BMW oil change

In '03, I took delivery of an '04 3 series BMW convertible, which I leave in FL. I put about 2000 miles a year on it. Service was included untill last fall, and I found an oil change cost $150. BMW synthetic oil was used. This is triple the charge at the corner oil change places in MI for the Chrysler and Dodge I keep there. Is there any good reason to continue to change the oil annually at the BMW dealer in FL for triple the cost of the street corner places?

Most of this cost is for ADP (additional dealer profit). It’s not just you – the markup applies to all BMW owners who walk in the door.

You can have your oil changed at any shop for maybe a quarter of the costs. Check with them first about the oil itself – I suspect that any top-quality synthetic oil will do; the BMW company does not refine its own oil. It buys oil from some oil company. If you are strongly advised to use only BMW motor oil, buy a case yourself from the dealer for all future oil changes.

I wouldn’t use either, the dealer will be overpriced for a simple oil change; and I wouldn’t even stop at the “corner oil change places” to use the rest room. Find a good independent shop that specializes in BMW, verify that they are using oil that complies with the manufacturer’s specifications (not just the correct weight). I believe Mobil 1 0W40 meets the current BMW specs, but you want to verify that:

As Craig said. Don’t go near one of the quick oil change places. It is their nature to have far too many problems. Find a locally owned and operated shop. The dealer will likely do an OK job, but not better than anyone else. Make sure you have oil that meets BMW’s specifications. There is absolutely no need to use their brand oil or buy it from them.

One big difference is the BMW takes 7.5 quarts per change. The American iron probably just take 4-5 quarts.
When under warranty BMW requires their (Castrol TXT 5w-30 rebranded) oil is used. Your car requires the use of a synthetic.
If you’re now out of warranty the above advise to avoid corner shops is spot on. Find a BMW indy mechanic to do the changes. They’ll be familiar with that car and any quirks that model may have.
Personally I’d use 7500 mi changes using Mobil 1 15w-50, or Mobil 1 0w-40.


BMW requires their (Castrol TXT 5w-30 rebranded) oil is used.

I don’t believe they can make a requirement like that. They can require the oil meet certain specifications and at one time the oil listed may be the only oil available to meet those requirements, but they can’t require you to buy it from them or use a specific brand. Personally I would follow those instructions after the warranty as well. Some cars have needs for special qualities from their oil and not all oils will protect those specific engines as well.

You can use another oil change place but make sure oil meets BMW spec. A synthetic oil change at an independent will be about $60-80.

Well, they can because under warranty the dealer provides the oil changes. Their warranty, their oil.
The hitch is you have have to wait until the service engine light comes on before they’ll do the oil change. Many times that runs about 15k, 17k miles.WAY too much for that oil. Most dealers recommend you change every 7500 miles because of the problems, but those “in between” oil changes were on you. I suppose you could switch back and forth on brands, but when the dealer does the change they’ll use the BMW oil. Most people worry about warranty issues so they just stick with the BMW branded oil.

I don’t believe they can make a requirement like that.

Friend of mine owns one…As long as BMW provides FREE oil changes there’s no problem what so ever. In fact you’ll void the warranty if you don’t use the Castrol oil or a BMW filter.

I agree, if owned a BMW under warrantee, I would just buy a case of BMW oil and filters and squeeze in one oil change between each of the “free” dealer changes (probably around 7500 miles). After warrantee, I would probably switch to a group IV synthetic like mobil 1.

When BMW first started this 15,000 mile interval we (dealer techs) were finding that the filter elements had completly decomposed leaving a pile of decomposed filter element material at the bottom of the oil filter canister (BMW have a canister that is never replaced a new element is inserted,after removing the old)Imagine the suprise when you open the canister top and find a bunch of goo when expecting to find a filter element. I dont know how BMW gets away with the oil manufacture requirements but they are.

I dont know how BMW gets away with the oil manufacture requirements but they are.

Why not, they can require any oil specification they want. In the case of bmw, a limited number of oil manufacturers meet the spec. That is no different than all the manufacturers who require that you use their name brand antifreeze.

I dont know how BMW gets away with the oil manufacture requirements but they are.

As long as it’s provided for free it’s NOT breaking the magnooson vs. moss warrenty act. That law specifically says that in order for a company to say a specific part MUST be used then they MUST provide that part for free…which they are. BMW is probably getting a kick back from Castrol. I think Castrol is EXCELLENT oil…but there are a lot of EXCELLENT oils out there.

Absolutely they can require a specific brand of oil if they provide that oil and the changes during warranty at no cost. Which they do.

The Magnuson-Moss act, which prevents car makers from requiring specific brands of oil, has an exemption if the company provides free oil changes. Actually, it’s broader than that, in general any maintenance parts that the manufacturer insists on specific brand (like spark plugs, oil filters, etc) they have to provide free during the warranty period.

Yes I agree with the spec. situation. I was commenting on the idea that it must be BMW oil (as noted rebranded made by castrol) Reqiuring that the oil must meet a certain spec. is a easy concept to grasp.

I understand the difference, so how does benz get away with specifically requiring the use of their name-brand antifreeze?

Mercedes had the same issues. First it was extended oil changes without using synthetic oil, and then having the paper filters fail. They now specify Mobil-1 oil and use fleece filters.
But I still don’t trust the extended changes. Synthetic oil and a filter every 7500 miles and these new engines will run for a very long time.

What are they recommending now, 20K km changes?

I found a quick lube place that does a good job for me. But in the case of this car, I’d take it to a BMW specialist or do it myself. There are good and bad oil change shops just like good and bad mechanic shops. But the situation requires a special filter as well as special oil. The quick lube places don’t use the long life filter that this car requires.

The Mini salesman said that they(BMW) suggests a 15k mile or once a year oil change, which is provided for free(along with brakes, belts, hoses, etc.) for 3 years/36k miles. I think this is just to keep the “typical” BMW owner happy. Typical being that they lease instead of purchase. I barely put 7k miles a year on my vehicle as it is(I just moved closer to work a few months ago, so I probably average less per year now) , I don’t like the idea of some light coming on to tell me my oil needs changed. With a brand new car, I’d go 6 months for oil changes as opposed to once a year, but for my 10 year old Civic, I go 3~4 months for it.