BMW E46 3-SERIES: M54 inline6 engine. WHAT OIL?

Messages
9
Location
Ohio USA.
Hey guys, first time posting here. But yes I have searched an have come up with no real definitive answer so I thought I'd try a more direct approach by simple asking you all. With my 2002 BMW 325CI I have somewhat of a unique situation. My car is used as a company delivery vehicle, 5-days per week 10 hours driving time per day, Approximately 1000 miles driven per week. The driving is 100% in town city street driving only, and the car will never see more then 45mph. or get higher then 4th gear, and the M54 motor will see multiple hours of "idling" time per week. Which oil do you well informed folks recommend for these extreme driving characteristics. I live in Ohio so summer time weather hover's around 90*F. winter time temp drop as low as 10*F. I have an oil change up coming rather soon and need to make up my indecisive mind. Personal preference is Castrol of some kind but I could be completely wrong. Price is NOT a factor, Engine protection is #1 importance.
 
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10,146
Location
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Since you're driving 1,000 miles/week you're going to be performing fairly frequent oil changes. Any 5W-30 synthetic will do the job in your 13 year old Bimmer but if you just want to use only BMW approved oils Castrol 0W-30 will work well.
 
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2,253
Location
London, England
Originally Posted By: rfeir
Mobil 1 (European Formula) 0W-40 is on BMW's approved list. Highly recommended.
What he said. Can't really go wrong. Can't agree with going for 5w30 or 0w30 as with all the idling and city traffic i would expect oil temps to be relatively high. Just my opinion based on using a petrol engined car for similar duties many years ago. And even if there is an oil cooler it isn't going to be as efficient as it would be if driving on the open road. I do remember using a Scirocco with an oil temp readout and i noted that the oil temperature would be relatively high. And anyway i have never had any problems with Mobil oil
 
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10,146
Location
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: bigjl
[quote=rfeir] Can't agree with going for 5w30 or 0w30 as with all the idling and city traffic i would expect oil temps to be relatively high.
Well BMW would disagree with you as 5W-30 is what's spec's for all Bimmers and it's even the factory fill on the M3. BMWs have to be driven very hard with high rev's to generate high oil temp's and being stuck in traffic on a hot day isn't going to do it. Besides even if it did if you're not using WOT it's not an issue anyway.
 
Messages
3
Location
NJ
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Anything with the LL-01 approval.
+1. Do a google on "BMW LL-01 approved oils". Pennzoil, Castrol, Mobil, Valvoline, and Havoline just to name a few have synthetic oils that meet BMW LL-01 requirements.
 
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Messages
62
Location
San Francisco, CA
As everyone said, a BMW LL-01 oil is that you want. There are a number of oils on the list but the ones that you can find the easiest @ Walmart will be Mobil 1 0w-40 and Castrol Edge 0w-40, both in cost effective 5qt Jugs. I have a 330Ci, I have used both of these and they both work very well in the M54.
 
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Messages
402
Location
None
Get the cheapest, good oil you can. Personally i recommend Mobil 1 0W-40 since its widely available and not really expensive. Given the time that this car will be idling and driven i seriously recommend you doing some other things which could be more important than the oil. The M54 (As with most BMW engines) engines are known to have fragile and weak cooling systems. You should check the radiator reservoir, all water/coolant pipes, water pump, belts and one of the most important thing IMO . . . the CCV. If that thing fails and you drive your car without noticing it you will cause some serious engine damage. (I know because i went through it in my own M54) The rest is just usual preventive maintenance like spark plugs and fluids. As long as you keep the cooling system properly and do regular oil changes the M54 is pretty much bullet proof. That thing never dies, even with heavy sludge and without oil. (Yeah, also happened to me)
 
