Just purchased 1999 Bmw with 100K on the odometer, Advice?

Not open for further replies.
Oct 27, 2005
Atlanta, GA
I just bought a 1999 BMW 528iT with 105,000 miles. I have no maintenance records, but I did get a good price on the car. When you remove the oil cap, there is a good bit of crusty material on the plastic baffle. I have yet to have a chance to replace the leaking valve cover gasket, so the condition of the head is unknown. The oil level light comes on frequently, although the dipstick says the oil level is full. After removing the oil level sensor from the pan, there appears to be a significant level of sludge in the sensor and in the pan (although some of the pictures I have seen here look worse.) The oil filter didn't look particularly bad. I immediately changed the oil using a new filter and Mobil 1 Synthetic. Then I started reading about Auto-RX, and I guess I should have used Dino oil instead. Advice here? Also, the transmission scares me. It shifts fine, but there is no dipstick for the fluid. BMW claims lifetime fluid is in the tranny, but that's got to be a load of **. I am thinking of dropping the pan and replacing the filter and whatever fluid comes out with the $25/qt BMW fluid. Some say I should be fine, but others say the Mileage is too high, just leave it alone and let the tranny die. Advice here? Thanks!
You seem to have a good plan of attack. I'd pass on the $25 a quart BMW ATF and find somsthing that does meet the specs for a whole lot cheaper.Do a search on the rear end,transmission board.
Check/search http://www.bimmer.info/forum/ and http://bimmer.roadfly.com/bmw/forums/e39/ for transmission advice. Be very careful what transmission fluid you use. BTW, my 95 525i has no dipstick but uses Dexron III fluid. Yours does not use Dexron III. Also you can use ARX with synthetic oils for the first phase. Then use Dino for the Rinse phase. This is what I am currently doing as I am in the rinse phase for my 95 525i with 117,000 miles. BTW, I have used Mobil 1 0w40 and Mobil 1 5w40 Truck and SUV oil in my BMW. I think I like the heavier oil. In fact I may go to Mobil 1 10w40 in the spring.
Son, you have come to the right place! Yes! Auto-rx is just the ticket for your engine and try an HDEO 15w40 for the rinse phases as these oils have high levels of detergency and anti-wear additives that you need when flushing that carbon and sludge. Yes BMW engines love 40 wt. oils. The trans fluid is trouble if you have a newer car. The lifetime fill idea works if you don't keep the car, but I do. I have a 25 year old 733i that I have had for over 20 years and changing the fluid has kept the transmission in good shape for the 206000 miles. VALVOLINE has a trans fluid that it guarantees to replace the $25 a quart BMW fluid. The BMW forums which I read and belong to may have more information on this. Look up VALVOLINE'S site or call their consumer hotline and talk to them about this. Goodluck with the BMW they are special and take some care at times that make you wonder. But you really get to love the way they drive and it ruins you for something without their driving spirit! [Burnout]
Thanks for all the good info and quick replies! Now, you'll have to excuse the newbie, but what is HDEO and why 15w40? The book for the car says 5w30, but I guess all the manufactures are recommending lighter weight oil for fuel consumption now. Running an oil that is that much thicker than recommended won't ruin the engine? Do you think I would be better off always running the 15w40, or just for the rinse cycle? Should I run my new 5w30 Mobile 1 for a while before ARX, or should I just dump in the ARX now? The biggest mistake I made was buying my 93 325i. It spoiled me and now I bought a second BMW!
