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BMW Engine Oil

Engine Oil for your BMW

If you have ever researched engine oil and gave up because of the never-ending debates, acronyms, and unsubstantiated claims, hopefully this page will 'click' for you. What we want to do is educate our customers and other enthusiasts who might have a casual understanding of engine oil and want to learn more. From our racing programs, project cars, service work, and our own personal experience we have accumulated deep understanding of what oil should be and what it isn't. Click here if you just want to skip ahead to our BMW oil recommendations. Or continue on into our treasure trove of engine oil knowledge.

There are a lot of acronyms and unfamiliar terminology used in oil discussions. Refer to the chart at the bottom of the page for their meanings and importance.

Basic Oil Knowledge

Engine oil has four functions: lubrication, protection, cooling, and cleaning. In other words: performance, longevity, durability, and emissions. Engine internals are all metals: steel, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, etc. Metal-on-metal contact creates friction, which creates heat and wear on both surfaces. Oil is pumped or scattered around the engine block, crankshaft, connecting rods, piston bottoms, and pumped up to the cylinder head to eliminate or reduce metal-on-metal contact. The best motor oils will coat the engine internals in a strong layer of lubrication and hold its strength even under extreme heat. The more heat and stress and a higher quality oil is required. That's the really basic stuff.

More Fuel-Efficient Engine Oil

Since the 1990s, stricter EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations have forced engine oil into a massive overhaul to make engines more efficient and cleaner. The newest oil specifications have made oil thinner with less friction and drag on internal surfaces. This has made the engines burn less fuel but at the expense of protection. The latest oils break down easier at high temps and do not provide as much protection, especially the common brands found at big box stores. Despite the marketing blitz, these big name oils have been reformulated more for emissions compliance than engine protection. Additives and components that made oil "good" were removed because they were either too harmful for the environment or deemed unnecessary for a new generation of engines and driving habits. All of these new regulations add up to a cleaner environment but it comes at the expense of quality and performance. Engine oil has actually gotten "worse" in recent years, especially as performance is increased and engines accumulate wear.

BMW Engine Oil Approvals

BMW revises their oil formulations every few years based on contemporary engine design, mileage and emissions requirements, fuel type and quality, region, and marketing (service plans). Each new spec is coded by year and roughly corresponds to new generations of BMW engines. There can be multiple oil viscosities for the same rating. These ratings are just a guide so that the appropriate oil is used for your engine design.

LL-98 (1998). API SJ. ACEA A3/B3. SAE 5W30, 5W40. The oldest available specification. Anything with this rating has been approved for older model BMWs - all chassis before the E46 and engines before the M54. BMW no longer produces oil in this spec but LL-98 alternatives exist (Red Line 5W40). LL-98 oils are compatible with LL-01 oils.

LL-01 (2001). API SJ/SL. ACEA A3/B3. SAE 0W30, 5W30, 5W40, 10W60. The first revision with detergents and additives brought in to work with the ridiculous 15,000 mile oil change interval that BMW promoted at the time. At the same time, certain components of the formula were removed or reduced (ZDDP). However, once cars and engines were out of warranty and mileage accumulated the nasty effects of extended oil changes were realized (i.e. oil sludge). LL-01 is compatible with engines approved for LL-98.

In 2016 BMW announced new 0W30 to replace 5W30. 0W30 carries the same LL-01 approval with a FE label, making it backwards compatible but also making newer models more fuel efficient.

LL-04 (2005). API SM/SN. ACEA C3 (similar to A3). SAE 5W30, 5W40. The LL-04 oils have been greatly misunderstood in the past but this is now in greater demand.  Most LL-04 oils are intended for Diesels, although it was also approved for gas engines in Europe and other world markets. BMW never certified LL-04 for the US (see next paragraph). Diesel oil has long been valued by engine builders and tuners because of its higher levels of ZDDP and higher HTHS ratings, both are excellent indicators of engine protection at higher temperatures. LL-04 also has a lower SAPS value which is good news for direct-injection engines (all BMW turbo engines since 2007). You won't find Genuine BMW LL-04 sold here but Red Line Euro-Series oil is produced around this spec.

