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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 03-18-2008, 07:39 PM
arlian arlian is offline
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2007 X3 Oil Change Interval - Oil Analysis

I bought a new 2007 X3 about a year ago. As time went on, I was concerned as most owners are that the oil change interval was excessive. Eventually, at 18,400 miles, the car agreed with me that it was time to change the oil. As a former aviation mechanic, and as an engineer, I was familiar with oil analysis. I sought a lab online and determined that I would have an oil analysis performed on the original (18,400 mile) oil and on the new oil after some wear-in following the change. Since there were 2 samples, I have 2 reports. The first report is for the original oil (and contains comments for the original sample) and the second report includes the original data, but comments only address the second sample. The reports are attached as one PDF file for your viewing. The first oil analysis indicates abnormal conditions due to a reading of 50 PPM of aluminum. This is normally associated with piston wear. After follow-up with the lab, the technician overlooked the fact that this was the original oil. That being said, tech support promptly said that this is due to the break-in of the engine and that it is normal for the first oil change. For physical properties, the oil is checked at 100 degrees C. Note that the viscosity had changed from the (presumably) 30 weight to 40. I say presumably because I assume 5w30 is used at the factory, but have no proof. If for some reason the oil at the factory is of the 40 version, then there is no significant change. When I corresponded with tech support regarding the aluminum content and my thoughts of intermediate oil changes, his response was, "The aluminum reading of 50 on the first sample is indeed associated with break-in and is stabilizing, as the second sample showed. This should have been taken into account as the reported mileage data was "obvious". It is better for the process to keep the oil and filter fresh during the break-in period to reduce any abrasion from the wear-in metals released, so I agree with the intermediate change."

My conclusion is that the oil is definitely worn by the time the car tells you that it needs service. Also, based on the recommendations from the lab, I will perform intermediate oil changes. In hindsight, knowing what I know now, I would have performed a couple intermediate changes prior to the first 'official' change.

Note the second oil sample was taken approximately 1000 miles after the oil change at the dealer.

Lastly, I am providing this information to assist others baffled by the 15K-20K oil change intervals. If this helps, I am happy my efforts assisted you. If you disagree, it's your car, I do not care to debate or argue the point.
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File Type: pdf Oil Analysis Results.pdf (176.1 KB, 877 views)
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  #2  
Old 03-18-2008, 07:48 PM
Linh Linh is offline
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Thanks very informative. Three questions (Asking because I really don't know much of cars at all)

1. How often should oil be changed? Every 5k?
2. Do you use the same oil for the intermediate oil change?
3. What type of oil do you use?

My car is almost out of warranty so going to find a mech that can do bmw oil change.
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  #3  
Old 03-18-2008, 07:56 PM
arlian arlian is offline
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I plan to use the factory recommended oil. Since this all happened recently, I haven't done the oil change yet. If necessary, I will have the dealer do it. For the samples, I discovered where the oil drain is. Under the car, there are trim panels with access covers. Using a small flat screwdriver, remove the small access cover near the front left side (just to the right of the left front wheel) (left side as you're sitting in the car). The cover is approximately 3" x 3 or 4". The access cover has a small spring clip that will release when compressed with a flat screwdriver. A 17mm socket is required to remove the oil drain plug. As for the intermediate changes, I may consider just an oil change and leave the filter up to the dealer for the 'official' change. I believe the factory oil is Castrol Synthetic 5w30, but you should confirm that with your service center or manual. The oil fill cap on the engine reads 'Castrol'.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:32 PM
dspeed dspeed is offline
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Recommended oil

Thanks for sharing this information. I changed mine early (2500 mi) but didn't have a way to take a clean sample for analysis. From the crud I saw, was glad I did the change. Still have a little oil sample - may filter it out and use my Intel USB microscope for a photo op .

FWIW, BMW rather vaguely recommends a 5W40 or 5W30 full synthetic motor oil. And they recommend Castrol by name, but nothing specific. Word on the street is that the factory oil is Agip. A lot of talk has the VANOS wanting a thin oil (0W?) - wish I knew more. Will have to hang more at the BMWCCA site

You might want to look at the specs for the German Castrol 0W30 that they're selling at AutoZone these days. I used to be real 'by the book' on oil viscosities, but the more I read on the subject, the more subjective the numbers are, in reality. A lot on this on BITOG site.

