DIY – Choosing the correct motor oil for your BMW

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September 12, 2013 by quirkyuncle

Buying motor oil for your car is not as easy as it used to be. Unlike the past, there is more to choosing the correct motor oil for your BMW than merely picking a bottle off the shelf with the recommended weight that is made by a reputable brand.




BMW oil cap

Note: While some of the information in this article is applicable to any type of vehicle, this article was written to address motor oil selection for BMWs (and Minis that use the BMW oil spec) with gasoline engines in the US market (except for the BMW Motorsport ‘M’ vehicles that have different maintenance requirements).

One of the most read articles on this website is Quieting the infamous BMW lifter tick. The statistics I receive for the BMW lifter tick posting shows that its readers are from all over the world, making me believe that ticking lifters in a BMW is not a USA-only issue, as I had previously suspected. While the suggestions I make for driving differently in Quieting the infamous BMW lifter tick have remained effective at preventing lifter noise in my 2007 BMW Z4 3.0i, and I’ve receive no feedback from readers to indicate that these techniques are ineffective, it still makes me wonder what the root causes of this problem might be.

While the final solution that BMW offers to correct lifter knock is replacement of the entire cylinder head, the variable that my mind keeps returning to is the motor oil. Lifters are hydraulic components and all hydraulic devices are sensitive to the fluids that they use.

I’ve owned a couple non-BMWs that had hydraulic lifters which were oil sensitive and would periodically make a lot of noise. Effective solutions for these vehicles included: changing the oil sooner, using heavier oil, using lighter oil, or using a particular oil additive. Each situation and its solution was unique. The common thread was changing the characteristics of the motor oil in the engine, which is acting as the hydraulic fluid within each hydraulic lifter.

I’m not a petroleum engineer. Volumes could be written about motor oil ratings, viscosity, additives, and brand comparisons. I’m not going to do that here. My goal is to write a short and simple article about purchasing the correct oil for your BMW. The other technical details about oil are really interesting and I might discuss some of them in another posting. For now, if you have an interest, you can certainly find out more than you’d ever want to know about oil elsewhere on Internet.

What do we know (and assume)?

The following basic motor oil facts for my 2007 BMW were easily found:

  • All late model BMWs use synthetic motor oil (it’s in the owners manual).
  • Approved BMW oils belong to the 5w-40 and 5w-30 weight (viscosity) classes (it’s in the owners manual).
  • BMW recommends the Castrol motor oil brand (it says so on the oil filler cap of the car).

BMW also recommends doing oil changes for my car at 15,000-miles. For synthetic oil, I always change mine at the 7500-mile interval. With any oil, the lubricating properties of diminish as the oil ages and gets dirtier. This easily seen in the following photo. See Recommended oil change intervals for more information.

7500-mile to 15K-mile oil comparison

Being old-school, I went to a local retailer that sold motor oil and bought 7-quarts of Castrol synthetic 5w-40 (the heavier oil weight option, it being summer) and an oil filter. The oil change was simple, and I was done for another 7500 miles. I suspect that this is what most folks do: purchase a reputable brand of oil that is of the specified weight. BMW specifies Castrol: it’s a good brand that you’ve heard of, so you buy it… unless maybe another known brand is on sale.

It all seems simple enough, but it’s not.

If you go digging for information about motor oil on the BMW-USA website, you’ll eventually end up at the BMW recommended oils page. Here, as of August 2013, it says:

  • BMW Genuine Oil SAE 5w-30 Synthetic Oil is recommended for scheduled oil changes.

It goes on to say that oil changes should only be performed by an authorized BMW center and that if you need to add oil and don’t have BMW Genuine Oil SAE 5w-30 Synthetic Oil, you need to go to an authorized BMW center to have it topped off.

When I did this research a while back, the BMW-USA website had a list of approved synthetic oils for the US market that was dated January 2008. It listed several brands, classifying all of them as oils with a “BMW long-life rating of LL-01.” The BMW LL-01 spec oil options listed were:

  • Castrol Syntec European Formula SAE 0w-30 (rumor has it that this is the oil BMW relabels to sell as BMW Genuine Oil SAE 5w-30 Synthetic Oil)
  • Mobil 1 SAE 0w-40
  • Penzoil Platinum European Formula Ultra SAE 5w-30
  • Valvoline SynPower SAE 5w-30

What happened between 2008 and 2013 to make BMW stop listing several oil manufacturer options? I have no idea. However, if you go to the Mobil Oil website, right now in 2013, the Mobil 1 0w-40 oil specs still list Mobil 1 0w-40 as being BMW LL-01 compliant.

