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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-07-2009, 03:49 AM
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Quick Guide to Oil in Your E36

This guide will help you understand what we recommend for your E36. This guide primarily focuses on the I6 models (M50, M50TU, S50, M52TU, S52), but is a good starting point for those of you with the I4s (M42 & M44). This guide is NOT intended to spoon feed you exactly what you should use for your exact car in your exact location, rather, to provide you with the information necessary to make an intelligent, educated decision based on your knowledge.

The first thing is, ABOVE ALL, read your manual. There is a chart printed with the proper viscosities in it. If you don't have one, there are places online you can download copies for free, or you should buy one. It is invaluable to have, and you absolutely should have a copy for your model of E36. The chart for the E36 M50TUB25 engine is shown later.

Filters

Your E36 uses a paper filter that sits in a canister, which is much more convenient than the metal units. BMW uses 3 suppliers for its OEM filters: Mann, Mahle, and Hengst. It's generally accepted that OEM BMW filters are superior to pretty much everything else on the market for E36s. They're available at your dealer, or you can buy them in bulk (~12 filters) from various sponsors for much cheaper. My recommendation here is absolutely to stick with one of the OEM BMW filters listed above.

Oil Types

Your E36 came with dino oil from the factory. Will it hurt to keep using it? No. But, full synthetic oil does have its advantages. Primarily, extended oil change intervals due to its chemical properties. If you're a nerd like many of us and want to know more, there are many great sites that go VERY in-depth about oil types. I won't cover that here. That said, it's generally accepted that once you use synthetic, you shouldn't switch back to dino. Also, it's generally accepted that higher-mileage engines shouldn't switch to synthetic. Again, I'm not going to debate the merits of those here, but if it concerns you, there is plenty of information on both sides of the debate available with a quick search on Google.

Oil Intervals

Another hotly contested subject. The quick recommendations:

Dino Oil: 3000-4000 miles
Full Synthetic: 6500-9000 miles

You'll hear claims that you can go to 8000 miles on dino from some nuts, and sadly even BMW recommends 15-18000 mile intervals for its new cars on synthetic. Personally, I would never dream of driving anywhere close to that long on one change. Keep in mind, if you put HARD MILES on your car, you need to change at or earlier than the lower recommended numbers above.

The HARDEST driving you can do to your car is frequent cold starts, and short drives. That 1.5 mile drive around the corner 10 times a day is the worst thing you could ever do, and you NEED to change the oil regularly if you drive like that. Obviously, tracking/racing/auto-x'ing is also hard driving, and if you do this regularly you should keep short intervals. The easiest type of mileage on your car is a nice constant cruise at 70MPH on the freeway.

Oil Brands

Oh fun. This is a good topic. I won't bother with dino oil here, but lets deal with synthetics, which are becoming increasingly more popular. In fact, I'll narrow it down to 2 that I'll discuss.

Mobil1: To be short, you can't go wrong with Mobil1 full synthetic of the right viscosity. It's a tried and true oil that performs to expectations. If you have any doubts or are not feeling particularly sporting or adventurous, no one will be upset if you use this.

Royal Purple: The drama. Royal Purple makes some pretty outrageous claims, like increasing horsepower and gas mileage. There are some that swear by it, and there are some that claim it will destroy your engine. A simple search should bring up plenty of arguments for and against. I won't pretend that you'll get a huge bump out of RP. I will say that I have used it on several cars for tens of thousands of miles combined, and the engines do seem to run smoother and quieter to the untrained ear on RP than other oils of the same viscosity (including M1 full synthetic). Personally, this is the oil I use, and will continue to use, until someone develops something better.

Oil Viscosities

There is NOT a one-size-fits-all answer for this. However, lucky you! BMW published just what you should use in your owners manual. It is climate specific, and if you live in a region that climate varies from season to season, then you likely will need to use different viscosities for cold and hot seasons. I would recommend using either exactly or just slightly above what BMW recommends for a higher mileage E36. Personally, living in sunny coastal California I was able to run 20W-50 all year round. Chances are, you won't be able to. So, READ THE MANUAL. Don't ask us what viscosity you personally should use, because we are not meteorologists for your region and we don't know your driving style. For most E36s on this board, this chart will give you a pretty good representation of what to use - I am fairly certain the same specs should be used for the M52 family, but not positive - hence why I say to read the manual for your model.