As part of the efforts to make engine oil more environmentally friendly, the US EPA required ZDDP levels to be reduced in gasoline oil. However, Diesel oil was exempt from this ZDDP reduction. BMW never certified LL-04 for the US market because a) there weren't many Diesels for sale here, b) it was incompatible with the high amounts of sulfur and Ethanol in US fuel. However, since 2014 our gasoline more closely matches European sulfur levels and interest in LL-04 has increased. LL-04 and LL-01 are interchangeable/compatible but LL-04 is preferred for its higher ZDDP and low SAPS. Food for thought: the official BMW Motorsport oil recommendation for the M4 GT4 race car is a LL-04 spec oil. Our race team uses Red Line Euro Series 5W40.

LL-12 (2012). New specifications for European market Diesel engines

LL-14 (2014). API SN. ACEA A1/B1. SAE 0W20. Formulated for certain gasoline BMW engines from the 2014 model year, including the N20 four cylinder engine and all new modular B-series engines. The reasoning for the N20 is unpublished but may have to do with making N20 models more fuel efficient and avoiding gas guzzler and CAFE penalties. LL-14 oils have much lower friction levels than all other BMW oils. The HTHS rating is 2.6cP which makes it unsuitable as a performance oil.

LL-17 (2018). API SN/SP. ACEA C5. SAE 0W20. Replaces the LL-14 spec for N20, B38, B46, B48, and B58 engines. BMW will likely stop offering a LL-14 in the US. This appears to be a minor update to the LL-14 formula and designed for improved emissions. Again, not well-suited as a performance oil.

API Ratings on the Bottle

If you shop for oil at a Big Box store you have very little info to go by on the bottle (but a lot of marketing!). You get two required bits of information: SAE oil viscosity (5W40) and an API rating (SN). "S" is for automotive Service but there are also "C" codes for commercial/Diesel vehicles. In essence the API rating indicates what the oil formula is and what it's intended use is. With each new major formula revision a new rating is released. API ratings began in the 1920s but there have been six new ratings within the last 30 years! See "More Fuel-Efficient Engine Oil" above. API states that the current rating of SN is backwards compatible to previous ratings going back to SJ in the early 2000s. But we believe in matching oil to your current engine's mileage and equipment. An SN oil developed for direct injection and ceramic catalytic converters may be compatible with your older BMW but that doesn't make it the most appropriate. Below we'll try to explain the most recent API ratings and how they apply to BMW models. We're not oil chemists or engineers and not part of the API (an oil industry trade group) so this is our impressions based on experience and research.

API SN. Intended for 2010+ gasoline direct injection cars with ceramic catalytic converters instead of older metallic cats. As large amounts of zinc and phosphate (ZDDP) and carbon ash (SAPS) are harmful to the ceramic material, they have been replaced with other additives. Other detergents have been added to prevent carbon and sludge build-up (see the section below on Direct Injection engines). This is not bad oil for these engines and if you still have factory cats this is the oil you should be using. If you need extra protection for track use or aggressive driving, switch to a thicker viscosity.

API SM. 2005-2010 models but this doesn't really apply to BMW. Use an SN oil for a car that retains all of its factory equipment.

API SL. 2005 or older. Many people consider SL to be the last "good oil" before ZDDP levels were reduced. We recommend an SL oil for E85, E83, E63, E60, E53, E46, E39, E38, Z3, E36, E34, and E32 models. It can be used in E30 and older models too but only in thicker viscosity. These cars can take an SN oil but SL is much more appropriate. It can also be used in newer cars (E9X, F3X, etc) that have had cats removed (such as race cars) or street cars converted to metallic cats. The higher ZDDP levels will be advantageous in aggressive driving.

API SJ. 2001 and older. The original formula for an E36 M3 but you're not likely to find it anymore. See API SL above.

