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  #16  
Old 01-06-2001, 01:00 AM
ocpdba
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oil change

I have a 93 400e. I have a wonderful book that was written by people that are especially knowledgable about this car. They know everything about this car. They designed this car and have build thousands of them.

That book is called an "owner's manual".



In it, these experts recommend changing the oil and filter each 7000 miles under normal driving conditions, and changing the oil each 3750 miles and the filter each 7000 miles under severe driving conditions. Now, I know that the gents at Jiffy Lube want you to change your oil each 3000 miles. You tell me whose advice you are going to take - Mercedes engineers or your corner lubrication vendor?

Just buy a good brand of filter (you know, MB) and use good oil (I personally love Mobil 1, just because it does the best in all the tests I have read) and change your oil whenever you feel like it (3000, 3500, 4000, 7000 miles) as long as you stay within manufacturer reccomendations and you will be just fine.

Trust me, just change the oil and filter on schedule, and I guarentee that the rest of the car will wear out before the bottom end of the engine does.


hth,

Jack
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  #17  
Old 01-06-2001, 01:25 AM
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Yes but what is the definition of normal driving?

For me normal is hitting the gas hard when I feel like a burst, and driving mellow at other times.

I would assume their definition of normal would be someone driving around not pushing the car at all in any way.

Now as for their recommended oil change interval, I just don't buy it. After 3000 miles my oil is usually ready for a changing based on its color. when it gets darker than I like it, I change it.

Oil has been discussed so many times here and everywhere else, its hard to piece together all of the info. or remember everything you have read.

If I remember correctly from another post, Larry bible had been to the dealer and got to see the inside of an engine that had the factory specified oil changes at the FSS Intervals, and the car had quite a bit of sludge.

For the $25 to change the oil, that includes filter, I find it a very cheap way to keep the car running longer. I'd rather change it sooner than change it later and have it be dirtier and have to shell out major cash for an early rebuild.

As Larry bible says, oil is the only way to clean your internals of your engine.

I think that I will change the oil when I want to, which is at 3000 Miles. In fact I'm due for that 3k oil change in 1000 miles.

I personally don't see how new oil more often is a bad thing, and I don't always go by what people tell me or what the manual says. If the manual said you would never have to change the oil ever, would you never change it? I know I wouldn't follow that part of the manual if it said that.

Do whatever you feel comfortable doing. if you feel comfortable changing it every 7k, then by all means do it. Just don't expect me to change my oil change intervals for any reason. No matter how I drive, spirited or normal, I will always change at 3k.

Thats my 2 cents.

Alon
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  #18  
Old 01-06-2001, 02:24 AM
ocpdba
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This discussion proves one thing for certain: we are both semi-fanatical MB owners.

Per the manual, severe operating conditions are defined as:

(1) More than 50% short distance driving (less than 5 miles per trip) combined with engine operating tempatures of less than 176 degrees F, especially with low outside tempatures, and
(2) More than 50% operation in lower gears combined with high engine load (mountain driving, poor roads, etc.)

It is difficult to know the answer to the OC interval question.

Unless we have some direct way of measuring the lubricating abilities of our oil, we must rely on external evidence to make a reasoned judgement about when it is unable to lubricate any longer. Therefore, we either have to (a) trust our own judgement, (2) trust other peoples' judgement, or (3) a combination of the two.

I finally decided to trust those with the highest level of expertise, which I feel are the designers, engineers, and builders of the car. I am absolutely certain they ran exacting tests to determine the best OC intervals for the car to live a full life. They know more about oil than I will ever know, and I don't think it prudent that I trust my own judgement over their's in this matter.

Let me ask you this hypothetical question: if you went to Germany, and you found the engineer that designed your engine, and he advised you, based on the numerous tests that MB did, that you should change your oil every 7k miles, would you believe him?

Since he is the foremost expert on that engine in the world, I would.

And I do.

Jack
93 400e


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  #19  
Old 01-06-2001, 03:17 AM
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BUT, that same engineer is also working for a company that stays in business by selling cars. In the 1950s, Porsche started a project on a 10 year "minimum maintenance" car, but dropped it when told what it would do to the company financials if they succeeded. I would bet the service recommendation that the designer/engineer would recommend privately may be different from the one the company marketing people published in the owners manual!

