How To Change Oil On A BMW

How-To | February 2nd, 2009 by 73
n62 filter How To Change Oil On A BMW

We’re continuing our new series of “How-To” articles and today, we’re going to teach you the basics of changing the oil in your BMW, a …

We’re continuing our new series of “How-To” articles and today, we’re going to teach you the basics of changing the oil in your BMW, a simple DIY guide. Changing the oil of a BMW is quite simple and not much different to any other car. Forgetting to change your oil regularly may cause sludge to build up, reduce power and most important, damage your engine.

Some BMW use synthetic oils while others organic, but many BMW technicians recommend the synthetic oil due to several benefits: friction reduction – a reduction in engine wear, and it also helps improve fuel economy. Every 15,000 miles, BMW takes care of the service maintenance, but based on your driving habits, the display on your dashboard will announce you if the oil needs to be changed earlier. From my experience, 10,000 miles is the average for many BMWs.


  1. Park your BMW in a garage or in a place where you have space to maneuver around, outside is fine as well. As safety precautions, if you have a BMW equipped with manual transmission, place the car in gear and engage the parking brake. If you drive an automatic car, make sure the shift lever is placed in the parking position and once again, engage the parking brake. Many mechanics recommend to use wheel chokes to block the tires.
  2. You need some tools before you start the oil change process. Make sure you have handy an oil pan, socket and socket wrenches, and a flat head screwdriver.

Oil Change For Six Cylinder Engines

If you have a six cylinder engine, the oil filter housing is located in the front of the engine bay, near the intake manifold. I’m using the N52, N54 and M54 engines as examples. The older engines use a more traditional screw on the cartridge on the right side of the engine block.

With the M54 engine ( E36, E46, E60, E83, E85 series), a 32mm socket will unscrew the filter housing car, but if you have the N52/N54 engine ( E9x, E60, E61, E87, F01 series), then a special adapter is needed.

It is best to unscrew these housing caps first, so that the oil in the housing can drain out. Obviously, you need to open the filler cap and pull up the dipstick (if equipped). This will aid in the speed of the oil draining. After that, the oil pan plug just needs to be removed and the oil drained, this is a 17mm bolt somewhere on the oil pan. It’s pretty hard to miss it and it will be easier to find after some practice.

Oil Change For V8 Engines

The V8 engines are a little different. The M62 (E31, E38, E38, E53 series),  is similar to the six cylinder engine with a filter housing in the engine bay. The N62 (E60, E61,E63, E64, E65, E66 E53 X5 4.8iSA, E70 series), has everything located under the car. The filter housing is right next to the oil pan positioned vertically.

There is a 6mm hex screw at the bottom of the housing cap, so first thing you need to do is to unscrew it to let the oil drain out of the housing. The pan has an 8mm hex plug on it,  release this to drain the oil. The oil filter housing can be released with a 24mm socket and then you can proceed to change the oil filter and o-ring on your oil filler element cap.

The V10 and V112 are built the same way, so everything I have explained should apply.

As a final note, you should always change the o-rings and crush washer that came with your oil filter kit: the crush washer on the pan plug and the o-rings on the filter hosing. There is a large one and a small one.

I hope you enjoyed this mini guide and stay tuned for more.

m54 drain How To Change Oil On A BMW

M54 Drain

m54 filter How To Change Oil On A BMW

M54 Filter

M54 filter housing

M54 filter housing

N52 Drain

N52 Drain

N52 Oil Filter

N52 Oil Filter

N54 Drain

N54 Drain

N54 Filter

N54 Filter

N52/N54 o-rings

N52/N54 o-rings

N62 Plug and Filter Housing

N62 Plug and Filter Housing

N62 Filter

N62 Filter

Need used parts? Try Prussian Motors

73 Responses to “How To Change Oil On A BMW”

  1. losco says:

    this is nice but you didn’t have a write-up for 4 cyl…

  2. Gragop says:

    I try to change my oil in my M54 engine every 7,500 to 8,000 miles but I do use my Bimmer a lot. Is this too often? I try to change it as a friend of mine had an E46 which only had oil changes every 15,000 miles and said he could feel that there was a decline in power as the car got older.

  3. The Lee says:

    7500 miles is what we recommend. We’ve noticed a LOT of sludge build-up in the valve train on cars that have been following BMW’s 15k regiment.

    I go ~4k on mine with 20w50 synthetic, but I also have a ton of miles on it (should be clicking over a quarter of a million shortly) and I know I’m getting low compression in two cylinders.

