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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
No, this isn't a thread on when to change you oil, but rather I wanted to point out that modern oil does more than lubricate. Like many engines today, BMWs use variable valve timing, whose solenoids and actuators are driven by oil pressure. This is why it is imperative to use the proper grade oil (5w-30 or 0w-40, depending on manufacturer), and a proper OCI. Improper viscosity and/or sludge/varnish build up will decrease the amount of oil getting to the solenoids and cam phasers, thereby affecting power and economy. These engines not only have oil filters, but also filter screens just upstream of the VANOS solenoids, which must remain clean.

The M5x/N5x engines are pretty stable as far as timing chain components, but the N20 engines are notorious for chain failures and engine destruction; most owners cannot discern audible symptoms of impending doom. I refuse to work on N20s. That isn't to say the M/N engines aren't susceptible, so take care of those cars!

Below are a couple of pictures (engine porn) to help illustrate the point: they aren't of a BMW, but are of the 5.4 in my '04, 150k F150. I tore it apart in order to toss $2300 in parts at it for failed timing chains, guides, tensioners, etc. Oil was changed every 3k with semi-synethetic, as evidence by the cleanliness inside. However, sometimes the design sucks enough that OCI is meaningless (like the N20). Tensioner seals blow, chains slacken. Every time the engine is started, loose chains beat against the guides until oil pressure builds tension (5 seconds or less), so the short rattle goes away. Eventually, the guides shatter, and particles clog the oil pickup. Oil starvation occurs, further wearing cam phasers and chains, until BOOM. On my Ford, I discovered oil pickup was reduced by 67-75% after clearing out the pickup screen, and you can see the 4 ~1" pieces of guide I pulled out of the pan. The engine ran fine, by the way, and has gone several thousand miles in this condition. I knew I was going to find problems, but I didn't expect to open it up and find the right side guide GONE.

I'd show pics of an N52... but I don't have any (for good reason). ;)


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https://youtu.be/yJIhgE8EnaQ
 

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I know your first line says "this is not about when to change your oil" Duke, but.....I really want to change my oil now.
 

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Duke...important to note on this topic. I was experiencing alot of valve train noise after the work I just did. It was quite a bit louder than the typical ticking the BMW is famous for. You had suggested MMO. I put some in to hope it quieted it at least a little being that I do not feel motivated for another car project yet. Ive been driving it a few days since I put it in there. I was at Walmart tonight in an empty parking lot waiting for my wife to get cat food and I could barely tell the engine was running. Its never sounded this quiet. The tach was rock solid at 850 and the engine was incredibly smooth and quiet. Thanks for the advice on that stuff. I will always now suggest to anyone concerned with that valve train noise to at least try the MMO...it cant hurt a dang thing for $3 at Dollar General! Before tearing into stuff, try this, you never know. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Duke...important to note on this topic. I was experiencing alot of valve train noise after the work I just did. It was quite a bit louder than the typical ticking the BMW is famous for. You had suggested MMO. I put some in to hope it quieted it at least a little being that I do not feel motivated for another car project yet. Ive been driving it a few days since I put it in there. I was at Walmart tonight in an empty parking lot waiting for my wife to get cat food and I could barely tell the engine was running. Its never sounded this quiet. The tach was rock solid at 850 and the engine was incredibly smooth and quiet. Thanks for the advice on that stuff. I will always now suggest to anyone concerned with that valve train noise to at least try the MMO...it cant hurt a dang thing for $3 at Dollar General! Before tearing into stuff, try this, you never know. Thanks.
Good to hear; just make sure you drain the engine after 500-1000 miles, all that sludge and varnish is in there and you need to get it out. The lifters on these aren't under the greatest of oil pressure, and that's where a lot of the ticking comes from, so it takes a while (heat, higher RPM and sustained higher oil pressure) to clear them out. It took me 4k miles to completely clear out my lifters of less than 2 miles of the wrong viscosity oil (too thick).

I don't recommend the MMO treatment for engines that are heavily sludged, as the sludge can easily clog the oil pick-up screen and blow the engine; devil's advocate says that if your engine is that sludged up, however, you're on borrowed time anyway, but frequent oil changes (every few thousand miles) with full synthetic would more slowly clean it up. Years ago I bought an Olds engine that was so heavily sludged, I had to pull the pan and clean the heads with a toothbrush and gasoline, letting the sludge fall down through the engine into a catch pan, and then poured gasoline through the engine to clean it.
 

