Our service department is equipped to handle any repair or maintenance requirements on Mercedes vehicles of any year. Modern vehicles produced after 1998 have a Flexible Service System FSS that keeps track of basic services needed. These vehicles that alternate between A and B services will keep track of service intervals between oil changed but will not note when items such a fuel filters, spark plugs and transmission services are due. These service intervals are in your maintenance booklet. Starting in 2003 with the W211 chassis FSS+ was introduced on a chassis by chassis basis.
Vehicles that were already in productions maintained FSS and not all vehicles introduced had FSS+ initially. For example the W203 introduced in 2003 did not have FSS+ but the W204 that later replaced it did. Eventually FSS+ became standard. FSS+ vehicles offer the owner the benefit of keeping track of all services and as a result you may see services designated A,B,C,D….H. They still alternate between A and B services but by adding additional items needed, as they become due by time or mileage, the higher letters are achieved. The higher the letter the longer the service item list and the longer and more expensive the service will tend to be. The items being called for that comprise any service are not visible to the driver but can be called up on a service screen as numbers, these numbers can be translated to items based on the service sheets that Mercedes provides. We use the same service sheets that the dealer uses, keep in mind that servicing your vehicle that is under manufacturer warranty at an independent shop should not compromise your warranty in any way.
FSS and FSS+ did away with windshield service oil stickers and added a complexity and organization that had previously not been possible. One shortcoming of the system is that often when services are confirmed to reset the indicator some the work is not done for reasons of time or client budget and is confirmed as done regardless. For instance a cabin filter, brake flush, transmission service, fuel filter, spark plugs may have been called for and confirmed during a previous service appointment but never done. Part of what we do during a service particularly when we see a vehicle the first time is to look carefully into the condition of service items that may have been overlooked. This overview you can get on your vehicle is something only a specialist can do quickly and cost effectively. We also as a single brand shop are intimately familiar with the service intervals, for any item on any model of any year, and quickly distill down to what is needed and make prioritized recommendations based on condition. Because, we do this work repetitively and stock most of the parts we can do this work more quickly and cost effectively than a non-specialist and even the dealer do to our lower overhead.
We are not a shop that tries to upsell you service that isn’t needed or recommended by the manufacturer. If somebody tries to sell you a power steering flush while you have a tires replaced I would advise you to decline. First, that’s never a recommended service item and second will they know what MB power steering fluid to use? The matrix of power steering fluids to chassis is not at all intuitive and unless memorized or looked up every time will otherwise produce errors where the wrong fluid is used. For instance a W164 uses MB power steering fluid as does a W163 while the W202 uses the same fluid but the W203 and W204 use Pentosin CHF 11s. During every service, we use a suction pump evacuate and refill the power steering fluid reservoir and refill it with the correct fresh fluid. That’s about ½ the total capacity on every service so usually a flush would not be needed. We do provide this low cost evacuate and refill as part of every regular service, its something that the dealer doesn’t do. We know it will provide a benefit and increase pump life and we have to check the fluid level anyway so the cost is fluid only. While we provide the same service with the same approved materials and fluids we go beyond and exceed the dealer service while being at least 30-40% less expensive.
For example we use a more expensive and what we feel is a superior oil to the 5W-40 Mobil 1 MB approved 229.5 that is used at the dealer. While this oil is a dealer only item we cannot buy due to exclusive contracts. Mobil 0w-40 Euro formula is available and approved but is not used due to cost. The zero weight cold start viscosity is superior to the 5W product but is a higher cost oil. We use Castrol A3/B4 European 0W-40 formula only on all gasoline engines as it is MB approved 229.5 and exceeds requirements on any gasoline engine produced before 2005 and meets or exceeds those produced prior. This oil is a full synthetic and made in Germany and has no group III oil content. Zero weight cold also provides better cold start performance. We are under a bulk contract with Castrol to provide a superior oil which we feel is equivalent to Mobil 1 0w-40 European car formula at competitive pricing. For our AMG client’s except for the 63 156 engine 0W-40 MB approval 229.5 is the preferred oil grade and viscosity, it’s our standard pump oil so there is never an issue providing you with the best oil available for your engine. For the M156 we use Motul 8100 excess 5w-40. AMG changed the recommended oil for the M156 engine in 2008.
