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Brand new 2012 BMW burns a quart of oil every 3300 miles


I have a brand new 2012 BMW 650, production date Nov 2011, and took delivery in December 2011. The low oil light indicator came on at 3300 miles 4 months later. Took it to the dealership and I reported to the service advisor that the car had a clanky (like a fan was hitting it’s surrounding metallic covering) noise for 1-2 seconds on cold start and then disappears. I also told them that there was excessive soot noted on the passenger side exhaust tip. I was told by the dealership that this was normal oil consumption. The dealership put in one quart of oil and told to monitor the oil consumption. At near 6600 miles and 3 months later the low oil light indicator came on again. Took it back to the dealership and the service advisor told me everything was normal and again added another quart of oil. The odometer is now at 8500 miles and the oil level indicator shows half full at 1900 miles later. I keep my cars for a long time and the first oil change is at 15,000 miles. I am sure I don’t want to mess with adding a quart of motor oil every 3-4 months. Please advise what I should do. Is this considered a lemon? I would not have bought this car if I was told or made aware that this was normal oil consumption.

Is that truly a low oil indicator on BMWs? It usually is a low oil pressure indicator.
If the oil light comes on, it usually means that it isn’t being circulated properly. OF course, if you don’t have oil in the engine, there’s nothing to circulate. I hear that a certain level of oil consumption is normal but one quart low really shouldn’t turn that light on.
Have that dealer explain that to you. That light should only be on if something is wrong. Don’t drive a car with a low oil light on. Read your manual but no doubt it will say that.

Also, you shouldn’t let the oil get that low. Perhaps check it more frequently.

It sounds like you’re not really the kind of person who wants to get his/her hands dirty and involve yourself with vehicle maintenance and repair. No offense, really. The world is full of many different, wonderful folks. A friend of mine runs a local repair shop and loves BMW, Lexus, Porsche, Caddy folks (and the like) because as he says “they don’t tinker around with stuff, they just bring it in when it’s broke”. Your car isn’t broken, nor is it a lemon. My advice is to simply find a local mechanic (or go back to the dealer) whenever one of the BMW bells goes off . . like the oil light, and have them deal with it. To answer your question . . . is this a lemon? Probably not. 1 quart in 3300 miles is not excessive. Going 15000 miles for an oil change is excessive. Not checking your oil/coolant/tire pressure/belts/brakes/exhaust . . . even doing a visual, is excessive. If you’re not inclined to add a quart every 3-4 months you’re probably not going to check the rest of the car either. Again, no offense meant, but find a good tech that you trust and take the car in every so often or whenever you hear a BMW bell sound and you’ll be a happy and safe owner. Good luck! Rocketman

The 2012 BMW 650 does not have a dip stick in the engine and the oil level is displayed on the onboard computer screen with the motor running. The computer will come on when the oil level is one quart below full

The consumption of 1 qt of oil in 3,000+ miles is absolutely NOT abnormal.

While it would be nice if engines consumed no oil between changes, the reality is that almost all engines do consume some oil. In fact, most car mfrs state that the consumption of 1 qt per 1,000 miles is “within normal limits”. Put it all together, and I seriously doubt if BMW will consider that you have a valid warranty claim, nor do I think that you do.

Just be sure that you never allow the engine oil level to fall more than 1 qt below the full mark.

"The 2012 BMW 650 does not have a dip stick in the engine and the oil level is displayed on the onboard computer screen with the motor running. The computer will come on when the oil level is one quart below full "

Really? Wow - I hate it. That means you can’t even check your own oil. I truly truly hate that…
How difficult is it to check your oil and add some. Why reinvent a wheel like a dip stick?
I don’t get that. That’s not using technology. If that part of the system ever fails and you are burning oil like the OP does, you can totally hose your car up.
Did I say I hate it??

Does this computer at least tell you how low your oil is, so you can add some when it drops lower than optimum? A “quart low” dummy light is too low of a level for my sensibilities.
Maybe that’s why my cars don’t consume any oil near that level and one has over 200K on the clock.

