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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in an older diesel Mercedes to drive every day. Are these pretty reliable cars for such a purpose? Obviously maintenance is key, but lets say I find a well maintained car, would you hesitate to drive it every day?

What kinds of things would I be looking at when I'm looking at a used one?

Also considering a W126 diesel as well, so any pros/cons between the 116 and 126 would be welcomed.

Thanks
 

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I just bought a 1980 300SD as my daily driver. These cars last for generations. Find the nicest one you can afford and it should last you years to come. You can get one in excellent condition for about 5k to 6k.

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1980 300SD, 1987 300SDL, 1973 280SEL, 1995 C280
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jtwoods4 advice is sound. Pay for the one in excellent condition that has been well maintained and you will be in good shape. Service records are key for a car that is this old and if a seller expects a premium price. An adage oft repeated on this forum and others is that "there's nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes".

My W116 SD has served me well as a daily driver for 11 years and though I've had to spend money on some semi big ticket repairs the car owes me nothing. My cost of ownership has been minuscule compared to what a new vehicle would have run me over that time span. Only left me stranded once (harmonic balancer bolts sheared) and has been remarkably reliable and a blast to drive.

The 2 main potential issues to be aware of with the W116 are rust and the problematic climate control servo. The first concern can be lessened by finding one that's spent it's life in the south or out west. Regarding the servo, it's nice if you find a car that has an aluminum bodied one installed. If not, you will be installing one eventually. The plastic bodied servo in my car lasted 10 years for me but finally gave up the ghost.

I also have an SDL that my wife drives daily. It is a superb old car that runs and drives like a dream. I bought that one after a PO spent over $15 on maintenance and repair so it was in pretty good nick when it came to me. I prefer the W126 with its bigger stronger 6 cylinder engine for long highway trips and the W116 and its more nimble handling is better for running around town.

Either one would be a fine daily driver for you assuming good condition. Regardless of the model, check for issues with the suspension and all the rubber bits under the car.

All that being said, these are old cars and will require maintenance to stay on the road in nice condition and it 's always wise to budget for those eventualities.. Performing your own maintenance and minor repairs (these cars are easy to work on) will save you many hundreds, nay thousands of dollars during your ownership.

Good luck and keep us informed if you do decide to purchase.
 

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1980 300SD, 1987 300SDL, 1973 280SEL, 1995 C280
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Under the hood adjacent to the firewall on the passenger side. It's visible in your 2nd picture in your 'About to purchase 1980 300SD' thread just behind the air cleaner. Has 4 coolant hoses connected to the bottom and a whole mess of vacuum hoses at the top.

It's quite a Rube Goldberg contraption that was introduced by Chrysler way back in the day. It is the heart and soul of the Automatic Climate Control system and a really neat piece of machinery, that unfortunately due to its complicated design will invariably fail.
 

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I would go with a 116 less electrical components that are prone to failure. 116 is also chrome and steel, 1980 was the was the last year the mercedes used chrome and steal without any plastic. Feels like more of a solid vehicle. However you must do a pretty good rust inspection before purchasing a 116. Standard rule is the older the car is the less electrical systems you're going to have, like power seats etc. I would hate to have a 126 and the power seats fail. I personally hate working on electrical issues.

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1970 280 sel, 1979 300sd, 1988 300sel
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I own a 1979 300sd(federal 49 state). Other than oil leaks, power window issues, no AC, interior water leaks, trunk leaks, and vacuum door lock leaks, the car amazingly has never ever left me stranded. My SD has been everyones back up car for the last ten years. I have now converted the power windows to manual window regulators. I am currently working on getting my AC back and upholstering the front and back seats. i have replaced the servo and have updated to an aluminum body(purchased from German Star), replaced the Aux water pump and the amplifier. I need the compressor and then I will be ready to go. For those that are questioning the 300SD w116 power, here you go...enjoy
 

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75 450SL, 86 300SLD, 93 cummins truck, 01 Volvo XC70 turbo wagon
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My 86 SDL was VERY reliable with 270k on it. the 90s version has piston rod issues as i recall
 

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1997 E300 Diesel
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I bought a junky 116 SD and drive it every day, 90 miles round trip to work. I average over 30-mpg too.
I wouldn't mind one in better shape, but I can't complain about the reliability and economy. It's been a great car.
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
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I own a 1979 300sd(federal 49 state). Other than oil leaks, power window issues, no AC, interior water leaks, trunk leaks, and vacuum door lock leaks, the car amazingly has never ever left me stranded. My SD has been everyones back up car for the last ten years. I have now converted the power windows to manual window regulators. I am currently working on getting my AC back and upholstering the front and back seats. i have replaced the servo and have updated to an aluminum body(purchased from German Star), replaced the Aux water pump and the amplifier. I need the compressor and then I will be ready to go. For those that are questioning the 300SD w116 power, here you go...enjoy
Mercedes-Benz 300 SD 0-60 MPH Movie.wmv - YouTube
Wow! For a diesel, that's impressive!! Especially for its age!

I've been wanting a Euro W116, but I can't seem to find one locally.

ETA: I just saw what happened to the car! I'm amazed at how well you did in repairing it! Great work, glad you didn't scrap it.
 
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