e36 m3 oil change information

The following BMW E36 M3 oil change information is based on the US spec S50B30 and S52B32 engines. The S50B30 was only used for the 1995 year model in the US, the first year the E36 M3 was made available to the US market. 1996 through 1999 E36 M3 models used the S52B32 engines.

How do I know when my E36 M3 needs an oil change?

The BMW E36 M3 has a series of illuminated lamps under the speedometer that decrease as the time for your next maintenance visit approaches.

A yellow lamp will indicate "OILSERVICE" or "INSPECTION" meaning maintenance is due.

A red lamp will alert you that maintenance is overdue and needs servicing immediately.

BMW E36 M3 service inspection indicator light

What type of oil should I use in my BMW E36 M3 engine?

Per page 103 of the BMW E36 M3 owner's manual, BMW recommends oils that meet the following API ratings:

  • API SG
  • API SH
  • When the E36 M3 was manufactured in the 1990s, these API ratings were the highest standards oils were produced to at the time. However, as oil technology has progressed over the years, these ratings are now obsolete and oil can no longer be purchased new at these old standards. As a result, these are the current API standards:

  • API SP
  • API SN
  • API SM
  • API SL
  • API SJ
  • Any name brand oil that meets these new standards will be sufficient for the S50B30 or S52B32 motor. Engine oil ratings can be either found on the front or back of the label on the oil container.

    BIMMERtips recommends the Liqui Moly brand of oil due to their products meeting the highest of standards as well as made in Germany. The following Liqui Moly oils which meet API SL & API SN standards. For alternate oils available in your country you can always call your local BMW dealership to ask for a recommendation.

  • 5W30 Longtime High Tech
  • 5W40 Leichtlauf High Tech
  • 10W40 Leichtlauf High Tech
    BMW engines are designed to operate without oil additives; the use of additives could lead to damage in some cases. This also applies to the manual and automatic transmission, the differential and power steering system.

    What viscosity oil should I use in my BMW E36 M3?

    Per page 104 of the BMW E36 M3 owner's manual, oil SAE viscosity rating is based off the average seasonal air temperature of the climate in which the vehicle is driven. Refer to the below chart BMW provides in the owner's manual for viscosity ratings.

    BMW E36 M3 Oil Viscosity Chart

    What is the OEM BMW oil filter kit part number for the S50 and S52 motor?

    OEM BMW Kit Part Number: 11427833769
    This OEM BMW oil filter kit costs around $20 and comes complete with (1) oil filter, (1) drain plug washer and (1) oil filter cap o-ring.

    What are alternative S50 / S52 oil filter kit part numbers?

    Mahle Kit Part Number: MAH-OX187D
    This Mahle oil filter kit costs around $7 and comes complete with (1) oil filter, (1) drain plug washer and (1) oil filter cap o-ring.

    What is the oil filter cap torque?

    13mm bolt: 25Nm or 18lb-ft

    What is the oil drain plug torque?

    17mm bolt (M12): 25Nm or 18lb-ft

    What is the oil capacity of the E36 M3?

    1995 S50B30: 6.9 quarts (6.5 liters) - page 9 of supplemental owner's manual
    1996 / 1999 S52B32: 6.3 quarts (6.0 liters) - page 140 of owner's manual

    How do I check my E36 M3 oil level?

    Per page 102 of the owner's manual: to obtain precise readings:

    ✔ Ideally check oil level with a cold engine, when the engine oil has drained back down to the oil pan.
    ✔ When checking oil level with a warm engine, wait briefly for the oil to drain back down into the oil pan (during refueling for example).

    ➊ Pull out the dipstick and wipe off with a lint free cloth, paper towel etc.
    ➋ Push the dipstick all the way into the guide tube and pull it out again.
    ➌ The oil level should be between the two marks on the dipstick.

    BMW E36 M3 oil level indicator

    How do I know when to add oil?

    Per page 103 of the owner's manual:
    Wait until the level has dropped to just above the lower graduation before adding oil. Never wait until the oil drops below the lower mark. The space between the two marks on the dipstick corresponds to approximately 1.1 US quarts (1.0 liter). However, do not fill beyond the upper mark on the dipstick. Excess oil harms the engine. Because it would be consumed within a short period, it would also result in an abnormally high rate of oil consumption.

    What is the oil service light reset procedure?

    Learn the procedure on how to reset the BMW E36 oil reset light HERE

    Where can I learn more information on oil weights and viscosity?

    Learn more BIMMERtips information on oil by clicking HERE

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