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2002 C240 2000 E320
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The dreaded white smoke has consumed my every thought for weeks now. It started ever so slightly. I had new Valve Cover Gaskets installed and Breather Covers cleaned and resealed. New Spark Plugs and Wires were installed. Sadly, the white smoke has only become worse since that work was completed. After a 20 minute drive at 55 mph, stopping and waiting for the left turn arrow, I managed to cause a total white out in a 2,500 foot intersection upon acceleration leaving the drivers turning behind me in an absolute peril. Most recently upon accelerating on the highway, while preparing to change lanes to exit, my vehicle spewed such a huge plume of white smoke drifting across 3 lanes that the driver behind me panicked, braked, swerved and slid into the next lane assuming all that smoke was from truckers ahead locking up their brakes.
Smoke occurs most often after highway driving then parking for 15 minutes (or so) and starting to head out again - minimal smoke at first start of day - total white outs have occurred on highway after sudden loud rattle (think Diesel engine) from drivers side of engine and activation of CHECK ENGINE light. Misfire occurs, I pull over wait, restart with TONS of white smoke belching from exhaust and car drives like nothing ever happened!!!
I am now thinking coolant or brake fluid in the intake manifold is my problem or have I been reading too many forums? I have attached a photo for reference.​
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White is usually water in the combustion chamber. Check your coolant level - if it's low, then you know where the water is coming from. Then you just need to find out how it's getting into the engine, which is usually a bad head gasket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
White is usually water in the combustion chamber. Check your coolant level - if it's low, then you know where the water is coming from. Then you just need to find out how it's getting into the engine, which is usually a bad head gasket.
Compression reading was "not very good". Mechanic stated that I have both oil and coolant entering the combustion chamber. Head gasket suspected but won't that lead me to a valve job, stem seals, resurfacing the heads...?
At 260K miles do I want to put the money into this job? My catalytic converter (california) rattles, front end suspension needs replacing, head liner is loose on all four corners now due the most 115 degree days in history this summer in Phoenix, and I am heartbroken that I may have to let go of this car I so love!
 

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It's rare for these engine to blow a head gasket, but it does happen. The most common cause is engine overheating which can warp the head/block seating surfaces. If that is not the case, and it truly is just a blown gasket, then that is all that would need to be replaced. Still, on overhead cam engines, it's not an easy job (which means expensive).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's rare for these engine to blow a head gasket, but it does happen. The most common cause is engine overheating which can warp the head/block seating surfaces. If that is not the case, and it truly is just a blown gasket, then that is all that would need to be replaced. Still, on overhead cam engines, it's not an easy job (which means expensive).
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The rattle that I hear first start of the day I believe is the catalytic converter. Could this be the same rattle (sounds like it) that I hear right before the insane amount of smoke begins to gush from my exhaust?
 

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It could be the same rattle. At that mileage, I'd expect the cats to be gone, but combine that with all the moisture and they certainly will deteriorate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
It could be the same rattle. At that mileage, I'd expect the cats to be gone, but combine that with all the moisture and they certainly will deteriorate.
I am now the owner of another Mercedes. I purchased a 2000 E320 today. My mechanic had a 10 year client that recently purchased a 2006 and was looking for a buyer for their 2000 E320. It is in very good condition with 164K miles on it. I purchased it for $3500 USD. Now I have time to work on my 2002 C240 head gasket. My 18 year old daughter is thrilled to be inheriting my C240 in the future...if all goes well. I forgot to tell you that no, there had been no overheating. On two seperate changes however, my oil was overfilled by a shop with the "reduce oil level" malfunction appearing a day or so after. I don't think that would blow a gasket though - correct?
 

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No, overfilling with oil would not damage the head gasket. It usually causes leaks, but in the worst case, it can damage valve seals
 

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I've recently bought my Mercedes, so I'm not 100% sure on this, but my previous car, an old BMW plumes of white smoke coming from the exhaust when pressing the throttle, it didn't matter whether it was moving or not but most of the time it would occur when putting it in first gear and getting up and going (It was a manual). That was followed by oil coming in gobs of yellowish gelatinous substance in the coolant reservoir and the oil being thin and watery when checked by the dipstick. The problem was a warped head.

A friend of mine some years back told me he had a bunch of white smoke coming the from the rear of his vehicle the day he drove it home after he bought it. I don't remember what it was, some pickup. turns out, he had driven all the way home from where ever he picked it up at with his parking brake engaged.

Over filling your oil can cause catastrophic damage to an engine. For example, the increased pressure in the line can cause your pistons to hit the part of your head which is up against the block. causing severe damage to your spark plugs, and components of the head. this diagram is depicts how an engine works: All of those pieces can be damaged. However, I do not know the symptoms of overfilling your oil.

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Over filling your oil can cause catastrophic damage to an engine. For example, the increased pressure in the line can cause your pistons to hit the part of your head which is up against the block. causing severe damage to your spark plugs, and components of the head.
I am not exactly sure what you mean by that. What "line" has increased pressure? The piston will not travel further and impact the head unless it breaks loose from the rod or the crank. What overfilling with oil can do is two things: One, it can cause it to foam in the pan so that the pump can't siphon it and now it's like operating with too little oil. Also, it can cause increased oil pressure which can cause leaks around external and internal seals.
 

