Can You Take A BMW Anywhere For An Oil Change?

Routine oil changes in your BMW are a preventive maintenance item that needs to be actioned several times a year, depending on the distance you drive. In particular, BMWs require frequent oil changes, varying from as low as every 7,500 km (5,000 miles) to every 15,000km (10,000 miles).

You can take your BMW anywhere for an oil change as long as the person who performs the oil change is competent and knows about any issues related to your BMW’s model. Recent model BMWs do not have an oil dipstick and the oil filter is uniquely placed compared to many other vehicles. BMW owners can also do the oil change by themselves if they have the skills to do so.

Despite what some BMW dealerships say, it is not necessary or even recommended to take your BMW to a BMW-approved dealership for simple tasks such as oil changes. It is a task that needs to be performed regularly and can be completed very quickly by any qualified mechanic or DIY owner.

You Can Take Your BMW To Any Qualified Mechanic

BMW dealerships will pressure you to keep returning to them for simple oil change services. They do this in several ways.

  1. BMWs are more complex than other cars.
  2. It will affect your warranty if you take the vehicle somewhere else.
  3. Only a specialist BMW mechanic is trained to carry out the change.

Whatever the BMW dealership tells you, you need to keep in mind that the workshop is a significant profit center, and they will continually try to direct as much work as they can through this department.

The simple fact is that changing the oil is a straightforward task that the average DIY owner can accomplish alone.

The one caveat to be aware of is that you should be wary of “quick service” oil change shops. Shops like Valvoline and Jiffy Lube are not necessarily low quality, but you should double-check reviews and confirm that your local quick service oil change shop has oil technicians that understand the quirks of a BMW. Check out these articles for more information on whether you should take a BMW to a Jiffy Lube or Valvoline Quick Service Center.

How Do You Do A BMW Oil Change?

The proof is in the pudding, and so the following are the steps needed to change a BMW’s oil. If you have an older model BMW (early 2000s and earlier), then this video I made on an E36 oil change will work perfectly. If you have a newer model BMW, this oil change video on a BMW F30 will serve you well.

Step 1 – Select The Correct Tool To Remove The Oil Filter Housing

To complete the oil change, you will need the following:

Depending on the model BMW, select the correct socket size. These are.

  1. E36, E46, E60, E83 and the E85 series BMWs with the M54 engine require a 32mm socket to unscrew the filter housing.
  2. E9x, E60, E61, E87, and F01 series using the N52/N54 engine require a special adapter.
  3. E31, E38 and the E53 series using the M62 engine require a 6mm hex screw to unscrew the filter housing.
  4. E60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 53 X5 4.8iSA and the E70 series using the N62 engine require a 6mm hex screw.

Step 2 – Gather The Rest Of The Equipment You Need

In addition to the above, you should also have:

  1. An oil catch pan.
  2. Socket and socket wrenches.
  3. A flat head screwdriver.
  4. Latex gloves (preferable but admittedly I rarely use).
  5. A new oil filter.
  6. A new drain plug with a washer.
  7. Correct grade replacement oil.

Step3 – Position The BMW

Park the car in your garage, or if you don’t have enough room, outside on the driveway.

If the BMW has not been started that day, leave the engine running for fifteen minutes to allow the old oil to heat up sufficiently so that it drains quickly.

Don’t leave the engine running for too long, because the oil will become very hot and could burn you.

If you have a lift or jack stands, it is always easier to work on a BMW raised slightly. If you don’t, it is not a problem, and you will be able to perform the job lying on your back.

Ensure the parking brake is activated, and if your car has a manual transmission, place it in first gear. If your BMW is an automatic, make sure the shift lever is placed in the park (P)  position.

It’s not a bad idea to put chocks behind the wheels.

Step 4 – Remove The Drain Plug In The BMW

If your BMW has a protective shield under the engine, carefully remove the screws and dislodge the cover, then remove it from under the BMW.

The drain plug is positioned at the lowest point of the oil pan.

Ensure that the oil catch pan is positioned correctly to catch the oil as it pours out of the oil pan.

Using a seventeen-millimeter (0.66inch) socket, slowly undo the drain plug until you can turn it by hand.

Grab hold of the drain plug and carefully turn it by hand until it comes loose. Try to keep your hand away from the running oil, however, it is not a problem if some oil flows over your gloves.

Keep hold of the drain plug and washer, and let the oil drain completely out. Depending on the size of your engine you may need two oil catch pans to drain all of the oil as BMW engines carry a significantly greater amount of oil than most other cars.

Step 5 – Remove And Replace The Oil Filter In The BMW

BMW oil filter
Most BMW oil filters are located at the top of the engine (identified here in red).

Identify the position of the oil filter:

  1. In the older engines, a screw-on cartridge filter is installed on the right side of the engine block.
  2. On the M54 engine, you will need a 32mm(1.25 inch) socket to unscrew the filter housing.
  3. The N52/N54 engine requires a special adapter.
  4. The M62 engine requires a 6mm (0.23 inch) hex screw to unscrew the filter housing positioned on the engine block’s side.
  5. The N62 requires a 6mm hex screw to remove the filter housing under the car right next to the oil pan positioned vertically.
  6. The oil filter housing on four-cylinder BMWs is situated on the top side of the engine.

Remove the filter and replace it with the correctly specified oil filter for your car. Please note, that you should change the oil filter before you insert the new oil drain plug as more oil will pour out once you remove the oil filter lid.

Replace the oil filter housing and tighten the securing bolts.

Step 6 – Replace The Drain Plug In The BMW

Crawl (if necessary!) under the BMW again and fit the new drain plug, ensuring the new washer is installed.

Tighten the plug so that it is secure and does not leak oil but be careful not to overtighten it because you don’t want to strip the soft metal threads.

Step 7 – Replace The Oil In The BMW

Check in the owner’s manual to ascertain the quantity of oil your BMW needs.

It is essential that you neither underfill nor overfill the engine.

If you pour in too little oil, there may not be sufficient quantity to protect the engine.

The consequences of pouring too much oil into your BMW can also be serious.

  1. If the engine is overfilled, the crankshaft may contact the oil, and it will act as a high-speed mixing machine causing the oil to froth up and make it less effective.
  2. Too much oil can increase pressure on the crankshaft, resulting in oil entering the crankshaft exhaust pipe, and entering the combustion chamber, blocking the suction hose with oil.
  3. The increased pressure on the crankshaft could damage the cylinder head gasket, cause bent rods, or collapse the valve pipes.
  4. Oil could enter the catalytic converter and cause excessive deposits.


Changing oil in a BMW is one of the most frequent services which needs to be carried out, and while the BMW dealership will try to convince you that your “true driving pleasure” machine is too complex for the average mechanic, they are very wrong.

Changing oil is the simplest type of service you can undertake on your BMW, and literally, any adult can do it while at home. The only caveat to be aware of is that if you decide to take your BMW to a quick service oil center, do some due diligence ahead of time to confirm that the oil servicer will handle your vehicle properly.

Stephen Metellus

I am a BMW enthusiast and owner of! I have been repairing, flipping, and parting out BMWs for nearly ten years. I love these vehicles and I hope you will find my articles and YouTube channel helpful for whatever BMW project you have in store!

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