Shown above is Greta's new radiator. Note how it sits in my living room, in front of my Danish Modern buffet. Why? Two reasons-first, auto parts in one's living room are one of the upsides of bachelorhood. Second is due to the origins of the unit.
I decided to go with Nissens, a Danish-made unit. After doing some extensive research online, I found out the Behr OEM units are no longer made in Germany, nor South Africa, but in China. I feel the Chinese imports of all types need about ten to fifteen years of manufacturing improvements and commerce to reach the quality of items made elsewhere. Also, when adding the previous reason and cost into the equation, the Nissens is, in my opinion, the better radiator at a better price. There is, however, one small design flaw that needs to be attended to. The Behr is constructed similarly, of aluminum and composite, however, you'll notice the composite is at each end, and the necks for the upper and lower radiator hoses are molded into it. Over time, as the composite ages it becomes brittle. A regular or breakdown change of a radiator hose can end with a cracked or crushed neck and no good way to fix it. For this reason, Behr units are equipped with an inner aluminum sleeve absent in the Nissens. This is, however, an easy fix. A simple trip to Home Depot or similar store for a few pieces of copper tubing and an appropriate adhesive (more on this in a later post) will make for an adequate fix recommended by the Mercedes ShopForum community. All told, it's still cheaper than a Chinese Behr by nearly $100.
Also in the box from Autohaus Arizona was a new accessory (serpentine) belt, and idler pulley. The diesel engine for some reason has an idler pulley with a propensity to droop down, pulling away from the belt for about an eighth of an inch. While it could most likely run forever in this configuration, at 170k it is probably wise for me to replace it. Since I had everything apart, and the pulley is a $20 or so part, i figured I'd swap out the works all at once. Experience has taught me that catastrophic mechanical failures of great expense start with the breaking of a tiny, inexpensive part that is easily replaced as part of regular maintenance.