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BMW 5-Series Oil Questions

irodirod Posts: 1
edited October 2014 in BMW
bought a 2002 530i, standard with 20k in 2005. Check engine oil light comes on every 600-700 miles, at which time I have to add a quart of oil(5w-30 synthetic). The dealer I bought the car from said this amount of oil consumption was unusual, but could find nothing wrong with the car after extensive testing. Another dealer says according to BMW, this was within the threshold for this car. Anyone having as severe a problem as this? Any suggestions?


  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    This is NOT normal. It's time for your dealer to pony up and put a new short block in there, maybe even a whole new mill.

    Best Regards,
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,629
    I agree with Shipo; my 1995 3 Series uses 1 quart every 2200 miles, and it has over 111K on the clock. My wife's X3 has 51K on the clock and uses no oil.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • manybmwsmanybmws Posts: 347
    Just to give you a benchmark - my '03 530i with 50K on it just needed a quart after 15 months.
  • ny540i6ny540i6 Posts: 518
    2003 E39 540i.... 136K so far, never uses a drop of additional oil, even in the earlier years when I screwed up and only changed the oil when the machine said to (15K oil changes). Only fluid I usually add is coolant sometimes.
  • I got a low oil indicator on my ' 08 535xi with 6400 miles, so I added a quart of Castrol Syntec. This is my fourth BMW and I don't remember ever needing to add oil between changes.

    Anyone else having the same issue?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A quart in 6,400 miles is certainly not at all bad. My first BMW didn't use any oil between oil changes, my second used about as much as yours. All in all, the consumption of a quart every 5,000 miles or more is considered VERY good.

    Best Regards,
  • I elected to get my oil changed at 2,600 miles on my '08 550i. A couple of days afterwards I was playing around with the iDrive and checked my oil level... the message read "Oil Level Is Too High" This really concerned me as I was thinking they either put in too much oil, or they didn't drain all the initial oil. This being a new $70K+ vehicle, I was damn mad.

    After showing how polite I can be at the dealership (LOL), I learned the car needs the indicator replaced. I can appreciate all the "bells & whistles", but at the end of the day they are just something else to go wrong. Less than 1 month old... NOTHING SHOULD BE GOING OUT! I hope this is not the start of a long love/hate relationship. Anyone else have early problems like this? :mad:
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,629
    Anyone else have early problems like this?

    The SRS light illuminated on my 1995 3 Series two days after I took delivery back in November 1995. The dealer reset the SRS system and the problem never returned. The car has been essentially problem free since. In fact, today I took it on a 200 mile trip and at 112K miles it feels as tight and responsive as new. That said, BMW's decision to eliminate the dipstick from their new models has caused me to reconsider my future new car purchases... :mad:

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • squadlesssquadless Posts: 1
    I had the same problem, im 2/3 done with my lease on a 2006 bmw 550i and the oil problem is getting out of hand. Initially I thought i would be spending a [non-permissible content removed] load of money on gas (v8 4.8) is just hungry for it. but it also turns out that I have to "TOP OFF" my engine oil as the dealer describes it every 1700 to 1800 miles because the "low engine oil level" is on. I decided not to even bother with a dealership anymore (after 3-4 times) so I started topping off the oil myself. The indicator resets itself so its not too bad.

    My buddy has a 325xi , 2006 i think, he has the same exact problem. Looks like 06 bmws burn significantly more oil then they have to. Hopefully this will be fixed.
  • rnewton60rnewton60 Posts: 3
    New 550i 2008. At 7,000 miles I had to add a quart of oil. Dealer told me this was normal. Does anyone know if that is true or are they pulling the wool over my eyes? I have no reason to doubt them, but this seems counter intuitive.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,629
    At 7,000 miles I had to add a quart of oil. Dealer told me this was normal. Does anyone know if that is true or are they pulling the wool over my eyes?

    One quart of oil in 7000 miles is nothing to be concerned about. The M42 four in my '95 ti goes through a quart every 2000-3000 miles, depending on how hard I drive it. That rate of consumption has stayed the same since I bought it new. It now has 113000 miles on it with no problems. On a newer BMW I wouldn't worry about oil consumption unless it exceeded one quart every 3000-4000 miles.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • rka_mdrka_md Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 530i which was bought new. For the first few years the oil consumption was not a factor with changes only done as part of periodic, scheduled maintenance. In the last couple years however the consumption is down to about 1 quart every 1500 miles. I spoke to one dealership and had the engine checked out. They could find nothing unusual and based on a bulletin printout from the bmw technical info site (a page of which I was given - applicable to all bmw models) unless there is a drastic change in consumption (i.e. consumption rate triples) or the consumption rate exceeds 1 quart per 750 miles at any time, there is no recommended action beyond checks of: correct oil, engine speed and load operating conditions, external leakage, possible overfilling... (Note: verfication by periodic dealer measurement was a prerequisite.) My consumption level has remained stable for the past couple years so I fill up periodically and keep a spare quart in the car.

