300te 4matic

Just been for a first look (in the dark) at a Merc 300TE 4Matic. It all looks sound bodywise and seems to drive well. Only thing noticed was that the 4Matic warning light was on constantly. What does this
indicate? How should the 4Matic feel when driving? What things should I look for tomorrow in the daylight?
tia
Ants
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Depends...
If you are talking about the orange light with the "!" flickering near the top of the speedometer, then that just said the 4-matic system was engaging. Though the system always engages briefly from stop, the warning light shouldn't flicker unless you are experiencing traction loss. I wouldn't worry too much about that if you were driving quickly in excessive rain, snow, ice, or sand with baldish summer tires.
If it was on constantly or it was the red system failure light (located on the far right in the row of warning lights beneath the gages) then RUN, don't walk, away from this car. These early 4-matics had transfer case and 4-matic control unit problems and both are expensive fixes even if you can find a dealer who's not trying to rip you off. It is possible that it's a simpler problem with an easy fix, but not worth the risk.
I know because I own a 93 wagon and while it's a great car, the maintenance (especially on the 4matic system) is not for an individual lacking both a stout heart and wallet.
Other than that its typical W124 type stuff. Mine's been pretty much bulletproof until recently (160k miles) but they've been known to be leaky about the head gaskets and need wiring harnesses from time to time (though I think the wiring harness failures were mostly in the post facelift and post 4-matic 94s & 95s).
When driving it should feel like a very heavy W124, that is to say meaty and accurate steering, firm but still comfortable ride, a smidgen tankish but very tight. Relative to other W124s though this car is slow and it understeers a lot b/c the 4-matic system adds so much weight. When 4matic is not engaged the car behaves like any other RWD Merc. When 4matic is engaged you don't notice it so much except in very slippery conditions (very icy) in which case the car starts to slide just bit before the 4matic cuts in and corrects everything. It's a little weird at first, but you get used to it. If you have good fresh snow/ice tires on it (which you should for the winter) you will barely even notice the beginning of traction loss.
At the time of issue the original 4-matic system was pretty good relative to the competition, mostly b/c it's a part-time system so you don't get that weird binding in tight radius turns that was (and still is) common in SUVs and was common in Subarus. Modern car-based AWD systems are much better though and new Audis and Subarus (WRX STi) are amazing by comparison.
On 1/3/05 5:02 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@z14g2000cwz.googlegroups.com,

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Expect problems with the transfer case ($$$). There are many 124 sedans out there, even diesels for very reasonable money.P.

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