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Originally Posted By: Noobie
Get the cheapest, good oil you can. Personally i recommend Mobil 1 0W-40 since its widely available and not really expensive. Given the time that this car will be idling and driven i seriously recommend you doing some other things which could be more important than the oil. The M54 (As with most BMW engines) engines are known to have fragile and weak cooling systems. You should check the radiator reservoir, all water/coolant pipes, water pump, belts and one of the most important thing IMO . . . the CCV. If that thing fails and you drive your car without noticing it you will cause some serious engine damage. (I know because i went through it in my own M54) The rest is just usual preventive maintenance like spark plugs and fluids. As long as you keep the cooling system properly and do regular oil changes the M54 is pretty much bullet proof. That thing never dies, even with heavy sludge and without oil. (Yeah, also happened to me)
Agree that BMW 3 series have notoriously poor cooling systems, prone to catastrophic failure. The radiator let go on my E36 328is and I consider myself very fortunate to have not lost the engine. It's worth doing the radiator, expansion tank, water pump and belts on a preventative basis rather than waiting for them to let go, because it's not a matter if, it's a matter of when. That and don't be cheap in general on preventative maintenance. Regularly change ALL of the fluids including coolant, lubricants, power steering and brake fluid.
 
Messages
5,622
Location
Atlanta,GA
Originally Posted By: bimmerdriver
Originally Posted By: Noobie
Get the cheapest, good oil you can. Personally i recommend Mobil 1 0W-40 since its widely available and not really expensive. Given the time that this car will be idling and driven i seriously recommend you doing some other things which could be more important than the oil. The M54 (As with most BMW engines) engines are known to have fragile and weak cooling systems. You should check the radiator reservoir, all water/coolant pipes, water pump, belts and one of the most important thing IMO . . . the CCV. If that thing fails and you drive your car without noticing it you will cause some serious engine damage. (I know because i went through it in my own M54) The rest is just usual preventive maintenance like spark plugs and fluids. As long as you keep the cooling system properly and do regular oil changes the M54 is pretty much bullet proof. That thing never dies, even with heavy sludge and without oil. (Yeah, also happened to me)
Agree that BMW 3 series have notoriously poor cooling systems, prone to catastrophic failure. The radiator let go on my E36 328is and I consider myself very fortunate to have not lost the engine. It's worth doing the radiator, expansion tank, water pump and belts on a preventative basis rather than waiting for them to let go, because it's not a matter if, it's a matter of when. That and don't be cheap in general on preventative maintenance. Regularly change ALL of the fluids including coolant, lubricants, power steering and brake fluid.
Thankfully the models from say 2006 on do not have fragile coolant system parts
 
Messages
1,697
Location
Auburn, GA
Originally Posted By: bimmerdriver
Originally Posted By: Noobie
Get the cheapest, good oil you can. Personally i recommend Mobil 1 0W-40 since its widely available and not really expensive. Given the time that this car will be idling and driven i seriously recommend you doing some other things which could be more important than the oil. The M54 (As with most BMW engines) engines are known to have fragile and weak cooling systems. You should check the radiator reservoir, all water/coolant pipes, water pump, belts and one of the most important thing IMO . . . the CCV. If that thing fails and you drive your car without noticing it you will cause some serious engine damage. (I know because i went through it in my own M54) The rest is just usual preventive maintenance like spark plugs and fluids. As long as you keep the cooling system properly and do regular oil changes the M54 is pretty much bullet proof. That thing never dies, even with heavy sludge and without oil. (Yeah, also happened to me)
Agree that BMW 3 series have notoriously poor cooling systems, prone to catastrophic failure. The radiator let go on my E36 328is and I consider myself very fortunate to have not lost the engine. It's worth doing the radiator, expansion tank, water pump and belts on a preventative basis rather than waiting for them to let go, because it's not a matter if, it's a matter of when. That and don't be cheap in general on preventative maintenance. Regularly change ALL of the fluids including coolant, lubricants, power steering and brake fluid.
Yup. Every 80k a BMW should get water pump, thermostat, ALL coolant hoses & fittings, fan blade & clutch, radiator, expansion tank, and cap. You would be shocked how many E36's I've bought for pennies from people 'it's pressurizing the upper hose, it needs a head gasket (or it's got a cracked head)'. In reality - new cap solved that part of the problem. Which, in the grand scheme, ~$500 every 80k isn't really bad for cooling system maintenance. It's one of those things that will keep this engine running far longer than ti's competition. And you're right about the CCV, now that these cars are getting 10+ years old, just yank the intake manifold and replace ALL of the rubber and plastic hoses under there if you diagnose anything at all wrong under there. It's another couple hundred bucks WELL spent to prevent future headaches, as these engines are pretty sensitive to vacuum leaks. I can't for the life of me figure out how a bad cyclone separator could've damaged an engine though??
 
