I may have an opportunity to get (as in FREE) a Mercedes 280SE. Auto Trans. 1980. Have to just come tow it away. Car is in EXCELLENT shape--interior great/exterior great.
Had a no-start issue just come up (wouldn't start twice over a 2 day period)--however, it has started fine since then.
Probably related to the fact that it has been sitting since the owner died 2 years ago (in a garage).
His wife wants it gone.
I will have to tow it home (about 400 miles).
I have an opportunity to get a tow dolly (2 wheels off the ground) for free from a co-worker's friend (the co-worker's husband does short track racing locally, and one of the guys on the crew has the dolly).
I would consider renting a U-Haul, but they are quoting $450 for a trailer and $250 for a Dolly.
My Exploder will handle the tow--and I know enough to be careful while driving (maintain good distance, give plenty of braking time, drive in periods of low traffic).
What I need is INFO:
If I get the tow dolly--I can tow the car forward (facing the normal direction of travel) or backward.
Couple of issues either way--
With MOST auto trans cars, you cannot tow long distances or at speed as the Trans fluid heats up, and there is no cooling going on--unless the engine is running (given the starting issue, I can't count on it). HOWEVER, I was told by a RKI that there are some cars that have a "rear pump" and there is no problem towing them any distance or speed. I do not know enough about Mercedes Transmissions to know if that is the existing design in the car.
Towing Backward--I was told to line the wheels up straight and use a rope tied to the steering wheel--run out the doors to keep the wheels from turning and causing problems. Don't rely on the Steering wheel lock as it is a relatively thin piece of metal.
Now, I could use some advice on the tow--I have never towed via a dolly.
I did tow a BMW 325es (1987) via a Tow Bar the same distance. However that was a manual--so I didn't have the same issues.
Any way to check on the design of the Mercedes, or does anyone have any direct knowledge of this design? Anyone know towing and how to do it safely?
I cannot say for sure on that specific model, but I do know that the W201, 126's etc... throughout the 80's were not to be towed. It has something to do with a pump on the tranny that builds up pressure when towing and does alot of damage.
Maybe check here Mercedes Shop Forum, but I would steer clear of the general discussion forum...
I would only tow it that far on a dolly, or flatbed. Even cars being towed relatively short distances shouldn't be towed with the drive wheels down, this is according to every tow truck driver that comes to the shop.
Here's a few tips to get you back safe:
1) For a RWD Mercedes, rear wheels must be on the dolly, car towed backwards. Otherwise you WILL damage the transmission.
2) DON'T use the key to lock the steering wheel straight, that's suicide. Keep the key in the ignition and turn it one click so that the wheel is NOT LOCKED, but the ignition is still OFF. Leave it that way for the entire trip.
3) Take a good piece of rope and tie it around the spokes of steering wheel, (not on the upper rounds where it can possibly slip around and loosen up on you). Do this on both sides and leave enough rope to go through the door and over the roof. This is your primary tie down, you can use the upper rounds of the steering wheel at 10 and 2 O'Clock -afterwards- for a redundant tie down point. (highly recommended)
4) Make sure the wheels are dead straight. Open the drivers door, pull the drivers side rope tight -and up- then slam the door shut while holding rope. The rope should be caught between the top of the door frame and the roof. Do the same on the passenger side. Make sure wheels are still straight and tie the two ropes together -securely- on the roof.
From the steering wheel I usually go to several places on the car to secure it even further.
Before you slam the primary ropes in the door frame, tie a second set of ropes to the wheel at 10 and 2 O'Clock to be used afterwards for redundancy in case a primary rope breaks or loosens up.
Secure second ropes to any of these places:
A) Arm rest/pull handle in door
B) Hold down handles above door
C) Headrest post
D) Seat frame, or any secure point that you can find.
That should do it, you already know to drive conservatively so I won't go there.
Good luck bro!
dolly in front, remove driveshaft
That would work too, but on most cars you will leak trans fluid on the highway trough the axle seal when you remove the driveshaft. If it's the bolt in type with a non -easily- removable front driveshaft yoke then it's no problem to do it like that.
The rear end will not leak. The Drive shaft and rear end has a rigid mount, because of the independent rear suspension. Just disconect the drive shaft. I had a 1980 300 TD wagon, it was by FAR the best car I have owned. I had to get rid of it because of major rust in the floors (as in seat almost touching the ground). Still trying to find the next one. I hope you enjoy the car, keep it out of the salt and it'll run forever.