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I have a 2014 550i with 90k miles. Should I use semi-synthetic oil now?
Non-synthetic oil can cause engine sludge, but if I use top-tier gasoline, will this offset the sludge build up and be the best way to extend the life of my vehicle?

two part question here-
 

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I have a 2014 550i with 90k miles. Should I use semi-synthetic oil now?
Non-synthetic oil can cause engine sludge, but if I use top-tier gasoline, will this offset the sludge build up and be the best way to extend the life of my vehicle?

two part question here-
JFC. Use ANY LL01 oil.


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RFTM applies here, and your 2014 owner's manual probably says ACEA A3/B3 or BMW LL-01. The BMW LL-01 is more stringent than ACEA A3/B3. Later, maybe 2016,, BMW went to BMW LL-01 only.

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The only place where semi-synthetic oil is beneficial is in piston aircraft engines. Semi-synthetic prevents the build-up of "paint" (thin layer of deposits) in the engines caused by leaded aviation gasoline. Semi-synthetic is also more volatile, and evaporates and coats the inside surfaces of the engine with a film of petroleum oil to prevent corrosion when the engine sits for weeks at a time (common in general aviation aircraft).
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Ford used semi-synthetic oils for a long time, because their typical customer, Billy Bob, would be pissed if he had to pay $8/quart for full-synthetic oil.
 

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RFTM applies here, and your 2014 owner's manual probably says ACEA A3/B3 or BMW LL-01. The BMW LL-01 is more stringent than ACEA A3/B3. Later, maybe 2016,, BMW went to BMW LL-01 only.

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The only place where semi-synthetic oil is beneficial is in piston aircraft engines. Semi-synthetic prevents the build-up of "paint" (thin layer of deposits) in the engines caused by leaded aviation gasoline. Semi-synthetic is also more volatile, and evaporates and coats the inside surfaces of the engine with a film of petroleum oil to prevent corrosion when the engine sits for weeks at a time (common in general aviation aircraft).
.
Ford used semi-synthetic oils for a long time, because their typical customer, Billy Bob, would be pissed if he had to pay $8/quart for full-synthetic oil.
Let me clarify bcs. that is not true.
ALL BMW engines 2001 and later use LL01 or LL04 (after 2004 diesels, in EU gas also after 2009) and after 2011 based on model and market, LL01FE, LL12FE, LL14FE or LL17FE and recently in Europe LL19.
ACEA was never required although LL01 is derived from A3. The ONLY thing that matters in these engines is BMW approval. Not ACEA or API.

Also, the Lubrizol tool should not be used in that way to compare. ACEA 3 is using different engine and testing methods from BMW or for that matter some other manufacturer. Lubrizol has that disclaimer.
 

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Let me clarify bcs. that is not true.
ALL BMW engines 2001 and later use LL01 or LL04 (after 2004 diesels, in EU gas also after 2009) and after 2011 based on model and market, LL01FE, LL12FE, LL14FE or LL17FE and recently in Europe LL19.
ACEA was never required although LL01 is derived from A3. The ONLY thing that matters in these engines is BMW approval. Not ACEA or API.

Also, the Lubrizol tool should not be used in that way to compare. ACEA 3 is using different engine and testing methods from BMW or for that matter some other manufacturer. Lubrizol has that disclaimer.
Back in the day (circa 2014), BMW branded 5W-30 "BMW High Performance Synthetic Oil," P/N 07 51 0 017 866, didn't meet BMW LL-01. It only met API SL/CF and ACEA A3/B3.

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I still have an empty cardboard box from a 12-pack. It's the perfect size for carrying 19 half-liter bottles of water. A hotel porter was helping me unload my car, saw the oil box, and asked if my BMW burned a lot of oil. I told him no, but BMW High Performance Synthetic is great on pancakes and waffles.

My 2014 535i's owner's manual listed BMW High Performance Synthetic 5W-30 as one of the approved oils, even though it didn't meet BMW LL-01. Once BMW switched from Castrol to Shell as their lubricant, in 2015 or 2016, the BMW brand Twin Turbo Power 5W-30 did meet BMW LL01 and ACEA A3/B4.

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Yeah, I read that Lubrizol disclaimer about their RADAR charts. But, they're good enough for a first approximation.... ACEA A3/B3 good... BMW-LL01 better.
 

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Back in the day (circa 2014), BMW branded 5W-30 "BMW High Performance Synthetic Oil," P/N 07 51 0 017 866, didn't meet BMW LL-01. It only met API SL/CF and ACEA A3/B3.