Filter elements are not common in the retail stores, but quality Mann units are only $10 on the net. You'll need the special wrench to gracefully remove the filter housing, but its really convenient to have it up top. Not real sure how this translates to 'time-to-pressure' on each startup to fill the filter cavity w/o a relief valve, but life's too short to obsess.

Based on my past experience and that of others, I think that a nominal 7500 mile interval is reasonable for a non-stressed engine with a quality oil of the correct grade and filter changes.

I cannot see how BMW engineers can say 15,000 miles on a change. (Comeon guys - we *know* its the freakin' accountants talking.) A sad day when a motor company plays this game.

Now, these findings apply to the other lubricants as well; 'lifetime fill' is a fantasy. Anybody have the specs (and capacities) for the other lubricated parts (manual transmission, xdrive, f and r differentials)? I'm thinking Redline, but not ready to pull the string quite yet at 3500 miles.

Hope this helps.

Dave

Last edited by dspeed; 03-18-2008 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 03-18-2008, 08:38 PM
smellthebeans smellthebeans is offline
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I replaced mine mid cycle on the X3 at about every 7-9k miles...I use mobile 1 5W30

For the E90 (N52) I use Royal Purple 5W30 and change at a more frequent interval. The 330i sees much more spirited driving (autocross & occasional schools).
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2008, 05:59 AM
arlian arlian is offline
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I agree with dspeed on the 7500 mile interval.

Regarding the comment on other lubricants, one main difference is blowby and the heat factor. Using good judgement, I would think the lubricants in other areas should last many times longer without the harsh environment of the engine as a factor.

One of the biggest factors in lubrication is viscosity. With prolonged oil use, the viscosity changes (get's thicker). The engines we are talking about have very tight tolerances and my concern isn't so much the brand of oil as long as it's a reputable brand, but that you stay on top of keeping fresh oil in the engine so it can lubricate properly at the recommended viscosity. This will have an impact on how much life you get out of the engine.

I suspect the prolonged oil change intervals BMW recommends (because they're paying for oil changes) will not do grave damage, but will contribute to an overall shorter life span on the engine than if they were changed at, say, 7500. Either way, it's out of the warranty period and they don't care about it (or the owner) at that point.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:02 AM
rs6654 rs6654 is offline
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Thank you for taking the time to post your results. They confirm what I suspected.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:21 AM
noego noego is offline
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"Either way, it's out of the warranty period and they don't care about it (or the owner) at that point."

this was interesting until you added the comment above. an entirely subjective conclusion based on nothing more than...what exactly?

why would BMW continue to use the same oil change interval on CPO vehicles if it is based on such cynicism?
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:57 AM
rs6654 rs6654 is offline
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I have to agree.... If you're out of warranty they only care if you brought your wallet. It's not personal it's just business.

I think any engine will run just fine to 100k and beyond with 15k oil change interval but I wouldn't want one as a long term keeper.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:16 AM
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Debates about frequency of oil changes are rampant on E90post.com...

It basically comes down to how you view the maintenance of your car and whether you lease or own. For leasees, they usually follow BMW's intervals because scheduled maintenance is included. For owner's, like myself, we know that keeping original oil in your crankcase for 15K miles is a no-no. I changed mine @ ~2K. After that, it varies between 5-15K miles between changes and depends on how you use your vehicle.

Changing your own oil is one of the easiest DIY's you can perform, especially since the oil filter is on top of the engine. As long as the oil you use is the proper weight and meets either BMW LL-01 or LL-04 requirements, you should be OK. Mobil 1 falls into this category and certain Vavoline oils were just certified for use in BMW engines.

Check out page 2 of this pdf:
http://www.valvoline.com/products/Synpower.pdf
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  #11  
Old 03-19-2008, 07:26 AM
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Real data!!!! Thank you!

I'd agree from your analysis that 18,400 miles is too long for the first oil change. 1,000 miles is clearly too soon. When do you plan to do your next oil change?


Factory fill could easily be 5W-40. The owners manual specs either 5W-30 or 5W-40. If the factory fill was 5W-40, the oil held up well. The TBN is still good. The issues are contaminates. I suspect once the engine is broken in, you really could go 15,000 miles or 1 year without problems. Need to repeat the UOA again to be sure.



In the first sample, iron was a bit on the high side too but not as bad as the AL. Break in wear ??


Fuel dilution on both samples is on the high side too. I got <.5% on the MX-5. Normal should be < 2%. How long was the engine run before each sample?