Vehicles produced before the 1998 conversion to FSS take conventional oil, we feel it’s beneficial to use full synthetic in those engines and given full synthetic has an interval of 1 year or 10k miles in most cases it will allow a somewhat extended service interval even on older engines. The filters used pre 1998 on Mercedes as non-fleece filters and have lower total contaminant catching ability so although the oil can go longer before breaking down the filter cannot support an extended interval. Conventional oil change is recommended every 6months minimally unless you drive more than 7500miles in a year you could change it yearly using synthetic. Full synthetic is more expensive but if you calculate the cost based on two conventional oil changes versus one synthetic oil change the total cost is comparable if not more for the conventional oil. Conventional oils are distilled and built from crude products directly and vary in composition and as a result resist lower shear forces and are more susceptible to thermal breakdown resulting in deposits, additionally they have narrower viscosity ranges typically in the cold start range. By any analysis if you can use synthetic oil in a conventional oil engine you should, synthetic oil is not too thin as is a common misconception.
Oil viscosity decreases with increasing temperature regardless of what the grade numbers appear to indicate. Conventional oils are based on lower grade oils with VI additives to make them multi-viscosity. When the VI additives degrade so does the oil requiring more frequent changes. Synthetics do not need VI additives so they last longer. Any internal combustion engine today that is water cooled is designed to run in a narrow temp range once it reaches operating temperature. On cold start at 0C no oil provides sufficient lubrication excessive wear will occur, but this ls limited by anti-wear additives in the oil. Interestingly these additives that prevent wear in the extremes of temperature or load also damage catalytic converters so they are being added in lower levels that would be ideal. When oil isn’t present because it won’t flow because it’s too think at cold temp the additives on the metal surface resist metal to metal contact which causes permanent cumulative damage. Most oil pumps have a bypass and at cold temps most of the oil is going through the bypass and not where it’s needed because it won’t flow. Keep the RPMs low when it’s first started at cold temp. Zero weight 0W-40 oils flow much better at 0C but they are still too thick to be optimal since the engine was designed to run with oil possibly as much as 5x thinner. Warm up should be fast, if you have a stuck open thermostat your engine life will be shortened in a way that’s hard to quantify but your emissions with increase and mileage will be lower. Engines are more efficient hot. Wear increases above and below the design temperature for a given oil grade. Lower cold viscosity oils enhance protection, will allow starting at lower temperatures and have been shown to increase cranking RPMs dramatically over conventional oil of similar viscosity. Cranking speed all other factors constant has everything to with friction and compression engines cranking to slowly won’t start as well or at all if cranking RPMs are too slow. Battery temp decreases while you are cranking so an engine drawing too much current can freeze a weak battery, at low enough temperatures, and leave you stuck.
These may be extreme scenarios but synthetics have a lot going for them that is often misunderstood and these examples may help to clarify them. Full synthetic oil are built from low molecular weight molecules such as ethylene buts it depends on the Group, what is true is that composition is very well controlled to offer multi-viscosity without VI additives present in conventional oils. The finished product is blended from different full synthetic group oils derived from different chemical pathways resulting in a finished synthetic oil package with additives. Some full synthetics sold in the US contain hydrocracked Group III oils so technically they are not synthetic but can be sold as such if they meet certain guidelines. These are independently tested to manufacturer specifications and either approved or not. It’s important to make sure your oil is approved because the chemistries of oils vary greatly. We use only MB approved lubricants, oils, coolant and brake fluids. Often you will see an oil listed as MB 229.5 on a drum or bottle this means that the oil meets the specification according to the manufacturer internal testing but has not been independently tested, often at great expense, and recognized by MB as approved. For that added level of protection we recommend and use only MB approved lubricants, transmission fluids, coolant, power steering fluid, grease and brake fluids or the original equipment supplier OES material if that’s all that is available. See MB Bevo website for the list of approved materials http://bevo.mercedes-benz.com/bevolistenmain.php?content_action=showsele....
For clients that have diesels we have pump oils that are approved 229.51 for Bluetec diesels with SCR converters. These oils are low in P and S such that the converters in these engines are not irreversibly poisoned slowly by the compounds found in low levels in gasoline engine oils. We use Havoline Pro DS 5W-40 Euro for our diesel clients. This is backward compatible with any earlier diesel engines. We do not recommend using 229.51 oil in gasoline engines although no harm would initially result gasoline and diesel engines are very different in terms of the crankcase environment. Minimally, you don’t often find a 229.51 and 229,5 approved oil. Beyond service items and recognizing the correct fluids, filters and service intervals for needed maintenance, testing batteries, setting fluid levels, setting tire pressure, and determining needed or overlooked service items. We look at the vehicle and determine any needed repairs. As part of any service in addition to providing service recommendations and not conducting service items called for that are not needed and identifying those that are needed and may have been overlooked we provide repair recommendations and estimates for all needed mechanical repairs and can prioritize those recommendations.
