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2021 GLC 300, 2016 E63s, 1985 380sl, 1989 BMW E30, 2012 Audi A4, 1972 and 1974 Norton Commando
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

First post here. I recently acquired a 1985 R107 380sl with 127xxx miles. I have no service history, but I can see from paperwork that it had been sitting for over 2 years with the previous owner who bought it, but never used it. I bought it sight unseen for a very good price with the expectation that there would be some gremlins. I put octane booster in the tank and injector cleaner as it was idling rough until it warmed up. It got better as I added new fuel to the tank. Last Friday I changed the plugs, filled up the car, and added a can of sea foam and went for a short drive at lunch. At the end of the day, the car was very hard to start. I assumed that the sea foam loosened up a lot of crud and it was working its way through the system. I then went for a 4 mile hard run on the highway, bringing it to redline, letting off the gas once in 4th, and then bringing it to redline. I gave it a real good Italian tune up. When I exited the highway, I was at a stop sign. I stepped on the gas, and it was like I was in neutral, even though I was in drive. Nothing in reverse, or any gear. Nothing engaged. I got a tow to a shop where they confirmed all linkage was intact, and the fluid was good. I am now tasked with finding a shop to look at the transmission. Do you think I am facing a new transmission? Or, is there something else simple that may be causing this?

Many thanks!

Norton
Wheel Tire Automotive parking light Automotive side marker light Car
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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8,686 Posts
Make sure the Transmission lever's linkage is intact.
 

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1985 380 SL
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240 Posts
I don't see a simple solution. I have read that a failed rear band will cause no engagement of 1st gear. Reverse has its own band. Perhaps there is a failure of oil pressure preventing anything from engaging. Unfortunately, the troubleshooting guide I have for this transmission does not provide any guidance for "no engagement in any position". The transmission will need a proper troubleshooting by someone experienced with it. This car does start out in 1st, not 2nd as has been sometimes stated. When coming to a stop the transmission remains in 2nd until you slightly depress the gas pedal, it then goes into 1st. The idea is to reduce creep when stopped.

Are there any changes in the sound when the shift lever is moved through the positions? You normally can hear a slight whining when stopped in neutral or park.
 

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560SL,380SL,E350
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4,277 Posts
A failed front pump would cause all gears to fail. A pressure test would reveal this immediately; a good transmission shop could do this pretty quickly/inexpensively. There are other reasons (blown internal gaskets/o-rings) that might cause a complete failure of pressure.

On a 380SL's transmission, the trans will definitely start in first; the "second gear start" was a 560SL "feature".
 

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1976 450SL, 1992 190e 2.3, 1984 300D turbo, 1966 VW bus
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1,300 Posts
Do later r107's have an electronic kickdown switch under the gas pedal? I know my 1984 300D has this and the switch will get stuck if you hammer the throttle hard enough. Look under the pedal.


Also you need to carefully inspect the color and smell of your fluid.

The transmission should be OK at this mileage unless it was severely abused and fluid never changed. Or your mileage is a lie...
 

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560SL,380SL,E350
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4,277 Posts
BTW, That looks like a nice 380SL, the best 380 year IMO for several reasons; good luck with it after a rocky start.
 

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1987 300SL
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1,712 Posts
A failed front pump would cause all gears to fail. A pressure test would reveal this immediately; a good transmission shop could do this pretty quickly/inexpensively. There are other reasons (blown internal gaskets/o-rings) that might cause a complete failure of pressure.

On a 380SL's transmission, the trans will definitely start in first; the "second gear start" was a 560SL "feature".
I'm not sure about other variants, but the 107 300SL starts in second gear
First gear can be achieved by flooring the accelerator off the line, or when sitting stationary pulling the gear stick back to 2 (furthest position) then back up to drive, then take off in 1st
 

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1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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13,039 Posts
I'm not sure about other variants, but the 107 300SL starts in second gear
First gear can be achieved by flooring the accelerator off the line, or when sitting stationary pulling the gear stick back to 2 (furthest position) then back up to drive, then take off in 1st
I'm not sure about the 300SL but the 560SL can be tricked into starting in first gear buy putting it into B momentarily when stopped and than shift back into D before taking off. Try it an let us know.

Never mind. I just read the last sentence of your post.
 

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2021 GLC 300, 2016 E63s, 1985 380sl, 1989 BMW E30, 2012 Audi A4, 1972 and 1974 Norton Commando
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A failed front pump would cause all gears to fail. A pressure test would reveal this immediately; a good transmission shop could do this pretty quickly/inexpensively. There are other reasons (blown internal gaskets/o-rings) that might cause a complete failure of pressure.

On a 380SL's transmission, the trans will definitely start in first; the "second gear start" was a 560SL "feature".
Thank you to all who have replied. The mechanic who looked at my car mentioned what @strife2 has said -- failed front pump. It has taken some time, but I have found a transmission shop that would look at my car. Euro mechanics are few and far between where I live in Newfoundland. I'm booked for Oct 26th. I will report back after the transmission shop has a look. Fingers crossed!
 

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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
83 280 SL- 5 speed-The PIG
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32,775 Posts
Euro mechanics are few and far between where I live in Newfoundland.
LOL...no kidding.

No trouble getting a pick up truck or outboard motor repaired, though.
 

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2021 GLC 300, 2016 E63s, 1985 380sl, 1989 BMW E30, 2012 Audi A4, 1972 and 1974 Norton Commando
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10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The local transmission shop was finally able to get my car in and have a look. They dropped the pan, and the fluid was nice and red. The gentleman believes the torque converter failed. Finding one is proving to be difficult. Does anyone here have a line on a supplier that has one in stock? Thanks!
 

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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
83 280 SL- 5 speed-The PIG
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32,775 Posts
The gentleman believes the torque converter failed.
Hmmmmm.....haven't actually heard of a torque converter failing on these cars.....not to say it hasn't happened before.....
 

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Premium Member
1976 450SL, 1992 190e 2.3, 1984 300D turbo, 1966 VW bus
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1,300 Posts
The local transmission shop was finally able to get my car in and have a look. They dropped the pan, and the fluid was nice and red. The gentleman believes the torque converter failed. Finding one is proving to be difficult. Does anyone here have a line on a supplier that has one in stock? Thanks!
I disagree. Your torque converter is fine. Mercedes 722 torque converters don’t fail like you described. If something broke inside the converter you would know it and there would be metal hunks everywhere.
 

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Premium Member
1976 450SL, 1992 190e 2.3, 1984 300D turbo, 1966 VW bus
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1,300 Posts
I would reach out to Sun Valley Mercedes Transmissions in Los Angeles. Maybe they can offer some tips. If you need a rebuild, that is definitely where you should get it. They ship. All rebuilds come with torque converter as well.
Also I would email Pierre Hedary [email protected] and see if he has any ideas.

My vote is on the pump but I just don’t understand why it would go out at such low mileage, pretty unusual.
 

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Premium Member
1976 450SL, 1992 190e 2.3, 1984 300D turbo, 1966 VW bus
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1,300 Posts
Disconnect the transmission cooler lines from the radiator and start the car. If the internal pump is working fluid should be shooting out of the lines.
You also need a new mechanic..
 
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