E39 Change Oil Myself?

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Fred W wrote:


While the rate of degradation of ATF is very low it is not zero.
30k seems a bit premature but I am considering changing my ATF around 100k as it is probably less bother just doing it than having it tested...

My understanding of how modern synthetic lubricants work is that they have a capacity to absorb combustion products and are effectively good as new until exhausted; they do not suffer the viscosity drift with use of mineral oils.
Provided the oil is changed *in* *time* it will perform just as well as if it is changed early.

That 50k is most likely <5k.
My car is a pet car, maintained regardless of cost, but it does no-one any favour to dump good lube.

I use what ALPINA recommend and change it when they recommend - it's working so far.
A
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Alistair J Murray wrote:

Your understanding is flawed. Yes, there is less viscosity drift, but even with non-synthetic oils that occurs primarily in the early going. But the main thing you have wrong is that synthetic oil is no more or less capable of "absorbing" compustion byproducts than non-synthetic. This has nothing at all to do with viscosity, but everything to do with why you don't want to leave dirty oil in your engine. This applies especially to people who drive relatively low mileage per annum (as I do) and toy cars such as yours. But, of course, you are free to do whatever you want with your car. Whatever makes you feel good...
--
-Fred W

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Fred W wrote:

Not as flawed as yours.
Yes, there is less viscosity drift, but

Correct to an extent. However there are plenty of oils out there that are assessed partly on their ability and capacity to hold contaminants in suspension. That is the imortant point. Extended drain oils as used in modern vehicles with service intervals of up to 30,000 miles have a high tollerance of contaminants which are held harmlessly in suspension. This is partly why it is of no significance whether an oil is mineral or synthetic, both types having oils that meet different duty and longevity intervals as plainly seen by the official STANDARDS met by them.

Dirty oil is relitive. My BMW diesel engine blacks its oil with nasty carbon within five minutes of a fresh change but is good to use for generally over 14000 miles of normal use and its condition is actually monitored in real time by an on-board system.
This

And there is no doubt that recreational oil changing give some owners immense satisfaction and a hollier-than-thou feeling which they like to express by encouraging others to do likewise.
Huw
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Huw wrote:

As versus the extended oil changers who preach "the only true way"?
--
-Fred W

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Fred W wrote:

No. There is no real 'extended' unless intervals are stretched beyond the manufacturers recommendations. Most normal people just change by the book and don't second guess by modifying 'the book'. There are so many things more important in life and for the economic life of the car come to that. Oil changes as per book should be the least of your worries. However, if it makes *you* feel good, by all means go for it, but stop pretending to yourself that you are 'doing good'. You will do far more good if you do voluntary work for human welfare.
Huw
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Huw wrote:

    [...]
...which is the bit down to it being *synthetic*

Exactly. ...and until that capacity is exhausted they are effectively "good as new" which is down to the *additive pack*.

Are there extended life mineral oils in practice?
I know road haulage is a big driver for extended life oils and they run engines to *huge* mileages...

Conversely the Castrol SLX which comes out of my ALPINA's V8 looks at most one shade darker than the stuff going in. Admittedly it usually has ~10-15% of its computed life left when changed at the cars annual service after 9-10k miles of use.

I don't mind spending money on maintenance and quality consumables - no cheap tyres for me thanks - but I can't see the point in wasting money on excessive oil changing.
...it's not green either. ;)
A
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Alistair J Murray wrote:

Up to mb228.3 sheet specification they are mineral oils. This spec is generally known as being for '45000 km oil' and is certainly capable of longer drain intervals than most lower order synthetic oils. In practice it is now standard to specify this standard when engines have extremely heavy duty combined with 500 hour service intervals. At an average of 30mph you will easily confirm that this equates to 15,000 miles. Again in practice it is not unusual to find heavy trucks running this kind of mineral oil for up to three times this long with bi-pass filtration. Only in the heaviest duty applications such as used in forage harvesters or tractors engaged in constant full load and full speed use will these oils near their limit of use in 500 hours.
There are several higher specifications but these then do tend to be using synthetic base oil. A light duty specification is 229.5 which is suitable for petrol and diesel engines up to 30,000 miles. Several manufacturers have equivelent specifications. VW group and GM have them. In heavy diesel applications then mb228.5 oil is commonly used for applications with up to 100,000 mile oil change intervals or 3000 operating hours.

