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Old 11-01-2002, 03:06 PM
Posts: n/a
W210 4-Matic snow performance

My 98 E320 4-MATIC does not do well in light snow. It will tend to swap ends in slow turns. Is this normal? How well does the 4-MATIC system work in real life?

Here are the details: When making sharp slow turns the front end plows, I have to be almost stopped before it will turn. I just had an alignment, the tires are brand new. When accelorating out of the corner that back end comes around.

I think I may have a problem up front. When I go over bumps I hear a "clunk" from the front corner. Both left side shocks sound like they are bottoming out on bumps. I think that might be ice or snow build up on the shocks. Is that a common problem?

I bought this car for all season driving. I drove my FWD Mazda this morning and in deaper snow it performed much better.

Do I have a suspension or driveline problem (CV joint, bushing)? Is the 4-MATIC really effective or just hype?
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Old 11-01-2002, 04:53 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 118
Sounds to me like you have a problem with your 4Matic system. Have you checked to be sure there is hydraulic fluid in the resevior? Does the dashboard 4Matic light stay on after start up? Has the system been disengaged by the switch in the engine compartment?
We have a '92 4Matic wagon, and it performs oustandingly in the snow! We have never experienced any of the symptoms you have described, and find it superb in slick weather. Perhaps there was a layer of unseen ice under the snow each time? That could cause the actions you described. We use Nokian NRW's, (now sold as WR's), on all four wheels in the winter, (and Pirelli P-400's in summer), and drive to northern Vermont twice a month in winter and have yet to get stuck, and rarely even see the 4Matic light come on, (which indicates that the system is engaged). Plus, at low speeds, (up to 12 mph), the 4Matic system should engage automatically, (without the light coming on), so when you are experiencing your symptoms, the 4 Matic should be working.
Perhaps one of the sensors is defective so the differential has locked, thus causing the plowing? I'm no expert, but from my experience, your car should go through anything your winter weather can throw at you. It should certainly outperform your Mazda! I would take it to a good tech for an immediate look over ASAP.

1962 MB 220SEb "Fintail" Sedan
1963 Vespa VNB 4T Motor Scooter
1992 MB 300TE 4Matic Wagon
1995 Subaru Legacy AWD Wagon
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:36 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Even with the 4-matic operating properly, you're still dealing with the traction ability of your tires. R&T did a huge comparision last year, and they found RWD cars with snow tires had much better performance than AWD counterparts with all-season tires.

The best is AWD with dedicated snow tires. (Except in stopping).

Get some snow tires on 'er, and if you still have all those problems, have the AWD system checked. Even if the AWD system is malfunctioning, you didn't waste a dime on snow tires.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
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JOHN hit the mark! Tires are the most important item for controlled traction. Try lowering the pressure a couple lbs below min suggested inflation & then see how it does. NO HYDRAULICS on that model, all done with electronics.
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Old 11-01-2002, 05:40 PM
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Thanks for the input. The system can't be turned off as far as I know. I have seen the light come on briefly once when accelorating from a stop.

I think everything is sealed on the system that I have. I'm going to make an appointment to have the system checked. I always post here first to see if there is anything I can do, like checking error codes etc.

I am running Bridgestone RE-950s. It is a tuff call to run snows around here since the roads stay dry most of the winter. The problem is that when it snows it really snows, then it melts in a day or two until the next storm.

All season tires on FWD cars are usually adequate.

Last edited by resqguy; 11-01-2002 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 11-01-2002, 07:50 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
At the risk of being accused of piling on, I would second the recommendations to get snow tires. Makes a big difference. The Nokian RWs or WRs referred to above are actually considered to be all-season tires, despite also having a snow rating (I believe), so OK to run them on dry pavement. Isn't your, and your family's, safety worth it?
'93 400E
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