2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test


2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: First Scheduled Maintenance

June 12, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

As I put the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250  in reverse, I thought I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my left eye. It was so fast, I wasn't sure, so I put the Benz back in Park and turned off the engine.

This time, I stared straight at the IP as I restarted the motor, and sure enough, the CLA250 was not only asking for service, but complaining that it was 400 miles overdue.

After consulting the owner's manual, I confirmed the interval is 10,000 miles.

I haven't been the sole driver of the Mercedes for the past 400 miles, so I hope I would've caught that service announcement earlier, but I'm still surprised it flashes so quickly.

Kelly Hellwig, News Editor @ 10,400 miles

Comments

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    I realize that most new cars coming through tell you themselves when they need service, but you'd think that a company with a fleet would have someone responsible for this. At least a spreadsheet for someone to consult at the end of each week. 400 miles overdue is by no means a big deal, but it just seems odd that service could have been easily overlooked for a while longer had you not noticed the reminder .

  • barich1 barich1 Posts:

    A lot of cars don't have fixed service intervals these days, though, so making a spreadsheet isn't as easy as it might seem.

  • schen72 schen72 Posts:

    Interesting how MB still doesn't use the more advanced oil life monitoring system, but relies on an old fashioned mileage interval.

  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    @schen72, It is all economics. You'll notice that car makers that provide "free" schedules maintenance always rely on an oil life monitor, but most automakers that still charge for service prefer to use a set mileage schedule. It's pretty obvious why. The dealers make more money the more often you bring your car in when they aren't paying. On the flip side, if they aren't directly charging you for those service visits they want to be sure you use their services as little as possible. It should be noted, though, that regardless of what system is used the oil is never actually analyzed by these systems. Oil life monitors actually just use a computer algorithm to account for engine speed, temperature, throttle position, etc and predict oil condition based on your driving style. Depending on how you drive at any given time the algorithm changes. It's pretty cool technology, but it has gotten people into trouble before because the system can't always account for maintenance issues with the car. The old-fashioned mileage-based systems are more conservative and tend to be better at prolonging engine life because they tend to force more frequent oil changes.

  • >It's pretty cool technology, but it has gotten people into trouble before because the system can't always account for maintenance issues with the car. The old-fashioned mileage-based systems are more conservative and tend to be better at prolonging engine life because they tend to force more frequent oil changes. Not completely true. Edmunds has sent used oil for analysis from several different vehicles and none of the results have shown that the oil had deteriorated to a point that engine damage would occur. Oil life monitors are a part of the engine management system so maintenance issues and malfunctions are a part of the algorithm. For instance, an overheat condition that causes oil temperature to get dangerously high will cause the system to request an immediate oil change. Trucks that do a lot of heavy hauling and towing (calculated by tow/haul mode usage and throttle position vs rate of acceleration) will cause the system to request more frequent oil changes. Changing oil based on miles is wasteful and expensive and will not prolong engine life.

  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    @allthingshonda, All of Edmund's cars are new, though. As engines age you can end up in situations where leaks or contaminants can enter the oil stream, but they won't necessarily trigger fault codes in any of the vehicle's on-board maintenance or warning systems. All you need to do is go check out some forums for GM, BMW, etc to see that people have had engine failure in their high-mileage cars as a result of these systems. It is extremely rare, but it does happen. If people don't properly maintain their cars the built-in algorithms can only do so much. They keep getting better at taking into account externalities, but they can't account for everything. Frequent oil changes give an owner an ability to see if something is awry before major failure occurs. Most car owners are not like us. They don't notice slight changes in sound or feel. They just drive the car until something breaks or until their mechanic tells them something needs fixing. The difference between getting an oil change at 10,000 miles and 16,000 miles can be the difference between a $3000 repair and a $300 repair. Check your oil, people. Don't rely on the car to know everything.

  • @mercedesfan I agree on most of what you said. As engines age contaminants can enter the oil stream and changes in sound or feel definitely indicate something is wrong. But none of that can be detected or prevented by changing the oil sooner than the computer says. Being able to SEE and SMELL the oil is a better indication of oil and engine condition. This is where Mercedes and BMW fail. Without the dipstick you can't see that the oil darker than normal, or has coolant in it, or has a burned smell. The simple dipstick is really how a careful owner can prevent engine failures. As enthusiast we know that the oil is the blood of the engine and being able to check it visually is very important. Oil level sensors are a nice but should supplement not replace the dipstick. My Acura can give a check oil level warning if it gets to low but you have to use the dipstick to check the oil. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think VW still uses the old dipstick on VWs and Audis.

  • schen72 schen72 Posts:

    FYI - Honda/Acura now uses oil life monitoring (OLM) on all their cars, and they don't have "free" maintenance included with the car. I know that Toyota/Lexus still use fixed mileage intervals. Hasn't GM been using OLM for ages? By now I would think the tech is pretty mature, so it's curious why some manufacturers haven't embraced it.