    The note also talked of a 6K miles period before which consumption compliants are not considered. At 20K and a consumption of 1 quart per 600-700 miles there is a problem to be solved even by the apparently relaxed standards of the bmw service bulletin!
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,629
    The note also talked of a 6K miles period before which consumption compliants are not considered. At 20K and a consumption of 1 quart per 600-700 miles there is a problem to be solved even by the apparently relaxed standards of the bmw service bulletin!

    That's been Munich's position on oil consumption since before I started playing with BMWs back in 1983. Most manufacturers don't consider oil usage excessive until it increases to a quart every 1000 miles or so. Some of my Bimmers have used oil while others haven't. My wife's X3 2.5 uses less than 1/4 quart between 7500 mile changes while the high-strung four cylinder in my 318ti uses a quart every 2000-2500 miles depending on how it is driven.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • I had a '98 528i for 45K miles - it never needed oil added during its stay w/ me. I drove the car moderately most times, always on it hard on the freeway passing people, etc. Great car, saved my life when I was rear ended by a LS400 (I was stopped for traffic on 80 outside SF, the Lexus hit me at about 50mph ... loved that car).

    Anyway - I now have an '07 550i, did European delivery so drove around Munich for a few days - occasionally above 120mph and twice at 140mph for a few minutes or so ... the car uses a quart at about 6 - 8K miles which I attributed to a "quick" break-in period on the autobahn, but based on what I am reading here maybe that is normal? I admit I took a chance on being hard on the car during the first 100 miles or so, but only after getting everything very warm/hot and taking better than 20 min cooling off before shutting the beast down.

    The 550i is a great car ... cannot see the need for an M5 with insurance and gas mileage, etc. It is just a blast to drive ... cheers.
  • sparklandsparkland Posts: 119
    For European automobiles be sure to use oil with a VW 502 or VW 504 rating. These are high sheer oils that meet the demands of european engines.

    Some BMW owners have had problems with engine failure at 50,000 miles when they used 5W-30W Castrol oil in their cars. The 0W-30W Castrol must be used.

    The ILSAC GF-4 rating is important on oils for these vehicle.
    FYI, I was listening to an expert on the radio this morning concerning which oil to use in our personal vehicles.

    Just to wet our appetite, he said that Valvoline markets 5 different 5w-30w oils under the same name (synpower). Not all of these oils are acceptable for every vehicle.

    Here is the link to the podcast--it may not be on the web yet but just look for the date 10-11-2008.

    In summary there were several interesting points.

    1. The brand (Castrol)or type of oil (Syntec)is not be trusted by itself--the ratings are the most important.

    2. The oils of the same brand and type are not necessarily exactly the same. The oil we buy at a discount store or at an automotive parts retailer may not be the same even though they are packaged the same. The important specs on the bottle may be different.

    3. Forget brand loyalty--pick the oil with the proper viscosity rating and ILSAC GF-4 approved or exceeded.
    Not "meets engine requirements of GF-4" that means it failed other portions of the GF-4 test.

    4. European cars such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Saab, should NOT use oils with the ILSAC GF-4 approval, but rather oils with the VW 502 or 504 (best fuel efficiency) rating. These oils have high sheer ratings needed in european engines. Amsoil contains some of these high sheer ratings.
    Many BMW owners have had their engines fail at 50,000 miles not because the oil was not changed enough, but rather because they used the wrong oil.

    Do NOT use 5-30 in a BMW but do use a 0-30. The oils at least in the Castrol brand are much different.

    5. Dealers do not necessarily use the proper oil even though it would be expected that they would.

    6. Oil changes too often can damage oxygen sensors and catalytic convertors. If the engine oil monitor is on the automobile the oil should be changed at the indicated interval. Oils contain certain elements that flash out during the first 300-500 miles of use and if they exist more often will damage the oxygen sensors--so oil changes can be done too often! Sulfated ash, elemental sulfur and phosphorus are the compounds that can accumulate and cause damage especially in the inexpensive oils.

    7. From this overview I am thinking that the proper oil for the Ridgeline is 5W-20W with a ILSAC GF-4 rating and if available, an additional ACEA A5-B5 service rating.

    8. The synthetic "name" is not really important. The proper oil will have the "starburst" emblem on the front of the bottle and will also have "energy conserving". Another rating that is good is API SM. SL/CF.

