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new 3 series oil change advice

Discussion in 'E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006-2011)' started by BIMMIR, Jul 29, 2008.

    BIMMIR guest

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    I've just ordered a new 3 convertible. This will be our 2nd 3, the first being a sedan. The computer monitors oil quality / life, and tells you when a change is needed. On the sedan it went nearly 20k miles before saying it needed a change. I was not comfortable with this, but I'm kind of a simple guy. I usually change the oil myself more frequently during the break in period and then start normal intervals. Nothing about maint. seems simple with these cars.
    I'm thinking that on the new car I'd like to start differently. I'd like to ask you folks who've been there done this for advice. :) I'd like to change the oil myself at closer intervals. I know the filter is different, like up top and just an element in a housing, and I think there's some type of rubber thing or grommet? What is there, and is the dealer the best source or somewhere else like a web site? I've researched oil and would like your thoughts on this as well. Is BMW oil best or mobil 1 or AMS oil for the vehicle? (certainly I know some of this is subjective) Did I read 0/30 was the best choice? (I live in Maine - so this will be a warm weather only driven car)
    How about the computer? Once I change oil, will it sense that the oil quality is acceptable, or does it need to be reset somehow? Oh, and don't get me started on the no dipstick thing!!!

    Thanks - I know this is lengthy - I'm a rookie at this...
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    GELSO

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    I did the first change on my 328XI Coupe about a month ago. It is quite easy. You know about the filter inside the engine compartment. The drain plug is accessed through a little trap door that is held in place by a plastic swivel. The torque for the plug is 18-19ft lb. I drained 6.7 liters of oil out of my car, altough I've been told it only holds 6.5. I did let it drain for about a half hour. It took my computer a couple of days to reset to full.

    I used BMW 5-30 and a Mann filter, both purchased through Bavarian Autosport, which also can answer tech questions. I have found them to be very helpful and deliveries to me in N.J. take 3 days.

    Good luck
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    mooseheadm5

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    Being that you are under warranty, I recommend using only BMW sourced filters and BMW or BMW approved oil because if there is any failure I would fear that they would point to your choice of filter or lube as the cause. Do not follow their 20k intervals. 6-7k tops. You are not bound to their service intervals if you want to change it more often (but they won't pay for it either.) Remember to undo the filter housing lid before pulling the drain plug. If you don't the filter won't drain and you dump dirty oil back into the sump. Now once you are out of warranty, use whatever brand of quality filter and oil you can get. Also, you did not mention what model. For a turbo, definitely change the oil as frequently as you can (like 5k.) BMW's recommended service interval is good enough to get it out of warranty, but they don't care if it makes it to 150 or 200k. If you like the car and want to keep it, you will end up with sludge and premature wear going 20k changes. Good luck.

    BIMMIR guest

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    new 3 series oil

    Thanks Paul - I really appreciate it.
    It is a non turbo 328i.
    Once I start doing the oil, I'll certainly use synthetic. This is what I use when I plan to keep a car. Would you recc. Mobil, castroil or AMS oil? Also, I think I read somewhere that 0w/30 is the best for this car?

    I know the oil filter is in the housing on top, great tip to crack that open to vent air through to help with drainage,thanks. I looked on Bavarian autosport, a site suggested by another person on the forum. The filter seems to be an open element that goes in the housing? Is there also some grommet that needs to be changed?

    About the computer, specifically intervals, when I change it, will I have to worry about the service light being reset, or will it reset itself after a few miles? Is it triggered by milage parameter, or actually by oil life?

    Thanks again...
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    mooseheadm5

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    Forgot about that question. All quality oil filters for BMWs come with the necessary O rings and the crush washer for the drain plug, so if you get one from BMW or order a Mann or Mahle oil filter, you have what you need (apart from the 36mm socket.) Don't go nuts on torquing it down. Just snug is fine because the O ring holds in the oil, not the torque. The oil filter is a paper insert into the housing. Opening the filter housing does not just allow air in, it opens a passage that is closed by the filter lid. If you do not, the filter will remain full, and if you have already put the drain plug back in, you will dump a quart of dirty oil into the sump then overfill your engine by that much because you have no dipstick.
    I don't like Castrol (it foams more than others,) but have used Mobil One before with good results (apart from consumption, but my engine has over 250k on it.) I use an oil you probably can't buy called Pentosin that we get from our parts distributor. Any high quality oil will work, though, if you change it often. As for the reset of the service interval indicator, handy info here:

    http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1721

    Service interval is set by speed, RPM, temperature cycles, etc.

    Jeron guest

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    Do not reset the service indicator! The dealer wont change the oil until it is tripped.

    Like mooseheadm5 said the indicator functions by time, temp, cold starts, load. It has no sense of the state or quality of the oil.

    If you can get BMW oil at a reasonable price use it otherwise I would use Castrol. If you expect to get to 20k, I would change it at 10k. If you dont use BMW oil you are better off leaving it in the longest because it is superior to the oils you will pickup and most stores.

