Today’s little project was an oil change on my former bosses BMW. This particular Bimmer was my only chance to drive a manual / stick car in the US and I’ve had the privilege of running some errands in it since it was new in 2007. In fact this Bimmer inspired me to buy my Miata, not that the Mazda is in any way better than the BMW, it’s just something that I could afford. And the reason for me doing the oil change and not a local shop that I took this car to yesterday was also cost… I was quoted $124 all in at an oil change joint while the DIY cost me less than $50 bux!
To start I went on the forums to research what oil to use, how the oil change should be done, etc… The forums were a fucking mind fuck! Holly shit… do these people get carried away with their bullshit and without really answering the questions presented to them. So the purpose of this blog post is to share what I’ve done to my friend’s car and hopefully it will help someone in the future with a similar project on their car.
So BMW recommended Castrol in 2007, says so on the oil cap. I searched for the Castrol products. BMW Z4 takes 5W-30 oil weight and boss wanted synthetic. Great… I searched around, WalMart was cheapest at $25 for 5 quarts and another $7.50 for the 6th quart (of which the engine apparently takes between six and seven)… and all was good. Once I picked up the oil at the store and looked on the back, nothing was mentioned about BMW certification. So I searched for the “German Castrol” that everyone recommended on the forums. Luckily WalMart carried Castrol Edge European Formula (Made in Germany as opposed to Made in USA) but only in 0W-40 weight. I searched the forums again to see if it would work. Reached out to a few people I know who own or work on BMW Z4’s and they said that oil will work. The in-store price of the oil was even cheaper at $22.97 a jug! (Whereas Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone sell the same thing for $35+). I did order a Mann Oil filter from Advance using their famous 20% discount coupon to buy the Mann HU 816 X for just $9.99 plus tax.
That was yesterday. Early this morning I went to the office to pick up the Bimmer and bring it home. Figured the engine would warm up nicely while I drive it the 5 miles home… It certainly did. Perhaps even too much as everything in the engine compartment was scalding hot. And then it started raining… so my oil change was in the wet… Just my luck!
The actual process of an oil change in this car, that for some weird European or maybe German reason doesn’t even come with a dip stick anymore, is fairly straight forward and simple. Only a few steps. I started by undoing the filter which is on the top of the engine. A strap wrench worked fine while many forum posts recommended a “special” tool… old filter was pretty filthy. Popped the new filter in, changed two O-rings, put some oil on them and screwed it back in.
Getting under the car was tricky much like the Miata. But I figured using two jacks would get the job done. I used a 3 ton Sears jack to raise one side. For the other side I used a scissor jack from my Ford Explorer to raise it high enough for my fat belly to fit under the car. Once there I was expecting to find an aluminum door that covers the bottom of the drain pan… it was missing. So I had direct access to the 17mm nut which came off pretty easily. Drained the oil, put a new crush washer on the nut to tighten it back up. Filled the car up with new oil… and voila!
Next step was to reset the on-board computer so the oil light doesn’t come on. There are two buttons right above the steering wheel closest to the instrument cluster. Held one button down while turning the key one click, held for five seconds and the display changed to something I couldn’t really read. I assume it reset. Took the car for the drive back to the office and selected the “Oil” setting on the dash and the diagnostic said OK… that’s the electronic dipstick at work… but it was showing oil on the first mark, so I’ll buy another quart of oil to top it off to at least mid-point on the dipstick.
I had such a Jeremy Clarkson moment that “I mended something!” I decided to change the oil on my dad’s van too…
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan that now runs Mobil 1 5w-30 synthetic.