    The best way to determine what oil to use in any of our vehicles is to look up the product data sheets for each brand of oil and see if the data corresponds to what the manufacturer recommends.

    It is more difficult to determine the proper type than it may seem.

    Sorry, for the limited amount of information contained in this post. Hopefully it does not cause more confusion than necessary. The problem is that there is no place on the web where all the information is condensed or categorized.

    These ratings seem important for US and Japanese cars, but VERY important for European automobiles.

    I e-mailed the host of the show and if he responds with the proper oil recommendation I will update this post.

    I went out an looked on a bottle of Mobil 1, I used at my first oil change, and it seemed to have all of the proper ratings 5W-20W, ILSAC GF-4, API SM,SL/CF, ACEA A1-B1except that it could have had the preferred ACEA

    I was going to look on the bottle of Castrol but it was 10W-30W so that would not apply.

    Hope this helps everyone.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    While I'm sure that you meant well with your long post, there are some significant errors in its content.

    1) VW's oil specifications are completely irrelevant for any late model BMW.

    2) Late model BMWs with gasoline engines sold here in the States require oil that is certified to conform with the BMW LongLife-01 oil specification.

    3) The new diesel BMWs that are about to hit our shores require oil that is certified to conform with the BMW LongLife-04 oil specification.

    4) While the BMW and VW oil specifications routinely show up on the same oils, it should be noted that there are in fact oils on the market that are only certified to meet either the BMW specifications or the VW specifications, so beware, just because any given oil is VW 502.00 approved, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is BMW LL-01 approved as well.

    5) The BMW LL-01 oil (made by Castrol but with a BMW label on it) that you can buy from your local BMW dealership is both a 5W-30 grade and IS NOT certified to meet VW's 502.00 standard..

    Best regards,
  • I'd like some comments on frequency of oil changes. I have an 06 530, and go 13-15 months before dealer will pay for an oil change (under warranty). This seems like a long time.

    BTW, the dealer I go to will not change the oil until the indicator says that it's time, even if it's only 200-300 miles early. Anybody else have this experience?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    When I got my first BMW that called for extended OCIs, the BMW oil standard of the day was LongLife-1998 (i.e. LL-98), and BMW required a change every 12 months regardless of how low the mileage was since the last change. When the BMW LL-01 oil specification debuted (oddly enough in 2001), BMW eliminated the annual oil change requirement.

    As for your dealer not changing the oil unless you get to the actual threshold, that's absurd. Were I in your shoes, I'd ask them to put that in writing and then send it to BMW and see what they have to say. ;)

    Best regards,
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    You probably meant to say that your dealer won't change your oil for "free" under the maintenance program before the indicator light turns. That's because BMW won't pay the dealer for the service if it's done early.

    Also note that if you pay for an extra oil change, the dealer is prohibited from resetting the oil service indicator. So you'll still get the free maintenance and oil change when the car says it's time, even if that's within a few hundred miles of the service that you just paid for.

    A BMW monitors driving conditions and determines the correct interval for oil changes based on how you drive (i.e. Condition Based Service (CBS). Your car is constantly monitoring dozens of variables that are fed into predictive algorithms that were developed over years by observing and servicing millions of vehicles.
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147
    The annual oil change requirement hasn't been completely eliminated. The scheduled maintenance doesn't follow a calendar time table now, but you can request a free oil change under the maintenance program if the indicator light doesn't signal an oil change within 12 months of purchase (or the most recent scheduled maintenance.)

    The 5 series service manual still says: "Note: Change oil at least once a year." That allows you to request an oil change at 12 months. But, the dealer won't reset the service indicator and the next maintenance will still be required as signaled by the vehicle. And this 12-month service is oil change only and doesn't include any other maintenance items.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    There was a TSB published by BMW and posted here in the Town Hall a couple of years ago that explicitly stated that the one-year oil change was no longer required. Some dealerships may still pay for it, but it is my understanding that most do not.

    As for the Oil Life Monitor (OLM), per the technical documentation that I've read on the subject, BMW uses one metric to determine when the oil needs to be changed, and one metric only. And that is? Glad you asked. Said metric is how much fuel has been used since the last reset of the OLM. Drive harder, do more cold starts, operate in extremely cold environments, drive only very short trips, and the OLM will call for an oil change rather quickly. Spend lots and lots of time on the highway in the 30+ mpg zone, and the OLM will call for an oil change that is well in excess of the target 15,000 mile oil change. A rather simple and elegant methodology don't you think? ;)

    Best regards,
  • anon3anon3 Posts: 147

    I'm sure lots of things are posted in this Town Hall. The FACT is that BMW's service manual still states a requirement to change the oil once per year. I cut and pasted that requirement from the 2008 5 series service manual in my previous post. Those are BMW's words. I have used that statement to request a free oil change several times. The service indicator is the primary measurement, but the 12 month option has always worked for me upon request. BMW NA ultimately pays for the oil service costs, not the dealership, so they don't care if they can bill it back to BMW NA.