If you're going to use an older API oil on a newer car (SL on a E92 335i or F82 M4, for examples) you must be aware of the differences. The higher ZDDP and SAPS will shorten the life of a factory ceramic cat. It could also clog the cat leading to a major loss of power or engine damage. You should really consider an aftermarket metallic cat. You must allow the oil to reach operating temperature - no heavy throttle until warm and avoid short trips. Keeping the oil warm-hot will help in proper oil burning and re-circulation.

BMW Oil Consumption

BMW engines are designed to consume some oil and there are factory-authorized guidelines for how much is considered normal. In order for the oil to reach critical areas it's normal for some of it to make it's way into the combustion chamber and be burned up with the air/fuel mixture. If your BMW engine is consuming/burning oil, do not panic. It could be normal operation. Side note: Leaks and consumption are not the same thing. Oil leaks may also be a "normal" fact of BMW life but they should still be properly repaired or diagnosed. Below is a table outlining accepted oil consumption for BMW engines (data from BMW).

BMW Engine CodeNormal Oil Consumption
B-series turbo engines (B46, B58)1 liter per 1,500 miles
N-series 4/6-cylinder turbo engines (N20, N55, etc)1 liter per 1,500 miles
N-series non-turbo engines (N52, N62, etc)1 liter per 1,500 miles
N-series V8/V12 turbo engines (N63, N74, etc)1 liter per 750 miles
M-series non-turbo engines (M54, M52, etc)1 liter per 750 miles
S-series Motorsport engines (S54, S55, S65, etc)2.5 liters per 1,000 miles

Engine Break-in. Oil consumption will be higher in the initial life of an engine. This is known as the break-in period. All of the moving parts have not yet seated in their final positions and gaps and clearances may be greater than normal. The break-in period varies by engine but BMW advises not to be concerned with oil consumption in the first 10,000 miles. Break-in times may be less depending on use and care.

Engine Wear. As engine internals wear down gaps and tolerances will increase. On parts like piston rings and valve seals this allows more oil into the combustion chamber. Continuing with a factory-approved oil weight (0W30, 5W30) will likely increase oil consumption. It is impossible for BMW to give an indication on when these clearances and gaps are too large. If you notice more oil consumption we advise switching to a heavier weight oil that does not flow into the combustion chamber as easily. Heavier oils will also help piston rings maintain engine compression (restoring lost power). If oil consumption continues with a heavier weight oil, explore other possibilities such as badly worn rings, valve seals, or a poorly functioning oil circulation system.

Service Plans and Extended Oil Change Intervals

Free oil changes and extended oil change intervals are marketing gimmicks that have been criticized since their introduction. We are no fans of them either. Thankfully, BMW has backed away from the ridiculous 15,000 mile oil changes but they still have extended recommendations that make us a little uncomfortable. With advanced engineering it's certainly possible to have oil that works "good enough" after 10,000 or 12,000 miles. But with the accumulation of dirt, moisture, and the chemical breakdown from heat and friction we just don't believe it's wise to leave oil in for that long. With everything that oil is responsible for it just makes sense to change it often. It's also a good idea to have regular oil analysis done, especially on higher mileage engines and M engines. The analysis will give you great insight into internal engine wear, especially rod bearings.

Here is an example of the Used Oil Analysis process from one of our customers:

How Do You Buy 'Good' Oil?

By now you should have realized that the best engine oil may not come in a BMW bottle. BMW's focus and responsibility is on selling and servicing new cars and meeting ever-tightening emissions regulations, not on high mileage engines with worn internals that are out of warranty. BMW owners have been slow to realize that they can make their own oil decisions. There are alternatives as long as the oil meets SAE, API, or ACEA standards. And in many cases they can get an oil that better suits their needs and demands. And if you're like us and enjoy more performance the BMW oil is also not ideal.