Note: Gasoline used in the USA market can contains ethanol that can cause the oils specified for use in other parts of the world, such as those with a BMW LL-04 rating, to break down prematurely when used in the USA.

So, what should you buy?

If you want to follow the letter of BMW law, you’ll need to purchase BMW Genuine Oil SAE 5w-30 Synthetic Oil from a BMW dealer or other distributor.

If you are OK with an oil listed in 2008 as fully meeting BMW specs, you need to pay attention to the details, since BMW is listing very specific oil weights and types produced by each manufacturer. Most of the oil type and weight combinations listed in as OK by BMW in 2008 are not commonly available where I live: the only LL-01 oil on the shelf in local stores was Mobil 1 SAE 0w-40.

Oils that are BMW-spec compliant are listed as such on the rear label of the oil bottle. Note that not all oils by a manufacturer or even all weights of a specific oil type are considered LL-01 compliant. Check the label to be 100% certain it says BMW long-life oil 1, BMW LL-01, or some similar phrase.

BMW LL-01 compliant

Why Mobil 1 and the other LL-01 spec oils from 2008, aren’t on the BMW list any more, is anyone’s guess. It’s up to you to decide if they are still appropriate to use in your vehicle.



What’s my personal experience?

I’ve been running Mobil 1 0w-40 (with LL-01 compliance listed on the bottle), for the past five months (about 3000 miles). During that time, I’ve not had any lifter knocking issues. While I am driving the car as indicated in Quieting the infamous BMW lifter tick, there are instances where the car has had short low RPM runs around town, or sat idling for a while, and no ticking has resulted. I’m thinking that using an LL-01 spec oil has helped the situation.

I plan to continue using LL-01 spec Mobil 1 0w-40 oil in both my BMWs, as long as my success continues. If it doesn’t, you’ll be the first to know.

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Updates:


53 comments »

  1. Kirk O. says:

    Thanks, Kirk!

    I’ve not personally used Amsoil, but know some folks that do swear by it. Here is some info from Kirk, in case anyone is interested.

    -QU

    ——————-

    I own an E90 3 Series, an E60 5 Series, and two BMW Motorcycles (2012 K1600GT, and 2005 R1150RT).

    Specifically, for my E90 and E60, I have used AMSOIL’s European Synthetic Motor Oils for years. Personally, the best stuff I’ve used for the price and high quality. It’s guaranteed and warrantied by AMSOIL, Does Not Void Factory Warranty (Warranty Link), and meets the LL-01 or LL-04 Specs. The best thing is that the LL-01 rated stuff is only $5.70 / Quart at the wholesale price by being a member of their Preferred Customer Program, and it ships right to my doorstep. I also get the Mann Oil filters (BMW’s filter OEM manufacturer), for my BMW’s from AMSOIL at wholesale prices. I just paid $19.00 for the oil filter for my 550i. AMSOIL is available to USA and Canadian Customers, Factory-Direct.

    LL-01
    AMSOIL EFM 5W-40
    http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-product/motor-oil/european/european-car-formula-5w-40-synthetic-motor-oil-efm/?code=EFMQT-EA&zo=1727348

    LL-04
    AMSOIL AEL 5W-30
    http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-product/motor-oil/european/european-car-formula-5w-30-synthetic-motor-oil/?code=AELQT-EA&zo=1727348

    AMSOIL AFL 5W-40
    http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-product/motor-oil/european/european-car-formula-5w-40-synthetic-motor-oil/?code=AFLQT-EA&zo=1727348

    Their Preferred Customer Program is here
    *Add this to your online cart first. Then all products will be at the reduced prices.
    http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-product/buy-wholesale/?subcategory=50&zo=1727348

    They also have a great Look-Up Guide – Here
    http://www.amsoil.com/mygarage/vehiclelookup.aspx?zo=1727348

  2. JS says:

    Great write-up and follow-up to the “Quieting the infamous BMW lifter tick” article. It’s been several months since the time of this article. Are you still running the Mobil1 oil, and have you had ANY instances of the ticking resurface? Best.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Thank you!

      Yes, I’m still running the BMW speced Mobile 1. It has ticked a couple times in the interim, but only when I take short trips at low RPM. It is far less susceptible to the problem with this oil. I do think that driving it harder is the real key.

