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Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:57 pm
by asavage
I bought an E300 last Saturday. Sight-unseen. This should be interesting.

It's in Parker, Colorado. I bought it from Royal Automotive of Englewood, CO, and it's now at an indy MB shop in Parker, Hoover Mercedes. I had Mike there do the pre-purchase inspection, and after I agreed to purchase it from Royal, I had it delivered to Hoover for an AT flush and diff oil change. I fly in on 03Mar, drive it home over 04-06Mar.

I have been without a diesel vehicle since I gave away the '86 Sentra to Bill and sold the '82 Maxima Wagon to Ray in Sacramento, both in 2010. I sold the '93 Aerostar to Doug in Carlton, Ore. and in 2012 bought basically the same van (but with AWD, the 4.0l engine, and the only Aero with a 5-spd. auto: 1997 Aerostar E4WD). In 2013, I got a job that involves a 54 mile commute, five days per week, and I've been racking up miles on this AWD minivan at a prodigious rate. I like the rig, and more importantly the dog like it, so it stays, but I've been meaning to move to a saner commuting strategy for years. I've tried public transit but it adds 1:20 per day to my commute (almost eight hours per week!) and still involves three miles of driving. I would really like an electric commuter but they area still rather downscale and extremely expensive; I can almost buy a used Leaf in my budget, but my heart's not in it.

I looked at hybrids and decided that the in-budget ones are either worn out, don't get decent mileage for the class of vehicle by today's standards (1st & 2nd Gen Prius), or too expensive.

That leaves going back to biodiesel, my stopgap green commute until electric becomes affordable and desirable. Of the available-in-North-America options, I don't want an SUV so the Jeeps are out. I don't want to commute in a pickup. I looked at the VWs and found their engines lacking. I eventually talked myself back into Mercedes Benz. I've owned a couple before (W111 "fintails" 220Seb, 220S, 230S, 190D, etc; W108 280S; W115 1975 300D) and sold off my father's W123 240D three years ago, but I've never really liked them all that much. They are their own thing.

However, say what you will, they are durable. Not reliable, not cheap, but durable. And they have a lot of diesel models that are available on the used market in the US. So, I started reading about the "newer" MB diesels that I knew nothing about: all the models after the venerable W123, which was discontinued after 1985 and had a very well regarded five-cylinder turbodiesel by that time, the OM617. It turns out, the last MB diesel that reliably runs biodiesel at high concentrations (which is the whole point of diesel for my situation) is the 1998-99 W210 E300 with the OM606.962 turbodiesel engine. It can run B100 (after viton conversion, of course).

After 1999, that engine was no longer available in the US market, and when MB brought a diesel back to the US years later, it was the common rail CDI with a trap oxidation/particulate filter regeneration strategy that does not work with high blends of biodiesel.

So, in the MB world, only diesels up to 1999 are an option.

I wanted a Green one. You can buy these in Silver, Black, Gold, and White all day long, but if you want a Blue, Burgundy, or Green one you've got to wait. I missed a very good one seven months ago, but it was too low miles and the price was astronomical. Then two months ago this one came available (and another one for the same price in Virginia, with lower miles but more "used" looking). I had it inspected, and it seems to need a replacement radio (the current one is probably FUBARd during the SiriusXM add-on installation; we have SiriusXM in our other car & I don't like it, it cuts out too much on our drives due to those damned trees we have everywhere in the PNW), and a seat switch.

These W210 models have dozens of well-known trouble areas, all carefully documented by the Ones Before Me, so the paths are well traveled and I think I know what to expect.

Photos, if interested, are here. Click on "Photos" then "Large Photos".

It has 149k miles, and I gave $7300 for it. Argh. That's the most I've ever spent to purchase a vehicle. I hope that it's worth it.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:13 pm
by asavage
Some collected notes on the 1999 W210 chassis and OM606.962 (turbo) engine.