For the M50TUB25 engine, here is the chart BMW printed in their manual:





Hopefully this cleared up some confusion, and gives you a good idea of what we recommend around here. If you have a suggestion or correction, please feel free to post it or let me know and I'll add it. It's late and I may very well have missed something or screwed something up inadvertently.
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  #2  
Old 05-07-2009, 04:32 AM
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Again, good work mate
Should definitely decrease the "what oil should I use" threads, note the word decrease
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:08 AM
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Nice write up.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:26 PM
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just bcz, where's delete?

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  #5  
Old 05-07-2009, 12:25 PM
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Dude, Chad, this was needed, good work !
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Old 05-07-2009, 12:57 PM
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Beautiful Chad... don't let this comment take you away from the CAI sticky you are most definitely working on for the upcoming summer months
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:19 PM
95blacke36 95blacke36 is offline
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Nice thread man
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:11 PM
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cheers mate
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:25 AM
Ronnie526 Ronnie526 is offline
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Quick question .... 99 328I convertible .... E36 .... M52 engine, I believe?

Manual says that for my region (MA), I should be using 15W/40 oil. When I go to purchase it, IF I'm able to find it, the bottle will say on it "Specifically designed for diesel engines". Is that the wrong oil, or is it no problem?

Thank you in advance for any responses!
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie526 View Post
Quick question .... 99 328I convertible .... E36 .... M52 engine, I believe?

Manual says that for my region (MA), I should be using 15W/40 oil. When I go to purchase it, IF I'm able to find it, the bottle will say on it "Specifically designed for diesel engines". Is that the wrong oil, or is it no problem?

Thank you in advance for any responses!
Yes, it is an M52 motor. If it's any consolation, I've used Chevron Delo 15w/40 diesel oil in my race car, change it with regular intervals and have not had a problem with it. Just don't ask me about head gaskets

My previous mechanic says that oil for diesels is actually superior to oil for gas engines because they are not as restricted in their formulations - don't have to put a bunch of crap in - so, by all means, use it.
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:40 AM
Ronnie526 Ronnie526 is offline
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Thanks, ffej .... I've been using 15/40 all along (5-6 years), with no apparent probs, but figured I'd ask, jik.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-15-2009, 07:53 PM
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I use full-syn Shell Rotella 5-40 during most of the year, and I'm currently running Mobil1 15-50 for the next few months of disgustingly hot nasty Atlanta summer.
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Old 05-16-2009, 09:58 AM
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Does anyone on here use Amsoil? I use Full synth euro formula 10w 40 in the summer... Am I right to use this oil?
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Old 05-19-2009, 06:56 PM
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Does anyone on here use Amsoil? I use Full synth euro formula 10w 40 in the summer... Am I right to use this oil?
Yes. I use it in my street car.

I've considered using one of their products (dominator) for the race car, because the claim is that you can go 3-4 track/race weekends on one change. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. But, then I still bleed my brakes with ATE SuperBlue/Typ200 every 2-3 track days instead of using 1 liter of Castrol RBF for the season.
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:41 AM
no_se7en no_se7en is offline
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i have 1998 E36 w/ 167,000 miles. I just changed my oil and put Royal Purple 5W 30. I live in California, in the bay area where climate tend to change in various ways. W/ high mileage in my 328i, should I consider changing oil weight???
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Old 03-08-2010, 07:29 PM
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a lot of people will tell you to get the heaviest oil you can find (20w50 or so) but I think you should be fine unless you plan to autocross or put your car under high stress.
Also make sure your cooling system is up to snuff, that's most common cause of catastrophic failure in these cars.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrAbbs325is View Post
Does anyone on here use Amsoil? I use Full synth euro formula 10w 40 in the summer... Am I right to use this oil?
Yes indeed! The two synthetic oils with the longest history of development are Amsoil (dates to shortly after the Korean war) and Mobil 1. Both are excellent. Redline is another outstanding synthetic (possibly the best, and more expensive than either Amsoil or Mobil 1) which has been around longer than Royal Purple.

