Aaron & Michael,
Thank you for your comments. I'd thought perhaps the problem with the car was due to excessive use or heavy in-town use, but you and Michael are saying that the problems (at least in part) are likely due to extended non-use. Very interesting! 4-matic is extremely important as I make 40-50 trips into snow country each year….
What is the worst thing about what you're saying is that non-use is one of the greatest culprits to increased wear not only in the 4-matic system but to other systems as well. I had thought of putting the car into limited use and keeping it a while longer for use primarily on ski trips and in crappy weather, but that doesn't sound like such a good idea either…..
Anyone have any idea if the newer 4-matics (such as in the ML class or the new E class) are any more long-term reliable? Is perhaps MB just not the place to go for an 4wd or awd vehicle?