Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Steel Seal Review - Mercedes 190E
We have had my wife's mercedes 190E from new and it now has 144,000 miles on the clock. It had been gradually using more water for a couple of years and I always suspected the cylinder head gasket but suddenly the rate of water loss accelerated and the engine started to run roughly when cold. So the time had come to do something about it. Most garages in London wouldn't even quote, just saying the car wasn't worth it. Well, it is proper engineering to change the cylinder hear and a time consuming and not very profitable for them exercise, so I can understand that. The only estimate I could get said between £700 - £1,000 - at least. So, do you scrap the car or get it fixed? Because this is a pristine merc 190 and it is such a beautiful drive and now old enough to qualify as a classic car it was worth fixing, even for a grand.
The car had developed back pressure in the water system, it is always the rear sylinder that fails on mercs because that is the hottest burner. So, it was easy to identify which plug to remove, but a more complicated operation than just running the engine. I followed all the instructions to the letter, except that I couldn't raise the front wheels off the ground, so I just didn't do that. Running the engine with a spark plug removed makes a bit of noise and it wouldn't run at 1,000 rpm but it was fine at about 1,750. There were only two slight problems, what exactly is 210 degrees fahrenheit? Well, it's 98.9 deg C and the car's temperature gauge only says 80 and then there's an unmarked line and then a line marked 120, centigrade. So I ran the engine until the guage got to the mid range unmarked line instead.
The second and by far the most difficult part of the exercise was fitting the new gasket over the thermostat housing before replacing it, that was fiddly and took about five minutes to master. I am not a mechanic. The engine now starts first time, (as it always did) there's no rough running when cold, it purrs like a kittten and there's no apparent water loss any more. I will definitely let you know how it goes, I bet it is good for another 40,000 miles. If I had treated it earlier I wouldn't have had to run the engine without the spark plug, but I was putting off dealing with it because of the perceived expense. And finally, instead of £1,000 it cost £39.99. If you have any doubts, just do it, there's nothing to lose.