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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering an older Mercedes diesel for a daily driver. If I found a nice example that was well maintained, would you hesitate to drive it every day? What could be some things I'd want to look at in a used car?

I am looking at both the 116's and 126's, so any pros/cons between the two are welcome.

Thanks
 

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2003 Volvo V70 5 Speed
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Some will say yes, others no. I have used an older mercedes as a daily driver for 3 years now. It has been very reliable, however there have been a few occasions where I've had to go 1 or 2 days without a car due to repairs. Which brings us to my next question. Do you plan on doing all the maintenance work yourself? These cars are very reliable, but only if constantly maintained. They will require a fair bit of your spare time to keep in tip top running condition. If you plan to take it in to be serviced don't bother. The shop costs will eat you alive.
 

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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #3
I am comfortable doing most standard repair and maintenance work on my own. I am familiar with things like tune-ups, vacuum lines, brakes, cooling system, transmission fluid and filter changes, shocks... pretty much all the standard stuff.
 

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2003 Volvo V70 5 Speed
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Then yes, they can be good daily drivers. The w116 has fewer thrills than the w126 but with that comes fewer things to break. Most people that own one say they handle better than the w126 and have a slightly more "sporty" feel. The w126 is more modern with a softer ride and more goodies like power seats and what not. The w116 uses the Servo based climate control system which is prone to failure and you will most likely at some point have to replace the servo which is quite expensive. On the flip side the system the w126 uses isn't much better in terms of reliability.
One basic rule trumps all however. But the best one you can for your money. Don't buy the first one you see. Also rust, buy the most rust free example you possibly can. Most other things can be repaired and replaced but a rusty body is one hell of a can of worms.
 

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As long as you're not expecting 30mpg+ you'll be fine. These things were built to last and flourish when regularly driven. It's the garage queens that seem to have all the problems.
 

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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #6
Okay, I am looking at both petrol & diesel models... it seems like there are many W126's to chose from in the L.A./Phoenix region where I will be moving in two months... many under $2500 that appear to be in good condition... I will have to check them out, but they seem to be plentiful and can be had for a bargain.
 

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2003 Volvo V70 5 Speed
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If you want a daily driver I'd go with the diesel model, the w116 and w126 gassers will eat you alive in fuel costs... Just my 2 cents...
 

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1981 300 SD, 1991 Geo Metro 4-door Automatic
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FWIW:

I've been making a 100 mile/day commute in a 300SD for nearly a year. I can't vouch for the comments on the W116, but everything that has been said about the W126 I can vouch for.

My experience has been thus: I did buy the first 300SD I saw...I wasn't searching specifically for a W126, or a Benz, or even a diesel. I had a limited budget (<$2000), a dead car at home, and was driving a rental that was eating my funds quickly. I just needed something that ran, and might pass smog. Knowing what I know now, were I looking specifically for a W126, I would have passed on this car. It has rust issues, bondo, a rattlecan paint job, needed front end and electrical work, etc.

All that being said, this car has turned into an adventure, it is the easiest car in the world to service, and I've easily already gotten my $1000 worth out of it. I'm sure some on here would consider mine a hopeless wreck, but that it keeps on ticking is testament to the durability of these cars.

Advice for buying one as a daily driver...spend what you're comfortable with, find the best car you can, service records are nice, your own common sense (or a trusted friend's) is better, remember you are buying about a 30 year old car, have a spare car, cell phone and auto club card (just in case...knock on kinda splintered wood, I've never needed to use them yet...)
 

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2004 Toyota Avalon XLS
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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for your reply. I am also considering a Volvo 850 for my price range, and think that would be a very good car. But, I will be keeping my eyes open for other options. My main concern is transmission because I know the cars in the mid 90's all have transmissions that fail sometime around 150k, but if I find a car where it was done already maybe that is okay.
 

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1981 300 SD, 1991 Geo Metro 4-door Automatic
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487 Posts
I had transmission issues (replaced it twice and it kept breaking) with a '77 Volvo 245. I was getting R&R of the transmission down to a science when I just got tired of heaving it around. I've been told of transmission problems with the Mercedes, but so far, so good.
 

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1986 300sdl; 1982 300CD
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235 Posts
mgill85258,

My answer is, at least for the diesels (and if you can afford the gas, the 560), is YEP. = I I have a half-dozen friends in the local Beethoven Maennerchor (German club in San Antonio), who drive nothing else but the W126 M-B & haven't in years.
(2x 560SEL, a 350SDL, 2x 300sd, a 420SEL & my "new to me" 300sdl.)

Over the last 35 years, I've probably owned at least 25-30 MB diesels & always had one as a daily driver.
(Before I retired I was commuting about 75 miles x 5days a week. - Whichever diesel I was driving never left me stranded.)

