Car Mechanics (UK) DIY Servicing: 2007 Mercedes-benz E220 Avantgarde diesel
The tough and sturdy E220 is a no-nonsense car in diesel form – and easy DIY servicing is just one of the bonuses, says Richard Gunn.
The Mercedes-benz E-class executive range occupies the mid-range position in the marque’s hierarchy. The vehicles can date their genesis back to the W120 ‘Ponton’ cars launched in 1953, although ‘E-class’ wasn’t used as label back then. The ‘E’ initially referred to ‘Einspritzmotor’, denoting fuel injection, but as this became more commonplace, it switched meaning to ‘Executive’. The E-class label was officially adopted in 1993 for the W124 series, with the cars using letter ‘E’ followed by a two- or three-digit number for their names.
Our model here is a third-generation W211, as built from 2002 to 2009. It was more an evolution of the previous W210 than a new design and continued with its distinctive four headlamps,
albeit of two differing sizes. Although dimensionally larger, the cars were less spacious inside, but did balance this by packing in lots of technology.
Over seven years of production, there was a bewildering number of petrol and diesel engine options, ranging from a 1.8 four-cylinder Kompressor through to a thundering 507bhp 6.2-litre V8. The diesel variants sold well in the UK, and it’s one of those we have here, in the form of a four-cylinder E220. Although 12 years old, it displays few signs of its age, as this generation were generally well-built and reliable, with the diesel engines capable of racking up big mileages. One advantage of these lowlier-engined models is that there’s a huge amount of space in the engine bay, meaning servicing is surprisingly easy. Well, except when it comes to checking the automatic transmission fluid, that is.
6 CHANGE FUEL FILTER The fuel filter is quite accessible. There are two clips on the side, which are best undone using a screwdriver as a lever. Undo the two clips on the top that secure the pipework (one of ours was a replacement Jubilee clip) and disconnect the pipes, after which you can draw out the filter container.
9 TOP UP SCREENWASH The screenwash fluid reservoir, marked by a blue cap, is on the nearside of the engine bay. Lift the cap, then top up with an appropriate mix of water and screenwash. It’s surprising how quickly it gets used up, even in summer, and with winter approaching you’re likely to need it.
4 CHANGE OIL FILTER Twist and pull the old element off the cap’s spine and dispose of it. Clean the housing, then fit the two new O-rings supplied with the new filter – one on the thread top, the other on the spine bottom. Give them a coating of oil, then insert the new element and refit it.
5 CHANGE AIR FILTER The large air filter is longitudinally mounted alongside the engine block. There are seven clips keeping its cover in place – use a screwdriver blade to lever off the more difficult-to-reach ones. Take off the cover, remove the old filter, clean out the box, then fit the new element, making sure it seats properly.
Connect a length of pipe and a funnel to one of the pipes on the new filter container and fill it with either fresh diesel or diesel cleaner additive. Doing this will make the engine easier to start later. Put the filter back in the engine bay and make sure the pipe clips are done up tightly. 7 FIT NEW FILTER
1 REMOVE ENGINE COVER This being a Mercedes-benz, making the engine look nice and tidy seems to have been one of the major considerations, so you’ll find a plastic engine cover shielding much of the grubby end of things. Fortunately, it just pulls away. Store it somewhere safe where it won’t get damaged.
You’ll need a special cup-type wrench to remove the oil filter cap, situated just above the auxiliary drivebelt. Such wrenches are cheaply and readily available. Put some old rags around the filter housing to absorb any spillage, then undo the cap and remove. You’ll need to drain the oil next (see Step 22). 3 UNDO OIL FILTER
2 CHECK DRIVEBELT This is probably the easiest modern car on which to check the auxiliary drivebelts. They’re at the front of the engine, with lots of space around them. Look for tearing, fraying or cracking. Also check the tension, which should be no more than a quarter-ofa-turn between pulleys.
8 CHECK POWER STEERING The PAS fluid reservoir is next to the oil and fuel filters. The level should be checked with the wheels directly ahead and the engine off. Wipe the area around the filler cap, then unscrew the cap – there’s a dipstick underneath. The level should be between the ‘MAX’ and ‘MIN’ marks depending on fluid temperature.
12 CHECK ATF LEVEL The owner’s manual states there is no need to check the automatic transmission fluid level. However, there is a tube up near the bulkhead, with a plastic cover marked ‘MB WORKSHOP ONLY’. You can buy a flexible dipstick online – they’re usually less than £10 – to check the level and condition of the fluid.
11 CHANGE POLLEN FILTER The pollen filter cover has three clips. Turn them anti-clockwise and lift the cover away. Undo the plastic nut that holds the filter tray in place, release the clips and pull out the filter tray. Remove the filter element, clean out any debris, then fit a new element and refit the housing.
10 CHECK COOLANT It’s difficult to check the coolant level through the transparent casing of the expansion tank, so confirm things by removing the cap. To check the mixture strength, use a hydrometer to ensure it is still giving adequate protection. Have a look inside the cap to make sure the seal is OK.
14 CHECK UNDERBODY With the vehicle safely up in the air, inspect for any rust or damage underneath, specifically the condition of exposed metal on brake and fuel lines, and confirm the integrity of the exhaust system and its mountings, making sure there’s no significant corrosion allowing gas and fumes to escape.
