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BMW 3 Series E30 Engine Oil Change



One of the key stones to reach a long lifetime of your engine is frequent and regular engine oil change.
Overview
Time:

1 Hour

Difficulty Level:

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Tools:

socket (13 mm), socket (17 mm), ratchet handle, large pan (bucket), torque wrench (optional), rubber gloves (optional), service indicator reset tool (optional)

Parts Required:

Engine oil, oil filter, drain plug sealing washer

Hot Tip:

Work with a slightly warm engine

Performance Gain:

Maintaining engine longevity

Complementary Modification:

Replace air filter too

One of the key stones to reach a long lifetime of your engine is frequent and regular engine oil change. If you are hesitating about the cost of these frequent oil changes (especially with larger engines consuming large quantities of oil each time) I would like to recommend to use a good but cheap oil (with correct viscosity and proper quality ratings of course) and change frequently instead of buying the most expensive oil and change very rarely.

The easiest is to simply follow the SI (Service Interval) lights indicating Oil Service or Inspection. When maintenance is to be done, the yellow LED will come on together with either the Oil Service or Inspection indicator. If the maintenance is not made, the red LED will also illuminate.

There are two inspections, Inspection I and Inspection II. They always alternate so if your last maintenance was Inspection I the next one will be Inspection II and so on. Between each inspection (could be either Inspection I or Inspection II) there is always an Oil Service. So, the maintenance sequence will go like this: Oil Service, Maintenance I, Oil Service, Maintenance II, Oil Service, Maintenace I and so on.

Tools, Skills And Parts

The job is very easy to perform and does not require any kind of special tools.

Difficulty Level:

The following tools are required for this particular work (tools marked with green checkmark are optional).

  • socket (17 mm)
  • ratchet handle
  • large pan (bucket)
  • oil filter wrench
  • torque wrench
  • rubber gloves

The following spare parts are required for this particular work (parts marked with green checkmark are optional). Note that the BMW internal numbers are intended for a BMW 323i E30 -85.

Engine oil
Engine oil filter
Gasket ring (copper)07 11 9 963 1515 SEK

Draining Engine Oil

Using a lift is the most convenient way for this particular work. You will have plenty of working space and the car is level (helps to drain as much oil as possible and will give correct oil level readings). If no lift is available you can always jack up the car and place it on low jack stands or drive up on small ramps.

But first drive around your car for about 10-15 minutes (if not possible let the engine at least idle for about 20 minutes) to warm up the engine oil to operating temperature. When hot the oil will flow a lot easier and you will thereby removing more particles of metal and dirt when the oil is drained.

Start by removing the engine oil filler cap to aid the draining.

Remove the engine oil filler cap (to aid the draining).
Remove the engine oil filler cap (to aid the draining).

Locate the engine oil drain plug and the engine oil filter. They are located on the right side of the engine.

Place a large enough pan or bucket under the drain plug (one that can accomodate at least the amount of oil you are supposed to fill up with later). When you remove the drain plug the oil is drained very quickly and there is no time looking for pans or buckets!

Locate the engine oil drain plug (17 mm hex head) and the engine oil filter.
Locate the engine oil drain plug (17 mm hex head) and the engine oil filter.

I recommend to wear some kind of protection on your hands – such as rubber gloves or similar. The engine oil is hot and you really don’t want this on your hands.

Example of rubber gloves to protect your hands against hot engine oil (Biltema 38-277).
Example of rubber gloves to protect your hands against hot engine oil (Biltema 38-277).

Use your socket and ratchet handle (a box-end wrench or similar will of course also work just as good) to unscrew the plug. It is sometimes easier to unscrew the last turns by hand and at the last turn slightly pushing the screw towards the oil sump while unscrewing and when it is loose quickly remove it.

Avoid dropping your favorite socket and drain plug into your oil pan/bucket. A magnetic pen can of course save your day.
Avoid dropping your favorite socket and drain plug into your oil pan/bucket. A magnetic pen can of course save your day.

While you are waiting for the engine oil to drain completely (let it stay for some time) you can remove the engine oil filter. It is more or less useless (well not entirely but not far away) to change the oil without replacing the engine oil filter. Always replace the engine oil filter when replacing engine oil!

Normally you should be able to unscrew the oil filter by hand but I really recommend to have an oil filter wrench available – if things starts to go bad. An excellent tool is the oil filter wrench (Biltema 20-321) which is actually to be used for VW/Audi 14-corner 74 mm diameter oil filters but works like a charm on E30 oil filters.

Excellent tool for removing the engine oil filter (Biltema 20-323).
Excellent tool for removing the engine oil filter (Biltema 20-323).

Attach a 3/8″ ratchet handle or breaker bar to the oil filter wrench and unscrew the oi filter. Be prepared for some oil to leak out from the oil filter (which is still filled with oil). Throw away the old oil filter and bring out your new one. Clean the mounting flange at the engine block carefully. Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new oil filter with new clean oil and carefully screw it back in place. Do not overtighten it! Install by hand until the rubber gasket contacts the mounting flange of the engine block – then turn the oil filter another 3/4 turn.

Clean the engine oil drain plug carefully and reinstall the drain plug with a new copper gasket ring. Do not skip this. If you re-use the gasket ring it will starts to leak oil almost immediately. Tighten the drain plug with correct torque (do not overtighten it).

Filling Engine Oil

Now it is time to fill up with fresh new engine oil. The engine oil capacity for common models can be found in the end of this article. Avoid adding too much oil as this will not do the engine any good – in fact it will only make the life for the engine worse.

Give the engine oil some minutes to find it’s way down to the oil pan and read the engine oil level. Add more oil if needed. Try to reach a level between min and max on the oil level stick (it goes approximately 1 liter of oil between the min and max markers).

Start the engine and let it idle for a couple of minutes. Make sure no warnings lights comes on (low engine oil level or low engine oil pressure). Check for any leaks – especially around the engine oil drain plug and filter. Turn off the engine and wait for a couple of minutes to let all engine oil flow back into the oil sump. Read the engine oil level and add more if needed.

Tightening Torques

Engine oil drain plug25 Nm (18 ft-lb)

Engine Oil Capacity

BMW 318i4.00 (3.75) liter
BMW 320i4.25 (4.00) liter
BMW 323i4.25 (4.00) liter

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