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Good to hear; just make sure you drain the engine after 500-1000 miles, all that sludge and varnish is in there and you need to get it out. The lifters on these aren't under the greatest of oil pressure, and that's where a lot of the ticking comes from, so it takes a while (heat, higher RPM and sustained higher oil pressure) to clear them out. It took me 4k miles to completely clear out my lifters of less than 2 miles of the wrong viscosity oil (too thick).

I don't recommend the MMO treatment for engines that are heavily sludged, as the sludge can easily clog the oil pick-up screen and blow the engine; devil's advocate says that if your engine is that sludged up, however, you're on borrowed time anyway, but frequent oil changes (every few thousand miles) with full synthetic would more slowly clean it up. Years ago I bought an Olds engine that was so heavily sludged, I had to pull the pan and clean the heads with a toothbrush and gasoline, letting the sludge fall down through the engine into a catch pan, and then poured gasoline through the engine to clean it.
Gas? Jesus that would make me nervous. I would be scared I left too much behind and the engine would explode or something. Ive actually let it drain then dumped cheaper oil in to rinse anything else down but I would think thats more for my mental well being that actually having some measurable result. My biggest reason for liking to do my own oil (it actually costs more to do your own anymore) is because I can let it drain for a real long time. Seems like the oil change places just dont let that last bit which probably has alot of crap in it come out. I also caught a Grease Monkey putting conventional in my Mustang after I paid for synthetic. The hood was popped and I was looking under the hood at them through the windshield and they didnt know I was watching. I just happened to notice they were using "quarts" instead of from the barrels and the quarts were the color of the conventional. I let them fill it all up with 5 quarts then called them out and made them drain it. I dont think it was an honest mistake.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Gas is fine; it evaporates quickly, and is the best solvent you'll find. The engine was on a stand so I wasn't worried. Gas itself isn't very flammable, but its vapors sure are. I've put out smoldering fires with gasoline, also dropped a match into a barrel of diesel, and saw the match go out. (Don't try that at home).

It isn't more expensive to do it yourself, because you are using the correct oil and filter (not bargain brand garbage). I know specifically that some less reputable places don't change the filters (including dealers), or use used oil from another job that they've sieved out the particulate. I've yet to find any place to do a job better than me for most things, so everything gets done in my shop. Two years ago when I bought my brand new '17 Silverado Z71, I took it to the dealer for its 5k mile service (including oil change), and they added 7 quarts of oil (the capacity) without draining out the existing 7. I didn't discover until a few days later; I traded that truck within 3 months.

Here's a horror story for why I trust no one:

https://www.audizine.com/forum/show...to-take-your-S4-to-an-instant-oil-change-shop
 

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Arggghhhh! That's a scary story about the Audi.

Within a few days of each other, a friend and I each had an oil filter rubber gasket stick to the sealing surface of a Ford V8. The first one was done by me changing oil on an old beater Explorer we kept around. When I started it up afterward, oil spewed out almost immediately, so I shut it down and was able to fix everything with no damage.

My friend had his oil changed at the local Ford dealer as he always does. He was driving down the highway when his engine ran out of oil destroying the engine. They negotiated a deal to install a brand new engine, so it worked out okay for both of us I guess.

I will now ALWAYS check for that before installing a spin-on filter!

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Those pictures of the top end show the accumulation of varnish. That means the oil is starting to break down. Varnish on the top like that is unsightly. But, varnish on the piston rings can be catastrophic (causing them to stick closed against the piston, causing compression loss and massive oil consumption.

We just took a V6 Honda Accord to 147k miles with full-synthetic (Mobil 1 Extended Performance) oil changes every 8k miles. The inside of the engine was spotless, no varnish.

There are only two reasons to use semi-synthetic in an engine: allow some evaporation of the petroleum half to fog the inside of an engine that isn't being used, and to supposedly save money.

Synthetic oil improves fuel economy slightly, around 2%. If you crunch the numbers, you'll find that using synthetic and slightly increased drain intervals will pay for itself in fuel cost savings. Going from 3k or 4k mile oil changes to 7k or 8k mile oil changes will save you enough to buy lunch a few times.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Those pictures of the top end show the accumulation of varnish. That means the oil is starting to break down. Varnish on the top like that is unsightly. But, varnish on the piston rings can be catastrophic (causing them to stick closed against the piston, causing compression loss and massive oil consumption.

