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1989 560SEL
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2,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I'm currently the proud owner of an '89 560SEL, and I'm thinking of expanding my Benz experience by buying a 240D or 300D. Before I made any irreversible financial decisions, though, I wanted to know what you guys thought:

1) Is either of these engines more reliable/maintenance-free than the other?
2) Any weak points to the w123 I should be aware of?
3) Any years of production I should steer clear of?
4) I know these things run "forever" -- but, that having been said, what mileage is too high to *start* my ownership experience with?
5) Anything else I need to know before I go kick some tires?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!!!
 

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90 300 SE ,85 300 GD
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1,574 Posts
City Driving or Highway?

If you are doing mostly city driving and economy is your aim, find a 1983 240 D, automatic. This is the last and the best year. If you are planning on highway use, you might do better with a 1985 300 TD sedan. If you are planning a lot of trips to the hardware store or hauling stuff in general, try to find an '84 or '85 300 TDT wagon. Mileage in excess of 250,000 could be a problem with the automatic transmission. As with all older cars, be sure to check the service! Injection pumps can go out at 300,000 or more. Rubber is usually shot, i.e. motor mounts, windshield gaskets (check for water in the turnk). A good exmaple of the models above can run $5,000 to $8,500. Good Luck!
[:)]
 

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280SL Pagoda, BMW318
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98 Posts
as an owner of a 240D

Truly brilliant car. What other 20+ year old car just keeps on going? I love the reliability and economy of my 240D.

Frustratingly gutless, wouldn't pull the skin off a custard tart.

Have to say if I had my time over again, would have spent the extra couple of grand on a turbo - I'd prefer the 126 series 300SD. The turbos are virtually as reliable and actually get better economy.
 

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1994 SL320, '76 240D
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153 Posts
Try to avoid the earlier models of the 240D and 300D (1977-81) with the

Try to avoid the earlier models of the 240D and 300D (1977-81) with the "automatic" climate control system, designed by Chrysler (therein lies the problem). They go through Climate control servos very quickly (like 1-3 years) and at $500-$900 they are not cheap. They are still exceptional cars, but this problem can be very anyoing and expensive. This type of climate control is very distiguishable - it has a temp control knob, but the main area of it is dominated by large push buttons arranged verticaly that read: "low cool, high cool, low heat, high heat and Def." That is the one to stay away from.

There are two other types of climate control in these cars that are fine: One has a temp dial and three large turn knobs (1st picture) across it. The other has a temp dial with 5 or 6 small square buttons across it (2nd pic).

Other than that, the rest of them don't have any major problems per-say, although a 1983 or 1984 300D Turbodiesel is a better bet than a 1985. They introduced some stupid little electronic items in '85 that basicly didn't do much and break often.
 

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1989 560SEL
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Discussion Starter #6
thanks!

thanks for all your advice! i'm still looking for a nice w123, so keep your suggestions coming.... once i find my car-to-be, i'll be sure to post some pics [:)]
 

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1994 SL320, '76 240D
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153 Posts
Where on Long Island are you? I am in Cold Spring Harbor, and I know of a fantastic privat...

Where on Long Island are you? I am in Cold Spring Harbor, and I know of a fantastic private Mercedes Benz only specalists who have been doing my Mercedes' since 1988, and have been in business since the early 60's. Anywho, they almost always have or can find you a car for sale - (usually a real nice one that they know personally). By the way, they are diesel freaks like me and know those cars so well (all the diesels from the W114/115 all the way up to the W202 chassis) it's almost scary!

Newsday is a great source for cars as well. I got my 1976 240D from newsday and the car is awesome. I know several people who have had good results also from newsday. A lot of Mercedes Benz are around on Long Island!
 

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1989 560SEL
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2,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
LI

StrichAcht 240D: I'm in Great Neck, and I've been looking mostly on Autotrader and cars.com, which includes listings fron Newsday as well. The selection of cars seems to wax and wane quite a bit, though there are always a pretty good number of cars listed (it's just that the quality-to-asking-price ratio is not always so great....).

Anyway, if you can give me that Benz specialist's info, I'd really appreciate it. I'm a (poor) grad student and I've already got my hands pretty full with my w126, so I'm willing to be patient and wait until something nice AND cheap comes my way -- but maybe these folks can help make that happen quicker... Thanks again.
 

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1994 SL320, '76 240D
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153 Posts
Autotrader is also very good, but sometimes its hard to find a car thats close.

The Me...


Autotrader is also very good, but sometimes its hard to find a car thats close.

