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1998 ML320
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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 98 ML320 with 150k miles -- transmission fluid has never been changed (due to my ignorance and following the MB recommended services).

I've been having a leak under the car. Decided to take it to a friend of my brother who works out of his garage. It turns out the leak is transmission fluid, so he went ahead and stopped the leak with some sealant, and also changed the transmission fluid because he said it was very black and dirty and needed to be changed. He used Valvoline Max Life (which he said Mercedes is listed on the bottle) -- but after searching this forum, looks like it is not the the official approved list of fluids to use. Is this OK, or should I go and get it changed again with something on the approved list? He said it took about 6 quarts. Does that sound right?
 

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'05 ML350SE
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1,395 Posts
What does the front of the container say: DEX/MERC or something else?
 

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1998 ML320
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
What does the front of the container say: DEX/MERC or something else?
Hmmm... I don't know. He said it came in a red bottle. I can call him back tomorrow to ask. I drove it back to work - about 4 miles - and it seems to drive about the same as before. I'm not a perceptive driver though.

Up until now I've always gone to the dealer for service. I probably should have just done that, but my car is getting old and I'm going to give the car to my neice and I didn't want to spend so much $$$ on it. I actually had wanted to take the car to the dealer to get the transmission fluid changed. I had only wanted this guy to do an oil change (I provided the 0w40 Mobil 1 oil and also the oil filter) -- and I wanted him to fix the leak. He changed the fluid without asking me! He charged me $220 total for everything. Don't even know if I got a good deal... live and learn.
 

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ML320 2002
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1,600 Posts
Transmission pan drop and drain removes about 4.5 qts. If your friend drained the t-converter, 6 qts may be right but I am not sure. If he did not, you need to worry about the transmission fluid level before the specs of the fluid. Sometimes even the dealers do not fill it correctly. Check the level with the proper dipstick at the right temperature.

722.6 transmission leaks are most commonly from the 13-pin connector or the gasket. He should have replaced the gasket anyways. Both easy to replace and cheap. Nobody uses a sealant for transmission around here. Your friend may not be familiar with Mercedes transmissions and that's something to worry about. It's these circumstances that make some people say, I changed the fluid in the transmission and now it is a lot worse. Either do it right or don't do it at all.
 

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if he used the Dexron 3 fluid, you will be fine, just add a 10oz bottle of Lugegard Platinum and call it a day. Every of my 722.6 transmissions runs on non MB OEM fluid with Lubegard treatment and I have never had a failure on any of those transmissions. Been doing this practice for the past 10 years, so Im very confident in my statement. Lubegard makes some of the best protectant additives in the world. Infact, their trans treatments are MB approved, among other manufacturers :)
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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nenad16 is pretty much on track IMO.

I reviewed this fluid prior to my own change and decided against it, but only b-a-r-e-l-y. As Shell ATF134 was about the same price I went with that.

MaxLife does list our transmission on the back of the bottle (red bottle). I reviewed some threads and if I'm not mistaken there is at least one power user here who considers it suitable fluid.

Use the lubeguard and put it down to learning experience (I've had a lot of those lately). Next time your buddy does some work make sure he tells you in advance what it is and gets your permission. Hopefully the worst that happened is he overcharged you a bit (the fluid is about $5/qt, so do the math on his labor and sealant).

Also and my opinion only: cars in general are tougher than many of us give them credit for. See the recent thread about the guy running his transfer case dry for 3 years. Obviously no one should go about doing this sort of thing on purpose, but occasionally we get a little fanatical about things. Self included!

Another story: my other car is an Infiniti G35. I happened to meet, through a common friend, a guy who was a Nissan engineer for many years. I asked him about specific fluids as the guys on that forum are equally concerned about the 'right fluid'. He told me he also owns a G35 and gets his fluids done at his local quick-lube place, oil, trans, coolant, the whole schmear as he doesn't like messing with greasy jobs. (I am just relating his words, not placing judgment on them).

PS: If your buddy didn't use the MB dipstick tool then I would go ahead and buy one (between $25-40 depending on source and origin) and check it myself. Pretty easy once you follow the directions which are in numerous places on this forum.
 