We just took a V6 Honda Accord to 147k miles with full-synthetic (Mobil 1 Extended Performance) oil changes every 8k miles. The inside of the engine was spotless, no varnish.

There are only two reasons to use semi-synthetic in an engine: allow some evaporation of the petroleum half to fog the inside of an engine that isn't being used, and to supposedly save money.

Synthetic oil improves fuel economy slightly, around 2%. If you crunch the numbers, you'll find that using synthetic and slightly increased drain intervals will pay for itself in fuel cost savings. Going from 3k or 4k mile oil changes to 7k or 8k mile oil changes will save you enough to buy lunch a few times.
Don't confuse varnish with staining. Varnish can be scraped off, staining cannot; nothing in the engine could be scraped off.

You missed the 3rd part of why to use semi-synthetic: because it was factory specified. Going 5k mile on the factory spec oil is why these engines failed by 50k miles, or why the N20s failed at the same mileage. As mentioned earlier in the thread, this isn't about when to change, but making sure to use proper oil. Oil's come a long way in 2004, but because the oiling systems in modern vehicles aren't only for lubrication but also for hydraulic operation, which means the oil needs the proper anti-foaming agents. Bubbles in hydraulic fluid are compressible, resulting in poor drivability, mis-timing of the engine, and eventually engine codes. This is the other part of using different oils that people aren't aware of; in 2004, the only oil that met the spec was the Motorcraft semi-synthetic (many full synthetics did not).
 

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The reason Ford went to just a semi-synthetic was to achieve a lower projected maintenance cost. Historically, Joe Lunchbox balked at buying a car that required expensive full-synthetic oil. That's why Cadillac's and Corvettes required synthetic, but other Chevy's, Pontiac's, Oldsmobile's, and Buick's didn't.

Back in the early '90's, GM was having problems with the 3800 V6's cooking 5W-30 conventional oil. But, rather than switching them to 5W-30 synthetic (like the Cadillac's and Corvette's), they instead switched them to 10W-30 conventional oil. But, GM took out ads in magazines encouraging all GM car owners to use synthetic.

Toyota had an extensive customer information campaign as part of them going from 5W-30 conventional to 0W-20 synthetic. They were worried about pissing off Joe Lunchbox.

I've met a lot of first-time BMW owners who go ballistic over having to pay $100 for an oil change. That's why BMW came up with "free maintenance," to delay them getting pissed. Those BMW owners pissed off about a $100 oil change were oblivious to the $15k hit they took on depreciation the first year, though.

O.k., stain vs. varnish. Our Honda didn't have any "staining" of any metal parts either at 147k miles with 8k mile oil changes on full-synthetic. Neither did my old BMW at 114k miles, Nissan's at 104k and 127k miles, my Chevy's at 74k and 118k miles. Plastic parts would get stained. The white BMW chain guides quickly become brown BMW chain guides. The plastic on the oil fill caps would also stain.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
The reason Ford went to just a semi-synthetic was to achieve a lower projected maintenance cost. Historically, Joe Lunchbox balked at buying a car that required expensive full-synthetic oil. That's why Cadillac's and Corvettes required synthetic, but other Chevy's, Pontiac's, Oldsmobile's, and Buick's didn't.

Back in the early '90's, GM was having problems with the 3800 V6's cooking 5W-30 conventional oil. But, rather than switching them to 5W-30 synthetic (like the Cadillac's and Corvette's), they instead switched them to 10W-30 conventional oil. But, GM took out ads in magazines encouraging all GM car owners to use synthetic.

Toyota had an extensive customer information campaign as part of them going from 5W-30 conventional to 0W-20 synthetic. They were worried about pissing off Joe Lunchbox.

I've met a lot of first-time BMW owners who go ballistic over having to pay $100 for an oil change. That's why BMW came up with "free maintenance," to delay them getting pissed. Those BMW owners pissed off about a $100 oil change were oblivious to the $15k hit they took on depreciation the first year, though.

