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Using Oil 2010 535ix

Discussion in 'E60 (2004-2010)' started by macman5, Apr 27, 2010.

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    macman5

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    I have about 3200 miles now and I checked the oil after driving about 60 miles. I noticed that it has used some oil. Is this normal? Will it stop using oil after it has some more miles on it. The service indicater says I have 11000 miles more to go before I need to change the oil. Crazy or what????? S.Grant
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    bcweir

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    How do you know it's used some oil? These engines don't have dipsticks.

    Further information please.
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    macman5

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    I checked it with the I-drive. It shows max and min. It used to be on max. I checked it tonight and it is below max about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch.
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    bcweir

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    You do realize that the I-drive meter is only an estimate, right?

    It's not intended to be a precise indicator of oil level.

    BMW went to oil level sensors because they were cheaper, not because it was a better tool. If it costs BMW a dollar to add a dipstick tube and dipstick, but only 30 cents for an oil level "sensor" guess which one they're going to go with? Now multiply 30 cents times a million cars.

    The oil level sensors BMW puts into your engine is nowhere near precise enough to be able to tell you for sure whether or not you have indeed lost such a small amount. 1/8 of an inch of oil is not a lot of oil. The oil level sensor is basically a magnetic float, not unlike your fuel sender in principle. I might also add that there are any number of reasons an engine can loose such a miniscule amount, not to mention proper seating of the piston rings. Some is held by your oil filter, which itself will hold about that amount of oil you think you are missing. Your oil pump probably also holds some oil also. If you have an oil cooler in your vehicle, there's probably some in there too. The oil level sensor isn't going to know about engine oil elsewhere in your engine; just in your oil pan. That's the only oil level it was ever designed to measure. To say otherwise is to give a 30 cent sensor way too much credit for what it actually does.

    If your car is not tripping a warning for low oil level, but if you're worried about it, take it to the dealer to have it looked at. It's still under warranty. Lacking a dipstick, the only way to tell if you have indeed lost a significant amount of oil is to drain it completely and measure it against the amount of oil you are supposed to have (the owner's manual should list the oil capacity for your engine).

    I should remind you that this engine has no dipstick and no filler opening to "add" or replace oil. You're likely going to need the services of the dealer to pump oil back into your engine if you drain it. I am not aware of any user-serviceable way of "adding oil" to an engine that has no dipstick and no oil filler opening.

    Welcome to the wonderful new world of BMW's system for managing your oil level in your engine. Apologies. I wish I had better news for you.
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    az3579

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    No dipstick is correct, but no opening to add oil? That's not correct. Look at the following image of an N54 and see the filler opening just above the BMW Roundel.

    [IMG]
    • Member

    macman5

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    Thanks for the help

    I am going crazy about that 15000 oil change interval though. I have always brought my cars to the dealer because I have always had problems when i go to independent shops. The car is never ready when they say or the problem is not fixed right. I hear that BMW charges $200.00 for an oil change if you want it done before the car "says it needs it." Is this true?
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    Zeichen311

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    First, the OP meant the oil level on the iDrive graph display is down 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, not the oil level in the pan. That could be a fair portion of total capacity, depending on the length of the full scale.

    Second, fluids flow and all lines lead back to the oil pan. While all of these components hold oil, they are all connected and included in the measurement of the total. If the oil is low in the pan, it's low in the system. It could only be otherwise if there was trapped air in the system or oil did not circulate to all components.

    Third, BMW oil sensors do not use a float mechanism, they are fully electronic. I could not determine the technology by looking at it but my theory is it's based on a thermal exchange rate principle. It's not a 30-cent widget from the 60's, it's a $150 part.

    Finally, even on non-iDrive cars these sensors are accurate to within a half a quart at worst--probably better than that. iDrive-system sensors might even be more accurate than that.

    macman5, there is a current poll/discussion thread about the cost of oil changes...have a look here.
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    az3579

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    That sounds like the very essence of a dealer to me...
    Independants cost less, you just need to find one you trust. Not only that, but if you're worried about cost, then I don't think you have the right car; the E60 is not a cheap car to maintain, same is true for any BMW. It is worth the extra cost to do an oil change at the most halfway through the specified interval, if you're interested in extending the life of your engine. Just find a trusted independant (and I don't mean Jiffy Lube) and the costs will stay down relative to the dealer.

