Mercedes Oil Service
Q: Are appointments required for oil change service?
All vehicles that come into our shop go through a very rigorous inspection process and it takes time to do this. We typically need about 1 to 2 hours to do a proper oil change and cover all the bases so we prefer to have all oil changes done by appointment so that we can be sure that we have the time to complete the whole process.
Q: I’ve heard that factory oil change intervals are a bad idea, what does Lone Star Bavarian recommend?
There are many things that go into manufacturers choosing the extended oil changes, unfortunately most factory spec’d oil change intervals are too long. Modern synthetics to stretch out oil change intervals from the short periods of the past but even so we don’t recommend more than 5000 miles on turbo/forced induction cars and 7500 on non-turbo engines.
Q: I can see sludge inside my oil cap, what should I do?
Shorten your oil change intervals and utilize high end synthetic oils. Modern synthetics have very mild detergents and will safely clean up an engine without breaking large particulates free all at once potentially blocking the tiny oil passages and causing catastrophic effects. I have seen good quality synthetics clean up even some of the dirty engines safely over time keeping your engine running smoothly for a long time.
Q: What type of oil do you use?
We use a factory approved oil but not what the dealer uses. Because we are not part of the dealer network we are not forced to use the oil they do and because of that we can choose oils that we feel are even better than what the dealer or factory oil is. We currently use Amsoil lubricants because of their reputation, additive package and quality. We have been using Amsoil for almost 15 years and have never been disappointed by their offerings. In the end it is about using what we believe is best and often that product is not what the dealer is required to use.
Q: I am interested in changing my oil more frequently than the factory recommends, can you help me?
As previously stated we prefer shorter oil change intervals. Why our recommendation is not a hard rule and oil changes can be shorter or longer depending on the type of use the vehicle gets vs the level of service and performance you expect. I have clients that still believe in 3000 mile oil changes even though they use synthetics and I have clients that travel mostly highway miles and don’t necessarily need the shorter intervals we recommend. It is certainly a conversation worth having to help you make the best decision but in the end it is your vehicle and your choices are yours. You make the final decision on service and we are happy to help you do that.
Q: Is it possible to bring my own oil or filter?
The only time I will allow someone to bring any part or service item on their own is if they are dead set on something we won’t use or can’t get. Our oil filters are the highest quality avaialble and so is our oil. I need to be able to stand behind everything I do and the only way I can do that is when I choose. This way if there is an issue that is part or lubricant related I can hold my vendors accountable. I can’t do that with client supplied parts.
Q: I see a brake warning light on in my gauges, is it important to deal with immediately?
Pad wear indicators are usually set to come in advance of damage to anything but it is a warning light and should be tended to as soon as possible so you don’t damage anything.
Q: Do I have to change my rotors every time I change my brake pads?
Standard procedure on most European vehicles is to replace both pads and rotors when time for either. There are several reason why this is. The first is that in order to keep rolling mass down rotors are milled originally a very tight spec and by the time you wear through a set of pads and replace, if you didn’t replace rotors you wear well beyond minimum spec by the time you got through pad set two. There is also the issue of noise, chatter and fade that play in when reusing old rotors with new pads. There is also the bedding period for pads that increases if you just replace them by themselves. This is because the pads are now not bedding into a smooth rotor and have to actually bed into a grooved rotor. This can increase that time by hundreds of miles and in that time your stopping distances will increase because the full pad isn’t biting on the rotor.
Q: I hear grinding / screeching noises when I slow down that go away when I stop, is this ok?
Noise is not indicative of an issue with pads and rotors, especially if the light is not on and they are not that old. Often unlike materials in the pads and rotors will create this noise. While it is irritating, it doesn’t mean anything in the brake system is failing or malfuncting. Typically you get this with cheaper set ups or when you use a shop that doesn’t commonly work with the brand and uses pads and rotors that don’t necessarily work well together. This is why shops that specialize are a better choice even for a task like brakes. When we replace pads and rotors we have already worked through those types of issues and are using materials that don’t have adverse or negative issues like fade, squeal or premature wear. When we are the shop doing the install we actually warranty against that issue so if shows up for any reason we can correct to your satisfaction.
Q: I see dark fluid on my driveway near the wheel space, is something important leaking?
Any fluid on the ground under your car when you move it should be considered and checked out. The driveway or your garage floor is your first line in diagnostic and often tell my clients to let me know if anything shows up. It doesn’t ever take long to check these types of things out and it is always better to error on the side of caution.
Q: Do I always need to change brake components on all 4 wheels every time? Why not?
Typically all 4 wheels isn’t the rule. But fronts or rears always need to be done as pairs. There are many occasions where we are just doing front or rear brakes. Depending on the vehicle front often wears a little faster than rears but that isn’t always the case.
Q: I feel wobbling on braking from highway speeds, is this the brake rotors or the suspension?
It can be either. Shimmy or shaking on braking can be rotors that are warped but honestly all rotors warp to some degree over time with heat cycling but most manufacturers have set up their suspensions to suck up minor inconsistencies. So the first check is usually to see if something in the suspension is worn. But there are instances where rotors might be replaced to correct a shimmy where no suspension issues are found. Once again, a shop that specializes in your vehicle will know the best route to go and not waste your money chasing rabbits.
Q: What do you recommend I do to keep my MBZ on the road as long as possible?
Increased oil changes and stay on top of preventative maintenance as it is recommended. We try to work with you on preventative and if we get involved early on we can keep it all from snowballing into giant services every time you come.
Q: Does Mercedes allow independent shops to do the factory scheduled maintenance?
Manufacturers are not allowed to void warranties based on service not being done in their facilities. This is a federal law. This means that anything you are having to pay for at the dealer, an independent can also do without affecting the warranty. The only thing we as independents can’t do is anything that is a warrantable repair. For instance, if you take your car in for a check engine light while it is under it’s original factory warranty and they call you and say we are going to correct the issue at no charge under the warranty but it is time for an oil change and front pads and rotors and the cost to do that will be $x.xx . The part of that they said they are taking care of under the warranty the dealer would have to do unless you wanted to pay someone else to do it but the oil change and front pads and rotors can be done by any capable facility that you choose and it will not affect the warranty.
Q: On that note, what is Mercedes-Benz’s factory-scheduled maintenance schedule?
Factory maintenance schedules are spelled out in your owner’s manual and are specific for each different model. Many share regimens but it is always best to start by looking your owner’s manual and following what it states. Most modern cars have counters and warning as time approaches for most critical services so you don’t forget but the specifics of each are definitely spelled out within your owner’s manual.
Q: What kind of maintenance do you do for each scheduled service? Are these just tune-ups?
Tune ups are an archaic term in modern times. As stated each vehicle has specific needs. When a vehicle comes in the tech reviews the vehicle, it’s mileage, recommended service vs. what is actually needed and creates an estimate that is then discussed with the owner of the vehicle. Needed service is prioritized according to importance based on safety, preventative vs a malfunction and the client’s request or wishes.
Q: Does the cabin-air filter really need to be changed?
Cabin filters like engine air filters should be replaced every 12k to 14k miles but can be needed earlier or later depending on what conditions they have been subjected to in the area driven.