I always hear how expensive that it is supposed to be to drive an old MB daily, but considering the low prices now (even for a NICE W126), & if you do your own routine maintaince, I don't believe it.=====> You have to spend a H of a lot on maintaince/repair to make up for 600.oo+ a month car payments.
(IF you drive less than 10,000 miles a year, even a 560SEL or SEC becomes quite affordable, given the GIVE-AWAY prices for those cars. - I know a guy in Dallas who just bought am Emerald Green/leather 560SEC with 66K actual miles for 2000.oo, that looks NEW & with complete service records!)

just my opinion, satx
 

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from small to large
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81-85 SD is easier to maintain comparing to SDL and very reliable. Buy one without burning oil and easy on cold start. As only as you get one without engine and tranny issues, you are safe to drive it for a few decades.
 

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2013 MINI Copper S Clubman, '84 300CD-weekend car
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I've been using my SD as a DD for years, as some mention, there will be times when it's down, be prepared, yet it ages well.
 

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07 Silverado CC Z71, 10 Chevy Tahoe LT, 12 BMW K1600GLT
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I know a guy in Dallas who just bought am Emerald Green/leather 560SEC with 66K actual miles for 2000.oo, that looks NEW & with complete service records!)
That sure wasn't me! :mad: Wish I could find one like that... :rolleyes:

Well... I've been trying to buy this 84 300SD with supposedly under 100K miles (no records, of course, so I'm a bit sceptic...) for a couple of weeks now for a pretty good price, but it has a problem starting. Most of the time it just clicks. Battery is not the problem, so I'm suspecting starter solenoid. I've only heard it running once and didn't drive it at that time.

Seller, of course, says he knows what the issue is and it is supposedly an easy fix (starter relay) but still hasn't fixed it. Told him that if he gets the car starting all the time properly, I'd buy it. Otherwise I will not. It has enough things to be done to it due to it sitting for almost four years now and I don't want to begin by fixing the starting issue. :rolleyes:

We'll see... I'd fix it up and use it as my DD, for sure.
 

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'89 560SEC
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My dad put 250k miles on an '87 300SDL. He retired it only because it was getting rusty. Drivetrain was still fine. Car was almost never in the shop.
 

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Mercedes Benz 1987 300SEL
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168 Posts
Do it :D

I'm driving a 300SEL daily to and from uni, expect to keep it for another 4 years atleast and then maybe move onto a 420 coupe or a 300SL (r107).

It's my only car, I do my brakes, oil and sparkplugs. Anything other than that I get a bit of help from people I know or take it in to an indy.

So far, I haven't had any major issues, no breakdowns.

The most comfortable car I've ever owned, loves a bit of petrol though but I don't care :D A big car will always guzzle.

I say go for it, things rarely go horribly wrong with these cars if you DO YOUR RESEARCH!
 

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1986 300sdl; 1982 300CD
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235 Posts
To ALL,

I drove my 1986 "new to me" 300SDL to Austin & back at 70-75MPH & as I told another member in a PM, "the gray ghost" PURRED like a full-grown LEOPARD, all the way up & back. -about 250 miles total.
(It needs a complete paint-job, floor mats to protect the carpet & the windows fixed & that's evidently ALL.)

T'm KEEPING this one for good.

yours, satx
 

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560SEL 560SEC 300SEL E320 Cab. MB Metris Van / 300TD 300TE 300SDL, 300D, Unimog 406 (Gone)
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I have driven W126 for the last 20 years as daily drivers. My 300SDL got a little too ratty for me, which is a problem with those cars because the motor outlives everything else and one either has to garage it and renovate from time to time, or the other parts fail ahead of its drive train. Renovation is a labor of love, but not a sensible economic decision since the cars are so cheaply replaced.

So, I added a "perfect" 300SEL about 15 years ago and have run the wheels off of it. It has also gotten a little down on its heels so it is now my "winter car." With four studded snow tires and sand bags over the rear axle it is an effective luxury sedan for the winter and I have no worries about it getting hit or sprayed with salt or left in the snow (if it would ever snow here). I drive it every day in the winter, 80 mph on the highway, smooth as silk.

So, back in 2010 I added the Bruce Mendel find (1990 560SEL with 45K on the clock and perfect in every way) to be my daily driver except in the three winter months. I have no intention of driving anything other than a W126 unless I have to haul some junk or move in extreme inclement weather. In fact, I have been thinking about where my next W126 will come from 10 years from now and have been considering getting one of the many inexpensive museum quality cars to mothball until I need a new one to be put into service. I mean, for $15,000 one can get a pretty close to perfect W126, right? So every time I see one of these rigs come available, I am torn.
 

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1986 300sdl; 1982 300CD
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wilson1010,

Understood.

When I have some "play money" ahead, I'm going to buy a 560SEC in that condition as a "Sunday go to meeting car", as barring something really untoward (Like this 300sdl getting "plowed under", as a Caddy that I once owned was ruined by being hit while parked by a FIRETRUCK), I don't think that I will ever "wear out" this diesel W126.
(South TX doesn't have any winter, in the sense that
most of the members here have.)

From time to time I see a SEC in IMMACULATE condition.
(The last one that I saw had <70K with complete records- It was traded in by a couple in their 70s & was sold to a collector last week.)

yours, satx
 
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