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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 12-30-2011, 09:14 PM
locostbamboo locostbamboo is offline
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adding oil-Z3 3.0i

I have had my car about a month and my oil light has come on a couple of times today when I stop the engine. I read in the manual that I should use 5W-40 or 5W-30. I am thinking I need to add some oil since it isn't time for an oil change. I am not sure what oil was used. If I use synthetic (which I think has been used), am I going to do any harm by using either weight without knowing which is in it currently?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 12-30-2011, 09:30 PM
dkindig dkindig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locostbamboo View Post
I have had my car about a month and my oil light has come on a couple of times today when I stop the engine. I read in the manual that I should use 5W-40 or 5W-30. I am thinking I need to add some oil since it isn't time for an oil change. I am not sure what oil was used. If I use synthetic (which I think has been used), am I going to do any harm by using either weight without knowing which is in it currently?

Thanks!
The BMW recommended oils are:

Castrol Syntec European Formula SAE 0W-30
Mobil 1 SAE 0W-40
Pennzoil Platinum European Formula Ultra SAE 5W-30
Valvoline SynPower SAE 5W-30

I use Castrol 0W-30 because it is more stable than the Mobil 1. The other two oils are not as widely available in The States. Just for the sake of a reality-check, I change my oil every 7500 miles and I generally have to add a quart halfway through my oil-change interval. These motors do burn some oil as a normal part of their operation.

For topping off, the manual states:

"If you are unable to obtain "BMW High Performance Synthetic Oil", you can add small amounts of synthetic oil in between oil changes. Only use oils with the API SH specification or higher."

The major factor is that the oil's HTHS (high-temperature high-shear) specification should be above 3.5 to meet ACEA A3 guidelines. Look for one of two things on the bottle: either ACEA A3 OR BMW LL-01. ACEA A3 ensures that the HTHS numbers are high enough, if it's BMW LL-01 certified, you're okay too.

Remember that aside from BMW's specs, my recommendations are personal preference. Oil questions have a way of bringing out many different opinions. I have stated the bottom line for you in terms of BMW's recommendations. If you want to know more about why I prefer Castrol over Mobil1, etc., feel free to PM me and I will explain.

Last edited by dkindig; 12-30-2011 at 09:42 PM.
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  #3  
Old 01-01-2012, 11:27 AM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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i'd like to know why you prefer castrol to mobil 1. i bet others do, as well, so can you post here? thx
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  #4  
Old 01-01-2012, 06:14 PM
dkindig dkindig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tohbi View Post
i'd like to know why you prefer castrol to mobil 1. i bet others do, as well, so can you post here? thx
Okay, I'll bite...

One of the main technical reasons that I prefer Castrol 0w30 to Mobil1 0w40 is its shear-stability. If you go through the oil analyses on the BITOG site (bobistheoilguy.com) you will find, averaging numbers, that Castrol is more stable than Mobil1 in terms of viscosity.

This does not mean that Mobil1 falls out of spec for our cars! It is, though, why the Mobil1 is recommended at a 40w and the Castrol/BMW oils are recommended at a 30w. The specification for a 30w oil is a viscosity range of 9.3 to 12.5 and for a 40w oil is a viscosity range of 12.5 to 16.3.

In the oil analyses, Mobil1 starts out at 14.3 viscosity, in the middle of the range for a 40w. After 3000-4000 miles it will typically shear down to around 11.7, the upper end of the range for a 30w oil. Castrol does the same, shearing down to around 11.7 as well, but it starts out at 12.2. I feel like I have a more consistent oil in my engine across the life of the oil change.

The other main reason I prefer the Castrol over the Mobil1 is that the engines I have used both Castrol 0w30 and Mobil1 0w40 in have consistently run quieter on the Castrol 0w30, with much lower, if any valvetrain noise.

Now, if I lived in an extremely cold climate, such as upper New England, the upper MidWest or Canada, I would probably use Mobil1 instead as it has a higher viscosity index and can theoretically handle the start-up temps better.

Remember, all I am expounding on is highly subjective, and either oil is a great oil for our cars. As long as you follow BMW's guidelines, you won't have to worry about your oil selection being a problem.
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2012, 07:49 AM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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thx dkindig for posting. many of us stay away from this discussion because of the terminology. for instance, sheer strength and viscosity index.

i had thought sheer strength referred to an oil's ability to stay on a surface without "sheering" off. by this definition, a higher sheer strength when cold would mean less wear on start-up, even if that oil dropped in sheer strength upon becoming hot [ie mobil 1 dropping to the level of castrol].

viscosity index i understood to measure the change in thickness when an oil heats. a high viscosity index indicates less change.

so, by these definitions, the castrol has a higher viscosity index [less change] but less sheer strength.