I figure that going with one of the oils which has the longest history of research and development makes a lot of sense; I have used Amsoil and Mobil 1 since 1977 with no problems.

Personally, having done a lot of research, my preference is for Amsoil, Mobil 1 and Redline...but Mobil 1 is the least expensive and most readily available, since it is carried by mass marketers like Wally World. I have dissected a number of filters and examined them, and as a result consider Amsoil filters to be the very best, but that's another argument.

I don't understand why people are confused about what weight oil to run. RTFM...or just check the chart that was so kindly included in the original post in this thread. That is really all you need to know. People obsess over motor oil MUCH too much. It's just oil, and all major brand modern motor oils are excellent. Use synthetic, keep it clean, change it at appropriate intervals and don't worry about it.
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Old 01-25-2010, 05:43 PM
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I emailed bimmerworld:
Quote:
Why would a different viscosity be recommended for different climates (like 5w40 for cold and 10w40 for everything else)? I understand that a 5W is necessary for cold starts in cold climates, but I dont understand why a 0W wouldn't be better in all climates since a cold oil is inherently too thick no matter how many viscosity improvers are added and at temperature the viscosity is effectively the same for a 0W40 or 15W40. Also, since most engine wear occurs when the engine is cold, wouldn't it be more beneficial to use 0W30 instead of 0W40 to get better lubrication?
By the way, I have an M52, which is why is used those as examples. And my info came from here if you're interested in spending the time reading.

Thanks for your time,
Terry
and got this:
Quote:
Terry,



To get the best answers to your questions I would suggest calling Red Line Lubricants directly considering their abundant knowledge and decades of experience.



Our local BMW dealer uses 15W40 oil for the M52 engine and 5W30 for the later M52TU engines. These viscosities are approved by BMW and will work fine for most drivers in a majority of climates. BMW has never suggested a 0W-XX oil for any application I am aware. As a Red Line dealer, we consulted with them and their decades of knowledge to give better options for our customers based on their climate and use. These viscosities are what Red Line and BimmerWorld agree are the best viscosities for a given climate and condition.



Oil lubrication properties can be argued and discussed for hours on end and have been for decades, especially on public automotive forums. I'm sure the forum you've provided has some interesting insights to lubrication but we base our knowledge on decades of Red Line oil development and BimmerWorld's accumulated knowledge and racing.



If you adhere to our advised viscosities and oil change intervals your engine will last as long as BMW intended and there will be much less time spent on public forums and more time driving!



Thanks,

Brian Fowler

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So I called Red Line, which i probably should've done earlier, and found out some interesting information. Basically, Dave said that he wouldn't bother running a 0w40 instead of a 10w40 unless he was really concerned with the cold running properties of the oil, not to mention that there is only about an 8% reduction in viscosity at 40C for the 0w compared to the 10w. Plus the 10w40 doesn't have any VIIs, although he said theirs don't have shearing issues so it doesn't make too much of a difference.
I then asked about a 0w30 and he said that would be reasonable, although there might be some sacrifice in protection under high load (I think that might have to do with oil pressure at high engine speeds but I didn't ask.). And since the vast majority of my driving occurs in trips that last less than 30 minutes, I think the 0w30 will probably be my best choice in the future.
He also mentioned dealers putting in 5w30 for cars where the recommendation calls for a 40 with no problems arising. (not exactly in those words)

I have a couple more questions though, so I'll probably call again tomorrow.

And here's the product info sheet: http://www.redlineoil.com/content/fi...uct%20Data.pdf

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Old 05-20-2009, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by E36 Phantom View Post
This guide will help you understand what we recommend for your E36. This guide primarily focuses on the I6 models (M50, M50TU, S50, M52TU, S52), but is a good starting point for those of you with the I4s (M42 & M44). This guide is NOT intended to spoon feed you exactly what you should use for your exact car in your exact location, rather, to provide you with the information necessary to make an intelligent, educated decision based on your knowledge.

