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  1. #1
    PB
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    04 X5 3.0 80K How often oil change needed?

    I am a little confused on topic. Dealers claim only needed every 15k Miles for $125. The Vavoline folks insist that even if using top grade synthetic oil and new filter it - needs to be changed every 5K as the oil breaks down and burns. Their cost about $90. My experience has been that I have had add oil once I have gotten to 10k without an oil change. I am leaning towards chaning every 5K - as Vavoline suggests because it scares me when the car begins to burn oil and I get the warning to add oil. I drive a lot - 20k per year. Any thoughts on topic on folks who really know the X5 engine?

    Thanks in advance.


  2. #2
    robertplattbell
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    What is the one TRUE RELIGION?


    Might as well throw a firebomb in the forum. Everyone has their own opinion about oil change intervals, types, viscosity, filter brands, etc.

    Some, like the Amsoil people, are like Scientologists. It gets scary.

    Do you really want to start this discussion? It will make the Middle East look like patty-cake.

    My general thought is:

    1. Having oil in your engine is good.

    2. Changing it and the filter occasionally is also good.

    3. Anything beyond that is style points. Seriously.

    The BMW engine computer will indicate oil change intervals based on time and driving type (long trips versus short, cold starts, etc.). Some folks go by it, and it can "recommend" changes as infrequent as 20,000 miles (!!!). To old school folks, this is heresy.

    Other folks swear by using dino oil every 3,000 miles with a quality filter. Over 100,000 miles that is a LOT of oil changes. Like 30 or so. (Compared to as few as five, recommended by BMW).

    I used to be with the [Oops!]-retentive crowd - using $12 a quart oil and imported German filters every 3-5K miles and draining the oil through the drain plug.

    Then one day I did an ECONOMIC ANALYSIS on oil changes, and it opened my eyes a bit.

    Modern cars, with fuel injection, do not dirty their oil as much. Ring wear is largely a thing of the past. Most cars are junked because they are old and some other major component (transmission, etc.) goes bad. Few modern cars go to the wreckers because the motor is shot.

    I try to change the oil every 7-10K with a good synthetic, like Mobil-1. Castrol Syntec is the BMW oil. Voll Synthase is nice, but pricey.

    I use a vacuum pump, (see pix and link below) which reduces the labor to about 10 minutes. And no, using the drain plug doesn't get "all the dregs" out better, as usually the (a) drain plug is higher than the lowest part of the oil pan and (b) if the oil is changed regularly, there are no "dregs" to remove. Since I drive very little, my oil changes are almost annual.

    With the vacuum pump, DIY oil changes are easy to do, not messy, and cost maybe $30 for the oil and filter. I have two of these now, actually, and use them on all six of my cars, my two boats, and the two tractors. With all those IC engines to maintain, it really is a time and money saver.

    If you are diving 20,000 miles a year, I suspect a lot of that is highway driving. Highway driving puts little wear on a car, or on the oil. So you could go to a longer interval with little additional wear. The BMW engine computer automatically calculates this in the oil indication light interval.

    Note also, the BMW has a larger sump than most traditional cars (6.8 liters versus 5 quarts. Some BMWs have as much as 8 liters of oil). This helps with the extended intervals as well.

    How long do you plan on keeping the car? 15,000 mile oil changes will probably be sufficient if you are only keeping it for 150,000 miles or so. But like you, I would go for something shorter, like 7-10K instead, because I'm still somewhat [Oops!]-retentive.

    I know it sounds strange, but times have changed, engines have changed and oils have changed. But that means you don't have to change your oil as often. Old habits die hard, though.

    I have 100,000 miles on my 8-year-old X5 and it burns not a drop. At this rate, I don't see this car being an "oil burner" in the next 100K miles - which is as long as I can realistically envision owning it. I bought the car with 50K on it, and the original owner (leased car) changed the oil according to BMW specs. No damage was done.

    So relax. It's all good. The engine will outlast the car. The 3.0 is pretty bulletproof, provided you don't overheat it.

    Now, you DO change the brake fluid every two years and also flush the radiator with BMW coolant and distilled water 50:50 mix, right? A lot of people obsess about oil change intervals and miss other fluid changes.

    Good Luck.

  3. #3
    PB
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    Re: What is the one TRUE RELIGION?

    I have not changed anything other than oil since 37K - now I am at 80k. Can these other fluid changes be done at Vavoline, Jiffy Lube etc.? Thanks

  4. #4
    robertplattbell
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    Hmmmm.......

    I would avoid using chain places and they are likely to screw things up.

    Jiffy Lube will not touch brake fluid. They've been sued....

    How long do you plan on keeping the car? If only for a year or two, forgetaboutit!

