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  #1  
Old 08-29-2009, 02:49 PM
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Guidance with common failures of the W201

I am currently looking at purchasing a Baby Benz. Being very unfamiliar with this chassis, I need some guidance with regards to the front suspension and common failure points on the vehicle.

Is there a buyer's guide somewhere on this forum?

Anything helps at this point, thanks.
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2009, 08:54 PM
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Gas or diesel? Where are you and the car located?

In the rust belt, they are prone to rocker-panel rust aound the jack points, the ACC dies if there is a bad auxiliary pump, A/C systems can leak, auto-trans is notorious for failure also eventually, depends on the engine and useage. Early non-tilt sunroofs are less problematic than the mid-'87-up tilt & slide.

The 602 heads are known for weakness/cracking.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2009, 09:21 PM
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I have had my 93 w201 2.6 for about 3.5 years now. The only problems I have had where the alternator, starter and some bad vacuum lines. The car had 135K on it when I got it and now reads approx. 153K. I would consider these parts just maintenance items any 12-16 year old car would need. My suspension all seems to be in great shape, the engine / trans, AC, sunroof, antenna, power seats/headrests and factory radio all work great.

When I got the car I established a baseline, that is I replaced all the fluids and filters, re-did the brake pads, gave it new proper plugs, wires cap/rotor, replaced the T-stat and the serpentine belt. The car seems to love my 70 mile a day commute, runs around 85 degrees even with the AC on and in LA freeway traffic while delivering approx. 20mpg city/28-30 highway. I am a happy camper!

Some had said that the m103 engines have head gasket trouble at my mileage, I am watching for any symptoms, but have yet to see any. Others have reported 250K or so before seeing a failure. I read somewhere that the later model M103 engines had an "improved" head gasket, maybe I got lucky.

The "baby benz" was the least expensive model offered, that being said, most of the buyers probably had fewer financial resources to tend to these cars the way they need to be. Therefore it is important to find one with good service records and to have it checked out by someone qualified to do so. I was fortunate that my cars PO/original owner was my father, he attended to her like a Beverly Hills wife.

Get a good one and you will be happy for a long time, get a bad one and you will regret it (kind of like a Beverly Hills wife). I love the sound the M103 makes and I understand the lower end is pretty much bullet proof. I would not be surprised if I had to do the HG soon and would do so without even thinking about it. They can be great cars and make you smile for a long time!

Oh, I forgot to mention... A sway bar bracket failed on me when I hit a large pothole, but that was repaired for $1.00 at the junk yard.

Happy motoring!
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1993 190E 2.6 135k
1989 Ford Thunderbird SC 5 Spd 79K
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  #4  
Old 08-30-2009, 12:33 AM
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Jeff,

I didn't know that about the 602's, I thought the 603 was the main fail. I was under the impression that if they weren't turbo, the heads held up quite well. Anyhow.. I am more interested in its 4cyl sister.

They don't use salt where I live and there's rarely any snow.

Riorust,

Thanks for the vivid owner's account, very helpful.
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  #5  
Old 08-30-2009, 12:45 AM
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I can't think of any common failures on the W201 off hand, except for the cruise control. What I can tell you is that my '92 190E 2.3 was my daily driver for 7 years, and in that time the only repair it ever required was a ball joint replacement. The cruise control stopped working a few years ago, but since I don't take it on long trips anymore I'm not worried about that. Everything else on the vehicle still works fine.

Even though my S420 is now my daily driver, my 190E gave me such great, reliable service that I didn't even think about trading it in or selling it. I still enjoy driving it on nice days. The 190E is also a very easy car to work on and maintain, and the parts are reasonably priced compared to other MB models. My advice would be to find one that has been well maintained and then adhere to the recommended service intervals. It is getting difficult to find nice examples of the 190E, though. It seems like most of them have been trashed by their owners who didn't want to spend the money to keep them running. I have seen so many that are ready for the scrap yard.

Even though I do most of my driving now in my S420, I still love my 190E. I have found it to be a very well-built, reliable automobile.
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:09 AM
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Sorry for my double post, can't seem to fix it. Cool car though, if I had the need and the space I would buy another one.
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  #7  
Old 08-30-2009, 03:23 AM
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thats reassuring.