The oil that you find at major auto parts stores is going to be "mass market" formulas that are not ideal for BMW applications. The major oil brands produce their oils to meet the latest industry guidelines (API SN, SN Plus) and emission regulations (high efficiency). All of the commercials and advertising is just marketing. You will likely never find a true BMW-approved oil on the shelf, let alone a Group IV or V high performance synthetic like Red Line. We would not advise or trust chain store oils for high performance use (although they might be adequate for daily driver use). If you want to shop your local big box store look for an oil that is API SJ standard. The SJ will have better protection than the newer fuel-efficient formulas with between 1000-1400 ppm of ZDDP. A SN oil will have less than 900 ppm. But realize the best oil is going to be from specialists like BimmerWorld who are interested in selling the right oil, not the most oil.

The Diesel Oil Alternative

If you spend any time researching oil online you will see recommendations to use Diesel oil (usually Shell Rotella). The short answer is that "Yes!" these "heavy duty" Diesel formulations can be used in gasoline cars (see BMW LL-04 description above). Diesel oil has been exempt from EPA regulations to remove Zinc additives so it's overall better at coating metal surfaces. The Diesel oil also contains detergents that clean internal surfaces. Engine builders will often recommend Diesel oil for the first oil fill because it cleans away grease and other chemicals used in engine assembly. Buying Diesel oil from a big box store is risky since the manufacturers are working to make it more environmentally friendly. Look for a API rating lower than the current spec (if CK-4 look for CJ-4 or CI-4). Also realize that higher ZDDP is not good for modern ceramic catalytic converters. We also have no experience using Diesel oil on the track or under high stress so we may continue to push a Red Line product for those conditions. But for older (pre-2006) street-driven BMWs with higher mileage the Diesel oil is likely a wise choice.

Racing Oils

Red Line and others produce "Racing Oils". This is not marketing and there are actual differences that you should be aware of. True racing oil differs from normal and high performance oil in 2 ways -
  • Extremely high ZDDP content for superior strength. Strength is required for prolonged engine use at high RPM, such as on a race track. However, high ZDDP is bad for modern catalytic converters.
  • Greater "purity" oil with fewer detergents and additives. Racing Oil does not need to meet government regulations and needs to be changed more often.

Be careful when using any form of Racing Oil. It should only be used in cars that do not have catalytic converters and should be avoided in street cars that practice prolonged oil change intervals. Because it lacks detergents and other additives that attack contamination the racing oils do not do as good a job of cleaning engine internals. It's not uncommon for race cars to have cylinder heads removed or engines rebuilt where everything is cleaned and checked by hand. Street engines do not enjoy this level of attention and they need the detergents found in normal oil. In addition, most cars are simply not driven in a way that racing oil would be a benefit (although we often think we do). The benefits of racing oil in traffic and around town are entirely lost. Racing oil offers outstanding protection and lubrication but only in a true racing environment.

BimmerWorld Oil Recommendations

We've put together some suggestions in the table below based on intended use, an oil change interval of 5,000-6,000 miles, and our own preferences from over 20 years in the BMW tuning and racing world. Our "go-to" oil is unquestionably Red Line synthetic because we have seen its superiority first hand in our customer and race cars. And we appreciate the extra lengths Red Line goes in providing a better product than other niche oil manufacturers. They use a higher quality base stock that is simply stronger and better, especially in high heat/high friction situations. We also recommend having a regular used oil analysis to get the best insight on how your engine and oil are working together.

We have built this chart using the BMW engine codes. If you're unsure of your engine type you can refer to our BMW chassis code and engine page, or check the emissions tag on the underside of your hood. The following is a very general guideline for oil weight selection. Engine designs are different and engines change as they wear. We recommend a higher weight oil for high-mileage engines or engines that show signs of significant wear - usually one grade higher. "Max Efficiency" assumes no driving at sustained high rpm.

