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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > NA Engine (non-turbo) / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications > Oil change, oil level indicator.



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      12-09-2005, 09:28 AM   #1
mishenka
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Oil change, oil level indicator.

Yesterday I brought my car to the dealer for an oil change. Mileage 6874. Oil level indicator was always at Full position and just few days before dropped down a bit, I would say maybe like one fourth, really insignificant amount, which I consider normal consumption at almost 7K mileage. By the way, I am not sure if it make any difference, but service mileage indicator up until now still stays at 15K, and I do not baby my car They changed the oil, good price - 70 bucks.

When I got car back the same day and turned it on, the oil level showed the same amount of oil like it was when I brought it in - down by maybe one forth from Full mark. I showed it to the mechanic, he was surprised. Added just a bit more oil. Still oil indicator shows the same amount. He is asking me to bring the car back tomorrow so they can see what is wrong and he suspecting the oil level indicator sensor. I would say pretty obvious suspicion Because this is the first thing that also popped up in my mind.

This morning I start the car in my garage, idle not more than one or two minutes, check oil level before I drove away, and... oil level is at Full mark now!

I still drive to the dealer this morning and describe the situation. SA tells me that he also spoke with the mechanic this morning and he said that in order to get proper oil level measurement it should be checked when the vehicle is at it's operating temperature. So for now I did not leave the car at the dealer (nothing wrong with it at the moment) and basically want to know if anyone has more technical info on this. How accurate oil level indicator is? How fast it should reflect change in oil level? All other related info is greatly appreciated. Are there any mechanics on this board?

Thanks everyone.
mike
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      12-09-2005, 10:37 AM   #2
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I haven't seen this problem, but I would like to say that having to wait to check the oil until the engine is at operating temp is the stupidest thing I have ever seen on the car. Have they ever thought of the possiblility that oil may leak from the engine overnight? Sorry, it doesn't answer your question. Just a sharing a rant.
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      12-09-2005, 10:43 AM   #3
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And I agree with your rant 100%. That is the stupidest thing. Either it waiting till the operating temperature, or waiting some amount of time for the system to cycle before it actually shows correct oil level is very dangerous tactic because like you said oil can be leaking and you will just wait till you can read the level. Go figure. But again, are there any mechanics who can prove it?
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      12-09-2005, 12:34 PM   #4
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It's pretty much standard operating procedure to check the oil level of a car when the engine is hot. If you're leaking oil you're not going to see the result of the leak on the dipstick unless it's a really bad leak. The best way to see if you have an oil leak is to look under the car.

I was messing around with the Check Control on a test drive car. It hadn't been driven, it had just been started. When I went to the oil level indicator there was a little animated clock indicating that I need to wait to see the accurate oil level in the car.
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      12-15-2005, 03:28 PM   #5
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Two days ago my engine oil light came on with a message not to drive car. Check of oil level showed minimum oil. No leaks visable. Fortunately I was a block from my house. Only 900 miles on car. BMW assist towed it to the dealer and I was given a loaner. Last night they called and said a computer check indicated a faulty oil sensor. None in stock, will be ready tomorrow.
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      01-03-2013, 10:50 PM   #6
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The sensor does 2 things, it measures oil level and it measures the life left in the oil. I don't like not having the good old dip stick, but it's being left out of more cars as sensors take over.

My 07 328i was giving me some code (sorry I forget) about a problem with the sensor, but I did an oil change & reset and it's been fine since.

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      01-04-2013, 08:36 PM   #7
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The sensor allegedly measures oil level, not the life of the oil (a function of your driving cycles, mileage, etc. ... mine wanted a 20K oil change). I say "allegedly" because I intentionally under filled my first change and it still indicated full. It's never indicated anything but full. I would love to have a dipstick. For now, one on them (BMW will change on service indicator OR one year), one on me.
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      01-05-2013, 09:49 AM   #8
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Oil in BMWs is such a difficult thing! You'd think that somehow the rules of chemistry and the laws of physics don't apply to BMWs like the rest of the cars in world.

So this is how the oil level system in an E90 works. There is an oil monitor sensor build into the oil pan. It works electronically via a set of capacitors to measure the level of oil in the engine and the quality of the oil in the engine. There is also an algorithm in the ECU that uses several data points to determine when the oil requires changing. The datum are things such as time, mileage, cold engine start, warm-up time, engine speed, etc.

The system is designed to maintain a proper level and quality of oil in the engine to keep it lubricated and operate the VANOS system. The oil level system is more sophisticated than just what a mechanical dipstick can provide, so the dipstick is not necessary to keep track of level the oil, that's why BMW does not include it.

The oil level in any engine should be measured when the engine is at operating temperature. The BMW E-dipstick provides the measure of oil for the last (or top) quart of oil (i.e. the 7th quart of oil). The oil change procedure is very simple, drain the old oil, and add 7 quarts of new oil. The e-dipstick takes many level measurements over time and eventually reports on the level once all the parameters it needs to determine the oil level in the engine (temperature, RPM, pressure, etc,).

Most people don’t understand the system and expect it to function like a direct-read mechanical dipstick, but it doesn’t work that way and it is why people have difficulty with it. Changing the oil and only adding in 6.5 quarts and expecting the system to read low is not using the system the way it was intended to operate. The system is intended to be drained and refilled with 7 quarts of oil, not adding 6.5 quarts and “topping” off the level by using the (mechanical) dipstick, like some cars fill procedures with mechanical dipsticks suggest.

The level of engine oil is not as critical as many people think. Engine oil needs to be in a “range” of quantity, not an “exact” level of quantity. All engines have a built-in reserve of oil quantity to keep the engine properly lubricated under varying conditions. If you read car owner manuals for mechanical dipsticks, they explain the oil level should be in the range of the hatchmarks (or lines) on the dipstick, not that the oil has to be at the exact top line on the dipstick. The readout of the BMW e-dipstick is analogous to the hacthmarks on a mechanical dipstick.
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