      • Bob says:

        I have an 07 E83 that had persistent lifter noise, I was using mobile 1 5w40. I switched to the euro spec 0w40 a week ago and it purrs like a kitten now. Problem solved. Thank you!

  3. Nick says:

    Let me just say this to those of you who are thinking about switching to 0W-40 (because it says “European car formula” on the cap) and you have previously ran 5,10w30 or 15w-30 and have not had any lifter noise. DONT DO IT! I ran 5w40 and 15w40 and for some reason I decided to try 0w40 because towards the end of my oil change my lifters were a little loud on start up. Worst decision ever, my lifters ticked constantly until I drained it a week later and put 15w40 with some Lucas synthetic oil stabilizer in it.

    Moral: don’t switch to it if you don’t have issues

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      The issue is using the oil that is speced for your car. Mine are speced for the 0w-40. Different years are speced for different weights. I had cars in the past that speced 20w-50 and ran great – I’d expect bad results if I ran 0w-40 in them.

  4. anneallman says:

    Good day!

    Thank you for your thoughtful and valued comments and information. I’ve been using Royal Purple for years in my two Z4’s (E86 coupe and E85 roadster) and have been very happy. No lifter tick whatsoever. I’m in the Southeast (Savannah, GA)

    Thanks, again.
    Anne

  5. Ivan says:

    Hello quirkyyncle,

    I own a 328i 2007 Canadian spec, and I’m having a bit of a lifter(so it seems) noise on start up in the cold. I was wondering, which oil did you use prior to the Mobil 1, and also have you tried the OEM BMW 5w-30 SAE offered at the dealer, does it meet LL-01? I don’t mind buying the Mobil 1, it’s just the BMW offering is half the price literally. What would you recommend?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      The lifters on my 2007 Z4 started ticking after the warranty had expired (bad timing). Up until that point, it was serviced by the dealer. I’m assuming that they used the OEM brand oil. As mentioned in the posting, there are several brands that meet the spec. Mobile 1 was the only one offered at a local retailer. If BMW is selling their oil at a better price, by all means use that.

  6. Trent says:

    Really liking the articles you’ve posted! I kept my 98 M3 (S52 motor) on Castrol “German Castrol” 0W-30 (LL-01 approved) and it really seemed to help diminish lifter tick. I autocrossed that car very frequently and in sustained high G scenarios it seemed lifter tick would rear it’s ugly head, but only occasionally, even with ) )W-30 GC. With any other oil, it was incessant on track. one other thing of note is that 2-3,000 on the tack also lessened the tick while staging for the next run.

    I say all this to pose the question; I wonder if sustained high G scenarios makes the newer N52 tick, as well?

    I’m looking at purchasing a 2008 E91 328i currently, and am very relieved to hear about the oil issue in correlation to lifter tick. I’ve looked at a couple vehicles and wasn’t enthralled to see head-off surgery in the past due to customer tick complaints.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Sustained high G operation can cause oil starvation which could cause the lifters to bleed down. Back in the day, people would overfill their oil slightly so that enough remains in the sump under hard cornering. It is a delicate balance. A little too much oil increases windage (oil droplets flying around below the crankshaft), which can reduce power. Way too much oil gets in the way of the crankshaft counterweights, which really reduces power and can cause foaming and other issues. Check the BMW message boards to see if anyone who races has addressed this issue. Thanks for reading and for your feedback!

  7. tina says:

    My Z4 (E85) has JUST started making a ticking noise (sounds like tappetts) but ONLY when pulling away in first, or accelerating in 3rd……..My car HAS recently had some work done on it, (vacuum tube which is joined to brake servo had collasped so car was chuffing out loads of white/grey smoke – its had the tube renewed and two new sensors – but now this ticking noise which it never had previously. It had an oil and oil filter change in April this year prior to the brake servo vacuum hose problem and wonder if I simply get another oil change and new filters again if this might solve the problem of the noise that sounds like tappets (My bmw motorbike does the same – but that is ancient!!) Any ideas? – or shall I just get an oil change done anyway as a matter of course? The car is perfect other than that. Drives like a dream.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      I’ve been thinking about this and it sounds like a different issue. The tappet noise is generally RPM dependent. A noise during acceleration in 1st and 3rd seems more of a load dependent issue – gear ratios can present different loads on the engine in different gears. Does the sound diminish as you level out in speed? Can you identify the physical location of the noise (hard to call when moving). If you can present more detail, maybe I or another reader can assist.

