Oil level after 1K miles for 2011 5-Series BMW 535i


Dear Readers,

I noted that after 1,000 miles the oil level is down by 15% from the full mark on my new 2011 5-Series BMW (535i engine). The recommended service mileage is 15K. I have babied this engine since 10 miles: no hard driving in the city nor on the highway. I am a cruise control user for long distances.

If I were a person who did not check the electronic oil measure and simply took it in at 15K, then it would seem to me that my engine would be in serious state.

Is this a matter of concern? Does anyone know the factory type and oil weight used?


Check your owner’s manual for the correct oil. I would guess that it probably requires 0W-20 or 5W-20, but this is only a guess. If in doubt, call the dealer’s service department.

Bring the oil up to the correct level. A new engine may take a quart oil in 1000 miles until the piston rings seat.

One other thought: What do you mean by “I have babied the engine since 10 miles?” If this means that you drove it at a constant speed of under 50 mph, you didn’t help the engine. You should vary the speed. I have had a couple of new cars. I don’t drive them extremely fast during the break-in period, but I don’t baby them. I take them up to highway speed and then vary the speed. I’ve never had a car that used oil.

I think he wants to know what brand was put in at the factory. But you right check the manual. I would document at what miles and how much I put in just in case it get worse.

By “electronic oil measure” are you referring to an oil life monitor? Read your owner’s manual to learn more about this. BMWs are pretty high tech, but I don’t think they have eliminated the dipstick and the need to periodically check the oil level and add to it. This is completely different than the oil life monitor and a necessary procedure, even with a brand new car. The best advice I can give you is to read your owner’s manual and learn about the features and maintenance requirements of your new car. There will also be a section in there about proper break-in procedures, and most of them will give some basic guidelines of what to do and not to do, and babying the car may be a not to do. Most advise to drive normally and not to baby it or abuse it.

In the newly designed 5-Series, one “reads” the oil level through the iDrive computer. There is no oil dip-stick for this engine. There is not one noted in the owner’s manual.

I have referred to the owner’s manual on break-in period, how to drive during this period, and the weights of oil. The manual gives a range of appropriate oil viscosities, and does not mention at all using a synthetic.

I have varied the speed on the freeway but due like the cruise control over long distances. Please give advise how I should be driving the car. No mention of it in the manual except for no speeds over 100mph before the first 1500 miles.

Should I be disappointed and frustrated and concerned? This car would never make the 15K oil service requirement if the level continues to decrease. As well all know, most people never look under nor check their fluids…apparently BMW does not want its drivers to be engaged with the vehicle at this level.

I’m behind the times, but I have read where the BMW doesn’t have a dipstick. If the oil level indicator says that you are low on oil, then add oil. If the oil life indicates that you have 15% life left on the oil, then have the oil changed.
I purchased a 2011 Toyota Sienna when the first came out in the spring of 2010. The owner’s manual says that 1 quart every 700 miles is not excessive. Maybe we have reverted to an earlier time period where adding oil was common. I now have 19,000 miles on the Sienna and have never had to add oil. I don’t have an oil level monitor, so I check the oil with the dipstick every time I fill up with gas.

How much oil does your engine hold? If it holds 5 quarts and you are down 15%, you are down 3/4 of a quart. Calculate the amount of oil that is needed, and add that much to bring it to full.

SunnyAl wrote:
If I were a person who did not check the electronic oil measure and simply took it in at 15K, then it would seem to me that my engine would be in serious state.

Yes, an engine neglected like that could be in a serious state. I’d hope that’s pretty obvious.

Have you asked BMW what they think? What about a BMW forum? They probably have a better idea than we do about a new 535. BTW, it holds 7 quarts. See it here:

Bob is the Oil Guy… shoulda known.

Since the BMW holds 7 quarts, you are about 1 quart low. (1.05 quarts to be exact). Go purchase a quart of oil that meets the specifications of the BMW and add it.

If I understand everything above right, this is a new motor, and hasn’t had its first oil change yet. If that’s the case, then you really should be talking to the dealer and have them explain this all to you. The first oil fill is normally a lighter break-in oil, and you don’t want to change that until it’s time to. The dealer should be able to top it up.

As noted, you shouldn’t baby it, either. That will lead to a motor prone to failure later on in life. Use it…drive it. That’s what they’re famous for, right?

It’s also possible (since you say there’s no dipstick), it’s not being read quite right, and what you’re seeing is a usage gauge, in that your oil has gone through 15% of its usable life, not level.

I certainly wouldn’t want a vehicle that relies on a gauge and has no dipstick. It’s hard to believe that there would not be a dipstick on any engine produced today, but maybe I’m just too old fashioned and need to learn to accept change.

But I find it difficult to accept that there would not be a way to check engine oil levels without totally relying on a gauge.

Why not? You don’t have a dipstick for your fuel, do you? Same concept.

I think I understand your point but there is quite a difference, in my opinion.

You don’t need a dipstick for fuel because fuel needs to be replenished, not emptied & changed - and a gauge is adequate for that. The gas gauge doesn’t need to indicate the quality of the fuel in the tank (at least not as far as I know) - although it might be a nice added ability.

Oil is something that needs to not only be at a proper level but needs to maintain a level of quality in order to be useful. Having an oil dipstick allows a person to view whether the oil is clean or dark & dirty.

I would prefer to have the ability to see and touch the oil rather than rely on the ability of a gauge to decide for me.

“I think I understand your point but there is quite a difference…”

Maybe. But it depends on how the system is executed. If it is well done, then the gauge is not a problem. BMW is a major manufacturer and would not put themselves in a risky position by using a poorly designed gauge/sump. The losses, both current and in future sales, they would experience from a poor design could put them out of business IMO.

I think relying on that maintenance minder gimmick is going to wind up costing you an engine in the long run.

If it still uses a quart per 1000 miles after you top it off then I would not be happy with the car because it’s only going to get worse.
Where is that oil ending up? In the converters.

Don’t be concerned. Oil is used to lubricate the inside of the motor and a new motor uses more oil so this is normal. If you feel the oil level reading is too low take it to your dealer and they will top it off for you, or add 1/2 quart of oil yourself and see what that does to your oil your oil level reading. Adding oil between oil changes is common in many cars and not a big deal at all.

Dear Readers,

I have taken everyones advice here and on Bimmerfest and gave the car a spirited drive today (100 miles), and the oil service meter registered full once again.

I do not know why the level was as I described earlier, but after several re-reading, the oil level is at the max level bar every time. A strange experience indeed!

I hope I am not ‘too late’ in setting the engine’s piston seals well for a long-life engine as well as its twin-power turbo?

Do other readers agree that I can go 10k between oil changes in view of the fact that the BMW hold much more oil than most cars?