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Premium Member
1990 SEC
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4,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
How much should I expect?

I brought the car in this morning because it had been running a little warm lately, sitting in traffic for long periods of time. Was going to have them do the usual maintenance at the same time, brakes, oil change, odds and ends.

When they pulled the dipstick for the oil the contents appeared "milky" and they reckon that the head gasket is leaking coolant into the oil and oil down the side of the engine.

If I decide to go ahead and have the top services, I guess I should have the valve stems replaced, the cams checked, the timing chain and guides replaced at the same time.

How much? Should I get a replacement engine?

I have close to 200k miles on the current one.
 

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Premium Member
1990 SEC
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4,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
.....and the answer is $5,500.[xx(]

Worst case scenario:
- New cams ($700)
- Valve stems and guides
- Timing chain and guides/tensioner
- Head gasket (of course..)


All in all, about $3,250 in parts ($$3,450 if I decide to change the water pump as well) and about $2,000 in labor.

As the engine has already 200K miles on it, should I be looking for a replacement engine instead? If so, how much would that be?
 

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1985 500SEL
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835 Posts
Sorry to hear that..

It really make me sick when I hear a benz with engine work... In my mind these things should run forevr.. oh well its all wear and tear I guess.

You could look for a Euro engine (300 bhp) [:D]

maybe be a better choice....
 

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97 Ford Scorpio Cosworth
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702 Posts
check out if your mechanic is worth something or if he´s just trying to fuck you up, you know a lotta mechanics try to squeeze as much money outta you as they can...

if ALL the work is necessary, i think you can get a used engine for that, question is how much the swapping of the 2 engines is...
 

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1987 420 SEL
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2,090 Posts
Definitely get 2nd, 3rd and even a 4th mechanic to look at it. Nowadays, you know everybody is hungry for money and will try and stick it to ya. Examine all options!!!
 

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1990 SEC
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4,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
My mechanic located a replacement engine with 111K on it in California.

Installed, with new timing chain and guides, it will cost me $4,400.

Which is the best solution?

Anyone with a spare 300HP Euro engine?
 

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Depends on the day!
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13,337 Posts
hey, I already answered this on the coupes list;-)

Jonathan
 

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89' 560SEL, 92' 300CE
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417 Posts
Hmmmmmm... what am I missing?...$3250 in parts?? [:O]

- New cams ($700) so the rest...

- Valve stems and guides
- Timing chain and guides/tensioner
- Head gasket (of course..)

is = to $2550??? Dang, didn't know valves and stuff cost that much. I wish you luck.
 

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Premium Member
1990 SEC
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4,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Here is the list of work and parts for reconditioning the existing headers:

Timing Chain Tensioner $175.00
Timing Chain 124.00
Guides 22.40
Slide Rails 79.00
Water Pump 200.00
Thermostat 41.00
Rodiator Hoses 37.00
Camshafts (2x) 700.00
Headgaskets (2x) 270.00
Cylinder Head Bolts(3x) 156.40
Valve Cover Gaskets 22.00
Injectors (8x) 400.00
Injection Nozzle holders 28.00
Injector seals 19.20
Spark Plugs (8x) 29.36
Fuel Pressure Regulator 350.00
Oil Filter 8.25
Anti-Freeze 25.00
Oil (15W-40) 20.00
Coolant R134a 25.00
AC Dye 7.00
Misc. 85.00

Reconditioning
2 Cylinder Heads 715.00
(External machine shop)

Labor $2,000.00


The replacement engine is $2,000 with $1,200 in labor. Would also include the timing chain, water pump and thermostat from the list above.
 

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87 420SEL, 89 560SL, 92 300TE
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62 Posts
You need to ask yourself whether the price difference is worth the chance of what you could call "SEP" - someone else's problem(s). Unless I had VERY good information (ie, cylinder compression and leak-down tests, oil inspection/analysis - and/or full service records) I would always be VERY careful with used engines. I've seen too many "good used" engines that have issues such as a cracked block to put too much faith in such things.

On the other hand, if you trust your mechanic, when you finish the rebuild, you'll KNOW what the situation is. He can inspect the cylinders, and tell you how your bottom end is- then, when you are all done - and a whole lot poorer - you'll know that you have a good 100k before you need to do a teardown to change the timing chain.