For most owners with a 3-5 year ownership (lease?) period before they "need" the latest and greatest car to carry around kids or clients, the owners manual probably is a reasonable guide. For the fanatic who wants to own the car forever and keep the car on the road as long as possible, I submit that the owner's manual should be considered a MINIMUM service guide. But then, I'm the Obsessive/Compulsive type who has replaced timing chains/belts 10k miles before the recommended interval. (Why? Because a friend of mine once had the timing belt on their BMW fail several thousand miles BEFORE the "designer/engineer/builder" specified change interval, to which BMW USA said "out of warranty, too bad about your valve train, will that be cash, check, or credit card?"!!!)

I know I'm paranoid, but am I paranoid enough!

[Edited by JCE on 01-06-2001 at 02:23 AM]
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  #20  
Old 01-06-2001, 11:08 AM
LarryBible
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JCE,

Congratulations, very well put.

I responded to opcdba in another thread before I read this one. As you say, if you are the average car buyer, the manual recommendations are fine and will certainly get the car down the road for several years until you get tired of it. If, however, you want a long life, you exceed those recommendations.

I'm not sure if this is opcdba's first MB or what. With many other makes, mostly American he is right, there is nothing left of the rest of the car to put an engine into when the time comes. An MB if taken care of can hold up for several engine lives in many cases.

MB nor any other car manufacturer is truly anxious to tell you how to make your car last for twenty years, they would certainly go out of business if they did. They have let the general public believe that a car is good for 80 or 100 thousand miles.

There is one other area where I feel that the engineers are not allowed to do what they would like in some cases. That is see that everything is accessible for the poor folks that have to apply the wrenches to them. Some manufacturers are much worse than others. Again, you can guess where the manufacturers with the most difficult cars to work on are located.

Good luck,
Change oil hot and change oil often,
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  #21  
Old 01-06-2001, 11:15 AM
ocpdba
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hehehe

I suspect that many Mercedes owners are obessive/compulsive perfectionist types. I know that I am if I don't watch it.

What you are talking about is a concept called planned obsolence, where cars are designed to be obsoleted and worn out so that the company can sell new ones. I know that American manufacturers practice this. It seems to me that the quality of the engineering is what keeps cars viable over the long term, and that MB engineers their cars well, whereas GM and Ford do not.

I have decided (perhaps naively) that Mercedes does not practice planned obsolence, using as my evidence that (1) they sell high-mileage badges, and (2) they use their high-mileage cars in advertisements, as a tribute to their engineering, and (3) many, many of the older, high-mileage cars you see on the road and in the paper are MB (diesels). I think that they want their cars to last.

Now, you could say that all of these things are as a result of the fanatical owners going beyond the factory recs and we could debate that to a draw - neither of us having compelling evidence. We could both bring anecdotal evidence to the table, such as observations by a friend or something we read on the newsgroups.

It just seems to me that, given the dearth of direct evidence, we either rely on our own observations or those of others. Since I have no compelling observations on the matter, I must rely on others' recommendations. So it is a choice - who does one believe?

I belive the gearheads at MB. I think THEY are probably more obsessive/compulsive about the cars than even we are.

At least I am betting the motor on it.

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  #22  
Old 01-06-2001, 12:35 PM
LarryBible
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I'll try again.

The recommendations in the owners manual gets the job done for MOST MB drivers situations. It's a bell curve. Most people in the middle of the bell are very happy with 100,000 miles or maybe 200,000 miles from their car before they do something else.

Additionally I'm sure that under most circumstances you can get relatively high mileage with these intervals. But if you want VERY high mileage, you'll have to get a little more serious about oil changing than the recommended intervals.

One observation that I'll offer is that of the timing chain. A car with recommended intervals will show timing chain wear. The recommended interval leaves enough particulate in the oil to show timing chain stretch. If the obsessive/compulsive intervals, as you call them, are followed, however, the timing chain will last as long as anything else in the engine.

Again, it's all about whether or not you want high mileage, or EXTREMELY high mileage.

Have a great weekend,
Change oil hot and change oil often,

PS: MB does not SELL high mileage badges, they give them to you free by simply submitting an application. LB
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  #23  
Old 01-06-2001, 12:42 PM
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Hi, OCPDBA:

I agree with you 100% about the engineers at MB probably being more obsessive than I about MB design and quality. And I certainly agree with your comments on planned obsolesence. My only point is that there is no company where the engineers have complete say over the end product, and that every company I have ever encountered has marketing types, cost accountants, etc. somewhere in their hierarchy, and a board of directors trying to balance the often conflicting goals of short term profit, long term viability, market brand image, industry position, labor/energy/raw material costs, environmental impact, public relations, government regulations, shareholder expectations, their own career enhancement, etc.

