oil reccomendations for a mercedes s430

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Jan 14, 2005
Santa Rosa, CA
My dad bought a used 03 s430 with 20K miles on it. nice car. i did a search and not much turned up in the way of discussions regarding oil selection and oci's for this car.
i did find that there was a class-action lawsuit against mercedes from folks running dino oil with a 12-15k oci in the late 90's.
The lawsuit was settled over a year ago - Daimler-Benz picked up the repair costs to the tune of $23,000,000.00 in the U.S. alone. Mercedes alleged that the dealers were pouring in the wrong oil. The Mercedes Dealers of America trade group is countersuing MB on behalf of its member dealers. They allege that they have purchase receipts for stock of the required Mercedes brand synthetic motor oil and Mercedes oil filters in sufficient quantities during the time these engines were being serviced under their FSS indicated oil and filter changes. Mercedes, meanwhile, has DROPPED the FSS oil monitoring system that led to 20,000+ mile OCIs in some cases that resulted in severely sludged or seized motors. With the 2005 models, Mercedes now specifies oil changes no later than 13,000 miles/1 yr. (10,000 miles/1 yr. for AMG motors). Not exactly the service interval change from a company that really believes its original recommendations were adequate in my mind.

I suggest you counsel your father to be sure to use motor oils rated to Mercedes latest 229.5 spec., and Mercedes "high-performance" fleece oil filters no later than every 13,000 mile or 1 yr. intervals.
Ray H makes an excellent point about the 13,000 miles/1 year oil change interval. Using the Mercedes-Benz "high-performance" fleece filter is a must. The oil of course should meet MB 229.5 spec.

So to answer your original about oil recommendations...

My number one recommendation would be Mobil 1 0W-40. It has been used in Mercedes-Benz engines with excellent results. You can take a look at the UOAs. Another great oil would be German Castrol 0W-30 (which as of now has actually been reformulated and is now made in America. The jury is still out if the oil is as great as it was before, but so far UOAs have been positive.)

As for being balanced and fair, any true synthetic that meets the MB 229.5 spec would be a good choice.

For a list of some MB 229.5 spec oil you can look at http://www.whnet.com/4x4/oil.html
You can look at the table at the top of the page. Look for oils that have 229.5 spec listed. Alternatively, you could just look at the end of the page for a list of MB 229.5 MB spec oils.
Just to play Devil's Advocate here: Another option would be to use ANY good quality SM rated oil in the appropriate grade with OCIs no longer than 5000 miles or six months whichever comes first.

Originally posted by Vasili:
Another great oil would be German Castrol 0W-30 (which as of now has actually been reformulated and is now made in America.

You are mistaken, Castrol Syntec 0W-30 (a.k.a., "German Castrol" or "GC") is still made in Germany...even the latest "gold" variety.
Well, they're full of it because several M-B dealers that I have called claim to simply use Castrol GTX or regular Quaker State 5-30 for the factory recommended interval. Same for the Volvo Dealers here. Another N.A. ignorance on our part (and being cheap). When I inquire about synthetic, they say they use M-1 5-30! Also, not a European recommended grade, but a N.A. synthetic grade. None had a clue of what A3 even meant.

Seems like only BMW had their act together by using 15-40 dino and 5-40 synth....until `99-00 that is, until they really screwed things up with the stupid 5-30. Be educated, use an A3 oil.
I second Vasili to stick with an MB 229.5 spec oil and the fleece oil filter and do once a year or 13k mile oil changes. I don't know the oil capacity of the 4.3 L V8, but it is probaly about 8 quarts as in most of the current MB engines.

Stay tuned and I will be doing an oil change on my 03 E320 within the next couple of months at approximately 12.5k miles, and I will post my UOA. I changed it out early in the last FSS cycle. When I recently reset the FSS without changing the oil, my interval given my driving conditions would have been 15 months / 15k miles. During the reset, the last step asked if I was using regular oil or 229.5 oil. I am currently using M1 0W-40, which meets MB 229.5.

I saw something interesting at www.pennzoilplatinum.com Section 15 which talks about International certifications clearly divides European oils from N.A., with the same SAE grade of oil getting different ACEA ratings depending on if it is an oil sourced in Europe or N.A.

I have some Belgian Castrol 5W-40 in my stash that is 229.3. I will use that oil for 10k miles only.

dobie0791, I hope that you get to enjoy the car too! The S430 is a wonderful highway cruiser. Just make sure to take a radar detector because the car will want to go no less than 80 to 90 mph if traffic conditions permit on the superslabs.

