So your BMW oil service light is on, but what does that mean? What's wrong and what does your BMW actually need? The oil service light can mean that your car needs more than just a basic oil change. This brief guide covers the BMW E46 3-Series, BMW E39 5-Series, BMW E38 7-Series, BMW E83 X3, and BMW E53 X5 models.
BMW Oil Service
BMW makes oil service pretty simple to understand so there's no guessing when things need to be done. Regular oil service is due every 5,000 miles unless inspection 1 or 2 service is due. No matter how often you drive your vehicle (unless it sees track time) it is best to perform an engine oil service every 5,000 miles. If you're tracking your car, this should be done every couple track days at most. When you complete an oil change, however, do not reset the service interval; this will help keep you on track of when the inspection services are needed.
BMW Oil Types
Always use a high-performance 5W-30 or 5W-40 synthetic engine oil for the M52, M52TU, and M54 6-cylinder engines along with the M62, M62TU, and N62 8-cylinder engines. We recommend the following from LIQUI MOLY:
If you want a full list of manufacturer specs and the recommended LIQUI MOLY engine oil options, you can use our guide, here.
BMW Oil Service Intervals:
BMW recommends an oil (and filter) service/change every 5,000-miles along with these inspection and service intervals:
- 15,000 miles - Oil and Safety Service (O/S)
- 30,000 miles - BMW Inspection I (I/1)
- 45,000 miles - Oil and Safety Service (O/S)
- 60,000 miles - BMW Inspection II (I/2)
- 75,000 miles - Oil and Safety Service (O/S)
- 90,000 miles - BMW Inspection I (I/1)
The oil and safety service is a BMW inspection that goes over the condition of your:
- Windshield wipers and fluid
- Any lights on your dash
- The steering linkage
- Engine coolant level
- All rubber belts and hoses
- Suspension components
- Tire pressure
BMW Inspection Service 1 & 2
BMW inspection services fall at very specific intervals. As these vehicles are approaching much higher mileage, these intervals reset and start again every 100,000 miles. One of the most overlooked parts of these inspections is the simple but incredibly important changing of your cabin air filter. This video and the article below explain why it's so important to change these filters.
Inspection 1 Service:
- Charcoal cabin air filter replacement
- Valve lash adjustment (M3 only)
Inspection 1 Service Interval:
- 30,000 miles
- 90,000 miles
- 150,000 miles
- 210,000 miles
Inspection 2 Service:
- Charcoal cabin air filter replacement
- Air filter replacement
- Rear Differential fluid change
- All wheel drive service of both differentials and transfer case fluid change
- Spark plug replacement (M3/M5 only)
Inspection 2 Service Interval:
- 60,000 miles
- 120,000 miles
- 180,000 miles
- 240,000 miles
Other Recommended BMW Maintenance:
- Brake and Clutch fluid replacement every 2 years or 25,000 miles
- Coolant should be replaced every 2 years or 25,000 miles
- Spark plugs at 50,000 miles
- Fuel filter at 50,000 miles (if serviceable)
- Automatic transmission fluid every 40-50k miles
- Drive belts every 50-60k miles or 4-5 years
How do you reset the service light on vehicles 2000 and newer?
- Push and hold the left pin on the instrument cluster
- Turn the key to the accessory position 1 (it may say TEST, keep pressing)
- Wait for the oil service or inspection to flash RESET
- Release the pin, press and hold again until the display shows oil service 15,525 miles
- Release the pin again
So what else should you do in between services?
I always recommend checking the basics:
- Make sure your tire pressures are set, you can find the proper inflation settings for your vehicle on the driver's door B-pillar.
- Don't forget about your spare tire's pressure and condition.
- Visually inspect your tires for bubbles, gashes, and just make sure they have tread on them.
- Visually inspect engine, transmission, steering, cooling system, and brake system for leaks.
- Check brake linings, if the pads are thinner than the backing plate you are going to need brakes soon.
- Check drive shafts and axles for leaks and wear
- Check for tightness of suspension, steering linkage
- Scan vehicle for fault codes
- Check parking brake, adjust if needed.
- Top off your fluids: washer fluid, power steering, and coolant.
- Check the wipers, if they are streaking a little it's time for a new set.
- Check your horn, you'd would be amazed at the amount of horns I find that don't work.
- Lubricate hinges, latches, and sunroof tracks (always a great idea before winter so that your sunroof will work like new come the spring).
- Check your exterior lights, and make sure your hazard switch is function properly.
- Check your battery, most batteries have a date stamp, if its older than 5 years you may want to save yourself the trouble of a breakdown and replace it.
The best thing for your vehicle is to just drive it, you own a BMW and it is made to be driven. Nobody puts 300,000 miles on a car that sits in their garage.
If you have any questions about the projects and services you should be tackling on your BMW, leave them in the comments section below.
Jerry is a Master BMW technician from Boston, MA with 10 years of automotive experience. He currently owns a BMW X5 3.0i, 540i, and a bass boat. During the week he spends his time in the shop fixing BMWs and likes fresh water fishing on the weekends.