Has anyone had to rebuild the front suspension or rebuild the trans? At what mileage should I expect to do this?
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jt20 View Post
I am currently looking at purchasing a Baby Benz. Being very unfamiliar with this chassis, I need some guidance with regards to the front suspension and common failure points on the vehicle.

Is there a buyer's guide somewhere on this forum?

Anything helps at this point, thanks.
For members considering the W201.

Looking for your unbiased thoughts now (years later).
Has your view changed, and why?
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  #9  
Old 08-31-2011, 06:24 PM
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My car was treated badly before I got it. I've re-repaired everything that others did for the previous owner that I found in the paperwork that was in the glove box.

At 230K, it's getting a little tired. Transmission is flaring, but I know when to let off the gas so it can shift, and the fluid is full, unburned, and clean. I replaced the fuel distributor, and EHA, and these cured very many problems. Fuel pump got noisy, then got replaced along with the filter. After I replaced the OVP relay, the computer came back to life.

Mine is a daily driver. I've been driving it since 2007, and enjoy it. It's a good tight little car with no rattles or klunks.

Bruce
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  #10  
Old 09-01-2011, 12:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whunter View Post
For members considering the W201.

Looking for your unbiased thoughts now (years later).
Has your view changed, and why?

I guess I didn't have much of a view before I bought one except that the chassis was intended to be a cheaper, entry-level model for the Mercedes owner. I was concerned about build quality only because of that.

I can say though, after 2 years of OM601 diesel ownership that most of the main body components hold up as well as a W123.

Some failures:

-- door check straps and their mounting points to the jamb / chassis seem to to fatigue and fail. To repair this effectively requires ingenuity and a level of Rube Goldberg... or to do it correctly - intense bodywork and welding.

-- Trans is no weaker than the W123 era when considering the OM601 application. Low power, less stress... my trans has 296k miles on it and shifts fine after a Superior Shift Kit install , although sometimes with a weak 1-2. Still, it is worn out and I am waiting for the day it gives up.

-- interior door panels are cheap and warp easy with moisture, but fixable to a degree.

--Cluster is fully functional although the electrical gremlins are present and noticed. It is below W123 standards in terms of accuracy, but not in terms of longevity.

-- power window regulators will need attention. I have repaired mine and it was not difficult; they are made to be accessible. The design is cheap, but light and functional for a good span of time.

-- Paint is weaker than W123. Perhaps this is biased since my W123 had a single stage paint and the bronze paint on my W201 had dual stage (clear coat)

-- It seems like there is more rubber on the W201 suspoension to fail and repair... but it is well worth the handling, ride and accessibility upgrade from a W123.

I think the W201 is less prone to rust than a W123, but there is more plastic.

I would recommend the chassis to anyone interested that is able to repair engines or at least swap in a rebuilt unit.
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  #11  
Old 09-02-2011, 11:28 AM
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201 issues and quirks- character!

And, as you started this thread, the front suspension is not a problem to refurbish.

Door check- as soon as it starts to creak, replace it. Don't lubricate or other, just replace it.

Window regulator- I've replaced many between three 190's.

Ignition lock cylinder- as soon as you notice sticking or not smooth operation, replace it. Order keyed-alike replacement from dealer, and just bite the bullet.

Hood pad- the foam just doesn't last.

Dash board- most have cracks, especially the 80's vehicles. Doesn't matter how people have tried to preserve it.

Door panels- bummer that the vinyl over the arm rests tends to shrink and pull away from the panel.

I went through a 1993 car at a Pick n' Pull yard, and it's interesting what the factory changed over the model run to improve the 201 closer to the 124 level. My 84 diesel is still fun to drive around
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  #12  
Old 09-02-2011, 07:16 PM
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Generally the cars built in the last years of production benefit from engineering and production line revisions, so the 90-93's are the best bets.

Check for rust at the corners of the car, the trunk and near the firewall. These are the sites of the rubber weeps and drains. If they aren't cleaned and cleared, they can get clogged with dirt and debris and cause rust.

AC systems from that period weren't particularly robust, with Nippon Denso compressors.
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  #13  
Old 09-02-2011, 07:46 PM
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As previously mentioned, get the newest best condition example you can afford. Even 92s and 93s are dirt cheap. the most I ever paid for one was $1000 with 105k miles. It is mechanically and electrically identical to the W124 so it has the same failure points like KEjet and head gasket failures.
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