since, they say, most wear begins on start-up one may want the mobil 1 which begins with greater sheer strength. the reasoning is that more oil stays on the moving parts while the car is parked.

probably, i've got this all wrong and wiser heads will correct me. for myself, i've been using mobil 1 and mobil 1 motorcycle oil in a ratio of 5/2. under the extreme heat conditions of arizona summers, i want high sheer strength and the extra wear factors offered in the motorcycle oil.

i have straight mobil 1 5-20w in my truck and will submit a sample to blackstone labs at 10,000 miles. i'll post the results when i do.
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:24 AM
dkindig dkindig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tohbi View Post
i had thought sheer strength referred to an oil's ability to stay on a surface without "sheering" off. by this definition, a higher sheer strength when cold would mean less wear on start-up, even if that oil dropped in sheer strength upon becoming hot [ie mobil 1 dropping to the level of castrol].
Here is an article on oil shearing:
http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/oilshear.htm

Shearing is actually the tearing of the molecules that make up the oil, particularly the viscosity improver additives. Technically, as long as Castrol and Mobil1 shear down to the same value, the protection is the same. While I look at it as Castrol being a more stable viscosity, it could also be looked at as having the benefit of a higher-viscosity oil during the first half of the oil's life using Mobil1. I look at it as Castrol changing in viscosity approximately 4% halfway through the oil change, Mobil1 changing in viscosity approximately 18%, but both end up as a thick 30w. I believe after the initial shearing that Mobil1 stabilizes and stays fairly consistent.

Anyway, THAT'S why I prefer Castrol to Mobil1.

Again, it's more of a personal preference/gut feeling than a technical advantage. I prefer knowing that the oil I put in will have relatively constant characteristics and the way Mobil1 shears down initially concerns me. No basis in fact for my concern, and that is the crux of the problem when talking about oils. If the main characteristics that the manufacturer requires are met or exceeded over the life of the oil change, then it becomes completely subjective as to selecting an oil. That's why these things always devolve into something akin to a religious discussion...

Don't feel awkward about grasping at terms or concepts. I am QUITE sure that I have managed a very simplistic explanation that doesn't even come close to the whole picture, and is probably wrong in some aspects. All you have to do is hang out on BITOG for a little while and you start seeing the real complexity of this subject.

To the original poster, sorry we kind of got off-topic...

Last edited by dkindig; 01-02-2012 at 10:36 AM.
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  #7  
Old 01-05-2012, 08:37 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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Bottom line is, if you need to top the oil, any name brand synthetic is fine. 0W to 10W for the first number and -30 to -50 for the second number will work.

If you are really worried, just change the oil. Especially if you have no idea when it was last changed.

And while there are those who will argue angels dancing on the head of a pin, any of the top brands in a full synthetic oil is more than adequate for use. I use Mobil 1 or Castrol (which included BMW oil) in all my vehicles and have for a lot of years. And this includes my race car.
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  #8  
Old 01-06-2012, 04:26 PM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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so, as per the original post, is the oil light still coming on? if so, it could be more than an oil problem. best case, the rpm may be too low at idle. worse is a bad oil pump. worser could be bottom end bearings.

let us know how you solve the issue.
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  #9  
Old 01-06-2012, 05:37 PM
locostbamboo locostbamboo is offline
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I added some of the Valvoline SynPower SAE 5W-30 as they had it at my local parts store. 1/2 quart and no more light. The owners manual says it is within specs to burn some oil. i think less than a quart per 1000 miles is within specs. Is that what folks have experienced?

Thanks for all the replies. This forum has been great!
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  #10  
Old 01-06-2012, 07:39 PM
dkindig dkindig is offline
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My car needs about a quart halfway through my oil change interval of 7500 miles...

ETA: My oil light starts flickering when I get about a quart low as well.

Last edited by dkindig; 01-07-2012 at 11:55 AM.
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  #11  
Old 01-07-2012, 09:42 AM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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seems to me a half-quart low shouldn't make the oil pressure light come on.
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  #12  
Old 01-07-2012, 10:48 AM
locostbamboo locostbamboo is offline
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I probably should have added a full quart.
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  #13  
Old 01-08-2012, 11:54 AM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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being a quart low in a seven quart sump, shouldn't drop your oil pressure. not sure at what pressure the oil pressure light comes on but i suspect it's below ten lbs.

as long as the oil pump pickup is submerged the engine should have oil pressure if the rpm isn't too low. what is your idle speed?
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  #14  
Old 01-13-2012, 03:07 PM
locostbamboo locostbamboo is offline
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adding oil

Quote:
Originally Posted by tohbi View Post
being a quart low in a seven quart sump, shouldn't drop your oil pressure. not sure at what pressure the oil pressure light comes on but i suspect it's below ten lbs.

as long as the oil pump pickup is submerged the engine should have oil pressure if the rpm isn't too low. what is your idle speed?
Idle speed about 7 to 800. The light only came on twice briefly when shutting off engine. I looked in the owners manual and it said this indicated needing to top off the oil. It has not come back on since then.

