Mercedes Benz in garage for 5 years

My sister bought this car 8 years ago and drove it every Sunday. It has been in the garage for the last five years. Can you tell me what needs to be done and about how much will it cost?

The first thing to do is remove the gas cap and take a whiff of what the gas smells like.

If it has a strong varnish smell, it’s no longer gasoline and the tank and fuel system needs to be cleaned.


Replace the battery obviously. Change all the fluids (oil, transmission, brake radiator). Check the tires carefully, they well may be past the expiration date. Plus what Tester stated.



Check that the tires are not dry rotted.

What model Benz? Are you going to try and get it running yourself?

Can you tell me what needs to be done and about how much will it cost?

Since cost is a concern, what needs to be done is to get it running and sell it. Keeping it will be expensive.

To get it running, I’d recommend making sure the tires are properly inflated, adding fresh gas to the tank, and trying to start it (jump it of necessary). If it seems to be running okay, see if your state offers a temporary plate of some kind that will allow people to test drive it, take it around the block to test the brakes, and if it feels okay put an ad in the local paper. I’m assuming, of course, that probate has been completed and you have clear title to the car.

To make this car safe and reliable a Mercedes knowledgeable mechanic will have to do a thorough visual inspection of pretty much every system in the car that uses rubber or plastic or contains a fluid. Once that is done and the results are known, then a cost estimate is possible for completing the needed work. I suggest you start there, hire a good Mercedes mechanic to inspect it for you. And recommend what needs to be done. I think you could get a thorough inspection done for $500 to $1000.

Find a shop that is willing to get it running for you. Not a Benz dealer…Have it towed to the shop. $300-$400 tops should do it…Sell the car…

It would be nice to know year and model of this unknown Mercedes . Heck it might be a valuable missing Gull Wing.

Do NOT attempt to start the car. You do not want any of that junk finding its way up to the rail and the injectors

What’s in the tank at this point undoubtedly smells like turpentine and is no longer considered gasoline

The best thing to do is drain the tank. Some of the Benz models actually have a fuel tank drain. Anyways, it is quite likely the fuel pump(s), filter and sender have already been damaged beyond repair by the degraded fuel

Another thing I would do is remove the fuel sender(s) and wipe out the tank as well as possible

The fact that this car was only driven on Sundays before the hibernation, makes me think there may be sludge

Starting a car only once a week, driving down the road to church, and then back home, is about the worst kind of use for a vehicle

Is it gas or diesel?

Thank you!!! The car is 380SL and runs on gas. We’re planning on driving it again…Hopefully not just on Sundays…

@Criselle What year?

I do believe this vehicle has a fuel tank drain plug. You will need an absolutely huge allen socket to remove it, though

Once you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about

Heads up . . . these cars are extremely high maintenance

I hope the ac has already been converted to R134a, and I hope the evaporator has already been replaced. Because the car is literally built around it

Although the cars look good, the handling is awful. Fish out of water. And the fuel economy is absolutely atrocious. It requires premium, and lots of it. Seriously, many trucks get better fuel economy

This vehicle might be very expensive to operate as a daily driver

Please don’t operate the vehicle on cheapo 87 gas. The electronic engine controls are very primitive and can’t compensate for it.

Do yourself a favor and drain the gas. Don’t try to start the vehicle. Your model may even have 2 external fuel pumps, and if they’re still okay, you might just ruin them by letting them suck in the junk in the tank

Does it still have the single row timing chain, or has it been converted to double roller?

If you plan to change fluids, use 15w40 motor oil and Dexron 3 atf

Don’t let anybody talk you into 5w30 synthetic or Dexron 6 atf, or 722.6 atf. Your car doesn’t need it, and it’s a waste of money, in this situation

Before you start driving it regularly, have somebody knowledgeable with these older Benzes take a very good look at the front suspension and steering. Nothing too exotic, but there are lots of bushings and joints to wear out

Make sure you look at the flexible discs, especially the front one. it’s kind of difficult to see, but it’s there, under the plate

I drove a 380SL as my daily driver about 15 years ago. Yes it’s good looking, but it’s not particularly quick. It’s like a tank in wolf’s clothing. It will get about 15 MPG on a good day. Heed what db4690 said above. A friend of mine was GIVEN one a couple of months ago because it was too expensive for the owner to get running.

My dad purchased a 1990 S600 at an estate sale for a really good price many moons ago. But, it was parked for a long time in the garage as well. To get it running smooth again, it required the ENTIRE fuel system to be replaced, including the tank, pump, and injectors. Then, had hoses failing on the regular, including coolant hoses and the power steering. After a couple of years, he sold it just to drop that money pit and bought a Lexus.

@db4690 I believe it’s 1980

@Criselle If it’s a 1980 380SL, it’s a gray market car

They were only sold in the US 1981-1985

Please tell us exactly which model year it is

it makes a huge difference

gray market euro cars were usually butchered, in order to meet US emissions and safety specs. Personally, I wouldn’t want to touch a gray market euro car

Also, tell us the first few letters of your VIN. No reason to tell us everything. The first 5 or 6 characters will suffice. With that, I should be able to tell you if you you’ve got a gray market or US spec vehicle

Your headlights . . . are they 4 sealed beams, 2 per side, or are they “aerodynamic”

The bumpers . . . are they ugly and huge 5mph bumpers, or the more sleek looking euro bumpers

Some owners changed their US spec bumpers and headlights for the euro versions, but most didn’t. The primary reason is that the cost to do so was extremely high.