    • Raven says:

      I have to agree with oil changes twice as often a BMW recommends. When I did my 1st oil change on my 2010 X3 I could not believe how Black it was and when I transferred the oil from pan into a bottle I had to use a funnel and the funnel was coated in this black oil where by I had to wash the funnel in my parts washer. I can just imagine this oil coating the inside of the engine.

  4. mpower says:

    i’ve got a 95 bmw e38, whats the best and recommended oil for it ?.

    i also change it every 10,000 km

  5. Horatiu B. says:

    @losco: We focused on the US engines, but we’ll update it with one for the 4 cyl also

  6. Gragop says:

    @The Lee: So you change yours every 4,000 miles? Is that because it’s an S54 engine versus an M54?

    Anything you can do to remove the sludge on the valves? I’ve seen pics of engines at 100,000 miles that only did 15k mile oil changes and it looks like someone smeared greasy chocolate cake all over everything.

  7. The Lee says:

    I have an M50TU (93 525i Touring) with 248XXX miles on it… I got rid of the M3 a long time ago due to the rear subframe mounts being ripped out of the chassis.

    There’s always a solution to gunked-up engines: Elbow grease. It’ll take most anything off of anything.

  8. Gragop says:

    Would I need to put my car up on jacks or anything? I’d prefer to change my own oil versus paying someone else to do it. The more maintenance I can do, the happier I’ll be.

    @The Lee:
    Is that anything I could do myself without opening the entire engine? Taking off the engine cover itself isn’t a big deal, I’d just get apprehensive with delving too far into it.

  9. The Lee says:

    It depends on how mechanically inclined you are and what kind of tools you have access to. Really, the most you’re going to be able to do is take off the valve cover and give it a good cleaning, letting it dry out completely and putting it back on with a new valve cover gasket and grommets to seal everything up.

    I wouldn’t really mess with the cams/innards of the head itself unless you [i]really[/i] know what you’re doing.

  10. Gragop says:

    @The Lee:
    I’m definitely not technically inclined enough to dig through the heart of the engine. That said, what sort of good would I get out of cleaning under the valve cover? Would it be worth the trouble of removing it, buying a new valve cover and then reassembling and sealing it back?

  11. The Lee says:

    Not at all; I’d just do it/have it done when the valve cover gasket starts leaking (which is inevitable and typically something we’d expect by ~70-80k).

  12. Gragop says:

    @The Lee:

    I’ve got 72k miles on my M54, so maybe I need to crack open the valve cover and clean everything up. Is there a DIY instructional thing you can refer me to? I don’t feel like getting hosed on doing it by my local dealer.

    • Raven says:

      I would not recommend that, Just change your oil and filter with a good oil every 6 months or 7500miles or 10,000kms and you will be good. The new oil and filter will keep the engine clean.

  13. The Lee says:

    I don’t know of a DIY walkthrough, but I’m sure there’s one somewhere.

    We typically charge less than $300 for it at our shop (don’t know if you have any indy BMW shops around you).

    You can likely hold off on it, though. You’ll likely notice some oil spots from it when it starts leaking, since they’ll typically leak in the rear passenger’s side of the head next to the firewall. The “diaper” doesn’t cover all the way back there, so it should be able to find its way to the ground. Wouldn’t worry about it until you see oil on the ground or smell it burning off on the exhaust mani.

  14. bmwtechal says:

    it would be easier to get the car up a bit. it would be mor comfortable. just 2 jack stands would work.

  15. bmwtechal says:

    if youve changed you oil regularly through the life of the engine that would be no need to have to “clean” anything. you most likely need a new valve cover gasket. the tend to go around that mileage. it can cause the exh cam position sensor to fail because oil can leak onto the connector.
    heres an easy way to check if you engine is gunky under that cover. take off the filler cap and if there is anything that looks like a chocolate milkshake and kinda gunky. that means its probably like that inside. best fix. replace valve cover gasket. while the valve cover is off take of the intkake cam cover and wash both in a parts washer. dry everything. reasssemble and start changing over like every 1500 miles for a while. and make sure the car gets driven. infrequent short trips are the worst for engines. theres not enough time for things to get up to operating temp and maintin it for a short period. that heat is good.

  16. bmwtechal says:

    @The Lee:
    good call they always leak back there and its not that bad. i did mention i have seen them leak onto the exh cam pos sensor and kill the sensor.

  17. Hector Meda says:

    Hello, I own a 2000 528i and I’ve done several oil changes to my BMW, the only thing I have trouble with is resetting the change oil display on the dash board. I tried looking on the owners manual and had no luck, I’ve ask around and the only answer I get is to have a dealer re-set it.

