2nd Oct 2003, 18:46


I appreciate your comments on the 1986 300SDL. I currently own my 5th Mercedes, the 1980 300SD Turbo Diesel with over 400,000 miles on it. It is time to upgrade so I have been looking at a 1986 300SDL, but know little about the SDL. I have read that the cylinders crack and need replacement as one article pointed out for $2500. Please help me out so I know what I am getting into with the SDL.


Ron Ataide, Fresno, California.

18th Dec 2003, 14:54

The cylinder heads in the 300SDL's are prone to crack, but only if the car was overheated at some point. That is their only weakness. They are every bit as tough as an '80 300SD, and the best part is you don't have to adjust the valves every 20K miles.

They are much quieter at speed than the five cylinder and the engine is just as tough. With ludicrous amounts of rear seat legroom, you'll never be short of space.

Great review.

19th Apr 2004, 09:30

Great to see others with a Mercedes 300 SDL that like them. I have just bought a 87 300 SDL and it came with ever record from the day the lady drove it home. I have very little to do on the care, some cosmetics and fog light lenses. I have 180K on this and it has had the head replaced not due to cracking, but someone broke a bolt off a few years ago and they destroyed it trying to fix that, in talking to my mechanic he said that he has yet to have to replace a 300 SDL head due to cracking. I am also going to replace the injectors and glow plugs as they are the original ones and with 180K I think it could not hurt. The biggest thing I was told about these cars is PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE!!! Change the oil, change filters and flush the trans every other year and you will get a lifetime out of it. After the initial cost of $5000 for the car I feel I can spend $1000 a year to keep it going and still come out on top.

27th Apr 2004, 11:24

I've got a '86 300SDL I bought 7 years ago (1987) with 119,000 miles. It now has 230,000 and still runs like new. I have not had a major repair bill the entire time although I've spent over $1,000 getting the automatic windows repaired. I always get the oil and fuel filters changed every 5,000 miles. I've never had a problem with the injectors (yet) and they are still original. I plan on keeping this car until 2013...at which time I'll post again and let you know how well it's running!!! By the way, this car is as fast off the line as most cars and gets better gas mileage than my ex wife's Toyota!!!

28th Jul 2004, 08:53

Hi. My family has 2 of the 87 300 SDLs. My grandfather bought them both back in 1987. He died two years later. One of them had been driven by my grandmother on road trips between Alabama and Georgia and the other was literally was driven only occasionally over the last 17 years. The first one has 55K miles and the second one has about 140K miles. I now drive the one with higher miles and absolutely love the car. My mom is driving the other one. These cars perform better than the 300 SD with the 5-cyl engine and are slightly quieter. My mother drove one of those for years also.

I will say that the turbo charger on the one with higher miles does not feel as powerful as the other one, but the acceleration is still very acceptable for a diesel.

These are great cars if you can find one. Much better than the 350SDL I am told.

8th Aug 2006, 20:25

I agree with all of the comments mentioned above. I have a 86 300 SDL that was originally from upstate NY and was in good condition except for some rust spots here and there. The tranny and engine is pretty solid and has 300,500 miles on it. I do oil changes every 4-5 months since I only drive about 5-6k a year. I have another car I use for work so I don't end up abusing my baby. :) I will keep this car for many years to come and will NEVER SELL IT! LONG LIVE MERCEDES 300 SDL! A CLASSIC CAR!

22nd Jan 2007, 11:14

Dear Diesel lovers.

I first bought my 300SDL 11 years ago. The car was 10 years young when I bought.

The condition was so perfect for me especially with 114K miles & the car still running

So smooth and powerful, especially after I use to driving 190D with no turbo in Chicago.

In 1999 I was so young at heart and tried to drive the car like it was a new car. Not

Long after that I had a bad transmission because it refuses to change the gear. (I was

At 40 sharp back then),.So we had to replace them with a rebuilt one and the core was

Traded in. So the Secret for this lovable car is to drive appropriately and enjoyably I believe

The car will last for ever. My wife and I and my two kids use the car (loaded with all the tents equipments, personal effects and foods) at one time gone around the country

Over more than 40 states from Chicago IL, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston TX, Columbus Ohio, New York states, Maine and return to Chicago in thirty days. It was so

Unbelievable. Now my daughter has graduated from college and my son just entering

College on that lovable 300sdl with smooth ride and he loves the car more than anything, the only weakness is that he does not clean the car like I do. By the way the car now has almost 214,000 miles today and still going strong.

The only worry I am concerned, is that the local MB garage told me that he sees some rusts in the under carriage of my SDL, but I still believe that he will still deliver my son until he graduates. My advice don't bring the car to a dealer for trade-in, they will definitely insult you. just drive it till he fades away.

5th Jul 2007, 19:27

I bought a 240d. I loved the car so the next was a 300d Turbo. Loved that car. My wife bought a 87 300 SDL with 190,000 miles. It now has 243,000. So I bought my own 300sdl. Had 102,000 and I paid $6500 for it 5 years ago. It has 180,000 on it. My friend has an 87 and it has over 500,000 on it, looks and runs like new. I love these cars, but you do need a good independent tech to take care of them properly, and I have him. Long live the Benz!

11th Sep 2007, 22:52

Hello, I purchased a 1987 300-SDL 5yrs ago.

I never drove the car hot, but on a road trip I had trouble, the car started to heat up so I shut it down right away.

I took the car to my M.B. Mechanic and had the motor rebuilt and head replaced, It had 5 visible cracks. This cost me $4400.00. I love the car that much. I now have 296,000 miles and the car runs perfect, replaced A.C. compressor and dryer tank R-12 recharge 3yrs ago, Still Ice cold. I will drive this car for the rest of my life. My friends love the room in it and we always take it on our cross-country road trips. I average 27.95mpg overall city-hwy. Happy motoring hope to see you in your 300-SDL.