Engine Type Cold Climate or Max Efficiency Normal Climate or Street Performance Hot Climate or Track Days Racing Use
S54 I6, S62 V8 3/00+, S65 V8, S85 V10 5W40 10W60, 15W50 10W40, 15W50, 10W60 See "Red Line Racing Engine Oil"
Non-Turbo/Non-M 1992-2013 (incl S50US, S52, S62 -2/00) 5W30, 5W40 10W40, 15W50 15W50 See "Red Line Racing Engine Oil"
Turbo 2007+ 0W30, 5W30 5W40, 10W40 10W40 See "Red Line Racing Engine Oil"
Elder generation (M10, M20, M30, S14, M88/S38) 10W40 15W50 10W60, 15W50, 20W50 See "Red Line Racing Engine Oil"

10W60 Engine Oil for S54, S65, and S85 Engines.

BMW started using super-thick 10W60 oil in M engines in the early-2000s. First used in the S62 (before switching to 5W30), then S54 I6, S65 V8, and S85 V10. The original producer for BMW was Castrol and it was very similar to the Castrol Edge 10W60 sold in Europe. With Shell becoming BMW's oil supplier in 2016 they became the OEM and it's based on their Shell Helix formula. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with any of the various BMW/OEM 10W60 oils and we might recommend them over other oils (and certainly if your car was still under warranty). With various complaints about rod bearings (including a factory recall on the S54) it might make sense for you to only use BMW-branded oil. But we ultimately prefer Red Line in various weights for a number of reasons:

Firstly, Red Line uses a better base stock for its oil formula than anyone else. It's simply starting with a better grade of true synthetic oil with a rating of Group IV or V (BMW oil is Group III). The full synthetic formula contains chemicals that are more heat resistant and have better shear strength than a petroleum-based Group III oil. This gives it greater strength under stress such as a BMW M engine revving to 8,000 RPM for extended periods of time.

Secondly, Red Line contains higher levels of ZDDP - Zinc-Dialkyl-Dithiophosphate, or Zinc-Phosphate additive. These are ultra-fine particles of zinc and phosphorous that give the oil better strength and promote adhesion to metallic surfaces. The oil clings to metals such as rocker arms and bearings better. It also helps seal piston rings on higher mileage engines. BMW factory oils tend to have lower levels of ZDDP and have other additives that make it "weaker" but are better for emissions. The better ZDDP in Red Line allows us to run a lower weight oil (refer to the chart above) and still have excellent protection. One of the benefits of a lighter weight is that it reaches optimum temperature faster.

Lastly, with any engine, but more so with M engines, it is absolutely crucial that you warm the engine properly before subjecting it to high throttle angles and high RPM. Let the car warm up - an optimum oil temp is 210-220°F on the gauge - before driving aggressively. And make sure your oil is "climate correct" - a thinner oil may be desired in freezing climates which is all the more reason to have the best quality oil.

The BimmerWorld View: 10W60 is just an SAE viscosity grade. A BMW-branded 10W60 is not a bad oil and we won't discourage you from using it. But there is so much more happening below the surface that we can toss out the viscosity and recommend an oil that is simply better in all respects. On tracked M engines (E46 M3, E9X M3) the Red Line products have greater shear strength, low evaporation, and high ZDDP. We can get all of that with a thinner Red Line viscosity that comes up to temp quicker and reaches tight tolerances easier. For street cars the factory BMW-branded 10W60 will be adequate and Red Line will be better.

BW-Recommended Oils - 2001-2013 M Engines (S54, S62, S65, S85)

BMW 10W60 Engine Oil

Red Line 15W50 Engine Oil

Red Line 10W60 Engine Oil

Engine Oil for BMW Direct-Injection engines. (all turbo engines since 2007)

In port-injected engines (basically all engines before 2007) intake valves benefited from the placement of the fuel injector. The gasoline spray in the intake would keep the valves relatively clean. However, DI injection engines move the fuel injector past the intake and directly into the combustion chamber. The valves no longer receive a cleansing spray on every intake stroke. Another hurdle for DI engines comes from a weak crankcase vent system (CCV). The crankcase vent is designed to redistribute oil vapor from the engine through the intake and back into the combustion chamber. A poorly functioning CCV would let too much oil vapor into the intake where it coats the intake valves with hardened carbon or sludge (the N54 twin-turbo engine is notorious for this). Auto and oil manufacturers now push oil formulas with low SAPS levels (Sulfated Ash, Phosphorus, and Sulfur), which are supposed to leave fewer carbon deposits. But these oil formulations have lower wear protection at high operating temps (exactly what you don’t want in a highly tuned turbo engine).

