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Old 11-19-2000, 07:40 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 1,193
Hey everyone,

Just went out to check the oil yesterday and as usual I pulled off the oil cap and breather hoses. This time I didn't like what I saw. There was some white crud on the oil cap (so I assume its all over the inside of the valve covers) and also in the breather hoses. This has happened in the past, and I assume its just condensation. My wife has been driving the car to work and back everyday and that's about all the use it sees. Also it has been going below freezing everynight lately. I am assuming that her trip (while engine temp gets up - I asked her to look out for this ) is too short to heat the oil properly and we are getting condensation on the inside of the valve covers and breatherhoses which freezes at night. I'm going to clean out the breather hoses myself today and have my mechanic clean out the valve covers this week. Also, yesterday and again today I had the car out on the highway for about an hour or more trying to burn the condensation out of the oil. Is there anything else I can do? I already change my oil every two months (about 1500-2000 miles). My dad says he had a similar problem in his dodge ram (also V-8) and his problem was aggrivated by something to do with the positive crank case ventilation. Could this have anything to do with my case, or is it just driving habits? We didn't have this problem last year because we were parked indoors so the car hardly ever saw freezing weather, and when it did go out it was on long trips (we could both walk to work then). This year she has to drive and I take the transit system all the way downtown, and the car is outside all the time. Is there any other fix for this, or should I just get it cleaned out now and when I get home everynight take the car out on the highway for an hour? I think that this would be pretty expensive with the price of gas lately.


Jason Priest

Jason Priest
1986 420SEL
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Old 11-19-2000, 08:03 AM
Posts: n/a
Jason, I don't think this is not really the result of parking the car in cold, but rather the length of the individual trips. If the oil does not get good and hot and stay there for a while, you will tend to gunk up the breather system with the white gunk, which is water saturated oil. Frequent oil changes can help, but short drives, especially in cold climates, is hard on cars, period. Lubrication (core engine wear included) and exhaust wil take the brunt of this wear.

The only other thing I can recommend is to watch your coolant system for loss of coolant with no visual leaks, which could indicate head problems. It does not sound like you have any, but just in case!

Any one else have any other ideas?

Good luck.

87 300TD, 160,000 miles
72 280SEL 4.5, 250,000 miles
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Old 11-19-2000, 09:54 AM
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Cremona, Alta, Canada
Posts: 263
Check your thermostat and crankcase breather. If it has had a lot of short trips you can get a buildup of moisture in the top end but not usually much. If your thermo. is not closing then your engine never gets hot enough to burn the crud out. Take it for an extented drive and if that does not get rid of it then you might be burning coolant(ugh).
An oil analysis will tell you that or check the tail pipe on a cool day. If you are burning coolant you will see a lot of vapor out the exhaust and it will smell like burnt antifreeze.

82 300SD 100k
91 Caprice SS
92 Jetta TD
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Old 11-19-2000, 10:06 AM
Posts: n/a
If your thermostat is working properly, bringing temp up to about 85 C or better, I expect that this is mostly because of the short hops.

I would not go the expense of removing the valve cover to get rid of this condensation. I believe that the key here is to make SURE that the engine is at full operating temperature when you pull the drain plug, or suck the oil with a topsider.

Are you taking the car to a dealer for oil changes? If so, they probably let it sit on the lot until it's cool, then change oil.

If you will get this car piping hot, at least 20 miles of driving and immediately change the oil, and do this as frequently as you have indicated, I'll bet that this problem will go away.

This does not mean the temp guage at 85 C. The oil temperature lag coolant temperature alot. Drive it at least 20 miles and IMMEDIATELY drain the oil. This way the condensation is churned up in the oil, not condensed on the inside of the engine.

Good luck,
Change oil hot and change oil often,

Larry Bible
'01 C Class, Six Speed
'84 Euro 240D, manual, 533K miles
'88 300E 5 Speed
'81 300D Daughter's Car
Over 800,000 miles in
Mercedes automobiles
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Old 11-19-2000, 03:06 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 1,193
Thanks Larry, and everyone. I just got back from a Sunday drive - about an hour on the freeway at 75. I checked the breather hoses again when I got back and it looks like about 95% of the gunk is gone, also none on the oil cap. I always do change my own oil; I let the dealer do the transmission, brakes and coolant. Like larry says, I do change it hot and often. I tried your suggestion, Larry, and last time I let it drain overnight. There was quite a bit of sludge that came out over night. I think I'll take the car out every weekend like I did today, and have my wife start taking the long way to work. Maybe that will keep the condensation out of my engine.

Thanks everyone!

Jason Priest
1986 420SEL
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Old 11-19-2000, 09:31 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Posts: 4,712
This is NORMAL for a car that sits or has short trips at times. I see cars that come in from auction with this all of the time.

I pay it no attention; if I pull out the oil stick and the oil is a normal color. The only time to be alarmed is when the oil itsself is milky.

Donnie Drummonds

[This message has been edited by Benzmac (edited 11-19-2000).]
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