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Changing Your Motor Oil and Filter
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Changing Your Motor Oil and Filter

Nick Czerula

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

$50

Talent:

*

Tools:

36mm socket, 17mm wrench, Phillips and flathead screwdriver, Oil pan, Oil funnel

Applicable Models:

BMW E46 3-Series (1999-06)

Parts Required:

Engine oil (6~9qts. Check Owner's Manual), oil filter, drain plug sealing washer

Hot Tip:

Work with a slightly warm engine.

Performance Gain:

Maintaining engine longevity

Complementary Modification:

Install synthetic oil

In this article, I'll go over the steps involved with replacing the engine oil and filter on the BMW M52 and M54 engines. Be sure to work with a cool engine and have a drain pan with the capacity of at least 10 liters. You should replace your engine oil and filter every 5,000 miles. Changing your engine oil is one of the most frequent and basic tasks you will perform on your E46. Remember to use high quality oil that meets BMW specifications, (specifications can be found in your owner's manual) a high quality BMW oil filter and keep yourself protected from engine oil using eye protection and gloves.

First, run the engine for 2-3 minutes to warm your engine oil. Do not allow engine to get too hot. Next, raise and support the front of vehicle so it's easy and safe to work on.

Using a 36mm socket on a 6 inch
Figure 1

Using a 36mm socket on a 6 inch extension, loosen the oil filter housing lid until you can see the sealing o-ring (green arrow). This allows the oil in your BMW filter housing and filter to drain into engine oil pan. If you do not do this first, you will leave about a liter of old engine oil behind. If equipped: Open the oil drain plug access door. Most of the access doors are missing from vehicles I work on. Place your drain pan so it's centered below the oil drain plug.

Using a 17mm wrench, remove the oil drain plug.
Figure 2

Using a 17mm wrench, remove the oil drain plug. Allow all your engine oil to drain until it stops dripping. Keep an eye on the oil as it drains. The stream of oil will move and there is a chance it will miss the drain pan and it's never any fun cleaning up oil spills. Install the oil drain plug with new sealing washer and torque to specs. Close the oil drain plug access door if your model has one. Remove the drain pan from below vehicle.

Remove the oil filter cover from the engine by pulling it straight up as shown and then remove your old BMW E46 oil filter from the cover.
Figure 3

Remove the oil filter cover from the engine by pulling it straight up as shown and then remove your old BMW E46 oil filter from the cover.

This photo shows what can happen when a low quality oil filter is used.
Figure 4

This photo shows what can happen when a low quality oil filter is used. The filter can collapse and fall apart inside oil the filter housing. If your filter is bent like the one shown, inspect your filter housing and filter cover for oil filter debris. A broken piece of filter will jam and crush the new filter when you tighten the cover.

Using a small flathead screwdriver, remove the o-ring from the oil filter cover (yellow arrow).
Figure 5

Using a small flathead screwdriver, remove the o-ring from the oil filter cover (yellow arrow).

Install a new o-ring and filter.
Figure 6

Install a new o-ring and filter. Then torque the oil filter cover to specs.

Fill engine with engine oil, while filling use dipstick to obtain correct level. Rear wheel drive models: 6.5 liters All wheel drive models: 7.5 liters M3 models: 5.5 liters
To check your work, start the engine, confirm the oil warning light goes out after a few seconds and shut off the engine.
Figure 7

To check your work, start the engine, confirm the oil warning light goes out after a few seconds and shut off the engine. Next, pull the dipstick and recheck your oil level. The oil level should be within area marked by the green arrows. Check that there are no oil leaks, lower vehicle from jack stands and you are done.