13 CHECK BRAKE FLUID The brake and clutch fluid reservoir is on the right-hand side of the bulkhead, under a large cover. You need to rotate the two fasteners anticlockwise, after which you can lift the cover for access to the reservoir. It has ‘MIN’ and ‘MAX’ marks on the casing, but we recommend using an electronic fluid checker.
16 UNLOCK WHEELNUTS As you’d expect, these cars have locking wheelnuts to make sure nobody heads off with those nice alloys. If you’re not car’s original owner, or this is the first time you’ve attempted servicing, make sure you have the locking wheelnut key – it’s usually in the boot or with the spare wheel.
17 CHECK WHEELS Scrutinise all tyres. Ensure they’re road legal, with adequate tread – use a depth gauge if available – and look for cracking, kerbing or bulging. With the handbrake off, rock the wheels top to bottom; significant play points to suspension problems. Finally, spin them and listen for the drone of a worn wheel bearing.
18 CHECK SUSPENSION Once the wheels are out of the way, carefully check all the suspension and steering components. Things to keep an eye out for are any perishing of rubber bushes. Look out for broken road springs and leaking dampers, plus leaks from any brake lines, usually around unions.
15 REMOVE UNDERTRAY To facilitate further inspection – and drain the oil – you’ll need to remove the two undertrays. These are held in place by a number of 8mm bolts: four on the front and eight on the rear, although you can reasonably expect some to be missing and replaced by cable ties. Store them safely.
26 CHECK ALL INSTRUMENTS AND SEATBELTS Give each seatbelt a tug, to make sure they’re ‘grabbing’ properly – it’s a safety and MOT issue if they don’t. You should also make sure all the instruments, controls and lights function as intended. You can check the rear brake lights by backing up to a nearby wall while looking for reflections.
25 CHECK REAR PADS One thing in common with the front brakes is that there’s a pad sensor wire on just one wheel only, so take care with it and disconnect it before removing the calipers. The inner pad will come off with the caliper, the outer should stay around the wheel. Clean and lubricate the pads as before, then reassemble.
21 CLEAN BRAKE PADS Assuming the pads can be reused – with at least 3mm friction material left – clean the fronts by rubbing them on abrasive paper on a flat surface. Also apply ceramic brake grease to the rears and mounting lugs, wheel hub flanges, plus the points on the mounting cradle where the pads mount. Now reassemble.
19 UNDO BRAKE CALIPERS Clean the brakes thoroughly before you dismantle them. Use a wire brush over the exterior of the caliper assembly to remove rust and dust. A bit of proprietary brake cleaner spray won’t go amiss. Take care when cleaning because of the delicate brake sensor wire on the offside front wheel.
20 REMOVE BRAKE PADS Unplug the brake sensor wire (if appropriate), then undo the two rear caliper bolts; they should be 13mm items, but one here was 12mm. Lift off the caliper, remove the pads, then carry on with further cleaning, such as turning the disc rim against a screwdriver blade to remove any loose corrosion.
24 REMOVE REAR BRAKES The rear brakes have some differences with the fronts. There are rubber caps on the back of both caliper bolts, which are T40 Torx items. After you’ve done the same cleaning and checks as with the fronts, undo these. There’s also a clip on the front pad that will need to be taken off.
22 DRAIN ENGINE OIL The drain plug is on the bottom of the sump and requires a 13mm socket to undo it. Oil should be drained when warm but not too hot. Expect about six litres to come out, so have something of adequate capacity underneath to catch what pours out. Dispose of it in an environmentally-friendly manner.
Use C3 5W-30 fully-synthetic low SAPS oil to refill the engine. The official capacity 6.5 litres, but you won’t get all that in due to residual stuff. Put in about 4.5 litres, then start the engine briefly to circulate. Stop the engine and top up slowly, making frequent reference to the dipstick.
31 RESET SERVICE INDICATOR We used an electronic diagnostic tool to reset the service indicator. However, it can be done using the menu controls inside the car, although it is a complicated process and varies depending on whether your car is pre- or post-september 2003. For that reason, we suggest checking the internet for information on the appropriate process.
30 CHECK BATTERY Alongside the spare wheel, you’ll find the battery. Make sure the terminals are done up tightly and are clean, and give them a light coating of grease. You can check the acid levels by unscrewing each of the six peepholes, to make sure it’s covering the plates inside. Top up with distilled water, if necessary.
27 CHECK ALL WIPERS Are the wipers behaving themselves? Check to make sure the rubber blades aren’t perished or torn, which will make them less effective at clearing the screen and could lead to the screen being permanently marked. The washer jets on the bonnet aren’t adjustable.
28 LUBRICATE ALL LOCKS All the locks, catches and hinges should be lubricated during servicing – it’s often skipped, so it may not have been done for a while. The result is that items can get stiff or seize up completely. Use spray grease or household oil from a can, with an extension nozzle to get deep into things.
29 CHECK SPARE WHEEL The spare wheel is in the boot, under the false floor. It’s a spacesaver type, with a maximum speed of 50mph, so will need to be pumped up to 60psi. Make sure it’s fit for purpose, with no damage, and adequate tread left. Also check that the tool kit around it is complete.