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Old 08-07-1999, 05:37 PM
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I have a '91 300TE 4-matic that I bought used about 1.75 years ago with 70K miles on it. I bought the car with a Starmark warranty, and it is a good thing I did. The car has been in the shop numerous times for a large number of repairs. The dealer (in Seattle) has been great about the efforts they've put into the car. The repairs include:

New transfer case
New steering gear
New front axles
New front struts
New steering damper
New front sway bar & bushings
Numerous hoses (hydraulic)
Replaced the valve guide seals
Replaced the front and back brakes (rotors & pads)
Several repairs to the vacuum systems (seats & locks)
And a list of other stuff too long to go into. Literally, I have a stack of repair related paperwork that is over 2 inches tall.

The car is nearing the end of its warranty period. I have several friends that have 300E class MBs and none have had anywhere near the amount of problems my car has. The mechanic said he put in about 100% more work than he's ever put into another 4-matic before…

The car consumes about 1 quart of oil every 3K miles. The question is, even with the monumental amount of work done on the car, and given that it is working pretty good at this point, is it reasonable to expect that it will continue to work okay without further significant repairs? Or should I cut my losses on the car and go for a (new) ML 320 instead?

Comments are welcome and appreciated!

Old 08-07-1999, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
Posts: 12,153
I doubt if you have a "lemon" but it might be a "lime". Either way I wouldn't want to keep up with all of those repairs.
Old 08-07-1999, 09:34 PM
Posts: n/a
It sounds like you made the smart decision to buy the Starmark program, none of those items are really out of the ordinary (the radiator neck and t-stat are still ok??). Remember that some Starmark Inspections are more thorough than others....

Sell the car and buy a ML?? Wait a few more years, any and all vehicles are better after they have 'aged' a little, personal opinion (and not that of Daimler/Chrysler) is that you would continue to display your intelligence by hanging onto your 1991 300TE 4-matic and enjoy it! 1 quart of oil every 3,000 miles is excellent! Keep changing the engine and transmission oils as recommended in your owners manual.

Old 08-10-1999, 12:22 PM
Posts: n/a
M.B. Doc,

Thanks for your comments. You express my concerns very well -- I wonder if it is possible to ever really catch up with the repairs of if they just keep coming, and the best solution is to buy a new key (and the car that goes with it).

Thanks again for your comments.
Old 08-10-1999, 12:33 PM
Posts: n/a

Thanks for your comments. I would never buy a car without a warranty. There are too many things to go wrong. I'll have the dealer check the radiator neck for cracks, but I haven't seen any sign of over heating, even when creeping cross town at about 5 mph with the ac on.

You're not a fan of the ML, I take it. They are not as quiet at the TE, nor do they have the finish details of the E class. I actually worry about newer models of the ML due to the growing influence of Chrysler and their make them as 'cheaply as possible' and then call the defects 'normal' attitude. OTOH, I saw my first "used" '98 320 4-matic wagon for sale recently. Now if I could find one of those with a big chunk of the factory warranty plus a Starmark warranty, I'd probably jump at the opportunity. A Benz is a nice ride, one with about 80K worth of warranty coverage ahead of it is nicer yet!

Old 08-10-1999, 04:30 PM
Aaron's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935


Wow! Sounds as though you got a typical 4-matic with the low-mileage syndrome. The biggest problem with 4-matics is that the transfer cases (if the car sat unused for a long period of time) give major problems. I have done many of them, and it's not a pretty repair. The hydraulic lines also have a tendency to rust, and that's even worse. I remember having to replace each and every hydraulic line on a 4-matic sedan and I think the total in labor was about 51 hours. But the car sat, and the lines just went to pot. Anyways, I think if I were you, I would sell your 124 wagon and look for a 123 chassis Turbodiesel wagon. They were the best of the entire breed.

Aaron Greenberg
MB technician
'67 250SE Cabriolet
'77 450SL
'79 6.9
'79 6.9
'80 300SD
'81 240D
'85 380SE
'89 420SEL
'93 300E 2.8
Old 08-10-1999, 09:28 PM
Michael's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,699
Ouch! Boy, am I glad I didn't buy a 4Matic...I made due with snow tires!! Sounds like a car built real late on a Friday, or has a gremlin in occupancy. However, I'd say that the quart every 3k sounds about right and consistent with my for the rest, I haven't had nearly the problems but again I'm RWD. That car must've sat for a while...sitting seems to kill these cars. Mine sat a lot its first 5 years or so, and that I think is responsible for such things as both rear wheel bearings failing. Oh well, the price of low miles!! Good luck.

'92 500E
'88 300TE

Old 08-11-1999, 05:20 PM
Posts: n/a
Aaron & Michael,

Thank you for your comments. I'd thought perhaps the problem with the car was due to excessive use or heavy in-town use, but you and Michael are saying that the problems (at least in part) are likely due to extended non-use. Very interesting! 4-matic is extremely important as I make 40-50 trips into snow country each year….

What is the worst thing about what you're saying is that non-use is one of the greatest culprits to increased wear not only in the 4-matic system but to other systems as well. I had thought of putting the car into limited use and keeping it a while longer for use primarily on ski trips and in crappy weather, but that doesn't sound like such a good idea either…..

Anyone have any idea if the newer 4-matics (such as in the ML class or the new E class) are any more long-term reliable? Is perhaps MB just not the place to go for an 4wd or awd vehicle?
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