1989 Mercedes-Benz 190 190E 2.0L EFI from Australia and New Zealand


Great promise. Great design. Well put together. So why was it not reliable? An expensive mistake


Way too many things! It cost me 3 times its purchase price to repair.

- New front dampers.

- Replaced rear drive shafts with used set (new ones were in the $'000s - would have cost half the purchase price of the car)

- Head gasket blown.

- Water pump replaced.

- Chain tensioner and timing chain replaced.

- Automatic transmission completely overhauled.

- Automatic aerial replaced.

- Cruise control stalk speed-increase increment not operative (had to manually accelerate then re-set the required speed)

I'm sure there was more. I must have blocked it all out.

General Comments:

I wanted a 190E since I was 16 years old.

This car is beautifully styled on the outside, a traditional Benz on the inside.

It cruises beautifully with good torque and excellent economy, but in town (though economical) it is a pain... more so with the air conditioner on.

Excellent turning circle, great steering, great ride, great handling.

Feels a bit long-and-narrow compared to the W114 280E I owned years before.

Interior space tight though comfortable with excellent seats. Steering wheel too vertical for my liking (unlike excellent positioning on W114 and W116s I've driven)

With everything I had read and my W114 experience I really thought I was buying a great car to last me years, given it had less that 200,000 km on the clock and full dealer service history.

Not so. Was this a lemon. Everything that went wrong surprised me and cost me heaps.

I quit while I was behind. I heard the next owner had to replace the radiator 1 year later)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 26th August, 2008

21st Mar 2009, 19:30

Cars don't sit in a vacuum, waiting for you to buy them 16 years later.

6th Aug 2009, 07:33

No they don't. But I bought my 1974 280E (see separate review) in 1993 with 316,500km on the clock and that car served me well for years to 495,000km, and was still going strong on the original untouched engine and transmission.

So I didn't expect to have to do a top-end overhaul on the engine, completely recondition the auto trans and replace the tail shafts on a more modern 190E with 200,000km and full authorised dealer service history.

1989 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.0L from Australia and New Zealand


If you find a looked after example of this vehicle and you enjoy driving, get used to smiling


- Front flex disk.

- EHA valve.

These repairs were inherited from the last owner.

General Comments:

I purchased this low kilometer, 18 year old car 2 years ago and have not regretted it for one second. Exterior and interior are immaculate. DIY servicing is a breeze. OEM parts are a little more expensive than standard, but quality is superior. Build quality of this era Mercedes is first class - materials and finish are outstanding.

I can't help, but smile when I drive this car - the construction of this vehicle makes you think that the Germans have somehow fashioned a car from a single, solid block of steel and magically integrated the glass, leather and plastic. One of the smoothest rides I have experienced, and handling is great (factory sports suspension). Engine is free revving and the auto transmission has nice firm changes - a little slow off the mark, but no slug either.

When I think of the age of this car and what it is capable of, my total respect goes to the engineers and designers at Mercedes Benz in the 1980's - I doubt cars will ever be engineered to the same standard again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th April, 2007

12th Apr 2007, 14:34

You hit the nail on the head with your review. I never had a MB, but I hope to find an eighties or early nineties one. My wife's brother in law has a 90-91 190 2 litre, and the quality will never be the same again in more modern models. The Fords, VWs etc. may be a little more economical, but the quality just isn't there. As someone else wrote on CarSurvey; that was when Mercedes Benz was run by engineers, and not sleazy accountants like they are these days.

13th Apr 2007, 09:24

Please do a lot of research on the 190's. Not every year was reliable compared to the E Class and even S Class models of the same time. This surprised me, but I read several reviews of people complaining about very "non Mercedes" problems.

Yes, Mercedes has gone way down hill and hopefully they will reclaim their throne soon. Getting rid of Chrysler this summer should be a big boost as there will be more money to go around.

I really want to buy the new generation C Class (coming out in a few months) that will have the Bluetec diesel as an option in America. But I will wait a few years to see how reliable they truly are.