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Buying guide for W201 190/190E models 1.8, 2.0 8v, 2.6 12v, 190d 2.0, 2.5 and 2.3/2.5 16v


•Jacking points are a common place to rust, try and get a good look under the car to see if any welding to the front and rear jacking points is needed.
•The boot floor and Boot wells rust here, to check for rust open the boot and get a good look under the spare wheel area, also pull the plastic boot well liners out to see if any welding is needed in the boot well area as these tend to rust because of water sitting in these areas.
•Check the rubber around the boot lock and check the drainage pipes from the sunroof as these disconnect causing water to leak from the rear down into the boot where the water collects in the boot wells.
•If the car you’re buying has a body kit (for example a 16v body kit or AMG etc) try and get a good look around the tops of the arches and inside the lip of the arch and feel for rust and check the general condition of the bottom wings.
•Chrome fender covers are rust hiders and can cause more damage as they trap dirt and water which will erode the arch, make sure there is no rust present on the arches or any bubbles forming.
•Try and get a good look at the inner wings and check all brake pipes and fuel lines for any rust.
•Check all the windscreen seals as these tend to let water in so May need changing.
•It is also a good idea to check the condition of the sunroof seal as water can get if the seal has perished.
•Check for any dings and scraps in the bodywork.
•Check below the rear windscreen as this is a place where rust is found, check for any excessive corrosion.
•Check around the electric aerial. For any rust
•C pillar vents can leak into the boot wells.
•Check around the rear number plate fixing bolts for rust.
•Check around the rear clusters for rust bubbles.
•If a rear spoiler is fitted, check around the bolt holes for rust bubbles.
•SLS check the pipes the run under the car for leaks and check the bottle under the bonnet has fluid in it.
•Also check around the SLS engine pump for leaks...
•Check the shocks are not leaking and make sure there is no knocking as this can be the bushes in the bottom of the shocks/rams...
•Rust underneath the washer reservoir and radiator overflow.
•Check the battery tray for rust/rot...
•Check all the body panels line up correctly and make sure there is an equal amount of gap in each panel.


•Listen out for any whines in the diff or strange noises.
•Listen out for any knocks from the Drivetrain; this could be the prop discs that need changing.
•Auto box: Smooth gear changes, no knocks or rattles, should change up and down fine S=standard E=Economy
•Manual box= Known to be notchy but should change gear without force, linkages and bushes are known to need changing to sharpen the gear change, this also goes for the close ratio gearbox (getrag) found in the 16v.
•There should be no strange noises or vibrations within the Drivetrain.
•Clunks when switching from forward to reverse gears. Could be flex disc or diff.
•Make sure all the shift points are correct, if not this could be the kick down cable or switch.


•Idle for a 190/190E 1.8-2.0 8v and 2.6 12v 190d 2.0, 2.5 autos should be around 700-800rpm; it should be constant at this and should not be a lumpy tick over.
•For a 16v manual it is around 900-1000rpm tick over, these engines do have a slight rattle known as “cam clutter” listen out on start up from cold if there are any excessive rattle as this could mean the timing chain may need changing.
•Check that the car has been maintained and that the gearbox oil and engine have been changed on a regular basis.
•There should be no hesitations and should pull fine all the way up to redline.
•If the car is not idling correctly this could be a number of thing, IACV (idle air control valve) is a common fault and check for any vacuum/air leaks in the rubber hoses around the injection system.
•On ignition you should he the fuel pump prime, make sure the fuel filter has also been changed within the service history.
•For diesels, if the glow plug light remains OFF when you turn the key to acc position and comes on for 10 seconds or so after you start the engine, this is the control unit telling you at least one glow plug is faulty. They are cheap to replace but 2 of them are very awkward to get to.
•Check for cracks in the plastic thermostat cover.
•If the car has a CAT check for any rattling sound when the car is revved, just sounds all clogged up and car will feel down on power...
•Make sure the fan kicks in at 92C if this does not or its always engaged check the sender…


•16 valve: The ride shouldn’t be too firm and shouldn’t bounce, the ride height at the rear should be a few inches from the arch to the tyre, if it sitting too low then there could be a leak in the lines and if its sitting too high then the accumulators may need changing or the valves.
•Sportlines: sit 22mm lower than standard 190/190E’s should be quite firm and handle well on the road.
•190/190E general: Check all the shocks for any leaks and check all springs as they are known to snap make sure there are no knocks coming from the rear of the car.
•Sportlines and 16v’s also have quicker ratio steering boxes, make sue none of the power steering components are not leaking
•Check all ball joints and track rod ends
•Check all springs they are known to snap and make sure the rears are not sagging.
•Make sure thereare no leaks in the ASD or SLS lines if the car is equipped with this, make sure there are also no leaks around the pump area.


•The condition of the interior should co inside with the mileage, check everything works, the sunroof should slide back and forth fine, is it doesn’t this could be a cog in the motor has stripped or a snapped sunroof cable which draws the sunroof back n forth.
•Check all electric windows work, if there are electric windows check they work, a common fault for these is that they stop working due to breaks in the wire between the pillar and the door also damp and water damage could stop the motors from working.
•16valve: check the lap timer a common problem is that the screen bleeds. Also check OTG in the dash (outside temperature gauge also suffers the same problem).
•Check door cards as these tend to lift away at the top. (These at the rear also suffer water damage if the rain sheet has been removed)
•Check the dashboard for any cracks.
•Check all round the visor area vinyl roof panel for dampness, discolouration and sagging. This suggests a leaking sunroof. Due to the drain arrangement in these cars its possible for them to leak water all down the back of the a pillar covers for years without detection. You may never see any water but the car will always be humid and gradually rotting the carpets.
•The central vents blow fresh air in from outside, don’t let this put you off as it was designed that way, the left and right side vents are the vents that blow warm air.
•When ignition is on make sure that the oil pressure gauge does not move as the engine is not running if it does this suggests a faulty sender or plug on the back of the clocks, the oil pressure gauge should only move when the engine is running.
•To adjust the clock push the right needle in and turn at the same time to will allow you to adjust the clock.
•To reset the trip meter (only whilst at stand still, do not to this in motion) push the left side needle in…

Many thanks to "Lewis 190E 2.5 16" for creating this guide
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