Thanks!

Rob in Oregon
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  #15  
Old 01-13-2012, 06:09 PM
ronpolley ronpolley is offline
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low oil light

My Z3 2001 3.0 does the same at 3/4 qt low.

I look at it as a nice feature since my wife drives the car.
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  #16  
Old 01-16-2012, 12:33 PM
wifesauto wifesauto is online now
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do these cars have a dip stick ?
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  #17  
Old 01-16-2012, 12:42 PM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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yes, they have a dipstick.

not to beat a dead horse, i'm confused about this "oil pressure" light. being a bit low in the oil sump shouldn't affect oil pressure. i'm wondering if bmw also has a kind of oil level switch embedded in the pressure switch?

could a loose dipstick cause the light to come one?
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  #18  
Old 01-16-2012, 12:58 PM
wifesauto wifesauto is online now
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i am not too clear on the whole post. the light comes on when he shuts it off ? exactly what light is coming on psi ? oil level ? change now? maybe they should do the basic..........CHECK THE OIL LEVEL WITH THE DIP STICK AND ADD IF NEEDED. imo. for the loose dip stick question....i doubt it although it could make idle unstable and lower but..........
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:56 PM
locostbamboo locostbamboo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wifesauto View Post
i am not too clear on the whole post. the light comes on when he shuts it off ? exactly what light is coming on psi ? oil level ? change now? maybe they should do the basic..........CHECK THE OIL LEVEL WITH THE DIP STICK AND ADD IF NEEDED. imo. for the loose dip stick question....i doubt it although it could make idle unstable and lower but..........
I did check the oil level. I was asking about oil as I am new to this car. The owners manual said that when the oil light comes on and goes off like it did, that it needs to be topped off. I will quote what the owners manual said when I get a chance. I appreciate the responses. They were helpful.
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:45 AM
wifesauto wifesauto is online now
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you and your car will be much happier if you check the oil level before the light comes on. if the level is correct and the light still comes on get the car to a shop. the dash lights have a slang term
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  #21  
Old 01-17-2012, 05:27 AM
locostbamboo locostbamboo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wifesauto View Post
you and your car will be much happier if you check the oil level before the light comes on. if the level is correct and the light still comes on get the car to a shop. the dash lights have a slang term
You are right. Thanks again for being so helpful.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:06 PM
Droptop85 Droptop85 is offline
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I've. Been doing some oil research as my car is due so I called my friend that works at a BMW dealer cause he uses his discount for me. He said they don't. Carry 0-30. They use 5w-30 and 10w-60 for m's. So now I don't know what to get.. Was gonna buy castrol 0-30
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:27 PM
Droptop85 Droptop85 is offline
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Also. Would you recommend using the oem oil filter or something on the lines of a k&n or wic? Ive heard k&ns don't filter that well.
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  #24  
Old 02-07-2012, 04:50 AM
dkindig dkindig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Droptop85 View Post
I've. Been doing some oil research as my car is due so I called my friend that works at a BMW dealer cause he uses his discount for me. He said they don't. Carry 0-30. They use 5w-30 and 10w-60 for m's. So now I don't know what to get.. Was gonna buy castrol 0-30
Of course they use 5w-30. That's the BMW-branded oil for these cars and they are a dealer. The Castrol 0w-30 and the Mobil1 0w-40 are perfectly acceptable substitutes, per BMW. Any of these are fine. The BMW dealer won't carry the other oils.
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  #25  
Old 02-07-2012, 05:47 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Droptop85 View Post
I've. Been doing some oil research as my car is due so I called my friend that works at a BMW dealer cause he uses his discount for me. He said they don't. Carry 0-30. They use 5w-30 and 10w-60 for m's. So now I don't know what to get.. Was gonna buy castrol 0-30
Here's BMWUSA official word - http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Conte...ngineOils.aspx

From the dealer, you want BMW synthetic 5-30.

I always use OE (bought from a dealer, in person or online) oil filters. Occasionally I read about aftermarket oil filters that are 1/16 inch too long causing oil leaks. I don't need that headache.

Plus how do I know an aftermarket filter has the same level of filtration as the stock filter? I've read that even some of the OEM filters don't filter as well as the stock filter. Another worry I don't need.

I want my engine to last as long as possible. Until someone provides the data showing their oil filter out performs the stock filter, I'll gladly pay whatever the extra cost is for BMW filters.
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