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1983 300SD 169k; 1997 S320 117k
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was driving from Tallahassee to West Palm (420miles) and the inline filter kept clogging up on me. I always make a habit of driving by night and was super tired, so I didn't think much of it. Well, come Orlando it clogs up on me and dies on a highway with little to no shoulder during rush hour. Suffice it to say it was a bad scene. After trying to change it out and purge the sucker with Semis whizzing by me I eventually had to call 911. But I digress.

I hadn't driven the car very much in three months or so. After telling this to my dad he mentioned it might be algae in the fuel. After doing a search I'm thinking that's what it is. The filter keeps getting clogged up with black stuff. I'm maybe 150 miles from home right now with a half tank 25/75 old:new. Exactly how far up excrement creek am I at the moment and what should I do?
 

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'95 E300 DIESEL, '91 600SEL, '92 600SEL
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Sounds like it could be a bad batch of fuel, of which algae is a most definite member.

I would try to get home, provided you got enough in-line filters to get you there.

Then R&R all fuel filters, including the screener in the tank. It's gonna be messy.

If you suspect that there's been algae in your tank for a while (30days+), then you should probably remove the tank and have it chemically flushed out to kill all traces algae as well as moisture which algae thrives on.

Removing the screener at the bottom of the tank should give you an indication how gunked up things are and if the tank needs to come out.
 

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1983 300SD 169k; 1997 S320 117k
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How bad is the algae for the engine? I've got a serious exam on monday. Should I plan on taking a greyhound back?
 

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'95 E300 DIESEL, '91 600SEL, '92 600SEL
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The inline and main fuel filters should trap the algae before it ever hits the injection pump so I wouldn't be too worried about engine damage.

The problem is that the algae is probably sloshing around in the bottom of the tank and unless you get it all it will multiply like rabbits ultimately contaminating the whole tank and reducing your useable cruising range.

In other words, this problem won't work itself out without getting all the fuel out and possibly flushing the tank chemically.

If you buy enough fuel filters (they're dirt cheap) to get you home then you can tackle it head first without spending too much coin.

I had this happen on a Euro '77 300D which didn't have in-line filters. Got algae which clogged up the injectors, that was expensive.

Seriously doubt there's a chemical you pour in the tank to take care of the algae at this point. The tank needs to be drained and possibly flushed out. If left unattended, the moisture alone will probably rust out the tank at some point. So take care of it sooner rather than later.
 

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1983 300SD 169k; 1997 S320 117k
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, it appears as if I'm sol. I purchased a ton of filters but now can't purge the air out of the lines (after pumping the thing 400 times I started to get the picture). I'm thinking the screen at the bottom of the fuel tank must be clogged up. The car is getting dropped of at a buddy's house who lives nearby and I'm greyhoundin' it back up to Tallahassee. I'll probably be posting again to get some help on cleaning out the tank whenever I can get back down here to work on it. Thanks for the advice guys.
 

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1982 300TDT 150,000 miles 1985 380SE 130,000 miles 1991 560SEL 81,000 miles (a/k/a the nightmare)
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1,993 Posts
Florida = hot, humid, and very wet... breeding ground for this type of microorganism that grows in diesel tainted with water.

You can start (when you get back to your car), by disconnecting the fuel feed hose from your tank, and taking the tank screen out for an inspection. This should tell you a lot about what your problem may be. When you go to siphon out the diesel (trust me, you'll need to siphon it out before taking the screen filter out... no thinking that you can just let the stuff drain... even after siphoning, there'll be a ton of full and gunk that flows out.) Before attempting to siphon, make sure that vacuum is not building in your system; Simply, after trying to run the engine, and encountering said dying out problem, crack the fuel tank cap and make sure there is no sucking of air into the tank after doing so. If there is a vacuum buildup, your tank breather hose line is clogged.

