How To Change Your Oil

The September Roundel, in printing the survey results, confirmed my feeling that many members are interested in simple, how-to-do-it techniques. So for the purposes of this "How To Change Your Oil" article, I assume that the reader has only a rudimentary mechanical knowledge, and little experience in working on a BMW.

Why do your own oil change?
Two main reasons: economy and availability. Good motor oil by the case is about 85¢ a quart or less; dealers charge $1.50. Oil filters in a small quantity are about $2.50; dealers charge at least $2.50 an oil change at a dealership runs $15-$20. Do it yourself and get the cost down to $8 or $9.

Availability means you don't have to leave the car for the oil change, since the job takes less than an hour when you do it yourself. You can also avoid running past the oil change interval because you can't spare the car for a day or the dealer can't fit you in. Or you can handle it yourself when you visit Buzzards Breath, Montana and can't find a BMW dealer.

Tools and materials required:

  • old newspapers
  • basin to catch oil (89¢ plastic dishpan)
  • 19 and 13-mm open end wrenches (in the car's tool kit)
  • 13-mm ratchet socket
  • 2 foot extension
  • ratchet driver (available at hardware, auto parts stores, etc.).

How To Complete An Oil Change

  1. Remove the oil drain plug
    Crawl under front bumper and locate drain plug on oil pan -- you can't miss it. Loosen with 19-mm ratchet, box end, or open end wrench. If more leverage is needed, slip a piece of pipe over wrench handle -- make sure to turn counter-clockwise to loosen, clockwise to tighten (it's easy to reverse this when laying on your side or back!). Before removing plug, place old newspaper and basin underneath. Remove plug and let oil drain completely. CAUTION: oil should be hot to drain well (up to 2-3 hours after engine operation is OK) so remove hand quickly.
  2. Drain the Oil
    When old oil is all out, move basin to under oil filter and replace plug, after cleaning it. Be sure it is tight.
  3. Remove Battery Cable
    Using 13-mm open end wrench, remove ground cable from battery, otherwise ratchet extension may cause problems by hitting positive terminal of battery.
  4. Remove Oil Filter Housing
    Locate oil filter housing. There are other ways to change the filter, but I think the easiest is to remove the entire housing and do the job at a workbench. Loosen the four bolts with the 13-mm ratchet and extension. You may find it necessary to have a universal joint coupling between the 13-mm socket and the extension for one of the bolts. Try all four bolt-heads first to make sure you can get a good fit on all of them. Don't lose the washers as you remove the bolts. When the bolts are out, some oil will escape and should drain into the basin. Carefully remove the filter housing, keeping the open end up remember, it's full of hot oil. Handle carefully -- it may be hot, so you could use gloves.
  5. Drain Oil Filter
    Set down housing, open end up, and get the basin from under the car. Pour oil out of housing into the basin. Using 19-mm wrench, open the housing by removing the bolt at the bottom. The inner workings of the housing were explained and diagrammed in the September, 1975 Roundel -- be sure to reassemble correctly after putting in the new filter.
  6. Replace Oil Filter
    Replace reassembled housing in car; tighten bolts; replace battery ground strap and tighten; reset the clock to the correct time.
  7. Refill Oil / Check For Leaks
    Pour six quarts of oil (check your owner's manual for your vehicles exact specifications) into oil filter on top of valve cover. Start car and check filter for leaks. Check drain plug for leaks. The oil warning light may stay on for half a minute or so while the new oil circulates throughout the block and filter. Keep the newspapers under the car for a day or so to catch drops of oil which may cling to block.

Author: Richard Neville

In the Bimmer Beginner column in the October-November 1975 Roundel, on page 4, step 7 states that you are to Pour six quarts of oil into oil filter on top of valve cover. "That should be oil filler", since fitting six quarts of oil into an oil filter would be rather hard to do.

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