    • Jim Leming says:

      I just read that you push the trip odometer reset and hold it while turning the ignition switch to acc. Hold the button until the light plashes then turn the key off. Since I don’t have a acc position or at least don’t know whatr it is on ny newly acp=quired 2007; I don’t yet know what to do with this.

      By the way. I have been using Mobile One for 30 years and have never seen sludge buildup in any of many cars that I’ve used it in. I have a 77 ford f150 that I started using Mobile One in at 84,000 and it cleaned up the sludge inside the valve covers. Allas I have to stop using it in that older vehicle now because of the ZDDP reductions.

  18. Craig says:

    Can’t believe this doesn’t mention using a pump to remove the oil. It’s WAY easier than getting under the car (but it’s still messy). Any car parts store sells oil pumps, they’re used for changing oil in boats usually, and cheap ones are around $15.

    After warming up the car you stick the tube down the dipstick hole and pump slow (too quick and you’ll blow the seal on the cheap pumps). It takes about 30 min, you can actually get as much if not more oil out than through the drain plug! The oil does come out hot of course, so be careful.

    Then just change the filter normally.

    There you go: easy, quick, a bit messy (it can splatter into your capture jug if you’re not careful, and your hands will get oil on them), no risk of car falling off ramps.

  19. bmwtechal says:

    interesting. ive actually never heard of or seen one. initally im a little nervous by the sound of it. im assuming its pumping oil in. does it just come out the drain hole of the oil pan then? and i dont like the sound of having the entire oil system pressurized at once. if the pan is pressurized via the dipstick tube while the car is running, the entire oil system would be pressurized above what the cars oil pump already does. high oil pressure is not good. oil can get into places it should not. for example, the basic operation of the oil system is that the pump draws oil from the pan and pumps it up to the cylinder head on from there it returns to the pan by gravity. there more to it than that but basically once oil reaches is destination in the engine it should still be under pressure. the rotating parts keep the oil circulated. also if there was pressurized oil under the valve cover in the cylinder head it could be forced by the valve guide seals and enter the combustion chamber. thats not good. if you have some kind of link to a page that has more info on this device id be interested to see it. im only assuming how it may work. it still seems kind of shady to me. and if you know what youre doing, changing oil really isnt that messy. and its should be done when the car is hot/warm anyway so youre still dealing hot/warm oil. so far i cant find an advantage to it in my opinion. that just my personal opinion though. i wouldnt use one.

    • BK says:

      Oil transfer pumps (also called “fluid evacuation” or “fluid recovery” pumps) are the way to go. Get a good one with a built in reservoir (looks like a garden sprayer, but it pulls a vacuum rather than pressurizing) and you don’t have to be concerned about splashing or discharging to a separate container. Motive Products sells a great one, and there are others out there. I use it on all my outdoor power equipment as well. Only draws 10psi of vacuum and empties my 325i’s 6.9liter sump in about 10 minutes (warm oil).
      They are meant for oil changes. Drop the tube down the dipstick, pump about 20x, and change the oil filter in the meantime.
      DO IT! So much easier, cleaner, and less chance for boogering up you drain plug.

  20. Smithy says:

    FYI, replacing your drain plug with the Fumoto valve makes your oil changes much easier and faster. With one flick of the safety-locked switch, the ball valve drains the oil without a wrench and mess of getting oil stains on your hands or clothes. Nipple type allows you to attach a hose to drain the oil directly into a container. It is very convenience if you change oil yourself. I bought one for my vehicle from

    Hope it helps.

  21. Carlos Perez says:

    I have one doubt in here, because we are used to make and oil chance ourselves to our cars, EXCEPT for the BMW’s because at the agency, they told us that even if you change the oil the alarms programed in the computer (the millage when you have to change the oil) won’t turn off until we get it to them, and it also the same whit the brakes and old those things, is there any way to turn the alarms of the computer off?? or reprogrammed when you do this changes?

    If you quit the oil stains and the mess i’ll take out all the fun

  22. bmwtechal says:

    @Carlos Perez:
    the only way to reset the light in the new cars (E9x, E6x etc.) is through the diagnostic machine. except the E65 7 series. for this car insert the key fob, press and hold the trip odo reset button and press the start stop button. a menu will come up in the cluster and you can scroll through and reset the different services. brake will not reset unless a new sensor is fitted though. you can reset E46, E53 X5, E83 X3, E39 5 (2002 and later only), E85/6 Z4 and most cars that DO NOT have a 20 pin diag connector under the hood by press and hold the trip odo reset button, turn the key to pos. 1 (first click, radio accessories on, not ign on), keep holding until the display in serv ind. changes, release the button and press and hold again until it flashes then press the button once. any car that has a 20 pin diag connector, even ODB II cars (2000-2002) need a special tool to be reset. they can be reset by jumping 2 of the pins but im not sure wich ones. never had to. im sure that info can be found online somewhere.