From there, you can pull the tank, bring it to your local radiator shop, and have them clean it out, or just use a chemical 'compatible' with diesel fuel (search the forum). Might as well have a new spin on filter, new o-rings for it, and crush washer available for once you sort out any problem in the tank. For good measure, have a new tank screen ready to go (You'll also need an impossibly large socket, dimensions of which can be found by searching this sight) for R & R of the tank screen. oh yeah, don't forget a ready supply of prefilters (which should be changed about every other oil change or when encountering a fill up of 'bad' diesel...

Blow out the fuel lines as well, and of course, you should inspect their integrity before taking on any more complicated routes of solving your problem.

After pulling tank an cleaning if (if needed), blow out your fuel lines with compressed air. Once everything from the fuel lines back to the tank is sorted, you might want to replace your primer pump if it is leaking. Then, top off with clean diesel, and add an antimicrobial agent specifically made for use with diesel fuel... you can locate such more readily at a boating supply store.

Change fuel filters, prime, and fire... that should, in a round about fashion, cover the whole business... If not, search for further leaks in the fuel return lines on your injectors (those braided lines should be changed regularly, and around the hard lines from your injector pump to the injectors, and around the base of the injectors...

Your probably just got a tank full of dirty diesel fuel... which requires some cleaning and patience to sort. Sorry to hear it ruined your travel plans, and good luck on your test.

BTW, free for the life of the vehicle, you can call MB roadside assistance (800.222.0100)... if they can get you going on the spot, they should only charge your for the cost of parts (I've heard labour is free for this service)... but if they can't, they can, at at your shosing, should arrange for a free tow to the closest MB dealership...
 

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1983 300SD 169k; 1997 S320 117k
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So, luckily the car didn't get towed, especially because I forgot to connect the diesel send line to something and the heat and resulting pressure in the tank caused the nastiest leak in the world. Two weeks of spilling what I figure to be about 6 gallons of diesel fuel.



Ended up using a gatorade bottle as a makeshift fuel tank which I tied in with my shoelaces. This is just how I live my life, so I thought nothing of it. My buddy who doesn't work on his car found the whole thing incredibly amusing, thus the pictures. In retrospect... kind of.



I've got the car in west palm beach now and my classes don't start until the 26th. So basically I have 10 days to play with this. Taking out the tank sounds like a giant pita. I searched on the forum and found the name of a biocide which I purchased. What are my chances of this doing the trick? I figure if I need to take the tank out I should probably hop to it and don't have too much time to waste.
 

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Which biocide did you use? There must be a bunch of marine supply stores. Startron Starbrite fuel cleaner does work. It's expensive....for fuel additives but it does work. It will hopefully break down the junk in the tank strainer. Everything else will get picked up in the inline filter....at the worst you have to pull over and shake it out although repriming the engine each time is a huge pain.
 

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'95 E300 DIESEL, '91 600SEL, '92 600SEL
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That leak looks like the Exxon Valdez after it ran aground. Well, at least, the environmental impact from your spill was minimal.

Hopefully no wildlife had to take an "early retirement".
 

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1983 300SD 169k; 1997 S320 117k
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The guy at the store was trying to push this enzyme stuff on me. It promised to do everything under the sun and seemed like snake oil. Plus the way it supposedly worked was by preventing the algae from clumping together. I want to murder the algae in front of it's family. The stuff I ended up with was Biobor JF. Seems pretty murderous.

That leak looks like the Exxon Valdez after it ran aground. Well, at least, the environmental impact from your spill was minimal.

Hopefully no wildlife had to take an "early retirement".
It was actually a lot worse than pictures can convey. The leak continued down the street a good forty feet. Luckily though, this was in Orlando. The last semblance of any environment in Orange county was done away with in the 70's. I'm thinking it might even help to kill off some of the mice the place is plagued by.
 

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1982 300CD
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If you drain the tank, clean the screen, and give it good fuel and Biobor, the problem would work itself out.

Without cleaning the screen, it's a little if'ier. It might still be okay, but I'd be sure to keep a few in-line filters and some gloves in the trunk.
 
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