What is the one thing people would tell us when we first received our first car? The one thing Fathers all across this world would preach to their teenage sons or daughters when told how to take care of their new wheels. Besides “don’t speed” and “always wear your seat belt”, one of the first things mentioned when it comes to taking care of your car is to always CHANGE THE OIL REGULARLY!
Of course, not all of us followed this golden rule of automotive maintenance and the end results were not always pretty. As we all matured, the importance of this simple act of vehicle maintenance becomes more of a religious act and the standard 3 months or 3,000 miles is adopted, sort of. Times have certainly changed and thankfully, so has automotive technology.We can’t always solely rely on technology though.
An Oil Change Service is the most important maintenance item for the life of your BMW.
As sophisticated as a modern automobile is today, engine oil is still the “blood” that keeps engines revving to life. Manufacturers have come a long way in pushing more sophisticated synthetic oils that help engines run cleaner, prevent oil sludge and extend the service intervals, among other thins. As a result, the “3 months or 3,000 miles” rule we grew up with has been extended to 6k, 7.5k, and 10k intervals. More so, BMW engineers their vehicles with 15.5k and even 19k intervals (more on this below)! Realistically speaking, this approach certainly sells cars, but in the long run, this will lead to a shorter life span for any engine.
Any modern European car of today has on-board logic designed to keep track of driving habits and based on this, alternately vary the oil change intervals. This is done to compensate for short trips and infrequent driving. The problem is this systems are not always very accurate. Furthermore, following this method of prolonged maintenance will NOT lead to a long term reliable vehicle. Lets assume a scenario. Your Mecedes-Benz is in for service and the service center resets the reminder indicator after the service is complete. Your next service is service B at 10,000 miles according to the vehicle. And lets assume the vehicle is driven less than 1,000 miles in a year with short trips. That 10,000 miles may quickly go down to say, 2,000 miles. This is because even synthetic engine oils can over time absorb moisture if not brought up to temperature.
Furthermore, just because and engine calls for 5W30 synthetic engine oil doesn’t mean any brand will do. Manufacturers apply stringent specifications that must meet their design criteria. Most modern Mercedes-Benz engines require engine oil to have an approval number MB 229.51 on the label. Mercedes-Benz has very specific engine lubrication requirements and only oils that have this MB approval number and the approved viscosity ranges are to be used when servicing this engines. In addition, engine oil must satisfy many different industry standards, i.e. API (American Petroleum Institute). Volkswagen and Audi use spec VW 502.00, 505.00 engine oils that have similar approvals and BMW designs their own line of exclusively formulated High Performance Engine Oils which exceed existing international quality specifications.
Speaking of BMW, the German automaker has established a maintenance system in their vehicles for some time now that seems to extend this intervals even longer. Condition Based Service (CBS) is a system that determines maintenance intervals based on fuel consumption, among other things. The main determining factor for the maintenance interval is the condition of the engine oil. This is done through a Engine Oil Condition Sensor. This sensor has the ability to detect engine oil level and oil temperature, information that is monitored by the DME (engine computer). This signals, along with fuel consumption, engine load, mileage driven and date are used to calculate the appropriate intervals. This system also has the ability to detect when other maintenance items are due such as filter, operating fluids, brake pads and even your annual State Inspection. The problem with technology is that we can’t always just sit back, relax and completely rely on it. Would you trust a vehicle with on-board computers that would allow it to be driven on its own? Maybe one day, far off in the future.
Our shop recommends doing an “in between” oil change service on BMWs. Depending on driving habits, most cars should fall under the 5,000 through 7,500 miles oil change intervals with the right synthetic. Bottom line, as complex and overly-engineered a modern vehicle is today, a simple oil change should at the very least be the most important maintenance item that should be done on a regular basis throughout the life of a vehicle. That is until we all start driving all electric cars, or cars that drive themselves…