The Mercedes Specialists: they are in Sea Clif, near Glen Cove - not very close but definatley worth a trip! Or if you don't want to drive out there first, you can give them a call. Here's all their info:

Alpine Motors
182 Glen Cove Ave.
Glen Cove, NY 11542
(516) 676 8585
Email: [email protected]

They're really nice and very helpful. They're there M-F 9-5 no Saturdays or Sundays. Good luck!
 

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1989 560SEL
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the info, StrichAcht! I'm planning to go look at an '85 turbo diesel tomorrow...

Thanks for the info, StrichAcht! I'm planning to go look at an '85 turbo diesel tomorrow. The owner is asking $3K for it, and supposedly it's a car that's been garaged all its life and is 100% rust-free. We'll see -- I'm amazed by how loose the term "great condition" can be..... I don't yet know the car's VIN or mileage, which are obviously must-have. Plus I'd be happier with an asking price of $2K or so.

For tomorrow, I was wondering what the quickest way is to check compression when I go see the car. Is it enough to leave the car in neutral and rev the engine and watch the tach? Or should I do acceleration tests? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, as always.
 

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1994 SL320, '76 240D
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153 Posts
The only "real" way to check the compression is with a compression tester. However there a...

The only "real" way to check the compression is with a compression tester. However there are a few ways you could see if the car has low compression. First thing is the start up. If the car is hard to start - not because of the battery or glow plugs, etc. If the car cranks and sounds like it wants to start and just takes like 4-8 seconds to actualy start that COULD be a sign of low compression - it could also be other things, too. The other thing is to see how well it performs. However there are a ton of variables that could determine this so....

Long story short - if the car is hard to start and seems sluggish, then it MAY have low compression - but this is very hard to detrmine.

Best thing to do in my opinion is to have a shop check it out for you before you buy the car. Alpine Motors - the place I recomended will gladly do it for you. Good Luck!
 

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1989 560SEL
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Discussion Starter #12
well, the car has been sold, all of 2 days after being put up for sale. and i was too la...

well, the car has been sold, all of 2 days after being put up for sale. and i was too late. must have been one nice car -- it had "only" 135,000 miles on it, and the original owner was selling it. i did the math -- that means he drove it an average of 7,500 miles per year. not bad at all.

anyway, i guess i'll have to keep looking [V] thanks again for all the advice; i'll keep you updated...
 

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1994 SL320, '76 240D
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153 Posts
The W123 Chassis Diesels are very hot right now, especially the 300D TurboDiesels. They ar...

The W123 Chassis Diesels are very hot right now, especially the 300D TurboDiesels. They are actually going up in price! Finding a really nice one for cheap is becoming quite difficult. Good luck with it!
 

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1986 300E, 1985 300D
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77 Posts
I would take it to a shop and get the compression checked the right way (I belive they rem...

I would take it to a shop and get the compression checked the right way (I belive they remove glow plugs?). It will cost about 90 bucks for them to go completly though it to check the engine condition but its well worth it, other wise you could get stuck with another persons problems. Also you should make sure the car isn't using oil and it doesn't smoke when you get on the accelerator hard. also a emergency stop at about 20mph is a good test for the brakes. Hope I helped.
 

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1989 560SEL
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Discussion Starter #15
Hi everyone,

My patient, on-again, off-again search for a nice w123 has led me to a 1...


Hi everyone,

My patient, on-again, off-again search for a nice w123 has led me to a 1977 300D. I've been looking for an '84 or '85, and I'm wondering how different a '77 is from later models. On the outside, it looks the same, and the interior is almost the same -- can I go ahead an buy this thing and get the same reliability/performance as from a later model (except for the turbocharger, I know) or were there significant design upgrades before the mid-80s that I need to know about? I'll make my mind up one way or the other by tomorrow afternoon, but I'd feel better if I had some input from all you w123 gurus.... [:D]

Thanks!
 

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1981 Mercedes 300D
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1977 is the first year of the w123 models. My uncle has a 1978 300D and its not too much ...

1977 is the first year of the w123 models. My uncle has a 1978 300D and its not too much different than a '77 or my '81 300D. The only differences I can think of that my '81 has over the earlier ones: climate control system is simpler - it has significantly less vacuum lines running in the engine compartment, the steering wheel looks a little better, the '81 has temp/oil in metric and a crappy 85mph speedo (the '78 has US temp/oil measurements and a 110 speedo), the headliner and interior look like they have slightly better materials, the '81 has the smaller 'quick glow' glowplugs (wait time of 5 secs vs. 30 secs). I can't think of much else that's different...but I think I might have gotten most of it. Assuming the '77 is in good shape, I don't think I'd mind having an older model w123 unless of course I was searching for a turbo...the only thing I'd miss would be the 'quick glow' feature - its nice to be able to start the vehicle in the time it takes me to buckle up, but I believe there is a conversion kit for that.
 
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