Despite the various problems I've encountered with my high mileage Benz, I could never regret purchasing this form of German ingenuity.
The oil leak is very common with all 190E models once they've approached 130,000 miles. However, consistently checking your oil and adding only 10W-40 or thicker consistency oil will lessen the severity of this problem. The oil leak appears to be coming from the head gasket and valves, which means it will eventually need an overhaul before reaching 225,000 miles (unless driven by grandmother throughout its existence).
The small 1988 190E 2.6 comes equipped with a sunroof and plenty of power to cruise on the highway (182hp), making the problematic A/C unit seem less of a necessity during the summer months.
My advice to someone shopping around for a 190E would be to look for the smoother running 6 cylinder 2.6L engine, which countless Mercedes mechanics have told me they see a lot less in the shop than their four cylinder counterparts. The 6 cylinder engine offers great top end speed, allowing me to reach 124mph with 135,000 miles on the odometer!
Even the automatic transmission 190E is naturally somewhat "punchy" when shifting between gears, which is common for 1970's and 80's Mercedes. It adds a more sporty feel to this luxury tank, which is most likely what the engineers were going for in the design.
The water pump had been sounding rough the last few months, making me think that I needed a quality tune-up very soon and some work done. Within the past week, with the odometer almost reaching 160k miles, my water pump basically died on me. The antifreeze leaked out onto my driveway with some dispersing into the air at over 85 celsius.
While replacing the water pump is normally relatively cheap for most cars, expect to pay approximately $135-$170. If you decide to replace it yourself and you aren't an experienced mechanic, I pity you. I made this very mistake trying to save money. Not only do you have to remove the thermostat, but there are multiple screws holding in water pump with the base one being almost impossible to reach. You might be forced to remove components of the power steering just to get at the final screw. I strongly suggest you buy Chilton's or Hayes repair manual (which I'm waiting for in the mail). The six cylinder leaves very little room to work on the car, and most certified Mercedes dealers charge too much for my blood.
All in all, this car has been maintained regularly, but driven with assertiveness. This little tank provides great handling and performance when needed, and has performed like a stunt car saving my life when severely cut off by a drunken driver on the highway late one rainy night.
Invest in quality snow tires and this vehicle should perform just fine in the snow.
The front seats are very comfortable on long trips, especially the head rests!
The heater works better than most cars, blasting warmth throughout the vehicle.
The rear 4" speakers are incredibly easy to upgrade with the trays being reachable from inside the trunk.
I would rate this tank a strong buy!