Hey guys, Ridge here again. One common misconception about BMW’s is that they cost a lot to maintain. While this may be true in some instances, and if you pay a mechanic to do the work for you, then yes, maintenance costs can be high. However, a BMW doesn’t necessarily have to be more expensive than a regular Honda Accord when it comes to oil changes.
BMW’s are just like regular cars in that they require oil changes. This is nothing new, and here in the states BMW’s are viewed as luxury cars, where in Europe, they’re often seen as just good sporty practical cars that are actually relatively reliable. Some people use the notion of their BMW’s as being high tech and advanced machines, so much so that they will not allow anyone but a professional to touch their car. STOP doing this!! BMW’s are no more difficult to change the oil on than my 1999 Chevrolet Silverado, which is a barebones pickup.
Personally, I usually run the same oil for roughly 6 months, or 5000 miles, whichever comes first. Most BMW’s are recommended from the factory for upwards of 10,000 miles and one year between oil changes, but I do not trust this message, and I believe the only reason BMW does it is to lure buyers into their dealership to initially purchase the car because of the lack of maintenance required. Also, BMW can save service costs associated with their maintenance plans they will gladly sell you. The downside to this yearly oil change regimen, is that you have the same oil in your car for a long time, and just try to wrap your head around how long that truly is in an engine. A year is 365 days, which is 8,760 hours. That is a huge amount of hours to run the same oil in your car.
OIL CHANGES ARE CHEAP AND THEY ARE THE BEST PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE YOU CAN DO!
Currently I drive an E46 M3. Now, an E46 M3 is a little different compared to most BMW’s in the way that it requires an oil viscosity of 10W-60. Most “regular” BMW’s usually will use a 5W-30 in their recommended viscosities. 10W-60 is a very thick oil, and the reason it is specified, is that it theoretically reduces bearing wear.
Now, E46 M3 owners lose sleep over rod bearing issues in their cars, and most if not all abide by the rule of using the thicker viscosity oil in their cars. This weight of oil is specialized, and you can’t necessarily find it in stores around where you live. Because of this, you have to locate the oil companies that actually produce 10W-60 oils online. A couple main ones that do are Liqui-Moly, and Castrol. 10W-60 is not an oil that is very common, and because of this, it is more expensive to purchase. On average, a quart of 10W-60 can set you back easily in the $15 dollar range.
To combat these high prices, I buy the oil in large containers. 5 quart containers are generally cheaper relatively compared to quarts. Castrol is a favorite amond E46 M3 owners, and Liqui-Moly is a pretty close second. I choose to run Liqui-Moly in my car because there are cost savings to be had.
How Much I Pay
I purchase my oil off of Amazon, and as of this writing, a 5 quart jug of the good stuff costs around $40.00.
However, an E46 M3 specifies the amount of oil for an oil change to be 5.8 quarts. What I do is I purchase two 5 quart jugs of Liqui Moly, and use roughly 5.8 of the quarts to do my oil change. This means that I have 4.2 quarts left over after the oil change for random fillups when the yellow oil light illuminates, or I can save it for my next oil change down the line.
Now, if 5 quarts costs $40.00, then each quart costs $8.00. If you need 5.8 quarts for an oil change, you multiply the 5.8 quarts by $8.00.
OIL COST PER OIL CHANGE:Roughly $46.40
Obviously, it is a necessity to change your oil filter every oil change as well. The filter for the E46 M3 is made by Mann. It is part number HU926/4X.
This filter can be picked up inexpensively on Amazon here.
The filter as of my writing in late 2017 costs $9.31. Shipping is fast as well since it is a Prime item.
OIL FILTER COST PER OIL CHANGE: $9.31
If you add these two totals together, the oil filter and the oil itself, you come out with a total of $55.71
TOTAL COST OF DIY OIL CHANGE: $55.71
By buying these items in larger quantities, you are saving money, and maintaining your racecar for cheap. That sounds like a win win to me.
If you are just starting out with the oil change process, then I would recommend Rhino Ramps as I use them for every change. You can find them here for a great price.
They have come in handy for me many many times and will continue to do so. I also use the Capri Tools Oil Drain Pan. It is extremely sturdy and has handles that make handling used oil a breeze. I bought mine at Amazon for around $15.00.
Let me tell you guys, if you went to the dealer and had an oil change done, I bet it would cost upwards of $100.00 and they would try to butter you up with “courtesy inspections” and “free” coffee while they hope you shop for a new BMW on the showroom floor and trade in your M3 because it’s “old”.
By doing this procedure yourself, you are saving money, and learning a lot about your car. While under the vehicle, you can inspect power steering hoses, oil pan leaks, main seal leaks, etc. The whole process will only take a half hour anyway, including throwing it up on ramps.
Now get out there and change your oil and do it on the cheap!