Examples of low-SAPS oils are the newest BMW 0W oils (0W20, 0W30), Red Line Euro-Series 5W30 and 5W40, and Red Line 5W30TD. We prefer the Red Line products because they have higher ZDDP levels and lower NOACK ratings than the BMW oils (in other words, they are higher quality). Our "go-to" N54 performance oil is the Red Line 10W40 which is a mid-level SAPS but high in protective ZDDP. However, using a mid-high SAPS oil will require greater care of the oil and crankcase vent systems - cleaning and service of the valve cover and possibly an oil catch can.

You can also change your driving habits to avoid oil sludge and build-up. The sludge comes from moisture that mixes with the oil vapor and then settles when the engine is shut off. Allowing the car to reach optimum temperature and avoiding short trips will burn off this moisture. Short trips are considered drives where the engine never reaches, or doesn't stay at, normal coolant temperature. Low RPM and constant minimum throttle will also fail to pull enough vacuum for the crankcase vent to work properly. We encourage regular runs up to high RPM and varying your throttle (an "Italian tune-up"). Yes, the actual cure for poor CCV performance may be to get out and drive. But for the safety of yourself and others, please drive responsibly.

Gasoline quality also plays a role since poor quality fuels have a greater amount of contaminants and will be more likely to leave deposits. For DI engines it's vital to have high quality fuel and oil, and a properly functioning crankcase vent system.

BW-Recommended Oils - 2007+ Turbo (N20, N26, N54, N55, N63, S55, S63, etc)

Red Line 5W30 Engine Oil

Red Line 10W40 Engine Oil

Red Line Professional 5W40 Engine Oil

BMW 0W30 Engine Oil

Terminology & Acronyms

Below are some explanation of the scientific terminology, jargon, and acronyms commonly used when discussing BMW engine oil.

ACEAAssociation of Constructors of European Automobiles. Rates and grades the quality of motor oil according to their own specifications. For gasoline BMWs, the ACEA rating should be A3/B3 or higher.
APIAmerican Petroleum Institute. Rates and grades the quality of motor oil according to their own specifications. If you look at a bottle of oil it will have a "API XX" stamp. As new oil formulations are announced the rating gets progressively "higher" - SJ, SM, SN, SN Plus, SP, etc. For gasoline BMWs, the API rating should be SJ or higher.

You can use the API rating to judge how appropriate the oil is for your needs. SJ is an older spec and will have more ZDDP and additives that make it a "better" oil (in our minds). The newer SP and SN formulations will be focused on fuel economy and emissions. These are not "bad" oils and may be fine for daily use. But look elsewhere if you want a better oil for your needs.

API also has Diesel oil ratings that use different labels but with similar meanings. Current specs are CK-4 for 2017 or CJ-4 for 2010 or CI-4 for 2002. The "4" in the label refers to a 4-stroke engine so stay away from any Diesel oil with a "-2" rating. Diesel oil can be used in gasoline cars but there are restrictions. See Diesel oil paragraph above.
DieselA type of internal combustion engine that uses extremely high levels of compression instead of a spark plug to ignite the air/fuel mixture. A capital "D" is the correct spelling as the engine technology was patented by Rudolf Diesel.
Base StockBase Stock is the material that oil starts from - petroleum-based or true synthetic. All oil is classified under one of five Groups, I-V. Groups IV and V are full synthetic and have no petroleum base. They use synthetics that are more resistant to heat and stress than petroleum-based oil. High Performance and Racing oil are almost always Group IV or V.

