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  #1  
Old 03-19-2001, 11:11 AM
carl
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I am trading my old (less than trusty after reviewing the service history) 1987 300D since its mechanic informed me the next ransom would be 4 to 5k for all sorts of fun stuff (mostly engine.....there is oil in the coolant). Anyway, before I drop 4k into the thing I thought I'd take a look and see what I could buy for a reasonable sum.

I found a pristine 1990 300TE w/139k on it at a Mercedes Signature dealer in Palo Alto. Asking price is 12.9; mid blue book. This is where I bought my current car. I want a wagon but DON't want the self levelling rear suspension; can the more expensive TE rear suspension be changed out to E parts so I can put Bilsteins on the thing? Or, is there a better solution? What about springs? I've a set of unopened springs for my 300D and wonder if they will fit on the 1990 300TE (fronts, probably, but rear???).

What about stereo speakers on the TE? Where are the rear speakers and what is their size? If I pull my 5.25" ADS speakers (and 4" from dash) out of the current 300D is there anywhere to put them in the TE?

Sorry for the long missive; am grieving for my diesel. I am sure it will be like a pretty girl, though; once I have the next one I won't much remember the smelly, slow diesel.

Regards,

Carl
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2001, 12:17 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Concord, CA
Posts: 27
300TE

Carl,

Once you have a "TE" you wont go back! Give it a subtle sport-conditioning: bigger tires, tasteful sport wheels, mild tinting, about an 1" lower and you'll not only have an eye catcher, but a fun ride that's got all kinds of utility for an active life-style.

At around $12,000 insist that everything should look good and be in good working order both in and out, as well as, mechanically. Good and straight ones are hard to find.

As for your concern, more than the self-leveling, I'd stay away from the 4matic. I've been told that unless you get one that's less than 3 years old and even then, one that's been on a good, documented maintenance schedule, be prepared to spend money. Mine came with a complete service file from Stead Motors in Walnut Creek from the day it was delivered in '88. My self-leveling in still going strong, with 166k on it. Not even a hint of trouble. I expect that with normal maintenance, I will get way past 200k. When it finaly does quit, and if I don't decide to repair the self-leveling, I've been told that switching to a coventional suspension is not a big deal. I don't believe that the rear springs will work for the TE. It's a different part for even a 300E vs. TE.

As for the speakers, I've been quite satisfied with the stock system and Becker radio. Then again, I drive with the sun roof open as often as possible, even at night (I used to be an MG-driver), so perfect sound quality is not a priority for me. Of course, it's because the car is still relatively quiet, for having the sun roof open, that I keep it open so much.

Here is a link to the Mercedes-Benz Club of America website that talks about "When Do Parts Wear Out?": (if I didn't list it properly, you can find the article on their website- you don't have to be a member to access it.)

http://mbca.org/mbca_parts_wear_out.htm

I'm in Concord. Let me know when you get one.

-AL


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Al D.
1988 300TE
Anthracite/Grey MB Tex
205/55/16, 16x7.5 Lorinser 15-hole
'95 S-500 corners
50% tint all windows
Kleen Wheels
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2001, 12:28 PM
carl
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Thanks for the information and the link. Can you tell me what the rear speakers are (size) and where they are mounted? My fiancee's E320 wagon has speakers in the rear doors; is it the same for the TE?

Your mods are pretty much what I would do except for upgrading the speakers; once you've experienced a McIntosh am powering four ADS speakers it is kinda hard to go back to the crappy EOM stuff (and it is crappy).

A requiem for my diesel.

Carl
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2001, 12:54 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Concord, CA
Posts: 27
TE

O.K. McIntosh, they aren't.

They are 4" speakers at the rear door handle/armrest. The opening will not fit anything larger. Perhaps mods to the door panel might work.

For a McIntosh system, I would think that any number of high-end sound stores would be able to give you a tastful, installation solution. Stay tuned for comments from other members who might be your audiophile peers.
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Al D.
1988 300TE
Anthracite/Grey MB Tex
205/55/16, 16x7.5 Lorinser 15-hole
'95 S-500 corners
50% tint all windows
Kleen Wheels
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  #5  
Old 03-19-2001, 02:07 PM
Michael's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,699
300TE opinions/info

My car's up to 167k mi., and going strong. Did the head gasket etc. recently, and she's running as-new. I change my load leveling fluid regularly, and have had no problems with that system...I haven't even done the nitrogen cells! Front shocks are fine, too. I have replaced almost every bushing in the front end (as well as the lower ball joints & both tie rods) so she's plenty tight. Gonna keep that car forever!

As to the rear suspension, be advised that teh '86'87 300TD W124 wagon did not have load-leveling, so there's a potential source of parts.

Good luck with your choice!
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1986 Porsche 944 Turbo S track car
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2001, 03:18 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Posts: 427
FYI, there is an 89 TE with only 64.5K miles on ebay motors that is ending in 4 hours. Worth looking at.
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  #7  
Old 03-19-2001, 04:03 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: NW Arkansas
Posts: 179
300te 4-matic

So, as stated by another poster, the 4-matic is probably a no-no on a used car unless it is very well documented?

Just curious. Found a 1991 300TE 4-matic with 117k asking $12,500.

We didn't have time to drive it, but it everything looked/sounded great. Seats were a little worn, maybe the heated seat option caused them to dry out?

Anyway, if we get serious about this car, I was going to take it to the shop and have them check it out.

Is there a way to tell if the 4-matic is worn or tired, on it's way out?

And, do all 4-matics have self-leveling suspension or does the self-level apply to wagons in general, not just 4-matics.

Thanks guys!

