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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Another DIY Oil Service

More than a year had passed since I performed the last oil service on the E46 so I completed another low utilization oil service today during a period of relative calm in my schedule.

When I started the engine to pull the vehicle out of the garage in prep for the oil service the engine ran a little rough for the first few seconds. This surprised me given that it only recently came off daily-driver duty with no such issues. While I suppose the car could have a lazy vanos or injector, I think the most likely cause is month-old gas and no StaBil in the tank. I plan to fix that at the next fill up.

(Image: E46 getting another low utilization oil service in July 2011)

As the oil drained I noticed that it was definitely dirty but still translucent. Given that oil drained from the E36's M52 would be opaque under the same time in service (3300 miles) I think this pretty well proves the M54 is simply a cleaner running engine. Of course, I may be doing the M52 a disservice by comparing a new engine with new rings to an engine with over 210K miles on it, but the point to take home is that 7500 miles will continue to be my recommended oil service interval for the M54 until, when, or if the engine gives me reason to change that interval.

I had the oil filter left over from an earlier order so I didn't need to buy one this time around. The total cost of the oil service was therefore the price of six quarts of BMW 5W-30, or $39 with donation to our useless, bloated government. The parts guys don't have the margin on oil that they do on other parts so I was only given 10% this time around, but I still considered myself lucky as the price of an oil change at the dealer is now north of $200. I'll call this one hour (or $128) labor saved.

Update and Plans

I apologize to those E46 owners who have written me over the last year requesting more DIYs specific to the E46. Because my example remains in low utilization and because most maintenance requirements are tied to mileage I don't expect to do much on this car for the foreseeable future. And that's a Good Thing...at least from my perspective.

The upside is the E46 has managed to serve in its official capacity as my backup vehicle twice since the last report in April of 2010. The first time was back in June of 2010 while I completed the massive rear suspension overhaul project in the E36. That was a great learning experience: I learned that I don't want to put tons of mileage on this car because it will hit 100K in short order and then I'll have two old BMWs to maintain. The second time was this June when I had to wait for backordered parts to come in from Germany for the E36's driver's door overhaul project. Both times I enjoyed driving the E46 but was glad to get back in the E36 because nice cars don't often stay that way in New Jersey. No thanks to the overwhelming presence of idiotic drivers and deteriorating roads. Each time I put around 1000 miles on the car but you'd probably never know it by looking at the odometer since it remains below 10K miles.

The next maintenance task will be a brake fluid flush. The convenience of jacking up the car using the lift in my brother's new toybox (presently under construction) should allow me to complete the flush using my pressure bleeder in only a few minutes. However, the slab for the building was only poured this morning so it's very likely the building won't be ready until the end of September. Translated: the flush will probably one of the last things I do to the car before it's put away for the winter.

Mileage: 9457, Parts $39, Parts Saved $10, Labor Saved: $128