Scratch what I said about the oil pressure light.
This must be an oil level light. Learn something new every day…

Not sure why Rocketman assumed that I don’t check my car. I wrote “I keep my cars for many years”. I have an older 1987 BMW 735i and I do all the work myself on this car. Even changed the head gasket on this car and I know a bit about my cars. Even my 1987 BMW 735i doesn’t burn oil between oil change I perform personally every 5000 miles. it consumes about 1/2- 3/4 quart between oil change and the car is over 25 years old. I am talking about a brand new car that is burning more oil than my 25 year old car.

The factory recommended first oil change is 15,000 miles. I certainly can change it more frequently than that, which is what I had planned at 7.500 miles. But I have already added two quarts of new oil into this car, which takes 8 quarts of oil on an oil change. Not sure where Rocketman is going with his comment since he forgot to mention what happens to the oil consumed in the engine over a period of 3-5 years. The two quarts of oil consumed maybe coating my valves, direct fuel injectors, cylinder wall, crankcase, exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, and effects on the emission control systems in the car, which maybe contributing to early engine failure over the next 5-10 years. This doesn’t even include all the emissions that this oil consumption may effect the environment.

General consensus I recall on this forum is 3000 miles for a quart is within a range of oil use called normal. I saw in searching, BMW replaced an engine under warranty that burned a quart every 1500 miles. One can hope it is break in usage and will go away. If one plug shows evidence of oil burning, that may be easier to get a warranty repair. You probably should call a few dealers, ask and find out what oil use justifies a warranty repair, it would be interesting to hear the responses. It may be a squeaky wheel that determines repairs. So if a quart, as the internet says has 14,592 drops, that is about 5 drops per mile!

Your new BMW should not be consuming that much oil. You are also using a synthetic, I’m sure, which will allow you to drive much longer between oil changes. Your manual will specify, but I typically have mine changed every 10,000 miles on my 1988 Mercedes, and on my previous 1999 E 320, in accordance with the reputable Mercedes service centre I have gone to for years, owned by a man who has nearly 40 years of Mercedes service experience.
15,000 miles on synthetic oil should be no problem at all.
Keep in mind that once you use a synthetic lubricant, you cannot change to real oil, on any car.
Read up on synthetics, familiarize yourself with your manual which will specify oil change intervals, and do not accept this as “normal,” especially for the amount of money you paid for a high-end, high-performance vehicle.
Also, with advances in technology, particularly with high-end automobiles, it wouldn’t surprise me that a dipstick would be replaced by computer monitoring.
Lemon laws are usually strict, requiring the car owner to go through many hoops to provide significant proof. You will also need to follow your owner’s manual to the letter regarding maintenance, too. I would not expect this issue alone to constitute a “Lemon.” But again, read up on your state’s Lemon Law statues online.
Education is power.
Good luck!

well, a quart every 3300 sounds like a lot, but it is a fairly large v8. keep an eye on it, and ask around, it may be a completely reasonable amount of oil.

I wouldn’t really worry about your emissions system, think of it like a ratio between the amount of gas you put through this thing divided by the quart of oil, I’m betting you get 25mpg tops, (no offense if I’m way off…) but that makes for 528:1 (tops) gas to oil used ratio, probably closer to 660:1 (20mpg) and that’s not that much.

15,000 miles between oil changes, even with German Castrol Full Synthetic, that’s pushing your luck…I guess if you are just leasing it, like most BMW drivers, that would be okay…As far as burning a quart every 3300 miles, you can stop whining about that too. You will find no sympathy here…Maybe after the car is fully broken in the oil consumption will improve somewhat…

Unfortunately, I bought the car already since I kept all my past cars for at least 10 years. Not sure I am on track with this brand new car in a long term relationship. When would Caddyman consider a car fully broken? It’s got 8500 miles now and it appears the same oil consumption trend is going to happen at 9900 miles from checking at the oil level. Warranty ends at 4 years or 50K miles. Afterward I take over the maintenance. My suspicion is that there is problems in the the turbine side oil seal, which is leaking from excessive oil pressure from some stricture in the oil return portion around the turbo. The soot that collects around the housing of the turbine blade is what is causing the short lived clanky noise on cold start. Once the soot in the turbo housing gets knocked loose by the spinning turbine blade on cold start then the clanky noise disappears. I sees this soot also at passenger side chrome exhaust tip. I have asked the dealership to look at the passenger side turbo but they said it is not indicated and would charge me for the diagnostic if I insisted on them checking. Inspecting the turbos is relatively easy to do since the twin turbos are located on top and front of the 4.4 liter V8. Any takers on this theory?