Snap-On diesel compression tester adapter set MT3509 contains adapter M3576 (M12 x 1.25) which should fit the MB OM606 via the GP hole.
O-ring sizes:

OM606.962 O-Ring sizes from PeachParts (with add'l additions by me):
The OM606.962 uses:

(1) shutoff valve 2.5mm x 12mm ID (SOV-to-OP: see below for the two internal SOV o-rings on the end caps)
(9) fuel line 2.5mm x 8mm ID (1 located at fuel filter housing)
(3) fuel filter @ housing 2.5mm x 10mm ID
(1) Pre-filter: 3mm x 18mm ID
(6) Delivery valve: 2mm x 15mm ID x 15mm ID x 19mm OD.
  • McMaster-Carr 9263K299, pack of (10), 75 Shore, $5 (May2017).
  • Amazon (Small Parts) VIF-M2x15, pkg. of (25), $5 (May2017).
The O-ring around the in-tank fuel screen/filter thingie measures 3 mm Width, 35 mm ID, 41 mm OD. (3mm x 35mm ID)
The fuel shut-off valve (SOV) has non-metallic end caps with o-rings that can be field serviced with a bit of work. See this thread for details.

I have disassembled an SOV.

Use a 3/32" pin punch to remove the cap retaining pins.

The bore is stepped, and the cap matches it of course.

I found these end cap dimensions:
ID = 1.023" = 26mm
OD = 1.234" = 31.3mm (@ cap bore)
OD = 1.202" = 30.5mm (@ o-ring bore)
groove width = .136" = 3.5mm

It seems that the o-ring bore is likely 30.5mm and that an o-ring 26mm x 31mm would provide ~.010" crush all around.

I have ordered three different size o-rings to try (all in Viton material):
2.5mm width x 26mm ID x 31mm OD
3.0mm width x 25mm ID x 31mm OD * This is the size I finally installed.
3.0mm width x 26mm ID x 32mm OD

Timing the OM606 using a piezo injector line pickup and timing light instead of the mechanical IP lock tool (MB 601589052100, Baum 601-0521, MMMM 4M-065, MARK-MOTO WAR367) or "RIV" static timing tool (MB 617 589 08 21 00, NLA and over $600 in 2016).
Brian Carlton wrote:I got the correlation.

The [300]SD is set perfectly at 15° ATDC using the RIV device [static timing tool for late OM617 and all OM603 & OM606 engines].

The pulse timing device showed 13.5° BTDC.

So, my best estimate of the proper timing with the pulse device is just about 14° BTDC.
Radio: Becker BE3302 ("Audio 30")
ON/OFF/Volume knob is: Q4820116 = Becker (Q4820119 = Alpine)
World Impex $9.25
Image Image
Factory Mopar Parts $7.67

Interstate MTP49/H8, about $200.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:26 am
by plenzen
Nice Car

Just interested/curious in your comments about the VW diesel.
What is it that you find "lacking" about that motor ?

Dad has had numerous TDI's over the past 20+ years and never had an "engine" issue.
The cars have had issues however, but not the engines or transmissions. ( all have been manual ) .

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:37 pm
by asavage
Stupid things like the air filter clamshell: the hold-down screws thread directly in the housing's plastic, rather than using either an external clamp or (as does my Aerostar) a brass insert and machine screw. Dumb.

The TDis are renowned for engine & (automatic) transmission problems. The chain-drive oil pump whose sprockets wear out (running in oil) and allow the chain to slip, leading to low or no oil pressure. The intercooler soot-up problem that's much worse than other turbocharged diesels. Repeated injection pump leaks & failures -- over & over you hear about those. I spent some time reading in the tdiclub forums and just decided I didn't want to go that way.

Then I asked my brother, who owns one. He said, no, he would not recommend another TDi. He's recently dumped another $8k in his and it's still got issues.

The W210 has a long list of very common issues as well, including one deal-breaker for salted-road states: they rust pretty fast, compared to other MB. The non-4Matic models even have a bad issue with the front spring perches rusting off (seriously). Rear window regulators break often. Problems with the sunroof cables. Pixels die in the instrument cluster. A leaky wiring connector on the transmission (which is shared with certain Chrysler products) leads to ATF being pushed up the wiring loom into the transmission controller up near the cowl, leading to all kinds of strange shifting problems. Spill a coke in the shifter (2000+ W210s only) and the car stalls and won't move (common problem -- liquid in the gear position selector switch). Six plastic fuel lines on the lower pressure side of the injection system that must be replaced (with matching 12 o-rings) every few years, or air gets pulled in and if you have a low tank of fuel or are parked nose uphill, it won't start. I could go on, but the point is that the problems are all well known and documented and cheap to fix (for the most part).