    • Quentin says:

      Hi I have a 2011 E90 328i. It sounds like you need to seriously service your vanos system if you have that bad of a tick. It can be the cam on the intake and exhaust vanos that needs replacing. It can be your intake and exhaust solenoids at the very front of your motor. You could also need a new Valvetronic motor. Everything I just listed is part of the same system and works together. Start there

  8. A Alshami says:

    Hi ,I can I use full synthetic Castrol Magnatec 5W/30 C3 on my BMW petrol 2006?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      The oils used outside the USA are different and I’m not familiar with them. See if the oil is listed as BMW approved on the bottle.

      I have found greater success controlling the lifter tick on my ’07 Z4 using the BMW approved Mobile 1. Our ’06 X3 used Castrol synthetic, of the weight indicated in the owners manual up until this point without problem – we switched all of ours to Mobile 1, just to keep things simpler, since there was a noted improvement with the Z4.

  9. Beast Mode says:

    Brother,

    You just provided the cure for “BMW Lifter Ticking Cancer.”

    I been racking my brains, and loosing sleep for the past 3 weeks researching and attempting to troubleshoot that Ticking noise. For all in doubt it works! It’s 3am here in Baton Rouge, La., and my 2001 beamer is no longer making that lifter Ticking noise!

    Cleo Washington

  10. Rock says:

    I have the same issue o my 07 328xi wagon.
    Also the car will not go reverse, then the ticking noise 3 days after

  11. James says:

    I have a 1994 530i with the 3.0 v8, t speed, it’s a wonderfull car, but I am young and it’s my first BMW, it has 237600 miles on it, and I have no clue when it had its last oil change as I just got the car 2 days ago. I need to know what I need to change the oil. What weight brand etc…, I have heard that BMWs require a crushable washer seal for the oil drain plug? I will be buying the oil, oil filter, and if needed the crushable drain plug seal, and taking the car to a local shop that a friend owns and having him change the oil. Any info would be great.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Looking around a bit on message boards, I found this thread that discusses oil for your specific car:
      http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=229475

      I would stick with non-synthetic oil, unless it is already using synthetic, because using synthetic in an older engine that never used it can result in oil leaks.

      Most of the filters I’ve bought recently come with a crush washer for the oil pan. If the filter you buy does not, they stock them at the parts stores – just ask. I’ve been using Bosch and Mann filters on my cars, I believe that both produce the OEM filters for BMW.

      I’ve not worked on a mid-90s BMW, so am not sure what type of oil filter it uses. Before you start, make sure that you have the tool needed to remove the filter. Our X3 required a very large metric socket – attempting to remove the filter cap with pliers or an adjustable wrench proved futile and only served to mangle the cap a bit. Our Z4 and 535ix needed a special filter wrench that fits the cap.

      I’d suggest changing all the fluids (transmission, rear end, brakes, coolant, power steering, etc.), unless you have maintenance records that indicate this has already been done. Many times these fluids are ignored and are kept past their useful life.

      Enjoy the new car!

  12. Keith Gill says:

    I have used Amsoil for everything from my Kubota diesel t my Harley. What do you think of Amaoil European Formula 5W30 for my 07 Z4 3.0i 6 speed manual?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Same car as mine! Amsoil is a good brand from what I’ve read. Not sure if it is BMW certified. Most people don’t even know about that – I only found out about it while researching the lifter tick. That being said, it might be a bit thin for warmer climates.

  13. ebony says:

    does 20 w 50 engine oil is recommended for BMW X3 2007 petrol engine?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      My guess is that 20w-50 would be too thick for a 2007 X3. I have a 2006 X3 and a 2007 Z4 and 20w-50 is thicker than specified for these two vehicles. That being said, you should check your owners manual for specify requirements.

      I’m not seeing a lot of cars using that weight, these days. Back in the ’70s and ’80’s I ran 20w-50 all the time. Now the manufacturers have moved to thinner oils to meet fuel economy ratings and have adjuster their internal engine tolerances accordingly.

      I recently read an article about why installing a metal shift knob, or resting your hand on the shifter can throw off the spacing between gears in a manual transmission – point being that the tolerances are THAT tight.