If the car was well warmed up, this is a concern but there really isn't anything you can do. Even with the 1000 mile sample, you've got 2.5% fuel.




Maybe I'll do the X3 soon. We are coming up on 6 months. Have to buy the oil filter cap tool.




Have you thought about sending your oil analysis off to BMW? I'd like to hear what they have to say about this.
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Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 03-19-2008 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 03-19-2008, 08:44 AM
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I change the oil every 7,5k miles with the German Castrol 0W-30. The filter for sure doesn't last 15k miles.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:00 AM
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I wonder how much of the Al was from the block and not the pistons.


Quite possible a lot of the aluminum was just left over from manufacturing and not piston wear at all.

I'm more are more tempted to pull an oil sample and send it off.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:21 AM
KruelHouse KruelHouse is offline
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Do any of you guys perform engine flushes prior to each oil change or just intermittently?... Just got my x3, and it will be due for an oil change in 1600 miles (which will probably be about 3mos for me).
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:36 AM
rs6654 rs6654 is offline
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I never flush my engine. I think it's unwise to wash away the remaining oil that's on everything (especially bearings). It takes a few seconds for the system to fill the filter and pressurized after it's changed and I don't want nothing but solvent on everything while waiting for the new oil.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linh View Post
Thanks very informative. Three questions (Asking because I really don't know much of cars at all)

1. How often should oil be changed? Every 5k?
2. Do you use the same oil for the intermediate oil change?
3. What type of oil do you use?

My car is almost out of warranty so going to find a mech that can do bmw oil change.

No one else answered so...

5,000 miles is likely much sooner than is needed. Synthetic oils last a long time. You should do used oil analysis to determine the correct interval for your X3.


Anytime you put oil in your X3, you should use an oil that meets BMW LL-01 or LL-04.

I'm aware of the following oils that meet the standards:


BMW branded 5W-30 and 5W-40 Synthetic sold at the dealers. (Made by Castrol for BMW. )
Castrol Syntec 0W-30. Also called GC or German Castrol.
Mobil 1 0W-40
Valvoline Synpower MST 5W-30


Other grades of Mobil 1, Castrol Syntec and the Valvoline Synpower don't meet the BMW standard.
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Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 03-19-2008 at 10:12 AM.
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  #17  
Old 03-19-2008, 10:38 AM
arlian arlian is offline
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Thanks to all for comments and additional information.

I noticed some differences in the chemicals between the samples. However, I don't know what the starting values were for the oils. I'm sure not all of the values would be 0 PPM. for example, calcium is associated with detergents, additives and acid neutralizers (from Analysts, Inc. website) So, since the lab didn't mention any other chemicals/elements, I am going on the assumption they were within normal ranges.

One comment, someone mentioned residual aluminum from the factory. From my experience, these deposits are larger in nature from machining operations, and normally settle out or get trapped in the filter. In my opinion, those wouldn't likely contribute to the content as the smaller particles (from wear) are suspended in the oil and are picked up when the sample is burned during the analysis.

Someone else commented on my cynicism. I did not mean to offend anyone by my comment. However, that comment was based on my current employment in a global automotive organization (not one of the big 3) with more than 100,000 employees worldwide. I assure you, the bottom line is the main focus and whether or not the vehicle gives the owner 300,000 miles is not on the list. That's fact!

Overall, great discussion. Thanks again for the comments.
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:13 PM
2007x3owner 2007x3owner is offline
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Intervals

Coming from past experiences, I would NEVER trust what a dealer says. They are not looking out for your best interest at all. Dealers are in business TO MAKE MONEY. Castrol is not designed to last such long intervals. The thing is that it will last just long enough to get past warranty.

I use nothing but Amsoil in all of my cars now. 18,000 miles is a joke for Amsoil. I use the 0W30 and it runs perfect. The last oil change I did was well over 30,000 miles and the car ran perfect. When I drained the oil there was no sludge at all. I had the oil analyzed and the only thing that went down was the TBN level. All of the other levels were excellent. FILTERING IS THE KEY HERE.

The problem everybody is having is that they are doing extended drains on oil sold by a dealer NOT DESIGNED for extended drains.

Amsoil makes some of the best oil in the world. Period. They have all of the ASTM done at private labs to show that they are better than anyone else, including Castrol, Mobil 1, Red Line, Royal Purple, Havoline and anyone else you will find.