  23. Nigel says:

    Interesting but Im looking at the plastic engine cover on my series 1 118D and wondering how to get that off first?

    • bmwtechal says:

      you should not have to take that cover off for an oil change. we dont have the 118d in the US but none of the BMW engines in the US need that cover removed for an oil change. all the filter housings are accessable. look around the engine bay for a black plastic filter housing. this is the cap that screws of to get the filter. youll probably need a special filter wrench since BMW stopped putting a hex head on top of the caps with most of the new eninges. if you do need to take of that cover there are either like 4 torx or hex bolts holding it on, they may have little covers on them that pop of. if not just pull up on it. some of them like the N63 just snap on. again im not familiar with the 4cyl diesel.

      • Nigel says:

        Thanks bmwtechal, you were right it just pulled off, simple when you know how

        Im obliged to you

        • Jon says:

          Nigel, i was just wondering what you did to get to the fuel filter? as you mentioned there is a black cover on the engine which sits directly over the fuel filter… is there some way to unclip it? thanks

          • Nigel says:

            Grasping the black plastic engine cover firmly left and right hand side, pull up to free it and then pull forward and out it comes. Bit of a knack in getting it back but essentially a reversal of getting it out. Once out, its plain to see how it fits. To be honest I havent thought about the fuel filter yet as way too early for me, just wanted to know the first step on removing the cover

  24. Jon says:

    Brilliant, thanks! Yeah thats the same with me. I’d just rather know how to do it before it have to make the change. Are you by chance on any owners clubs or sites for 1 series? I used to own a peugeot and there were a good community for them but i haven’t yet found one for the one series for a knowledge base.

  25. Nigel says:

    Is this site a USA site? Im not on a site but have a look at but there is a lot lacking in the self maintenance department for these cars. Finding any tech info seems to be difficult compared to the VWs Ive had, no one does any workshop manuals or anything

    • Jon says:

      Yeah i think this one is based for US BMW’s. Yeah i found that site. seems quite good for some areas though. seems to be the case with the 1 series!! hopefully it something is on the horizon though!

  26. Shamim Abowath says:

    You will need 36MM socket and 1/2 inch racket for the oil filter housing. I believe not 32mm socket which has been stated in who to change oil on BMW X3 2004. three liter engine.

    • Max says:

      I did not see your post and went and bought a 32 mm socket – you are right it takes a 36. See my comment below however on another tool that worked really well.

  27. Shamim Abowath says:

    I mean 1/2 inch wrench not racket.

  28. Jim says:

    I have a 1997 540i, is the oil filter housing located on the drivers side fender well next to the engins, accessed from under the hood? What type of oil do you reccomend 10/30 or 5/30, full synthetic/


  29. Max says:

    The M54 filter housing: I purchased a 32 mm socket as posted above but it was too small. Instead of making another trip to the auto parts, I found in my tool chest a seldom-used tool called a basin wrench (superior tools # 03812). This worked perfectly and the adjustable handle on it provided plenty of torque for removal. I know that you always need the right tool for the job, but really, this worked well and I have dedicated for this purpose.

  30. Larry Ptaschek says:

    I just finished changing oil on my 2004 745Li. It’s probably the easiest oil change I have ever made on a car. BMW made it easy by making access to the filter and drain plug right next to each other wirh no splash shield to remove. All I need now is to find out what I need todo to reset the oil light.

  31. sam says:

    whats oil shall i use for X5 M

  32. Jennifer says:

    Does anyone have any tips on changing the oil on a bmw 650? I usually take it to the dealer 300 miles away, but can’t at this time.

  33. astroboy says:

    4 cylinder N46 engine oil change DIY procedure for the E9x is available here, contributed by yours truly.. :)

  34. Luqman taha says:

    I have a 1999 523i, What type of oil do you reccomend 10/30 or 5/30, I live in north of Iraq..


  35. Josh Y says:

    I have a 2007 X5 3.0 with a little over 50,000 miles on it. I am getting 0 compression on the #2 cylinder and the normal 250 on the others. What could be causing this? The service department is stating that worst case we may have to get a new engine but they are not sure at this time and that is the last thing I want due to it no longer being under warranty.