1994 C280 108k miles
Currently in the shop getting the water pump replaced (didnt have time or tools to do the job myself )-
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  #8  
Old 03-19-2001, 05:28 PM
someguyfromMaryland
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I'd recommend a TE to any of my friends. I have, in fact, and two friends now have them! I have a '91 TE 4matic and I understand the concern but I believe they are an incredible car if maintained. The self-leveling suspension that everyone moans about has only two weaknesses, AFAIK, and neither is a big deal on a car of this quality.

First, the N2 cells will eventually wear out. You can DIY for <$200 and you're back to day one performance. The shocks either leak or they don't. If they don't leak, they're fine. They are pricey, but I don't know of too many TE owners who have had to replace leakers. Most of the time I have heard of anal retentives replacing $250/shock (that's the GOOD price) on principle and I just shake my head.

Sceond, you can prevent alot of headaches by flushing the system every two or three years and probably never have a problem other than the N2 cells. My 4matic has 205k miles (anybody got a higher mileage 4m?) and the cells are original. I really don't feel a problem in the rear but I'll probably change them in the near future.

The self-leveling's biggest weakness is its lack of adjustability. If you hear you can adjust the level compensating unit's fulcrum in the rear for a lower ride, you are asking for trouble. TEs weren't really meant for autocrossing, so live with the ride height and enjoy the car. Besides, IMHO TEs look really bad when you start to "dress" them up. Boy racer chrome wheels and tinted windows make the car look exceeding pimpish. I know, I've seen a few like that.


The biggest caveat with a 124 TE is definitely service history. 4matic or not, a pampered car will last longer with less maintenance because it's had less wear and tear on it, and when it has had problems, they were dealt with as they arose. Fixer uppers can be ugly on any of th newer MB's, starting with the 126s.
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  #9  
Old 03-19-2001, 08:44 PM
carl
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The dealer with that 1990 300TE just gave me a call. The car, which has 140k on the clock, had the top end of the motor rebuilt (at same dealer) about a year ago. Asking price of 12.9k looking pretty good with a rebuilt top end. All service done at the dealer, too. This sounds a fair deal....I'm going to go down and drive it. Any comments on the price?

Carl
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  #10  
Old 03-19-2001, 11:49 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: NW Arkansas
Posts: 179
300te 4-matic

O.k., sounds goods. But (I know, I'm treading on dangerous ground here) what are things to look for to *test* the 4-matic and the N2 cells for wear?

I don't believe the car has it's records, but it appears to have been well taken care of. Of course my shop will be able to tell me more about it.

Newbie question...where would I look on the underside to check the 4-matic for leaks?

Should I just stay away?

Thanks again.
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2001, 12:46 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862
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.


...Tracy
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  #12  
Old 03-20-2001, 01:11 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Concord, CA
Posts: 27
TE and 4matic

Carl,

As always, "less in more" ...for you to spend on goodies. With the top end rebuild, a good thing, and a history with the dealer, one would expect some kind of warranty still left. Some written statement regarding leaks of any kind would also be good. In so far as the car is at a MBZ dealer, the price seems in line. Factored into the price is some piece of mind that "the dealer is just a phone call away."


DWCasey,

Seems to me that a full inspection and report from your MBZ shop would be a good way to make up your mind. Your mechanic will note the leaks. The 4matic's a more expensive car than a standard TE; consequently, potentially more expensive to repair. Prepare. Or do you really need full time AWD? At the speeds I travel 65 mph (ok 110+ when it's safe) in dry California, I didn't see the value. However, I would think that NOT having to put snow chains is worth a lot to some.
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Al D.
1988 300TE
Anthracite/Grey MB Tex
205/55/16, 16x7.5 Lorinser 15-hole
'95 S-500 corners
50% tint all windows
Kleen Wheels
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  #13  
Old 03-20-2001, 08:53 AM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,699
Somewhere in the center differential of a 4matic is a seal. This seal maintains a barrier between the differential and transmission, and is ALWAYS under some 3,000 psi of pressure. Hence, this seal leaks consistently and requires a rebuilt diff go in. On a 4matic there's apparently no way to avoid this recurring problem.

Stick with the 2wd, and buy snow tires if you need them. I've never gotten stuck here in New England with this formula!
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1995 E500 street car
1986 Porsche 944 Turbo S track car
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  #14  
Old 03-20-2001, 01:17 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: NW Arkansas
Posts: 179
Well, I'm beginning to lean towards a standard TE now, the 4-matic just seems too particular. I'm in NW Arkansas, so we do get the weather. Just past December we were snowed in for several days, but it doesn't happen enough to warrant a AWD/SUV type vehicle.

My shop (independent, not dealer) has a 1988 300TE with 175k miles. I plan on taking it for a spin when I go pick up my C280.

If its in good-high condition, what's a fair price? I checked KBB.com and Retail was $9,625 and Trade-In was less than $5,000. I never understood those prices.

Should I be looking for typical 300E probs with this one?
Will it have the auto-leveling rear suspension?

Is there a FAQ on this site that has 300E "common problems"?



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  #15  
Old 03-20-2001, 01:33 PM
carl
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According to another poster the 88 300TE does not have the self levelling suspension; that was 89 or later. The wholesale value for trade in assumes the dealer will do the usual things like brakes, tires, detailing, battery, basic service so it is ready to run. Private party assumes that not as much of this stuff has been done AND that you have zero recourse, for the most part, with a private party.

I would want to know if the top end (at a minimum) has been rebuilt with that kind of mileage on a single cam 300E motor. The tranny could also be ripe for replacement between 200 and 300 (mine was done at 220 on my 300D) and that will set you back around 4k for a warrantied unit from Mercedes.

Good luck.

Carl
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