BMW 3 Series Oil Change (E36)

by spartanix on June 16, 2010

For best results warm BMW 3 Series vehicle normal operating temps. This will ensure that the old oil will drain much quicker and will also suspend any contaminants and metal shavings into the oil to be removed. If you prefer you can also let the engine cool down for a few minutes to lower the engine oil temperature for safer handling.

  1. Place BMW vehicle on sturdy jack stands.
  2. Place a drain pan or bucket under oil pan. When loosening oil pan plug (17mm or 19mm) do so in small increments. Be aware of hot engine oil splashing out of oil pan.
  3. When the plug is finally removed let the old oil drain until it comes to a drip. Replace oil pan nut with new washer. The new washer should come prepackaged with your new oil filter. Lower vehicle after torquing oil drain plug back to specification. Do not over tighten.
  4. The oil filter is paper based material unlike conventional metal types where the paper filter is located within it. The oil filter is located within the engine compartment. Access to it can be attained from the top of the vehicle. The oil filter housing is near the front driver’s side of the engine.
  5. Remove oil filter housing cap by using appropriate sized nut and breaker bar.
  6. After cap is removed the old paper based oil filter can be removed from its location. Some encouragment from a set of pliers may be needed.
  7. On the oil filter housing cap you’ll have to remove the old O-ring. Afterwards you can put the new O-ring in its place. The new O-ring should already come packaged with your oil filter.
  8. Install the new oil filter by pushing the new one into the housing.
  9. Installation of the oil cap is reverse of the removal. Torque to specification. Do not over tighten.
  10. Remove oil cap and set aside. Refill engine with recommended oil. Remove dipstick to check level.
  11. After correct level has been attained start engine and take note of oil pressure light that comes on in the gauge cluster. Check under vehicle for any oil leaks. Allow engine to run for several minutes to allow the new engine oil to circulate the engine. Turn engine off, recheck oil level and take note of any leaks found.


Engine oil drain plug:

  • M12 bolt (17mm) – 25 Nm (18 ft-Ib)
  • M22 bolt (19mm) – 60 nm (44 ft-Ib)

Oil Filter Housing:

  • Oil filter housing cap – 25 Nm (18 ft-Ib)

Oil approximate capacity – API service SH or SJ

  • M42 – 5.0 liters (5.3 quarts)
  • M44 – 5.0 liters (5.3 quarts)
  • M50 – 6.5 liters (6.9 quarts)
  • M52 – 6.5 liters (6.9 quarts)
  • S50US – 6.5 liters (6.9 quarts)
  • S52US – 6.0 liters (6.3 quarts)

Engine oil viscosity requirements versus temperature:

  • 5w-30: -30 to 10 degrees Celsius (-20 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 15w-40: -10 to 30 degrees Celsius (15 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit)

Got questions and comments on our oil filter change for BMW’s 3 Series 1992-1998? Leave them below!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bill July 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Does anyone make a metal replacement for the plastic oil filter cover on the M52 engine ??

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