Groups I, II, III are all petroleum-based with III being the highest quality. All BMW-approved oils are Group III yet are still marketed as synthetic oils. This is to avoid confusion with the different base stocks of Group IV (PAO) and V (ester). Any oil brand that wishes to be approved by BMW must be a Group III base stock. So it's common to see premium high performance oil that is better than BMW oil but does not have BMW approval. Red Line Oil encountered this with their own High Performance oil that could not be BMW approved due to their Group IV and V base stock. They had to formulate a different oil with a Group III base to get the BMW approval (Red Line Professional Series). This oil actually performs worse than their High Performance oil in laboratory tests but carries the BMW stamp of approval.
Dino OilYou may see references to this, especially on oil-focused message boards. Dino oil is non-synthetic, petroleum-based oil from dinosaurs. Dino/petroleum oil lacks the same additives and detergents of modern synthetic oils so it has fallen out of favor, except in the vintage car community.
FE or FE+Fuel Economy and Fuel Economy Plus. Oils with additives that allow a lower viscosity for better fuel mileage. The additives have similar protective properties as thicker oils but allow a thinner viscosity.
HDEOHeavy Duty Engine Oil (sometimes with Diesel in the name). Extra thick and with additives that make it well suited for older or high mileage engines with “loose” production tolerances. These oils tend to run thicker than others so more wear and noise is to be expected on cold starts and fuel mileage may decrease slightly. The additives trap and contain dirt and foreign particles better than a straight passenger car oil. This is common oil in Diesel engines in dirty environments - farms and construction sites.
HTHSHigh Temperature / High Shear conditions. This is used to pinpoint areas in the engine that have high temperatures and friction and the oil is at risk of “shearing” or breaking down (camshaft and valve lifter surfaces, for example). A higher HTHS grade means the oil is more resistant to shearing in these conditions. However, a lower HTHS is desired for efficiency. It is expressed in centipoise (cP), a unit of viscosity. Until c.2014 BMW specified a HTHS of 3.5cP. The latest LL-14 spec fuel efficient oil has a cP of  2.6-2.9; for comparison, water has a 0.899cP. For high performance and track use we want a oil that stays thicker, not thinner.
LLLonglife. BMW’s name for oils that are approved for extended oil change intervals.
NOACKA grade for how much oil is lost due to evaporation. The thinner portions of oil evaporate first, leaving behind a thicker fluid. An oil that is more resistance to evaporation will hold up better at higher operating temps. The higher the number the more fluid is evaporating. Really high quality oil will have a low NOACK value.
OCIOil Change Interval, or how often you change your oil. BimmerWorld recommends an OCI of 5,000 miles for street cars and more often for track/racing cars.
Racing OilOil sold for off-road and racing use is not subject to the same regulations and approvals as standard passenger car oils. Race cars also do not tend to have catalytic converters, therefore, oil manufacturers do not have to engineer their racing oils for fuel economy or emissions. Also, race cars tend to have much more frequent oil changes so there is no need for extra detergents. Racing oils are not very well suited for street cars.
SAESociety of Automotive Engineers, responsible for setting the oil viscosity grades.
SAPSSulfated Ash, Phosphorus, and Sulfur. Newer oils have a low SAPS value - the levels of these materials is low which is good for the environment and the catalytic converters. However, to get low SAPS more synthetic additives are required which have less protection, especially in higher operating temps. Low SAPS oils are common for Direct Injection engines (see section above).
TBNTotal Base Number is a grade for the amount of active additive left in used oil. This will be displayed in a UOA and gives an indication of how “used up” the oil is and if the owner can safely extend the OCI further. Fresh oil starts out with a TBN between 6.0-14.0 depending on type. A well-worn oil will have a TBN of 1.0.
UOAUsed Oil Analysis, recommended to determine the performance of motor oil and assess internal engine wear. UOA is especially important for S54, S62, S65, and S85 M engines to evaluate rod bearing wear.
ViscosityThe rating for the internal friction of fluid dependent on temperature. The SAE assigns the grade based on two temperature standards: cold (the “W” in 5W40) and high (100*C). The higher the number, the thicker the oil is and the longer it will take to reach operating temperature. The thicker oil also has more resistance on moving parts, which is why BMW has recently adopted low friction 5W and 0W oils to reduce cold start friction and improve efficiency.

