190E 2.3-16 FAQ

Lately I've been receiving quite a bit of email asking for advice on purchasing a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16. I thought it would be a good idea to put a FAQ and info page together to help prospective buyers...this FAQ mostly applies to U.S. models. Please keep in mind, that the content of this page is solely my opinion and does not reflect the opinion(s) of Mercedes-Benz. If you find an error or omission, please email me.

First a little history.
Mercedes-Benz imported this model into the United States during the 1986 and 1987 model years, however, there are a some 1985 'gray market' Euro models here also. For the officially imported models, they were available in two colors only, Smoke Silver and Black Pearl. Both came only with black leather over electrically operated 'Sport' seats in front and contoured bucket seats in back, seating is for four only. Anti-lock brakes, driver side airbag, A/C, electric windows, and limited slip differential (3.27:1) were standard. It was recently pointed out to me that the electric sunroof was an option, at least for 1986, however, in my experience I have never seen one of these cars without one. Euro models may not have some of these features. The choice of a 5-speed close ratio manual transmission (non-overdrive) or 4-speed automatic were available. I've put together a one-page spec sheet for U.S. models.

Q: What should I look out for in regard to this model? A: 1. A/C - I've heard that compressors and specific hoses are prone to failure and quite expensive to repair. 2. ACC - The auto climate control system is prone to failure. When test driving be sure to test all settings on the ACC pushbutton panel. 3. Self-leveling rear suspension - check for hydraulic fluid seeping at the base of the hydrostruts. If the ride is very firm and/or bouncy the nitrogen accumulators (air cells) will need to be replaced. Typically, the hydrostruts and accumulators will last about ~100,000 miles. Dealer prices are high, however, OEM parts are available from many aftermarket sources. 4. Becker Radio - The Becker Gran Prix is mediocre at best. Both the FM and cassette sections are marginal. An aftermarket radio is probably a blessing. 5. Electric antenna - Not specific to this model, but the antenna mast is susceptible to sticking if not kept clean. Replacement masts are available from the dealer and aftermarket sources. Q: How reliable is it? A: Well, I don't see why a properly maintained example wouldn't be as reliable as any other modern car. Q: Where do you buy parts? A: I (mainly) use the following three sources for parts. 1. European Parts Specialists, Ltd. Owned by Randy Steele 2. Bekkers Import Corp. Great source for performance oriented BMW and Mercedes-Benz parts. 3. My local authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer. Sometimes the dealer DOES have the best price.
Please email me with questions not covered here and I will try to answer them and update this page...

The 190E 2.3-16 in print:

Last updated: June 8, 2001