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I am not exactly sure what you mean by that. What "line" has increased pressure? The piston will not travel further and impact the head unless it breaks loose from the rod or the crank. What overfilling with oil can do is two things: One, it can cause it to foam in the pan so that the pump can't siphon it and now it's like operating with too little oil. Also, it can cause increased oil pressure which can cause leaks around external and internal seals.
I was referring to the oil line. I admit I'm not sure how it happens, but I know that overfilling the oil can cause the piston to hit the spark plugs and valves resulting in damage to both the head and cylinder block.
 

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I still don't understand what you mean by "the oil line". Unless you have a turbocharger, there is no "line" carrying oil. Pressure is provided by the pump which suck it from the pan and pushes it up into the valve covers. The piston is connected to a rod that is connected to the crankshaft. The length of that rod will not allow the piston to contact the spark plug. In what is called an "interference engine", the valves to protrude below "top dead center" of the piston but the camshaft is times in sync with the piston movement such that when the valve protrude deeper than TDC, the piston is well below TSD. The only way a piston contacts a spark plug is of the con-rod breaks. The only way a piston contacts a valve is if the timing in an interference engine is off. The only way the timing is off is if either the timing chain fails or if a variable timing adjuster fails. The only way these things happen due to overfilled oil is if the engine SEVERLY overheats due to the oil foaming and its internal parts seize due to lack of lubrication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I want to give you an update on my situation. We removed plugs and ran a camera down to the cylinders. Clearly I have head gasket leaks (oil and coolant) in cylinders 1, 3 and 5. These have been the cylinders throwing misfire codes on and off for about 2 years (which should have been a clue - right?). The good news is no cracks so currently the heads are out for resurfacing and my C 240 should be back on the road next week!
Also, doing seats, seals and I will need some hoses too.
In the meantime I am very much enjoying the new (old) 2000 E320 - such a smooth ride!! Amazing that a 20 year old car can ride so nice and was surely ahead of its time when released - such luxury.
 

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I'm glad it was "just" a head gasket and not any head or cylinder cracks. The resurfacing is a must - as I stated before, head gasket problems are often due to warped surfaces.

I love W210s! Those are such solid cars.
 

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I want to give you an update on my situation. We removed plugs and ran a camera down to the cylinders. Clearly I have head gasket leaks (oil and coolant) in cylinders 1, 3 and 5. These have been the cylinders throwing misfire codes on and off for about 2 years (which should have been a clue - right?). The good news is no cracks so currently the heads are out for resurfacing and my C 240 should be back on the road next week!
Also, doing seats, seals and I will need some hoses too.
In the meantime I am very much enjoying the new (old) 2000 E320 - such a smooth ride!! Amazing that a 20 year old car can ride so nice and was surely ahead of its time when released - such luxury.
Don't waste your time fixing the engine. Just swap it out for another lower mileage 2.6 or even a 3.2 or 3.7 m112. The ECU doesn't care it'll adapt and run any of those. These engines can be had for $1000 bucks or less shipped to your door with 100K miles. It's a hell of a lot less work than a head gasket job.
 

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Don't waste your time fixing the engine. Just swap it out for another lower mileage 2.6 or even a 3.2 or 3.7 m112. The ECU doesn't care it'll adapt and run any of those. These engines can be had for $1000 bucks or less shipped to your door with 100K miles. It's a hell of a lot less work than a head gasket job.
I have to disagree. Pulling the engine is much larger job than pulling the heads. And while you could use a different sized M112 engine, the ECU will need to be recoded, using SDS in Developer Mode (not a big deal, but it must be done). Also, the transmissions are different and the differentials may also be different (sorry, can't remember offhand)across M112 engines. On top of that you can't just swap in "any" M112. There are different versions for different cars based on engine mount and accessory mount needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Job is complete and all seemed well until the vehicle started stalling. Of course when the mechanic comes to test drive it around our neighborhood it runs fine!! Stalls on acceleration as if not getting gas. On occasion it dies completely lights and all going out. Car will restart only to move ahead a few feet and then stall again. Feels like a vacuum issue to me but I am no expert. No check engine light coming on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Tested TPS and MAF. Issue was the MAF. Replaced MAF and vehicle ran good until Check Engine light came on and car occasionally does not want to upshift. Stop, turn off car, wait, restart and will run fine for the day. Next time I take it out she does the same or goes into soft limp mode. I restart again and all is well until we start the same crazy cycle again...
 

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That could be a transmission issue. I'd pull codes, and not with a generic OBDII scanner - use one that reads MBZ-specific systems and codes. Models from iCarsoft (MBII, i980), Autel (DiagLink, MD808, MD806), and Foxwell (n510 Elite) will do it. Does your E320 have OBDII, or is it still the old 38-oin (I can't remember when they finally added OBDII on that car). If it's 38-pin, then make sure the tool you choose has an option for that. If you have other car makes, the Autel MD808/806 works with "everything".
 
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