This weekend I changed the oil and filter in my 2002 M5. It’s a very basic procedure that requires little to no mechanical skill, but delivers a satisfying DIY feeling. All I had to do was follow this how-to complete with pictures from M5Board.
The oil change itself was simple, but this being an E39 M5 there was much advance research required. First and foremost was which weight oil to use. When the E39 M5 was introduced BMW specified 10W60 oil. Later that was changed to 5W30, with no specific explanation about the change. Today BMW says both are approved to use.
This has led to literally thousands of online discussion threads and much conjecture. Here’s a thread started by a UK member who contacted BMW directly and couldn’t get an answer, despite dealing with a customer service rep who did some internal digging.
Based on threads like this one, and on recommendations from trusted sources like Bimmer magazine and Bavarian Autosport I decided on 10W60. Then it was the question of WHICH 10W60 oil to choose. The 10W60 approved by BMW is made by Castrol and costs $15 or more per liter, with the M5 requiring seven. But there is also a brand called Liqui-Moly, which is approved by BMW in Europe, is very high quality and highly recommended by Bavarian Autosport. (Read more here in their newsletter from Fall 2009).
For the oil filter I went with Mahle, a well regarded supplier. Mann filters are more widely available, but I’ve read about some counterfeit product reaching the U.S. market with their brand name. Olympus Auto carries Mahle so I can pick up the filters locally.
While the car was up in the air I removed the plastic underbody panel to look around. The panel was nice and dry, as it should have been since I had the power steering hoses done a couple of months ago. The belts looked to be in good shape, as did the fan. So hopefully no surprises there for the foreseeable future.
There is always something new to learn about BMWs, even related to a simple thing like an oil change. For the long-term owner, these cars aren’t just transportation – they are full scale hobbies!
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