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Oil Condition Sensor Replacement

Pelican Technical Article:

Oil Condition Sensor Replacement

Nick Czerula


1 hour1 hr






Set of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, drain pan

Applicable Models:

BMW 525i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 528i xDrive Sedan (2009-10)
BMW 528i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 530i/xi Sedan (2004-07)
BMW 530xi Wagon (2006-07)
BMW 535i xDrive Sedan/Wagon (2009-10)
BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)
BMW 545i Sedan (2004-05)
BMW 550i Sedan (2006-10)

Parts Required:

Oil level sensor, engine oil

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool engine

Performance Gain:

Car will display correct oil level, remedy oil leak

Complementary Modification:

Change oil and filter at same time

Engine oil is the essential lubricant that maintains low friction among engine moving parts and additionally cools the engine. Your engine requires a minimum level of oil in its sump in order to circulate sufficient volume and pressure throughout the engine oiling system.

Engine oil picks up various contaminants over time, chief among them being combustion byproducts from normal engine operation. Particularly when the engine is cold and additional fuel is needed to operate it, some of the unburned or partially burned fuel slips past the piston rings and mixes with the oil. Modern automotive oils are designed with solvents, anti-acid components and detergents so that they can store and neutralize the contaminant load up to a certain point But eventually the ability of engine oil to protect internal engine parts from damage by the contaminants is depleted.

BMW E60 models utilize an oil condition sensor located in the oil pan. The oil condition sensor is responsible for supplying oil level information to the vehicle computer system. The sensor also has a pH detector in order to monitor engine oil acidity; this is communicated to the Condition-Based Service (CBS) system and displayed to the driver via instrument cluster warnings. Late BMW E60 models (starting in 2006) use this sensor instead of a dipstick to monitor oil level. On vehicles without a dipstick, you can check oil level via the driver information center. See our tech article on changing your engine oil.

The sensor is prone to failure in two ways: it can fail electrically and it can leak oil. When it fails electrically, you will see a yellow oil warning light on the instrument panel. If a yellow oil warning light illuminates on your instrument panel, immediately shut the engine OFF and check the engine oil level. If the oil level is OK and the warning light is ON, the sensor has likely failed. The DME (engine control module) will likely have a fault code for the faulty sensor.

When servicing, have a suitable container to drain and catch the dripping engine oil. Have rags to clean any engine oil that is spilled and always wear eye protection and gloves.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Start by raising and supporting the front of the vehicle safely. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Working beneath the front of the vehicle, remove the plastic splash shields and reinforcement plate to gain access to the engine oil pan. See our teach article on engine splash shields removing.

Clean the area around the oil condition sensor thoroughly.
Figure 1

Clean the area around the oil condition sensor thoroughly. Working at the oil condition sensor, disconnect the electrical connector.

Place the container (green arrow, with a volume of 8 quarts of engine oil) under the engine oil pan.
Figure 2

Place the container (green arrow, with a volume of 8 quarts of engine oil) under the engine oil pan. Remove engine oil drain plug (red arrow) and allow the engine oil to drain into the container. If you plan to reuse your engine oil, be sure that the container is clean and free of debris. Once the engine oil is fully drained, reinstall the engine oil drain plug and tighten it.

Then remove the three 10mm mounting nuts from the oil condition sensor (red arrows).
Figure 3

Then remove the three 10mm mounting nuts from the oil condition sensor (red arrows).

Remove the oil condition sensor from the oil pan.
Figure 4

Remove the oil condition sensor from the oil pan. Be prepared to catch any dripping oil. Once the sensor has been removed from the oil pan, clean the oil level sensor mounting area thoroughly. The sealing O-ring may be stuck to the oil pan. If so, pull it down to remove it and clean any part of the O-ring that remains on the oil pan.

This photo shows a late model all-wheel drive model.
Figure 5

This photo shows a late model all-wheel drive model. The sensor is similar on all models.

If you have a leak caused by rust around the sensor O-ring, you will have to repair the rust.
Figure 6

If you have a leak caused by rust around the sensor O-ring, you will have to repair the rust. You can either clean the rust from the oil pan and repaint the oil pan, or replace the oil pan. I have had good success repainting oil pans. It is a more affordable and easier option.

To install: Apply a small amount of new engine oil to the oil condition sensor seal. Install the oil level sensor into the oil pan. Tighten the three 10mm nuts and reconnect the electrical connector. Fill the engine with oil. Start the engine and allow it to run for one minute. Then inspect the oil level sensor for leaks. Once you are sure no leaks are present, reinstall the plastic splash shields.

Comments and Suggestions:
Steve Comments: SO.. if your low oil warning light goes on telling you to add a quart of oil, this may actually be due to a failed sensor? If so, when you add a quart of oil you will have excess oil which may then damage the oil pan gasket requiring its costly replacement and essentially leave you with a faulty oil sensor.. only to repeat then above senario. So how do your distinguish that you really are low on oil vs a faulty oil sensor in cars without a dipstick like my 2006 530xi wagon? Many thanks
December 12, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check for fault codes. If none and you suspect faulty sensor. Drain oil, measure amount drained. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rigo Comments: I have a 2011 BMW 528i. My oil level sensor has been bad for months. I was told by the shop that it was because I have a BDS fault. A fault that shows miscommunication between the alternator and ECU. They say that this is causing the oil level sensor AND the TPMS module to not work. How true do you think this can be?
October 16, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You mean BSD? if the charging system is not working, other electrical components will not function correctly. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Al Comments: It does seem to leak oil a little bit, there is no fault code, but I cant check the oil level, is this a level sensor?
October 11, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Most likely yes. Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
June 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You don't have to. But it is recommended to disconnect the battery negative cable any time you work on the electrical system. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
penguin Comments: The computer system says my engine oil is empty but i just replaced it. Is the sensor broken? I do not see a light sensor for oil in my dashboard.
November 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: First, double check there isn't an oil leak. Could be a faulty sensor. I would check the DME for fault codes. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
manny Comments: After you change the sensor, if the warning light is still on does it eventually go off or do you have to reset it somehow?
March 24, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It should go off. You should clear the DME if the fault is stored there. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Wed 2/21/2018 02:52:44 AM