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2004 Mercedes 500e
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I have an '04 E500 with 26000 miles. The service manual calls for the brake fluid to be replaced. However, I hear conflicting advice on whether to change it. Some say this is completely unnecessary and was invented by dealerships to get extra income. They have never changed theirs and have not experienced any problems. And others say this is very necessary, especially if your car has ABS, because brake fluid tends to absorb water over time, becomes less effective, may corrode the car's system and so on and so forth.

So which is it? For a car with such low miles, I'd prefer to hold off replacing the brake fluid for another 2 years. But I don't want to damage the car by waiting too long to replace it.

Also, I checked the FAQ but couldn't find what 'SBC' stood for. Is this the same as 'FSS'?

Thanks in advance for any advice regarding when to replace the brake fluid.
 

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'71 Pinto
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FSS (flexible service system) evaluates engine temperature, oil level, vehicle speed, engine speed, brake wear, distance driven and the time elapsed since your last service. The interval between services depends on your driving habits. MBUSA recommends changing the brake fluid every two years.

If under warranty, you can mention DTB P-B-42.46/27e the dealer will install a modified suction hose to diminish the noise heard during pressure buildup from the SBC system inclusive of changing the brake fluid at no cost.

SBC = Sensotronic brake control
 

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2003 E320 - wife's car now; 07 Porsche Boxster S - my car!!
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637 Posts
I have an '04 E500 with 26000 miles. The service manual calls for the brake fluid to be replaced. However, I hear conflicting advice on whether to change it. Some say this is completely unnecessary and was invented by dealerships to get extra income. They have never changed theirs and have not experienced any problems. And others say this is very necessary, especially if your car has ABS, because brake fluid tends to absorb water over time, becomes less effective, may corrode the car's system and so on and so forth.

So which is it? For a car with such low miles, I'd prefer to hold off replacing the brake fluid for another 2 years. But I don't want to damage the car by waiting too long to replace it.

Also, I checked the FAQ but couldn't find what 'SBC' stood for. Is this the same as 'FSS'?

Thanks in advance for any advice regarding when to replace the brake fluid.
Brake fluid absorbs apprx 2% H2O per year, and 4% has been established as the max for overall safe operation, so a 2 yr fluid replacement is needed. Excess H2O in the braking system will cause at least 2 problems -- the wet boiling point temp of the fluid will drop which means you would experience brake fade when the brakes are under heavy load (braking while going down a steep hill, or pulling a trailer) and the corrosion potential would increase that would end up in most cases as a seized caliper that would need replacing. I've pretty much confirmed what you said supporting the 2 yr change.

Regards,
paul...
 

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GL320 CDI - 2008, '04 Touareg V10 TDI, '85 Unimog U1700, '83 Mitsubishi 4WD turbodiesel PU
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For the 2008 model year, the M-B maintenance manual now says annual for the brake fluid change. From what I've been able to gather, this is based on the corrosion that occurs when copper (from the inside of the brake lines) starts to plate out on steel and cast iron machined surfaces (most importantly inside the SBC valve and pump system). After the copper starts to plate out, it isn't long until pitting starts. If you have a reliable way of measuring the free copper in your brake fluid, you can "adjust" the change interval in an intelligent way, otherwise change it as specified.:)
 

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2013 C250
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2008's still have SBC?
 

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2013 C250
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I laugh when fanboys tell us how Mercedes brakes are the best around. See SBC fiasco below:

Mercedes cancels by-wire brake system; decision a blow to technology's future
By JENS MEINERS | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
Mercedes-Benz is discontinuing the twice-recalled Robert Bosch GmbH braking system on the E-Class and CLS-Class sedans next summer in a move that is a blow to automotive brake-by-wire technology.

Mercedes will drop the Sensotronic Brake Control system from the E-Class in June 2006 when it introduces the car's midterm face-lift. At about the same time, the E Class-derived CLS also will lose the system. Both cars will have a conventional hydraulic braking system. "We can now offer all the comforts of SBC in a conventional system," said a Mercedes insider. "SBC was a very expensive system."

But the source also acknowledged that customers had lost confidence in the system.

Software failure

The technology eliminates the mechanical link between the driver's brake pedal and the brakes, substituting an electrical link that actuates the brake calipers.

Customer complaints were linked to the failure of software for the brake system. When the system failed, the hydraulic system took over. But that resulted in a longer stopping distance and additional brake pedal effort by the driver.

"Statistically, (the Sensotronic Brake Control is) as good as our other braking systems and sometimes better," the insider said. "But we cannot get the doubts out of customers' heads."

Mercedes' SL roadster and the low-volume SLR McLaren and Maybach supercars will retain the brake system until the end of their life cycles.

It would be too costly to re-engineer those low-volume cars to accommodate a conventional system, a source said.

Sensotronic Brake Control was supposed to highlight Mercedes' technology leadership. Instead, it created a double blow to the brand's image.

In May 2004, Mercedes recalled 680,000 vehicles to fix the complex brake-by-wire system. Then, in March 2005, 1.3 million cars were recalled, partly because of further unspecified problems with the Sensotronic Brake Control system.

$173 million price tag

Bosch has no other customers for the system, which it co-developed over nine years with DaimlerChrysler AG at a cost of 147 million euros, or about $173.3 million at current exchange rates.