As a specialist we can identify service and repair items needed quickly and because we are familiar with the vehicle, have the needed special tools and workshop information and wiring diagrams, we can provide those repairs quickly and most cost effectively. You may pay slightly more per hour as our shop rate is currently $110/hr, it may be higher than some non-specialist independent shops, but is still approximately $25 less than at the dealer. Because, we can do a job more quickly and correctly the first time we can save you higher repair costs based on more hours required because of either non familiarity with the vehicle at the non-specialist or higher hours charged due to a complicated customer pay matrix used at the dealer to maximize service revenues not based in any way on how long the jobs actually take and honestly considering labor overlaps on jobs that are related. We can also avoid misdiagnosis and expensive repeat repairs you may encounter when technicians either can’t or don’t know how to properly diagnose a needed repair, be it electrical or a suspension noise.
All repairs should always begin with an accurate diagnosis, you might have to agree to pay an hour per complaint depending on the issues to get accurate diagnosis at a dealer. This is usually charged in addition to the repair cost regardless is the repair is done. In many cases the diagnosis is based on symptoms, combined with a road test and codes, versus what is known to fail on the vehicle. This takes time and should be charged but often it doesn’t take the time being billed. In cases where the problem is complex you are either given a large estimate to increase the likelihood that the repair will be declined or if it is approved the scope of the repairs will be more likely to encompass the needed repair making the outcome expensive but hopefully successful. You usually have no guarantee as this is never an exact science and is limited but the individuals working on your vehicles concerns. As a former research scientist you will have someone with diagnostic skills not commonly found at a dealership or independent shop. We don’t jump to conclusions and spend the time when its needed and expensive components are being recommended. When we have a situation where we have a likelihood of a successful repair based on experience is 95% or better we don’t charge for diagnosis unless a recommended repair is not done. In those cases we are confident we guarantee the repair and will reverse it at no charge and move in another direction if we see fit or measure something during the repairs that would indicate our original hypothesis was incorrect in this case. Or process is fluid and on a car by car problem by problem basis. We have the tools and expertise to exact correct repairs the first time and only minimal diagnosis charges are incurred by the client that in many case the total number of hours billed is less than what most labor guides or the dealer charge without diagnosis charges added. No diagnostic process is perfect and if it was it the cost would be prohibitive. We strive to get you the best outcome possible in every case.
We do see a lot of cars where they have been to multiple shops and the clients are exhausted by having spent considerable sums and the problem is still present. While finding the problem in a case like this is easier because usually most of easier more likely solutions have been tried we do find cases where unlikely solutions or bad repairs are the cause or we have more work to do sorting out what was done improperly or with substandard parts. Our philosophy as a business is to make a profit but beyond that we understand that although a real problem car may take us more time than we can bill given a client budget or the value to the car doesn’t warrant it, we will still put the effort to find a solution given the time necessary. Regardless, in many cases we have sorted out difficult repair issues that even a dealer turfed with high estimates at reasonable costs, with accurate but time consuming diagnosis sometimes with use of used parts if we deem that a safe alternative to new based on failure rates we see. If you are a new client or an existing client we will take the time to sort out your cars issues be they many or one that nobody seems to be able to solve and we can do it at a reasonable cost. We do this because we are trying to establish relationships with our clients are will span more than one vehicle ownership. If we can’t solve your repair issues cost effectively, likely no shop can.
If the amount of work approaches the total value it’s not always a reason to get rid of a car, work can be prioritized over time and the repair cost averaged over time. Any car has an expense per unit time and new cars depreciate faster or the dollar amount is larger per year. They also need maintenance and repairs, brakes, tires, batteries, services as do older cars and these costs are similar. If you use the car regularly repair costs will be there regardless, update your car when new model has features you prefer and your budget permits. Higher mileage unless it’s over 200k isn’t always an indication that major repairs will be needed. Rather we find powertrain repairs at higher mileage are more common due to lack of maintenance. At lower mileage they are more common due to defective components, although not common, where poor maintenance at lower mileage would be more of a factor later. Some vehicle years and engines have well known issues and if you are buying a vehicle we can provide a per-purchase inspection or guide clients if you are considering specific years and models. If you have a W140, W124, W202 we service and repair those on a regular basis as they are still very common. Some electrical components are getting expensive for these vehicles so we can provide advice on used parts and rebuilding services if these are available. We do mechanical repair and restorations on R107 chassis and other older SL models but the R107 is by far the most common. If you have an older vehicle, late model vehicle or vehicle still under manufacturer warranty and need to schedule mechanical repairs or service please give us a call to schedule an appointment.