    You could do surveys and studies all you want, but the plain fact is that you can never change the oil too much in a car. Rather sooner than later.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    I stand corrected on the oil opening. On some engines this is the case.

    But thankfully not yours.

    Thank you for the clarification. I was using the 30 cent figure as an example of what it probably costs BMW, not what BMW would charge a consumer for the same part. They are certainly NOT the same. I should have clarified that in my earlier post.

    I do want to point out something that would certainly be correct though: the oil level sensor only measures the oil that's in the pan, not elsewhere in your oil distribution system such as in the oil filter, oil pump(s), etc. That oil level sensor is probably not going to account for that. I also want to point out that in order for the oil to do its job (which is primarily lubrication of moving parts, but it does also have a secondary cooling function as well so that internal friction present in all engines doesn't create enough heat to seize your engine), it has to MOVE through your car's engine. It doesn't just remain static in one place all the time while the car's engine is operating. The oil would simply sit there and boil inside your car's engine if it didn't move through it.

    I also mentioned that the car is still in warranty, and if he's concerned about this, he should take it to the dealer. A dealer should not be charging you for service or inspection of a warranty related item.

    The accuracy of these sensors has been debateable ever since they were introduced. Some of us like myself would prefer to trust our eyeballs on a traditional dipstick than on some electronic sensor that remains hidden inside the car's drain pan.
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    macman5

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    Point taken

    It is true, I should not complain about the price as I think nothing of spending $100.00 plus to go out for dinner with my wife. If you compare the hour you spend eating the meal with the many hours I enjoy eating up the pavement ( my 535 growls when I hit the pedel, 60 to 100 in a flash.) I think I will just change it and that is it. With that said, would 5 to 7 thousand miles then be ok to change the oil? Then I will let the dealer pay at 15000 miles under their "complete maintanance plan."
    • Member

    bcweir

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    I think I remember a very recent Mike Miller article recommending a 5k oil change

    7k sounds way too long. The difference between 4 5k intervals and 4 7k intervals is one interval, plus a few thousand miles.

    Don't forget a new oil filter with each change. You might want to inspect your air filter too.
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    Zeichen311

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    No need, I understood you. :) I quoted a discounted, retail price because I have no idea what the crazy thing costs BMW. Enough to say, "bloody expensive!"

    It most certainly does account for it. Think about it: all that stuff is connected and of course oil circulates when the engine is in operation. What happens when the pump stops? Any oil not prevented from doing so will flow back to the pan. Any trapped oil unable to reach the pan does not need to be measured, because it's always roughly the same amount and it rejoins the total volume when circulation resumes. This is nominally a closed system so as an engineer, you know where the oil hides when it's not in the pan. Thus if you measure the pan and mathematically account for the known, extra-pan volume, you have measured the total system.

    Assume a total capacity of eight liters. Call the volume in the pan (engine off) x and the volume trapped elsewhere C. The sensor in the pan measures x = 8 - C. BMW engineers needed to determine the value of C to calibrate the sensor. After that it's essentially constant (within a few ounces depending on vehicle tilt, age of filter, etc.).

    (Actually C is not "trapped" oil, it's the volume in circulation (pump, filter, cooler, galleys, etc.) while the engine is running. The sensor monitors operating rather than non-operating levels. Also, M cars with a semi-dry-sump design probably locate the level sensor somewhere else in the system, as the oil pan would be nearly empty in normal operation.)
    No argument from me except that it's probably more the reliability than accuracy that worries people. The sensors work quite well--right up until they don't! :eek:

    That's a fairly common plan and sufficient for a long service life, unless you drive mostly at low speeds around town. If that's your style, go every 5000 miles as bcweir suggests.

    These engines love to, need to rev and stay in much better shape when they get plenty of exercise. It sounds anthropomorphic but it is measurably true. I typically change the oil & filter halfway between indicated service intervals (since it's easy to remember), about 7500 miles between changes--that is, same thing I always did (with synthetics) before oil magically started to last 15,000 miles. :rolleyes:

    Still purring nicely with minimal oil consumption after 210,000 miles....
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    bcweir

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    Bah! Oil level sensors. Electronics reliability has never been a BMW strong suit.