    With E46 you could just change it at 7500. The E90's SI lights go longer (20k+) on oil than the E46's which generally go 15-16k.
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    mooseheadm5

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    Never never never go 20+k on an oil change. Even if the oil is superior, the filter is not, and the oil still gets contaminated. BMW only cares about 2 things: getting the car out of warranty and reduced percieved ownership costs. If they can do that by specifying ridiculously long service intervals, they will. 15k oil changes are not kind to E46s and because they push the E90 engines to even higher temps and outputs, 20k is definitely bad. However, if you are leasing and plan to turn it in anyway, go ahead and pass the buck to the next owner.
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    az3579

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    Honestly, that's not very good advice. If that was the case, I probably wouldn't have my 3-owner car with 300k on it. Just because it's not going to be his problem any longer after he trades it in doesn't mean he should be inconsiderate of the vehicle's lifespan for future owners. Doesn't matter if you plan on getting rid of it in a year or five years, proper maintenance can never be skimped on.
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    mooseheadm5

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    Yeah, that was sarcasm. I have never and will never buy a new car, but I get them very cheap from people that abuse them and kill the engines and such. Case in point, 318ti with blown motor cost me $287. Now it is a great car with a 6 cylinder, all for under $1500. Have gotten 2 E30's with snapped t-belts for under $200 each. Got an E36 325i with ready to blow motor (ran out of oil) for under $200. Basically, ignore service at your own risk.
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    az3579

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    Sorry 'bout that; I'm not wearing my sarcasm hat today so I'm a little slow. :eek:
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    shanneba

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    I use Castrol 0w-30 or the BMW 5w-30 in my E46, the Castrol Syntec 0w-30 is rated for BMW LL-01 service. It is thicker than the 5w-30 Syntec, close to the BMW 5w-30. I have only found this oil at Autozone. Look for made in Germany on the back of the bottle, the US made 0w-30 is old and not as good. I have changed my oil at 5-6000 miles since new.

    jesimmons guest

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    I think going a much shorter OCI is important using a BMW approved oil - particularly during warranty. However, if your car has the new N54 Bi-Turbo engine, there are some real concerns even with OCI's that are half the miles BMW recommends. I've been following some threads on the N54 over on the BITOG forum in which some highly trusted expert oil engineers are doubting the ability of even the BMW approved oils to protect these BiTurbo DI engines well at even much shortened OCI intervals. They have the used oil analyses from N54 engines to prove it. The problem is with fuel dilution (ie gas in the oil) which lowers shear strength, increasing wear. Also heat - the N54 runs very hot and can degrade the oil more quickly.

    I certainly don't want to raise unnecessary alarm here, but sometimes I really question BMW's motives for these insanely long OCIs, and believe they may not have done their homework with regard to the N54. The last thing I want to do is inadvertently damage or significantly reduce the longevity of this engine by simply following BMW's "requirements" to maintain warranty coverage or to rely on the iDrive to tell me when to change the oil. I plan to keep my car well beyond the warranty period and I don't want to set myself up for extensive repairs in the out-years.

    I am currently using German-made Castrol Synthetic as Shanneba advises and will be doing changes in my N54 at no more than 5-6K intervals. I also plan to have UOA's performed on the old oil at every drain to make sure there are no issues. If BMW recommended oils are not holding up, I may change to something that will. There are options, but they are not BMW approved, so during warranty, the only safe thing to do is shorten the OCI and use BMW approved Oils. After warranty, the other oil options may be better.
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    wattage

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    For some of us real newbies - is there a DIY for actually performing the oil change as I don't want to wait for the BMW recommended service intervals but I also don't want to mess up my new car with it's first oil change. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    jesimmons guest

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    You can't find much better than this E60 Forum Post for good pictures.

    The only key element missing from this DIY is the tightening torque on the Oil filter cap and drain plug. On the Oil filter cap, I hand tighten, and then go just a slight bit more to snug it. The torque spec. for the drain plug is 18 Ft-lbs. If you overtighten the drain plug and strip the threads in the oil pan, you are in for an expensive repair.

    Of course just as I thought about it, I remembered a good VIDEO found HERE. You'll need Quicktime installed to view it.

    If you plan to DIY your oil changes routinely, I highly advise investing in the filter cap socket shown in the video. It really makes removal and installation of the filter cap a snap. And since the cap is some form of plastic, it minimizes the potential for damage.
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    wattage

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    Great link - thanks for the quick and helpful reply
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    E92Dreier

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    Jeron guest

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    It shouldnt be hard to find DIY oil change procedures online.

    Import things to remember:
    1) Dont use too much torque. If you aren't qualified to do it by feel, get a torque wrench and make sure you know how to use it at low settings.
    2) Depending on model you will probably need a large socket for the oil filter cap.

    jesimmons guest

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    Since I do my own oil changes and plan to take periodic samples of oil for UOAs between changes, I will be installing a Fumoto drain valve at my next oil change. Certainly takes the hassle out of messing with the drain plug each time. These valves carry a lifetime guarantee. I'm sold.

    Jeron guest

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    You could do top side extraction, then you dont even have to get under the car at all.

    You can take the sample from the extraction tube. Done it several times.

    Then instead of a Fumoto drain valve get a magnetic drain plug.

    jesimmons guest

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    Where would the extraction tube be located on the N54 engine? I have not seen anything about it documented anywhere.

    I still think the Fumoto is a good idea. Changing the oil on a 535i/N54 is a messy process, as the oil does not drain cleanly.. It shoots out of the oil pan and splashes inside the the cover panels under the car. The only way around this is to fashion a deflector out of cardboard and attach it temporarily under the car to prevent the oil from going all over the place. With a Fumoto, I can attach a 3 or 4 inch hose and drain the oil into the catch pan. No mess. And no need to remove and re-torque the drain plug each time.

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