BMW Oil Change: common mistakes made when performing an Oil Change Service on a German Automobile

Leaking Drain Plug

I take pride in my work and the cars I work on. It pains me to see a fine European vehicle that has been poorly serviced by someone who either doesn’t care or just doesn’t know the correct materials to use or manner in which to service the vehicle. My example, this BMW X5 3.0 that was in the shop last week for service. This vehicle was a first time customer and what I found was so bad that I felt the need to write a blog on the topic as I have seen it so many times before now.

When performing such a simple service as an Oil Change it is still critical to bring your German Auto (Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Mini, Audi and more) to a reputable European specialist. If not, it could end up costing you more in the end. This car I’m using as an example had just about ALL the common mistakes made in an Oil Change Service performed by someone who likely does not know the correct way to perform the service.

Drain Plug with an old used seal and a new one

First of all, the drain plug crush ring seal. I call it a ‘crush ring’ because that is exactly what it does. It crushes when it is torqued into place and seals the oil drain plug. Notice the picture with the old and new rings. One has an indentation from being torqued down on by the drain plug. Because it works this way, it is only good for 1 single use. It should be replaced EVERY time the drain plug is removed, such as, for an Oil Change Service. If it is reused it will leak as shown in the picture above.

Second, the oil filter. You NEED to use a quality German fleece filter. Just look at the picture here. This should say enough. The $5 or $10 difference could be the difference from your engine living or dying a horrible death and taking your wallet with it!

After use between service intervals: Left - Cheap Paper Filter, Right - good quality German Fleece Filter

The paper filter element in the filter on the left breaks down and comes apart inside your engine! The plastic caps come off and can also break apart. However, they usually just separate from the paper element and get left behind by the person doing the next oil change and didn’t bother to look inside the filter housing to make sure nothing was in there, as was the case in this situation.


Oil Filter Housing with end cap of cheap filter stuck on the bottom blocking proper oil flow.

This engine had a ‘cheap’ oil change done a couple times in a row it appears. The filter end cap came apart and was left behind and a new filter was installed on top of it! Not good people. Not good.

The end cap that was left behind





Here is the end cap I removed from the oil filter housing.

Quality German Oil Filter Kit. Includes a Filter, Crush Ring and Cap seal











Old Filters and New Filter

As you can see, the quality filter will look just the same at the end of its service life as it did in the beginning. Except of course, it will be dirty, as it should be since it is filtering debris from the oil running through it.




Oil Filter Cap and Seal

The seal on the oil filter cap must be replaced at EVERY service interval as well to prevent oil leaks. A step that is commonly skipped at many shops. This literally takes a few seconds to do and the seal is in the box. Just replace it and do the job right.




Finally, use a high quality synthetic motor oil. Here at Revolution Automotive, we use Mobil 1 and the prescribed viscosity for the vehicle being serviced. In this case, it is 5w40.

Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 5w40

These facts are true of all German automobiles. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mini Cooper, Audi, Porsche are all using similar products, have seals that need replacing and run engines that require high quality synthetic oils. If you use a quality filter, quality oil and replace the drain plug seal and cap seals, you really can’t go wrong. I would recommend a 5-7,000 mile service interval on top of that and I’m certain your vehicle will run better, longer!