Mercedes CL203, Spac’s daily

SpacSpac @Spac Canberra-ish.

Bought this a few months ago, purely because it was cheap and manual.

Its a C200 Kompressor, so 1.8 litre M271 motor with 120kW.

It replaced the BMW 120i as the daily driver. I prefer the Merc by a significant margin: quieter, smoother, roomier and a bit faster. Only downside is that it uses about 0.5litre/100km more than the BMW.

It had a few niggles, as expected from a 17yo euro car. Today I sorted a few of them and gave it some maintenance.

A) The external door lock was loose. You could see the screw sticking out of the door, but it wasn’t engaged with the threads on the lock.

After getting a bum-steer online, I discovered that I didn’t need to remove the door trim after all.

Buuuuut.... the bolt was too short?! I poked it out, only to discover that the access hole was too small to fit a new screw into... Just drilled it out and put a longer screw in.

B) Manually wound the sunroof blinds back closed. These cars have a common problem where the cover on the sunroof motor bends and then the gears don’t mesh properly - and my car has this problem. There’s an easy solution involving spacing up the drive gear, but not today.

C) Changed the oil and filter. Boring but had to be done.

D) Topped up the gearbox oil. Absolutely no sign of leaks anywhere, but it took nearly half a litre?!

I would have changed the oil, but couldn’t get the drain plug out. A job for another day, once I have made a 17mm allen key for myself.

E) Replaced the cam cover gasket. Like the E36 BMWs, when the gasket goes hard, they leak oil into the spark plug wells and cause a misfire.

It did it to me a couple of months ago on the way to work, so I mopped it up and it has been fine until yesterday.

So today I fitted the new gasket that I bought back then... Generally a very easy job - Hardest part was cleaning out the spark plug wells without pushing hard old gasket goo into the engine.

Little story of my own stupidity: put it all back together, was just checking over things before starting the engine and realised that all of the spark plugs were sitting on the bench... 😆

These things have a problem with wearing out cam chains and sprockets. With a hydraulic chain tensioner, they can skip teeth on a cold start up. If you realise what’s happened quickly, then you can just replace the chain & sprockets and you’re good. If you keep trying, then you are likely to end up with bent valves.

Fortunately, this one seems to be good. I think that I will buy a timing chain kit anyway. It has travelled just under 160,000km, which is about where they are likely to give problems.

Zero sludge is also a good thing. I was a but suspicious of the previous owner’s maintenance schedule, but either I was wrong or he didn’t own it for long enough to do any real harm.

Still a few more things to tidy up: the original head unit is crap and needs to be replaced with a Bluetooth one, and there’s a fine rattle/buzz from the driver’s seat belt at certain times.

I did buy a set of aftermarket wheels, but the offset is all wrong - they fill out the rear guards nicely, but literally hang out on the front.

So then I bought some spacers to fit to the rear, but the studs are too short to work with the factory Mercedes Benz wheels, and I haven’t made it a priority to chase it all up. One day!

Other than those things, I am happy to just drive it.

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