment seems missing. I'm about 180cm (6ft) tall so it does somewhat get in the way. About 5cm higher would be ideal. I could not find any lever or switch to do this.

3) The steering wheel distance switch is erratic. It worked when I got the car, but stopped working about a day later - do the wheels or transmission need to be in any particular position for this switch to operate? When I switch it I do hear a (brief) sound but no movement happens.

4) I once drove in a taxi in Poland with a royal 700.000KM on the odo (a 190E, of all cars!) and the driver of it assured me this is all thanks to him using Synthetic Motor oil. I concluded this may be the case due to the fact "natural" oils are bound to contain (however slight) impurities and thus can eventually cause more trouble. What is your experience with this and what oil would you recommend for the 300SE?

I generally believe in prevention rather than fixing once broken, so I want to try and keep the car in an absolutely perfect condition, aiming to always stay one step ahead of any potential failures. Of course this wont always be possible but its worth trying and I feel it is the right philosophy to keep this car running as best as possible.

Finally, mechanic told me the Power Steering box is leaking oil and will need replacement within a few months - does anyone know if there is a difference between the left hand drive and right hand drive version? I found one in the US but I am in Australia now and those things are fairly pricey so dont wanna be stuck with a non-fitting left hand drive one ;)

Many thanks!
 

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Banned
99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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4,583 Posts
1.) This is normal. All of the other classic Benz's I have owned or driven, did the exact same thing. I wish it were more smooth too, but isn't not.

2.) Steering wheel cannot be height adjusted. Don't ask me why they didn't include this option. Someone wasn't thinking.

3.) Replace steering wheel switch. These die. The car doesn't need to be in gear or even running to operate.

4.) Use fully synthetic oil. These cars love it. If it had existed back in 1990, Mercedes would have filled the cars with it at the factory. Make sure to use a good filter and good quality oil with the correct grade for your climate.

5.) You can just replace the gasket. It will save you lots of money.
 

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CH4S Admin , Outstanding Contributor
1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Joined
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40,674 Posts
Hello,

I have just purchased my first Benz. Dreamed about having one from when I was 4, now finally got it. Its a lovely W126 300SE 1989 (or 1990, it was sold to me as 1989 but paperwork says 1990) with a meagre 145.000KM on the odo and looks great. No rust, excellent car.

Had a few questions though. I am mainly familiar with manual cars, so Automatic transmissions are new to me...

1) When I put it into "D" or "R" in both cases you can notice it really kind of settles into the gear and gently starts moving in the direction selected. There is not really a thud or any clunking noise, just the RPM goes down a bit and you can definitely notice the gear engagement. From what I read here and there is that this might be a too-agressively tuned clutch? When driving the gears shift very smoothly and there are no weird or worrisome sounds at all, its just when the car is parked with engine switched on and I want to start driving.

2) Can the steering wheel be height-adjusted? It now rests on my legs which is not really a major problem, only when trying to get in or out of the car. It has the electric steering wheel distance switch (see question 3) but height adjustment seems missing. I'm about 180cm (6ft) tall so it does somewhat get in the way. About 5cm higher would be ideal. I could not find any lever or switch to do this.

3) The steering wheel distance switch is erratic. It worked when I got the car, but stopped working about a day later - do the wheels or transmission need to be in any particular position for this switch to operate? When I switch it I do hear a (brief) sound but no movement happens.

4) I once drove in a taxi in Poland with a royal 700.000KM on the odo (a 190E, of all cars!) and the driver of it assured me this is all thanks to him using Synthetic Motor oil. I concluded this may be the case due to the fact "natural" oils are bound to contain (however slight) impurities and thus can eventually cause more trouble. What is your experience with this and what oil would you recommend for the 300SE?

I generally believe in prevention rather than fixing once broken, so I want to try and keep the car in an absolutely perfect condition, aiming to always stay one step ahead of any potential failures. Of course this wont always be possible but its worth trying and I feel it is the right philosophy to keep this car running as best as possible.

Finally, mechanic told me the Power Steering box is leaking oil and will need replacement within a few months - does anyone know if there is a difference between the left hand drive and right hand drive version? I found one in the US but I am in Australia now and those things are fairly pricey so dont wanna be stuck with a non-fitting left hand drive one ;)

Many thanks!
Have you tried a forum search? The archive has a wealth of information.

Please click 'User CP' on the top tool bar, and complete your profile with a location and model of your car.
It makes it easier for members to offer advice. MB produced different, and region / Country specific versions of our cars.

Welcome, to take advantage of all the forum features, please re visit the 'Welcome to the Forum' tutorial sticky on top of the W126 page, as well as the two DIY stickies.
It will show how to search the forum (3 words min.), and has a link to the Russian MB site where you can run a VIN#.
Cheers
 

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Registered
78 280S, 81 300SD, 82 300D, 92 300E 2.6, 90 260SE, 94 S280, 10 E300,
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900 Posts
Congratulations! I myself dreamed of owning a w126 since I was a kid, I turned that dream into reality about a month ago with the purchase of a 1990 260 SE. Yesterday, I drove it to take part of an out-of-town funrun organized by the Mercedes Benz Club of the Philippines and enjoyed the car so much, it is very pleasing to take on long drives with speeds reaching 160km/h. I think my w126 is a better long-distance car than either my w123 and w124.
 