On my '87 420SEL with 270+K, I recently had a similar situation to yours, and I found (on eBay) some rebuilt (with ONLY Mercedes parts) heads ready to bolt on for $1000 the pair. I got those, and my mechanic re-used my cams, he said they looked brand new. The total tab (including timing chain, tensioner, etc.) was somewhere around $3000- maybe a few hundred more - but, since the mechanic found the bottom end to be sound, I'm good to go another 100k with no worries.

Of course, if you know the used engine is in good shape, that's a good deal also. A well-maintained 111K motor with a new chain might as well be brand-new. You should, of course, check with another mechanic or two- that total does seem kind of high to me.

Sorry for the rambling, and I hope this helps!

-Robert
 

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Moderator
1991 500SEC sub 50K mi. 1987 560SEC Now 150K mi. 2018
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4,191 Posts
Hi Axel,

Real sorry to hear of the news. I feel for you....

Just spent $1700 getting my wife's '92 Volvo's head gasket replaced. Figure includes $320 tow from CT to our repair shop in MA... and refacing the eroded aluminum head.

I'm in agreement with OCStrider on the 'SEP' factor concerning the used engine idea. Way too many unknowns in going that route for my taste.

Then there is the fact that antifreeze has gotten into the engine oil on your car. For how long? What longterm effect has this had on the engine internals? These are rhetorical questions for sure, but food for thought, as antifreeze in in the engine oil is detrimental to engine longevity - bigtime.

From cartrackers.com on Engine Sludge: " ENGINE COOLANT (Antifreeze): Coolant is your engine oil’s number one enemy. Engine sludge is inevitable when oil meets engine coolant. Contamination of your oil with coolant promotes sludge by two means. First, it introduces water into the oil. This presents problems that we’ve previously discussed. Second, it brings into contact oil and coolant, which are incompatible fluids.

Oil and coolant react to form deposits as they experience temperature changes in your engine. Some are gooey or gel-like. Others are hard, brittle deposits that plug oil passageways, reducing oil flow. These two types of deposits guarantee a shortened life for your engine.
"

I know our 126 MBs are really well engineered and built. I do wonder though, if it makes sense to rebuild the heads on an aluminum V8 engine with 200K miles on it. I know, I know, this will set off many opinions from others with more MB experience than I. In my opinion, just because we enjoy the benefits of the original MB intent & craftsmanship, doesn't leave us invulnerable to certain difficulties inherent within an 'all aluminum' engine design. For example: will your mechanic find the engine block needing helicoils for the head bolt holes? How is the block mating surface? Is anything cracked?

How much of the 'just broken in at 200k miles' is our egos speaking? I know I feel good when someone says that about my car or a similar model.

FACT: This antifreeze induced sludge has made the grand tour throughout the entire lubrication system (for how long?), spent quality time with ALL the bearings, cams, lifters, etc. and now coats the entire inside of the engine - top to bottom. From what I understand, depending on local (at the component) temperatures, this sludge becomes an abrasive agent, and subsequently - is pumped to all critical wear areas. Not a pretty sight really..

Again I ask: Just what are the long term consequences, really? Another rhetorical question, but this how my mind works right now.

With the above in mind, here's an alternative idea. How about a remanufactured engine for your SEC? I know, easy for me to say dump a ton of your $ into the car. Probably somewhat insensitive on my part as well, though I don't mean to be at all.

You are primed to step up to spending $5500-$6000 on a wonderful MB coupe with 200K of overall wear on the engine. Most drivers wouldn't spend that much on their 15 year old vehicle. The SEC is worth it as you well know. How about spend somewhat more, and install a "NEW", top to bottom end, complete engine (long block)? Think about long term stewardship, and your enjoyment over the coming years with the SEC.

I saw this ad on eBay several months ago. Reference the concept, see the pics. http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7953934376&category=33615

I did some follow up this AM and now see he advertises in The Star magazine. http://noels.com/ Interesting?

Performance Products uses Metric Motors for their exchange engine program. See page 22 of the PP catalog. How does 4 years/50,000 mile warranty sound at this point?

Metric Motors http://www.mercedesengines.net/500s.htm for additional info.

Good luck in your descision. MBL

So you thought OC went on, well this one is off the charts! [:)]
 

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Premium Member
1990 SEC
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4,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
MBL,

Thank you very much for your write-up, I had not gotten around to the issue of how much damage the coolant could have done to the engine internals yet.