O.k., stain vs. varnish. Our Honda didn't have any "staining" of any metal parts either at 147k miles with 8k mile oil changes on full-synthetic. Neither did my old BMW at 114k miles, Nissan's at 104k and 127k miles, my Chevy's at 74k and 118k miles. Plastic parts would get stained. The white BMW chain guides quickly become brown BMW chain guides. The plastic on the oil fill caps would also stain.


We’re not discussing oil change intervals. Or the need for synthetic vs others. The point of this thread is to point out that oil does more than lubricate, and an oil that lacks the required additives, regardless of synthetic or regular, may foam and cause the hydraulic systems to fail.

Ford’s decision to go semi synthetic coupled with OCI greater than 5k miles is why these engines blew by 50k miles. BMW’s long OCI on the N20s couldn’t handle the heat from the turbos, coupled with sub par timing components, and is why those engines fail at similar mileage.

The engine above has oil staining, not varnish. Aluminum will absorb molecules and change color more than cast iron. It’s not semantics; sludge and varnish will cause issues as you noted, however staining will not and is harmless. It means nothing. As engines go, the one above is actually remarkably clean for 150k miles. The issues it had are blown seals in the chain tensioners, which occurs before oil gets to the cams, which starves the phasers, which are hydraulically driven by engine oil, which must not foam. The antifoaming additives are imperative. Argue that point all you want, won’t make it any less true. The corollary here is that our engines also use hydraulically operated variable valve timing components, so the same rules apply. The seals are made of rubber, so the oil must be compatible with the rubber used by the auto manufacturer... ever wonder why some BMW’s are more leak prone that others?

Since you want to play the my engine’s cleaner than yours game... how do you know all your above engines were shiny silver colored (as fresh aluminum would be)? Did you have the valve and timing covers off every engine? The cams, lifters, rockers/followers out? Because that’s the only way you could actually see, and if you had to go that far into every single car you’ve recently owned, one has to wonder why?


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Duke, sounds like you have more automotive engine knowledge and experience than you letting on. I've enjoyed reading your comments. I too wish BMW engineers had designed something better than the modular timing chain and integral guide assembly. I bet it was for more convenient and less costly engine assembly. I've heard but not checked for myself to confirm that many manufacturers, maybe BMW too are moving to keyless lower timing gears which press in place as before but without the locating key are quicker to assemble and time with automated equipment on the line. Of course now there are stories circulating on the NET where some press fits were found to be outside the limits (not tight enough) allowing lower timing gears to slip on the crankshaft snout which causes the engine to commit suicide.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I haven’t heard of that, but honestly hadn’t searched either. All the more reason why this ‘08 E83 will be the youngest car in my stable for as long as is feasible...and when I’ve stretched every last mile out of the entire chassis and it can no longer be repaired (I’m thinking it gets wrecked, or wiring harness gets smoked) I’ll have to be driving my old ‘84 GMC every day. No computer and a 2bbl, the only thing it needs is fuel, an oil change once a year, and ignition tune up every 20k miles. It’ll outlast the F150 for sure. Save the 442 for longer road trips, she’s just more comfortable. Still running it’s original clutch, too. Thanks for enjoying what I put out there, just doing what I can to help keep those older wheels rolling.


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I first read about synthetic oil in Popular Science magazine back in April of 1976.

https://books.google.com/books?id=F...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Back in 1977, I knew somebody who ran a Ryder Maintenance shop. The home office sent him some new trucks with "experimental" synthetic oil in the transmissions and differentials, and told him to assign them to some of his high-mileage customers. After a while, they sent him new transmissions and axles, and told him to swap them out, and tear down the transmissions and axles with the experimental oil. When he looked at the parts laying on the shop table, he thought he'd screwed up and tore down new trucks.

I was I high school back then, and my family's cars were old and sludged up, or new and leaking oil like a sieve. I didn't start using Mobil 1 until 1985, when my parents got a new big Ford (5.0 liter V8, 140 h.p.). I worked as a bank courier at the time, and the bank operations center I worked at had about 15 Fords, 5.0 V8 vans, and 3.8 V6 station wagons. Using petroleum oil, they all used a quart of oil every 2000 miles.

I started using Mobil 1 oil in my parents' Ford about 1500 miles. The oil consumption was a quart every 2300 at first. But, at around 10,000 miles, it went down to about a quart every 2800 miles. It took that long for the piston rings to completely seat. I got car as a hand-me-down at 70k miles, and it was still using only a quart of oil every 2800 miles. At 100k miles the fuel injection started acting up. When they fixed the car, the service manager at the (second) Ford dealer took it for a test drive. He asked me of the car had a new engine in it.

