How to Change Oil and Filter in the M110 Engine

Changing engine oil is usually an straight forward procedure on most cars, however the location of the oil filter housing for the inline six cylinder M110 engine, makes the job a bit more messy and annoying than necessary. Now these cars with M110 engines are starting to get pretty old, which means more often oil changes with the increased mileage. My 280CE is of now 38 years old and I do regular oil changes at every 5000 km. This might seem often, but the little amount of actual kilometres this car is seeing it is usually only once per year.

If the car is parked for long periods, moisture will build up inside the block and the oil will eventually turn milky white, which can be noticed if opening the oil filler cap. If you are doing the oil change yourself, you will get a clear indication of the health of the engine. This you won’t get at a workshop unless it is a special workshop for classic cars. Who can afford that anyway?

This is an article long overdue, but since I did a lot of work on the W123 laterly the opportunity presented itself. Also got inspired by writing this since I already had an article on changing oil in the big brother M120 engine: https://mercbenz123.com/posts/engine-oil-change-m120-engine-w140-s-class/

More articles on W123 coming up soon too!

Preparation

You will need a few supplies and tools before starting on the job. Also it is best to change the oil when the engine is warm since this will let the oil drain easier. So make sure you take a short spin just before changing the oil. Changing the oil can be done in any season, so no need to wait until summer for this one. Just do it!

Supplies

  • 6.5L Synthetic Motor oil with viscosity for your climate and use: A good all-rounder could be 10w-40.
  • Good quality oil filter. I recommend getting a filter from Mann, since it will come with all new washers and gaskets. https://www.mann-filter.com/en.html
  • Paper towels or rags to clean up oil
  • Brake cleaner

Tools

  • Torque wrench
  • Sockets
  • Oil drip pan
  • Ramps or jack stands

Procedure

Make sure the engine is warm and drive the car upon ramps or raise the front of the car upon jack stands. The car is usually high enough just by itself to drain the oil without raising it up, but in order to reach under to the oil filter, you need the space to crawl under it.

280CE upon ramps
280CE upon ramps for the oil change

Draining the old oil

Normally you would open the oil filter can before draining the oil, but since this will literally spilling oil everywhere, you must drain the oil pan first. Open the oil filler cap to let the oil drain out easier. So grab your cleaned oil drip pan, or dirty if you do not care for inspecting the oil afterwards. It is your call. Grab your trusty 13mm socket and crank open the oil drip plug.

open oil filler cap
Open the oil filler cap before draining oil. Notice the white oil inside the valve cover due to moisture buildup. It is not because of coolant mixing with the oil. This ca has been parked for over a year due to reasons.
Draining oil from the M110 engine
Draining oil from the M110 engine

When the oil have stopped dripping, you can move over to removing the oil filter housing. If you have never seen it, it is a large aluminium canister located underneath the left side on the engine towards the back. See image below:

Oil filter housing location on the M110 engine
Oil filter housing location on the M110 engine. Mine says MANN on it, but it might not be the case for you. It is held in place with a single bolt.

The oil filter is held in place with a single bolt, but be prepared for oil splashing when you start removing it, try balancing the filter into the upright position since it will be completely full with oil. So be prepared to get oil everywhere and keep you mouth closed. After the oil housing is removed, clean the mating surface and the area around.

oil filter removed from M110 engine
Oil filter removed from M110 engine. Clean surfaces and area around.

Replacing oil filter and washers

Pour out the old oil in the filter housing and notice the orientation of the old filter and washers. Take out the oil filter and throw it away. Now clean out the old gunky oil from the oil filter housing. Use some break cleaner and get all that gunk out and dry clean.

Mann Oil filter for the M110 Engine
Old and new filter. Mann filters are high quality and comes with gasket and new washers.

Hopefully your new filter has some new washers in the pack. Replace the lower washer on the oil filter bolt which goes on the outside of the filter housing (this not a copper washer). There is a spring and a spring retainer inside the housing below the filter, keep this in the same orientation before inserting the new filter. Place the new filter with the narrow hole down and the larger hole upwards. The side for up usually has a little handle on it. Do not forget to replace the new rubber gasket around the edge of the filter housing.

If you notice in the oil filter kit that there is an additional large copper washer there with an unusual shape. This washer is for the large bolt which holds the oil pressure relief valve right next to the oil filter housing. However this only needs replacing if you see oil seepage from the area. No need to replace this every oil Change. The torque for this bolt is 41 Nm.

Lower washer on the filter housing bolt
Replace lower washer on the filter housing bolt
Reinstall oil filter housing bolt
Reinstall oil filter housing bolt and place in spring and retainer before inserting the new filter.

