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I'm going out this weekend to look at a 91 560 SEL in immaculate condition. If it looks as good in person, I'm going to arrange a PPI. I called a few local shops who handle German classics to find out price and availability.

I also asked about the price to replace timing guides/rails as the car is nearing 200k. One shop told me that the timing won't ever need to be replaced unless it's making noise. I've read (lurked) on these forums and got the impression that it should be changed out every 100k miles. Do I avoid this shop? Or did I misunderstand the 100k suggestion?

Thanks, and pending a good PPI I hope to snag this 560 and become a regular contributor here.
 

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1990 560 SEL
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I'm going out this weekend to look at a 91 560 SEL in immaculate condition. If it looks as good in person, I'm going to arrange a PPI. I called a few local shops who handle German classics to find out price and availability.

I also asked about the price to replace timing guides/rails as the car is nearing 200k. One shop told me that the timing won't ever need to be replaced unless it's making noise. I've read (lurked) on these forums and got the impression that it should be changed out every 100k miles. Do I avoid this shop? Or did I misunderstand the 100k suggestion?

Thanks, and pending a good PPI I hope to snag this 560 and become a regular contributor here.
No, you understood correctly. I'm not sure I'd trust that particular shop. Anyhow, good luck with your purchase!
 

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Often times, when the chain jumps you won't get a warning. If you're lucky, you will hear the dreaded sound. I would avoid the shop who told you that, personally.

Unless the car has had everything replaced (suspension bits, exhaust, engine rebuilt, etc), I would also avoid a high mileage car like that. Sure, with proper maintenance these cars can go a long ways but there are many cars out there in the low 100k mile range that are well-looked after and cost cheap.

The main issue with timing chains is not the chain itself, but the guides. Plastic bits tend to get brittle with age. If the guides are original, then we're talking about plastic pieces that have been under use for the last 21+ years. If they were to crack and let go while driving, they can jam at the sprocket and cause the chain to jump and lead to valves being bent or even worse, damaged pistons.
 

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1986/1990 W126
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Unfortunately a lot of shops will say that, even the MB dealer would do, most likely, cos the chain isnt on the official service schedule.
I was told that by various shops, even one really good one with a great reputation that only works on Benz's.
 

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2012 CL550 4MATIC Coupe
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Often times, when the chain jumps you won't get a warning. If you're lucky, you will hear the dreaded sound. I would avoid the shop who told you that, personally.

Unless the car has had everything replaced (suspension bits, exhaust, engine rebuilt, etc), I would also avoid a high mileage car like that. Sure, with proper maintenance these cars can go a long ways but there are many cars out there in the low 100k mile range that are well-looked after and cost cheap.

The main issue with timing chains is not the chain itself, but the guides. Plastic bits tend to get brittle with age. If the guides are original, then we're talking about plastic pieces that have been under use for the last 21+ years. If they were to crack and let go while driving, they can jam at the sprocket and cause the chain to jump and lead to valves being bent or even worse, damaged pistons.
+1 Spot on advice. Listen to this man. Trust me, you don't want to rebuild after a chain guide snaps. Bad things tend to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks all for the quick response!

Unless the car has had everything replaced (suspension bits, exhaust, engine rebuilt, etc), I would also avoid a high mileage car like that. Sure, with proper maintenance these cars can go a long ways but there are many cars out there in the low 100k mile range that are well-looked after and cost cheap.
What is your idea of "cost cheap"? I'd like to get something in the next couple weeks but I'm not going to rush.

The car has had all shocks, front and rear, replaced about 3 1/2 years ago, in addition to a rebuilt transmission 7 years ago. Also has new rotors, AC compressor, and power steering pump. Visually it's a 9/10, super clean. The price is only $3500.

I'm looking for a daily driver to get me through at least 24-36 months, and I would expect to spend at least 1k a year in maintenance repair. At that low of a price, I'd probably ditch the car rather than undertake a $2k+ repair. Am I biting off too much risk?
 