They were also the first company in the US to make synthetic oil for cars, hence the trademark, "First in Synthetics".

I contacted Amsoil and spoke with one of the head marketing guys. I said that being that this stuff is so great, why is it not a factory fill instead of Mobil 1 and Castrol?

One of the reasons is that Mobil 1 and Castrol are much bigger companies than Amsoil. He explained to me that if they supplied every dealership in the country, it would tax their resources. Their process for making their oil is very meticulous. It has to be since they guarantee their oils to last anywhere between 7,500 and 35,000 miles.

Amsoil is sold via mail order. That's why you don't find it at Wal-mart, Auto Zone or Discount Auto. When I first heard of it, I went all over town looking for it. They have a catalog ordering system. Click the Amsoil link I put above and you'll see that there's a link for them to send you a free catalog.

They have a lot of the ASTM results proudly displayed on many of the pages in the catalog. They pay a 3rd party company big money to have their oil and many popular oils analyzed and tested on Industry Standard ASTM machines.

There's a lot more to it than just putting oil in your crankcase and driving 35,000 miles. Using that oil, you're supposed to change the oil filter several times and top off a small bit. Amsoil sells an EAO filter that lasts up to 1 year or 25,000 miles. It does not fit our BMW's since we have the cartridge filters. I would recommend changing the filter every 10,000 miles while leaving the 0W30 in for the entire year.

Also the "0" in the front doesn't mean it's thin. That is the "WINTER" number. It just means it's capable of going -60F below 0 while the 5W30 has similar protection and can go down to -58F below 0. Their 10W30 oil can also go -58F below 0. So either one of these oils would work. For most people, I would say the Amsoil 10W30 would work just fine.

Amsoil has a membership where they can give you a wholesale discount. They work similar to Costco or Sam's Club. If you don't do the membership thing, then all of the prices are full retail. It's $10 bucks for every 6 months. I order enough for a while and leave a few cases of oil and filters sitting on the shelf. I know they usually have the BMW oil filters at a pretty decent price. Something like an oil filter for a 2003 Z3 sells for $9.55 with the membership. I found an Amsoil filter p/n for the 2007 X3 but when I try to get a price, it doesn't display. I don't want to get one from BMW. I hate going to the dealership unless I absolutely have to. Every time I walk in there it costs a fortune to do anything.

As of this writing the 0W30 that lasts up to 1 year or 35,000 miles is $7.75/qt. with the membership. That's not bad at all.

The 4-ball wear tests shows that the Amsoil 0W30 has a wear scar of 0.406
The Castrol Syntec 0W30 shows a much higher wear scar of 0.663
Havoline 5W30 had a wear scar of 0.736
Quaker State Full Synthetic had a wear scar of 0.688
And one of the worst testing ones...
Mobil 1 Extended exceeded >1.00mm. (Stay away from that!)

Good luck! Go to www.supportamericanoil.com and you should find a catalog link there.

FYI- That is not my web site. I am just a customer who is very picky about what I put in a vehicle that exceeds $40,000 and I have done a TON of research as you can see from my post.
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2007x3owner View Post
Coming from past experiences, I would NEVER trust what a dealer says. They are not looking out for your best interest at all. Dealers are in business TO MAKE MONEY. Castrol is not designed to last such long intervals. The thing is that it will last just long enough to get past warranty.

FWIW, the yearly or when the counter gets to zero OCI are set by BMW AG in Germany, not the dealers.

You can agree or not with the manufacturer recommendations, but that is something else.


At the other end of the spectrum are places like Jiffy lube doing the hard sell on 3K oil changes.


The problems with Arlans's oil were contaminates -- Al, Fe and fuel being the ones that I noticed. It looks to me if the factory fill German Castrol was still clean, it would be fine. The factory fill is not the same as Castrol Syntec sold in the US.


I'd like to see UOA's for X3's after 7,500 or 10,000 miles. A post break-in 7,500 UOA would be most helpful. Our X3 just turned 3,000 miles. I'm not sure if sending off a sample from our car would be useful.
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Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 03-21-2008 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:44 PM
2007x3owner 2007x3owner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew*Debbie View Post
The problems with Arlans's oil were contaminates -- Al, Fe and fuel being the ones that I noticed. It looks to me if the factory fill German Castrol was still clean, it would be fine. The factory fill is not the same as Castrol Syntec sold in the US.


