After purchasing the car I naturally did some serious repairing to fix every problem found in the pre-purchase inspection. Parts (OEM, but not from the dealer) cost some 500€, did most work myself and had a mechanic buddy of mine work on the engine.
The initial parts list included engine hydraulic valve adjusters, the rubber parts for the top of front shocks, a couple of joints for the front suspension and since the rear brakes weren't working too good I purchased EVERYTHING possible that was replaceable for rear brakes and handbrake system, except for the calibers for which I just got an overhaul kit.
Naturally I had the oil changed (premium Mobil 1) along with the oil filter, both diesel filters and air filter prior to starting to use the car. Doesn't quite count as a fault, though :-)
Actual problems so far:
The transmission started slipping on 2nd-3rd change. Fixed in a few minutes by adjusting the transmission pressure from the pressure switch on the side of the transmission. Thank you MB engineers! Wish Bimmers had this kind of switches too, would have saved me lots of money on my former 750i.. Cost: 0€
The 17-year old power steering hose busted as I started the car in extreme -33C. Cost a few bucks plus about a litre of ATF220.
There was an unfortunate oil leak right after the oil change. A sort of valve, the kind you see on the coolant system to protect the block from breaking if the coolant freezes up, just on the oil system this time, had been slightly open, blocked by remains of inferior motor oil and started leaking after some driving with the highly cleansing premium oil. My buddy changed it for free, but I lost 50€ worth oil which had just a few hundred km on it :- (
The car has been working like a charm, it started even at -28C WITHOUT the electronic block heater when I forgot to turn it on one morning. It has ample space especially in the trunk, magnificent comfort, typically outstanding German ergonomic controls and I simply love driving it. It is very economical and ecological, I get around with about 7-8 litres of diesel per 100km in winter time using spiked winter tires. Will be interesting to see how the summertime figures are, typical car consumes a litre less in the warm conditions using normal tires.
I've had the car for less than 3 months and nearly 5000km and to my great surprise this half a million km driven (about 300,000 miles at the moment) old diesel clunker still doesn't use up ANY oil. I was sure I'd had to add some since the car has, after all, seen a lot of kilometers in its time.
The parts, even the original ones, are rather inexpensive as long as you don't buy from the dealer, the overall reliability seems unbeatable for a car of this age even if you don't take the mileage in account, economy is great and although 109hp in a car of this size (with auto tranny I might add) by no means makes it a drag racer, it does pack enough punch to make overtaking easy and you certainly can keep up with any regular family-sized cars on the market. I'm glad I bought a 300D and not a 200D after all. ;-)
I have the habit of changing cars on an annual basis or sooner, but I have a hunch that "Snow White" is going to stick around for quite a while. Unless I get an acute case of car fever once again and buy one of those late model -94-95 ones.
Whatever the case, I'm not likely to buy any other brand than Mercedes-Benz cars ever again.