In addition to the familiar SAE grades, viscosity is expressed in centiStoke units (1 cSt = 1 mm2/s) and measured at two different temperatures - 40*C and 100*C. A higher cSt is a thicker oil, giving more protection but less efficiency. However, a low viscosity does not automatically mean less protection (the chemical makeup of the oil determines that).
ZDDPZinc-Dialkyl-Dithiophosphate, a metallic additive in older engine formulations. ZDDP has anti-wear properties that have been replaced with synthetic additives because of environmental reasons. Higher ZDDP is also bad for modern catalytic converters if poor ring seal allows oil into the combustion chamber. However, the great advantage of higher ZDDP is that it bonds to the surfaces and provides excellent lubrication even at high temps. This is great for higher mileage engines with loose tolerances - the extra ZDDP helps fill the gaps that were not there when the engine was new. High ZDDP oils will also tend to have high HTHS ratings, making them attractive in high performance engines, especially tuned turbo engines. Environmental regulations required oil manufacturers to reduce ZDDP levels in gasoline oil. However, Diesel oil still contains high ZDDP levels which is why you will often hear engine builders and enthusiasts recommending it. However, don’t just grab oil with the highest ZDDP or straight Diesel oil. A high ZDDP must match the API and ACEA ratings for your BMW.

BW-Recommended Oils - 2007-2016 6-cyl Turbo Engines (N54, N55, S55)

Red Line 5W30 Engine Oil

Red Line 10W40 Engine Oil

Red Line Professional 5W40 Engine Oil

BMW 0W30 Engine Oil

BW-Recommended Oils - 2012-2016 4-cyl Turbo Engines (N20, N26)

Red Line 5W30 Engine Oil

Red Line Professional 5W40 Engine Oil

BMW 0W30 Engine Oil

BMW 0W20 Engine Oil
High Efficiency

BW-Recommended Oils - 2001-2013 M Engines (S54, S62, S65, S85)

BMW 10W60 Engine Oil

Red Line 15W50 Engine Oil

Red Line 10W60 Engine Oil

BW-Recommended Oils - 1992-2013 Non-Turbo (M42, M50, M62, N52, N62, S50US, S52, etc)

Red Line 5W30 Engine Oil

Red Line 10W40 Engine Oil

Red Line Professional 5W40 Engine Oil

BMW 5W30 Engine Oil

BW-Recommended Oils - Vintage/Elder Engines (M10, M20, M30)

Red Line 10W40 Engine Oil

Red Line 15W50 Engine Oil

Red Line 20W50 Engine Oil

BW-Recommended Oils - Vintage M Engines (S14, M88, S38)

Red Line 15W50 Engine Oil

Red Line 20W50 Engine Oil

BMW Engine Oil, Transmission Fluid, & Differential Fluid

BMW Engine Oil

BMW Transmission Fluid

BMW Differential Fluid

BMW Oil Change Kits


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  • I am extremely pleased with this order. The price was competitive and your expedited delivery charge was surprisingly low. I needed the part fast and you exceeded my expectations. I especially appreciate your gentleman who over the phone ensured me that the part was indeed in stock and would be shipped immediately.
    - Allan Read More
  • I’ve never dealt with a true “race” shop like BW and I really have enjoyed the experience. I always feel like I’m getting the best advice, and suggestions for true race car set up. Your technical expertise on even the minute details of building race cars is really impressive, and some I value greatly...
    - Paul Read More
  • I just can't express enough how impressed I am with you guys. Thanks so much for the great service from start to finish, and always done with a smile and as professional as possible. Our particular interaction has extended over many months and never have I felt that I wasn't getting first-class service...
    - Chris Read More
  • I just wanted to say what positive experiences I've had over the past few weeks. Your BimmerWorld sales staff have gone above and beyond to help me out, between their service and taking the time to answer all my questions, I'll be buying my parts from BimmerWorld whenever possible...
    - Aaron Read More