The OM606.912 (NA, 1996-7) and OM606.962 (turbo, 1998-9) are bulletproof. The earlier OM603 had head cracking issues and a very few had conn rods that bent, but that was long ago. The Finns are making serious power from the OM606.962, and they're not breaking. I like that in a diesel, and I really like straight-six diesels (like the Maxima's LD28). The OM606 is a 4-valve-per-cylinder engine. Yes, it's drive by wire but not as much as you might think. It's a lot easier to time than the Maxima diesel. The IPs just about never need service (it's an Inline, not a distributor).

VW needs a VAG-COM to do any serious diagnosing; MB (until 2000 or 2001) needs a similar semi-proprietary hardware/software setup to reach into the various controllers on the bus and do anything serious; OBDII generic codes can use a generic reader, but if the AT goes into limp-home mode, you're not going to reset it with a $40 reader. MB's version is called the Star Diagnostic System and it's horribly expensive. I have ordered a 3rd-party setup called CarSoft v12 for MB from Belgium, $308 shipped. It has the hardware multiplexer and 38-pin interface (for the underhood socket) that lets me talk directly to the various controllers and do things that can't be done otherwise. [edit Sep2016: I later sold off the CarSoft v12 setup and went with a Chinese SDS clone instead, because the CarSoft setup couldn't display the transmission adaptation values.]

I knew all this going in -- I've been researching this chassis for over a year. I could do without the US upscale lifestyle projection that is the baggage that comes with a MB (a triumph of marketing: MB are taxicabs in a lot of countries, the equivalent of a Checker cab!). There just are not a lot of options for diesel and high percentage biodiesel in the US, and this is the last year without a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and the attendant problems with in-cylinder post injection that is the cheap way for mfgrs to get fuel to the DPF and "burn off" the soot every 50 or 100 miles. Big rigs often use a separate injector on the exhaust manifold instead of in-cylinder post injection, but most diesel cars and light trucks are injecting fuel during the exhaust stroke, and trusting the fuel to vaporize there and ignite in the DPF. That inevitably leads to more fuel in the lube oil, the heavy fractions that don't vaporize wash the cylinder walls and get by the rings.

Biodiesel has a much higher flash point than petrodiesel and is less likely to vaporize during a post injection event, so more BD ends up in the crankcase and dilutes the oil.

In ~2007 a VW spokesman said something like, "we can tolerate up to 50% biodiesel in the lube oil, but no more. At 5% BD blend (B5), after 10k miles in testing the VWs of that era were at 45% BD oil dilution. At B10 . . . it got over 50% (reference: Biodiesel Magazine, Apr2008).

I want to run B99. If I try that in a DPF-equipped diesel that uses in-cylinder post injection as a DPF regeneration fueling technique, the oil is doomed.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:20 pm
by asavage
The Maxima diesel LD28 was rated at 80 HP (2.8l NA)
The 1998-99 MB OM606 was rated at 174 HP (3.0l Turbo)

While some Maxima drivers report mileage solidly in the 30s, most seem to get in the high 20s and a few into the 30s occasionally.

Pretty much the same story with the MB E300.

I really like the LD28 (though I'm less crazy about the Distributor IP). It's a smooth, torquey engine and my Wagon was comfortable running at the cruise control limit of 76 MPH for hours (across northern Nevada, for example). But the technology has definitely moved on, and there's no reason for a road-going diesel to not have a turbo now.

My new E300 is 17-year-old tech, and it's still a long way more refined than the LD28 I loved for over a decade.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 8:27 pm
by asavage
I am the third owner. The previous owners were kind enough to leave many service receipts in the owners manual. I finally got them out and read them, and wow they are an eye-opener. The original owner spent a fortune between the end of the three-year warranty and when they ditched it at eight years.