Originally Posted By: CATERHAM
Originally Posted By: bigjl
[quote=rfeir] Can't agree with going for 5w30 or 0w30 as with all the idling and city traffic i would expect oil temps to be relatively high.
Well BMW would disagree with you as 5W-30 is what's spec's for all Bimmers and it's even the factory fill on the M3. BMWs have to be driven very hard with high rev's to generate high oil temp's and being stuck in traffic on a hot day isn't going to do it. Besides even if it did if you're not using WOT it's not an issue anyway.
Ah, no. BMW would disagree with you also, although to be fair, if BMW's objective was to create confusion about oil, they have succeeded. On the M3/M4 (S55 engine), the factory recommended oil is 0W-30, and for earlier M models (e.g., such as the E46 M3 / S54 engine), TWS is the recommended oil. I'm sure there are other exceptions to your 5W-30 rule. As for your emphatic comment about how BMWs need to be driven very hard to generate high oil temperatures, that's not necessarily the case either, although, you didn't say what you mean by "high oil temps". Perhaps if you're going to make an emphatic comment, you should be more specific what you mean. In normal driving, when my engine is warmed up, the oil temperature will be around 90-95C. It varies somewhat depending on ambient temperature. When I drive it harder (still on the street, so not continuously flat out) the oil temperature will rise to 100-105, maybe a bit higher, again depending on ambient temperature and on how long I'm driving hard. Sitting in traffic on a hot day, the oil temperature will also hit 100 or so.
 
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6,336
Location
KY
I lived dangerously with my son's 2004 X3; at 148k the expansion tank blew but he he had been told that he would die a slow and painful death if he drove the car hot so he immediately switched it off. I didn't do the water pump/t-stat/radiator until 156k. While we were in there the vapor separator hoses and valve looked marginal so we replaced them as well. Now at 166k it is still going strong.
 
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402
Location
None
Originally Posted By: KenO
And you're right about the CCV, now that these cars are getting 10+ years old, just yank the intake manifold and replace ALL of the rubber and plastic hoses under there if you diagnose anything at all wrong under there. It's another couple hundred bucks WELL spent to prevent future headaches, as these engines are pretty sensitive to vacuum leaks. I can't for the life of me figure out how a bad cyclone separator could've damaged an engine though??
Long story short. CCV Failed -> Engine got clogged with sludge -> Engine ran without almost no oil (When i topped it i poured in 6.75QTS) -> Oil lever warning never came on because it seems that the sensor was not working -> Rough Idling -> Car would take at least 2-3 tries to start -> Took the car to replace the CCV and clean up sludge -> Ended up replacing all the CCV hoses and the camshafts since there was some serious wear and it was slightly bent.
 
Messages
1,697
Location
Auburn, GA
Originally Posted By: Noobie
Originally Posted By: KenO
And you're right about the CCV, now that these cars are getting 10+ years old, just yank the intake manifold and replace ALL of the rubber and plastic hoses under there if you diagnose anything at all wrong under there. It's another couple hundred bucks WELL spent to prevent future headaches, as these engines are pretty sensitive to vacuum leaks. I can't for the life of me figure out how a bad cyclone separator could've damaged an engine though??
Long story short. CCV Failed -> Engine got clogged with sludge -> Engine ran without almost no oil (When i topped it i poured in 6.75QTS) -> Oil lever warning never came on because it seems that the sensor was not working -> Rough Idling -> Car would take at least 2-3 tries to start -> Took the car to replace the CCV and clean up sludge -> Ended up replacing all the CCV hoses and the camshafts since there was some serious wear and it was slightly bent.
Oh wow, thats pretty extreme. What oil were you running, and what OCI?
 
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