The car had an oil leak when purchased, which was accounted for in the purchase negotiation. Turns out the head gasket needed replacing (fairly common for this model, according to our current technician). Had the work performed at the dealer (who is definitely now NOT our current technician). Cost: $1200.00.
Soon after head gasket replacement, the car overheated. Dealer was unable to diagnose a simple thermostat malfunction and replaced several parts including the expansion tank. Cost $175.00.
At approx. 63,000 miles, the water pump began leaking. Took the car to the local Mercedes guru. Belt tensioner also was bad. Cost for pump and tensioner replacement, plus 60K service (might as well go ahead) : $1,300.
Water pump failed again after one year, replaced by the guru free of charge even though it was out of warranty. He stands behind his work.
Transmission shifter bushing failed at approx 65,000 miles. Transmission must be lowered to replace. Cost: $325.00.
Air conditioner began leaking freon at 75,000 miles. Leak was in high pressure hose to the condenser. Cost to replace the hose and recharge the system: $650.00.
"Check Engine" light came on at 81,000 miles. Apparently the problem is in the air injection system. "Further diagnosis and repair" will be needed.
Rear shock absorbers are leaking and will soon require replacement.
Hood insulation liner is worthless as it comes from the factory. Deteriorates rapidly, particularly in the Texas heat.
Rear dome light switch failed at 77,000 miles.
Overall a beautiful car to look at. Very safe, and built like a tank, especially for the low-end of the product line.
Paint and interior have held up very well. I don't know what MB Tex is made of, but it's the best stuff in the world for auto interiors. Feels and looks like leather without all the hassle.
Performance is good for such a heavy car, owing to the power and torque of the 2.6 engine. The downside of the larger engine is multifaceted. It generated enormous amounts of heat (possibly responsible for many of the failures), and it completely fills the engine bay, requiring the removal of large numbers of components for even simple repairs, which layers on a lot of labor cost.
Handling is precise, if not a bit on the mushy side. New shocks will probably help. Brakes are absolutely incredible. ABS system works flawlessly. Stomp them hard and you feel like you've hit the arresting hook of an aircraft carrier.
Would I buy another 190? Probably not. An E320, or even a larger but older model, say a 560SEL might be attractive, though.