BMW recommends 5W-30 weights (5W-40 for warmer climates) and its list of approved synthetics are Castrol Syntec, Mobil One, and of course the BMW Synthetic Motor Oil from the dealer. Although not on BMW’s list, if you want to have the best synthetic, look to Redline or Amsoil.
BMW Synthetic Motor Oil is made for BMW by Castrol. It is very similar to Syntec, but it has a unique additive package specified by BMW for BMW’s (compare Syntec additives to BMW additives at the Maxima website below).
X5 DIY Oil Change by hayaku
An oil change should take about 8 quarts (for 3.0 engine) to 8.5 quarts (for 4.4 engine) when the filter is also changed.
NOTE: It’s important that the filter canister be opened BEFORE the oil pan drain plug is installed since the approximate 1 quart of oil in the canister and lines will not drain out until the canister top is removed to allow air in. If the drain plug is replaced, the vehicle lowered, and then the canister top is removed the used oil in the canister and lines drains into the pan (but can’t drain from the pan) compromising the oil change and only allowing 7.5 quarts to be added (the 8th quart being the used oil that was in the filter canister and lines).
Independent oil analysis spreadsheet comparing additives packages of different oils:
http://forums.maxima.org/showthread.php?s&threadid=100060 or just download the Excel Spreadsheet here: http://www.mindspring.com/~bill99gxe/Oil Analysis Results.zip
Annual Oil Change Recommendation / Bulletin
BMW issued SI 00 04 01 on October 25, 2001 to clarify the oil change situation for low annual mileage owners.
“A limited number of BMW owners accumulate very low mileage on their BMWs annually, in some situations insufficient for the Service Interval Indicator System to call for an Oil Service or Inspection. However, all BMWs should have an engine oil change at a minimum of once a year, regardless of whether synthetic or petroleum-based oil is used.”
As a part of the BMW Maintenance Program your dealer should perform the annual oil service and update/stamp the Service and Warranty Information Statement but SHOULD NOT RE-SET THE SERVICE INDICATOR SYSTEM.
If your driving pattern remains constant (i.e., low mileage) the Service Interval Indicator System will under most circumstances ( i.e., excluding really low annual mileages) call for an Oil Service within the next 12 months at which time your BMW Center’s service department should perform the oil service (including oil filter replacement), update/stamp the Service and Warranty Information Statement and RE-SET THE SERVICE INDICATOR SYSTEM.
If the annual oil service occurs within 60 days of the time when the Service Indicator System would call for an Oil Service or Inspection, then the upcoming service should be performed and the Service Indicator System reset.
In situations where you request a more frequent oil service (at your own expense) than as called for by the Service Interval Indicator System, the same logic applies – your dealer should not reset the Service Indicator System until the maintenance is performed that is called for by the System. This is especially critical for vehicles still covered by the BMW Maintenance Program.
Please see your BMW Center’s service department for more details or questions.
BMW say’s lifetime fluid, but some owners prefer to change it every 30,000ish miles (Auto or Manual)
Be sure to remove the fill plug first, just to make sure that you can fill it before you drain it.
With the Manual Trans, suggested fluids are Redline D4-ATF, Redline MTL, Amsoil and Royal Purple Synchromax.
With the Auto Trans, I suggest only using the fluid and procedure specified by BMW. I would change the filter every other time (60k) or every third time (90k).Automatic Transmission/Fluid
Brake Fluid – Every 2 years from the “Date of Manufacture”
Brake fluid should be changed every 2 years no matter what your mileage because it is Hygroscopic and absorbs water over time. For fluid, I think that the ATE Type 200 (Same as Blue w/o the dye) is the way to go, you should need about 1 Liter.
“If you have the BMW 4 years or 50,000 miles Full maintenance plan on your E53 is an included service and its very common for them to forget about brake fluid changes, so remind them. Plus, the fluid change is supposed to happen every two years from the date of manufacture, not the in-service date. So that puts this service out of synch with all the other work that has to be done.”, brake guru Dave Z.