Before reinstalling the oil filter, make sure you top up the oil filter completely with new oil. This will reduce the wear at the first startup after the oil change since more oil will be available for circulation right away. This is not possible in all engines, but here there is an opportunity in the M110 engine.

New filter inserted into the oil filter housing
New filter placed into the oil filter housing. As a last step top up the filter with new oil until the brim.

Reinstall the oil filter carefully not trying to spill out the oil from the new filter. Hand tighten so you can feel you do not ruin the threads. To tighten you will need to use a torque wrench and torque it to 35 Nm. This is pretty tight and will prevent leakage through the housing.. Too tight however and you will ruin the filter housing. Use a rag to clean up the filter housing and area completely so you can inspect for oil leaks later.

Reinstalled oil filter on the M110 engine
Reinstalled oil filter and torqued to 35 Nm. Cleaned for residue oil.

Adding new oil

Before pouting in the new oil, you can inspect the old oil and see if there is any residue and metal parts at the bottom of the drip pan. My oil looked alright, not any metal particles or excessive old oil, but because the car have been sitting for so long with only short starts now and then, the oil pan had built up some gunk which came out when draining the oil. Nothing serious, but it was a good time to replace the oil for sure.

Inspecting oil drip pan after oil change
Inspecting the oil drip pan after the oil change. No metal shavings or . Only some gunked up oil residue since the car has been parked for so long.

Then at last replace the copper washer on the oil drain plug bolt and torque it to 41 Nm. Very important to put this plug back before you pour in the new oil. The engine takes 6.5 L of oil, but do not pour in all at once, pour in around 5.5-6 L and start measuring, otherwise you will overfill and have to suck up the extra oil. There is always some old oil taking up some capacity. Remember to use a funnel to avoid unnecessary spills.

When the oil level is up to the minimum mark on the dipstick, pour another 100 ml between each measurement until you are between the minimum and the maximum mark. The correct oil level measurement is only made when the engine is turned off!

Now you can start up the car an let it idle for a few minutes, and while the engine is running, go under the car and check for oil leaks. Inspect the oil filter if it is leaking and the oil drip plug. If everything looks fine, you can lower the car and take it for a short spin.

Go on a short drive just to get the engine up to operating temperature and head back home. Now shut off the engine and re-measure the oil level. If it is between the minimum and the maximum mark, the oil level is good. If the oil level is still under minimum, then add some oil to get it back to the right level. However if the level is above the maximum, you should suck out some of the excessive oil. This might be unnecessary if the level is just slightly above maximum (a few mm), since there is a natural oil usage from the M110 engine and the level will be fine soon anyway.

So DIY you next oil change and become confident in fixing your own cars!

Cheers, Robs out!

Changing the Exhaust pipes in the w123 280CE

There was this annoying hole in the exhaust from last summer. It was the thin sheet under front muffler that had cracked and I had it welded just before the MOT last year. Unfortunately the job was poorly done by the workshop. Another lesson learned on why we should fix our own cars…. The fix ended up costing almost as much as the new pipes, so that was also dumb. On the very day before this summers epic 3000 km road trip of crossing Norway I had to change the entire exhaust system. The pressure was on to get it finished before the trip!

The poorly welded exhaust only got noticeable few weeks before the upcoming road trip, but another car was planned to be used so there was no pressure initially. Then because of circumstances it was decided to use the 280CE after all and the exhaust leak needed to be addressed asap. I decided to swap out all the pipes since some rust was starting to appear in the pipe welds and its easier to just swap the whole thing at once.

I ordered the exhaust less than two weeks before from Germany and it arrived two days before the road trip was starting. Just in time. It only costed me 500$ which I think is a bargain for a classic car! The quality also seems very good as well.

Welded front muffler w123
Poorly welded front muffler. Now junk.

Stage 1 – Getting the car up in the air

You need some good space to wrestle with the large exhaust system under the car. I drove the front of the car up on ramps then lifted the back of the car on jack stands so the whole body was up in the air. I leave the tires on for extra safety and don’t lover the jack either. Also make sure to block the front wheels from rolling on the ramps. I’m a fan of redundancy and here I even placed a couple of jack stands in the front which is kind of unnecessary, but makes it feel somehow safer.

