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Old 10-16-2003, 04:05 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: CT
Posts: 185
buy this 190E?

93 190E, special edition, 2.3, 140K, wants $5900. Original owner, says all maintenance, including 3000-3500 mi oil changes, were done at MB dealer, and should therefore be verifiable. Most of car's life spent in central (inland) FL, last few years coastal CT. No visible rust. Looks very nice, have not driven or arranged for a PPE yet.

Have done searches here, know to look for ACC problems and see if everything works and nothing leaks. Someone (Gilly?) also has a lower opinion of the M102 than of the M103, I believe.

Question is, how many people out there get 200K+ miles out of this motor? I've seen reference to a lot of 102's dying much earlier, but if this one turns out to be as well maintained as the fellow says, is it reasonable to expect a lot more life out of this car?

Price - highest private party price I could coax out of Kelly's was about $4500, so I reckon there is work to do here as well. NADA retail prices get as high as $6500

Any thoughts?
2002 E320 4-Matic
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2009 Subaru Forester
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Old 10-16-2003, 04:17 PM
haasman's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 3,097
I've got an '87 with 218k miles that runs great (now!). Do a compression check, see if the head has been done.

Have a dealership to an inspection for purchase. They love these and you get a very clear idea what it would need.

I have never owned a 102 before the 87 and I really like it. A lot of fun to drive and with a few exceptions, easy to maintain. I think they are great. I hae been told repeatedly that there a many around with 300k+ and 400k+ miles on them.

If in doubt, become a student of the subject.

Keep us posted,

'03 E320 Wagon-Sold
'95 E320 Wagon-Went to Ex
'93 190E 2.6-Wrecked
'91 300E-Went to Ex
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Old 10-16-2003, 04:37 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
Posts: 12,153
The early M102 engines had some engine problems related to timing chain stretch. However with modified oil spray nozzle installed on upto 1988 engines the timing chain shouldn't be a problem.

The 1991 & later engines were redesigned with most engine parts being modified!

ON 1988 & later M102 engines with DOUBLE row timing chain the only weakness is the head gasket. LACK of coolant flushes will allow the gasket to deteriorate and let oil & water mix at the # 4 cylinder.
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Old 10-16-2003, 04:46 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 20
Dont count on getting a history report from the dealer. I just bought a pristine 92 190E 2.6 with 129,000 miles on it for $4900. 2nd Owner had all paperwork to show that the car was serviced at the dealership up to 85,000 miles. I went to the same dealership to get a history report but they purge their system ever 6 months so I had no luck. Also, Mercedes dealers are not link to each other to track maintenance...something they should learn from Volkswagon who does a good job of that. KBB said mine was worth $5100, NADA says up to $7500, and my bank said they would loan me up to $8700 for the car. Bottom line is that if the car is as nice as you say and everything works (check A/C, heater, cruise control, Climate control to make sure the buttons work, the brakes and seat controls). Check Ebay, lots of people are selling the same car on Ebay for excellent prices...some within 200-400 mile drive of you. Hope this helps.

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Old 10-16-2003, 08:22 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Oil changes are the key! Many 102 equipeed 190E's have changed hands a few times now, and service gets neglected. That is the downwfall of the M102.

I aquired my two 2.3's with low mileage and kept them up very well. Both my cars went over 400,000kms (about 250K-miles) before requiring any work. Top ends came soon after, but bottom ends were fine. Trannies were weak by that mileage. Very weak!

Odds are that you'll spend way more on ACC/AC repairs, brakes, and electrical odds and ends than you'll spend on the driveline. On a cost/mile basis, the 2.3 is a frugal driveline.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 10-16-2003, 09:05 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Guatemala, Central America
Posts: 375
Have an 88 190e 2.3. Love the car. Have had it for 10 years and it now has 150K on it. Only major work I have had to get done is the A/C Vacuum system. About $150 in parts plus labor.
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Old 10-16-2003, 10:00 PM
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190E LimitedEdition Owner
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Virginia Beach, Va
Posts: 1,036
I have a 1993 190E, special edition, 2.3, 122K and I just sold one that had 52K on it. I love the cars I wanted to keep the matching set but we needed a wagon.

The M102 engine is a champ! Take a look at ebay and look at the mileage people are getting out of their 2.3s. I see 250-300K pretty often and that is with the pre-88 engines.

NADA does not reflect that the car is a Limited Edition and only 800 were made. I was able to get a $1100 premium over NADA for the Limited Edition that I just sold a couple of weeks ago.

The A/C system is not hard to work on like it is in the W124s. I always suggest getting a PPI and your dealership may even do a "Complimentry Health Check" for free if you don't want to spend $50-100 for the PPI.
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Old 10-17-2003, 03:59 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 627
Recently I was talking to another MB club member who has also spent his working life as an MB tech. The discussion got around to which are the most durable engines they have produced. He considered the M103 as among the best with only head gasket, valve stem seals (and guides) and timing cover oil leaks being problem areas. He could not recall ever having to rebuild the bottom end of one. Interestingly, he said they made a mess of it when they added the 24 valve head to become an M104. I then suggested that the M102, which was the four from which the M103 was derived, should be equally good. His reply was that they were long lasting assuming that early versions had regular timing chain replacements to prevent their early demise. Like the M103 (and M104), head gaskets were problematic, but not to the extent of the sixes. He did mention some high mileage examples suffering some "blow-by" fuming, suggesting wear in the rings (or bores or pistons) though. This he had not seen in the sixes.

Like most MB engines, maintenance is the key to longevity of the M102. On a 2000km interstate journey, my 190E-2.3 with almost 220,000km showing, used no oil. Prior to me purchasing it earlier this year, it had a top end overhaul for a head gasket failure, which would have at least included valve stem seals, explaining the low oil consumption. This reassures me that it has a lot of life left in it yet.

The bottom line is that the M103 is probably better, but the M102 is still a long lasting engine well matched to the 190E.
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Old 10-17-2003, 01:40 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 23
Ive got the 1988 190 4 banger and the engine has 306,000 miles on it and i bought it 13 years ago with low mileage the trick is to keep that oil changed, I love the little car, my tranny didnt go out till i reached 267,000 miles.

The other stuff will get you like window regulators, and switches, ovp relays. and other small stuff. The car still rides solid and smooth , only draw back is the lack of real power ( hey no speeding tickets) and the cramped seating if your passengers are big.
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Old 10-17-2003, 04:11 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Originally posted by leon
... my tranny didnt go out till i reached 267,000 miles.
The four speed auto in the W201 with the 2.3L engine seems to live out to a max of 250K-miles with good care and feeding. Both my old 190E 2.3's needed tranny work at about that mileage. Haven't met any 190E owners that got much more out of the tranny. Met more than a few that got less, but they didn't seem to understand the term "preventative maintenance."

Changing the fluid/filter on the auto-box every 30K-miles seems to really do the trick. Also, don't tow anything with that car. That's shorten the tranny life dramatically.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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