"?" about friend's MB E320 ('96)

Not open for further replies.
May 9, 2003
Fayetteville, NC
One of my good friends own a 1996 Mercedez E320 with the inline-6 engine.

The car has about 132k on it, and he bought it used (I don't know how many miles it had then), and has had all its maintenence done by an independent MB expert mechanic (trustworthy and knowledgable he says, not a dealer mechanic).

he has always used 5w or 10w-30 dino or syn.blend (he doesn't know which brands !)

Now at 132k, the car needs new H-gaskets (losing a bit of oil and coolant), and a new water pump.

My questions are:

1)What would be a suitable Oil (brand), and most importantly, the grade of oil he should use after getting those repairs done? will a 5w or 10W-30 continue to provide enough protection?

2)Does anybody know which weight of oil they recommend for this engine in Germany? (I doubt that it's a 10/30 oil..)

3)I've been in this car several times, and thought everytime that it sounded way too loud for MB E-class (my Tbird 4.6 is a LOT quieter at same speed).
Shall I advice on a xW-40 dino/syn.blend/syn oil? (cost is not a limiting factor for him)

what do you guys think?
any tips advice on behalf of my friend will be most welcome...esp. from you guys who own the same model or an MB with the same/similar engines.

I've recently made a project of gathering up the official E-Class maintenance documentation from MB. Your buddy's M104 engine (carried over from the 1992-1995 W124 models) is one of the "great one"s from MB - with some care and maintenance, it will run pretty much forever.

Check out "www.mercedesshop.com" for a great forum - it's huge and has LOTS of good info.

As far as what MB says about oil, for all MB engines pre-1998, in a 2001 qualified products list, MB spec'ed a 229.1 or 229.3 aproved motor oil. The original 1993 to 1997 E-class service manual (available for public purchase on CD from the MB US or Canadian websites), doesn't say what service levels are to be used - but API SJ and ACEA A3 were current at the time.

Since I can't figure out how to actually paste the viscosity tables in here, I'll describe the recommendations for you:

2001 Document - MB List 229.1 or 229.3:

Lowest operating temperature:

0w or 5w oil - no limit
10w - use above -4F/-20C
15w - use above +5F/-15C
20w - use above +23F/-5C

Highest operating temperature:

30, 40 , 50, or 60 - no limit (assuming 229.1 or 229.3 rating)

For example, a 229.3 rated 0w-30 is good for all operating temperatures (ie - GC).

E-Class service manual, before there were approved oil lists:

Recommended viscosity vs. temperature is the same as the 2001 list, with the following additions:

Unrated dino 5w-30 - do not use above +23F/-5C
Unrated dino 10w-30 - only use between -4F/-20C and +45F/+10C

CCMC G5 rated 5w-30 - do not use above +86F/+30C
CCMC G5 rated 10w-30 - only use between -4F/-20C and +86F/+30C

Straight-weight 30 - only use between +5C/+25C
Straight-weight 40 - only use above +20C

OCI - 7500 miles unless "severe duty" which they define very clearly as "more than 50% short trips under 5 miles, and engine temperatures under 175 degrees".

Hope this helps. My dealer uses Quaker State 15w-40 bulk HDEO in these engines and they tell me they get excellent engine life with it.

I think it wise to mention that many of the older MB gas cars required what WAS basically a "Fleet" or HDEO oil certifcation, i.e. SG/CD...

I would recommend OCI's of 7,500 miles with Delo 400 in either 15W-40 or, if in really cold areas & if available, 10W-30 IF your freind wanted to use dino, Rotella 5W-40 or Amsoil's excellent AME 15W-40 if he wished to go with a synthetic.

I'm in my 1st interval with AME and I'm planning on 10-15K intervals with a filter change and top off @ 7,500 on my '91 420SEL with 153K on the odo.


These older Benzes are fabulous if you have the patience to look after them. I owned two W124's in the past - an 86 300E and a 95 E320, and it's probably the best mid-sized chassis ever made. I just picked up a 1995 E420 with about 90K miles on it and complete up-to-date dealer service records.

These cars are hitting the point where the electronics and vacuum systems are getting annoying, so while it's in beautiful condition, I didn't pay a lot.

The best news is that it already has a new engine wiring harness, and the selling (MB) dealer and I are splitting the cost of a new hot-wire airflow meter and a new electronic throttle actuator. Once the HVAC vacuum pods are replaced (top of the to-do list) it's pretty much ready for another 100k miles!

We have a 97 E320 that was bought from a relative in New Jersey. The car had always been serviced by the dealer at 7,500 mi intervals, with what looked like either 10w-40 or 15w-40 in the service history, for a total of 80,000 miles.

We've had the car now for 1 year/10,000 miles, and the car uses no oil, runs smoothly and silently.

