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Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? #5426583 05/11/20 04:28 PM
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M119 Online Content OP
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After changing the oil today i was going to clean my catch pan but looked closely and i could see metal flakes. Not a lot and most of them were very small. This is my 4th oil change on this car. The first two oil changes i did not pay attention but for the last two i noticed (slightly less flakes this time) .

This car was serviced at the dealer from the beginning up until recently with 8-10k OCI on 5W-40. I bought it with 79k miles from the first owner and now it has 94k miles. Im worrying, never saw that on my previous cars and they were all high mileage (200k+) cars.

Here is a picture i found of something close, mine had small flakes like this but way less, i'd say a few. Something worth noting is also the presence of very small sludgy black deposits at the bottom of the catch pan.

[Linked Image]

Last edited by M119; 05/11/20 04:35 PM.

1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426585 05/11/20 04:32 PM
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46Harry Offline
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I would recommend doing an oil analysis at the next oil change to get a handle on what type of metal is being deposited in your drain pan. It may not be serious, but for the price of an analysis you will know whether you have a problem or not.

Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426593 05/11/20 04:38 PM
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wwillson Offline
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If you still have the oil filter, could you cut it open and see what is caught in the filter element?

Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426600 05/11/20 04:43 PM
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2017 Mazda CX5
Mobil 1 Annual Protection 0w20
Roki OEM filter.
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: 46Harry] #5426601 05/11/20 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 46Harry
I would recommend doing an oil analysis at the next oil change to get a handle on what type of metal is being deposited in your drain pan. It may not be serious, but for the price of an analysis you will know whether you have a problem or not.


Anything you can see with the naked eye and identify as metal while in the oil is many, many times too big to show up in an oil analysis. For reference, oil analysis ability tops out at about 7um, which is about 1/10 the size of a human hair.

Oil analysis will certainly miss an impending failure that is only generating large pieces of aluminum in the drained oil, but it may have shown indicators if the OP had a trend of analyses prior to this observation (lead, aluminum, etc). Since he has no prior OA tests to reference against, he should save his money for another task, since a single point of data on oil analysis is essentially useless. It won't even make him feel good.


De omnibus dubitandum.
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426602 05/11/20 04:48 PM
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Nothing visible inside the filter element. I have been told that it might be some shavings from the break-in period since the dealers always suck the oil from the dipstick tube from what i've heard. What do you think ?

I have to add that unlike the picture, the oil was not colored by thousands of extremely fine specs. Just a few slighlty bigger flakes, i have a sharp eye and noticed a few shiny things under the sun. Hard to explain, my phone would not cooperate when i tried to take a picture.


1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: PimTac] #5426606 05/11/20 04:53 PM
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M119 Online Content OP
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Originally Posted by PimTac


Can't be, the oil was still right between the min and the max line when this happened.


1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426629 05/11/20 05:27 PM
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AC1DD Offline
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Originally Posted by M119
After changing the oil today i was going to clean my catch pan but looked closely and i could see metal flakes. Not a lot and most of them were very small. This is my 4th oil change on this car. The first two oil changes i did not pay attention but for the last two i noticed (slightly less flakes this time) .



What are the specifics on the car model?

Make, model, year, ect?

I have to say that looks dire.

Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426637 05/11/20 05:33 PM
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M119 Online Content OP
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Mercedes W202 C180 1998, M111 engine, 94k miles. Once again, this is a picture i found on the internet to illustrate the size of the flakes. I could count the flakes with my fingers. I asked my girlfriend and she could not see anything at first.


1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426645 05/11/20 05:50 PM
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Farnsworth Offline
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Could have been from the dealer if they over tightened the drain bolt and when you drained it, the threads got flushed out? One guess of many possibilities. The oil filter should be a good one like the Mann fleece filter. Sunlight does show small particles of metal. Old time jewelers would sit in front of a sunlit window to look for flaws in diamonds with just an eye loupe. Nothing quite like it.

Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426652 05/11/20 05:56 PM
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I guess they used the good stuff at the dealer. MB filters are made by Mann or Hengst and i dont use anything else. When i bought it the previous owner had the oil changed by a local mechanic and it was a cheaper filter, that was the first thing i changed the day i got it.

Farnsworth, it is rarely sunny here, maybe that's why i saw a few specs for the first time ! I usually change my oil indoor too.

Last edited by M119; 05/11/20 05:58 PM.

1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426669 05/11/20 06:13 PM
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another Todd Offline
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Are you sure it is not just aeration? Can you physically separate the particles from the oil onto a paper towel and look at it through a magnifying glass? Do they stick to a magnet?


2017 Ford Escape 2.0
2002 GMC Yukon
2008 Yamaha Rhino 700 FI
2010 Itasca Meridain/Freightliner Cummins 6.7 non DEF
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426674 05/11/20 06:19 PM
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I will see if they stick to a magnet tomorrow. Yes they're definitely metal particules, no doubt, i could separate them with my finger.


1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426776 05/11/20 08:19 PM
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So have you been able to see if it uses much oil between changes? It seems you are changing every 3750 miles. 79-94K = 15K miles divided by 4 oil changes.

It's weird it has metal flakes in it after 3 oil relatively short oil changes. I don't have any advice.

Originally Posted by M119
I guess they used the good stuff at the dealer. MB filters are made by Mann or Hengst and i dont use anything else. When i bought it the previous owner had the oil changed by a local mechanic and it was a cheaper filter, that was the first thing i changed the day i got it.

Farnsworth, it is rarely sunny here, maybe that's why i saw a few specs for the first time ! I usually change my oil indoor too.



I thought it was changed at the MB dealership. I'm confused. shrug


'98 LEX LS400 310K
'02 4Runner 250K
'05 Lex LS430 90K
'07 Lex GX470 75K

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Amsoil OE 10w-30
Toyota ATF's and Coolant
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Re: Metal flakes in oil ! Is my engine grenading itself ? [Re: M119] #5426798 05/11/20 08:43 PM
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All the oil changes were done at the dealer except for the two last ones before i bought it at 79k, i just checked all the maintenance records. I remember seeing more flakes on the previous oil change (still barely visible for most people...)

The drain plug looked like it has never been touched when i got the car. This information may corroborate the fact that no metal specs were found in the filter element, therefore some break-in particules are still sitting at the bottom of the pan ever since the car came out of the factory.

I would like to hear your feedback on this theory.


1998 Mercedes W202 C180 - 155K kms (Daily)
1995 Mercedes S124 E250 Diesel - 480K kms
1994 Pontiac Trans Sport V6 3.8 - 280K miles
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