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  #1  
Old 01-29-2002, 11:53 AM
DTF
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4-Matic question

I have just read an article that talks about passenger car all-wheel drive cars and it mentioned that the 2000-2002 4-Matic system is a 35/65 permanent split and that traction at one tire can drive the car. I was surprised to see Japanese cars using all-wheel drive, including Subaru, need traction at two wheels for the the car to move. My question is: Is the split permanent, meaning it doesn't go to 0/100 or any increment from 35/65 front/rear to 0/100? Does MB simply use traction control at all wheels and apply brakes to slipping wheels and leave the split permanently at 35/65?
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  #2  
Old 01-29-2002, 04:56 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Canada
Posts: 298
Though MB says itself relentless pursues perfection, I think the current 4-Matic is technically a big compromise MB made.

The old 4-matic has 3 differentials, two of them (Center and rear) can be locked automatically, Torque distribution between front and rear can varies from 65/35 to 100/0, in normal driving, transfer 100% torque to rear wheel to save power train loss, even nowadays, most of real offroad vehicles don't have such advanced 4 wheel drive, it can pull out itself even when only one rear wheel has traction, it can only be stuck when both rear wheels and one/both front wheels lose traction, and most important, it uses locking differentials which make it tough and can be use constantly in harsh environment.

I feel sad that MB failed to improve the reliability of this advanced complex system, and just walked around with some inferior solution. I don't know what kind of center differential current 4-matic uses now, but since it distributes torque 35/65 permanently, I would think it just a cheap viscous clutch differential, and uses brake to transfer torque to the other wheel, it may be reliable, but is far less superior than the old 4-matic, good thing to Mercedes is they could significantly cut the cost.
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92 400E (Sold) 245K km
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2002, 05:05 PM
DTF
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Thanks for the response. However, the article also said that MB and BMW have removed center mechanical differentials in favor of electronic control. I am very interested in finding out exactly what MB does to call it 4-Matic.
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  #4  
Old 01-29-2002, 05:07 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Seattle Area
Posts: 373
Funny, I've heard of almost nothing but nightmares (maintenance and $$$-wise) from the early 4-matic system. This is what discouraged me from looking at them. Not sure of the nuts-and-bolts functionality of the new 4-matic system, but I understand they are considerable less proble-matic, but very effective.

It (the older system) may well indeed have been more sophisticated, but being sophisticated for sophisticated's-sake is useless imho.

I loved MB's as much as anyone at these forums but remember, the saying is: 'engineered like no other car in the world' not 'engineered better.....'

Regards,
- Ryan
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  #5  
Old 01-29-2002, 09:38 PM
mgelber
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Locking differentials are nice

About three months ago I bought a 91 4Matic and a house with a horrible driveway (long, steeeeep, lots of snow). The 4Matics performance is fantastic. I've watched enough SUVs and trucks fail to make it up my driveway, even with a running start, to be very impressed with the 4M which has never had the slightest problem. You can bring the 4M to a complete stop anywhere on the driveway on the iciest night and start back up again with no slippage. Admittedly its kind of a specialized problem but all my car-nut friends are pretty impressed by it. Especially the guys who stopped by after a week of hardcore four-wheeling in Death Valley and had to park on the street while the 4M sailed by... I bought the car figuring the 4M system would cost me $1000 a year to maintain. Even if it turns out to be twice that I'll still be happy. In fact, I might be looking for another one if I can find one nice enough.

Matthew

91 300E 4Matic 105K
87 560SEL 130K
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  #6  
Old 01-31-2002, 12:51 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Seattle Area
Posts: 373
That's good to hear the performance is so good Matthew (I can picture the looks on the 4-X'ers faces ). I wasn't trying to belittle the performance, just that I've heard they're expensive to maintain. As long as one has budgeted for the costs involved (like you have) it is an awesome car!

There is some major internal part (how's that for technical?) that typically went out near 100K but the factory replacement piece is revised and supposedly fixed the problem, I guess we'll know in a few years when they pass the 200K mark if they've fixed it.

Regards,
- Ryan
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'95 E420 - 'Shadowfax' 138kmi.
'92 Volvo 740Turbo Bard 193kmi
'74 240D - 'Ol' Green' 4spd Manual 104kmi. (sold )
'77 300D - 'Red' 223kmi (sold)
'75 240D - 'Bianca the Blue Bomber' (sold)
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  #7  
Old 01-31-2002, 01:59 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862
Interesting this topic gets mentioned. Actually the new 4ETS+ system is the most advanced 4wd system on the planet. Here is a link to a discussion we’re having on its merrits:

"We've compared the M class with the G-Wagen...

Also here is an overview of traction control systems:
Scroll to the top of this page, if necessary

http://www.whnet.com/4x4/abs.html#ETS

In short, other than the lag for going into 4wd, the early ‘90s 4-matic wasn’t half bad, except for the extreme wear and tear it regularly experiences. The new one is too new to really tell but it shows good results and truly revolutionary capabilities so far!

Enjoy!
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  #8  
Old 02-01-2002, 12:46 AM
mgelber
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Do the new 4Matics have the 4ETS+ system? I've never driven one of the newer ones... I figured they'd backed off of the complexity of the earlier (W124) design and put in open differentials. The idea of using the brakes to send power through the differential to the opposite wheel is pretty slick. If that's what they're doing I bet it works great. Pretty complicated though...

It still makes me laugh to see the 4x4s flail on my driveway. I think the problem is two-fold: open (non-locking) differntials, as well as a lot less siping (little slits) in their all-terrain tires, compared to the Pilots on my car. I'm sure by the end of the winter I'll have a lot more data points. It'll be interesting to see how Subarus fare... and since my wife travels with a more reputable crowd than I do so we might get some MLs up later in the season. If they get cocky I can always sandbag 'em with the hose-down-the-driveway-the-night-before-so-it-freezes trick.

Matthew

91 300E 4Matic
87 560SEL
Soon: Pinzgauer 710M
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  #9  
Old 02-04-2002, 02:12 PM
benzjunkie
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Calgary, Ab, Canada
Posts: 34
The "old 4MATIC system" made available in North America from 90 to 93 (from 88 in Europe) is a four mode system. It is not a really complex system but can be difficult/expensive to repair or diagnose. The shifting modes are described as 0, 1, 2 and 3. Mode 0 is 0%/100% F/R 2WD, mode 1 is 35%/65% F/R 4WD, mode 2 is 50%/50% F/R 4WD and mode 3 adds locking rear differential (ASD) to mode 2. The front differential cannot be locked. The newer 4MATIC system is similar mechanically but does not include a locking transfer case nor a locking rear differential. The torque is transferred using the braking system rather than using clutches. Sensing slippage is the same in both systems, but how toque is transferred is different. The new system can handle slip at any 3 wheels and still be able the move while the old system would be stuck if both rear and one front wheel slipped.
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Last edited by iread; 02-04-2002 at 02:32 PM.
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