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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 07-18-2008, 04:16 PM   #1
jpr
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BMW Oil and Change Interval

For me at least, BMW's oil and oil change schedule seems to be working out pretty well - here's what it looks like under the valve cover of my 1999 323i with 92,554 miles. It's been on BMW 5W-30 with OEM filters it's entire life and has been getting it's oil changed based on what the OLM dictated.

That has given it the following OCI's:
1/8/1999 - drove it off the lot w/ 7 miles on the odometer
1/12/2000 - Oil change - 16,363 miles and 369 days
4/12/2001 - Oil change - 14,241 miles and 456 days
8/28/2002 - Oil change - 15,366 miles and 503 days
3/29/2004 - Oil change - 14,101 miles and 579 days
10/20/2005 - Oil change - 14,248 miles and 570 days
11/26/2007 - Oil change - 13,941 miles and 767 days

I pulled the valve cover to assess the need for running an Auto-RX cycle and fully expected to find things a bit gunked up. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by how clean things are. There's a little but of staining on the vanos housing and some minor sludge on the cover nooks and crannies, but the running gear was pristine.

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Old 07-18-2008, 04:19 PM   #2
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Good to gear to service interval notice is doing it's job!

Those pics are sure small.. why is that?
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:23 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by keith_m3-4 View Post
Good to gear to service interval notice is doing it's job!

Those pics are sure small.. why is that?
Because it's a 323i with the "small engine"...

Click on them and they'll pop up bigger

Also, BTW, an oil analyis of what's in there now is here - http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums...77#Post1194277
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Old 07-18-2008, 04:30 PM   #4
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Excellent! Pretty much what I found under mine when I did the V/C gasket. Fed dealer oil since new til 42K @~15K intervals. Then switched to current fill, Castrol 0W-30.

Reddish staining is from an additive residual in the BMW oil, not sludge as some folks have thought, and is harmless. It is common in those areas of the upper cover that get less air flow from the PCV/oil seperator. Gunkyness is nothing to sweat over as you've realized. Glad to see no oil in the spark plug holes. Guess you can go ahead and use the new gasket. Doing plugs?

Just read the UOA, looks good. Do another at the milage stated so you get a start to a trend. Its hard to extrapolate overall condition with just one sample, but so far the 3 biggies, Al, Pb, and Fe look pretty good so far. Don't sweat the TBN. dealer oil starts around 8, gets a quick hit, and then continues a very slow depletion from there.

Button that thing up and motor on!

Last edited by shortyb; 07-18-2008 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:09 PM   #5
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Yep - replacing the spark plugs was the impetus. Since that got me about halfway to pulling the cover, curiousity made it necessary.

Here's what the plugs looked like -
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:20 PM   #6
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Over a year till the first oil change??
All I can say is WOW.

I've been in the car business a long time, but am fairly new to BMW's.
Never have I seen anyone who cares about their car wait that long between services!
Mind you- the climate I live in has much more 'diverse' temperatures.
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:42 PM   #7
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Thanks fo sharing the Pics- Will you kinldy tell us your driving style? City, Highway, moderate/aggressive?
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by nosoule46 View Post
Thanks fo sharing the Pics- Will you kinldy tell us your driving style? City, Highway, moderate/aggressive?
I'm a fairly moderate driver (most of the time) as I enjoy the car more for its handling than its drag racing potential. In the early years with the car it had a few road trips, but for the last few years it has mainly just done commuting duty for me. It's about 16 mile one way trip, a a little more than half of which is on the freeway at about 75~80 mph.

Edit - to qualify moderate a bit better, I typically run the car in the 2500 to 4000 rpm range

Last edited by jpr; 07-18-2008 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:12 PM   #9
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Over a year till the first oil change??
All I can say is WOW.

I've been in the car business a long time, but am fairly new to BMW's.
Never have I seen anyone who cares about their car wait that long between services!
Mind you- the climate I live in has much more 'diverse' temperatures.
BMW's maintenance schedule has been freaking people out for quite a while now.

There's a few threads around here and various other forums showing horrificly sludged engines such as here - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=52615 - and here - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=526150

There's also threads showing engines often with short OCI's that look pretty good, such as these http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=543046 http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=520642 http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=461379 http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=460699

But I haven't seen too many such as mine showing the results of just BMW oil and their maintenance schedule. If you told most folks you were going to go 15k miles and up to 2 years between oil changes, they'd likely freak out. But in my case, it sure seems to be working out exactly as BMW intended.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpr View Post
BMW's maintenance schedule has been freaking people out for quite a while now.

