Buying review Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201) 1982-1993 Common Issues Engines Inspection

Hello everyone, today we will talk about a classic Mercedes again. A new car in its class in the early 80’s that took Mercedes to the mainstream. This car was to built for the people, well middle class people. With this strategy Mercedes tried to gain access to a new marketplace that was dominated by Volkswagen at the time.

We talk about the Mercedes-Benz 190, internal code W201 and this was basically the first car on the C-class line-up, so compact executive cars. The car was built from 1982 until 1993. In 1993 the first C-class was launched as the successor of this car.

The 190 has a legendary status in the car world as being on of the best cars every built. The car was over-engineered to the point of ridiculousness. The company was run by engineers in those days, the fact you can still spot the 190 on our roads today is a testament to the engineering masterpiece this car was.

If you want to see Point of View footage of this car, go check my channel because I reviewed one earlier this year in January.

Lets check on the reliability of the 190, noting is indestructible especially a car that went out of production 27 years ago. So let’s see what some of the weaker points of this car are.

Weaker points of this car are;

  • Repair Leaks From Head Gasket/Timing Cover Gasket with Oil and Coolant
  • Radiators Break Due to Degradation of the Plastic Tanks and Fittings.
  • Window Regulator Failure is Common problem for early production models.
  • Transmission Oil Seals May Leak on High Mileage Vehicles.
  • The M103 engine which is the straight six has a high rate of head gasket failures and cracked and leaking valve guides.
  • Check for rust in the back corners of the trunk
  • Make sure the serpentine belt has been changed recently
  • Check the color and quality of the oil and brake fluid
  • Check the air and interior filter
  • Timing chain cover seems to be a weaker part

Overview by engine code:

M102 – single row timing chain

M103 – Head gasket failure

M102 & M103 – KE – Jettronic Fuel Injection

Another suggestion I will give is to test cylinder compression on these older cars and having all the plastic/rubber/metal joints in the suspension checked.

Also there are reports of failing water pumps that causes overheating of the engine.

Faulty relays that causes poor performance fuel usage

Electical failures, starter motor, alternator, batteries and electrical errors

Transmission failures in the form of slippage or total failure

Engine locking up du to extreme neglect

In the basis this car is very reliable because of the engineering. That being said, these cars are more then 30 years old now and some of them had a hard life especially the ones from Eastern Europe, mint piece are almost impossible to find, they still exist though.

Just remember that these old cars have potentially some neglect here and there, even if they where serviced every year that does not mean you go yourself a perfect car. Bringing these cars back to a reasonable standard is not too expensive, and if you do so, this car will still serve you for many years to come. This car is from the era that engineers called the shots at Mercedes-Benz headquarters and even the CEO called these cars over-engineered. These are icons on wheels, but compare them to modern cars and you find yourself back in the 70’s early 80’s, well maybe that is not such a torture, they where better times in many aspects of life.

Hope to see you guys in the next buying review, we have more Mercedes reviews coming. Hope you are all doing fine, thanks for watching.

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