I share your attitude. Proper maintenance using quality components at appropriate intervals is what I strive to acheive. I have so many vehicles that it is costly and time consuming to service but even more costly to have downtime due to premature wear or failure. Failure though are inevitable and unavoidable. For instance, last year I had one six litre engine suffer a cylinder failure due to a piston melting. This was indeed a lubrication issue but only because of a stress failure of one under-piston oil spray jet which meant the heavily worked engine had no cooling to that piston crown. I have several engines with between 8500 and 12000 hours up which run like new with no oil consumption or evident wear. These mileages are between 255,000 and 360,000 if you assume an average of 30mph. And I don't even own any heavy trucks.
Huw
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Huw wrote:

    [...]
    [...lube technical specs...]
I remembered right, you care about oil. :)

...so you don't have to try *that* hard to make oil last 15k miles in a car.
    [...]

That's the plan - my ATF (105k in) is being changed as we speak...

...since the car is in having a broken engine mount replaced. :(
The ATF change is partly down to this thread - I didn't know that BMW were recommending 100k changes on newer cars - and my existing conviction that long life != infinite life...

Oil's role as a coolant is often overlooked...

Do engines wear out, in the parts lubed by sump oil, or do they tend to die of catastrophic failure? ...or do they just get overtaken by newer tech?
A
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Alistair J Murray wrote:

Be aware that the ATF BMW use is a synthetic type and it should be replaced with the proper fluid. Dexron II or III is NOT what you need.

A bit of both. Modern engines designed for a finite life [as engines have always been] using latest finite element analysis should not fail catastrophically until all lubricated components have nearly worn out. Heavy duty engines are somewhat different in that most wearing parts are made to be renewable. I'll let you into a bit of a secret but let's keep it between ourselves ;-) Most light duty engines are built to last between 150,000 and 250,000 given regular maintenance. Medium to heavy engines of maybe up to 7.5 litres are now generally built for 12,000 hours between overhauls and larger heavy duty engines have a design target of 20,000 *between* overhauls.
...or do they just get overtaken by

Technology is constantly changing. In general a well driven and reasonably maintained vehicle will wear out or be removed from use for reasons other than total engine failure. This applies equally to a Ford or a Toyota or a BMW with 15000 mile [approx] service intervals.
Huw
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Huw wrote:

    [...]
I know, scary 'spensive stuff too...
...but *much* cheaper than the 'box.
Had a good chat with the workshop boss who reckoned that the ATF is realisticly good for 120-160k so a change now should be good for another 10 -12 years...
    [...]

So there is still some level of bore and journal wear rather than stuff reaching the end of its fatigue life...

...and worth renewing.

:)
I guess these are low revving and low specific output.

15,000 miles does not seem ambitious at all...
A
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Alistair J Murray wrote:

Assuming your box does not fail due to general wear or component failure beforehand. But let's not be pessimistic ;-)

Of course. Everything wears out eventually. Truck engines are built strong and can be rebuilt, replacing worn parts, many times during a lifetime. If it was cost effective a car engine could be rebuilt in the same way but modern engines generally last the life of the car if reasonably maintained and driven.

The piston speed can be as high as a smaller high revving engine though and the torque output can be phenomenal.