2003 E320

2003 E320

100 % synthetic and very high performance lubricant based on ELF technology. Intended for lubricating passengers cars gasoline and diesel engines


FYI - this is currently backordered till Jan - but is another choice.
Dr. T.

BMW's 5w-30 High Performance Synthetic is an A3 oil, is closer to a 5w-40, and shows decent UOA's out to 15k miles on this board.
It's shown both good and not-so-good UOA's. I still miss the Valvoline sourced BMW 5-40 from `98-00.
thanks for all the responses. i will make sure my dad uses a 229.5 spec oil.
does the free maintenance only apply for the original owner?
btw, i plan on running GC in my 05 STi once i hit 10k miles.
dobie0791, I think that the "free" maintenance is included for you too. Check my facts by searching an MB board like forums.mbworld.org I am sure this topic has been discussed.

The "free" maintenance was discontinued for model year 2005. It basically is 3 oil changes, a brake fluid change, and one inspection of the car and brakes. It does not include wear items (brakes, wipers, tires, belts).

If you do your own oil changes, the free maintenance doesn't add up to that much. If you have the car serviced at the dealer, a simple oil change will cost you about $250 there, so it does have value for those owners.

I agree with G-Man II (you will do as well or better with 6 month 5k mile OCI with any conventional oil in the US); I just prefer a longer OCI where possible. I suspect that the ACEA A3 requirements are for driving conditions that are not replicated in the US unless you are racing the car on a track.

The truth about MB, in my opinion, is that the reputation of old is no longer true. The old mechanical injection diesel cars, that with proper maintenance, would last for nearly forever is long gone.

I am not worried about engine longevity. The rest of the car will fall apart before the engine and will be cost prohibitive to repair. Electronics, transmission, air suspension, air conditioning, etc.

In fact, my car comes equipped with what they call SBC brakes. Instead of a master cylinder, the brake pedal is a switch connected to a computer controlled high pressure electric brake fluid pump and reservoir. There have been a very few case where the system fails, and the backup braking system has no servo boost and only works on the front brakes leading to extremely long braking distances. I have seen rumored online that MB is going to discontinue SBC (is it cost cutting? is it liability concerns?). The S430 you bought does not have the SBC braking system, but it probably does have the air suspension called Airmatic.

My point is that the cars electrical failures will doom the car long before the engine dies.

I think that the currently produced longest lasting car that can be easily repaired for the long haul is a Toyota Corolla!

2003 E320
Mercedes-Benz is killing SBC for several reason, a few of which are:
- poor pedal feel
- difficully to modulate braking, especially at lower speeds
- performance advantage is minuscule (if any) compared to the high cost of the system

Perhaps it's a technology whose time has yet to come...but I prefer good, reliable hydraulic braking systems.
My point is that the cars electrical failures will doom the car long before the engine dies.
I think that the currently produced longest lasting car that can be easily repaired for the long haul is a Toyota Corolla!

sad that electronics will junk a car long before the engine (or tranny)goes.
my 12 y.o. 22re powered toyota 4x4 is primitive, but has had 0 component failures. original everything. the 1st battery even lasted over 8 years.

I would tend to agree with you...some of the new Mercedes have around 100 computers in them; the electronics are a vulnerability. As for oil, I recommend, in order of preference: (1) GC; (2) ELF Full-Tech 0W-30; (3) M1 0W-40
I haven't been able to find GC at my local autozones. I will consider it (if I can find it) and the ELF 229.5 in about a year once I go through some of my oil.

My point is not to bash MB. The ride/handling balance is very nice. In terms of passive safety, they are about as good as they come. Even the SBC has some safety advantages over a conventional braking system, including some features (SBC Stop and SBC Hold) that are not included in US cars.

My point is that since MB began to feel the impact of the Japanese luxury brands here in the US starting in about 1990 (especially Lexus), they have changed their strategy from producing the best possible (the engineers design the car and then price accordingly) to the best possible for a given price with enough electronic doodads to keep them in the game with the Japanese makers. It doesn't mean that MB are bad cars; it just means that they are going to be no more long lasting than a pedestrian Toyota Corolla. In fact, my argument is that the Corolla will last longer because it is simpler (far fewer electronics) and cheaper to repair.

A 300E in 1990 cost in 1990 dollars about the same or more as a 2006 E350 in todays dollars, so there has been a dramatic decrease in price making the cars more accessible.
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