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Old 07-29-2002, 01:56 PM
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Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 329
synthetic vs. dino

OK, guys,
My new to me 500E just turned 100,000 miles. On the trip home, it neither burned nor leaked any oil. What are the disadvantages to synthetic, and how many of you use synthetic?

92 500E 100,000m
92 300E 165,000m
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Old 07-29-2002, 02:05 PM
Michael's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,699
I run Mobil 1. Switched when the car was 7 yrs. old. Burns none, nor leaks any. No down side besides cost
"If everything seems under control, you're simply not going fast enough" --Mario Andretti

1995 E500 street car
1986 Porsche 944 Turbo S track car
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Old 07-29-2002, 03:16 PM
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yal yal is offline
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: New York, Long Island
Posts: 2,706
Tom, Tom, Tom......have you done a search? All you ever wanted to know about oil and were afraid to ask can be had by doing a search.
Brace yourself
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Old 07-29-2002, 05:14 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
Posts: 856
Yee Ha! So much has already been written that I won't ... ah shoot, what the heck ...

Use syn, the technical debate is over! (syn won)
George Stephenson
1991 350 SDL (200K and she ain't bent, yet)
former 2002 E320 4Matic Wagon - good car
former 1985 300 CD - great car
former 1981 300 TD - good car
former 1972 280 SEL - not so good car
a couple of those diesel Rabbits ...40-45 mpg
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Old 07-29-2002, 06:58 PM
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For diesels, its pretty clear that synthetic is better. My jury is still out on a ten year old gasoline motor with 100,000 miles.

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Old 07-29-2002, 09:37 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 2,699
By all objective measures, synthetic is better. That is undisputed. So, Tom, why ya on the fence?

Don't you want the best for your just-barely-broken-in 500E? Don't think you need the extra measure of heat capacity? Don't like the increased lubricity? Don't like the fact that it won't coke when it gets near them wicked hot pistons? Just do it, compadre-these motors are HOT, and in time will destroy repeated helpings of Dino oil, a tiny bit at a time
"If everything seems under control, you're simply not going fast enough" --Mario Andretti

1995 E500 street car
1986 Porsche 944 Turbo S track car
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Old 07-30-2002, 12:20 AM
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Location: Los Angeles
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Ooooh, chestnut! Search this site for hours of reading pleasure! My 2 cents: Mobil 1 15W50 in both my Benzes (and my Tahoe). I tried 0W40 in my 500E but the idle oil pressure dropped about 1/3 BAR, and it used a little oil between changes. With 15W50 it idles at 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 BAR and uses no oil.
Mark Stetson
1995 E320 Wagon Moonstone Grey/Parchment 106K mi.
2007 E63 AMG Graphite/designo 75K mi
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Old 07-30-2002, 11:12 AM
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Posts: 1,562
Here's my story:

1994 E500 (41.7k):
Penzoil Long Life 15W-40 used its entire life, changed @ 1.5k-2k mile intervals- depending on vehicle usage: short vs. long hauls, no oil consumption (just completed a 1300 mile roadtrip w/ high average velocities), coolant temp range constant 85-100 degrees w/ a/c on and ambient temps 75-107 degrees

>I prefer swapping out oil very frequently to allow those nasty suspended particulates and internal combustion by-products to reside in the recycling drum vs. in the oil circulating around the motor. I'd need to be an oil insider to afford syn changes at these intervals and I enjoy observing sparkly clean oil on the dip stick. I may be swapping oil out unnecessarily early though.

1994 E320 Coupe (107k)
Castrol 20W-50 used since I bought it @ 59k, changed @ 3k intervals, no oil consumption between changes, no valve noise- just a rock steady motor.

>I believe that syn offers the best lubrication per all info I've read/ published- - - but I'm wondering if anyone has been successful at running a motor on syn problem free for over 200k without cracking it open???? This evidence may justify the cost of going syn- especially with a 500e motor.

>fwiw- I've run my previous cars close to 200k on 3k dino changes with no motor problems whatsoever (Alfa, 3 BMWs, 3 previous MBs, Triumph, various American)- - - the exception: I have an 1988 original owner Toyota Celica w/ 240k running strong w/ motor never cracked open- 3k oil changes using the cheapest 10W-40 available.

Hope this helps Tom and perhaps more long time syn users can chime in to share how many high miles are on their motors problem free. Best regards
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Old 07-30-2002, 11:45 AM
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Location: New Jersey, USA
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motor character and loose bottom ends :eek:

Thanks Tom for daring to bring the thread up again.

