1985 380SE Anti-Freeze and Transmittsion Fluid

For my 1985se Mercedes, what type of anti-freeze should I use besides paying the $28/gallon at the mercedes dealer. Also, what is the recommended transmission fluid to use.
Thanks in advance.
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I'll scrimp on evrything, except the MB coolant. I use Mobil-1 ATF. Poeple tell me Amsoil is better.
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For antifreeze, ZereX G5 is preferred. Right on the container it says it's approved for MB and is used by MB for 2001 and newer vehicles. For the record, I'm not convinced it makes any real significant difference. I've been using either Prestone or regular Zerex for 26 years now in my 300SD without any apparent problems.
A lot of these manufacturers go through recommending one product vs another, or maybe more importantly using it for new cars. Like BMW used to use Mobil, now they recommend Castrol and have it right on the fill cap. I think this has more to do with marketing and what kind of sweet deal BMW can get from a particular vendor. In the case of antifreeze, it's hard for me to imagine that there is something so specific about the metal or environment in a MB as compared to all the other cars out there that would require something special.
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Thanks for the advice. Found the Zerex g05.

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That's cause your engine in iron. In an aluminum head engine (many other Mercedes) this is VERY BAD ADVICE.
What makes the MB/Zerex coolant the one to use is the increadably strong pH buffering. It's near impossible to chage the pH of this stuff. Lessor coolants will have their pH lowered into an acid solution and absolutely WILL corrode the head sometimes to the point of rendering it useless.
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Richard Sexton wrote:

What is so special about the Mercedes aluminum? Plenty of other cars also use aluminum components in various parts of the cooling system. In fact, I think my 300SD even has some aluminum in perhaps the thermostat housing assembly? Yet, these other cars have used a variety of antifreezes and there is no warning on antifreeze products from any of the major manufacturer's of antifreeze, AFAIK, to not use their product in the presence of aluminum. In fact, right on the label of Prestone it says "for use in ALL makes and models of cars and light duty trucks" They would be pretty foolish to state that if it were likely to result in failure, because by now, they would have had plenty of lawsuits.
And just for the record, I didn;t give bad advice. I told him what MB recommends. I just said I'm unconvinced that using another antifreeze is gonna do damage.

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You would be if you'd seen it. I have and there are a few people who think twice before buying an MB with "evil green stuff" in the rad.
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Richard Sexton wrote:

Well, I just took a quick look at my 300SD and it sure does have aluminum components in the cooling system. The housing that surrounds and holds the thermostat is all aluminum. Over 20 years of regular antifreeze and no evidence of any corrosion. I pulled it apart about 3 years ago to put in a new thermostat, and it was fine.
What exactly is so different about MB aluminum that requires such special antifreeze? Obviously a lot of other cars have aluminum components and use std antifreeze with no problems. I though MB was supposed to know more about how to build things to last, but they can't make aluminum at least as good as anyone else?
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Nothing. MB is funny about wanting it to last 50 years though, others are not as picky. To do this you need coolant that is pH buffered more strongly and has stuff in it to assist in lubricating the water pump; MB pumps often last 30+ years.
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Richard Sexton wrote:

That's a lot different than your previous statement that regular antifreeze would corrode heads to the point of failure. I'd also have to take issue with MB water pumps lasting 30 years. I see folks in the newsgroup frequently here with pump failures long before that, many under 100K miles.
I did quite a bit of looking on the web and found opinions all over the map on this, not just about MB, but BMW, Volvo, etc. Just about all of it seems to come down to the manufacturer recommends it and then people have all sorts of explanations as to why. Among the claims I found:
"Just look at the insides of a cooling system that uses regular antifreeze and you'll see white deposits that shows the stuff is bad"
But isn't this actually phosphate or similar deposits that are in the antifreeze for precisely that purpose, which is to say to allow a coating which protects the metal?
"The higher PH of regular antifreeze causes the plastic components of the system to fail"
That seems very strange, as everything from drain cleaner to acid comes in plastic bottles.
"The non-MB antifreeze causes pre-mature corrosion, due to the mechanism you cited above"
But, as I've said, there are plenty of antifreezes around that the manufacturers say can be used in any car, and certainly many of today's cars have aluminum as well as plastic components. I've seen no damage to the aluminum componets in my 26 year old car. By now you would think there would be an uproar if cooling systems were failing because of these products.
The only authoritative explanation of what is going on that I could find from a manufacturer was from Peak, which I included below. Of course they have a vested interest in std antifreeze, but at least they have an explanation, which is that the European manufacturers don't recommend antifreeze with phosphate because if used with hard water, which is typical in Europe, it can lead to precipitation and blockage.
It would seem to me that the easiest and safest thing to do is use the Zerex G5 as it clearly meets MB requirements and only costs a little more than regular antifreeze.
http://www.peakantifreeze.com/tech/tech_b.html
In many US and Japanese antifreeze formulas, including those produced by Old World Industries, phosphate is added as a corrosion inhibitor. European vehicle manufacturers, however, recommend against the use of phosphate containing antifreeze. The following will examine the different positions on this issue to help judge the pros and cons on phosphate inhibitors.
In the US market, a phosphate inhibitor is included in many formulas to provide several important functions which help reduce automotive cooling system damage. The benefits provided by the phosphate include:
Protect aluminum engine components by reducing cavitation corrosion during high speed driving. Provide for corrosion protection to ferrous metals. Act as a buffer to keep the antifreeze mixture alkaline. This prevents acid build-up that will damage or destroy metal engine parts.
European automobile/ truck producers feel that these benefits are achievable with inhibitors other than phosphate. Their main concern with phosphate containing products are the potential for solids drop-out when mixed with hard water. Solids can collect on cooling system walls forming what is known as scale. This concern comes from the fact that European water is much harder than water in the US. Because phosphate "softens" water by forming solids of calcium or magnesium salts that can drop-out of solution, there is potential for cooling system blockage. The phosphate level in most US and Japanese antifreeze formulas do not generate significant solids. Furthermore modern antifreeze formulations are designed to minimize the formation of scale. The small amount of solids formed present no problem for cooling systems or to water pump seals.
For now, Old World Industries believes that phosphate will remain a primary ingredient for cooling system protection. Still, as a good corporate citizen, we continue research on other inhibitor types that will provide the same benefits without phosphates. To show this commitment, Old World Industries is now marketing a heavy-duty antifreeze that incorporates a phosphate free inhibitor package. This new product is called Fleet Charge antifreeze. It is a universal formula that passes both heavy-duty and automotive specifications.
In most US and Japanese vehicles, you can use either a phosphate free or phosphate containing antifreeze during the warranty period. However, phosphate containing antifreeze can void European OEM warranties. Old World Industries advises that only recommended antifreeze types be used in these vehicles during the warranty period to ensure complete coverage.

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I didn't say it would, I said it could, and that's true.
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Richard Sexton | Mercedes stuff: http://mbz.org
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Personally I use regular old green stuff, but I change it out every two years.
Marty
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