4-matic and 300TE
FWIW, I had a Ď91 TE 4-matic and found that everything on the front is strained by the 4-matic system. The 4-matic system is an odd creation and peculiar in itís behavior. Hereís an overview of how it works: After every time the car comes to a stop, when you let off the brake, the 4-matic engages the front wheels. The front wheels stay engaged until the car is going about 9 mph. Then, if there is no slip detected, 4-matic will disengage until the next time you come to a stop. While running above 9 mph, the 4 matic system uses wheel spin sensors to engage the front wheels. Once the front tires are engaged, their power split may escalates through 3 stages, up to 50-50. Generally, however, when 4-matic engages, it is brief and transparent. You can trigger it by taking a sharp corner. If you use a 4-matic in town, you may be turning on and off this system a hundred times or more. Per day. It can make for a lot of wear.
The wear the 4-matic imposes directly is on the transfer case, just behind the transmission. You canít always see leaks as many dealers will thoroughly clean the engine and driveline of the car when prepping it for sale. In addition, the front drive shafts should have the boots intact and no leaks. Check the steering gear for play, all the hydraulic lines for leaks or road damage. The bushings throughout the front suspension really take a lot of use, as do shocks. Also check the state of the motor mounts.
This aside I would heartily recommend a TE. Fabulous, extraordinary car. The 4-matic systems do nothing to enhance the TE.