I have seen syn vs. dino discussion that takes into account the character of the motor. In my Alfa I used Castro Sytec full syn 5W-50 exclusively- with very good results- Alfa recommended 10W-40 synthetic, a difficult grade to find; only AGIP, Selenia (with Alfas own label)

or Shell Racing was available.

I was told that the character of the M117 engine in my car is better suited to dino oil. It was described as having a 'loose' bottom end- when a thinner oil or synth is used it won't circulate as well to the upper upper area in the motor.

I don't know if there's any truth to this, but I still haven't decided on syn or dino for my newly rebuilt motor and tranny.


AMG 300TE 6.0
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Old 07-30-2002, 06:30 PM
Senior Canadian Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 827
Once again...

there is NOTHING wrong with using dino IF you change the oil regularly. If you drive hard, change more frequently.

Synthetic is good for ppl that (1) don't change often, ie. 5-6000 miles between changes (2) race their cars.

At a price difference of 2:1, I just buy dino and change every 3000 mi. It just DOESN'T make sense to me to spend 2x as much if I change the oil just as frequently.

The problem with long intervals is that you keep the particles in the oil for a longer period of time. The whole point of oil changes is 1) to replace the "worn out" oil and 2) remove the particles from inside the engine. If you leave the oil in longer, you leave the particles in longer. Particles = baaaaaaaaaad

A word about synthetic. Because it is thinner to begin with, synth will expose any leak that you may not have known about. The common misconception is that synth "creates" leaks. this is not the case. Be prepared to find more leaking though due to the lower viscosity of synth oil.

Final word: use the search
'94 W124.036 249/040 leder; 8.25x17 EvoIIs
'93 W124.036 199/040 leder; 8.25x17 EvoIIs, up in flames...LITERALLY!
'93 W124.036 481/040 leder; euro delivery; 8.25x17 EvoIIs
'88 R107.048 441/409 leder; Euro lights
'87 W201.034 199/040 leder; Euro lights; EvoII brakes; 8x16 EvoIs - soon: 500E rear brakes
'70 R113.044 050/526; factory alloys; Euro lights
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Old 07-30-2002, 07:08 PM
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 2,633
Although I've been a die-hard fan of synthetics, I agree 100% with Yhliem.

If you don't race AND the engine doesn't run very hot, a quality non-synthetic is fine at 3K mile intervals.

Although I'm still running synthetic until my 5-gallon pail is dry (Mobil Delvac 1), I do have Mobil Delvac 1300 and some Chevron Delo 400 diesel 15W-40 oil which would keep all the particulates in suspension. My domestic fleet is on this diet.

A gallon of Mobil Delvac 1300 is about $5. A gallon of Mobil Delvac 1 is about $19/gallon.

With a 5-month old baby, I'm thinking about changing the Benz's diet, but keeping the 3K/interval. $10 in oil sure beats $40+ in synthetics per oil change.

The 500E will stay on synthetic, probably move to Mobil 1 15W-50, since that engine is just too expensive to replace.

:-) neil
1988 360TE AMG
1993 500E
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Old 07-30-2002, 08:29 PM
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Posts: 1,562
....I've adopted my approach to oil changes/ oil choice (above) from a similar perspective:

'How much of an motor oil do I need?'
(based upon my E500's personal transportation/ some times enthusaistic street duty)- - ...I figure, after all, if you have more than you would ever need, the balance over the top is not why pay for it?

in my situation:
>ambient temps typically range 50-80 degrees (N Cal)- no real need for that super low weight winter oil vis (0W, 5W, 10W); the inital cold flow of 15W should be just fine
>my motor only has 41.7k/ used in very friendly climates/conditions- so a super thick 50 weight oil may not be needed vs. higher mileage motor; the top end vis of 40 should be just fine
>trips usually consistent of freeway/ longer distances (not very much city driving to speak of- - due roadway limitations/ traffic/ unskilled-unaware driver risks)
>coolant temps observed from the gauge never exceed 100 degrees even sitting in traffic- w/ a flash point of like 426 degrees- the Penzoil 15W40 Dino also should be more than adequate for this use
>tach usually hovers around the 3k range (4.5k-5k max on jaunts)- not much stress/sheer on the oil - again 15w-40 Penzoil should be more than adequate

> these considerations/ choices--coupled to a 1500-2000 mile change schedule (target evacuating any mucky suspended bad stuff)= should safely yield more than adequate lube choices/service w/ the E500. ...aslo is quite cost effective too- ~$14 for oil+ $10 for a filter

