The block hearter is basically a water heater element, similar to what you will find in an electric water heater. These elements eventually burn out, just like water heater elements and light bulbs. They are typically rated for 500W, consuming basically the same amount of power as five 100-watt light bulbs when plugged in. There is no thermostatic control as you would have with a water heater, so they are "always on" when plugged in. My personnal recommendation would be to only use it when needed.
The temperature required is variable depending upon condition of the engine, valve adjustment, glow system, battery condition, and barometric pressure. Using a high grade synthetic oil such as Mobil-1 and keeping the valves adjusted will do wonders for lowering you start temperature without the heater. If you are in a cold climate, some have suggested dropping oil viscosity from Mobil-1 15W50 to Mobil-1 0W40 in the winter months.
M-B and most experts suggest never using a "starting fluid" (ether) in our indirect injection diesels.
Sorry for the slow reply. The holidays have us running in many directions.
First, let me correct my previous post. Not sure what I was thinking (or possibly not thinking), but I am fully aware that your 1998 E300DT with the OM606 engine does not require valve adjustments.
Regarding Mobil-1 or similar synthetic oils, is your car not on the FSS (Flexible Service System)? I was thinking that was standard for all 210 bodied cars starting in 1998. If so, M-B requires (warranty) use of a fully synthetic oil as part of the class action settlement related to the FSS. If so, I highly recommend you switch to Mobil-1 or another approved oil. I do not know the extent of the information provided to the diesel owners regarding the FSS, but as a 1998 E320 owner, we received a copy of the class settlement and a $35 coupon for an oil change to get our cars switched over to the synthetics.
If on the FSS system, you will want an oil that meets M-B Specification 229.3.
Ooops! I forgot to answer your question. No, no problem switching to a synthetic. I switched my 300SD at 400,000+ miles earlier this year. Mobil-1 does a much better job cleaning engine components, so some have reported leak developments. I did not share this experience.
OK: I am ignorant. I know nothing about the FSS, and guess I need to figure out not only what it is but whether our car is on it. The car had 18K miles when we got it last month, and it was always serviced at the dealer that sold it. I have complete service records, and I will scan them to learn what I can. The dealer is 60 miles away, and I'll check there if the records don't help.
I have observed an oil leak, but, due to the way the underside is covered, I can't discern its origin--hope it is a loose plug and not a seal.
Wondering whether my other vehicles would benefit from using synthetic oil--BMW 528 has 140K, and my '84 Toyota truck (which burns some oil) is at 185K.
I appreciate the education about the 300. Perhaps if we keep it as long as we have our other vehicles (and I expect to), I'll learn as much about it as I know about the others.
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