  14. Tim says:

    Mobil 1 FS 0w-40 no longer covers BMW LL01. There are several other options, Warren Oil makes a good 5w-40 European oil covering LL01 (they make car quest products). Even though not API certified Amsoil had a decent European line, and the it’s liquimoly just be careful which bottle you grab add they look similar but aren’t.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      It is best to check the labels. I’ve noticed that several Castrol oils now list compliance.

      Thank you for bringing this up and for reading!

  15. Rudy C. says:

    2007 BMW X3 – constant lifter noise at 103000 miles. I will be taking it into the dealer for an oil change to see what they say about the constant noise. Recently purchased from a Mercedes dealer (came from a trade-in, but vehicle appears to be in excellent shape).

    Don’t have an oil change appointment until 11/23… Outside of the annoyance of the noise, does anyone know if I should be really concerned? Thanks.

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Generally the noise is annoying but won’t cause damage. Best to have it checked by an experienced mechanic to be certain.

      In the past, cars used solid lifters – cylinders of metal, not the ones you see now that pump up with oil to self adjust. The solid lifters were adjusted when the engine was hot and clattered like crazy when the engine was cold. Point being, for these engines it was normal operation and caused no damage.

  16. Stalen says:

    Hi I drive a BMW 525i E60 2006/7 model and I am in a summer country were by it’s very hot this time and my car always ask me to add one (1) litter what is the best Engine oil to use for E60 in a weather like where I am right now please help!

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Best to check the owners manual. Thicker oils can be used in hot weather, but should meet the specs for your vehicle to ensure correct lubrication.

  17. garora says:

    I drive a 2008 X5 (E70). Noticed exactly the behavior listed here related to ticking noise. So far I have been using the dealer provided oil (I think 5W-30) . After reading this I was planning to switch to Mobil1 0W-40. But learned that the new Mobi1 0w 40 is not BMW LL-01 approved.

    https://www.amazon.com/review/RAW7N422OMA0T/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00HG76A9A&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=15684181&store=automotive

    Anyone bought and used Mobil1 recently?

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      The Mobile1 0w-40 European Car Formula still meets the BMW LL-01 specification – I just looked at the jug in my garage to verify. Oddly enough, the European Car Formula is not listed on the Mobile1 (Exxon/Mobile) website.

      You can purchase this oil at several of my local auto-parts stores.

      • Bmwtechguy says:

        Hello quirky uncle, I have had success to quiet down noisy hydraulic lifters with a can of German-made Liqui-Moly hydraulic lifter additive. I gently cleans the tiny hydraulic passages in the lifters and gets the full oil flow back through them. I’m with you on cutting the oil change intervals down to 5000-7500 miles, esp for cars that see lots of short trips that don’t get the engine oil up to full temp for at least 15 min to burn off all the moisture and fuel that always gets in oil during cold operation. Cold climates worsen the problem as it takes even longer to get the oil to full hot. In older, higher mileage BMW engines, I have had very good results with Mobil 1 full synthetic High Mileage oils. These oils are not BMW LL-01, but still work very well, gently cleaning any left-over gunk from less-than-stellar maintenance previously, and help prevent leaks and consumption. For colder climates, I prefer the 5W-30, but for our SC temps, we use the 10W-30 year round. For engines that consume oil such as some older M52s or M54, we have had great success with the M1 High Mileage 10W-40. For newer engines with miles less than 100,000 we have been using Castrol Edge 0W-40 European (BMW LL-01).

        • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

          Some good information! Thanks!
          I recently switched to the Castrol Edge 0W-40 European (BMW LL-01) to see how it works. My initial observation is that the gas mileage has increased by somewhere between 0.5 and 2.0 MPG. Hard to tell until I drive it for a while to get more balanced input data.

  18. Troy says:

    “W” in oil terms is to denote winter not weight. There is no such thing as 30 weight or 40 weight oil, w stands for the given viscosity when oil is cold in cold or freezing climates. In countries like Australia where it is quite temperate the w number is totally irrelevant.
    So “winter” not “weight”

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      Multigrade oil exhibits the properties of different oil viscosities across a range of temperature ranges. You can purchase straight weight oils (such as 30-weight), but these are used less commonly these days. The last place I’ve seen seen straight weight oil speced for use is in transmissions or rear axles. These are often quite thick. 90-weight gear oil was the standard viscosity used in rear differentials for many years.

      Yes, the “w” indicates how the oil behaves at the cold (“w” for winter) end of the temperature spectrum. So 5w40 oil will act as like 5-weight oil at cold temperature and 40-weight oil at high temperature. This is the behavior you want – it acts like a thin oil when cold and a thick oil when hot, so its lubrication properties remain consistent.

