How to Change the Oil in Your BMW E92 M3

m3-oil-changeToday’s modern cars are becoming increasingly complicated to work on. There are less things you can do in your own garage. I’ve changed the oil in my BMWs many times but I find that changing it in my ‘E92 M3’ is even more challenging. They’ve made it very difficult to completely drain all the oil out of the engine and made it extremely easy for me to overfill it.

Everybody knows that the ‘tools make the job’. Having the right tools is a must before you try to change the oil in your car. When changing the oil in an M3 you should do it while the oil is warm. Warm up the engine before you climb under the car. Usually running the car for less than a minute will get the job done. You’ll need a good set of ramps or jack stands to create enough space for you to slide underneath the car.

I have my own procedure that I follow that begins with removing the oil filter and oil fill cap. I use a 36mm socket to remove the filter. Before removing it I make sure I have a pan or tub underneath to catch the oil that dribbles out. When the oil is finished draining completely I move underneath the car.

While underneath my M3 I locate the 2 drain plugs under the motor. It takes a 6mm hex to get them out. I like taking a 6mm hex socket and adding it to a 3/8″ drive. There are certain safety precautions to take when changing hot oil. You can burn yourself really seriously if you don’t focus on safety. Oil that is at 140 degrees Fahrenheit can raise a 3rd degree burn in just 5 seconds. It only takes 1 second if the temperature is 156 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a precaution, when loosening up the drain plugs, I take a long socket extension with a swivel elbow to give me some room away from the plug. I also throw on some leather gloves to protect my hands. I start with the rear or main reservoir and loosen the plug.

oil-changeAfter it begins to slow down to a trickle it’s time to remove the other plug and let both of them drain simultaneously. As they drain I focus my attention on replacing the 2 ‘O-rings’ on the lid of the Oil Filter Housing. You can pop them out using a flat bladed screw driver. The larger one is quite easy to replace, then you have a smaller one that’s located on the tip.

Before installing the new O-rings take a little oil and smear it on them. Now it’s time for the oil filter. This should come in a complete kit including 2 gaskets and 2 copper crush washers. Replace your 6mm hex drain plugs. Be sure to put on the new crush washers. Torque the plugs down to 25 Nm (18 ft-lb), which is not that much force. Install your new filter and torque down your oil filter housing lid to 25 Nm as well.

The BMW Owner’s Manual is full of good and relative information, like how much windshield wiper fluid to put in or how much fuel. However, it does not tell you your engine’s oil capacity. When you look at the specs of the E92 S65 motor you see that the motor capacity is 8.8 liters. To get an idea of how much oil the engine holds, you multiply 8.8 times 1.05 quarts per liter. That comes to around 9.3 quarts. The capacity of your oil pan is 8.3 liters and around .25 liters for your oil filter housing.

Again, I find it very difficult to completely drain all the oil from the engine. There is a bit of oil found at the bottom of the front air dam. An M3 comes with 2 oil pumps and 2 reservoirs. Because of all these oil pathways a total draining becomes quite difficult. With oil still left within the engine, when you try to add in 8.8 liters of new oil, it’s very easy for you to overfill your E92 M3. That’s why it’s so important that you drain it while the oil is warm. It comes out much easier that way. You could, of course, leave it to drain overnight or tip the rear end up but just draining it while its hot seems to be proficient.

Using a funnel for refilling helps to keep things neat and clean. Once the draining is finished and the plugs replaced you can add in an even 8 liters of oil. Here is where things can get a little trying. When you try to check your oil level and get an accurate reading you’ll have to start your car. The only way to get a truly accurate reading is when the oil reaches its operating temperature (above 160 degrees Fahrenheit).

If you haven’t overfilled your M3 I recommend taking your oil filter out and sucking the oil out from your oil filter canister. There is approximately 1/4 liter of oil in there. This is a far better option than draining some more oil from underneath the motor. This can be messy, hard to control, and inaccurate.

BMW has stated that you should change the oil in your M3 around every 15,000 miles or once a year. I like to change mine at around 7,500 miles or once per year.

Here are the tools that make this oil change much easier to perform:

  • 36mm SocketĀ (for removing oil filter)
  • 6mm Hex Drive and Socket
  • Low profile car ramps (or low profile jack)
  • Funnel
  • Flat Screw DriverĀ (to remove oil filter gasket)
  • Torque Wrench
  • Mechanics Gloves


Hot oil will burn you fast and deep. Be sure to take all precautions to avoid getting burned. Use the leather gloves for protection. Make sure your car is stabilized and will not fall down on you while you work.