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Oil Changes for BMW Motorcycles

By Ron Schmidt

This tutorial covers the following:

●An overview of BMW suggested maintenance schedules and clarification of the differences between mileage determined maintenance and time determined maintenance.

●A very brief discussion of oil types related to BMW motorcycle use.

●A hands-on demonstration of how to properly change the engine oil on an R259 (oil head) and on a K bike (would be the same for any K75, K100, K1100 or K1200 except the transverse mounted K1200S or K1200R)

BMW Suggested Maintenance Schedules

BMW suggests certain maintenance procedures that they have established to be necessary to keep your BMW operating at its best for a very long time. The schedules include specific items that are performed, as well as many items that are only inspected for normal wear (such as brake pads and tires) so that you know when to replace those items based on your personal riding habits.

We would be happy to print copies of the schedules for your particular BMW for you. The schedules are model specific, but all are in the same format as listed below.

BMW Running In Check (Mileage determined)

The BMW Running in Check is only performed once in the life of the motorcycle, at 600 miles. This is a very important check as some items done on this check (on many models) are never performed again and if they are not done properly it can cause problems that may not show up for thousands of miles and might be very expensive to repair at that time. Also, the “break-in” oil is changed to a proper lubricant during the Running in Check.

BMW Service (Mileage determined)

The BMW Service is to be performed at 6,000 miles (6K miles) and every 12,000 miles (12K miles) after that. So, the BMW Service would be done at 6K miles, 18K miles, 30K miles etc. It is the smallest of the BMW suggested maintenances.

BMW Inspection (Mileage determined)

The BMW Inspection is to be performed at 12K miles and every 12K miles after that. So, the BMW Inspection would be done at 12K miles, 24K miles, 36K miles etc. This is the larger of the BMW suggested maintenances; on most BMWs it includes everything in the BMW Service, plus it adds items that only need to be done every 12K miles instead of every 6K miles. There are some items on this list that may need to be done less frequently than every 12K miles; those items will have notes on them as to how often they need to be done.

BMW Annual Inspection (Time Determined)

The BMW Annual Inspection is to be performed annually, regardless of the mileage covered during that year. The BMW Annual Inspection should be performed one year after the production date (not the sales date) and annually after that. It includes some items that are not on the BMW Service or the BMW Inspection. There are items on this schedule that are performed every year and some that are only performed every 2 years or every 4 years.

BMW has oil produced to their specifications. They have nothing to gain by not making the best oil that they possibly can, because it will make the motorcycles last as long as possible, which leads to happy customers, which is really the bottom line for any business. Therefore, we strongly advise that you only use BMW oil.

●vs. non-synthetic oil. I often recall an interview with Cher that I saw on TV. She said, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better. I’ve been 30 and I’ve been 40. 30 is better.” In that language, synthetic is better. For engine oil, the synthetic has better lubrication qualities (meaning less wear), does not “break down” as rapidly (meaning you can change it less frequently), leads to fewer and softer carbon deposits (meaning less concern about pinging as the engine gets many miles on it) and has better corrosion inhibiters. The ONLY negative about synthetic is that it costs more. But, even that argument has minimal merit, as you can run the synthetic oil for 6000 miles, rather than the 3000 suggested with non-synthetic, and it does not cost twice as much. So, that way, the synthetic is cost effective as well. For gearbox oil, the synthetic offers much better lubrication, so the shifting, particularly when hot, is greatly improved as well as the wear is decreased, increasing the life of the gearboxes and rear drive components.

Because the use of synthetic oil basically stops the “wear” that is needed for breaking in an engine, we advise that you use the non-synthetic oils for the first 6000 miles There is a lot of misinformation out there that says not to use synthetic until 20,000 or 40,000 miles, which is silly. Start using synthetic oil at 6000 miles.

The only BMW motorcycles that we do not officially recommend the use of synthetic engine oil in are air heads prior to 1981, and all F650s. Those older air head engines will leak in places you may not even know they had if you use synthetics. BMW does not advise use of the synthetics in the F650s due to the wet clutch. They claim that the clutches will slip due to the increased anti-friction characteristics of the synthetic oils. My personal experience has not shown that to be correct. We ran both of Meg’s F650s (a Funduro and an F650CS) on synthetics and never had a problem. Un-officially, if I had an F650, I would use the BMW synthetic oil in it. It is interesting to note that BMW does allow the synthetic oil to be used in the new K1200S and K1200R models which have wet clutches and about 3 times the power of an F650.

