BMW Full Synthetic 5W30 NOT API Certified

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Nov 24, 2003
Ellicott City, MD
I got a new BMW Z4. I read and listened to all the BMW oil mis-information saying that only BMW Full Synthetic motor oil made by Castrol had to be used or the motor will immediately fail. So, I bought a case of the specified BMW oil (5W30) from the dealer at $5 a quart (seemed reasonable). Says on the box and bottles "High Performance Full Synthetic BMW Motor Oil" and "Meets the requirements of API SL/CF; ACEA A3/B3." It doesn't say it is CERTIFIED to meet these specs, says nothing about being BMW LL01/04 approved as the owners manual states it must and does not have the API starburst. Now I look at my favorite oil bottle - Amsoil 5W40. Says it meets SL, CI-4, CF, ACEA A3, B3, B4 and BMW LL01/98. I know the Amsoil isn't CERTIFIED either, and a real performer. Why in the heck would I ever use the BMW Castrol product, which is a Group 3 product over the Amsoil product, which is PAO based (or for that matter Mobil 1 0W40) and both cost the same? Looks like BMW is full of it, and I'm going to contact their headquarters for a WRITTEN note that says I can use BMW's product that DOES NOT follow the recommendations printed in the service manual provided with the car. I'll keep you posted!
It's not surprising that it's not API certified, since BMW doesn't mean to sell it to the general population. They mean to sell it to BMW owners buying BMW oil for BMW cars at BMW dealerships. From what I understand, API certification is expensive. For that reason it doesn't make sense for BMW to have it API certified so that joe public can ensure that it meets the requirements in his Cadillac Escalade or toyota previa owners manual. That's not the target buyer. If you're worried about that oil's performance, then check the UOA section. You'll be impressed. If you're worried about BMW honoring its warranty if you should have an oil related failure using BMW Oil (bought at a BMW dealership) - I think that's an extremely remote risk. One other point. Probably 2/3 of the BMW owners on this board (my guess) view the correct OCI for a BMW to be 7.5k where the OLM would dictate a 15k OCI. This is a robust oil (even if it is a group III) that has shown respectable UOA's at 15k mile OCI's. You're really safe at 7.5k. Enjoy your car!
The USA BMW models do not have a requirement for the LL-01 or LL-04 oil spec. They refer to BMW High Performance Synthetic oil and list an API spec of SH or higher in the owners manuals. When I emailed BMW USA asking about approved oils for my 2003 330Ci they replied: "Castrol Synthetic, Mobil 1 Synthetic, and Valvoline High Performance Synthetic with a weight of SAE 5W-30 are all approved by BMW." (reply was dated 4/16/2004) I use Castrol Syntec 0w-30, aka GC, which is rated BMW LL-01 for my between dealer provided 15,000 mile oil changes. My last four OUAs and a VOA of the BMW 5w-30 are posted.
Jim 5 covered most of the info but rememeber it's truly a re-badged euro castrol blended synthetic oil but a good oil at that. Personally I think GC 0w30 for basically the same price is a better deal but either one will work fine for 7.5k mile invtervals. LL-04 is not applicable for gas engines, that is a rating refeering to BMW's late model diesel engines with particulate filters. The oil is LL-01 approved even if it does not state so on the bottle.
Most manufacturers branded oils are of very average quality. This holds true whether you are talking about car oils or motorcycle/ATV oils. You can buy an inexpensive oil from some blender; slap an OEM label on it and charge inflated prices. Happens all the time with motorcycle oils.... Amsoils' entire business for over thirty years has been extended drain synlubes. So who do you think is going to make the superior lubricant? I haven't tested the latest Amsoil 5w-40, but their original stuff was excellent....A 7.5k OCI with the Amsoil 5w-40 would be very conservative,even if you drive the car hard. TS
Didn't Amsoil Al say that some of these OEM branded oils were really panther p!$$? Under API rules, can you get a base stock certified and change the seperately approved additive packages and not have to start completely over with the cert process? API is like an auto workers union, they collect dues and control wages and take care of blenders that can't get a job on their own?
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