A Bosch spokesman acknowledged that the system has lost some of its competitive edge.

"In 2001 we were far ahead with SBC, but conventional technology has not been standing still," the spokesman said.

"With the ESP Premium (vehicle stability system), we have all SBC functions in a conventional system."
 

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1922 Ford T no OBD, no ECU, no SCN
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Never have heard the copper story before, but it is well known fact that the brake fluid absorbs the moisture. The same is with diesel fuel. I live in CA 20 years driving diesels all the time and have never seen a drop of water in diesel fuel separator. That and fact that 30 years old cars here have no rust made me thinking that we just don't have the moisture and condensation problems other areas do.
Bottom line, even I advised son to change the fluid last year -he is still driving with original stuff. Will be 10 years this September in our possession.
I did replace the fluid in sedan I imported from Pennsylvania.
 

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2013 C250
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Oops, I don't really know (or care) if the '08 GL has the SBC. BUT, the manual DOES insist that the brake fluid be changed annually.:)
Yep, I noticed my 06 ML maintenance manual is poorly written and not entirely accurate. If you have an good and experienced service advisor at your dealer, get the final word from him.
 

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2006 CLK 350
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That SBC was not one of Bosch's Better Ideas!!! ... that's a good article.

I know W211 owners with the SBC going through brake pads and rotors at every B-service ... they trade-in the car as soon as they could or when the lease was up!

Copper in the brake system? Another good reason why "KISS" technology is better!

:)
 

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E500
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Copper in the brake system? Another good reason why "KISS" technology is better!

:)
Most cars I have seen have copper in the brake system. It is not on the brake lines but where the lines attach to calipers and cylinder. The washer is copper to make the seal. There isn't much copper exposure just the thickness of the washer, but it is there. From what I have seen it is in Fords, Cadillacs, Mercedes, and all other models I have had the pleasure:crybaby2: to service.
 

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Thanks for the tip on the copper washer... well, then, is it Kosher to to use an Aluminum washer instead, or would there be other issues with the SBC components???

Sure glad I don't have the SBC system... but do have the ESP system which serves the same function.

:thumbsup:
 

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GL320 CDI - 2008, '04 Touareg V10 TDI, '85 Unimog U1700, '83 Mitsubishi 4WD turbodiesel PU
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FASCAR Test for copper < 200ppm

:thumbsup: Thanks.. good article... so where do I get that FASCAR test for copper???

Summary of the Article:

....."Based on this, the task force adopted the following in regards to when to recommend brake fluid flushing and has incorporated them in to a Motorist Assurance Program's (MAP) Uniform Inspection and Communication Standards:

SUGGEST testing brake fluid at OE-recommended brake system inspection service intervals to insure copper content is below 200 ppm.

REQUIRE brake fluid replacement if copper content exceeds 200 ppm.

SUGGEST brake fluid replacement at vehicle-specific OE replacement intervals (if they exist).

At this point, you might be asking: "How do you accurately determine the copper content of the brake fluid?"

The answer comes in the form of test strips that provide a way to determine the "virtual age" of brake fluid (See Figure 15). The patented FASCAR® technology used provides a measure of the copper in the brake fluid which indirectly provides a measure of the level of corrosion inhibitors in the system.

The test is simple and straightforward. Simply dip the strip in the brake fluid of the reservoir for one second. In 30 to 120 seconds, the reaction zone will change colors depending on the condition of the brake fluid (See Figure 16). Compare the color of the reaction zone and make the appropriate recommendation." ......
 

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If you don't believe that you need to change the brake fluid, take your car to highway and do 5-6 hard to moderate braking from like 90mph down to 30-40mph , as soon as you brake step on throttle and do it again, repeat 5-6 times...then try to brake and see how dangerous it becomes, now change your fluid and do the same thing..you will see the difference :)

I have a race car and I change my brake fluid before every race, people that organise races actually check water % in brake fluid before every race and you can be disqualified if there is too much water.

This is just an example, your brake fluid could be boiling from 2 hard brakings and you can literally lose your brakes man. It takes like 30-60 mins to change your braek fluid and its really cheap, i usually run ATE Super Blue Racing brake fluid, it's DOT 4 and has a bit higher boiling point than regular fluids.
 

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If you don't believe that you need to change the brake fluid, take your car to highway and do 5-6 hard to moderate braking from like 90mph down to 30-40mph , as soon as you brake step on throttle and do it again, repeat 5-6 times...then try to brake and see how dangerous it becomes, now change your fluid and do the same thing..you will see the difference :)

I have a race car and I change my brake fluid before every race, people that organise races actually check water % in brake fluid before every race and you can be disqualified if there is too much water.

This is just an example, your brake fluid could be boiling from 2 hard brakings and you can literally lose your brakes man. It takes like 30-60 mins to change your braek fluid and its really cheap, i usually run ATE Super Blue Racing brake fluid, it's DOT 4 and has a bit higher boiling point than regular fluids.

The exercise you suggest is not generally something I do in normal everyday driving! If you change the driving parameters then obviously you need to change the rules.

As long as you don't get a main dealer to do it- then yes a brake fluid change is not expensive.
 
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