The first thing is, ABOVE ALL, read your manual. There is a chart printed with the proper viscosities in it. If you don't have one, there are places online you can download copies for free, or you should buy one. It is invaluable to have, and you absolutely should have a copy for your model of E36. The chart for the E36 M50TUB25 engine is shown later.

Filters

Your E36 uses a paper filter that sits in a canister, which is much more convenient than the metal units. BMW uses 3 suppliers for its OEM filters: Mann, Mahle, and Hengst. It's generally accepted that OEM BMW filters are superior to pretty much everything else on the market for E36s. They're available at your dealer, or you can buy them in bulk (~12 filters) from various sponsors for much cheaper. My recommendation here is absolutely to stick with one of the OEM BMW filters listed above.

Oil Types

Your E36 came with dino oil from the factory. Will it hurt to keep using it? No. But, full synthetic oil does have its advantages. Primarily, extended oil change intervals due to its chemical properties. If you're a nerd like many of us and want to know more, there are many great sites that go VERY in-depth about oil types. I won't cover that here. That said, it's generally accepted that once you use synthetic, you shouldn't switch back to dino. Also, it's generally accepted that higher-mileage engines shouldn't switch to synthetic. Again, I'm not going to debate the merits of those here, but if it concerns you, there is plenty of information on both sides of the debate available with a quick search on Google.

Oil Intervals

Another hotly contested subject. The quick recommendations:

Dino Oil: 3000-4000 miles
Full Synthetic: 6500-9000 miles

You'll hear claims that you can go to 8000 miles on dino from some nuts, and sadly even BMW recommends 15-18000 mile intervals for its new cars on synthetic. Personally, I would never dream of driving anywhere close to that long on one change. Keep in mind, if you put HARD MILES on your car, you need to change at or earlier than the lower recommended numbers above.

The HARDEST driving you can do to your car is frequent cold starts, and short drives. That 1.5 mile drive around the corner 10 times a day is the worst thing you could ever do, and you NEED to change the oil regularly if you drive like that. Obviously, tracking/racing/auto-x'ing is also hard driving, and if you do this regularly you should keep short intervals. The easiest type of mileage on your car is a nice constant cruise at 70MPH on the freeway.

Oil Brands

Oh fun. This is a good topic. I won't bother with dino oil here, but lets deal with synthetics, which are becoming increasingly more popular. In fact, I'll narrow it down to 2 that I'll discuss.

Mobil1: To be short, you can't go wrong with Mobil1 full synthetic of the right viscosity. It's a tried and true oil that performs to expectations. If you have any doubts or are not feeling particularly sporting or adventurous, no one will be upset if you use this.

Royal Purple: The drama. Royal Purple makes some pretty outrageous claims, like increasing horsepower and gas mileage. There are some that swear by it, and there are some that claim it will destroy your engine. A simple search should bring up plenty of arguments for and against. I won't pretend that you'll get a huge bump out of RP. I will say that I have used it on several cars for tens of thousands of miles combined, and the engines do seem to run smoother and quieter to the untrained ear on RP than other oils of the same viscosity (including M1 full synthetic). Personally, this is the oil I use, and will continue to use, until someone develops something better.

Oil Viscosities

There is NOT a one-size-fits-all answer for this. However, lucky you! BMW published just what you should use in your owners manual. It is climate specific, and if you live in a region that climate varies from season to season, then you likely will need to use different viscosities for cold and hot seasons. I would recommend using either exactly or just slightly above what BMW recommends for a higher mileage E36. Personally, living in sunny coastal California I was able to run 20W-50 all year round. Chances are, you won't be able to. So, READ THE MANUAL. Don't ask us what viscosity you personally should use, because we are not meteorologists for your region and we don't know your driving style. For most E36s on this board, this chart will give you a pretty good representation of what to use - I am fairly certain the same specs should be used for the M52 family, but not positive - hence why I say to read the manual for your model.

