Overall the Mercedes 190 bodywork is good at resisting the wear of time and it is usually driver damage or very poor body repairs that see rot set in. That being said it is worth checking the outer extremities of both front wings and both rear wheel arches for evidence of bubbling, as surface corrosion sometimes springs up at the screens, the sunroof opening, and the favourite the battery tray. Also check the floor pans, and jacking points, as well as the sills. Later model cars featured plastic covering or cladding to the lower half of doors, so do check for any rust around edges that could show signs of worse problems beneath.
Now, The body kit fitted on the Mercedes Cosworth models as you`d imagine can hide rot or even damage, so you need to check as thoroughly, and also check the spoilers and side skirts are undamaged. Replacement parts are available for the Mercedes 190 – and some are very pricey, while new exterior trim parts can be found, they are scarce, but there is a thriving second hand parts supply out there. Lastly, and a more obvious thing, it’s really worth double checking the paint work quality, as fading is very common on some red colours, although the quality of the original paint finish means it responds well to mopping and polishing.
Nice regular servicing should see the engines cover massive mileages without much trouble. That said timing chain replacement is the main job that will need doing somewhere around 70,000 miles or so – listen for a tell-tale rattle – but it isn’t too involved. The single row simplex chain was later swapped for a much stronger duplex chain in the 1989 facelift. Other items are, check for a sign of failing head gasket, and oil leaks from cam cover gaskets on 2.6 litre 6 cylinder engines, and smokey diesels in dire need of a rebuild. Bosch K-Jetronic injection is – denoted by an ‘E’ for Einspritzung, hence the 190E – this rarely gives any trouble. Mercedes Cosworth models though may have seen very hard use; therefore a Mercedes specialist inspection is very worthwhile. The Overhaul costs vary, but can be very expensive with parts boasting a four figure price tag, so be extremely wary of very tired examples.
Mercedes manual gearboxes – and that includes the Mercedes Cosworth’s dog leg Getrag box are robust, so check for any excessive noise or a difficult shift. Automatic gearboxes last very well, but a rebuild could be due by 120,000 mile, so check that all gears change quickly and smoothly. Mercedes clutches last very in general, but make sure that the limited slip diff on the Mercedes Cosworth is nice and quiet, as a replacement costs could be in excess of £1000.
Mercedes suspension, the front ball joints as well as the rear suspension arm bushes are quite common to wear, and check for any broken coil springs. More important than that, is check the self level hydraulic system that`s standard on the Mercedes Cosworth, this was an optional on other variants. They can leak, replacing rot pipework is very labour intensive as pipes need to be made up, and the back axle has to be dropped to fit. Replacing any levelling struts or indeed the pump is costly too. So It’s well worth checking for a leak from the power steering system too, but good news, that any brake issues are quite rare if they have been serviced correctly. Make sure that any models with ABS don`t display a warning light.
Mercedes interior cabin qualities are hugely impressive, but a few issues to look for are failed instruments and any cracks on the dashboard surface. The door cards overtime can warp, so make sure that you work the electrics, as a problem can occur, say the electric windows or sunroof, and the blower and wiper motors for example. Mercedes Cosworth models are often fitted with an neat LCD stopwatch, and the display ‘bleeds’ new ones are not available. But there’s a very good supply in secondhand Mercedes trim parts, and although items are available from Mercedes-Benz parts department at a high cost, it’s worth avoiding any shabby Mercedes.