Synthetic oil improves fuel economy slightly. It's hard to find good data, since most articles are comparing a lower viscosity synthetic to a higher viscosity petroleum. The best study I read was a fleet of heavy trucks that had around 2.5% improvement in field testing.

A friend of mine, and electrical engineer (EE), bought a used car from an elderly neighbor back in the early 1990's. The car had regular 3k mile oil changes, but with the typical low-grade conventional oil of the day, and the car only did short hops. Before long, the engine failed due to blockage of the drain holes. My friend had a relative who worked at a GM dealership and got him a new motor for $1500, and he installed it himself. I gave the EE my synthetic oil speech. But, he came back into work the following Monday, said he'd looked at Mobil 1 at Walmart (then "Wal-Mart"), and said even a DIY oil change with Mobil 1 would cost him $40. I reminded him that his last DIY oil change cost him $1500 and took a week of evenings to do. The 25-watt bulb started to flicker.

I got tired of giving the "Autoputzer's synthetic oil speech." So, I built an Excel spreadsheet that took all the cost variables of an oil change, fuel economy using conventional oil, the cost of fuel, fuel economy improvement (%) from using synthetic, and the extended oil change interval using synthetic oil. The spreadsheet calculates the break even oil change interval, where synthetic oil pays for itself, and the cost savings achieved from extending the oil change interval. If you count the value of your time messing around with a DIY oil change, the savings are huge. That data finally convinced a lot of my friends, especially EE's, to switch to synthetic.

EE's are stubborn bunch. One of my EE friends bought a used Pontiac Firebird with a 3800 V6, those engines that GM changed to a 10W-30 because they were cooking conventional 5W-30. I warned him about that, but he didn't listen, and the thing sludged up and one of the hydraulic lifters got stuck. Luckily, an engine flush got it loose again. But, he still wouldn't use synthetic. He wore out the Firebird and got a used Mustang. He used synthetic for one fill, but said that his MPG didn't go up so he was going back to dino oil. His MPG didn't go up because it was summer, he was running the AC, and we live in tourist town with heavy traffic in the summer. :dunno:
 

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I had the VC off my M52TU in my e46 this past weekend. Was surprised to see this gunk on the underside of the cover. I've put about 140K miles on it in the past 14 years since I bought it (251K total). I change the oil every 7750 miles (halfway on the onboard service reminder), and used M1 0W-40 until it lost LL-01 cert. The last 2 changes have been Castrol Edge 0W-40. The gunk is not baked on - I could wipe it off with a rag.





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Discussion Starter #19
I had the VC off my M52TU in my e46 this past weekend. Was surprised to see this gunk on the underside of the cover. I've put about 140K miles on it in the past 14 years since I bought it (251K total). I change the oil every 7750 miles (halfway on the onboard service reminder), and used M1 0W-40 until it lost LL-01 cert. The last 2 changes have been Castrol Edge 0W-40. The gunk is not baked on - I could wipe it off with a rag.

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AM.
Pics aren't showing up, but if it's black in sludge, brown and flakey it's varnish, and whitish/yellow its condensation (common this time of year). The first 2 are caused by extended OCI (in your case not enough to be catastrophic, looking at your miles), but clearly enough to sludge. Driving styles have a lot to play too... an engine driven 10k highway between oil changes will typically be cleaner than a city driven engine with an OCI of maybe half (all else equal), the difference being heat cycling, which is why the CCVs in these things are prone to failure. If it's condensation, it's also a matter of not being driven long and hard enough this time of year, the moisture doesn't get a chance to get cooked out.

On a side note: does your OBSM count down at the same rate that the odometer counts up? When I first bought the X3, I also went with the halfway mark for the first oil change (7500 mi), but when I looked at the odometer, saw that I'd actually accrued 9800 miles. From that point forward, it's been 5k miles.

But again... not looking for a battle of the OCIs or even what oil to use, but rather as a reference of oil the other jobs oil has to do today other than lubrication (hydraulics, cooling, cleaning, etc), and why additives are important (anti-foaming, for example).
 

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That's weird. The pics show up on my screen. I just modified the links. Do they show now? I'll have to compare the actual miles to the onboard system.

AM.
 
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