      Thanks for pointing this out!

  19. Geo says:

    Hi, I have an 2009 x5 e70 and so confused about what oil to use here in California..I have the same lifter noise at acceleration only with load (maybe 2nd or 3rd gear). Mileage at 120K…any recommendations? btw, this is my first bmw and previous owner used castrol 5w-30..thanks

    • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

      California has varied climate, so I would stay with BMW recommended oil weights and specs. There are several manufacturers that offer LL-01 certified oils, availability seems to vary with where you live.

      From my personal experience, lifter tick frequency varies in step with engine RPM and remains consistent throughout all load conditions. If you are only seeing it under load it is likely another issue.

      Are you sure it is not pre-detonation/pinging? This would be fuel related — make sure that you are using gasoline from a major brand of the correct octane. This is especially important if your X5 has a turbo.

      High-load ticking can also be be an exhaust leak caused when gaskets separate slightly when the engine flexes against its mounts under torque.

      if if is not one of these issues, there could be a problem inside the engine or transmission. I suggest posting a question in the new forum on this site to see if any other members of the community might be able to weigh in.

      Have you changed the oil after purchasing the car? (Since you are asking about oil weights, I’m not sure.) No telling how long the has been in there and what might improve with fresh oil of the correct weight.

      • Geo says:

        Thank you for your reply! Short story about to speed up to my problem…I had this car for 2 months now and I was running Costco 91 gas, then after few fill-up tanks, engine light came on, I read the codes and its cat conversion below efficiency, so i did a little investigation and seems cats are somewhat clogged due to low mileage and carbon buildup (previous owner drove only 8k in 2years!, he said car was basically parked as he was driving company car and carfax does confirm mileage for the past 2years with emission testing recently done in april)…i did seafoam and couple of chevron techron fuel cleaning and car is driving better and no more CEL. I’m only running chevron gas now and intend to do oxyclean for catalyst. I cleaned MAF sensor and will look into spark plugs (they were changed at bmw at 87K, car now at 121K, will take one out and see how it looks). Cat codes came again but no CEL, On carly app scanner they show as codes 29f4/29f5, but on CarScanner app it show no codes but with NO PASS in previous failed catalyst test in last driving cycle and PASS in this last driving cycle test (after all the cleaning)…now where this lift ticking issue came is when I did the seafoam/cleaning thing,I did not change the oil since purchase as it only have 3K on it, lifter tick is slowly going away (tpday i noticed it, did a long drive last night) and to your point, tranny oil was changed at 60k and debating if i should change it now at 121K as driving manual/auto is supper smooth with no issues at all between changing gears…Previous oil used was castrol 5-30 and reading your tread made me think if I should change to something different than castrol and do an engine flush with seafoam..Many local mechanics advise not to run Costco gas as this is my main problem with lifter/cats/engine hesitation etc. as it doesn’t suit high compression engines specially bimmers…so sorry for the long write but this will give you a better idea whats happening. I appreciate your inputs and any advise you have for me….desperate old man..lol..thanks!

        • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

          Which engine is in the car? We’ve had I6 BMWs with or without turbo. The turbo tends to “clog” a bit more when driven around town. When we have occasion to do a full throttle start, it’ll blow a cloud of black smoke. The non-turbo motors never exhibit this issue.

          If the CAT is carboning up, the plugs and combustion chamber likely have buildup, as well. BMWs like being driven hard, a BMW specialty shop has confirmed this. Putting around town clogs them.

          All ears I’ve owned, BMW or otherwise, seem to run better after taking an extended highway trip of several hours. The car you purchased was driven so little, it got clogged. It might just take some time to clear up and start throwing random trouble codes as it moves through the process.

          I run premium gas in all of ours. All BMWs call for it and it is especially important for turbos. 91 is the minimum premium octane level. I would go higher, if it is available.

          Any oil of the specified weight that meets the BMS LL-01 spec is fine. At the time I wrote this article, Moblie 1 was the only oil I could find locally that met the spec. Now, several brands are available, including Castrol. I recently switched to it and am waiting to update the article until I gather more information about its impact to gas mileage. It does appear that the gas mileage increased when using Castrol, but this is only an initial impression.

          Any noises from within an engine are disturbing. If you can make sure that it is not something that will cause a failure or damage, I would run it for a while and take a few highway trips. I would also change the oil/filter to a LL-01 spec oil of the correct weight.