    As for "how" the service indicator operates, if that's relevant, it takes into account more than just fuel consumption. It also measures conditions like engine operating temperature.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    We're going to have to disagree on both of these issues.

    Best regards,
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,629
    As for "how" the service indicator operates, if that's relevant, it takes into account more than just fuel consumption. It also measures conditions like engine operating temperature.

    Sorry, Shipo is correct. The first generation SI system did take several factors into account, such as rpm, engine temperature, number of starts, etc. However, BMW's engineers discovered that simply measuring fuel usage is just as accurate as calculating oil life by measuring multiple parameters.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • qsamqsam Posts: 1
    I have a 2008 5 series I've had for 13 months with 16,000 miles on it. The mileage for an oil change just keeps extending out. It started out showing I needed one at 15,000 miles but now it's up to 18,500. When does this stop. Yesterday I got a message that it needs a quart of oil. I don't want to take it to BMW just to add a quart of oil. I've read so many posts showing different types of oil to use and I'm confused on what I need to put in the car. Can some one shed some light on the situation?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What type of oil? The short answer is any oil that is Certified to meet the BMW LongLife-01 oil specification.

    As far as specific oils, the three most easily obtainable oils that meet that spec here in the States are as follows:

    1) BMW Synthetic Oil (typically 5W-30)
    2) Mobil 1 0W-40
    3) Castrol Syntec 0W-30

    I've heard rumors that Valvoline has an oil that is certified to meet LL-01, however, I've yet to confirm that.

    A word of caution, some oil companies play fast and loose with the language on the side of their bottle and say stuff like "Formulated to meet BMW LL-01", however, just because it was "formulated" to meet the specification does not in any way indicate that it actually meets said spec.

    Best regards,
  • On my '08 530xi, the dealer did a free oil change at 12 months even thought the CBS didn't require it. I don't know if the indicator was reset. I had to add a quart of oil at around 6400 miles.

    Also, when my add coolant indicator came on a month or so ago I called the dealer and was told to bring it right in so they could top it off. They added the coolant, checked it out and washed it for me, N/C :) .
  • galamagalama Posts: 12
    I just got my 2002 530i and have no clue about the car. when i try to start my car i see oil service inspection yellow and red light for about 5-10 seconds and goes away. i can tell that oil has been changed becouse its not dark in color on my dip stick. how can i monitor my oil life and how do i reset my oil monitoring after cahnge. what oil should i use and how often i should change my oil. tx joe
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 10,629
    Assuming that the oil has been changed, whoever did it didn't know how to reset the system. Here's how to reset the Service Interval System:

    Ignition key in OFF position
    Press and hold the trip odometer reset button and turn the key to the accessory position
    Keep the reset button pressed for 5 more seconds until 'Oil Service', 'Inspection', or 'Reset' appears.
    Release and press the button again for 5 more seconds until the message flashes, then release.
    While the message is flashing, press the button again briefly to reset the SI.
    Successful reset of the SI will display 'End SIA' for about 2 seconds.

    The SI system doesnt monitor the oil directly, it actually measures how much fuel is used over a given distance. It's actually pretty accurate. If you change the oil when the SI system signals a change you will probably be changing it at @15,000 mile intervals. I'm not quite comfortable with that interval so I change it every 7,500-8,000 miles. It's a really easy DIY job; it takes me less than 30 minutes. I don't reset the SI system until it signals an Oil Service- otherwise it screws up the intervals for the other SI based services. You must sue an oil that meets BMW's LL-01 standard. The easiest oils to find that meet the standard are:
    BMW 5W-30 synthetic- available at any BMW dealer
    Mobil 1 0W-40- available at Advance Auto and Autozone
    Castrol Syntec 0W-30-also available at Advance Auto and Autozone
    Two other notes, you MUST change the brake fluid every two years using a DOT4 fluid, and you should also change the coolant every four years using BMW Coolant ONLY.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport / 2014 M235i / 1999 Wrangler / 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2016 i3 REX/2009 Cooper Clubman Son's: 2009 328i

  • galamagalama Posts: 12
    Thank you so much you have been a big help.
    Looks like i have a Hands Free link button and i cant get it to work. Is that bluetooth feature or in car TEL hook up? does anyone know i would love to set it up.
    I don't have book on it. And by the way i love my BMW. tx Joe
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