  36. Max says:

    You don’t mention service records or rough idle so I will take a stab and suggest that the exhaust valve is sticking open intermittently backfire or hard starting might signal the same for an intake valve but since you don’t mention it may not be the case. If the compression is “zero” upon repeated measurements you might have a different problem. Is the engine using oil? You might get lucky if the service records are poor and just be dealing with a gummed-up valve seat. You could try an oil additive with Teflon or Gumout and see what happens. This should not hurt anything and possibly afford a quick fix

  37. Luc says:

    Where can I find how much oil my engine needs? I have a e60 05′ 525i. Note: Thats a diffrent enigne size than the later 525i.

  38. Steve Anderson says:

    I have a 520i (E39) 1997 and want mto get hold of a service schedule, any ideas please, haynes are soo expensive

  39. Steve Anderson says:

    I have a 520i (E39) 1997 and want mto get hold of a service schedule, any ideas please, haynes are soo expensive

  40. Robert says:

    Hello, after changing the oil, does the oil light should be reset? or does the car have a sensor to sense new oil?
    Thank you for your advice


  41. Robert says:

    I found this procedure to reset the light, should I execute it after oil change?

  42. Del says:

    Hi to the author and thanks for the guide.

    On my car, it says 25mm on the cover. is this correct?car is a 2003 model E60 530D.
    Thanking you.

  43. Bradb88 says:

    How do I replace the stock air filter on my 2007 328i (sedan)?  I’ve searched and searched for a video, but found nothing as to how to remove the entire casing to do it.  It’s amazing all the video’s for oil & cabin air filter replacements!!!

  44. George Giles says:

    is 10/60 synthetic oil ok for a 1995 reg 323i bmw

  45. Srnlaurentiu says:

    many liters of oil you need for bmw 730d ?

    • solo..2 says:

      i’ll have to change the oil on the bmw 730d 2006 ,it’s anyone who know what oil i have to use and many litter’s thank’s

  46. Tjcoha says:

    2008 328xi – just bought an oil extractor from Griot’s Garage.   Where do I stick the extraction tube since there is no dip stick?    I don’t see a drain plug without removing plastic under body shields…..

  47. fluff says:

    i have a bmw 316ti and im losing oil could u give me any idears it not the sump please help

  48. rodney stone says:

    hi do you raise the front of the car, or must it be level?

  49. J Dan says:

    changing the oil and filter is no problem, how do i reset the oil service indicator display ?

  50. Pwrofted says:

    I own a 2003 Z4 2.5L engine and the socket wrench needed is 36mm and not 32mm

  51. I have a little how-to video on changing your oil, you can find it here:
    Hope you find it helpful!

  52. jolka says:

    I have 530XI (2006) Service Check has been done 2 weeks ago Engine Oil has been added. Now it shows again that oil is needed. My dealership says that to some cars they need to add oil every 1000km?! I was shocked. Please advise… maybe I dont understand something…..

  53. Ricardo says:

    Where I can buy the screw of the oil cartridge for my BMW 99 323i

  54. Steve says:

    BMW’s are money and buy American or Japanese and live life a whole lot cheaper and easier..for example: battery goes out on BMW..$350 crap must be reprogramed, need top radiator hose..10-20 american or Japanese..nearly $100 on BMW due to stupid molded plastic ends that are pain to remove..these stupid cars don’t even have a dipstick now..

  55. mohhosny says:

    I have BMW 523i 2007, I have changed the oil successfully. but the light indicating I still need to change the oil is still on. when it should turned off, or is there anyway to reset it

  56. boyddunn says:

    The ideas are very clear and interesting about E46 oil filter. These are the oil filters used in the BMW motors.
    These are the best ideas about the E46 oil filter.

  57. Raven says:

    I go to Costco buy 5w-30 Castro 100% synthetic oil, oil filter from my local parts guy, he recommends the oil filter that is used by VW and Audie says they are the best. No need to jack-up an X3, in 5 minutes I am done and I change the oil every 6-months. My Toronto BMW wants around $200 including taxes I can do it for $60 and when I change the oil twice as often the cost is $120. How can I lose. The Bimmer loves the fresh oil every 6-months.

  58. vince says:

    I have a bmw 740i 2010 and i’m about to change oil for the first time….i’m a little concerned after hearing that some cars you cant drain the oil completely as the pump wont pick up the new oil with out been primed…is the correct or can I drain the sump completely….

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