Owning a 300TE
We've had our 300TE for almost 5 years now. It is my wife's daily driver (and kid hauler) and our family car for weekends and long trips. What do we think? We LOVE it! It has to be one of the best looking, well thought out and practical wagons ever. It strikes a great balance between, performance, handling, ride, quietness, fuel economy and practicality. We are so impressed with it that we have no intentions of replacing it in the foreseeable future. A later E-class wagon or ML has no appeal to us over the 300TE.
We purchased it showing 124,000km with full dealer service history in above average condition except for the well known bad oil leak at the rear of the head and the upper timing cover at the front. These allowed a lower purchase price. We got another 20,000km before oil appeared in the coolant necesitating a cylinder head job. I do all my own work so this was not expensive, just a bit inconvenient and time consuming. It is now showing 175,000km. The only other work I have had to do has been the front brake hoses, belt tensioner, tailgate gas struts, a repair to the tailgate wiring harness, rear self levelling suspension accumulators, steering damper and a tie rod. It had a new radiator just prior to our purchase due to accidental damage and I'm about to replace the thermostat due to it not closing fully when cold. Apart from this it has required only routine maintenance, brake pads, one battery and six tyres. I am fastidious in its maintenance both mechanically and cosmetically. In fact, it usually wins its class each year in our concours.
Possibly, we have had a better run than others although ours has covered less distance than others. Also bear in mind that forums such as this reveal all the problems which may make a particular model sound troublesome. I don't believe the W124 wagon to be the most reliable car available but nor do I consider it unreliable. I am fortunate that I can do my own work and save some expense that way. For jobs you cannot tackle yourself, as others suggest, a good independent MB tech is worth knowing. Having said that, I don't consider the 300TE difficult to work on. Routine service items are not particularly costly but those required less often can be. Items unique to the wagon (eg. rear exhaust) can carry a price premium over the similar parts for the sedan.
My wife was sad when we sold our '80 300TD that had been reliable over the 4 years we owned it, but after a very short time with the '90 300TE she soon did not miss the old diesel wagon. Find a good example and I'm sure you, like my wife and I, will be very happy with it.
107.023: 350SLC, 3-speed auto, icon gold, parchment MBtex (sold 2012 after 29 years ownership).
107.026: 500SLC, 4-speed auto, thistle green, green velour.
124.090: 300TE, 4-speed auto, arctic white, cream-beige MBtex.
201.028: 190E 2.3 Sportline, 5-speed manual, arctic white, blue leather.
201.028: 190E 2.3, 4-speed auto, blue-black, grey MBtex.
201.034: 190E 2.3-16, 5-speed manual, blue-black, black leather.