1989 300SE 239k miles
Oh, and there’s ALWAYS someone willing to pay full price. Let them be the chump 😂
Originally, it was a flaw in the gasket design. That theoretically has been taken care of.I have read every thread I could find on this but what I am about to ask was never a topic thread only stated by some within a thread asking about head gasket replacement.
Regardless of quality of parts used and quality of work done can this be expected to need replacement every 100,000 miles on the inline 6 engine? Thanks
I've been looking for a W126 for a couple of months and I have a few observations which might be helpful. First, if you have neither mechanical skill, nor bodywork nor interior repair skills, you need to seriously think about your total cost of acquisition, which will be much higher than your purchase price. And I'm not referring to normal maintenance items. You probably need to start with a very good, clean, low mileage example that's been well cared for, and you absolutely need to get a prepurchase inspection by someone experienced with older Mercedes, and preferably with W126. This probably rules out the dealer in many cases. I'd much rather have someone like Pierre Hedary look at my potential purchase than some 25 year old dealer tech who's never so much as sat inside a W126, even if he's a really good mechanic. Even then, you are very likely to find yourself replacing head gaskets, timing chains, doing a front-end rebuild (ball joints, tie rods, control arm bushings, stabilizer rod bushing, shocks, etc.) and possibly a transmission, all of which are quite expensive jobs if you're not doing the work yourself. And a good mechanic will likely refuse to do a bare-bones job of any of these items; he'll likely insist on doing all the "while-you're-in-there" stuff, so you don't come back angry in six months because of the failure of a peripheral item, like a water pump with a head gasket job.
Second, even if you are mechanically skilled, something like a front-end rebuild is probably going to cost you about $900 in parts if you buy quality, OEM parts, which is highly recommended. A head gasket replacement is likely to cost several hundred and up, and that's without a full reconditioning of the head(s). Other parts prices can be astonishingly high, like several hundred for a harmonic balancer (if you can even find one), or $400 for a warm-up regulator, though at least some of these can be rebuilt. Still, the point is that restoring and maintaining an old Mercedes is going to be expensive whether you can do it yourself or not. And some parts costs will turn out to be absurdly high. (Just be glad you aren't looking for a Porsche; their parts costs are astronomical.)
Third, while mechanical work is expensive, it's nothing compared to rust restoration, paint, and bodywork. I live in Boston, part of the rust belt, and I'd much rather pay a few hundred extra to have a car remotely inspected in California and fly out there to pick it up than deal with fixing something rusty. Several members here have commented that the Mercedes undercoating is unparalleled in hiding severe rust damage. Caveat Emptor! Even if you can do your own bodywork, it's time consuming. Oh, and interiors are also quite expensive. For example, you can buy new leather for the front and rear seats, but it's about $800 for the fronts and about the same for the rears, and that just gets you the leather, e.g., you or someone else will have to install it and deal with any broken springs, compressed stuffing/foam, etc.
So to get and drive a nicely-sorted W126 can be a very costly matter, and IMHO, it's wise to have some of these numbers in your head when considering the trade-offs.
Oh, and if you buy a car that needs some work, and you do it, don't expect to recoup your expenses either. Yeah, you might get more, but unless you can buy a car really cheap for its condition (which is difficult), you're almost certainly going to lose money over short-term ownership.
So buy a car that you will love and drive for many years, and take that mentality shopping.
I'm personally still wrestling with these tradeoffs. I'm mechanically able to fix a heap, but also blessed to have the luxury of being able to pay top dollar if I choose, though my cheap side makes that difficult, hehe. So I'm still trying to sort out exactly what I'm looking for and what I'm willing to pay. And I did see the CL ad for the ivory 300SE that you're looking at in Raleigh.
Anyway, I'd counsel patience. Eventually the right car will come up at the right price. @isthenew suggested to me that the prices of these cars, which frankly are gas guzzlers, might take a hit as rising gasoline prices begin to hit the national consciousness. It's a good point and might make waiting a virtue.