    A high school basic-electronics project lasts longer than some of the electronic do-dads BMW is stuffing their cars with -- and I am even talking about a relatively more reliable, stone-age, pre-globalization BMW such as my 750iL.

    Oil level check on a BMW 750iL:

    Withdraw dipstick from dipstick tube while engine is cold. Wipe it down with a lint-free cloth. Insert dipstick into the tube, then withdraw again. Observe oil level relative to the add/fill mark on the dipstick using biological visual sensors (that's a joke - euphemism for the eyeballs I was born with, aided by corrective lenses provided by local optometrist). Add oil if needed as indicated by add/fill mark via oil fill cap on passenger side (right side) valve cover.

    Oil level inspection completed. Enjoy vehicle, and subsequent restful, worry-free sleep at night.

    Vehicle has lasted 223 thousand miles this way.

    I completely agree, and I will add that the car is not the only one that benefits from a high speed, LEGAL blast down the highway. :D

    Thanks for the education, NotTheStig.
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    az3579

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    I'd take what a sensor tells me with a grain of salt.
    A physical non-electrical object is always 100% more reliable than an electrical one. My dipstick will never lie to me. It will never be affected by the likes of a dead battery, nor will it be affected by mice chewing through wires 20 years down the line [if the car lasts that long] after sitting for a couple of years, as some older Bimmers tend to do (owners should be smacked for allowing this). My dipstick will never need replacement, unless chainsawed in half by some monkey. My dipstick will never short out, nor fail to give me a reading because an LCD screen is cracked or non-functional. My dipstick allows me to be much less dependant on the dealer.

    bimmertech guest

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    bcweir, you're a great asset to this community for your willingness to provide information and help members, but this post is quite possibly the least factual info I've come across. The oil level sensor/condition monitor is much more than a "float". It is actually a tube that draws oil into it and heats it to a predetermined temp. It then measures the amount of time it takes the oil to drain from the tube to determine oil level and viscosity. It is arguably more accurate than a dipstick because it doesn't matter whose reading it, the same result will be produced. The same can't be said for a traditional dipstick. The current production oil level sensor/condition monitor is definitely more than a "$.30 float."

    As for the OP's query, you're oil consumption seems quite normal and there is a good chance it will level off after 5-8k miles. The N54s have been known to consume oil based on driving conditions though. It wouldn't hurt to ask your dealer about it if it alarms you, but there's no reason for a special trip.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thanks for the response.

    I think I'd rather get it wrong and learn the facts, than turn a blind eye to a BMWCCA member that needs help. I don't have an ego in this, since I find great value in educating myself with the help of the rest of the community. That and I'd like to think that everyone else benefits from being corrected also. It's a win-win for everyone involved.

    Thank you for continuing my education as well as everyone else's.

    I loved az3579's response

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    macman5

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    Two other reasons for the stick

    I always checked after an oil change to see if the oil was changed. I also checked the color of the oil. When it started to change (become darker) I knew it was about time to change the oil. Now with this car there is now way to see the oil at all.
    • Member

    bcweir

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    Please see later post by az3579

    Best thing to do is keep track of your mileage and change your oil between 4k and 5k. Please see information from az3579 further down. Thanks.
    • Member

    macman5

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    I will try that

    That is a very good idea.
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    Steven Otto

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    One thing that hasn't been mentioned with respect to the infernal digital oil level display in i-drive.........

    It's a digital display. The amount of oil that may "toggle" the display from 9 bars to 8, (or 8 to 7....whatever....however many of the stupid little bars there are) is miniscule and downright insignificant. If the amount of oil in the system is sitting right at the level wherin it "toggles" a bit in the processor, then the oil level indicator in i-drive may sit there and toggle between some level (some number of bars on the graph) and appear to change from time to time. My 07 550 seems to do this for the first 100 miles or so, every time I change the oil. Then it settles down and never changes for the next 5000 miles till I change it again. Howver I would venture that if the display changed 2 or more bars, then I would be suspect. ....of the sensor that is.

    But I could care less. Mine has a dipstick as well.

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