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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been browsing this forum for a little while now as I've decided to buy another classic Merc. This time possibly a W126 SEC. Have been on the look out for a while and this one, which had somehow escaped my attention, since its been sitting on a dealer's lot for about a year I think, is front and centre in my attention zone.
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It looks a very nice car indeed except that it has done 255k Km and there is no history - but that's not uncommon here in NZ where there is a who care's attitude to service history.. One problem as I see it from browsing this and other forums is that the timing chain and associated guides may or may not have been attended to. I am thinking of booking it into the local Merc indie garage to see if they can check it out.
The other issue is that according to the Gov vehicle inspection records the car has covered virtually no distance in 3 years! as in less that 50km. I've repeatedly read that folks think these cars should be driven regularly. What sort of issues do you think this will present if I want to go right ahead with the purchase and start driving it home (450km) plus as a general 2 day a week driver?
The interior is blue velour which is OK but has some wear holes here and there - not too bad. Wood is in generally good condition. Gearbox has a one second delay in getting in to reverse. Apparently drives very well though.
A/C blows cold though not too much air speed through the centre vents - much better at windscreen level. Maybe thats normal?
Comments and pointers please new friends :)
Cheers from NZ!
 

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1985 500sel and 500sec 2012 E63 1989 Porsche 911
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yes
 

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There’s a reason it hasn’t been driven - it’s because it has issues preventing it from driving reliably
 

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1986/1990 W126
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I would worry about any car sitting for a year with ethanol fuel in it. However, if you'd be able to insist on a can of fresh fuel and a decent test drive and it doesn't misbehave, maybe.. They will love to run on the open road, and often improve with use, but the longer the fuel sits in there the worse it is, and if its really bad you wouldn't want to suck it all through.
On the other hand I bought my SEC after it sat in the damp for a year, changed all the fuses to stop the weird gremlins, tanked it up with top quality fuel and some cleaner and then drove it through the night about 600 miles at speed. It took good care of me.

Also no leaks of fuel anywhere? Eventually ethanol can cause this so attention would be needed there, you'll see frequent advice on here about changing the rubber parts of the fuel lines. You can check the under bonnet ones visually. I didn't have this but I did have a little box go faulty and cause running problems a few years later, it leaked fuel too. Not a huge problem, quite possibly an ethanol victim though.

The one second delay into reverse is an early indicator of gearbox wear, but it may be OK for time yet you never know. Rebuild doesn't cost the earth here, I dunno about there. Approx £1500 I would say.

Holes in the velour could be a slight pain, it's incredibly high quality stuff with wool in it. Hard to find probably.

Check in all the usual places for rust, you can find details on here.

What engine is it?

Any chance of an inspection by a MB person?

Welcome to the forum and if you buy it you know where we are 😊
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the helpful replies. I hadn't thought of the aged petrol potential issue, I have read that the fuel metering unit doesn't like old fuel, so that is a bit of a worry.

The car is for sale at a car dealer 450 km away, so its all a bit remote control. It's a 500 SEC 1984 build, by the VIN.
They've had it for 12 - 18 months and haven't driven it by the looks of things. Except that a few days ago I asked them to check out any transmission issues, and he noted the one second delay in drive take up to reverse, as mentioned. I have found a local MB indie and he is going to look at it for me next week. I am going to ask him to take the cam cover off and look at the guides and chain. I'll ask him to consider the trans as well. And look at petrol leaks.

What else should I ask them to look into?

I'm thinking that I might be faced with some decisions on work to be done to get it properly roadworthy which will possibly be dilemma inducing, after all I haven't actually bought it yet. But we will see how that pans out ..
 

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560SEL 560SEC E320 Cab. MB Metris Van ML 320 ML320CDI/gone 300TD 300TE 300SDL, 300D, Unimog 406
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Is there a reason you have not had a pre purchase inspection by a MB mechanic?
 