From what you are saying, the answer seems to be A LOT.[xx(]

I'll check out the sites for re-manufactured engines as I am not all that confident in putting in a used engine (buying Someone Else's' Problem SEP, as OCStrider put it...) is a good solution.[V]
 

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Moderator
1991 500SEC sub 50K mi. 1987 560SEC Now 150K mi. 2018
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4,191 Posts
Hi again Axel,

I really feel like I 'hit you over the head' with the engine scenario this morning. Well the post turned out to be a lot more than I anticipated!It took more than an hour to submit(?). I trust I wasn't too 'heavy handed' in the delivery.

Having spent 25+ years in the service department... I thought I'd share some. If we were in the dealership setting, I would have asked you to come into my office for your privacy, rather than deal with those issues out in the open, as was done in my post.

That said, this W126 forum benefits many owners, all over the/any map (in experience & needs), so I took the plunge. In my opinion, this issue (the BIG picture), affects every one of us as MB W126 owners/enthusiasts/custodians. For example, 50 miles into the ride home in late '03 with my 'new' Mercedes, I realized this MB SEC was WAY too special to drive during the New England Winter snow & SALT months! I immediately invested $$$ into repairs for my longtime trusty '86 Volvo 740 for that duty. I see that as an overall investment into the longevity of my MB SEC. [:)]

To me, long range planning makes sense, if one intends to preserve something really special (I'm talking cars here). For example, 30 years ago a friend was faced with a radiator repair of a vintage RR Ghost. Hearing how much $$ the honeycomb replacement core would be, he replaced it with a 'modern' tube/fin design core, for a lot less money, perhaps a $1200 savings?. In Oct. 1990 the car caught fire big-time during a parade (due to insufficient cooling) ... & was saved by quick action using a modern HALON fire extinguisher. Recently that same radiator spent 11 months in the shop getting a new honeycomb core at a cost of $5800 (in 2005 $). The entire car (in 199x worth around $175K+) was nearly lost due to the concept: 'Penny Wise - Pound Foolish'.

Coming back to Earth, Kingorcus makes a good point & a valuable contribution. Adsitco lists a 117.968 longblock for $5400, which is significantly less than Metric Motors at $7500 list (+ shipping from CA). Good price in my opinion. Still Questions though....
Exactly what do they do the engine? What is included? What grade parts are used? Do you have to pay for shipping the core to them? What are the warranty terms? What if something untoward happens?
http://www.adsitco.com/catalog/productdetail.asp?ID=5617

How about the shop in Florida, Noel's? Customer referrals would be nice, I think. They do FREE shipping BOTH WAYS & offer a 4 year/50K mile warranty, should you feel that be the correct avenue for you at this point.

[:)] My BEST regards, MBL
 

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560 SEC Supercharged(sold), E55 AMG, Renntech CL600 Bi-turbo, Porsche 928
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1,989 Posts
Did it fail at the #8 cylinder? Let us know when you get it apart. This seems to be the weak spot of the engine or fueling distribution.
 

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1,285 Posts
Axel, MBL hits it right on the head. Before you buy anything though, give Satish a call at his shop. Regardless of our differences, he has researched pricing on every engine replacement option you could think of. Moreover, he has a vast network of supplier resources. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
 

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226 Posts
did mine little while ago.
Your is?? v8? or straight 6?
Stragith 6 is a little more inexpensive. V8 can be up to almost $2k (head gasket set only). Straight 6 can be as low as $1k, incluse shaving the head.
 

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Premium Member
1990 SEC
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4,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Doing my research today. Will call Noel, Metric, Adsit and Satish for more information on remanufactured engines.

Having a meeting with my mechanic this morning to figure out where the headgasket failed and to estimate how long coolant has been mixing with the engine oil.

If, as I suspect, I have had coolant in the oil for more than a couple of hundred miles, I'll abandon the idea of rebuilding the current engine and I'll focus only on long-block replacement engines.

OCStrider made some good arguments aginst a replacement engine. Granted, the price difference in substantial (~$2,000 vs. $5,500), but the remanufactured engines carry a 50,000 mile warranty and you basically roll the dice with a used engine of unknown provenance.

Thanks for all your input.[:)]

I will post regular updates on my progress.
 

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Moderator
1991 500SEC sub 50K mi. 1987 560SEC Now 150K mi. 2018
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4,191 Posts
Hi Axel,

I've been wondering how you've been doing on this one, as it's a 'biggie'.

Q: Are the heads off?

Q: Is the block mating surface OK? (I ask this as the aluminum head on my wife's car needed a skim to ensure a good seal *burned where the gasket failed*). We didn't look back regarding the block surface as it is made of cast iron on the Volvo.

Good luck man, MBL
 
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