View attachment 1064949

I still have an empty cardboard box from a 12-pack. It's the perfect size for carrying 19 half-liter bottles of water. A hotel porter was helping me unload my car, saw the oil box, and asked if my BMW burned a lot of oil. I told him no, but BMW High Performance Synthetic is great on pancakes and waffles.

My 2014 535i's owner's manual listed BMW High Performance Synthetic 5W-30 as one of the approved oils, even though it didn't meet BMW LL-01. Once BMW switched from Castrol to Shell as their lubricant, in 2015 or 2016, the BMW brand Twin Turbo Power 5W-30 did meet BMW LL01 and ACEA A3/B4.

View attachment 1064950

Yeah, I read that Lubrizol disclaimer about their RADAR charts. But, they're good enough for a first approximation.... ACEA A3/B3 good... BMW-LL01 better.
All BMW HIgh-Performance oils were LL01 or LL04. It was in-house developed and tested and there was no need to list it. ALL oils BMW used since 1998 were approved and/or developed to a certain standard (LL98 and later LL01, 04 etc.). I mean it was their decision how they will label it. They only listed what other specifications met (ACEA does not do testing for manufacturers. Manufacturers do their own ACEA test and basically self-comply).
Later BMW in the US listed LL01 and LL04 in the manual and the decision for that was that availability of such oil became widespread. In Europe that was always the case. You could argue that decision to say "use High Performance" was to lure people into the dealership. But, oils were LL01 and LL04 for diesels.
But take into consideration that BMW tends to be very confusing with oil recommendations even today.
 

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What brand*
Like edycol said, look for "BMW LL-01" He works in the industry.

There's a Pennzoil Platinum Euro Synthetic that meets LL-01. There's also a Quaker State Euro Synthetic oil that meets LL-01. They're the same stuff. Pennzoil and Quaker State are both now owned by Shell, the previous supplier of lubricants for BMW.

5w-40 Euro Synthetic Motor Oil | LX 0W-30 & L 5W-30 | Quaker State® | Quaker State

Pennzoil Platinum® Euro Full Synthetic Motor Oil | Pennzoil

(131) New Quaker State LL01 and LL04 oils | BimmerFest BMW Forum
 

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That may be so, but there's an old saying "If it ain't in writing, it ain't." The BMW High Performance Synthetic 5W-30's containers (bottles and boxes) didn't say it met BMW LL-01l.
And trust me they did. I know for a fact. When I worked on oil testing we were testing their oils as comparison.
It is irrelevant what they said. BMW wanted you to use it for a reason.


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Like edycol said, look for "BMW LL-01" He works in the industry.

There's a Pennzoil Platinum Euro Synthetic that meets LL-01. There's also a Quaker State Euro Synthetic oil that meets LL-01. They're the same stuff. Pennzoil and Quaker State are both now owned by Shell, the previous supplier of lubricants for BMW.

5w-40 Euro Synthetic Motor Oil | LX 0W-30 & L 5W-30 | Quaker State | Quaker State

Pennzoil Platinum Euro Full Synthetic Motor Oil | Pennzoil

(131) New Quaker State LL01 and LL04 oils | BimmerFest BMW Forum
Lol. No I don’t work anymore. Thank God. I moved to nicer stuff


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Lol. No I don’t work anymore. Thank God. I moved to nicer stuff


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Or occasionally non-LL01, in the case of Castrol 0w-40.


Via the interwebs
 

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Lol. No I don’t work anymore. Thank God. I moved to nicer stuff


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Edycol, we have a 2000 and a 2008 bmw, owned since new, and both running well. Over the years I have mostly used Mobil-1 10w-40 synthetic when doing oil changes at around 7 to 9k miles. We live in a hot, rarely any frost, zone.
So, what would you suppose the difference to the engines would be if I had used LL-01 compiiant oil all along? Better performanc, used less fuel, less engine parts wear, less deposits, less sludge. Do you think it would have been noticeable? Thanks, in advance.
 

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What do you call “noticeable”?
Is “would have been” the correct tense for potential comparison… or is more about potential longevity?
Thanks for replying.
In what sense is 10w-40 not synthetic? At the moment I have a bottle of 5w-30, same make, and it is labeled "full synthetic", but not LL-01.
6-10k miles/year.
I was asking whether at this point fhere would have been observable differences.
edycol had a career in the petroleum industry and can answer the questions authoritatively, I expect.
One marker of potential longevity is oil consumption. Neither car needs topping up of its oil between oil changes.
Do you have answers?
 