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If the car is as clen as you say, then do the guides for an additional $1500, and then you will know you have a solid car for years to come.
 

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If you're willing to sacrifice a little on the interior and exterior condition, you can get a fantastic running one for even less... My car had a very recent top end rebuild/timing chain/camshaft and lots of suspension work, but the interior is probably a 6 and the exterior is about the same. Original paint, but "a ten foot job." I got it for $2600... which is less than what the PO payed for the recent engine work. He let it go real cheap to the guy I bought it from because he broke the brake pedal and thought it was something major, and the guy I bought it from passed the savings on to me and still managed to make a pretty penny with minimal work.

So what I'm saying is, if this one seems like it might need more work than you're willing to take on, pass, others will come along. These cars are plentiful luckily. It sounds like you already know that though.

Oh and be careful with the suspension. Like it's been said, at that age a lot of stuff is likely ready to be replaced, probably for the second or third time for some things. Shocks are one of the cheapest and easiest jobs, but a lot of people basically think, "Oh, new shocks, I don't have to worry about the suspension."
 

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...Oh and be careful with the suspension. Like it's been said, at that age a lot of stuff is likely ready to be replaced, probably for the second or third time for some things. Shocks are one of the cheapest and easiest jobs, but a lot of people basically think, "Oh, new shocks, I don't have to worry about the suspension."
In my ten month search for a W126 I was mainly interested in finding a good 1988-1991 300SEL or 300SE model. I also considered several 420SEL models. Some that I drove were dogs but others were good or very good. There was one 1991 300SEL and one 1989 420SEL that I decided to make offers on but I hesitated just long enough that they sold to someone else.

I test drove one 1989 560SEL that needed extensive suspension work. That car was a scary 40MPH drive through sweeping curves posted at 45MPH. I rejected the car. After that I didn't consider any more 560SEL models.

I purchased a 1983 380SEL with 140K miles. This 380SEL isn't perfect but it's a decent car. I've driven my 380SEL through the very same sweeping curves at 65MPH with no problem at all.

Some day I hope to own a 1988-1991 300SEL or 300SE.
 

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I realized since it's a 560 it probably has SLS, (something I'm glad I don't have to deal with,) so shocks aren't cheap like they are for the gassers, but basically what I'm saying is, particularly with the front end, there's a ton of parts. Just make sure they go over it with a fine tooth comb for the PPI, and listen closely for clunking, squeaking, and whatnot.
 

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I realized since it's a 560 it probably has SLS, (something I'm glad I don't have to deal with,) so shocks aren't cheap like they are for the gassers, but basically what I'm saying is, particularly with the front end, there's a ton of parts. Just make sure they go over it with a fine tooth comb for the PPI, and listen closely for clunking, squeaking, and whatnot.
I quite like the SLS. It's great for road trips when you have the trunk loaded up.
 

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I'd like it, my cars arse sinks really low when loaded.
But, worth considering in your maintenance costs.
 

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I'm sure the SLS is great, it's just my general rule with cars that simpler is better... Though I probably wouldn't think that way if I had more money, lol.
 

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can someone please explain exactly what sound does a bad MB timing chain make?? any youtube videos?

ive heard some MB gas engines that sound a bit rattly, like a diesel at startup, is that sign of a bad chain?
 

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Tusabes- Yes, the "rattle" on startup is what is being discussed. That is a weak chain tensioner. It allows the TC to run "loose" for a short time. The chain sort of flails around and can make contact with the cylinder heads, even the valve covers. As has been said, it is not a mandatory precurser to TC/guide failure, but it is a cry for help.

FWIW, I would say that here on the East Coast (NE, at least) a good, rust-free and well maintained late 560SEL is def. worth $3500 even at 200k. While the 126 may be thick as fleas on a junkyard dog on the West coast, that's just not the case here.
 

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Could be confused with the noise of a sticky hydraulic lifter, which sounds a bit diesel-like but is more of a tapping.
 
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