1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 240D from North America


I recently purchased a 1981 240D diesel Mercedes, and I have been pleasantly shocked with how much I like this car. I never knew anything about these, but I found a seemingly great car, and at a great price, so I could not pass it up.

It is extremely comfortable, in mint condition, and I like that it is a diesel. But, this is my main problem: I do not know much about diesel engines. I need help! It just started to snow a few days ago, I don't have the car in an area I can plug it in, and now it won't start. I tried to start it just two times, but it is not even turning over. It is about 10 degrees outside. It has never had trouble starting in the past! Yes, I wait for the globe light to turn off before I try to start the engine. It just makes a loud noise... Is it frozen diesel lines? Starter issue because it is so cold? Not plugged in? Anyone have any suggestions or ideas? Thanks!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 24th November, 2010

24th Nov 2010, 22:41

Diesel fuel starts to turn waxy when the temperature drops. You need to have a tank heater, and sometimes a fuel line or engine bay heater to counteract those waxing tendencies. The engine bay heater is basically an electric blanket for your block. The rest just attach to the tank or the fuel line. You will probably have to wait until things get warm again before you can use the car again, since no current car engine runs really well on paraffin.

27th Jul 2013, 14:08

Check your oil... the recommended 10w40/10w50 diesel oils for these cars are suitable for year-round use, but they're hard to find. Many people run W123s with 15w40 oil, which isn't good in very cold weather (not a problem for me here in Georgia, but it sure would be wherever you are).

1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 240D 4 cylinder diesel from North America


A simple, amazingly engineered car with lots of character


Alternator went out.

Glow plugs.

Rear axles.

Radiator and hoses.

General Comments:

Best car I have ever owned. Bought it for $1820, have put about $2200 into it, which is to be expected for buying it so cheap without records.

Runs beautifully, very slow. Sounds like a tractor, but very solid and safe. Only left me stranded once when a defective replacement alternator went out.

I have taken care of most of the mechanical issues, and will start working on the aesthetic ones next.

Love this car. It's quirky, slow and tractor-like, but the engineering is amazing, and I love how simple it is under the hood.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th August, 2010

1981 Mercedes-Benz W123 300TD Wagon 3.0L turbo diesel from North America


Diesel durable -- I will keep it and drive forever


Converting to R134 refrigerant was a very bad idea. Marginal performance at best, and acids form in the system, rotting out metal pipes which are costly to replace.

Vacuum control pods in AC system need replacement at every 4-5 years. But I live in a dry desert environment.

You MUST become an expert in diagnosis and replacement of vacuum pods in the AC system and door locking system.

Most body rubber parts seem to last for 15 years before needing replacement. Engine rubber parts usually need replacing every 3 to 5 years. But again, I live in a dry desert environment.

Seat padding needs replacement about every 10 years.

Drive shaft failed in service at 200K miles. Replaced with new.

Switches, particularly the window switches in the center console fail often and are expensive to replace, like $90USD to replace. They can be cleaned and returned to service.

Wood needs to be cleaned and restored, re varnished every 10 years. Also needs to be re-glued to the dash board.

AC can be problematic in R134A conversions. Not very efficient and cools poorly in desert and wagon configuration.

General Comments:

Vinyl in the interior wears forever and shows little damage due to sun or abrasion.

Large, comfortable to get into and out of. Has great utility as wagon for load carrying and utility applications. Far more versatile and useful than owning a sedan.

Diesel dependable and reliable. Typically gets 23-26 mpg in town and 29 to 31 on the highway.

These 617 turbo diesels make excellent conversions to Bio-diesel, SVO, WVO and are rock solid dependable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th August, 2008