  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    @allthingshonda, What I mean is that by changing the oil more frequently it forces you to actually see the oil. When you empty the oil pan you can get a pretty good idea if something appears amiss. This is particularly true for many recent German cars because of their asinine lack of dipsticks. I do have to give MB props for going back to dipsticks in many of their current generation products, though. Having said all of that, I actually agree with you about oil life monitors. For most situations they work very well and are really what I prefer in a car. However, I can understand why companies known for their powertrain dependability (Toyota, MB, etc) would prefer a more conservative approach to help maintain their reputation. I think Honda moving towards the technology will give the others a bit of encouragement. Honda held out for a long time too for these same reasons, but have clearly determined the risk low enough now to be acceptable.

  • dgcamero dgcamero Posts:

    > @schen72 said: > Interesting how MB still doesn't use the more advanced oil life monitoring system, but relies on an old fashioned mileage interval. > @mercedesfan said: > schen72, > > It is all economics. You'll notice that car makers that provide "free" schedules maintenance always rely on an oil life monitor, but most automakers that still charge for service prefer to use a set mileage schedule. It's pretty obvious why. The dealers make more money the more often you bring your car in when they aren't paying. On the flip side, if they aren't directly charging you for those service visits they want to be sure you use their services as little as possible. > > It should be noted, though, that regardless of what system is used the oil is never actually analyzed by these systems. Oil life monitors actually just use a computer algorithm to account for engine speed, temperature, throttle position, etc and predict oil condition based on your driving style. Depending on how you drive at any given time the algorithm changes. It's pretty cool technology, but it has gotten people into trouble before because the system can't always account for maintenance issues with the car. The old-fashioned mileage-based systems are more conservative and tend to be better at prolonging engine life because they tend to force more frequent oil changes. Starting with the modular V6 engine family in 1998, Mercedes actually did use a flexible mileage interval service schedule. It would request an oil change typically between 10k and 20k miles. It is arguably the most advanced oil monitoring system that's ever existed. It used a sensor to test the clarity of the oil, and a dielectric sensor to test how many particles were in the oil, in addition to using the computer algorithm of engine speed, temperature, load, etc. They got themselves into trouble by not specifying synthetic oil on those long intervals, which caused sludge issues in many 98 - 01 Mercedes V6s and V8s (my '98 ML was desludged and re-ringed under campaign at 60k miles - it got Rotella-T 15w40 per the dealer's recommendation every 15k miles or so til then, only synthetic at similar intervals afterwards thru the current 212k miles). I guess the sensors can not detect sludge in the engine. It knows when you add the specified oil too, I guess they have more additives, because after 6 or 7k miles on the service interval, I have to add a quart in these high mileage days...and if I go cheap and add a quart of synthetic non-MB 229.5 spec oil because it's available, it only adds 1k miles to the interval, but if I add the 229.5 spec oil, it adds about 2k miles to the interval! Kinda impressive. Part of the shorter interval is due to reduced additives in the oils, and the bases oftentimes being hydrocracked now vs. always being a PAO or Ester base. The hydrocracked stuff works fine from a protection standpoint, but evidently allows for more sludge. Also, the older engines were making similar-ish power and torque to this tiny turbo engine, but spread amongst 3.2 liters vs 2 liters, and I doubt the 4-cylinder holds 8.5 quarts of oil like the V6 and V8.

  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    @dgcamero, Thanks for that info. I had completely forgotten about about that system. Never owned a Benz from that generation (was in my Audi-phase at that point, haha) so never got the chance to interact with it. I really am curious as to why they moved away from it. Perhaps those sludge issues left a bad taste in their mouth.

  • dgcamero dgcamero Posts:

    > @mercedesfan said: > dgcamero, > > Thanks for that info. I had completely forgotten about about that system. Never owned a Benz from that generation (was in my Audi-phase at that point, haha) so never got the chance to interact with it. I really am curious as to why they moved away from it. Perhaps those sludge issues left a bad taste in their mouth. I love Audis, and perhaps because I never had a VWAG product of the Piech controlled generation. The ML was certainly an unmitigated disaster for the first 100k miles, but it's been a cheap to own family truckster ever since. I'm thinking they've reduced the intervals because the "synthetic" oils in the US are not always true synthetics anymore, and the SN specs have reduced the allowed protective minerals in the oil. I don't think any manufacturer is allowing more than a 10k interval these days, including BMW with their included service. Mobil used to warranty your engine as long as you used their product per the manufacturer's service interval...but even they have stepped down from anything over a 10k interval speculatively due to cost reductions of their products.

  • My friend has not changed the oil in his Pickup for 70,000 miles, it has 375k miles on it... He thinks the thick old oil is holding it together, might be on to something....or maybe he is just on something.

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