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BMW 3-Series Oil Questions



  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    I thought BMW's don't need oil changes any more ;)
  • sca4sca4 Posts: 3
    Same problem with my 325xi. The dealer did not replace the sensor, but drained the extra 2 quarts I had put in and refilled oil. Also indicated that BMW has taken the "bad" sensors off the shelves and in the process of R&Ding a new sensor. I am on the waiting list for the new sensors to be released by BMW.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,355
    Seems like they do not...just had mine changed at 14,700 miles!!! The mechanic says it's because of the precision specs of the engine builds. I am glad I am leasing!

    Even Shipo changes way more frequently than BMW recommends. I wonder if Dinan can install a dip stick?

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Even Shipo changes way more frequently than BMW recommends."

    Well, I think that needs to be qualified. My first BMW (a 1999 328i) was one of the first 15,000 mile OCI BMWs to hit our shores. For the forty some thousand miles that I had that car I relied on the dealer to do the ~15,000 mile oil changes as requested by the car itself. When I turned the car in I was, ummmm, NOT impressed with the condition of the engine. A quick peek inside the cam cover showed more deposits and varnish than our old 1998 minivan with over 130,000 miles on it. That and the oil had that old Pennsylvania Grade Crude smell of paraffin (leading me to believe that my dealer had use bulk Quaker State or Pennzoil instead of the far more expensive BMW oil). Barf.

    At that time I also heard of a class-action law suit against a large number of BMW dealerships for not using the BMW required synthetic oil in these cars. Made sense to me as my car didn't seem as if it had had a fully synthetic oil in it for the full duration. Was my dealership one of those named in the suit? Don't know. Did my dealership use synthetic oil that met the BMW LL-01 oil spec? Don't know that either.

    Regardless, when I got my 530i, I bought a few filters and a couple of cases of Mobil 1 0W-40 and started doing mid-term oil changes. Were it that I was to own a late model BMW out of warranty I would most likely go say 12,000 miles on Mobil 1 0W-40 and then send it out for Used Oil Analysis (UOA). Assuming that everything looked good and there was some life in it still (and I see no reason why it wouldn't), I would most likely move to 15,000 oil changes.

    As a general rule, I'm a very trusting kind of guy; however, I don't trust nobody to do nuthin wit my wheels. ;-) Said another way, as long as someone else is turning a wrench on my ride, I'm going to err on the extreme side of caution.

    Best Regards,
  • Well, someone's being shined on, but I don't know whether it's you or me.

    Our oil sensor warning has now gone on, and stayed on, for the 4th time. Rather than begin a Lemon Law proceeding as we are now entitled to do, we are taking the car in for a new oil sensor, because our dealer has told me that the new (properly functioning) sensors are in stock -- and because we love the car aside from this. But, what's true about the "new" sensors? Are they on the shelves, or just in R&D?

    Either way, it's an improvement over the denial of a broader problem which characterized their previous attitude (not that they called to tell us of the change to new sensors, though). Even after three previous failures, they just waited silently for us to report another failure and make another trip to the repair shop.

    In my view, this history of problems should be brought to the attention of the appropriate federal agency and the company admonished at least to notify its customers.
  • A further update, but as to whether it's accurate information or not, I cannot say but only duly report:

    According to my local BMW dealer, BMW has begun distributing different replacement oil sensors from a new supplier, but it has been allocating them in small amounts. (My dealership's service manager says that he has 5 or 6 customers with this problem.)

    What are the identities of the "old" and "new" suppliers? In what way are the parts different? What do BMW AG, or BMW NA, have to say about this problem, overall? I dunno. Info from a local service manager is not exactly from the horse's mouth, but at least it's coming from some part of the horse.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,355
    I hope your problem is resolved. I can't for the life of me understand the "no dipstick" thing. Did they save $1.35 per vehicle? OK so considering they sell 250,000 units, now they have to re-engineer the sensors so what is the real savings?

    These decisions, like "Sorry - Run Flat Only" that need to be include on the Chief of Engineering's performance review as a "Needs Improvement" regarding decision making skill (along with the Marketing President).

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,240
    this correctly, BMW drivers with '06 or newer vehicles with failed oil sensors (sounds like they're legion) have no way of knowing how much oil is in the engine without draining it (from under the car, since pumping out from the top is no longer possible) and measuring how much comes out. If it's an appropriate amount, then it can be returned to engine (sounds like there's still a fill port, at least), assuming meticulous cleanliness of all implements involved. Repeat, as required, to determine the consumption rate. Hmmmm. . .