          Transmission oil is listed as “forever,” but periodic changes are suggested. I would wait until you get other issues resolved first.

          I hope you can get this figured out. Having great car that runs poorly is frustrating.

          The forums on this site are new and additional people are signing up each day. There is not much traffic there yet, but the folks that hive signed up might be able to add some insight. I’d suggest switching the conversation over to the forum to see what others might have to say.

          • Geo says:

            The engine on this x5 is N52 xdrive3.0L, NO turbo (i wish it had lol) I believe fuel pump or filter maybe clogged as when the car is cold the hesitation problem is not there, but when it warms up after couple of miles it does it periodically after a slowdown and about to accelerate again….I checked walmart, napa, o’reilly and no one seems to have the LL01 oil..bmw now recommends shell and i cant find it anywhere same as 93 octane, no station offers it…i will switch no shell nitro and see how things progress…its frustrating trying to DIY small things like that as dealearship is a rip off!
            thanks again

          • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

            Electric fuel pumps often get noisy before they fail. A fuel filter would exhibit the symptom regardless of engine being hot or cold.

            Not sure where you are located, but BMW LL-01 oils are available at Walmart and AutoZone here for both Mobile 1 (European Car Formula) and Castrol (Edge Titanium). Both are 0w-40.

          • Geo says:

            I was finally able to find Castrol 0w40 at walmart! also i went to bmw dealership to check on the status of fuel pump recall and had a quick chat with the technician and explained the lag/throttle hesitation i’m having, he said probably they have to reset all adaptation values (didn’t know what that means till i googled it) and turns that lots of people having the same issues and doing the reset thing fix the problem…i got inpa app and will attempt to do reset tomorrow and see how things goes…

          • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

            Glad you were able to find the oil!

            With regard to the hesitation and lag…

            Is this like a “flat spot” you experience when starting from a dead stop? We have had issues with that on our 535GT . If you give it heavy throttle, it takes off fine with no lag. If you give it light throttle, it is like the throttle opens too slow.

            I have noticed that if you set the car to run in “sport mode with drivetrain” the lag is eliminated. Problem is that changes a bunch of things and drops the fuel economy.

            The dealer did a firmware update on the car and there was no improvement. I’m not sure if they reset the adaptation values. I’m interested to hear if this solved your problem.

          • Geo says:

            So what happens is if i’m coming to a slow stop and don’t actually stop (speed around 20mph) and re-accelerate then I get the 2-3 sec hesitation with a slight valve tick noise (i’m noticing that tranny is still in high gear and didn’t shift down yet). Nothing from a dead stop, it actually runs great and accelerate pretty fast! Now, if i have the car in Sport mode, nothing is there, no hesitation at all, I think because tranny is on longer shifts. Manual is same, no hesitation what so ever. One thing I noticed is that when engine/tranny oil is cold there’s no hesitation in D mode but as soon as it warms up (tranny oil gets warm) the hesitation is there. Now I’m pretty sure I need tranny/transfer case oil change which I’m planning myself soon as dealership what $850! I did reset all ECU adaptation values and performance is 50% better with slight decrease in mpg (learning new values) as all my trips are short with lots of stop and go which explain the low mpg.

          • QU says:

            Our 535GT also runs perfect in sport mode, when the throttle body position matches gas pedal position. In normal mode, it seems like the throttle body opens too slow, which you would only notice coming off idle.

            I just can’t see this being a transmission fluid issue, else it would remain consistent. I agree that it is time for a fluid change. I’ve done this on an X3 and it is not hard, but is messy. You can’t change all the fluid in the torque converter without a pump, but can change most of it. Make sure you get the correct spec fluid.

            I found that putting it in using a long plastic tube and funnel was the easiest way. A second person holds up the funnel and pours while you are under the car watching the fill hole.

          • Geo says:

            Ok so I got ISTA app and I did reset to all ecu adaptation values, I can positively tell you that 90% the hesitation is gone! I reset the Throttle, Transmission and Fuel Trim values and car is running way better now…anyhow I will change all fluids (tranny, transfer case and differentials) ISTA gives you step by step with all required tools and correct fluids. I will also change my o2 sensors as they are past due and might be contributing to my cat codes and mileage….what app are you using with your diagnostics?

          • quirkyuncle@gmail.com says:

            I’m using a Foxwell NT510, although it’s operation is what I would consider sub-par.

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