I'd like to see UOA's for X3's after 7,500 or 10,000 miles. A post break-in 7,500 UOA would be most helpful. Our X3 just turned 3,000 miles. I'm not sure if sending off a sample from our car would be useful.

Amsoil has superior detergents that stop the contaminates. The oil doesn't break down like other oils. I've used this oil in other cars and put anywhere between 22,000 and 34,000 miles on the same oil before draining it and had zero problems. Comparing Amsoil to other oils is like comparing apples and oranges. These people are really in a league of their own when it comes to superior oil quality.

As of right now, I have 8,000 miles on the Amsoil. I put it in at 3,000 miles to let the vehicle break-in first. I have a kit here that I will have to sample the oil analysis and send it back to the lab.

What I'm talking about is nothing new. These long-term oil changes have been going on dating back to 1972 with the same company. I would think if people were having lots of problems, the company would have gotten a bad reputation for ruining engines long ago and went out of business.

Oil analysis is the key. Spending $20 have my oil analyzed by a lab is not a problem.

I want to change the fluids in the differentials and transfer case. Has anyone done this yet on an X3? I am guessing it should be 75W90 for the front and rear. What about the transfer case? Each vehicle is different. I've seen some transfer cases requiring regular oil while others requiring transmission fluid or gear lube.

My goals are to keep this thing running as trouble-free as possible and to get superior gas mileage. I was able to get bump the gas mileage up just over 2 MPG when putting the 0W30 engine oil in. I want to see if I can get it to go up more by doing the transmission, transfer case and differentials. I had great success doing this with other vehicles. Gas here is over $3.60/gallon now for the X3. I need to get more miles per tank.
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Old 03-21-2008, 05:04 PM
noego noego is offline
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trucking companies have run Amsoil for over 100k miles in their engines before changing...so i've heard.
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Old 03-21-2008, 05:13 PM
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Simple formula. Change every 10k. Easy to remember and any Group III Group IV synthetic will easily make this mileage with room to spare. No special filters needed, no need for expensive Amsoil, and no need for oil analysis kits at 20-30 bucks a pop.
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Old 03-21-2008, 06:25 PM
nyccarguy nyccarguy is offline
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We lease our X3 and go by the factory recommended intervals. If We were ever to own a BMW I'd change much more frequently.
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Old 03-21-2008, 06:43 PM
2007x3owner 2007x3owner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobert View Post
Simple formula. Change every 10k. Easy to remember and any Group III Group IV synthetic will easily make this mileage with room to spare. No special filters needed, no need for expensive Amsoil, and no need for oil analysis kits at 20-30 bucks a pop.
Costs more money to do that.

What's wrong with spending $50-60 for an oil change you can drive up to 25,000 miles?

That's up to 8x the regular interval. Do the math. Look at the person who does a 3,000 mile oil change and does 33 oil changes every 100,000 miles of driving. You can accomplish the same thing with Amsoil with 4 oil changes. And that's for their 25,000 mile oil. I'm using the 0W30 oil which is a 35,000 mile oil! That's up to 11 oil changes!!

Amsoil is not expensive at all. Compared to what I used to do before, I am saving an absolute fortune, not to mention the fuel I am saving. Anyone saying that Amsoil is expensive is sadly misinformed and mistaken.

Going 100,000 miles is nothing. Check out this:

409,000 miles on the same oil.

You don't need to keep doing oil analysis to use their oil unless you want to do what the guy did going 409,000 miles on the same oil. I only did it out of curiosity.

Plus what does a person who owns a BMW say that anything is expensive for? What do you think a BMW is? CHEAP!? That's sort of hypocracy there. Buy one of the most expensive cars on the road and then try to put the cheapest oil you can find. Yeah, right. NO THANKS.
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Old 03-21-2008, 06:46 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 23
Mein Auto: 2007 BMW X3
Quote:
Originally Posted by nyccarguy View Post
We lease our X3 and go by the factory recommended intervals. If We were ever to own a BMW I'd change much more frequently.
As long as the oil changes are free, do it that way. I'm not leasing. If I were, I would still use Amsoil. Why use an oil that's not going to give you better gas mileage? The increase in fuel economy makes Amsoil free for every car I ever use it in.

I wish I could get paid for telling you people about this instead of giving out this advice for free. Amsoil has been a secret for many business owners for years, especially with the trucking companies. It helps people underbid the competition since their costs are lower by using Amsoil.
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