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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-25-2005, 09:17 AM
jerrykdc jerrykdc is offline
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Road & Track on oil changes

In the new R & T the question is raised by a reader of whether you should change your oil more frequently than the recommended 15K with the synthetic oil used in BMWs. The response was that essentially you are wasting your money as synthetics do not break down like regular oil and the filters are also designed to last for 15K. They go on to say that engine failure is rarely the cause of why people get rid of their cars or the source of major expense with a car. They also note that the primary cause of premature engine failure is driving the car hard when it is cold and not allowing the oil to fully circulate before running at high RPMs.

I think in some respects BMW is putting its money where its mouth is in this regard as they are offering the maintenance and warranty to 100K. Other companies are also offering warranties to 100K and my Honda Pilot extended warranty to 6 YRS 100K cost me $1100 so they are not figuring that I will need an engine rebuild before that time.

My thought is that perhaps since we love our cars so much we are going a bit too far in some instances and we have to recognize that part of a well made car is that it is going to last. I think that people will eventually realize that BMW is a great car and you can pay the same price as a Mercedes and not have any service or maintenance costs.
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  #2  
Old 01-25-2005, 09:31 AM
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Plaz Plaz is offline
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Maybe it is a waste of money to do more periodic oil/filter changes.

But it's really not a LOT of money, and as long as there is debate on the subject, I figure more periodic oil/filter changes can't hurt. I'd rather err on the side of caution.



And besides, I wouldn't trust R&T to advise me on this.
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  #3  
Old 01-25-2005, 09:46 AM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaz
Maybe it is a waste of money to do more periodic oil/filter changes.

But it's really not a LOT of money, and as long as there is debate on the subject, I figure more periodic oil/filter changes can't hurt. I'd rather err on the side of caution.



And besides, I wouldn't trust R&T to advise me on this.
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  #4  
Old 01-25-2005, 10:08 AM
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dallasfan824 dallasfan824 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaz
Maybe it is a waste of money to do more periodic oil/filter changes.

But it's really not a LOT of money, and as long as there is debate on the subject, I figure more periodic oil/filter changes can't hurt. I'd rather err on the side of caution.



And besides, I wouldn't trust R&T to advise me on this.
I agree that it is more for piece of mind than anything else. I know conventional oil lasts far longer than the 3,000 miles suggested. I have asked around and found the same to be true with the BMW synth oil. Those I asked said it was good until 15K, but if I felt better to change it earlier. Does it hurt? Nope. Is it necessary. I don't think so.
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:31 AM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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If it makes one feel better/safer/etc/etc/etc to chanage the oil AND FILTER more frequently than the manufacturer recommends, then that is what you should do, just don't got to absurd extremes.

I think that the oil is probably good for something close to the 15K under "normal" driving conditions, but what is "normal" and how often are we driving that way? I worry more about the filter breaking down and letting all that grit circulate through the engine. The first round of BMW long life filters were known to not last a full 15K... who would've paid for the reduction in engine life because of that??????? Certainly not BMW

Of course, you shouldn't listen to anyone about how (in)frequently to do it, but take samples of your oil every now and then and have them analyzed and then go by that to figure out the frequency of oil changes.
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  #6  
Old 01-25-2005, 10:36 AM
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Plaz Plaz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operknockity
take samples of your oil every now and then and have them analyzed
Honestly, I think only the most devout geeky gearheads do the Blackstone thing for their personal daily driver. Before reading this board, I'd never heard of anyone sending their used motor oil to be analyzed. I mean really, that's pretty over-the-top. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2005, 12:55 PM
my3rdbimmer my3rdbimmer is offline
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full synthetic mobil 1 oil change (5w-30) 30$ at WALMART

worth every penny for me to have done every 5000 miles.. probably the reason i got 270,000 miles out of my 535is before i sold it.. i still see it around.. has well over 300,000 on it now.
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2005, 01:50 PM
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SergioK SergioK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaz
Honestly, I think only the most devout geeky gearheads do the Blackstone thing for their personal daily driver. Before reading this board, I'd never heard of anyone sending their used motor oil to be analyzed. I mean really, that's pretty over-the-top. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)
I honestly don't fall into that category (I don't think ) yet send my oil to Blackstone at every oil change. (Used to get a TBN number every time, now I don't need it)

I had heard about these labs, before reading it on this board, from friends that are pilots/airplane owners. See, you can't just pull over and stop the engine in an airplane. Besides pulling plugs and checking their condition, oil is analyzed as well.

As for changing oil before the recommended 15k interval, unless you have it analyzed and know it's condition, then you are simply shooting in the dark and have no clue if the oil is still of use or not.

That said, with my car with my driving habits, oil can go up to a max of about 8k miles before it's basically useless.
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2005, 10:32 AM
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I would guess that the cooling system (pump/fan/radiator/fluid) is the cause of more engine failures than how often you change the oil.

Not to mention a engine failure is the least of your worries when owning a car.
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2005, 09:34 AM
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cwsqbm cwsqbm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrykdc
I think in some respects BMW is putting its money where its mouth is in this regard as they are offering the maintenance and warranty to 100K. Other companies are also offering warranties to 100K and my Honda Pilot extended warranty to 6 YRS 100K cost me $1100 so they are not figuring that I will need an engine rebuild before that time.
Warranties are just like insurance. Let me give an example. Lets say 10% (1 of ten) of the cars, following manufactuer's recommendations, will need a new $5000 engine after 100k, and they charge $1000 per car for the warranty. On average, they collect $10k (ten cars worth) for every $5k engine. Hence, they make $5k, and the deal makes sense to them.

However, would you do something to your car if it had a 10% chance of not making it to 100k? I view oil changes (I plan to do my BMW at 7500 mile intervals or six month which ever comes first) as cheap insurance as oil degradation. Just because the oil passes spec at 15k miles doesn't mean its as good as it could be.
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  #11  
Old 01-25-2005, 09:43 AM
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xspeedy xspeedy is offline
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I'll agree that major engine failure is rarely the reason we get rid of a car. Heck, generally when we send a car to the junk pile in the sky it is because of an accident or because swapping out the alternator costs more than the car is worth.

That's why these people that change their oil very frequently are kidding themselves when they think it will mean a more reliable car. While the engine may benefit some, the internals are incredibly durable. Oil changes don't help prevent the 99.9% of problems we see, and that happen to be unrelated to engine internals.

Last edited by xspeedy; 01-25-2005 at 09:46 AM.
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  #12  
Old 01-25-2005, 09:51 AM
jerrykdc jerrykdc is offline
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Here is the other side of that

If R&T is correct that engine failure is not a result of engine oil breakdown rather it is primarily caused by poor cold engine driving habits, then the 10% or 5% engine failure which could occur prematurely can be avoided by following their recommendation by driving conservatively until the engine is at operating temperature, so there is no need for the extended warranty, at least so far as engine failure is concerned. There are many other parts of the car which can go bad prematurely and make the warranty worthwhile, but engine failure may not be a justification for spending the money. The extended warranty for my car is around $2000, and if we put the engine aside, what is the likelihood of incurring $2000 in expenses for other items needing repair? I don't know the answer to the question but I don't believe it is obvious.
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