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1998 ML320
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for your advice!

I went back and looked at all of my service records and it turns out I did have the transmission fluid and filter replaced at around 80k miles. Either the dealer suggested it, or I had a leak and they did it.

I also see that I've had 3 occasions where they did some transmission stuff while it was under warranty, and they may have either topped off or replaced the fluid (hard to tell from the printout).
 

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ML320,C230, F250, Bayliner, Mountain Bike, Fleetwood Motorhome etc...
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Wow this forum has really changed. When I posted that I changed my transmission fluid and used Mobile 1 full synthetic it got 75 replies with people telling me that my transmission was going to fail, or that Mobile 1 was ok and people even started flaming each other, pulling up spec sheets and all kinds of stuff.
The responses here are civil.

Don't worry, about using only MB ATF it doesn't matter. MB does not make fluid they put their label on it. My transmission is still going strong my ML has over 223216 miles on it now...

I'm gonna bump my old post (Mobile 1 full synthetic ATF vs Mercedes ATF) to revive the bs...
 

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ML320 2002
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THOMAS R. SMITH
Technical Director, Valvoline Brand
November 05, 2008
To Whom It May Concern:
Valvoline has received several inquiries regarding the topic of MaxLife ATF and its use in various vehicles. In
response to these questions Valvoline has issued the following statements:
Valvoline recommends MaxLife ATF in a broad range of transmissions. The list below is just a sample of
applications where Valvoline supports the use of MaxLife ATF. Please also note that MaxLife is a full synthetic
ATF.
• Allison C-4
• Allison TES 389
• Allison TES 295 (extended drain with
appropriate used oil sampling)
• Audi G-052-025-A2, G-052-162-A1
• BMW LT71141 or LA2634 fluids
• Ford MERCON®, MERCON® V*
• Ford FNR5
• Ford MERCON® SP, MERCON® LV
• GM 9986195
• GM DEXRON® II, III and VI
• Honda/Acura ATF-Z1 (except in CVTs)
• Hyundai
• JWS 3309
• KIA SP-II and SP-III Fluids
• MAN 339 Type F
• Mazda M-V
Mercedes Benz Sheet 236.x (except 236.12 and 236.20)
• Mercedes Benz NAG-1
• Mitsubishi Diamond SP-II or SP-III
• Nissan Matic-D, Matic-J, and Matic-K
• Subaru ATF
• Subaru ATF-HP
• Toyota / Lexus Type T, T-III or T-IV
• Toyota WS
• Voith H55.6335.33 (G607)*
• Voith H55.6336.33 (G1363)
• Volvo 1161521 and 1161540
• VW TL52162
• ZF TE-ML-14B, 16L and 17C
• ATF 3403 M115
* Formal Approval
Valvoline has conducted in-house testing to support MaxLife ATF performance in these transmissions. However,
it is important to note that, other than where we have formal approvals, these vehicle manufacturers have neither
evaluated nor approved MaxLife ATF.
Valvoline stands behind all of its products, including MaxLife ATF. Use of MaxLife ATF in transmissions where
recommended by Valvoline WILL NOT void the vehicle’s warranty. Vehicle manufacturers are restricted by
federal law from including the requirement of the use of a specific brand or trade name of product or service as a
condition of their warranty. The following is an extract from the Federal Trade Commission’s web site on
interpretation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act:

Valvoline has conducted extensive testing and has a long history of successful use of MaxLife ATF in a broad range of
applications. In the unlikely event that you or your customer experiences any transmission damage while using
MaxLife ATF, please contact Valvoline at 1-800-Team-VAL for assistance.
While MaxLife ATF is designed to meet the special needs of higher mileage transmissions, new transmissions can
also benefit from its enhanced oxidation protection, shear stability, seal compatibility, and anti-shudder protection.
Many consumers have chosen to take advantage of this level of performance in newer transmissions.
Valvoline currently does not recommend MaxLife ATF where certain specific low viscosity ATFs are called for.
These include Mercedes Benz NAG-2, ZF Lifeguard 6 and 6 Plus, and AUDI G055-162-A6 and G055-005-A2
applications.
Valvoline does not recommend MaxLife ATF for use in most continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) unless
specifically noted nor in automatic transmissions where Ford Type F fluids are recommended.
Sincerely,
Thom Smith
Technical Director, Valvoline Brand
Ashland Consumer Markets

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MB did not formally verified this but manufacturer thinks it meets MB 236.10 specification. This is the original but old transmission fluid specification which has been superseded (improved) twice over the past decade. Car is 12 years old and price difference for each qts is $12. Decision is yours.
 