The BMW dealer Told me that it’s normal for this engine and that you may need to add oil between 900 to 1,200 miles. I have 2011 and I check the electronic dipstick and never used a drop and I have 12k on my car.

I would not at all be happy with a new BMW that burns a quart of oil every 3300 miles. It does not have to be that way. If it was my car, I would search for a BMW forum on the internet to compare notes with other BMW owners. If the consensus was that your oil consumption is abnormal, use that as a means of pressuring BMW and the dealer for satisfaction. We have two relatively new GM cars with aluminum engine blocks with cast in steel cylinder inserts. Both cars have about 40,000 miles and have not burned oil since new as read on the dipstick. BMW should certainly do as well.

I was told the same: add oil between 900 to 1,200 miles by the dealership. It is a poor explanation for such an advanced engine. Where does the oil go? It is not leaking! If this was disclosed to me and the public I am sure a lot of prospective buyers would not buy this car. I am middle aged and I have had a few cars in my life: this is not an acceptable rate of oil consumption. I am not a first time BMW owner so my experience has been good with my 1987 735i. My concern is whether I can keep this car for 10 years. I can maintain this car as nice as some of the readers in this forum had suggested by changing the oil and oil filter but if the engine is collecting soot it will damage internal components like the cylinder wall, valves, piston rings, turbo…then what?

I agree with the above posters that one quart per 3300 miles in a high performance engine is fairly normal. Way back, the famous Jaguar in-line 6 consumed one quart every 750-1000 miles.

Also agree that you should divide the 15,000 mile interval in HALF to get maximum life out of the engine.

My experience is with older BMWs, not with a brand new 650, but this sounds like a familiar problem.

This story may shed some light on the possible problem.

It is true that on most cars, a quart in 3300 miles is within normal parameters. This is NOT, normal, however, for a BMW, at least, not in the first 200k miles.

If the problem is what I suspect it is, a compression test will tell you which cylinder is damaged. However, if the compression is within what BMW calls normal tolerance (likely as much as 15%) then I doubt that BMW will want to do anything about it. With one quart in 3300 miles, I am guessing that it will be well within 15% of the other cylinders, so you are most likely stuck.

If I am correct, and BMW still makes their cylinders the way they did a decade ago (Nikasil plated aluminum), this will get worse over time, it will shorten engine life, and the only cure is a new engine block.

It may not be an immediate serious problem. I bought a 325 with 100k miles on it and then discovered that it had a damaged #1 cylinder wall. It burns a quart every 600-800 miles. Compression on that cylinder is about 15% below the other 5 cylinders which are all identical. I have driven this car 40k miles and it has not gotten any worse. I am not happy about it, but I spent only $12k on this car, and I know that buying a used car is a toss of the dice.

With regard to the oil level sensor, I don’t know whether BMW changed the design of their oil level sensors, but the previous generation of BMWs used level sensors along with dipsticks. Those sensors used temperature differential between the liquid oil and the air above it, and were notoriously prone to failure. Rather than admitting failure, BMW doubled down, removing the dipstick. I sure hope that the current sensor design is better, because this is not an area where you can afford to fool around.

Your carbon in the turbo/clanking theory does not hold up…Clanking/knocking on start-up is caused by oil pressure quieting a loose part. Engines like this usually have variable valve timing controlled by oil pressure and well as timing chain tensioners actuated by oil pressure. When you purchased this car, how many miles were on it? Define “brand new” please…

8 miles off the dealers lot. Ordered from the BMW factory with all personal specs, waited 3 weeks for it.

Caddyman: hydraulic type variable valve timing (VVT) is driven by oil pressure(you are correct). However, oil flowing into the chamber of the VVT is gated by an electronic hydraulic valve controlled by the ECM (or other sensors that detect increased engine load and RPM). Oil will need to circulate through the oil channels in the block and cylinder head upon starting and the VVT usually isn’t actuated on starting. The sound I hear is similar to a fan hitting the something metallic that last 1-2 seconds immediately upon starting, best heard with driver’s door open, with the sound coming from the exhaust