There's a few threads around here and various other forums showing horrificly sludged engines such as here - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=52615 - and here - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=526150

There's also threads showing engines often with short OCI's that look pretty good, such as these http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=543046 http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=520642 http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=461379 http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=460699

But I haven't seen too many such as mine showing the results of just BMW oil and their maintenance schedule. If you told most folks you were going to go 15k miles and up to 2 years between oil changes, they'd likely freak out. But in my case, it sure seems to be working out exactly as BMW intended.
Well, your engine looks clean, but signs of premature wear, (if any are to be seen), wont be present up top.

I don't think that E46's take time or driving style into account...
You may be fine using just the service reminder, but my brain will never accept a 2 year/14000 mile oil change interval.

Good on ya for your perseverance!!
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:31 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by BSL View Post
Well, your engine looks clean, but signs of premature wear, (if any are to be seen), wont be present up top.

I don't think that E46's take time or driving style into account...
You may be fine using just the service reminder, but my brain will never accept a 2 year/14000 mile oil change interval.

Good on ya for your perseverance!!
But premature wear would show up on the UOA and it didn't. The awful sludging pictures that occasionally make the rounds are due to coolant leaks, not service intervals. No amount of proof will convince those who feel that 15,000 miles or one year is too long. Let them change their oil whenever they want to. But they should not spout off with 'everyone knows that BMW's interval is too long', because that is just not true.
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Old 07-19-2008, 09:56 AM   #12
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But premature wear would show up on the UOA and it didn't.
Yep. You would see big numbers for the wear metals, especially Pb (lead). As mentioned in the BITOG replies, the oil is "cleaning up" after the previous oil and will stabilize. Great report for a nearly 100K engine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by todd92 View Post
The awful sludging pictures that occasionally make the rounds are due to coolant leaks, not service intervals.
First time I've seen anyone else mention this as to why the oil gets sludged. Very, very few "sludge" pictures are from extended drain intervals, unless of course its been like 30K, or never changed, etc. It's usually when something foreign gets in the oil (coolant, water, fuel, dirt) and changes the chemistry. Add a little heat and time, viola', sludge stew.

BMW spent alot of time, research, and money with Castrol to come up with this whole package of oil and change interval, they didn't just pull it out of their rear ends. They did it for several reasons, the least of which is less cost during the free maintenance period. Believe it or not, they held conservation of resources and environmental impact in a higher regard. More and more of these type of posts are supporting the fact that BMW oil can and does go for long stretches without any concerns.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:20 AM   #13
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Can't say I understand the significance of all the data in the oil analysis, but I can tell you my oil was black like paint when I last changed it at nearly 9k. Was yours also like this at 15k ?
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:43 AM   #14
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Can't say I understand the significance of all the data in the oil analysis, but I can tell you my oil was black like paint when I last changed it at nearly 9k. Was yours also like this at 15k ?
Oil darkens with use. This is normal and expected. Oil color tells nothing, absolutely nothing, about oil or engine health.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:16 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by tony325ci_51 View Post
Can't say I understand the significance of all the data in the oil analysis, but I can tell you my oil was black like paint when I last changed it at nearly 9k. Was yours also like this at 15k ?
Heck, it was dark at 4k when I took an oil sample for analysis
Quote:
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Oil darkens with use. This is normal and expected. Oil color tells nothing, absolutely nothing, about oil or engine health.
Exactly!
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:43 AM   #16
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time to bump a good jpr thread.
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:49 AM   #17
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Wow that's great. Funny thing is, I follow my computer as well, but since my E46 saw so much city driving and hard use, my computer would go from 15,500 miles to zero with only 8,000 miles of actual driving.
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:57 AM   #18
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Wow that's great. Funny thing is, I follow my computer as well, but since my E46 saw so much city driving and hard use, my computer would go from 15,500 miles to zero with only 8,000 miles of actual driving.
Exactly. The computer is smarter than most people think. It took the 15k interval down to 8k, based on your normal driving conditions. BMW put time and effort into making sure people know when to change the oil. just disregarding that and doing it every 5k or something is just a waste of money.

Edit - A jpr thread concerning the SI: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...562&highlight=

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Old 04-03-2009, 01:00 AM   #19
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i dont know if you can apply that rule for the M3's....they are a much more finnicky engine
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:02 AM   #20
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time to bump a good jpr thread.


I just find more and more proof that with the proper oil, BMW's 15k service interval is great for a daily driver.
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