Best of luck whatever you do,
Where I look for a W126 every day, and sometimes twice.
P.S. Six cylinder models are less desirable than the V8s. Just keep that in mind, even if you prefer a six. I kind of want a six, but it took me a while to realize that everyone else wants the V8s.
Bingo. Now I know why he is "Lucky" Mike, he can do his own work. I am lucky also, but those costs do add up over the years, especially since I have a lot more labor costs and a mechanic who is of the "while-you're-in-there" school. My very rough figures come out to more than double Mike's, for the SEC at $3200 per year. But, add in the SEL and it comes to $2000 for him. I could have had a couple of new Camrys, (with no disrespect to Camrys), but I prefer my 500SEL. Especially when you consider that the monthly cost is still much less than a new car every ten years. And, when I do have to rent a car, I am so grateful to turn it back in when my car is ready. That's as close as I can get to apples to apples.And a good mechanic will likely refuse to do a bare-bones job of any of these items; he'll likely insist on doing all the "while-you're-in-there" stuff, so you don't come back angry in six months because of the failure of a peripheral item, like a water pump with a head gasket job.
$2.80 a gallon! We’re paying more than that for regular grade on the real coast of Florida. I paid like $3.50 for premium this week. And that’s not ethanol-free..Even today 25 cents is worth $2.34 and average cost in Florida today is $2.80. I do pay more for non-ethanol, but its worth it.
So $3.50 in your FL now ? I am will be there and stay for two months with my T1N Airstream diesel so expecting fuel cost around over $4.00 per gal soon !!!$2.80 a gallon! We’re paying more than that for regular grade on the real coast of Florida. I paid like $3.50 for premium this week. And that’s not ethanol-free..
I budget myself $200 per month for parts for the MB. When I have open months, I buy parts in advance for future repairs (ie the head gasket I bought 6 months ago). Or I buy “let’s see if this works” parts. Like my sunroof rails from the UK.
I figure it’s less than a car payment. And it keeps me out of trouble.
Be certain you differentiate between a valve cover gasket and a head gasket. Headgasket leaks ALWAYS manifest poor running conditions. Hardened valve cover gaskets leak oil which often drips on to the exhaust manifold. VCGs and are inexpensive simple to replace.. do it yourself. Save money... most shops do not "really" want to work on cars exceeding 10 years.. the "we get it right the second time" shops willingly do so. Spend the money on materials and tools. At the end you'll have the tools and the satisfaction of a job well done. YouTube will show you how.When looking for a 300se, if a bad head gasket is suspected, what does it run to have it done and should anything else be done at the same time. Looking at a 175k mile car, one owner, never had it done. Car seems well cared for appearance wise.Thx.
Overall a good comment about learning to do your own work, but there are several Mercedes inline sixes that are notorious for head gasket leaks, the M103 and M104 are two that come to mind. It's due to some combination of dissimilar metals (aluminum head & cast iron block) along with Mercedes having some trouble with the initial gasket design, though I'm not sure subsequent gaskets really fixed the problem. And it has nothing to do with maintenance or how you drive.Headgasket leaks ALWAYS manifest poor running conditions.
Again this tell it all : The German mind has a talent for making no mistakes but the very greatestOverall a good comment about learning to do your own work, but there are several Mercedes inline sixes that are notorious for head gasket leaks, the M103 and M104 are two that come to mind. It's due to some combination of dissimilar metals (aluminum head & cast iron block) along with Mercedes having some trouble with the initial gasket design, though I'm not sure subsequent gaskets really fixed the problem. And it has nothing to do with maintenance or how you drive.
And this is set to get worse. The car industry has already been reeling due to semiconductor shortages. This week there was a fire in a semiconductor factory in Japan that is dedicated to the automotive industry, and that capacity is going to take a while to replace. So there will continue to be pressure on the used car market.Mmmmm... thots....
The used market is super-hot right now. There aren’t many new cars available, so people are buying used.