For the M50TUB25 engine, here is the chart BMW printed in their manual:





Hopefully this cleared up some confusion, and gives you a good idea of what we recommend around here. If you have a suggestion or correction, please feel free to post it or let me know and I'll add it. It's late and I may very well have missed something or screwed something up inadvertently.

Are these cars BMW 328xi shipped from the factory with synthetic or dyno oil what is the difference in the oils and is there any info on the BMW web site..

tks chuck
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by chuckpp View Post
Are these cars BMW 328xi shipped from the factory with synthetic or dyno oil what is the difference in the oils and is there any info on the BMW web site..

tks chuck
Why don't you try actually reading the post I went the work of creating. If you want to know if there's info on the BMW web site, go LOOK at the BMW website.

A 328xi is in not even an E36.
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E36 Phantom View Post
Why don't you try actually reading the post I went the work of creating. If you want to know if there's info on the BMW web site, go LOOK at the BMW website.

A 328xi is in not even an E36.

sorry for asking was just a SIMPLE question
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Old 06-15-2009, 11:34 PM
Cuahtemoc1 Cuahtemoc1 is offline
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mobil 1!!!!!! works great
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:54 PM
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SeanC SeanC is offline
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Apparently OP is making similar claims as RP and not backing them up, again, just like RP. Sorry, I don't care how the engine sounds with RP, I need to see how it shears with mileage and from what specs (unpublished by RP for some reason).

These engines (M50, S50) are predecessors of the more modern M54, S54 and have similar lubrication requirements are the latter, if not the same. If your e36 started their lives with dino, then fine, any BRAND name (Mobil, Castrol) oil will do fine with the correct weight mentioned in your manual. However, if you're using synthetic, my recommendation for synthetics are GC 0W-30, Mobil 1 0W-40 or BMW HP 5W-30. These are also successors of what BMW calls "special oils" in their manuals for e34 and e36 (and some e39). These have the correct HTHS viscosity of minimum 3.5 as required. Many analysis results could be found on these oils on our engines online. Just google it.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SeanC View Post
Apparently OP is making similar claims as RP and not backing them up, again, just like RP. Sorry, I don't care how the engine sounds with RP, I need to see how it shears with mileage and from what specs (unpublished by RP for some reason).

These engines (M50, S50) are predecessors of the more modern M54, S54 and have similar lubrication requirements are the latter, if not the same. If your e36 started their lives with dino, then fine, any BRAND name (Mobil, Castrol) oil will do fine with the correct weight mentioned in your manual. However, if you're using synthetic, my recommendation for synthetics are GC 0W-30, Mobil 1 0W-40 or BMW HP 5W-30. These are also successors of what BMW calls "special oils" in their manuals for e34 and e36 (and some e39). These have the correct HTHS viscosity of minimum 3.5 as required. Many analysis results could be found on these oils on our engines online. Just google it.
OP is only providing anecdotal evidence on brands, not hard facts .

I mentioned RP because it's frequently recommended here and elsewhere. I don't really like the lack of data from them either. I have seen some presumably independent tests rank RP as good stuff so I don't think it's going to create any problems, but as I mentioned in my OP I don't think anyone's gonna get the HP gains that they claim, or anything else. What I do know is that my cars haven't exploded, and they run nicely and lifter tick is audibly reduced on vehicles that have it. Also, it's a proper Grp IV/V synthetic, unlike many of the synthetics sold here. I don't think it's miracle oil, but it works well for me and I see no reason to doubt that it's an excellent product. That's all - nothing more, nothing less.

Also, you're entirely wrong about the M50 having similar lubrication requirement as an M54. They were changed significantly, and different factors have contributed to M54s calling for lighter oils than BMW called for in M50s.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E36 Phantom View Post

Also, you're entirely wrong about the M50 having similar lubrication requirement as an M54. They were changed significantly, and different factors have contributed to M54s calling for lighter oils than BMW called for in M50s.
+1 I run synthetic 15w50 in the summer and synthetic 5/40 in the winter
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