>also forgot to mention that the E500 logs an average of 5500miles/ that nets merely 3 lube services/yr= $72 (dyi pricing)

fwiw- @ 1500-2000 miles the oil appears to be just turning a slightly opaque dark carmel colored brown on the dip stick (slightly dirty)- - viewed all together in a clear plastic container the used oil appears to be a very light opaque black = smells like oil alright- nothing out of the ordinary, but I'd rather treat this performance motor to fresh juice all the time for peace of mind.... (out of the jug Penzoil Long Life 15W-40 appears to be a light opaque carmel color)

PS- this oil is rated for both diesel and gas motors
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Old 07-30-2002, 09:17 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 329
Since I don't change my own oil, I have always change it at 3750 mile intervals (once between 7500 m service intervals), mostly for convince sake. Every 3000m for me turns into two 3000 intervals, followed by a 1500 interval. If the a signant differencetween 3000 and 3750, it mght make sense for me to go to synthetic, at 3750 intervals. Or, again, 2500 dino intervals (every third change being a regularly scheduled service. I've thought of sending an oil sample to George Murphey for an analysis.
I am concerned about the greater heat with the 119 engine, even though I live in the Bay Area. With the A/C on, it will often go past 80 to 90-100+. I try to make sure it never goes over 100, and try to keep it at 85-90 by turning off the A/C.

I don't mind spending the extra $ for syn, if it means extra longevity for my engine - unless gasoline becames extinct, this may be my last car. I just wish there was some documentation.

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Old 07-30-2002, 10:26 PM
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My 500E has 176k mile on her and still going very strong. My oil changes are every 3k and include a new filter every change, at this point the engine is not burning any oil between changes and never has.

As far as the dino vs syn. debate, I agree with -fad's yhliem's take on this, there is a ton of info to wade threw on this board about both sides. I tried making the syn. switch when I first bought the car at 158k and I noticed a leaking gasket around the oil pan about 3 days later. Turns out syn will loosen up the accumulated muck in the interior of the engine along with possibley changing the spongieness (swelling) of the gaskets, this can happen if the car had a long diet of dino all its life like mine, try a search for more info.

Also, I didn't like the "sound" the engine made with the thinner oil, just a tad more metallic for my liking nor the lower Oil Pressure readings, could be the higher miles???? Maybe Daves (Hammer Wagon) comments about the M117 liking dino better is also true for the M119 in my case, not sure? Keep in mind, our engine was developed with dino in mind all those years ago (to bad none of that factory and Sauber C9 M119 developmental info is not available to us!). Anyone know some people at Sauber with loose lips???

Long story short, I switched back to dino because I change every 3k anyway (leak stopped after the switchWhat ), I do not run the car on the autobahn nor do I track the car so extreme operating conditions are not the norm for my car, even in 90's with the A/C I barely make it to 100, I guess I got lucky with this car. A lot of 500E's do run in the 90-100's+ on Summer days and this is normal, as to whether the syn will help the engine run cooler?

BTW, I use Chevron Delvac 400 which is a Diesel oil. Why a diesel oil? To quote another forum member here, "These are the best oils that can be used in either gas or diesel. The universal (diesel) oils are simply the best in terms of base stocks, additive packages, stability, and service life. They carry both ratings for gas and diesel while most of the "gas" oils only have the SJ/SL rating or with a CF (old diesel) rating."

The info on diesel oils here is more than enough to help me make the move. Bottom line, with all the knowledge shared here whatever you use, it will be hard to make a poor choice. Just remember Larry's Bibles famous words, "Change it HOT, and change it OFTEN".

Tom, now that some time has past, how is Life with the new 500E in your life?

Keep on motoring.....
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Old 07-31-2002, 10:49 AM
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 1,562
fwiw- an easy and cheeeeeep dyi 500e/e500 maintence tip for ya:

>ordered rubber 'O-rings' seals for the dip stick from FastLane 10 of them for a grand total $1.60 -must order in groups of 10, per Phil- - (ordered oil filters for the E500 and ditto E320 Coupe too)

prior to r/r, the E500's dip stick wouldn't have a 'snap' stop when fully inserted into the (oil level check) tube- aka - not really sealed properly

after the 15 second r/r (remove old seal from the top of the dip stick and roll new one into its slot)- - viola! a nice firm snappy seal upon (dip stick) full insertion (into the tube)!'

Happy days! ...appears heat/use shrinks that little black rubber o-ring seal over time.

best regards

Last edited by -fad; 08-02-2002 at 11:50 AM.
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