Each of these "suits" has been at least exposed to the concept of planned obsolesence in their education and training, usually under a different name such as "comparative quality adjustment" or some such jargon. The companies are made up of all types, which is appropriate, because technical types often are great designers/manufacturers while lacking business skills. On the other hand, business types sometimes haven't got a clue on how to improve a product, but could sell coal to the devil while convincing him it was really prototype diamonds. The philosophy of the dominant group determines the quality of the product, but no one group usually gets their way completely.

I suspect you are correct about many MB owners being obsessive about their vehicles, but I also believe that in this time of relatively easy money and good times a lot of MB buyers or lease holders are just after image, don't understand anything else about the car, never read the owners manual, and trade it in at 3 years. This is known to the marketing departments focus groups (ye gods, how I hate that term!), and does have at least a small impact on the product.

The current MB 300E equivalent sells new for a sticker price comparible to my '87 300E sticker, despite inflation, more airbags, new engineering and creature comfort features, conversion of former options like leather seats to standard equipment, higher CAFE requirements, lower emission levels, etc. Did MB get more efficient in manufacturing, lower the profit margin on each unit while drastically increasing the number of units sold, cut corners, or all the above? Who knows, but the business thinking is that if the other manufacturers lower their quality and cost, it is both needlessly expensive and business suicide to maintain your quality and durability at levels that much of your market doesn't require - you just need to be "the best" relative to your competition, not relative to some external engineering standard of perfection.

Your comments are one of the things that I love about this forum - polite, thought (and discussion) provoking, and entertaining. For me, maintaining a "perfect" condition car is an itch, and frequent oil change is my personal back scratcher. As my MB tech said "won't hurt, could help, go for what makes you happy".

Regards,




[Edited by JCE on 01-06-2001 at 11:51 AM]
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  #24  
Old 01-06-2001, 12:57 PM
LarryBible
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JCE,

Are you on a roll, or what?!?!

Another great reply.

Have a nice weekend,
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  #25  
Old 01-06-2001, 01:28 PM
roas
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I have seen no mention of an "Oil Analysis" to test the condition of your oil?

A interesting test for someone with the inclination and a set driving pattern over 3-7k would be to have an analysis done at 3k, 4k, 5k, 6k, and 7k intervals to see just how well the oil really stands up for Your Driving!

Just a thought.

Ross
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  #26  
Old 01-06-2001, 01:48 PM
ocpdba
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Sounds like your MB tech is part philosopher, which is usually a good thing. Tends to offer sage advice instead of strictly running by the book, I'll bet.

I agree with your comments about profitability and the intracorporate players all having a say in the end product. I also agree that external individuals have a difficult time assessing the amount of contributions each party makes.

I see your point about comparative quality, but disagree with your conclusion. I believe that an external standard of perfection does exist - customer expectations relative to price. It seems to me that MB is not merely reactionary, trying to beat the competetion, but proactive persuing the production of perfect products while pricing competetively. Pithy, I know, and probably painful. However, this is speculation on my part, since I am not privy to internal workings of that company.

Perhaps the factory recommendations are substandard for excellent longevity, perhaps not. No one I have talked to has the numbers to prove it either way. It would be difficult to substantiate whether MB recommend a certain OC interval so that their cars will wear out at a certain mileage. Since we are external to the corporation, we cannot know whether or not they practice this somewhat predatory behavior.

I think you are right, it is a personal decision. When I assess the lack of hard scientific evidence in this area, I decide to go with what I consider to be the foremost experts on this subject - the designers and builders. It gives me a good comfort level. For others, it may be different. After all, as Mark Twain once said, a difference of opionion is what makes a horse race.

Now, if someone had some scientific analysis showing what REALLY happens during differing OC intervals, that would be the clincher, and all argument to the contrary would grind to a halt. Until that day, let the debate continue.

Jack
93 400e
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  #27  
Old 01-06-2001, 02:01 PM
ocpdba
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Ah yeah, I see how it is now - ganging up on the new guy!

