Starting a Cold Mercedes-Benz Diesel Engine

To start a cold Mercedes-Benz Ponton (1953-1962) Diesel engine, the following procedures must be followed:

  1. Turn dashboard idle adjustment to high idle (counterclockwise).
  2. Pre-glow until the coil indicator on the dash begins to glow.
  3. Depress accelerator fully and crank engine.

    WARNING! Crank the engine until the oil pressure rises. Only then step on the throttle. Never step on the throttle and 'rev' the engine until first the oil pressure registers and rises. If this procedure is not followed it can seriously damage the motor!
  4. If the engine does not fire after 4-5 seconds, repeat steps 2 & 3 after a 2 minute waiting time to let the battery recover.
  5. If the engine fires, keep on cranking with the accelerator fully depressed until all cylinders fire evenly but do not exceed 90 seconds.
  6. If the engine does not fire, wait 2 minutes and repeat steps 2 & 3.
  7. Let the engine run at high idle and drive away.
  8. Reset idle (clockwise) after engine has reached operating temperature.

The procedure is from folding pamphlet A-SP-79-356 published in 1979 by Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc. & Mercedes-Benz of Canada, Limited. Steps 2 and 3 were modified to reflect Diesel Owner's Manuals from the Ponton era. The illustration is from a collection of delivery papers included with a 1959 Type 220S Ponton sedan. Jeff Miller / www.mbzponton.org / July 12, 2005.


Steps To Be Taken In Extremely Cold Weather

Type 190Db Owner's Manual; pp22: After suggesting the use of the pre-glow position for two full minutes, it continues...

"If the engine is stone cold at outside temperatures below approximately 0F (-15 to -20 C), starting is generally impossible without further assisting measures. In these cases, the following precautions should be taken, preferably immediately upon shutting off the engine.

a.) Take out the battery and store it in a heated room.

b.) Drain off the coolant after shutting off the engine and before using car again warm up the coolant and pour it back into the radiator. Pouring of boiling coolant into a cold radiator and engine involves no danger."


Created: July 9, 2005 / Jeff Miller
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