HDEO = Heavy Duty Engine Oil = The Oil That Goes in Diesels Examples include all 15W40 oils I've ever seen and most SAE30 oils with the HD label on them. Some 5W40 oils are in this category, and in Canada you can find Esso 0W30 in this category. I've failed to list quite a few other notable HDEO types in the interest of brevity. In Europe, your same engine has different reccomendations. In the UK, they reccomend 0W40. In France, they reccomend 0W30, 0W40 or 5W30. You can run 15W40 quite safely in Atlanta. It'll provide better detergency and more anti-wear additives than standard motor oils. The only possible problem, and this problem is speculative rather than well-proven, is that HDEOs *may* tend to cause catalytic converters to go out earlier than they would have had the associated vehicle run a standard PCMO (Passenger Car Motor Oil. This same problem theoretical problem presents itself with most good synthetic motor oils like Amsoil or Mobil 1 Extended Performance... good PCMO synthetics frequently have additive levels that are quite similar to HDEO conventional oils. With what that M1 cost you, I'd run it at least 5000 miles before I did the Auto-Rx, but that's a matter of personal preference and my personal stinginess. After you do the ARX treatment and rinse, you could run HDEOs or your favorite full synthetic and get similar results. You'd save some $$$ doing the HDEO, but if I were in a position to buy a '99 BMW 5-series, I'd probably run a full synthetic in it. I'd favor Castrol Syntec 0W30, M1 Truck & SUV 5W40 or Amsoil Series 3000 0W30. I'd also use Lube Control and Fuel Power, with a Blackstone UOA with TBN every oil change.
Here's one thing's for sure - I can guarentee I know what your sludge build up is from. See, BMW reccomends 15k mile oil change intervals. Now, while some of you may say this should be fine, I have seen the aftermath, even with BMW synthetic. For pictures of what happens, go check out www.performingimports.com. They are a BMW/Mercedes specialist in the ATL area, my buddy even works there. They have pics of BMW engines with the 15k mile oil change interval. Doens't work. They get massive sludge build up. Your best bet for the engine, at least, is run some kinda flush, but, don't put alot in, as to dilute the oil much. I'd recommend doing 1/2 the amount that your supposed to use, according to whatever cleanser you may end up buying. And, I would use this cleanser, adn change you oil VERY frequently, like, every 500-1000 miles, for 3-4 oil changes, then pull your valve cover, adn llook at the buildup. Hope,fully, it's not too late, and it's not bad enough whereas you can peel it off with a screwdriver or scraper inside the engine.
I've got the same model - a black '99 528i Touring. Just turned 90K miles. I'm the third owner and currently approaching the end of the ARX clean phase (on Mobil-1 0w40). I'm going to rinse with Shell Rotella T 5w40. What little records I have on the car appear to indicate that the previous (second) owner did OC's based on the service lights (I have all 5 bars left and have about 4K miles on this fill). This combined with the same crud on the filler cap and plastic part of the dipstick convinced me to run AutoRX. At Bimmerfest forums there's a poster named Ketchup that has a "sludge monster". I believe he's starting an ARX cleaning. There's some good info on those boards. I haven't had any problems with the transmission, but from reading several BMW forums a lot of people are leery of the "lifetime" liquid gold. Some feel that the fluid should be changed every 50K miles or not at all (?).
Thanks for all the info guys! If you think I can go 5K before before using ARX in my M1, then I will take some prep time to do this right. I am going to get my valve cover gaskets and then take some pictures to document my progress. I will probably be a little too anxious to wait 5K, but I do have a 10 month old son and a new house we just bought, so it's a little bit harder to find the time to tackle these projects lately... I will try to find out more about this transmission fluid and will change out the filter and fluid (or maybe not depending on what arguments I hear) before I do the ARX in the engine. Once I am done with my 2 (or 3) ARX rinse cycles, what Synthetic would be best? I am currently using the M1 because Walmart has it cheap. BMW recommends Castrol, and I do keep hearing good things about the German Castrol. I also like the sound of the Amsoil 0w30, but $8/qt does seem a bit steep.
What oil to use is a good question. Your 2.8 liter engine is not much different han my 2.5 M50 engine. Weight wise I have had recomendations ranging from 0w40 to 20w50. I think a 5w40 synthetic is a good choice for year round use in most cases I have used Mobil 1 5w40 truck and suv as it is fairly easily availble. I do need to explore other easily available choices. My experiences to date. BTW, I change my oil very 4-5,000 miles
Not open for further replies.