Here is an interesting thought - ever notice how the most heated and divisive discussions are about things which are not firmly substantiated by facts? Religion, politics, OC intervals, etc.

For instance, I bet if I said "The sun will absolutely NOT rise tomorrow!" you would think I was nuts because it is all but proven that it WILL.

Rhetoric and folklore fill the vaccum established by the lack of facts. Divisive discussions are about unproven topics.

Or, sometimes, they are the result of someone trying to defend The Good against The Evil (in this case excessive OC intervals), right, Larry?

heheheh just kidding

I am out of this one, see you guys on the list.

Jack
93 400e

--snip--
"JCE,

Are you on a roll, or what?!?!

Another great reply.

Have a nice weekend,"

--snip--
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  #28  
Old 01-06-2001, 02:49 PM
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Jack:

Alliterative allusions to altruistic alternative algorithms are always appreciated! Really, no flame wars, divisive arguments, or attempts to be "right" on this issue, just fun discussion.

In that spirit, "scientific fact" is described in the scientific method as "best current consensus until contradicted by new evidence". By that definition, 5000-7000 mile change intervals are "best", because that is the manufacturers and oil companies recommendations.

There are always a few scientists on ANY topic willing to try to provide evidence against the current consensus. I enjoy tilting at the occasional windmill, and the concept of having a car tell me that 15000 miles is OK on the oil change is too tempting to resist. Also, the research grants offered to universities by manufacturers often have lots of strings and "suggested research directions" attached, so I am probably more cynical about company motives than is normal or appropriate.

I hope there are no bruised feelings out there, just enjoying the discussion and trying to learn!

Here are a couple of interesting sites on oil analysis and additives for anyone interested.

http://www.wearcheck.ca/FYI/WearCheckFYI.htm
http://www.gsresources.com/additives.oil.html

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  #29  
Old 01-06-2001, 02:55 PM
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Back to the oil...

Another great thread, and several great comments. And, as such, they have provoked my thought and rebuttal.

Since posting my last reply to this thread, I have been reading all of the similar threads I could find in the archives. What I have learned are two things: all that damn reading makes my eyes tired, and that where you find a thread about oil on this forum, you'll find several varying opinions, and of course, Larry Bible. BTW, Thanks for the correction about dino&synth combos, I have since found additional info on "blended" oils. I did not know that.

Now, first, I want to comment on this quote from "ocpdba", "Unless we have some direct way of measuring the lubricating abilities of our oil, we must rely on external evidence to make a reasoned judgement about when it is unable to lubricate any longer."

Reasonable, but, the point isn't lubricity, it's abrasion and chemical breakdown. Your oil can and does still provide lubrication when it has arrived at, or passed the point of needing a change. At the point when the oil needs to be changed, the most compelling reasons to change it is that:

The oil has suspended abrasive particulate acquired from outside the engine's environment in the form of grit, dust, and contaminents that have entered through the air intake.

The oil has added abrasive particulate in the form of wear from the internal metal parts that come in contact with each other (no matter how slight, the engine does wear everytime it is started and operated).

Think "honing oil"...

The oil is subjected to extremely high temperature, and sometimes extremely low temperature. And even though it is formulated to handle a certain temperature range, it is never the less, "cooked", and allowed to cool over and over again. This process in itself is not only naturally degrading to the oil and it's additives, but it also will cause water vapor condensation.

Think "deep fat fryer"...

And finally, due to the by products produced from the internal combustion, the solvent properties of fuels, the moisture and other contaminents that have been acquired that are reacting with the additives in the oil, and the further breakdown of those additives through the constant churning in the oil pathways, the oil has chemical reactions occuring within it that have reached a point where that oil needs to be purged from the engine, and a new cycle begun.

Even if you change your oil, air, and fuel filters religiously, you are still going to experience this phenomenon to some degree. The question is whether or not you are going to allow the process to continue past the point where it will begin to degrade the engine further than is "reasonable".

While I have no doubt that the engineers at MB have made their most reasonable recommendations, I also doubt if they would find any fault with the contention that changing the oil sooner is even better.

I also have a problem with the contention that MB is building obsolesence into their vehicles, or any paranoid delusions (please, I don't mean that in a "bad way") about the company going out of business by not doing so. For instance, every day people somewhere in the world are reaching driving age, buying a car, and/or buying an additional car. Look at Larry Bible (sorry Larry), he has 800,000 miles in Mercedes vehicles, and owns several of them, . . . . including a brand new one.