Car on jack stands
Car up in the air. Potentially dangerous and safety should be on your mind. Here I have redundancy by leaving the jack in place and using redundant jack stands. Not recommended to be under the car during an earthquake…

Stage 2 – Removing the old pipes

This is usually the most time consuming job involving rusted fasteners and wrestling with stuck pipes. I was planning to only change the pipes up to the down pipes, since the down pipes are in a really good condition compared to the rest of the exhaust. The issue then become separating the down pipes from the pipes underneath the car.

exhaust clamps
Front exhaust clamps

I started removing the clamps for the front pipes and loosening the system from the transmission mount. Then unhooking the four rubber donuts from the rear muffler. To avoid too much stress on the pipes I placed something under the rear muffler for it to rest on, in this case a tree stub.

rear muffler 280ce
Rear muffler resting on a wood stub

Then the issue with sliding off the exhaust system from the down pipes. They were extremely stuck and you’re not able to twist them since it’s a pair of dual pipes. I was first trying to push them out with putting my entire weight with my legs and kicking. Then I tried heating the outer pipes with a heater torch. After a while struggling with no success and them not moving at all I had to make a drastic decision. I needed to cut them out without damaging the inner down pipes. This would mean the old exhuast would be trash, but it’s old and not worth much anyway.

cutting the exhaust pipes
Cutting the exhaust pipes.

In order to get the old outer pipe off, it needs to be split and then removed. It would be impossible to try pushing them off otherwise. I started by cutting the pipes across a few centimeters before the mating point. Here I used an angle grinder with a thin cutting disk for about half the way, then a manual cutting saw blade for the rest. A bit tedious, but will get the job done. The best would be to use a hack saw which is much safer than an angle grinder and faster than the manual saw. However I don’t have one. Maybe now it’s a time to acquire one?

exhaust pipes cut
Pipes are cut and also a slit is made lengthwise with an angle grinder. Care is taken to not cut all the way through to th einner time.

After the pipes were separated I could remove the old exhaust system. The old stubs of the outer pipes are just as stuck and a slit have to be cut down the middle and care have to taken in order to not damage the inner tubes. The only tool for this is an angle grinder. Watch out for sparks in your face!

Split the pipes
Split the pipes with a sharp punch and drive it in with a hammer. Eventually the metal will split. Use ear protection since it tends to be very loud.

When there is a slit along the length of the pipe I could use a punch with a sharp end and drive it into the slit until it grew larger and eventually the pipe will split along its entire length. Then it was super easy to remove the outer pipe.

Splitting pipes with a punch
Splitting the pipes with a punch. Super easy!

I was surprised of how effective it was, and it was sour that I wasted so much time trying to free the pipes with different methods before I ended up doing this. I was also surprised to find that there was essentially no rust that was binding up the pipes, instead it looked like the metal had expanded into each other and exhaust coke had made this kind of glue between them. Now that the old exhaust was removed, I could mount the new system on.

Stage 3 – Fitting the new pipes

This was the fastest part of the job. It was basically lining up the three exhaust part components, putting on the clamps and tighten them. When the full length is assembled I could slide it under and mount it to the down pipes. Don’t forget to slide on the clamps before joining the exhaust pipes.

Hangers different from old system
Shape of hangers different from the old system.

I found having some help with the assembly part is useful due to the quite heavy and large part that needs to be aligned, but also doable alone if you plan all the moves ahead in time.

The exhaust kit came with four new rubber donut muffler hangers. These rubber hangers crack at an incredibly fast rate due to the heat of the exhaust and they rarely lasts more than 1-2 years before they break.

New exhaust system
New muffler being very shining, almost looks fake.

Stage 4 – Road trip

Luckily I managed to sort it out the evening before and could leave the next day.The road trip went fine and went without issues all the 3000 km. The tail pipes of the new exhaust have a slightly different shape and the heat reaches the rear bumper a bit more making a subtle bluish tint on the chrome which is quite cool.

280CE in Lofoten

I have the habit of doing jobs in hurry lately where I needed to travel shortly afterwards. Unfortunately this introduces a lot of stress and takes the joy out of fixings cars a bit. I need to plan better indeed.

Cheers, Robs out.

How to adjust the valves in the M110 engine – Part 1.5

Part 1.5 of valve adjustment of Mercedes M110 Engine. Stuck valve adjusting nuts require a DOHC valve compressor tool, which is hard to obtain for this engine.

Christmas came early..

Notice the part 1.5 nonsense, what is that all about you might think to yourself? Have I gotten mad over New Year’s? It’s rather just because of the half usefulness of this article. Since you readers are mostly DIY mechanics and Mercedes enthusiasts, I want to convey a story of the journey toward valve adjustments of such an old engine. In this way we share the ups and downs, the challenges and successes, and maybe learn something on the way.