  5. #5
    robertplattbell
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    You see, the problem is...


    The problem is this:

    Flushing the coolant sounds easy, but if the system is not bled properly, you can get an air bubble in the head and warp the head or blow the head gasket. Major problem. So no, Jiffy Screw is not the place to trust with that.

    Plus, they will use Prestone or whatever. The manual recommends BMW coolant and distilled water, 50/50 mix.

    Flushing the brake fluid and bleeding the brakes (and clutch slave cylinder, if you have a manual transmission) is not that hard to do (see pix below).

    But if you are not "handy", I'd talk to a local independent BMW mechanic. Ask around for someone who is competent.

    What's the downside to NOT doing this? Well, as you have already learned, the car will not stop dead. But it may mean that down the road, you may have to replace a master cylinder or brake caliper more often than otherwise. Or perhaps you may have cooling system problems more frequently.

    But some folks just drive these things until they die, and they manage to get 150,000 miles out of them before it happens.

    So.... you can play it both ways I guess. It would be interesting to do the economic analysis on it. At dealer service prices, it may not be cost-effective.

    Good Luck. I think your oil change intervals are just fine....

  6. #6
    PB
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    Re: You see, the problem is...

    So I did some shopping around and while the prices for coolant/brakes are about same between dealers and local BMW shops, the cost to change battery was $100 less at local shop. Battery is a new topic... but since my SUV still has original since 04 and New England weather is not that kind I am going to change it now before I get stranded. I think fluid changes are good for the car and since I will keep for another two years and since its my only car its an "investment" overall. Jiffy Sears and Vavoline wont touch fluids and I am grateful for that....

  7. #7
    robertplattbell
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    Not hard to DIY


    I paid $79 for an Exide battery at B.J.'s Wholesale and installed it myself in about 15 minutes. Taking out the spare tire is the hardest part.

    But it sounds like you found a good deal for the whole procedure.

    B.J.'s is sort of like Price Club, but with an unfortunate name...




  8. #8
    PB
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    Re: Not hard to DIY

    They told me its very important to use factory battery of $208, as oppose to anything else - may cause issues in future to electrical system...its hard to throw over money like that but I do remain concerned about anything going wrong on such a high tech SUV... Its a gamble, but I guess I will feel better that I have a new and "safe" battery. While I can wait till this battery doees not start anymore (6.5 years old at this point), its kind of a gamble...

  9. #9
    robertplattbell
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    Ask for a discount - it can't hurt.

    If you are a member of the BMWCCA you can get a 10% discount on parts. And it never hurts to ask for a break on it. They have flexibility in pricing.

    The BMW batteries CAN be different from aftermarket. For example, in the cabriolets, they are "vibration resistant" and weighted to balance the car (and the sedan batteries don't fit!). I went with the OEM BMW brand for those two cars.

    My neighbor has the same car, put an Exide in it, and it works fine.

    But the prices on BMW batteries have been creeping - $125 for one. Next time it was $170. Ouch. So I went looking for cheap this time.

    BMW batteries last a long time. I got 8 years (!!) out of the X5 battery, 8 out of the Hellrot E36, 9 (!!!!) out of Bostongruen, and now going on 9 for the Roadster. So they are a quality piece.

    6.5 years is not great, but about time. And BTW, when they go, it may appear to go suddenly. It cranks a little slowly one day and then a week later, it refuses to start at all.

    For the X5, I went with the Exide, and we'll see how it works out. It is not as large as the OEM battery, but the hold-down in this car has two mounting holes (for two different sized batteries), unlike the E36.

    As these cars age, they are worth less and less. My cabrios might fetch $7000 on a good day. The X5 is worth maybe 10 grand. The Roadster? 24,000 miles and worth maybe 12K if you can find anyone with money these days. It is kind of sad, but they are just old used cars nowadays.

    So keeping these cars alive on a budget gets to be more crucial as time goes on.

    No one likes to throw thousands of dollars at a car worth.... only thousands of dollars.

    All that being said, for dealer pricing and service, not too shabby a deal.

    Good Luck.

  10. #10
    PB
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    Re: Ask for a discount - it can't hurt.

    So I got the brake and radiator fluid flushed. I am told that transmission needs to be done as well. With 80k on car - when do you recommend that gets done?

  11. #11
    robertplattbell
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    I am surprised they suggested it, but yes.


    For a while there, dealers were saying the tranny fluid was "lifetime" and not recommending changes.

    Depending on the year and model, you might have a GM Hydramatique du France or a ZF box (I am presuming you have an automatic).

    Most folks change transmission fluid periodically. Me, for one.

    If it was my car, I'd do it. Glad to see the dealer has changed their "lifetime" fluid policies....

    Good Luck.

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