    This, combined with the run-flats, are the two major reasons I'm not counting the days until I get myself a 3. Rather, I'm waiting until the car I'm driving does something really, really awful. Each month I save more money, which I guess I'll eventually spend on a replacement vehicle . . . because I'll have to (sort of) rather than because I can't wait to.

    No dipstick? Give me a break.
  • Mr. cdnpinhead,

    Fortunately, these small issues in no way even come close to outweighing the overall fantastic experience of driving this car and all the great functionality it includes. Or the nearly constant compliments and stares from other drivers. Drive the car. I had a perfectly functional and reliable POS '96 Volvo wagon that I sold. My quality of drive time has vastly improved. Then again, I don't drive and evaluate cars based on ability to move from point a to point b at the lowest cost.

    Just my humble opinion... once you see / drive one you will be hooked. ;)
  • I agree with discostew: Love the car and, more importantly, my wife loves the car! But here's the numbing experience, especially when repeated:

    Oil warning light comes on, regarding which the manual states you had better take the car in immediately for service. (So, what are you going to do...ignore the warning? Try explaining that when you submit your warranty claim!)

    Then, although the manual also warns ominously about not overfilling, the jolly service manager says, "Well, let's just try putting in a quart of oil and see if that will turn the light off....Hmmm, it doesn't go off, so, let's try replacing the sensor....I'll call Parts to see if we have any....Do you need a ride somewhere?"

    Love it or not, at some point you've got to say, "No mas!", because it may not be about just driving from point a to point b, but it's also not supposed to have a regular intermediate repair stop in the middle.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,355
    I love really need kaopectate if you disregard the warning (assuming the sensor is not bad!) and your Bimmer turns into a F.O.R.D.!!

    I guess they are anticipating the hydrogen 7 series in the old gasoline engines by omitting the cheap check system.

  • wa201wa201 Posts: 2
    Our 07' 328xi with 2k miles experienced the same sensor problem and we have replaced it three times. The latest incident has put the car in the dealers hands for over a week and we are in the dark. At what point do we say, enough's enough?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hang in there, this is a third-party supplier issue. Said third-party supplier made and delivered (to BMW) a large batch or three of bad sensors. As I understand it, the factory and the field are being resupplied with new sensors with a special build code etched into the part so there will be no mistake that they are the new and improved part. The problem here is that it takes a bit of time for the distribution channel to be saturated with replacement parts and all y'all with affected cars can do is wait the process out. Saying "Enough" because of a single part that they are trying their darnedest to get for you is, in my mind at least, a little premature. So, like I said before, hang in there and then enjoy your car for many years. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • For us -- knock on wood -- the most recent replacement has solved the problem. So, my current interpretation...two weeks and that it is correct to say that the recent replacement parts function properly.

    So, if my interpretation is accurate, then the first question you need an answer for is: Have you been given one of the recent replacement sensors? (or are they just stringing you along with yet another older inadequate one while they await their full quota of good ones?)

    If the answer that they give you is anything other than, "Yes, the new non-defective one," then please consider posting a further message/report here, so that any variations in the explanations coming from the company will all be out in the open for customers like you and me.

    Regarding your "When is enough?" question, for us that is TWO questions -- one practical and one legal.

    Legal: I don't know what state you live in, and can't offer you legal advice; but, where I live, there's a Lemon Law which provides that three FAILED attempts to repair the same defect justify a claim that the manufacturer (not the dealer) take the car back. If you know any lawyers where you live, ask one. Or, run a web search for "[YOUR STATE] and 'Lemon Law']", or contact your Secretary of State's (or consumer affairs) office and ask them.

    Practical: Do you love the car otherwise, as we do? Then, try to get this problem corrected with the new replacement part, and hope that puts an end to it.

    Good luck!
  • Shipo,

    You've said it better and more simply than I did, and I agree with your approach, as long as OUR sensor doesn't fail again soon ;-)

    But, although I admire your optimism, I don't completely agree with the "trying their darnedest" view, nor with any "blame the third-party supplier" explanation that they may be offering. Here's my cranky opinion: BMW's imprimatur is on the car and these components, with all of their technical sophistication, regardless of the original source. BMW offers the technology; we pay for it; and we're entitled to more than a series of warranty shop visits.