Remember in Part 1 https://mercbenz123.com/posts/valve-adjustment-m110-engine-part1/ where I ended with 4 different options listed with increasing price and pain? Well since Christmas came early (2018) I ended up somewhere with a solution in the middle of option 1 and 2. After trawling the used car tool market, mostly ebay, I managed to find a seller which sold a late 70s vintage Mercedes valve compressor kit for DOHC engines. Although not specific to the M110 engine it is close enough, that with a few modifications it might just work. Let me just say it was the most expensive vintage tool I have ever bought. Lets hope it can come to good use!

Mercedes late 70s DOHC valve spring compressor tool.
Mercedes late 70s DOHC Valve spring compressor tool for several engine models.
M110 DOHC valve compressor tool
This is the M110 engine specific tool which is out of production. Looks similar right? Although not the same, I’m sure we can adjust the obtained one to do the same job with some modifications.

I almost did not buy due to the high asking bidding price, but after the deadline was reached it was still for sale. I decided to go for it as a Christmas present for myself and bid on the tool for a little less. Chance happened that we compromised and reached a fast deal. Two weeks before Christmas it landed in the mail box.

Valve spring compressors
It came with 4 different valve compressors. I might use the second from the left with some modifications.

It comes with 4 different valve compressors, although I’m not sure if any of them fit right out of the box. I might need to adjust one of them. The lever bar has a simple screw on attachment to swap out the compressor ends. The Hook is not attached, but can be placed in different grooves. I might also need to adjust the arrangement here as well.

Under I have tried to visualize how the tool is operated on the valve head. The idea is to compress the valve just enough so I can slide off the rocker arm. Since the valve clearance adjusting nuts are so tight we need a socket over the nut which is naturally blocked by the rocker arm.

I tried to overlay this tool over the valve and camshaft arrangement in the M110 engine. Here The sizes are not 1:1 but illustrates the point. Already here we can see that there might be clearance issues between the engine wall and the compressor. Also the circular edge for the compressor surface has to be cut, so it can slide onto the valve top under the rocker arm.

I’m excited to see how the tool can be used in real life, but since it’s winter and the car is hidden away, this have to wait until spring. I’ll keep you posted on the progress in this journey as soon as possible.

Cheers! Robs out


Other news: I tried to sell the S600 in the autumn, but was unfortunately little interest which is hard to believe when regarding the current economics and huge interest in classic cars. Norway is a weird country.. The car is in mint condition with low mileage so I will not give it away for free. I will instead keep it and enjoy it, make some good articles about the w140 and let time mature it into a true classic.

How to adjust the valves in the M110 engine – PART 1

M110 Engine Valve adjustment – Part 1

I planned the valve adjustment job to be straightforward and easy, making it a delight to write an article about afterwards, but no! In the end I could not even adjust a single valve out of the 12 in total, and this is why I will divide the so called adventure into multiple parts and share my experience on the topic.

“Mother nature beats father engineer every time..”

Valve adjustments should be done every 15.000 km which means for most people every 2. or 3. year and is important for engine performance and fuel consumption. Neglected maintenance can even end up wearing your cam lobes prematurely if they get too tight!

A story of success

I got all the parts I needed, that is really only a valve cover gasket set. I let the car stay overnight for the engine to cool down. Then I start pulling out the spark plug wires, no need to mark them with cylinder number..haha! I unbolt the valve cover in a breeze, the nuts I throw somewhere neat.

Then I check the valve lobe timing, oh see that the first one is perfectly aligned already so I can start adjusting the first valve immediately. I find my valve feeler gauge easily from the toolbox and it’s not rusted together at all. I adjust the first valve and since my memory is faultless I can easily keep track of all the valves I have adjusted and the ones who are left. The crank is so easy to turn by hand and I don’t need to remove the radiator shroud or anything silly like that. I get everything done in under a less hour and bolt everything together with the new valve valve gasket and I’m now already on my way to the race track with 40 more HP.

A cake, but it's a lie

This is all however a big lie.

Sometimes wisdom words are painfully true: “Mother nature beats father engineer every time..”. The real struggle you can follow below.

bleak Reality

So before starting you should take care of a few things. In theory a valve adjustment is easy and requires little preparation and engine know how. You need a new valve cover replacement kit, since your old one is probably leaking oil and a new one is very cheap. The valve adjustment can be made either when the engine is warm (just after driving) or cold (20°C). I really recommend the latter since you will not burn your fingers and get better results since the engine is not cooling down slowly. Ideally it should be at ambient summer temperatures in the shade. You have to leave the car overnight to properly cool down after driving so this have to be planned in advance.

The tools you need is just really a spanner and some feeler gauges for the adjustment and a socket for turning the crank over, but as we will see here this is not the case for my case.