If you insist on not using the BMW oils, just make sure that the oil you do use is rated SG. This can be hard to find because most of the newer automobiles require the lesser SJ rated oil, which does not supply the needed lubrication of the SG. Be aware, though, that the SG rating is the minimum requirement for a BMW motorcycle engine. The BMW SG rated oils far exceed the minimum requirement to meet the SG rating, so comparing an off-brand SG to BMW’s SG might be like comparing apples and oranges. The viscosity needs (i.e. 10w40, 20w50, 15w50 etc) vary from model to model. Make sure you use what is correct for your specific BMW. Ask us for specifications for your own BMW if you wish

Oil Change Procedure (for engine types listed in first paragraph)

Parts needed for this procedure

4) Quarts BMW engine oil (15W50 Synthetic if the engine has over 6000 miles on it)

1) BMW oil filter kit

Part number 11 00 2 300 053 for K engine

Part numbers 11 42 1 460 845 filter, plus 07 11 9 963 252 gasket for the oil head engine

Tools needed for this procedure

1) BMW Oil filter wrench

1) 8mm hex socket

1) 5mm hex socket

1) Torque wrench accurate from 10NM to 35NM.

1) Drain pan, 5 quarts minimum size

1) Box of shop rags (for cleaning up the mess)

1) First aid kit. (Please review “legal disclaimer” below.)


●Legal Disclaimer: Bavarian Motorcycle Workshop is not responsible for any damage you cause to your motorcycle, injury to yourself or others in the nearby vicinity, property damage, wrath of significant others, devaluation of the US dollar, global warming, or anything else. You are holding the wrench; you are responsible for the outcome.

●Engine oil needs to be changed when it is hot. The heat-thinned oil will flow faster, therefore flushing the sediments from the crankcase better. Be careful not to burn yourself with the hot oil or exhaust or engine parts near where you are working. Please review “legal disclaimer” above.

●Used engine oil is carcinogenic. And yucky. Please wear rubber gloves. Please review “legal disclaimer” above.

●Cleanliness is next to Godliness, or so I have been told. It is also next to impossible when changing oil, but make sure there is no dirt in the areas around the filler or drain plugs, the oil filter, or cover for the oil filter on the K engine. We want only clean oil going into the engine! Please review “legal disclaimer” above.

Specific Instructions

1) Park the warmed motorcycle on its centerstand in an area where you can work around it. Make sure it is stable because you will be tugging on it some.

2) Turn the motorcycle off!

3) Put an oil drain pan under the engine that can hold at least 5 quarts.

4) Remove the engine oil filler plug. It is on the top of the left valve cover on the Oil Heads; it is on the right engine cover on the K engine.

4) Use an 8mm Allen wrench and remove the engine drain plug. The oil will come out very quickly, so be careful not to let the splashing oil burn you. Let it drain for at least 5 minutes. While it is draining, check your tire pressure since you probably have not done that lately.

5) Remove the oil filter, using the oil filter wrench, by turning it anti clockwise. On the oil heads, the filter is threaded on the bottom of the engine toward the front left side. On the K engine, there is a round cover over the oil filter. It is about 100 mm in diameter with 3 bolts that use a 5 mm Allen wrench. Take the bolts out, the cover will then fall into the hot oil you just drained out, splash and make a mess. Or, you can take the last of the three bolts out carefully as you hold the cover and keep it from dropping into the oil. A few ccs of oil will come out when you remove the cover. Inspect the oil filter at the surface that goes up against the engine. There should be a large rubber seal in it. If not, that seal is stuck to the engine and you will have to fish it out. On the oil head engine, use a rag and wipe out as much oil as you can from the chamber that the filter fits in. Make sure the gasket area is clean. This is not necessary on the K engine because the cover you took off protects the oil filter chamber from dirt.

6) Look at the drained oil. It is ok if it is dark, even blackish as that is what the detergents in it are supposed to make it look like. If there are large amounts of metal particles in it, please call us. We would LOVE to hear from you! Some small amount of metallic shiny stuff is normal though.

7) Fill the new oil filter with new oil. It will fill very slowly. Wipe the large rubber seal on the filter with engine oil. Screw the filter onto its stub pipe. Torque it to 11NM (or 8 foot pounds if you are using a wrench for a Chevrolet.) On the K engine, put the round oil filter cover back on with a new o ring and torque the bolts to 10NM (7.2 foot pounds).

8 ) Remove the old crush gasket from the drain plug and put a new one on it. Screw the plug back in, torque it to 30NM (21.6 foot pounds) on the K engine or 32NM (23 foot pounds) on the oil head.

9) Pour the rest of the 4 quarts of oil into the filler hole. Put the filler cap back in.

10) Start the engine. Watch the oil pressure light. It should go off after 2 or 3 seconds. Run the engine for 2 minutes in a well ventilated area (please review “legal disclaimer” above), then look for oil leaks around the oil filter or the drain plug. If leaks exist, repair as needed.

11) Find a way to bottle up the old oil and the old filter, and then try to find some place to take it to that will recycle it properly. Do your best not to make a mess of the trunk of your wife’s car when transporting the old oil and filter to the recycle area. Wash out the drain pan so your cat does not lick it and die. (Optional)

12) Ask yourself if this effort was worth saving the measly $18.00 that we charge for labor to do this work. We even include a brake, tire, and light inspection and a professional test ride for that price.