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Old 01-24-2003, 11:40 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 38
190E 2.3-16v; can't find reverse!

Today I picked up my eBay purchased 1986 190E 2.3-16v in Newark, NJ, and drove it 500 miles home. I had no reason to try reverse until I was almost finished my trip, and when I did, bingo, I couldn't get the recently rebuilt tranny (18 mo.) to engage reverse. I did subsequentley succeed on three occasions, but, essentially, I can't make it shift into reverse when I need to. I suspect loose or worn shift linkeage. Any ideas?

Also, as a separate issue, the engine started idling at 3,000 rpm for no reason, but returned to normal when I turned off the ignition, and restarted.


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Old 01-24-2003, 11:57 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Near Williamsburg, Virginia
Posts: 364
Reverse, assuming you have the 5-speed manual, by lifting up on the shifter and putting it in the top left gate.
R 2 4
1 3 5

If lifting doesn't engage it put a couple drops of light oil such as transmission fluid between the shifter rod and the tube that lifts. I hope this makes sense... in other words oil the two sliding parts.

Last edited by Robby Ackerman; 01-25-2003 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 01-25-2003, 12:01 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Near Williamsburg, Virginia
Posts: 364
Re the engine idle. This engine is known for its erratic idle speed. There are many threads on this subject. Just look through the archives.
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Old 01-25-2003, 10:54 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Posts: 38
Thanks Robby. Yes it's a 5 speed. The shifter lifts well enough, moves to the left okay, but when attempting to move it forward, it is blocked from engaging reverse. Also, the entire shifter "gate" seems poorly defined. Today, I can't find first either. Something's getting progressively worse.
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Old 01-25-2003, 01:28 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Near Williamsburg, Virginia
Posts: 364

I'll email this thread to Jim Villers. Jim recently rebushed his shifter to tighten the throws. Perhaps he can give you some advice. I mentioned the oil because I went for weeks hit and miss being able to engage reverse and that is all it took. However, your first problem indicates more than a few drops of oil, sigh.

The good thing is 2nd, 3rd and 4th will keep you moving forward just fine ... easily fast enough to spend a month or more in jail, ha!
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:23 AM
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 1
Try shifting to 2nd and let off on the clutch just enough to get it to roll forward a couple inches. Then, shift into reverse. That does the trick on my 16v when I have trouble shifting to reverse from the get-go when backing out of the garage.

Good Luck!

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Old 05-31-2008, 11:46 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: St. Joe, MI; Manitowoc, WI
Posts: 1,553
Plug for my kid's parts:

My kid's 16v started shifting badly. Could not get it into reverse. So he started his 16v parts projects.

My kid has made brass bushings for the shifter assembly. He's over on 190rev. 25 bucks shipped. Makes the shifter much tighter that the rubber/steel bushings. He's even sold them to guys in Europe.

He also has made Acetal bushings for the shifter arms. He gets 95 delivered for those.

He said if you wanted both, 115 shipped.

I'm sure you can buy these at MB much cheaper, but they aren't anywhere as tight as these. Probably 8 bucks each or something, but rubber and loose. I've got them on my 16v too. Love them.

He makes other stuff too, like solid frame mounts from UHMW, SLS-delete plugs for those that don't want SLS, distributor plug for those going to crank sensor/coil packs, and front sway bar bushings. He can make just about anything else as well.

If interested, PM me.

Thank You!
2001 E430 Sport, 204,000 miles
1997 C280 Sport, 144,000 miles
1991 300SL, 189,000 miles
1987 420SEL, 149,000 miles
1986 190e 2.3 16v, 151,000
1968 W30 442, 78,000 miles
1988 46' US1 Cougar, 3 supercharged 572's
Warming the globe, 24 cylinders at a time
And I want a 126 wagon! Point me to one!
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