People's needs change, they get married, their kids grow up, the cycle of life continues, and with it, so do car sales. Even if there was a car that was designed to last a millenium, don't you think that people who owned one would buy another, a newer model, a minivan, or a truck version at some point? I have a hard time imagining someone going out of business by building "too good" of a car. Despite longevity, there are too many varied tastes and opinions to be able to build an "everyman's" car.

As for Ford, GM and Chrysler, look at the current models and notice how many of their features are items that have been standard on european (and especially Mercedes), cars. Amber turn signal lamps, smaller padded steering wheels, plush interiors, double-sided plastic-grip keys, rotary headlamp switches (as opposed to the pull-out kind).They've gone "Euro" a long time ago.

When I first drove a newer Taurus a couple of tears ago, I was amazed by how much it's handling characteristics reminded me of a mid-70's 450SEL. The folks in Detroit are building better cars and making them echo the advances that Mercedes has pioneered.

In the 1950's when Mercedes first started importing cars to America, Detroit was building hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of cars per year. Their first year in this country, Mercedes imported a mere 3,000 vehicles. Many of them are still on the road.

Now, Back To The Oil!

I asked Larry Bible what kind of oil he used, not to be a smartass, but to get a sense of what to use in my car ('82 300SD). When I bought it (back in October), my first thought was about what oil to use in it. As someone who has a great deal of experience with commercial diesels, I was thinking Delo, or Rotella. Checking the service records on the car, I discover that the dealers used Quaker State, and later, Castrol. I am then surprised to find out from the guy who was the second owner, that he has used Mobil 1 for the past 80,000 miles.

I am not certain at this point what the advantages would be of using a "diesel engine lubricating oil" over staying with Mobil 1. The thing I have been told by mechanics about all forms of delo, is that you definately don't want to use it in anything other than a diesel engine, because it will produce entirely too much oil pressure for a gas engine to handle.

Members, Moderators, and/or Administrators, your comments, please...

[Edited by longston on 01-06-2001 at 08:50 PM]
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  #30  
Old 01-06-2001, 05:20 PM
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S. Longston:

Sorry if I gave the impression that I thought MB was trying to build planned obsolescence into their vehicles in a sinister manner. I was trying to convey the point that you made more clearly - that markets and expectations change, and that companies adapt to market conditions or face economic challenges. My point was that expecting our cars to last 300,000 miles is not the market norm - that we who do expect this are the extremists, and we may require extreme measures to accomplish our goals of longevity. Being extremists, and relatively few in number, companies can't be expected to build exclusivly to our longevity tastes.

There is nothing particularly wrong with the concept of adaptive quality, especially if you are trying to increase market penetration as MB claims to be doing. In point of fact, with a growing population and finite resource base, adaptive quality concepts are essential. The alternative would be to follow the Rolls Royce path and TRY to build a super high quality timeless design that owners would want to keep forever, and then live with the fact that you probably won't sell more than 10,000 units per year worldwide to the people who have that kind of income AND obsessiveness about their automobiles.

And if you try to build even that car "too good", the cost will go up exponentially, and eventually only Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei could possibly buy one. Bugatti, Dusenburg, etc. built cars that proved "too good" for a tiny market that quickly saturated, then evaporated with changing economic conditions. Likewise, there is nothing particularly wrong about wanting a new car every 3 years (aside from effects on the environment). Car companies have to compromise between these objectives in building a car that their target market can afford. Believe me, there are large and complex computer models evolving to try and locate that exact point for any given product.

When I said that I was cynical about the motivation of companies, I was trying to convey the frustration I feel that companies are being moved by management too deeply into practices and product quality levels that marketing groups say are acceptable or even desirable, or that shareholders groups demand to generate expected returns, or that government agencies require in the name of recycling or re-sizing. Witness the demonstrations and legal actions in Germany by shareholders to remove the Daimler Benz CEO because of disapproval over company performance, or the Red-Green coalition proposed requirements for all cars to be made smaller, and with 90+% recycled products.

No sinister plots, no paranoid delusions, no flame wars, no attempts to convert you, and nothing personal against marketing professionals. Both marketing and engineers are needed to keep the company going, but when either group is too much in vogue, there are long term consequences to the company. Pax.
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