Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Second Oil Service
Over the last week I spent several days doing lots of errands with purposefully inefficient routes, simply to accumulate the mileage required to remove the break in oil. The need to do this became all too clear last weekend as we experienced a cold snap with low temperatures near 20F on a couple of nights. One morning I went out to the car to inspect the half quart of break-in oil I'd left in the trunk. As I rotated the container I found that it flowed surprisingly well for a 30 weight oil but there was no mistaking the fact that this was not the optimal temperature for this oil. For this reason I decided to avoid starting the car until the temperatures moderated into the upper 40s and low 50s later in the day.
After several days I managed to accumulate about 325 miles, or a total of about 525 since the overhaul. I decided to perform a second oil service to remove the bulk of the remaining wear metals and transition to an oil more tolerant of winter temperatures. I earlier considered using a conventional oil (GTX Ultraclean) to round out the break-in period but as a reader kindly pointed out, this oil is not LL01 approved and lacks a HTHS (high temperature high shear rate) value of 3.5 or greater as provided by most LL01 approved oils. My attempt to find a conventional oil with similar specifications to the average LL01 oil failed. I suppose this should not have come as a surprise as the technical requirements of LL01 were developed based on a synthetic oil, so it's likely no conventional oil could meet those requirements.
During my research I discovered that the BMW oil that is now provided by Shell is reportedly a Pennzoil product based on their new Gas to Liquid (GTL) technology that allows them to synthesize a base oil from natural gas as opposed to crude. I considered buying the equivalent oil sold in the aftermarket by Pennzoil as "Platinum Euro 5W-40" or Castrol's equivalent called "Edge" but I could not find either oil in anything but in single quart cases at a price more or less equal to that I would pay at my dealer for the BMW 5W-30 product. Pennzoil confusingly sells a nearly identically labeled "Platinum Euro L" product in 5 quart jugs that are half the price but that is the ILSAC rated product which is primarily designed for Japanese and select US engines. This product, like the GTX Ultraclean conventional oil, lacks LL01 approval.
Realizing that the E46 would be in need of an oil service before I put it to bed for the winter I decided to pick up 14 quarts of BMW 5W-30 at my dealer. My parts rep rewarded me once again and charged $105 with tax, or about $7.50 a quart. The best deal I could get online for Pennzoil Platinum Euro was $52/6 quarts, or $8.65/quart plus tax. Unfortunately, the price of BMW oil filters has skyrocketed over the last few years, so I now only buy the equivalent Mann filters, usually in bulk packs. I picked up a set of three recently for around $6/each which is, coincidentally, about half of the cost of the OE filters.
After I drained the oil I once again shook the drain pan to gauge the state of the wear metals in the oil. This time the oil shimmered but to a far less extent. I'm sure some of the metals were left behind from the first 200 miles but the bulk were probably a result of the continued break-in process. A quick inspection of the oil filter revealed no recognizable metal particles so I installed a new filter, reinstalled the drain plug and filled the engine with 6.5 quarts of BMW 5W-30. I was originally expecting to run this oil for a normal interval (probably 6 months given that I don't drive the car that much these days) but based on the amount of wear metals I saw today I am likely to run the oil only for another 500-700 miles, which I should manage to tack on in a month or so.
Video: Break-In Update