Power Steering Fluid – Varies
PS fluid is just like any other fluid and it breaks down and gets contaminated with time and needs to be changed as a preventative measure, unless you think that its a “Super Fluid” and impervious to the elements like no other fluid that I know of. I can not believe that auto manufacturers continue to ignore this fluid in their list of regularly scheduled maintenance, maybe they like being paid to replace PS racks and pumps? I know that bearing clearances inside modern PS pumps are incredibly tight (a particle of anything in the right place could burn it up) – plenty of reason to keep new clean fluid in there. Although, I’m sure the reason that it’s not part of the normal OEM maintenance schedule is the likelihood of sloppy mechanics introducing some contaminants into the system, or starting the car with no/low PS fluid, etc… So, the big picture risk of having issues is probably much lower if they just say to leave it alone. So if you choose to do this service take extra precautions and make sure that everything is clean (like you would for a transmission fluid service).
If you are starting with a new car, when performing an oil change service (every 5000 with synthetic) draw the fluid out of the PS reservoir and replenish it with new PS Fluid. By continually doing this you should have clean PS fluid forever and probably will never have to flush the system in this car because this service was started very early on the car.
If this hasn’t been done on your car since day one, you might want to do what I did with my car. I changed the PS fluid in it by drawing the fluid out of the reservoir with a simple turkey baster and replacing it with new fluid (synthetic ATF for this car). I did this once a day for about a week when I got home from work, and used about a quart and a half of new fluid total. You could do this all in one day if you wanted to, the key is to exercise the power steering in between draining the reservoir, and I was in no rush. I figure that I changed about 95% of the fluid this way, and it still looks ruby red. Also when performing an oil change service (again every 5000 with synthetic) I draw the fluid out of the PS reservoir and replenish with new ATF, the old ATF gets added to the waste engine oil and recycled. By doing this I hope to have ruby red PS fluid forever and probably will not have flush the system again.
Final Drive – Every 30,000ish miles
This is an easy DIY and only requires a 14mm hex head key or hex head socket and a decent fluid pump to refill the differential case. Again my preferred fluid is Redline and you’ll need 2 quarts/liters. You can use 75W-90 or 75W-90NS in a stock final drive, if you’ve upgraded to a limited-slip unit, you’ll need the 75W-90NS. As with the transmission, be sure to remove the fill plug first. With cold differential oil, because viscosity is high (resistance to flow is high) a large amount of that oil (and dirt) could remain in the final drive. Anyone preparing to do this should really drain the differential oil after a long, long, very long drive. Rack up 50,75,100 miles on the highway, and then park and drain it. There’s almost no chance of oil still sitting between the back face of the pinion gear and the back of the differential casing when the until has warmed the oil to operating temp, it should flows out of the drain hole like hot engine oil.
Coolant – Every 4 years
The cooling system capacity is around 12 Liters, for a 50/50 mix of Coolant/Distilled Water you will need 2 gallons (3.8 Liters/Gallon) of each, this will leave you with an extra gallon of 50/50 for toping up later.
BMW Coolant Product Description:
“This product is exclusively formulated and produced by BMW to protect your engine all year round.
It protects against freezing, boil over, corrosion and excessive silicate gel precipitation. This ethylene glycol based antifreeze contains no nitrites or phosphates, greatly reducing the possibility of harmful deposit formation. This coolant is superior to off the shelf brands that contain phosphates. Your cooling system is expensive to replace so use Genuine BMW Coolant. “
If you are going to spend the $ on the BMW coolant (82.14-1 467 704) consider using Distilled water ($1/gallon) as the 50% mix suggested by BMW. I just say that because the label on the BMW coolant touts how it was made with no impurities like nitrates or phosphates, why take the chance at adding contaminates back in with city water? I can guarantee you’ll at least be adding chlorine and fluoride into your cooling system with city water. I have no experience with well water, but I’m guessing it would contain minerals that would precipitate out into your cooling system.
BMW does not specify the use of distilled water, they also don’t specify any service interval for the power steering fluid, but I change that too. Why? Because both are cheap prevention. It cost me $2 more to use distilled water when I did the coolant service. $2 is not excessive. When paying $14 a bottle for the BMW Coolant that claims to be Nitrate and Phosphate free, if an additional $1 will indeed keep that bottle Nitrate or Phosphate (and who know what else) free in my cooling system, then I think I can spare it. If distilled water was expensive, I wouldn’t use it, but it is so inexpensive I couldn’t justify not using it.
Battery – Yearly
During normal operation, water is lost from a flooded lead-acid battery as a result of evaporation and electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen, which escape into the atmosphere. I would suggest checking the electrolyte level in your battery every Spring, and topping up with distilled water if necessary.
adapted from a post by kowached™