Build date: Jun1999
  • Jun2000, 6,700 miles: Oil change and some inspection: $109
  • Mar2001, 13,800 miles: Oil change, wiper blade, adjust all four doors for noise complaint: N/C
  • Oct2001, 31,000 miles: CEL, P1482. Replace #6 GP, GP control module, IFI module, battery (1st): N/C
  • Nov2001, 31,000 miles: (4) tires, Goodyear Eagle Ultra Grip GW-2: $695
  • Apr2003, 36,000 miles: Replace transmission controller, valve body, conductor plate, floor shift bearing assy., and all GPs: N/C
  • Jun2003, 37,000 miles: Replace VAF (MAF): N/C
  • Nov2003, 41,200 miles: Oil change, wiper blade, filters, brakes F&R: $773
  • Jun2004, 44,800 miles: LR window regulator, A/C evaporator etc., injectors flush: $3,680
  • Aug2005, 55,100 miles: (4) tires, Pirelli P6: $669
  • Nov2005, 57,000miles: Oil change etc., service campaign: wax in the doors: $305
  • Feb2006, 59,500 miles: Rotate tires: N/C
  • Jun2006, 62,900 miles: Battery (2nd): $253
  • Jul2006, 63, 600 miles: (5) fuel lines for fuel leaks, replaced shut off valve: $499
  • Nov2006, 66,600 miles: (2) tires, Bridgestone Potenza: $219
  • Mar2007, 68,300 miles: Oil change, wiper blade, dust filters etc., belt: $777
  • Nov2007, 73,100 miles: RR window regulator, belt tensioner shock, diff side seals and cover reseal: $1,436
That's when the second owner takes over.
  • Apr2008, ?????? miles: Shut off valve (again), fuel heater, fuel system o-rings: $755
  • Sep2009, 99,900 miles: Oil change, dust filter: $344
  • Nov2010, 117,100 miles: Oil change etc., front bumper tow hook cover (paint to match): $397
  • May2012, 135,500 miles: Oil change, dust filter, brake fluid flush, (4) tires, Continental DWS, fan & fan clutch, alignment: $1,812
  • May2013, 142,700 miles: Throttle position sensor, battery (3rd), repack front wheel brgs: $1,602
That's a lot of batteries (3) and tires (14) for 148k miles.

My maintenance items:
  • Sep2016, 157,311 miles: Oil change, air filter change (torn rubber edge seal on Mann filter), new motor mounts (OEM/MB right side was 1/4" compressed over replacement Corteco; driver's side OEM/MB was only 1/8" compressed). Noted minor oil leaks: PS return hose, trans cooler hose at radiator/driver's side, oil lever sensor o-ring).
  • Nov2016, 158xxx miles: New Michelin Premier A/S tires ($606, Costco Grace, Wash.). I did not like the wet performance of the Contis that had only 23k miles on them, so I sold the Contis on CL for $200.
  • Nov2016, 158xxx miles: Replaced PS return hose, trans cooler hoses.
  • Jan2017, 160xxx miles: Replaced thermostat (triggering mandatory housing replacement: the original thermostat is built in to the housing), replaced Duo-valve (electric heater valve), replaced aux. water pump. Replaced injector leak lines (3mm) with Viton 1/8".
  • Feb2017, replaced alternator (115a->150a)
  • Mar-Jun2017:
    • Replaced all (6) low-pressure fuel lines,
    • Replaced SOV with a spare that I'd refitted with Viton o-rings,
    • Replaced flexible fuel lines from fuel tank-to-body and firewall-to-engine with Gates B100-compatible lines,
    • Replaced fuel tank strainer and o-ring with Viton version.
SA Codes

Engine number ... 606962 12 068743
Sales des. ...... E300DT
Order number .... 0 0 705 32433
Production order
Transmission .... 722608 01 548912
Vehicle title no.
Power take-off ..
Front tire 1 ....
Front tire 2 ....
Rear tire 1 .....
Rear tire 2 .....
Order number 1 ..
Rims ............
Lamps ........... HELLA
Windshield wipers
Order number 2 ..
Speed. Corr. ....

Front axle 1 ....
Radio unit no. .. BE3302X1122899241631
Rear axle 1 .....
Rear axle 2 .....
Cab ............. 00000
Platform ........
VIN ............. WDBJF25H2XA939568
Trailer hitch ...
Steering ........
Equipment ....... 205A
Paint/code 1 .... 891
Paint/code 2 ....
Paint/code 3 ....
Paint/code 4 ....
Paint/code 5 ....
Door lock .......
Steering lock ...
Transmission lock
Tank lock .......
Delivery date ... 2 990609

SA code:
059 AEJ.98/2
809 AEJ 06/1/M/X
891 No code designation available

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:05 am
by plenzen
Looks like about 5 years +/- each battery and that would be about the end of the warranty for those anyway.....yes ?

I've had 2 fail recently ( in different vehicles ) and both were right around 60 to 63 months from date sticker on them.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:54 pm
by Duaneclark
Thanks for the Mercedes chronicle. I'm guessing that manual transmissions weren't available?