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In my opinion any mechanical issue can be fairly easy fixed, by throwing some money, knowledge and attitude towards it. RUST, however is a dealbreaker for me.
You also have to ask yourself, how handy are you? If you outsource EVERY job, the repairs will get pricey. But most things can be done with basic tools, and good attitude. Especially nowadays with the internet at your disposal.
Seemingly it’s a good car, if the price is right. As in the dealer is not expecting a price that reflects a fully serviced and loved car’s price. You can always replace the interior with velour or spring for leather for 2-2500, and you have all new interior,
The rusty fuel is a concern. The very least you should have the fuel drained, and a new filter installed. Better yet, have the fuel tank inspected and treated for rust internally if needed.
the transmission delay could go either way. The fluid and filter may fix it. If not, you can still probably drive it for a while, until a rebuild is needed.
Whatever you do, CHECK FOR RUST, by someone you trust.
Good luck!
 

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560SEL 560SEC E320 Cab. MB Metris Van ML 320 ML320CDI/gone 300TD 300TE 300SDL, 300D, Unimog 406
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It is interesting to note how much fear is associated with rust. Of course, I would not buy a car with rust. But, then, I would not buy a car with a cracked dash. Actually, rust is a natural process and easily repaired more or less permanently, if that phrase means anything in respect of a car. I think the fear is that the little visible rust spots on the outside of a body panel usually spell demise of the entire panel or maybe all of the body panels at one time or another. So inspection is the answer in order to evaluate the extent of any rust.

My wife bought a w124 Cab in 2001 that immediately developed significant rust on the RF fender apparently from a fender bender poorly repaired. The real body shop fixed the rust, repainted the panel (fortunately 040) and there is not a speck or sign of any rust returning after about 18 years of continuous use. So, even body panel rust can be fixed. Undercarriage rust is just another mechanical repair with low-tech welding as the means. Not really a problem, just a cost.
 

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1986/1990 W126
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Totally. Some of it is really awkward but it's always fixable. Guys in the US can simply choose a non rusty one instead, which does sound nice 😁
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks very much for replies, as mentioned above its getting an inspection, tomorrow, going into an independent merc workshop. An area of concern for me rising now is the electronics. Electronic modules seem very expensive and prone to failure, is this true?? Al in this event a re there ways round this, perhaps with aftermarket ignition? Has anyone ever heard of someone with terminal problems replacing the injection with a more modern system even? Just thinking of the ‘good money after bad’ scenario!
 

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You are over worrying . If the car runs fine now and the electronics work fine now , don’t worry about the possibility the electronics may fail in the future
 

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Like the rest of the car, these modules last a really long time and usually fixable if they can't be bought.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Re the idea about draining the fuel, is there an easy way to do this? On my Land Rover there is a simple drain plug easily accessible on the tank bottom 😀
 

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My first thought is that the dealer is probably asking too much money for that car. Why else would it sit there for a year and a half? And you have to assume that at least a few serious buyers have looked at it and passed for one reason or other. Obviously in most cases, everything has its price, and that car looks very nice, but it still strikes me as likely that whatever the issues are, that no one was willing to pay the dealer's ask. And the dealer is obviously willing to wait, so consider that.

Second, you almost certainly will have to replace the tires despite tread depth because they will probably be too old to be safe. At the very least, you should check the date codes on the tires before setting off at highway speeds.

Third, the car is likely to need suspension work if it hasn't been done already. Sitting around is hard on shock absorbers, and with the mileage noted, the front end is likely getting long in the tooth. OEM parts for a front-end rebuild -- ball joints, tie rod ends, guide rod bushings, control arm bushings, etc. -- will run about $900 here in the USA, and putting it all together is probably a 10-ish hour job. Shocks will likely run you $75-100 per corner, depending on what you choose. Oh, and you'll likely also need new engine mounts, flex discs, possibly drive shaft bearing, and a steering stabilizer/damper, the latter of which is cheap and easy.

Fourth, given the above, and the comments made by other members, I'd be very loathe to drive that car a long distance until I had some confidence in its overall mechanical capability. Sure, the front-end stuff won't be a problem, and yes, you can likely easily get new tires on the car before driving, but I'd be worried about fuel and electrical gremlins popping up at inopportune moments.

Maybe you can post some more pictures?

Cheers and welcome to the forum!

Kim G
Boston, MA
Where I'm still a W126 wanna-be, and about to drive my C280 to Mexico City.

P.S. I did write this post as general advice on some of the tradeoffs between buying fully-sorted and a project car. You might find it helpful.
 
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