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Comments and Suggestions:
najj Comments: 2005
October 15, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use 5w/30. Confirm that is what BMW recommends for your climate. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
najj Comments: hello i put 10/40w oil castrol on my 325ci im living in lebanon middel east and my engine have 185000 km is that good or should i swap to 5/30w
October 2, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year is you vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Brian Comments: Sorry, either 0 or 5. I thought the number before the w only pertained to viscosity for cold start up ambient temps
September 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem, I don't like to assume things when answering questions, love details. Personally I would stick with 5w30, unless BMW says different in the owner's manual.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Brian Comments: I have always used Liqui Moly 5W-30 on my 2004 325i automatic with m54 engine. Should I consider switching to xW-40 during the hot part of the year when average daytime highs are above 90F? Thanks.
September 11, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Xw-40, what does the X represent?? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Frankie Comments: If I've been using conventional oil how do I go about switching back to synthetic oil?
September 9, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Simply perform an oil change using synthetic oil. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
dboyd294 Comments: Also, I live in Texas and have been using 10W30 synthetic oil but noticed BMW recommends 5W30. Should I change?
August 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Use the oil BMW recommends for your climate. 5W30 is likely the choice. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dboyd294 Comments: I noticed after I put the drain plug back that the washer had fell into my used oil. Do I need to worry about not putting the washer on the drain plug?
August 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, you need the sealing washer. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
James Comments: Does anybody have a suggestion on how to add oil to the filter housing at an oil change to reduce the amount of time that the engine is running dry at initial restart? I believe that the housing will not hold unless the filter and cap are on, but am not sure.
July 7, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No. Pouring oil into the filter housing will let it drain into the oil pan, (with the cover off). - Nick at Pelican Parts  
James Comments: I was changing the oil for the first time this weekend in my 2000 323i and the BMW/Mann filter I purchased from Pelican was about 1/2" longer than the filter I removed. Consequently, it was difficult to install. Is this normal? I had to really force the filter down into the housing by hand before I could get the filter cap low enough where its male threads would reach/engage the female threads on the housing.
July 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your old filter may have been collapsed from age. Most filters do need to be pushed into the housing to reach the bottom. To be sure, double check the part number you received with the Pelican Parts parts specialists, call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Michelle Comments: I have a 2001 bmw 325i & i would like to know what kind of oil to use for it?
March 14, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I like the BMW stuff. See oil options here:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi?action=frameset&return-url=/cgi-bin/supertech/catalog.cgi%3Faction%3Dframeback%26page%3D1005&catalog-url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pelicanparts.com%2Fcatalog%2FSuperCat%2F0216%2FBMW_0216_BASFLT_pg2.htm %3Futm_source%3DSuperTech%23item6 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
seth Comments: If a car has over 100k miles and has had regular oil changes with full synthetic oil, should using s engine clean/flush additive like liqui moly engine flush be used before next oil change?
thanks a lot really loving these tip/how to sections
February 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the oil has been changed regularly, no need for a flush. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
mandy Comments: i have a 2005 bmw 325i and was wondering if those same steps to changing oil would apply? How about the tools? And i have another question, i just bought a new battery 2-3 months ago and sometimes its hard to crank. I dont believe anything was left on and my battery died . Of course i jumped it, but the prior battery gave off a a foul sulfur smell before i changed it, is that normal? Thanks for any information
January 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This should apply to your vehicle.

If your battery has an odor, it is likely faulty. Confirm the charging system is working correctly too. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Riccardo Comments: Hi Nick, I recently did the oil service + filter in my '02 330Ci and I have a problem concerning oil quantity.
After draining the old oil and changing the filter, I had to put about 6,5 liters of new oil to get to the maximum on the dipstick, but then I let the engine run for 2 mins and after that the level on the dipstick went to minimum... Is this due to the filter housing retaining some oil? Should I add more oil to get to the maximum even if this exceeds 6,5 lt in total? Thank you. Riccardo
September 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The engine should hold 6.5 liter or 7 quarts. Always top up if low. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
PaulRichard Comments: Hi Nick. My car does not have an oil pressure gauge. Do I need to take it to a shop to obtain a reading? Also, if it is within norms, what do I do then? Thanks
August 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I apologize, what I meant was test oil pressure. You will have to install a test gauge. If you don;t have one, a shop will. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Paul Richard Comments: Hello. I have a 2001 e46 with 91k miles on it. Recently the engine just seems loud for 1-2 seconds and is then fine. I changed the oil and used the proper BMW filter and no difference. It's not a rod noise it just sounds loud like a dry motor. The Dealership said not to worry. Should I try an additive like Rislone? Thanks
August 15, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: An additive won't help. Check oil pressure at start up, or when the noise is present. What does it read? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
myfirstbmw3 Comments: I'm sorry, should have given more info. The engine is also noisy until the light goes out,like all the oil in the engine has drained to the pan and has to be re-primed every time I start the car. any ideas??
July 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ok, the oil pressure light. Now I am on board.

I would check oil level to start, if correct, confirm oil pressure is good at start and idle.

Check that the sealing O-rings on the filter housing and lid are in good shape. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
myfirstbmw3 Comments: After my oil change,the oil warning light goes out after 8 to 10 seconds. any ideas on what could cause this to happen ?
July 19, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Hard to guess. I would start by checking the voltage and ground to one bulb. If voltage is normal, try replacing the bulbs. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
al Comments: On my 2003 M3, it says to use castrol 10w60. Can I use LiquiMoly10w60 instead, or MUST I use Castrol?
February 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can use any oil that is approved by BMW, as far as BMW goes. In reality if the rating and grade are correct it should be ok. Check your owner's manual for the oil rating. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
absum@rocketmail.com Comments:
January 28, 2015
absum@rocketmail Comments:
January 28, 2015
Tony Comments: theres a tapping noise coming out of the oil filter housing, i thought it was a belt of pulley but after changing those, the noise still there.. any ideas
October 16, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention what vehicle you have. Could be a faulty oil filter or a broken check valve. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 02:19:23 AM