I love these spirited discussions!
It seems that whenever there is a post about oil or anything associated with oil that everyone has an opinion. Selecting and changing oil must be something that most everyone on this site has done at some time or another.
As I have stated before, I am not a Tech but, like everyone else I have opinions and beliefs...some based in fact and others based on rumor and hearsay. At the risk of throwing more gas on the fire here's what I do with my '98 E430 and why:
1) I use Mobil 1 20w-50 and change my oil every 5,000 miles. Most of my driving is highway and I never drive on dusty roads. For the first 15,000 miles I used dino oil and changed it every 3,500 miles. My "assumption" was that the engine would break in better with dino oil. Since I have switched to synthetic my fuel mileage has increased...that's a fact. I now get around 29 mpg on the highway at an average speed of 80 mph or so. I have records of every drop of gas my car has ever consumed. I "think" the synthetic oil is better because I "know" it requires less additives to cover a wider temperature range and I "think" it is less likely to break down. I "think" the cleaning action of synthetic is better than dino oil and therefore I "think" my engine is less gunked up.
2) Synthetic oil is expensive but, I want to use it for the reasons stated above. One way to control expense is to change the oil myself. The Topsider is the best alternative for me. Since most new cars are very low to the ground, it is difficult to drain the oil out the bottom. You have to remove the undertray and there's little room to work. I could use ramps but then part of the oil would be stuck in the back of the pan. Since I am NOT a Tech and I can't see much under my car anyway, I ONLY do every other oil change myself. I have Benzmac do the other oil changes, inspections, etc. The way I look at it, I am already changing my oil twice as often as the factory recommended rate since my FSS system will let me go more than 10,000 miles between changes. (based on my driving conditions)
3) The greatest concern I have heard about the Topsider is that it might fail to remove heavy particulate that settles in the bottom of the pan. I think that is the job of the oil filter! Besides that, look at the attached picture of my E430 lower oil pan:
As you can see, the drain plug (shown in red)is not located on the very bottom of the pan, it is located on the side. The dipstick tube is located between the 2 yellow plates. I cannot believe that there is much of a difference between what the Topsider can extract vs bottom draining.
In summary, the Topsider allows me to use the oil I want while controlling my cost, change my oil twice as often as the recommended rate and it provides some level of "pride of ownership" in maintaining my prized Mercedes. Besides, if Mercedes-Benz says that it's ok to suck the oil out, who am I to question them?
Bill Wood - Webmaster