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Registered
1999 - W210 320 CDI Estate & 2004 - W220 320 CDI
Joined
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43 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Hello Mr. X.PowerSeller - many thanks for your answers, that definitely made me feel better :) Well - too bad I cant adjust steering wheel height, but hey, cant have everything :D

Any particular brand of oil that you use (and is not US specific)

I see we have very similar vehicles. I take it yours is black? Mine is dark metallic grey, no leather interior but in perfect condition so I am not complaining :)
 

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Premium Member
1987 560 sec impala metalflake over cream
Joined
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1,109 Posts
1.) This is normal. All of the other classic Benz's I have owned or driven, did the exact same thing. I wish it were more smooth too, but isn't not.

2.) Steering wheel cannot be height adjusted. Don't ask me why they didn't include this option. Someone wasn't thinking.

3.) Replace steering wheel switch. These die. The car doesn't need to be in gear or even running to operate.

4.) Use fully synthetic oil. These cars love it. If it had existed back in 1990, Mercedes would have filled the cars with it at the factory. Make sure to use a good filter and good quality oil with the correct grade for your climate.

5.) You can just replace the gasket. It will save you lots of money.
amsoil! it was avalible back then.i used to buy it, think it was from england?Used it in my air cooled porsche, it came in a gal gug.( or equivalent) not all the hyp, or diff weights. just synthetic oil.it was the only true synthetic.Other oil co. tried to call thers synthetic( but it wasnt. had a big court case that amsoil won! so other oil co. had to quit calling there oil synthetic. so they had there highly refined oil which they then called semy sinthetic. but you know the big oil co. now they are starting to call there oils synthetic!AGAIN but also amsoil is now got diff. weights ect. i did phone the co. & asked them about this, they said it was to keep up with the competition ect.the guy i talked to was very aloof so i dont know anymore, but i still use it in everything i own & its still a superior product, but im shure its not the original or as good.also dont know who owns amsoil either,back when they didnt sell out but money talks! but i do know that a synthetic oil is superior.
 

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Registered
R129 SL 500 97, W124 E320 Coupé 96, W124 300E twin turbo 90, W126 300 SE 91, Ford Capri 2.8i 84
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249 Posts

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Banned
99 Merc S420 (80k Mi) 07 Lexus LS460 (21k Miles)
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4,583 Posts
Hello Mr. X.PowerSeller - many thanks for your answers, that definitely made me feel better :) Well - too bad I cant adjust steering wheel height, but hey, cant have everything :D

Any particular brand of oil that you use (and is not US specific)

I see we have very similar vehicles. I take it yours is black? Mine is dark metallic grey, no leather interior but in perfect condition so I am not complaining :)
Amsoil is VERY good (about the best) and Mobil 1 is also very good. Mobil 1 is much cheaper where I am because I can get it in bulk, so I use that. I do use Amsoil on my newer vehicles. I'm not sure if you have either available where you are?
 

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CH4S Admin , Outstanding Contributor
1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Joined
·
40,674 Posts
Congratulations! I myself dreamed of owning a w126 since I was a kid, I turned that dream into reality about a month ago with the purchase of a 1990 260 SE. Yesterday, I drove it to take part of an out-of-town funrun organized by the Mercedes Benz Club of the Philippines and enjoyed the car so much, it is very pleasing to take on long drives with speeds reaching 160km/h. I think my w126 is a better long-distance car than either my w123 and w124.
Could you post some pictures? I can't be the only one here interested in seeing them.
Cheers
 

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CH4S Admin , Outstanding Contributor
1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Joined
·
40,674 Posts
Amsoil is VERY good (about the best) and Mobil 1 is also very good. Mobil 1 is much cheaper where I am because I can get it in bulk, so I use that. I do use Amsoil on my newer vehicles. I'm not sure if you have either available where you are?
A friend co. just started importing the MB approved 'Total' / 'elf' synthetic lubricants.
I might give it a shot.
 

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1982 300CD|1998 GMC Sierra 2500 6.5 Turbo Diesel|2008 Chevy Cobalt 2.2L DD
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2,003 Posts
For the wheel, I suggest moving onto a period AMG wheel, it's a little smaller and it feels like a completly different car. Most of them for sale come with an adapter hub.
 

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Registered
1993 300TE, 1995 E320 Wagon
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1,895 Posts
I'm sure you've thought of this, so ignore it if it seems too obvious. I thought the lack of steering height adjustment was an oversight as well, but have since been very happy by simply playing around with the seat height. If you've got the electric seat adjusters, try lowering the seat all the way, then coming up a touch on the front edge. I'm tall enough (6'1") so that this gives a good distance between wheel and legs, and far enough back for comfort to the pedals. I kind of got the seat to where I wanted it, then brought the wheel "back to me" with the wheel adjust.


Regarding the steering box-- I don't know if the LHD is different than the RHD box, but there are rebuild kits that apparently aren't that challenging. Try these links:

Steering Box and Steering Rack from Car Steering Wholesale

How to reseal a MB steering gear


Congrats on the new car!

Dave
 

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Registered
1999 - W210 320 CDI Estate & 2004 - W220 320 CDI
Joined
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43 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Hello - Regarding the proposition to not replace the power steering box but just the gaskets is something I also thought about but my mechanic told me he once tried this and it did not last. But the link you posted here definitely seems quite extremely reliable, so might see if I can order a kit of gaskets and have a go at it :) Thank You!
 
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