Oil Change for BMW


I used Valvoline SAE 5W-20 grade oil for my 2000 BMW 528i (E39 Chassis) although the recommended grade is SAE 5W-30. I had to do it due to an emergency. Is it alright till the next oil change or should i redo the oil again???

If you added a whole quart your biggest worry is why you needed to add that much oil between oil changes.

But if you just topped off the oil level, using a quart or a quarter of a quart, you don’t need to worry about slight gradiations. If you are OCD or a purist, go ahead and have the oil changed if it makes you feel better. I mean it. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. Save a 100 million year old tree.

It wasnt a top up… It was a complete oil change and yes I am worrying… Please suggest

Why did you ‘NEED’ to use 5W-20 for the oil change?

I would put the correct oil in for nothing else than peace of mind. That -20 is the wrong number for the engine, and this is the weight number the oil will be running at most of the time once the engine is warmed up. It could cause accelerated wear until it is replaced with the correct oil.

Ill get that thing changed right away. Thanks a lot!!!

Holy Smokes! You’ll be banned from BMW dealers worldwide if you don’t use their specially refined specifically specified internal engine synthesized lubrication concoction at $18 a quart plus $179 to change it plus their BMW approved special osmosis oil filter at $49. I can hear the service manager know, “I zee you haff nicht bin der usened der special zilk BMW approved cloth to check der leffel of zee enginenoilenjuicen.”

Just kidding. But drain out the 5W20 and put in 5W30 and a new filter as soon as you can. And NO don’t let anyone tell you that you need to flush the engine first. The little bit of residual 5W20 that doesn’t drain out want blow the engine up.

These are the only BMW approved oils according to BMW LL01 specs. Which means that these oils have met the specs and requirements of the “bmw ll 01” oil and BMW recommends the use of them along with the OEM BMW LL01.

Please note that these might not be the only brands or type of oils you can use, but are the “approved by BMW”

BMW Long-life rating LL-01 Approved Synthetic Oils for the US Market:

  • Castrol Syntec European Formula SAE 0W-30

  • Mobil 1 SAE 0W-40

  • Pennzoil Platinum European Formula Ultra SAE 5W-30

  • Valvoline SynPower SAE 5W-30

here’s the link: http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/Owner/SyntheticEngineOils.aspx

You need some friends in the BMW world. May I suggest you join http://www.bimmerfest.com/ It’s free.

I agree with the others about changing to the correct oil, and I commend you highly for asking, but I did want to add that you’ve done no harm to your engine and can sleep soundly. The oil recommendations are the optimum, but running for a few thousand miles on a 5W-20 instead of a 5W-30 will have zero effect long term.

Sleep well. You’ve done zero harm.

My shop put 5W-20 in our 2003 4Runner where the manual calls for 5W-30. This was during the winter so I just let it go to the next oil change. There was no problem and the engine didn’t use any oil.

The only time I ever had a problem with putting in a lighter oil than specified was in a 1 cylinder air cooled lawn mower engine. I put in 10 weight instead of 30 weight. The engine ran very hot. I put in the correct oil.

Agree, if OP drove at 90 mph through Death valley in July, there would likely be excessive engine wear experienced. In normal driving, most of the engine wear is at startup.

I remember reading an article in Popular Science in the early 1950’s titled “How I Save Gas” by Les Viland who won the Mobilgas Economy several times in different cars–one car was a Lincoln. One of his tricks was to use the low viscosity oil In the run he used 5 weight oil. He said though in his own cars he used 10 weight oil. The cars did make it through the Mobilgas Economy Run, but I doubt that the lightweight oil was best for engine longevity.

On the other hand, Tom McCahil in his bookd “What You Should Know About Cars” published in the early 1960’s recommended one weight higher than the manual recommended. He claimed that if one drove the car gently until it was fully warmed up, that using the heavier than recommended oil promoted engine longevity.

At any rate, I think you will be o.k. until your next scheduled oil change.

I’m going to go against the grain, and state the following:

As long as you are not planning on doing any extremely stressful driving (track day, trailer towing, packing the car up with 4 other 300 lbs people and driving in the Rockies), your car will be fine with the 5W20 in it.

The reason is this:

The difference between a 20 weight oil and a 30 weight oil is the fact that the 20 weight viscosity is slightly thinner at 100 degrees Celcius when compared to the 30 weight. In fact, the difference between Mobil 1 5W-20 and Mobil 1 5w-30 is 9.0 and 11.1 according to their product data sheets.

Engines are designed to operate with their coolant temperature between 80 degrees Celcius (this is when the thermostat just starts to open), and about 120 degrees Celcius (when all fans are in their high speed state.

The Mobil 1 5W-20 actual has a higher Flash point than the 5W-30, with the numbers being 228 vs 225.

As long as you aren’t pushing the engine hard for long periods of time, you can go for several thousand miles without having to worry, in case you needed to wait for your next paycheck to change the oil.

I prefer to actually pull out data, and look at reality instead of just shooting from the hip when it comes to oil related issues.


Thanks for your heartening reply… I spent a sleepless night cursing myself. I drive my car to work and a few errands… Not going beyond 55 mph and 5-6 miles daily. I think i can still wait till the next oil change… THANKS A LOT for your reply

There really isn’t much to worry about with your BMW.
It has a cooling circuit that the oil sheds it heat into the cooling system.

As long as your cooling system is functioning fine, the oil temperature will stay within 10 degrees Celsius of the coolant temperature during normal driving habits.

If you were out drag racing, track driving, or other taxing activity that puts large amounts of heat into the engine, I would worry more about it. A 5 to 6 mile commute isn’t even going to get the oil fully warmed up by the time you shut it off.

I’m 90% sure your car isn’t a turbo model, so you really shouldn’t have any issues with running the oil for a couple thousand miles. Just make sure the next oil change is a BMW approved 5W-30 oil, along with a good quality oil filter.

Nice car, btw.


Thanks a lot… Yes Its a great car to drive. I got it just recently. It has had 3 owners. its a 2000 E 39. Thanks again