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2006 E320 CDI
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I found my first bigger problem with the newly purchased 2005 E320 CDI. After pulling the cooling fan out to do some other maintenance, I looked down the radiator and noted I could see it wasn't flat and twisted slightly with its lower section not mounted correctly but too far back in the right side. I had noticed when under the car a few days ago that the gap between the charge air cooler and radiator was larger on the right side at the bottom. Now I'm getting a good look at the whole picture. The radiator is twisted and the charge air cooler has a slight bow forward on the right side. The charge air cooler's mount was not in the bracket on the right side due to the radiator twist and the cooler bow. Looks like I'm going to have to get them out of the car and have a closer look at what is going on. I did not notice this upon purchase, as from the top front, it is hard to notice.

Maybe I can straighten the radiator without cracking it. Maybe not ,but it may not be worth the risk considering a new radiator is just $250. The bow in the charge air cooler may be tolerable, if I can get it back in with the slight bow when I have a straight radiator.

Still,the car is in such good shape and the drive train so clean with relatively low mileage, that even with this problem, I still did OK. This just slows down getting the car on the road for my 17 year old son. He is not happy since it was his money that paid for the car. Understandable.

Here is a photo of the twisted radiator taken from above.

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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Don't skimp money on new radiator. I know they are not cheap, when you want OE one, but not only fixing old one will be risky, but 15 yo radiator will likely have some boiling stone in it, so new one will improve cooling and save some fuel by not running fans too much.
 

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87 300D 5 speed
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Your car has been hit and the radiator was bent in the process. You need to straighten the frame before putting in a new radiator otherwise your new radiator will end up just as bent. The radiator is held in at all four corners. If it's still attached on all four corners and that bend...
 

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2006 E320 CDI
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Discussion Starter #4
Your car has been hit and the radiator was bent in the process. You need to straighten the frame before putting in a new radiator otherwise your new radiator will end up just as bent. The radiator is held in at all four corners. If it's still attached on all four corners and that bend...
Being in an accident is a suspicion for sure, but I can't say if it has been or not yet. Nothing ever hit insurance if it was, as it had a clean carfax. No, the radiator is not being held at all four corners. The radiator is not in the mounts properly on the right side at the bottom. It appears that the radiator is bent, but the front sub frame is flat where the radiator mounts. There is no evidence underneath of frame damage and the aluminum bumper looks like it's original, not a new piece. Not saying it hasn't been hit. I need to take off the bumper cover and have a full look. And once I get the radiator out, I will able to check that area for flatness
 

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2006 E320 CDI
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Discussion Starter #5
Don't skimp money on new radiator. I know they are not cheap, when you want OE one, but not only fixing old one will be risky, but 15 yo radiator will likely have some boiling stone in it, so new one will improve cooling and save some fuel by not running fans too much.
As you can see on the top in the photo, the original is a Valeo and has the MB emblem on it, so they are the OEM supplier. $260 at Pelican Parts for the Valeo OE part. Not expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Your car has been hit and the radiator was bent in the process...
OK, I've done some more very close inspection. Can't say it wasn't in an accident, but if it was, the frame has been very well straightened. The front bumper looks like original aluminum. And all the holes in the plastic belly pan line up correctly with the holes under the car. When I took the frame cross-member off above the radiator fan, there was no "spring" to it and all holes line up well.

I took a photo on each side of the radiator from underneath. The left side where the drain is lines up properly just in front of some subframe. On the passenger's side, you can see that the radiator is pushed back behind this subframe. (There's some leakage on the inlet side of the charge air cooler as you can plainly see.)

So I don't know what happened, but the car's frame looks OK and I can't find any alignment problems. Only the radiator and charge air cooler appear bent. It looks like the amount of bend in the charge air cooler isn't enough to cause a problem with mounting or function... as long as the leak isn't coming from the charge air cooler end caps. But since the goo is all back by the hose, I have to think it's the normal o-ring blow-by.

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2006 E320 CDI
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Discussion Starter #7
In removing the radiator, I'm down to removing the lower transmission cooling line. I'm going to assume I need to find a cap plug for that line to keep the transmission from draining. Anyone have any idea where to find a cap that fits those fittings? I see mercedes has an entire plug kit you can buy, which is probably outrageously expensive.
 

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E320/E250 Bluetec Ford F350 6.7l
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Just lift the line above transmission pan and the flow will stop when you secure it there. you can put some masking tape on it to protect from dust.
Coming to comparing OE and OEM, there is potential for big difference in quality.
OEM can very easy be a reject from OE.
 

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In removing the radiator, I'm down to removing the lower transmission cooling line. I'm going to assume I need to find a cap plug for that line to keep the transmission from draining. Anyone have any idea where to find a cap that fits those fittings? I see mercedes has an entire plug kit you can buy, which is probably outrageously expensive.
No you don't need to do that. The lines are above the level of the oil in the pan. I just stick a disposable glove over the ends to keep dirt from getting in.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No you don't need to do that. The lines are above the level of the oil in the pan. I just stick a disposable glove over the ends to keep dirt from getting in.
I learned that. It dripped and then nothing. I did end picking up some larger rubber vacuum caps for a couple bucks. They fit over it nicely and will keep the dirt out... and drips in.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So I got the radiator out. I was shocked how easily I was able to "untwist" it and make it flat again. It was not bent at all, it was just the lower right mount wasn't in place putting the entire cooler in a twisted state. Again, no evidence of any sort of impact. I'm still replacing it, as it has obviously been stressed and now that I've disturbed it, the internal seals may not be happy.

I've also double checked the intercooler and it does not have a bow in it as I stated originally. That was an optical illusion.

This whole thing is a mystery. An expensive time sucking mystery.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I figured out what happened! Pulled the intercooler out and something came through the lower grill and smashed into the intercooler really hard. A large rock perhaps? It has a huge gash in the lower right front and is bent on the lower right side, while the topside is still straight. The impact must have been hard enough to knock the lower right side of the radiator back. It has a small leak in that area. Guess I'm buying one of those too.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Here are some photos of both siades of the bottom of the radiator and intercooler after the repair was completed. New Radiator, new intercooler. No sign of any radiator support or frame damage. Everything went back in easily and lined up perfectly.

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