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sat Mar 26, 2016 5:01 pm
by asavage
AFAIK, the AT (722.6) was the only option for '98-99 in the US, and probably for the earlier W210s as well.

Overseas, they had a 5-spd MT available, as well as other diesel engine options (the MB CDI engine -- common rail -- was sold in the W210 in ~'98 in Europe, but no CDI ever made it into a W210 in the US; the W211 in 2003-4 got it).

I've never liked MB ATs, and this one is no exception. I may have to sink some cash into a rebuilt valve body with Sonnax upgrades (that's north of a grand) if I decide I can't live with it. 3-4-5 are perfect -- highway driving is really, really nice, and the cruise control is the best I've ever had -- but 1-2-3 are quite variable: some shifts good, some sloppy or harsh, some really bad. This seems to be endemic to the breed. There are several known weak spots to the 733.6 pre-2000.

Mine (1999) is the last year with a torque converter drain. Supposedly, Hoover Mercedes drained it when they R&R the filter and cleaned the pan, but they returned too much of the ATF I provided, so I have a doubt. I'll be changing it again in 2016 anyway [shrug].

My trip back from Denver area had a lot of legal 80 MPH parts (WY, UT, ID).


Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Wed May 18, 2016 8:59 pm
by asavage
The 722.6 is an electronically-controlled transmission. The transmission has RPM sensing elements and the transmission controller adjusts the clutch packs' fill time to compensate for various wear factors.

The image below is a concatenation of screenshots taken by MB Star Diagnostics software/hardware today. The fill times (values 19-24) are the ones to watch.

More info on this is here.
Mava wrote:The way one can determine "How worn-out" is the transmission is Mercedes Star must be used, and the car must be driven to get these values. The values go from 0-15-Zero meaning new transmission, and fifteen being flat out worn out.
(click on image for larger)


Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 5:55 am
by Nissan_Ranger
I'd almost give you my Ranger just to keep you into a Nissan diesel!


Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:24 pm
by Knugcab
Lol, and I gave away my 2001 C-class and replaced it with a 1985 KC....
Well, at least I've still got my W123, if I dare to say it in here.... :oops:
My excuse is that I'm at least not driving it anymore, if that's good enough? :|

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:38 pm
by asavage
It's all good . . . unless you're a crank pirate!

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Mon May 08, 2017 6:31 am
by Knugcab
What's a crank pirate?

Hmmm.....maybe I need to see if I can run over the W123 with the 720 and post a film of it on here, is that enough for not throwing me out of here? :mrgreen:

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:09 pm
by asavage
I've gone electric. On 07Aug2017 I bought . . . an off-lease 2014 Toyota RAV4 EV. It's kind of an orphan vehicle.

Built on the 3rd Gen RAV4 platform (2005-2012), it's a "California Compliance" vehicle, built to comply with California's requirement for major car mfgrs with sales in Calif. over 60,000 units to sell like 0.79% of them as Zero Emissions. I'm summarizing, and hybrids figure in there, but the basics are thus.

The RAV4 was a money-losing vehicle to meet that requirement for Toyota in California. They sold ~2600 of them from 2012-2014, all on the older 3rd Gen platform, ie my 2014 RAV4 EV uses all the non-EV parts of a 2012. Fun for ordering parts like wiper blades or floor mats.

It's a conversion, so unlike a Nissan Leaf -- a ground-up EV design -- it's really a gasser with the gasoline drivetrain removed. Here's the fun part: it's a Tesla Model S drivetrain. No shit. It's basically the same guts but derated to 156 HP. Toyota lost money on every one they sold, and the MSRP was $50k! After the Fed. tax credit and Calif. rebate, it was $40k but still . . .

FWD only (no AWD, unfortunately). In "Sport" mode (a button on the dash that adds another 50 ft-lbs of torque) and with traction control turned off, it lights up the tires. Scary and fun for the first few days.

Toyota only sold them in California -- of course, because they had to get credit for sales of ZEV in Calif. Now a bunch of them are coming off lease and migrating around the world -- seriously, there are several in Norway, Spain, and the UK.

All this means that the MB E300 has to go -- not enough parking space here, and I really don't need it now: I don't need to run biodiesel any more. I'm going to lose my ass on it, financially, but too many cars is too many cars.