M110 engine with air filter off
Marked spark plug wires.

I start by removing the air filter housing to access the valve cover freely. Then I mark every spark plug wire with a number on a piece of tape. Usually the spark plug wires are different length, but it’s so much easier to plug them in afterwards. Then I take out the spark plugs.

Now I can start removing the valve cover bolts and place them somewhere safe. I note that the middle ones have a copper shim which I can keep, but the new valve cover gasket comes with replacement ones. It’s always nice to keep bolts, nuts and shims if they are in good order.

M110 engine with valve cover open

NOTE OF CAUTION
With the valve cover off is is extremely important to not drop anything into the engine like a nut or something, since this will cause catastrophic engine failure. Also keep dirt away and exercise hospital  level cleanliness while the engine is open. Cover it always when not working on it, like lunch break etc..

I then go in the the toolbox to find my gauge feeler blades and realize they have rusted together and end up throwing them. I go in my dad’s old toolbox and luckily find some that are in a bit better shape. With a cold engine the inlet valve clearing should be 0.10 mm and the exhaust 0.25 mm. I draw a diagram over the valves so I can mark them after every adjustment, it will be very hard to keep track of otherwise. Just try remembering 12 boolean positions for reference!

Valve gauge feeler tool

Of course none of the valve lobes are pointing  directly vertical for any of the valves after opening the cover, that would be too easy! So I go ahead and try to turn the crank, but come over a problem. The fan shroud is too tight to engine for me to get any socket tool and ratchet to the crank. Loosening just the fan shroud is not helping either since the fan is sitting tight to the shroud. Then I loosen the fan and I can just get enough room for the ratchet and finally being able to turn the crank.

I align the first cam lobe and is ready to check the valve clearing. I expect most of the valves to be to bee way too tight, and the first one is as expected. I grab my spanner to start adjusting, but the valve adjusting nut is not moving at all. In fact I’m starting to slightly round off the nut. I stop before I ruin it. Then I quickly check a few other valves, they are all tight as expected, but also here the valve adjusting nuts are super tight. I am totally stuck.

After searching the Internet for similar issues it seems this is a common scenario for these aging engines. The nut material is quite soft and can easily be rounded off when they are tight. The solution is to remove the rocker arms to access the whole nut so you can get a socket over it to exert more force.

Seems easy right? To remove the rocker arm you need to depress the valves somehow. They are under very high pressure from the valve springs and a special compressor tool is needed. There are many different DOHC valve spring compressor tools on the market, however the M110 engine have very tight space between the cams and the engine walls where the spring compressor have to fit.  And the valve is at an angle so the tool need to be just for this purpose. There is such a speciality tool for the M110 engine, but I can’t find it on a single place on the internet.  It turns out it is in fact out of production. Fuck!

I am stuck and have to abandon my job and put everything back together. This was a waste of time! (But in the back of my cynical mind I think it can be turned into an article at some point..)

Here is a diagram over the valve assembly to illustrate the point better.

Valve Configuration M110 engine

The valve compressor tool is like a leverage bar with a hook for the cam axle and a crow foot depressor at an angle that can slide between the engine wall and the cam axle down on the top of the  valve. It looks like this:

M110 DOHC valve compressor tool

how to solve the tool problem

I have considered some options below and ranked them from easier/cheaper towards more expensive options.

  • Obtain the tool

I have really tried to find this on the internet, but with no success. I think I will not be able to obtain it. Not sure if Mercedes has one , but I am scared of even asking, it’s probably super expensive.

  • Make the tool myself

I know how it looks like and roughly the sizes. I can easily obtain some steel, and a crow foot. I have a welder so I can make the tool. However I expect it to take some time to assemble. Definitely worth looking into.

  • Take the car it to a workshop

I can just take it to a workshop and tell them to adjust the valves, but they are going to run into the same problems like me and they might end up ruining the valve nuts unless I explicitly tell them the problem in great detail. Remember these days no cars require manual valve adjustment and only the more experienced mechanics have done this. If you want things done right, better do it yourself.

  • Contact Mercedes on how the fuck….

This is my last option and will consist of asking if they have such a tool, and if the tool is not for sale (or out of production), if they can at least adjust the valves if they can send a tool from Mercedes Classic in Germany to their workshop. Problem is that is going to be very expensive for a simple job. Not likely I will venture down this path. Also would turn into a dreadfully boring article for you DIY people!

More on this adventure when we return in Part 2 of the valve adjustment nightmare… soonish

(Not really, it’s damn winter and car is parked)

Cheers, Robs out!