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Old 08-13-2003, 02:10 PM
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Location: east Tennessee (southeast USA)
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1985 190E & 1981 300SD info needed/reliability

I am still looking for a local 80s Mercedes and have found a fairly local 1985 190E. The car has 139K, silver with blue interior, has airbag and ABS options and it is in very good condition inside and out. The seller also states that the engine and transmission are in perfect order. The car looks very well cared for. The only issue is that the dash pad has three cracks- which is not uncommon, or a concern. The car is priced @ $2950. Does this seem like a good price for this car? I am not familiar with the problems on the 190s, so what areas aside from the transmission should I look for? With it having 139K, is there any major service probably due? I also have found a local 1984 190E for $1800., but I think this is the same car I looked at a few years ago, with transmission troubles and a non-working odometer at 110K.
In addition- I have also found a very local 1981 Mercedes 300SD. I know that these are overall excellent cars, but since 1981 was the first year for this design- are there any problems I should look for on the 81s, that are not as much of a problem on the 82s-85s? I know that I should check for rust (although normally not a problem on a car originally from here in the south, but possibly an original northern car) and transmission functions. This car is priced @ $1800 obo, and is listed to be in VGC. I really like the 300SDs, but also would like to have the airbag and ABS options, which the 85' 190E has. At least I know that the 300SD is a very safe car, even without airbags, but I would like the ABS option. I have been trying to locate a 84-85 300SD with the airbag option, or a 86-88 S-Class sedan with the standard airbag and ABS, but no luck. Any information/advice concerning these two cars appreciated.
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2004 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4wd
1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1988 Mercedes 300SEL
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D, 1993 400SEL)
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Old 08-13-2003, 05:44 PM
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Not sure about pricing in your area, but ANY 19-22 year old MB is going to cost money to keep going. Keep in mind that you're buying quite an old car.

With respect to 190E's, the M102 2.3L 8-valve engine is a tough horse, but I'd look for a 1987 or newer car if the budget allowed. There were some improvements along the way, including a bump in HP from 113 to 130. The trannies are very reliable and should last 150,000 miles, maybe longer if properly cared for.

The 1985 is better than the 1984. They switched to 15" wheels in 1985, which is very desirable as the 14" wheels on the 1984 190E leaked and were problematic. They also dropped the non-articulated mono-wiper of 1984 and added the better version in 1985. The more attractive headlamp assemblies were not added until 1987.

DO NOT buy a problem car expecting to come out ahead by fixing it. Parts costs will eat up any price advantage.

It's my personal experience NOT to count on any description like "Very Good Condition" or anything like that. It's bunk 99% of the time.
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Old 08-13-2003, 06:34 PM
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As the owner of an '85 190E, I think I can give you some insights. The dash cracking is common, infact finding a non-cracked dash is probably harder. The repairs for this cosmetic flaw rangers from the carpet toppers ($40), a fitted/molded plastic "dash cap" ($90) or finding an uncracked dash at a recycler ($100?).

The '85 does have the benefit of more HP over the '84 due to increased compression and a modified fuel injection system. As you said, the ABS and airbag were the few options available (Orthopedic seats, Leather and Metallic Paint were the others) for that year.

Service records would be of great help. The timing chain tensioner and rails should have been done. Start the car, and listen for chain rattle before the oil pressure build up. Check the cylinder compression and don't be surprised if the valve seals need to be changed, that's very common in the M102, and luckily fixes most oil consumption problems. The cooling system is pretty straight forward. Have the serpentine belt (cracks?) and the belt tensioner checked, that's a $100 part right there.

At this age, pretty much all of the rubber suspension bits should have been replaced, including the motor mounts, subframe mounts, ball joints, tie rods, driveshaft flex discs, and pretty much every other plastic/rubber joint in that famous multi-link suspension. Hopefully the shocks have been changed out.

The A/C system should be checked for leaks and the service record examined for problems. That's a pretty expensive little, and I emphasize little, system that MB put in there.

It's a great car, even now, just have to remember it's going to be showing some age in the joints.
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Old 08-13-2003, 09:55 PM
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Location: east Tennessee (southeast USA)
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Thanks for the replies. They are helpful. I phoned about the 1981 300SD shortly after I posted this topic. The lady I talked to said it belonged to her sisters husband who had recently deceased suddenly. She said that her sister was selling her husbands cars, as she had no need for them. The lady did not have a lot of information on the car, except that it was navy blue. She said that she also knew that the springs in the driver seat were bad and she must know a little about Mercedes, as she said she knew it was a common problem with many of the older Mercedes. The reason I am choosing a "old" Mercedes- is that I like the styling of the 1980s Mercedes- even better than the 90s to current models. I would rather have a "brand new" 1983 380SEL, than a brand new 2003 S-Class. Low mile 80s Mercedes are difficult to find and carry a premium price. I would be using the car as a work car, and do not want to buy a very nice car, only to get dented in the parking lot. Just the other day a cart started rolling down the sidewalk ramp at work and nearly hit a brand new 2003 Cadillac DeVille with temporary tags. I also inquired about a 500SEL for $3500. earlier today. Seller said it was a 1982, but I think 500SELs were introduced in 1984. I am not sure if it is actually a 500SEL. I just seen it on the trunk lid while driving by. Possibly it is a 380SEL, that had a 500SEL emblem placed on it- or trunk lid replaced. Thanks again.
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2004 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4wd
1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1988 Mercedes 300SEL
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D, 1993 400SEL)
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