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  #1  
Old 04-03-2005, 07:51 PM
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LOW OIL LEVEL warning

This evening I got a low oil level warning on the insturment cluster display.

The first time it did it was in October 2004 after a 200 mile drive.
Thinking I was low on oil I did a complete oil change in October 2004.

Today, I got the same low oil level warning again, and it's only been about 3,000 miles since the last oil change (yes, during the winter the car is driven only 3 miles a day)

Car is a 2001 530i with 41,000 on the odometer...

Do these engines have a oil burning problem?
I don't see a puff of smoke....
I don't see a drop of oil on the garage floor.

What do you guys think?

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 04-03-2005, 07:57 PM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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If your oil level is ok and there are no wet spots on the garage floor, it could be the oil sender has gone bad.
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  #3  
Old 04-03-2005, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operknockity
If your oil level is ok and there are no wet spots on the garage floor, it could be the oil sender has gone bad.
But when the sensor goes bad, is it intermittent?
could I be having a problem with oil seeping through the cylinder walls?
is the short city drives hurting oil consumption?
What is considered within limits for oil consumption?
  #4  
Old 04-03-2005, 08:24 PM
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Kaz Kaz is offline
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dipstick?
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  #5  
Old 04-03-2005, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaz
dipstick?
Yes you are right I should check dipstick...
it tells me I am about a quart low... I'm just worried a quart has disappeared within a few thousand miles...
  #6  
Old 04-03-2005, 09:22 PM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadie
Yes you are right I should check dipstick...
it tells me I am about a quart low... I'm just worried a quart has disappeared within a few thousand miles...
Just to be sure, the oil level needs to be checked after the oil has come to operating temperature and then you turn off the car and let it sit for about 10 minutes. If you are checking the oil cold, then you estimate of how low you are might be off.

If you are doing the above, and you are a quart low, then you've found the reason for the low oil light.

A quart in 3000 miles is probably within spec for these engines.
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  #7  
Old 04-04-2005, 01:08 AM
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gerchy gerchy is offline
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Mein Auto: E39 525i
We talked about this problem before (use search). Sometimes this message appears after spiritual driving and when you check the oil level - it's OK. The oil sensor's interval is too short to perceive the current oil level so there's nothing to worry about.
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  #8  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:02 AM
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Ågent99 Ågent99 is offline
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My 530i uses oil...it's a fact and countless BMW mechanics (dealer and independent) tell me it is quite normal. When my sensor goes off, my oil is, indeed, low so I top it off with 1/4 to 1/2 quart of oil (normally). I've heard of other I6s needing the same so I'm convinced this is true...distrurbing...but true.
  #9  
Old 04-04-2005, 12:33 PM
vern vern is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operknockity
Just to be sure, the oil level needs to be checked after the oil has come to operating temperature and then you turn off the car and let it sit for about 10 minutes. If you are checking the oil cold, then you estimate of how low you are might be off.

If you are doing the above, and you are a quart low, then you've found the reason for the low oil light.

A quart in 3000 miles is probably within spec for these engines.
I know that you should check the transmission fluid when its at operating temperature but where did you find out that you should do the same with motor oil?
vern
  #10  
Old 04-04-2005, 12:48 PM
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shaftdrive shaftdrive is offline
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Quote:
Do these engines have a oil burning problem?
The BMW SBS 12.0 "Measuring Oil Consumption" show the proper way (according to BMW) to measure oil consumption.

BTW, there's lots more in the TIS, but it's very hard to find (and I've only had the TIS a week); so let me know if you know of a technical service bulletin to help us all better manage our BMWs properly & efficiently.

12.0 Measuring oil consumption
Many complaints made about oil consumption are due to the oil level being measured using the wrong method.

The oil consumption should at the earliest be measured after a distance of 7,500 km (approx. 4,700 miles), since the process of breaking in the engine will essentially only have been completed after this distance and the oil consumption stabilised.

The oil consumption rate of an engine can only be determined by the customer by the amount of oil he has had to top up.

Oil is added as soon as the level drops below the max. mark on the dipstick, regardless of certain fundamental rules such as horizontal vehicle position, drain time etc. This can easily cause the level to become too high due to the size of
the container which happens to be available (e.g. 1-ltr. canister).

Excess oil can damage the engine and is consumed more quickly due to the "splash" effect. For this reason, we recommend allowing the oil level to drop as far as the min. mark before adding the required topping up quantity. The difference between the two marks corresponds to about 1.0 - 1.5 litres.

The specified procedure for checking the oil level is given in the respective Owner's Handbook.
The service delegates will only deal with claims made under warranty if exact measurements by ballasting are available (see below).