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1999 ML320 (SOLD), 2011 BMW X5
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By the way, and of interest for those who live in O'Reilly's distribution areas, their house brand of ATF also claims to meet 722.6 standards.
 

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1998 ML320
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Discussion Starter #11
722.6 transmission leaks are most commonly from the 13-pin connector or the gasket. He should have replaced the gasket anyways. Both easy to replace and cheap. Nobody uses a sealant for transmission around here. Your friend may not be familiar with Mercedes transmissions and that's something to worry about. It's these circumstances that make some people say, I changed the fluid in the transmission and now it is a lot worse. Either do it right or don't do it at all.
So my dealer is offereing a free winter inspection. I took it in, and they claim my transmission is leaking (so apparantly not "fixed"). They quoted me $40.95 to replace the transmission guide bushing (e-plug), and $453.35 to replace the automatic transmission pan gasket. Ouch. Do these quotes sound right? I know it's the stealership, but that still seems awfully expensive.
 

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ML320 2002
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So my dealer is offereing a free winter inspection. I took it in, and they claim my transmission is leaking (so apparantly not "fixed"). They quoted me $40.95 to replace the transmission guide bushing (e-plug), and $453.35 to replace the automatic transmission pan gasket. Ouch. Do these quotes sound right? I know it's the stealership, but that still seems awfully expensive.
You can do this by yourself. Parts+ATF will cost approx $150.
 

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99 ML430, 00 ML320, 05 E500 4matic Wagon
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So my dealer is offereing a free winter inspection. I took it in, and they claim my transmission is leaking (so apparantly not "fixed"). They quoted me $40.95 to replace the transmission guide bushing (e-plug), and $453.35 to replace the automatic transmission pan gasket. Ouch. Do these quotes sound right? I know it's the stealership, but that still seems awfully expensive.
That does seem steep. Dealers here get $330 for a trans fluid change which
includes the ATF, trans filter, and gasket. The pilot bushing is $12 dollars so
at $41 to change it (parts and labor) seems actually fair.

I do agree it is a DIY if you have the dipstick tool. You will save a bunch.
 

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FYI. I believe MaxLife is either non-synthetic, or semi-synthetic. The original 236.10 spec was for "lifetime" fluid, fully synthetic. Anyone using MaxLife should change it every 25-30kmi. Also note the current version of MaxLife is (unfortunately) the low-viscosity stuff (i.e., Dex-VI). I think this is a change from the previous/original formula of Max-Life. Spec sheet is here. Is it worth risking a known-good $4k tranny to save $100 in fluid? Probably not, but that's for you to decide.

Additional information on the OE and OEM fluids, as well as some acceptable name-brand fully-synthetic replacements, are in this post.


:thumbsup:
 

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2015 ML250 BTC
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I have a 98 ML320 with 150k miles -- transmission fluid has never been changed (due to my ignorance and following the MB recommended services).

I've been having a leak under the car. Decided to take it to a friend of my brother who works out of his garage. It turns out the leak is transmission fluid, so he went ahead and stopped the leak with some sealant, and also changed the transmission fluid because he said it was very black and dirty and needed to be changed. He used Valvoline Max Life (which he said Mercedes is listed on the bottle) -- but after searching this forum, looks like it is not the the official approved list of fluids to use. Is this OK, or should I go and get it changed again with something on the approved list? He said it took about 6 quarts. Does that sound right?
Fyi-- it wasn't black and dirty. It was black--that's from the graphite.
 
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