    Further, while it can be costly to do so, BMW has not exactly been forthcoming and candid about this problem. Not that this is the most dangerous of all possible defects (and I'd probably experience more defects and maybe worse handling with another make of car), but we have never heard from the company, so to date no formal notice has issued to buyers; we haven't seen any acknowledgement of a defect at all; no shop advisory has been shared with us; certainly no recall. We didn't even get a consistent story, and along the timeline I think that the company MUST HAVE known more about this problem than we were being told. Yes, in our case, they've honored their warranty obligations so far (what alternative do they have?), but we were kept in the dark, while we drove back and forth repeatedly to the dealer, and we were fobbed off twice with defective replacement parts. That, to me is not "doing your darnedest." It's disappointing.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I can only commiserate with you (as opposed to share your pain) as the oil level sensing device in all of my cars are still the low-tech dip stick (which doubles as the exit point for used engine oil on all of my cars as well).

    As for my "doing their darnedest" comment, could it be that I was a little too free with my language? Yup. :blush: That said, it seems to me that it is a long and very convoluted road between someone here in the U.S. connecting the dots and saying, "Hey! I think I see a pattern developing here" and someone at BMW in Munich saying "Ach der lieber, ve haff a problem mit der Americanish oil zenzing devizez." Until then the forensic work cannot even begin to determine the cause of the problem, unfortunately, in the meantime, many more cars have suffered a failure.

    With the analysis underway, all smoking guns are looked at and one by one discarded until the culprit is found. And more sensors have failed. Then they need to figure out what happened, or better said, what changed. After all, the sensors in the early E90s seem to be operating perfectly well, however, later models are dropping like flies. With the problem finally identified, production line changes are most likely required by the third party supplier to bring the part back into spec, and that assumes that the problem didn't start with a design change back at BMW. Meanwhile even more sensors have failed. With the changes finally in place and the manufacture of the new parts ramping up to max production volumes, the factory AND the service pipelines need to be purged of the defective parts and then resupplied with the new parts, and this can take weeks at the bare minimum, months most likely. While still more sensors fail.

    The above story is as old as mass production, problems like the above existed LONG before the E90 came out, and if you read some WWII history, problems like this plagued all combatants during the war, and often times at very critical times where the want of a part or two meant that one side or the other would lose a battle they should have won.

    Could BMW have done a better job of communicating to the field what the problem was and what the time frames were? Most certainly. Would such communications have delayed the repair of even a single car? Probably not. Is there a car you'd rather be driving were it that the oil sensor wasn't an issue on your car? Only you can answer that one. ;-)

    FWIW, BMW isn't the only manufacturer that suffers from field problems and lack of communications. Back in 1998, when the (then) new Lexus GS was just hitting our roads, Lexus went though a similar problem with the front suspension of those cars, however, that one did affect the safety of the car. Even still, owners were told nothing at all while their cars sat waiting for a resolution, or were accused of damaging the cars through mistreatment. In the end, there were a number of cases where Lexus either refused to repair/replace the cars or offered to field weld suspension and frame parts back together. One of the guys who was posting here in the TownHall back then went through not one but two GS430s (he was able to get Lexus to buy back the first one), and was left high and dry on his second one. In desperation he traded that turkey in on a 540i 6-Speed, made a few posts about how wonderful his new car was, and then we never heard from him again. Too busy driving and having a grand time I guess. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,355
    kaiopect8, I had a problem with my E90 3 months into this lease. Strike One was a computer reboot that lasted 2 weeks and during Strike Two, a part had to be ordered from the Fatherland which took about 2 weeks. My attitude was this is OK because:

    1. Upon Strike Three, I give it to my lawyer to invoke Lemon rule.

    2. I got to drive over 1,000 miles with a 330i and about 200 miles with a 525i so no inconvenience. Now I now the difference in the 5er.

    3. I get to give this car back in less than 2 years. What, me worry?

    My take is as the technology advances, even the good manufacturers can not keep up with Six Sigma quality metrics, let alone the ones coming to the party extremely late and no cake left to eat read: bleeding).

    So I decided to switch to leasing for the remainder of my days on the good ole' US highway system!

    Happy Motoring!

  • Shipo,
    I really appreciated your post. I think you are very knowledgeable, admirably tolerant of your fallible fellow humans -- a trait which I would love to emulate, and wise beyond your years -- unless you're old as Yoda.
    Thanks very much again for your comments.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Thanks! :)

    I guess the process of maturing from a (very) angry young man to a wizened old greybeard is complete. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • patw4patw4 Posts: 2
    Bursting the bubble on "new sonsors with a special build code"...Dropped my 2006 325xi off at the dealership for the 3rd time yesterday. As stated before, I had the oil sensor replaced in Jan.'07, but "service engine soon" indicator and Oil level light keep coming on. After keeping the car all day, the service manager advised me that my car DOES have the newly designed part, and they cannot determine what the problem is. They have opened a "PUMA" ticket with BMW NA. Apparently, this is a forum for dealers to discuss problems and potential resolutions. Very discouraging.
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