Oil consumption measurement by ballasting:
To assess a warranty or goodwill claim, only the following oil consumption measurement by ballasting can be accepted (this must have been carried out by a BMW specialist workshop):

- The engine must be free of leaks and any leaks found must be eliminated before measuring the oil consumption.
- Drain off the engine oil while the engine is at normal operating temperature.
- Unscrew the primary flow oil filter (the engine oil will flow back into the oil sump from the oil filter housing).
- Allow 10 minutes for the oil to drain.
- Retighten the primary flow oil filter.
- Pour in the specified oil quantity for the engine type in question (with filter change).
- Drive the vehicle for a distance of approx. 1,000 km (600 miles).
- Drain off the engine oil while the engine is at normal operating temperature.
- Unscrew the primary flow oil filter (the engine oil will flow back into the oil sump from the oil filter housing).
- Allow 10 minutes for the oil to drain.
- Retighten the primary flow oil filter.
- Weigh the drained off oil.

Engine oil has a density of about 0.86 g/ccm at room temperature.
- Oil consumption =
oil quantity added (ccm) - oil quantity drained (g) : 0.86 g/ccm
mileage reading when draining - mileage reading when adding oil
- Example:
Oil quantity added at mileage reading (km) 44,800: 4,000 ccm
Oil quantity drained off at mileage reading (km) 45,900: 2,700 g
Oil consumption =
4,000 ccm - 2,700 g : 0.86 g/ccm
45,900 km - 44,800 km
= 0.78 ltr./1,000 km


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Last edited by shaftdrive; 04-22-2005 at 12:19 PM.
  #11  
Old 04-04-2005, 12:49 PM
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F1Crazy F1Crazy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vern
I know that you should check the transmission fluid when its at operating temperature but where did you find out that you should do the same with motor oil?
vern
In the owners manual.
  #12  
Old 04-04-2005, 12:55 PM
vern vern is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Crazy
In the owners manual.
Thanks(page 177)
  #13  
Old 04-04-2005, 12:58 PM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Crazy
In the owners manual.
Here are the instructions from my owner's manual...
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  #14  
Old 04-04-2005, 01:15 PM
vern vern is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by operknockity
Here are the instructions from my owner's manual...
Thanks Again
  #15  
Old 04-04-2005, 03:12 PM
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operknockity operknockity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vern
Thanks Again
You're welcome.
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  #16  
Old 04-04-2005, 07:26 PM
sehiser sehiser is offline
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Newbie here.

You'll also burn more oil if your engine has been abused or not taken care of correctly.

I worked on all my cars from age 16 until I was 24 when I bought my 528i. I just started working on it myself. For the last 3 years since I've had it I've been taking it to the dealer, then I found a local guy who specialized in BMW's. He ticked me off because he was arrogant and said "European cars are a lot different from Domestic cars, most people could never work on them". So, I decided to work on my. Let me tell you, working on a BMW is 5 times easier than working on nearly any domestic, especially current models where everything is tucked away.

I drive 35,000 miles a year. My service indicator comes on after about 12-13k miles since I'm mostly highly. In the last 25,000 miles I've had to add 1/4 a qt of oil, and that was only after i did some extremely heavy driving. I drove 8 hours one way at an average of about 70MPH and then a few days later I did that straight back, about 800 miles total and then put on another 1200 the following week.

I should mention, I bought my 528i off lease and as of right now I have 136,000 on it. I've topped off the oil 2 times in the last 3 years.

Other than that I've had no problems.

Everybody covered the basics above. The reason you let oil get up to operating temperature is because it's not viscous until at operating temperature. Heat causes materials to expand.

If you're burning oil, I was just check it on a weekly or monthly basis. I check my oil level at least once a month even though I never really have any burn off. If you keep the right level in it and drive enough then you might see the burning quit.

Another thing to mention is that if you're only driving it 3 miles a day, you're not keeping the entire engine lubricated in oil, so your seals and gaskets could dry up which would help your engine burn oil.

If you have ever talked to anybody with a show car or with a classic muscle car, they will all tell you that if they don't drive the car, they are at least starting it once a week or month and letting it run a while. You need to keep everything lubed.

I definitely recommend taking the car for a Sunday drive every week if you're not driving it much. You need to make sure the oil heats up and coats all the moving parts in the engine. This will help the engine have a longer life, maintain horsepower, and keep acidic build-up from taking place in your oil.

To dispell some myths. I have quite a few friends who are automobile engineers, living not to far from Detroit I get to talk to some of the best in the Domestic and Foriegn auto industries.

Here's a basic engineers take on oil from what I've learned over the years. What your manual says is the recommended service change is correct for the average driver, which is about 75% city. For you highway drivers, you double it. With synthetic oil you can do about 6,000 miles (except during break-in) and if you do mostly highway miles you can double that to about 12,000. Which my service indicator matches up with perfectly.

Now, changing your oil too much can actually damage your engine. After the oil breaks in and works into your engine it actually helps the engine perform better. If the oil is changed to often then it doesn't give the oil time to break in. (Except for race engines, which are changed every run)

Hope this helps. The last bit of info I can give is, do NOT over fill your oil. If you put too much oil in than you risk blowing or damaging a gasket, which best case is you just burn oil. BMW engines are nearly impossible to blow a gasket in, but too much oil could do the trick.

Scott Hiser
Toledo, OH
  #17  
Old 04-04-2005, 08:16 PM
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roadie roadie is offline
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Excellent post Scott

Scott,
Thank you for the EXCELLENT post!
Very informative...
 

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