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Discussion Starter #1
Hey
I have a 2003 x5 3.0 with 190k miles on it. Runs good for its miles. Just changed the alternator and the oils. i started getting the red oil flickering light when engine is warm and I stop at a red light. when I speed up it goes out. A lot people have posted about this but i also get the following message "ENGINE IN DISTRESS TURN OFF" so i turn it off and then back on and the light is gone. i don't know how serious this might be but i don't think this is the sensor of the oil pressure since i did not have a problem before changing the alternator and the oil.
Any suggestions on how to fix it, how serious this is and what might be causing it?
 

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I saw the same flickering light in a 2003 530i (same engine as yours, built in the same model year as yours). with 75k miles that I was thinking about buying as a beater. It was one of two things that stopped me from buying it. The other thing about that car that stopped me from buying it was that it had visible sludge inside the engine, looking down the oil fill opening.

Logic would suggest that the sludge and low oil pressure at idle when the engine is warmed up might be related... maybe flow into the oil pump's pick-up screen is restricted with sludge. Low oil pressure could also be caused by the oil not draining down form the cylinder head because the drain holes are clogged with sludge.

Maybe the last oil change was with a lower viscosity oil. Maybe your oil pressure was marginal with higher viscosity oil (w.g. 0W-40) and when you switched (e.g. 0W-30) the oil pressure went low enough to trigger a warning light. Maybe the pressure sensor is sludged up and doesn't read the correct pressure when the pressure is low. Maybe your oil pump is going out.

Sometimes, stuff happens shortly after some other event and the two are completely unrelated. "My car was rear-ended right after getting new tires." New tires did not cause you to get rear-ended.
 

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The mechanic used a different oil this time, 5w30 when i usually use 10w40. He said that the proper oil for you car is the 5w30, and went as far as changing the oil again with Mobil oil 5w30 thinking it would make a difference from the generic brand he used the firs time. I have only driven the car once since the 2nd oil change and the light has not come on yet. I drive during rush hour and I am worried the car will break down in the middle of the street especially when the "engine in distress" message comes on.
 

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Ah, the plot thins...

BMW's require synthetic oil. That 530i I looked at is owned by a friend of Frau Putzer's. Her late husband was the third owner, and he had it serviced at a general auto repair shop, not one that specialized in BMW's or even European cars. I suspect the problems with that engine were caused by using conventional oil in the car.

Synthetic oil decreases wear, withstands extreme cold and hot temperatures better, and reduces or totally eliminates the build up of (three dimensional) sludge and (two dimensional) varnish inside engines.

High mileage engines can have diminished oil pressure, caused by the oil pump not being as efficient as it once was, and there being greater clearances between the crankshaft and the bearings. Deposits on the oil pump's pick-up screen (where it sucks oil in from the oil pan) can reduce oil pressure.

It sounds like you have the perfect storm: high mileage and improper oil.

An engine with excessive wear on the crankshaft and bearings can often benefit from changing to a higher viscosity oil. You also need to use a quality synthetic oil. Switching to a higher viscosity, quality synthetic oil might get you back on the road and keep you there for tens of thousands more miles.

Your best bet for oil is (synthetic) Castrol Edge A3/B4 0W-40. It's sold at Walmart and is about $25 for a five quart jug. Be careful not to get the 5W-40 diesel version. U.S. gasolines have a lot of sulfur in them, and that oil doesn't like it.

https://www.castrol.com/en_us/unite...-edge-brand/castrol-edge.html#tab_0w-40-a3-b4

ACEA A3/B4 is a stringent European performance specification for oil. BMW Long Life 01 is an even more stringent specification. But, it's difficult or impossible to find that in 0W-40.

Pennzoil Platinum Euro 0W-40 would also work well. Don't get the Euro L. That too is a diesel-only oil in the U.S.

https://www.pennzoil.com/en_us/prod...m_Euro_SAE_0W-40_Full_Synthetic_Motor_Oil.pdf


From now on, bring 6.5 liters of Castrol 0W-40 A3/B4 or Pennzoil Platinum Euro 0W-40 with you when you go get your oil changed. Don't let them put in whatever bo bo lube they have laying around the shop.

A contributing factor to your low oil pressure might still be sludge. That's handled with an engine flush. But, there are risks to using engine flush. It can attack the rubber seals and gaskets, and the sealants ("liquid gaskets") used in modern engines. The worst story I ever heard about engine flushing was one where the flush melted the sealant and it redeposited and solidified on the pick-up screen, destroying the engine. An engine flush should be your last resort.

The longest I've ever kept a car in the 21st century was a V6 Honda Accord, 147k miles. Using synthetic oil, the inside of the engine was spotless, the car got the same MPG at 140k miles that it did at 40k miles, and it did not need the oil topped off between 8k mile oil changes, and all this was with using a quality synthetic oil (Mobil 1 Extended Performance) with a 5W-20 viscosity index. Your engine would have been fine at 190k miles with a 5W-30 oil, but only a quality synthetic meeting ACEA A3/B4 or better.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the response, I learned a lot I didn't about cars and how to treat my bmw. so far with the mobile 5w30 oil the light has not come on again and the car is still driving pretty good. I think they put whatever low grade oil they had on the shelf the first time thinking it would not make a difference, but it did. It's hard to find mechanics you can trust , especially because I took the car there for them to see whats wrong, why the light is on and they didn't thin or didn't want to admit they used the wrong oil and did not change it with the higher grade until i requested them to do so.
 

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Back in the early 2000's, BMW was overly optimistic about oil change intervals. Combining overly optimistic oil change intervals and bo bo lube is a recipe for disaster.

I had a 2002 M3. The early one were having their engines blow up often. Owners started having their oil tested. Oil testing can predict an upcoming engine failure before it happens and in time to fix the problem before it destroys the engine. My car "wanted" an oil change about every 13k miles. But, the oil testing showed that the oil was dangerously degraded anywhere past 7k or 8k miles. I changed mine every 6.5k miles. Most six-cylinder BMW's carry more oil than the E46 M3 did. It only took five liters, where almost every other BMW six-cylinder engine takes 6.5 liters. Because of the larger oil capacity, I change the oil in my current six-cylinder BMW every 8k miles, still less than BMW's recommended 11k miles.
 
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