It is not. It is well established and around half the interval of some competitive cars.
Huw
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Fred W writes:
<OK, I don't get it... Why do you *not* trust BMW engineers to tell you when to change the transmission and diff oils (never), but trust them completely when it comes to the engine oil? >
The problem with this statement is not that I don't trust BMW engineers, I do, but that I don't trust BMW "marketing." Every since BMW went to "free" maintenance, its fluid changes have either been extended or become "lifetime."
For example, BMW previously recommended that coolant be changed, of course using *only* BMW coolant, every 2 years. That now has been extended to 4 years. In the US, BMW coolant is Valvoline Zerex G 48, its composition has not changed since 6/03, yet the recommended change interval is now longer.
Similarly, BMW use to recommend that tranny and differential fluids be changed every 30K. Now, its NEVER! Sorry, I still change those fluids every 30K. Note, the 30K fluid change is for MANUAL transmission. Its my understanding that BMW automatic trans fluid is very expensive and a longer interval may be adequate.
As for engine oil, I still use dino oil in my 1990 E34 535i, 5 speed, 105K miles. I change oil and filter every 3-4K.
I normally use Redline fluids. However, my last tranny & differential fluid change was with Royal Purple. I figure for $6-7/quart, its not too expensive. So far, I have about 3k-4K on RP and at least for the tranny, the shifting seems fine. We will see. If not, its back to Redline!
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Are you sure it is still 4 years? There are no coolant changes listed on the maintenance schedule for my 2003 Z4 and the dealer indicated that it is now "lifetime".
Tom K.
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Yikes, "lifetime" coolant! Does you Z4 have plastic radiator, thermostat housing and coolant reservior too? Sorry, but I wouldn't live with "lifetime" coolant, especially when the stuff in your car, Valvoline Zerex G 48 hasn't changed since 2003! Expect to replace your radiator, thermostat housing and coolant reservior sometime between 60K-80K as the plastic gets brittle and can break.
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bfd wrote:

The plastic appreciates coolant changes? That's a novel concept.
Sorry, but I wouldn't

It is a hybrid acid technology coolant designed to provide protection over a very extended period. They are probably changing the formulation on an on-going development basis, but be that as it may, there is no reason to change it at less than 100,000 miles or five years and it is probably good for many years after that.
Expect to replace

If that is the case then that is surely the time to replace the coolant. Unless you are trying to make us believe that it is the lack of coolant changes that causes the plastic to degrade? LOL In fact plastic tanks have been used for many years now in both cars and industrial applications and the failure rate, in my experience, is at least as low as for all metal systems. There could be exceptions with both types of course where poor design is responsible for failure but I have not come across any.
Huw
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Look again in your service manual. I've got the same engine and it's every 4 years since manufacture date.
Auto trans was lifetime fill for a while. It's now 100,000 miles.
BMW also now says you should change the oil every year, even if you haven't hit the service interval. While the oil retains its lubricating qualities, its additive package gradually deteriorates. Anecdotal evidence (that's inconvenient evidence) has indicated a lot of sludge builds up if you follow the lights (lots of M62 engine owners find this out early as they check oil pump bolts).
BMW has a vested interest in appearing low maintenance and also keeping the cost of 50K/4yr free maintenance low. They have little interest in assuring the engine will demonstrate the traditional (for BMW) lifetime of a quarter million miles. Quite honestly, I sometimes wonder if they care at all about the long-term customer ... They're too busy chasing the next one (not unlike the cellular phone world ... another ball of wax).
R / John
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What year is your 3.0 liter?
For my 2003, page 4 of the Service Manual lists the following mileage/time interval services:
Brake Fluid - every 2 years Oxygen Sensor - every 100,000 miles Spark Plugs - every 100,000 miles Auto Trans - Change ATF every 100,000 miles
As part of Inspection I, the cooling system is checked and coolant is topped off if required - but not changed.
I didn't believe it either until it was confirmed by the service manager at the dealership where the car was purchased and has been serviced. Needless to say, the fluid will be changed at 4 years, and the manual transmission will get Red Line at about 40,000 miles - but it won't be paid for by BMW.
Tom K.
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2003 E39 page 9 same list but includes m-mobility system (3 yrs and coolant (4 years, M5-3yrs)
R / John

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Interesting that the different models aren't consistent. I wonder what BMW's current recommendation(s) is (are?).
Tom K.
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John Carrier wrote:

Mine has no mention of a service interval but it is a year old and this may have changed recently. Yes, the fluid is good for an average of over 100,000 miles at which point it does apparently degrade to an unacceptable degree. The transmission might still last another 50 to 100k miles but it seems sensible to change the oil when it is due. An actual transmission failure might be due to factors other than good lubrication though.

Every two years elsewhere. This is clearly indicated by the dashboard computer if the time limit is hit before the mileage limit.

Anecdotal evidence is just that. Not reliable and changes for the more dramatic with each repeat telling down the line.

Then buy something else with the low service intervals you crave. A leading edge high technology BMW is obviously wasted on you.
Huw
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