After acquiring the car, I did a couple of 2,500 mile OCI's, and a 5,000 mile OCI. The short intervals showed signs of metallic particles and small sludgy granules on the filter; I attributed this to the cold viscosity of the 10w and 15w oils, and cold Jersey winters. However, the 40 weight seems to do well and I would recommend your friend switch from the current 30 wt. (I have a 5,000 mile UOA with Delo 400 15w-40 pending- keep an eye out for it, I'll post it when it arrives)

If he's looking for an all-climate oil and expects cold winters, I'd look at M1 0w-40, 5w-40, Rotella T Synth 5w-40, or possibly Delvac 1300 15w-40.
My 95 E320 has the same engine and I use 10W-30 (specified) regular oil for summer use. Since the car was manufactured, motor oils have evolved (improved) and Mercedes now recommends using XW-40 synthetic grades. Since the car sees only 4K every year and has a 7-qt sump, I stick with regular motor oil and 4K OCI.

This following link may be useful: MB Approved Service Products
JAJ: My '73 450SE has (@ the VERY least!) 280K on it, original motor, may have had the heads reconditioned a decade (or two) ago...

I am now using a gallon of Delo 400 15W-40 & 4 quarts Chevron Supreme 10W-30 with OCI's in the 3,4,5K range. I'm very satisfied with how this car still drives.

Gas mileage SUCKS! Vacuum is always chancy with older Benz models, which is why a MityVac comes in pretty handy.

CHEERS! back to ya'!

p.s. Oh, yeah... The other key fluid with almost any MB is to switch to the modern pale yellow antifreeze, like Zerex G-05

I had the MB dealer put a new thermostat and new coolant in the car and pressure test, so it's all new and all yellow! Oh, and it came with a new battery in the trunk.

I'll head out to find a MityVac - sounds like it will be REALLY useful!

Thanks to each and every one of you for valuable feedback and great advice/tips...I'll copy all these answers for my buddy; and hope he will really make use of it as soon as he gets his HG etc fixed. Thanks again, and feel free to chime in with more info...
I just bought a 1995 E320 with 87,000 miles this week. It has all the service records (replaced the engine wiring harness and head gasket in the last year or two). It holds 8 quarts of oil, and runs great. Does your engine make a whirring sound when you accelerate as the RPMs increase?

From the service booklet, I can see that it has usually had Pennzoil 15w-40 in the past, with a few 20w-50 runs from one particular dealer a few years ago. A local independent Merceces mechanic actually sold it to me. There happens to be a Pennzoil distributorship a few miles away on the same road, I guess that is the source of the oil. They service alot of old Mercedes diesels, so I guess they use this on all the cars in there, gas or diesel. Anyway, the 15w-40 seems to be treating it all right.
What is going on with relatively low mileage and less than 12-year-old Mercedes engines needing head gaskets?

Maybe there is something to this "Mercedes doesn't make 'em like they used to" stuff.

Originally posted by G-Man II:
What is going on with relatively low mileage and less than 12-year-old Mercedes engines needing head gaskets?

Maybe there is something to this "Mercedes doesn't make 'em like they used to" stuff.

Yeah,I don't get that either.
On the opposite spectrum the Jeep I6's seem to bulletproof as far headgaskets from what i've heard.
As to whether "Mercedes doesn't build them like they use to," I am by no means an authority on other Mercedes models, but I suspect some other fellas who have a broader knowledge of the Mercedes cars can chime in there.

The most recent cars are just way more complicated. What I can tell you about is the 1994 - 1995 E320, which was the last of the W124s. I think it is the same engine as what is in the car, which began this thread.

The M104 engine is different than the M103, which came before it. The M104 is more complex, which means it costs more to fix. But it is faster.

There are two flaws built into this car. The original engine wiring harness biodegrades over time. I don't think MB thought it would degrade THAT quickly. But if you have one from this era, then you WILL be replacing it. There is a pretty good chance it will already have deteriorated, and been replaced, at this point. If not, you are looking at about a $1,000 bill to have this done. The replacement harness does not have this problem, as far as I know.

The original head gasket will also fail. Seems to happen about the time the wiring harness goes. You are looking at some serious money (maybe $2,500) to have this taken care of, if it has not, already. It appears that the gasket was just not designed very well. They claim to have fixed this problem with the replacement. I haven't heard of anyone having that fail again yet on a replacement.

You just have to be aware of this when you buy one of these cars from this time. They seem to be pretty durable. I know of some with 200,000 to 300,000 miles on them, and are going strong.

Other than this, maintenance records on my car indicate just normal stuff...filters, fluids, brake pads, tires, etc. The car is 11 years old, but you wouldn't know it if you got inside and drove it.
Not open for further replies.