BMW Z3-Synthetic oil or Dino?

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Feb 28, 2003
Southern California
I'm trying to help a friend save some money by changing the oil on her 1998 BMW Z3. She said the dealer has always put synthetic oil in it. When I look through the manual it only refers to special oils individually approved by BMW (low friction lubricants) are most preferable. I would rather put dino oil in it to save money if that will be acceptable. What type oil and weight would you recommend for her car. The car is used in Southern California and experiences weather typical of that area with an occasionl trip up to the mountains which can drop below freezing and sometimes out to the desert which can go above 100 degrees.
I'm pretty sure that all 1997 and on BMW's require the use of synthetic motor oil. This should be found in the owners manual.
I wouldn't use anything other than a synthetic in a late model BMW.
yea that sounds like a pretty stupid corner to cut... i think its only like 3.25 from where i work (the bmw synth) and it doesnt need to be changed ever 3k i reckon
What is it about a 1.9 litre BMW engine that puts out 138 hp (1998 Z3) which makes it require a synthetic, but the engine in a Honda Accord is fine with dino oil.
You need to use a synthetic. Period. Anyone who can afford to drive a BMW doesn't need to penny pinch when it comes to an oil change. [Roll Eyes]
I have no problem putting a synthetic in her car if that's what's best for it. It's not my money that's being spent. I think this will be her first and last BMW, as it's had its share of problems and has cost her plenty of money. She approached me to help her out a little. Just would like to know why the synthetic is required? I've searched through this board and observed that some people run synthetic in their cars and others run dino. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut advantage of synthetic to make it the only choice to use in all cars. As far as the manual, it refers to a low friction lubricant (5w30) approved by BMW as preferred (not required). I'll plan to put Mobil 1 5w30 in it and at least I can save her the labor charge. Can anyone tell me what it is about a BMW engine that makes it require synthetic. [Confused]
piperpilot, car makers do not like to see people switching back to dino oil once they have used synthetic. Toyota, for example, says the following on its website: "If you decide to use synthetic oil for the engine, it is best not to switch until the first scheduled oil change. Synthetic oil should meet or exceed the specifications provided in your Owners Manual. Even if synthetic oil is used, we DO NOT recommend a longer oil change interval. Also, once synthetic oil is used, you should keep using it and not switch back and forth with natural petroleum-based oil."
BMW requires synthetic oil meeting BMW Longlife specifications so that they can specify extended drain intervals only. It isn't because of engine design or some strange mechanical requirement that prompts BMW to specify synthetic oil. Mineral oils just don't seem to last as long as a good quality synthetic and many BMW's have drain intervals in the 15,000 mile range. Don't even think of trying that with your local SuperTech2000 from Wal-Mart. Save your friend some money by providing the labor for free and then use mail-order to purchase the filters at a 30% savings. The dealership provided oil is relatively inexpensive for a synthetic ($3.50 per quart) or shop for Mobil-1 on sale for a similar price. In my neck of the woods, name brand oils such as Pennzoil/QuakerState/Castrol/Valvoline are selling for $1.79 per quart. Her engine hold 5.8 quarts (5.5 liters) so you are paying a whopping $11.00 more for the use of the factory recommended oil. Nearly all of the group 3 'synthetic' oils will meet BMW's LongLife spec if they also meet the ACEA A-3 rating. I also own a BMW except mine has the 2.5 liter I-6 engine and I must add that it is very hard on oil. It tends to shear the oil if I exceed 6000 mile drain intervals regardless of oil brand. I have used this as the determining factor in deciding on a drain interval. [ March 03, 2003, 07:30 AM: Message edited by: FowVay ]
Piperpilot, I'd run the Mobil 1, 15w-50 in this vehicle, since it meets the ACEA A3/B4 specifications. I think the Mobil 1, 5w-30 is a bit thin for a BMW engine, based on how much this motor seems to chop up the oil. The newer valvetronic engines seem particularly bad in this regard. TooSlick
I think the reason you need to use synthetic in the BMW is so that it can run the full change interval. Every BMW tells you when to change the oil on the dash by either 5 lights that go out with every 1500 mi. or an actual mi. readout when you first start the car. If you use cheapo dino 5-20 or something and try to go the full interval, the engine will be shot in short order. I agree...go thicker...I'm currently using 5-50 syntec in my `94...M-1 15-50 is also a good choice...I agree Over-The-Counter 5-30 is too thin even though that's what you will find at the local BMW it is special oil for BMW and could go the interval. You can find this as cheap as other stuff $4/qt., so this is also a viable option. Oil is cheap...this isn't a place to skimp out...
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