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I change my oil every 8k miles or annually. Since the lockdown-smackdown in 2020, I'm driving my 535i only about 6k or 7k miles/year. I've been using BMW High Performance Synthetic (which edycol says meets BMW LL-01) or BMW Twin Power Synthetic (which is labeled at meeting BMW LL-01). After 79k miles, there are no deposits visible when looking down the oil fill hole.

I usually measure the volume of the oil I drain out. My N55 has gone from using about 500ml in ~7k miles at 16k miles to now using about 1000ml in ~7k miles at 79k miles. I guess having to top off the engine oil is sort of a right-of-passage with older cars.

The car I owned that held onto its oil the best was my Chevy Cobalt, the anti-BMW. I never had to add oil in between 8k mile oil changes, all the way up to 125k miles when I sold it.
 

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Thanks for replying.
In what sense is 10w-40 not synthetic? At the moment I have a bottle of 5w-30, same make, and it is labeled "full synthetic", but not LL-01.
6-10k miles/year.
I was asking whether at this point fhere would have been observable differences.
edycol had a career in the petroleum industry and can answer the questions authoritatively, I expect.
One marker of potential longevity is oil consumption. Neither car needs topping up of its oil between oil changes.
Do you have answers?
Depends on engine and environment.
First, European manufacturers approach this subject from their cultural understanding. Oil that is recommended for BMW is designed to withstand auto bahn conditions and then some. That is mostly case when it comes to all Germans. It is impossible to understate what importance auto bahn has in developing these engines, cars and what goes into them.
That means that theoretically engines using “lesser” oils and not being exposed to high temperatures where oil reaches 260-280f should be ok.
But, I always recommend to avoid that scenario “I don’t drive fast, therefore it is ok.”
Generally 10W40 Mobil1 is ok oil. But it is thick. It is almost 10W50. It creates unnecessary resistance increasing heat and lowering mpg. It is not made out of sophisticated base stocks therefore it will shear fast and it will oxidize more.
“Full synthetic “ oils mean a lot of different things. That is why approvals are important. Generally, aim at oil that has MB229.5 approval. That is comprehensively the most stringent approval for gas engines. LL01 and LL04 are important to use in new B generation engines and N20 due to specific tests it has for those engines. Older engines will be fine with MB229.5 if oil doesn’t have LL01 (Castrol Edge 0W40 for example).
Those full synthetic oils which are mostly ILSAC GF6, are serious step back in quality. They will shear down faster and oxidize more.
But, it is hard to say that your usage of LL01 oils would differ how your engine now looks. That depends on exploitation. I have seen BMW engines using ILSAC GF6 oils and have 250k. But they are driven easy. I have seen on track oil related failures too that are consequence of oils that just were not enough for that environment.
My recommendation, get Quaker State Euro 5W40 from Wal Mart wen site.


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Depends on engine and environment.
First, European manufacturers approach this subject from their cultural understanding. Oil that is recommended for BMW is designed to withstand auto bahn conditions and then some. That is mostly case when it comes to all Germans. It is impossible to understate what importance auto bahn has in developing these engines, cars and what goes into them.
That means that theoretically engines using “lesser” oils and not being exposed to high temperatures where oil reaches 260-280f should be ok.
But, I always recommend to avoid that scenario “I don’t drive fast, therefore it is ok.”
Generally 10W40 Mobil1 is ok oil. But it is thick. It is almost 10W50. It creates unnecessary resistance increasing heat and lowering mpg. It is not made out of sophisticated base stocks therefore it will shear fast and it will oxidize more.
“Full synthetic “ oils mean a lot of different things. That is why approvals are important. Generally, aim at oil that has MB229.5 approval. That is comprehensively the most stringent approval for gas engines. LL01 and LL04 are important to use in new B generation engines and N20 due to specific tests it has for those engines. Older engines will be fine with MB229.5 if oil doesn’t have LL01 (Castrol Edge 0W40 for example).
Those full synthetic oils which are mostly ILSAC GF6, are serious step back in quality. They will shear down faster and oxidize more.
But, it is hard to say that your usage of LL01 oils would differ how your engine now looks. That depends on exploitation. I have seen BMW engines using ILSAC GF6 oils and have 250k. But they are driven easy. I have seen on track oil related failures too that are consequence of oils that just were not enough for that environment.
My recommendation, get Quaker State Euro 5W40 from Wal Mart wen site.


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Thanks a lot for your reply and recommendation.Both our cars have N52 engines and were bought in Germany and driven there about a year and frequently on the autobahn. Typically, at 90 to 110mph, which is not much of a load for these cars. I will use the Euro QS 5w-40 in the future.
 
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