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3-Series (E36) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1992-1999. Autodoodad Specific models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318iS/ti, BMW 320, BMW 323, BMW 320, BMW 324, BMW 325, BMW 328.

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Old 01-19-2007, 11:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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20w50 Ok to use?

First off, hello everyone. I just picked up a 1992 E36 as a daily driver/beater. I am trying to perform all kinds of maintenance to make sure the car stays together for 50k miles.

Car currently has 192k miles on it, all kinds of oils were used in its past but it was 20w50 for the first 140k miles. The subsequent owner used 10w30 and 5w30. There are a few small oil leaks, I already know about the valve cover gasket and the oil pan gasket reaplacement procedures so that shouldn't be a problem.

But to get to my point. Can I use 20w50 in the engine? Reason I am asking is since it is such a high mile engine I wanted to use thicker oil. I would have changed it over already, but after I added about .5 a quart of 20w50 to top off the engine yesterday, I had a bit of valve noise this morning. I believe there is currently 10w30 in the engine.

Is it safe to use 20w50 or should I use a different grade oil. I would use synthetics but at this mileage it seems like a waste of money and it could potentially make thing worse and create leaks around seals etc..
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Old 01-19-2007, 11:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I use 20w50 in my car but only in the summer. The winters here usually get cold and the oil is so thick it doesn't flow very well at startup, not good for bearings.
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I am in california, so we usually don't see below 40. We did have a recent cold spree with temps in the 30s. Thanks for the reply.
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Old 01-22-2007, 09:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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well, there are 2 ways to think about this... If the car has a lot of miles on it and leaks, you can use a thicker oil to stop some of the leaking, but that will also make it harder for the engine to pump the oil. Also, if the car was newer, there would be some clearance issues in the lubrication system with the thicker oil. I would never suggest that you use a thicker oil in a newer car, but it is a possibility in an older car with some wear on it. Being that you are in CA, I don't see why you would have much trouble with the thicker oil.

The other way you can look at it is, BMW says that you should use 5w30 in the winter and 10w30 in the summer. They say these are the best oil combinations for their engines...

Your choice. Good luck!
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Old 01-22-2007, 10:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the update. I did an oil change with 20w50 this weekend. Car runs pretty darn good, no problems to report. I thought the recommended oil was 20w50 for the earlier 3 series?(Non M3)
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Old 01-22-2007, 01:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Actually, if you look at the first few pages in the bentley it will show an engine oil index which i believe recommends 15w50. If i were you i would stick with mobil 1 synthetic. i have used it on my 92 325 with 178k on the clock and no leaks or probs.
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Old 01-22-2007, 01:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm telling you all you need to use a lighter oil than that. I personally use 10W30 in mine because the oil feed holes for the hydraulic i.e. oil lifters are very small and do not work properly without a thinner oil.
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Old 01-22-2007, 08:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Yeah I use Mobil One 10w-30 year round. I just like the synthetics.




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Old 01-22-2007, 10:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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5w30 year round
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I personally use synthetic Mobile 1 10w30 in my 97 M3 that has 93K miles on it. Works fine, I do a have a small oil leak though.
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:46 AM   #11 (permalink)
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i run a 15w-50 but than again my car only runs summers and shes usually driven pretty hard. i do agree a 10 is probably the proper low temp to use, for those in colder climates a 5 or 0 even is a good fit.

you guys car re-read up on oils and weights in the FAQ forum if your still deciding on what you want.
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