1987 Mercedes-Benz W124 300D T from North America

Summary:

Reliable tank, worth the money

Faults:

A/C compressor blew up, but reasonable as I live in Phoenix, AZ. Dealer replaced, and it blew again a year later, dealer replaced free.

Replaced both C/V joints and rear drive shafts.

Only other problem is fuses. Window power fuses pop constantly, same for sun-roof, and blower fan fuses. All items work though, except for rear head rests, which have never worked since I bought the car.

Recently, the turbo does not work. One day it just stopped. Wife drives the car to work and back now.

Good work car.

General Comments:

This is the only car I have ever made all the payments on, and kept. It's a tank.

Have put almost 100,000 miles on it myself, and heading for 300,000.

Engine is very good, although it leaks like a sieve. Same for the transmission.

Biggest complaint is the specialty tools needed, i.e. 12 point internal wrench sockets? What, nothing else would work?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th September, 2003

1987 Mercedes-Benz W124 300d Turbo 3.0 litre turbo diesel from North America

Summary:

This car will probably outlast 4 gasoline powered cars!!!

Faults:

Car had obviously been neglected by the previous owner. I'm sure these cars would outlast almost anything else with proper maintenance. With my particular car I needed to replace a front wheel bearing, starter, and thermostat within a short time after purchasing it.

The automatic climate control system is a lost cause on these cars. If it works at all be glad. Mine won't do anything other than upper vents and defrost. The lower heating vents won't open when selected. I get by okay with this. The air conditioning needs recharging, but I won't bother because here in Vancouver, British Columbia there is no need for it. We get two months of semi-nice weather, 2 weeks of 30 degree weather, and 10 months of dreary, rainy, depressing, cold hell. Why do I live here?!! Anyway, test the climate control system fully, and knock $1000 off the price of the car if there's anything wrong. Even that probably wouldn't cover repairs if you get the dealer to do it.

My sunroof doesn't work, and I haven't bothered to figure out why yet...

Working on the car can be a real pain. I am a college trained mechanic and have worked on many cars. I have to say this one is the worst pain in the ass to work on that I've ever seen. It took me 3.5 hours to change the thermostat because it is located in an awkward position beside the turbocharger. I was cut to ribbons up to my elbows and placed an ad in the paper to sell the car after performing this task. I had a change of heart after a few days and didn't sell the car. Changing the starter wasn't much fun either. I had to disconnect the drag link from the steering arm to get the starter out!!! What a pain. I also had to replace an expansion joint in the exhaust manifold between number 2 and 3 exhaust ports. That wasn't any fun as it requires removal of the exhaust manifold, along with the charge-air ducting. With a few slight design modifications many of these tasks could have been made much easier. Perhaps later models are better... I'll find out one day.

As a matter of routine maintenance I have replaced the glow plugs, diesel injectors, and coolant. I change the oil every 5000km, but recently I have switched to Mobil Delvac 1 synthetic which I should be able to leave in for much longer.

General Comments:

Previously I drove a 1985 BMW 323i which obviously performed slightly better, and was a little more nimble.

For approximately 6 months I owned a Kawasaki ZX-7R sport bike. It was so fast that it completely ruined my car driving experience. All of a sudden the BMW seemed so incredibly slow, that there was no thrill left in driving it at all! However, I didn't want to get killed on a sport bike, as I eventually would, along with everyone else who rides them. This lead me to purchase a safe, slow tank: The Mercedes 300d Turbo. It is fairly fast for a diesel car, but in the grand scheme of things it is a slug. This is fine with me, as everything else also seems slow after having ridden the sport bike.

Maybe I'm just getting old or something, but I find this big diesel tank with automatic transmission quite pleasant and relaxing to drive.

The engineering is good, from a quality standpoint.

I find that I use about 8 litres per 100 km, which is excellent mileage for a car of this size and weight.

Now that I've worked the bugs out of it, and corrected the problems which were due to the previous owner's neglect, I'm sure I could drive this car for 20 years with regular maintenance.

Parts are fairly easy to find, and priced resonably considering their excellent quality.

I only gave it a 6/10 for operating costs because in order to maintain the vehicle properly you do need to spend a bit of money, and there are no parts for $3 at your local Wal-Mart...so generally higher maintenance costs than a run of the mill domestic car. Heck, I could have bought a brand new domestic car for less money than this 15 year old machine, but this will probably still outlast one of those...

I would recommend it overall, but don't buy one that is priced lower than expected!!! You will end up spending more to repair problems than if you just bought a good one for a higher price to begin with. If you work on it yourself like me, then this might not be such a concern. Just be aware that a good deal will soon turn bad once problems start to surface...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th May, 2003

6th Nov 2003, 08:32

Older 124.133 (300D Turbo) having problems with the climate control can be restored to perfect function. The vacuum elements located behind the dash, have rubber diaphragms which crack. The problem is loss of vacuum. To increase the vacuum dramatically in a test, follow the vacuum hose coming off the vacuum pump on the front of the engine to an "H" rubber fitting. Remove the two left side vacuum hoses (Plastic spaghetti tubing) and plug with golf tees. The chances are excellent that the "EGR valve" is shot at this age and is leaking vacuum that not only affects the function of the climate control, but also how the transmission shifts. P.

24th May 2004, 16:03

The climate control unit on these older Mercedes is terribly failure prone and expensive to fix. The good news is that for the cost of a new climate control unit (about $300 online) ANYONE can easily replace it! All you need is a phillips screwdriver and two hands. Simply remove the two phillips screws hidden on the bottom of the wood trim faceplate that surrounds the climate control unit. Once you remove that, unscrew all 6 visible phillips screws in order to remove the climate control unit. Then simply pull out the climate control unit, unplug the two large plugs on each side of the unit and plug the new unit in. It's that easy! I did it and I'm no mechanic!

25th Feb 2009, 21:56

The starter will come out very easy and the thermostat is a 20 minutes job after you remove the air intake pipes and the air filter.

Tom.

27th Jan 2010, 18:58

The reason your car is such a pain to work on is because you're a college trained mechanic. Actually the proper term for you paper mechanics is "parts changer". Becoming a real mechanic has nothing to do with going to college. In fact, if I had to take my car to someone else, I would rule out 99% of the college trained technicians because in reality they know NOTHING about cars except what they read in the FSM.

23rd Feb 2011, 04:21

So if you need a doctor or a lawyer, then who are you going to? There's a reason why people go to college. Do you think Mercedes-Benz will let a BUM or a SO-CALLED technician do their R & D's? Go get a heart surgery with your friendly butcher.

1987 Mercedes-Benz W124 300 TE Stationwagon 3.0 petrol from Netherlands

Faults:

I have had troubles with the power sunroof, the covers on the inside got loose so I had to replace them.

In the beginning when I got the car I got it serviced at a Dutch Mercedes garage, but they are horrible, expensive and you have to wait much too long. Now I go to a German garage, they're much better.

General Comments:

Nice car, looks good, solidly built, too bad they were all a little cheap on the extra's back then in Europe, but overall a good car to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th July, 2000