Do BMWs Burn Oil? (And Can Anything Be Done About It?)

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BMWs are generally well-known for their quality and performance. However, there is one common complaint that many BMWs owners share: their cars tend to burn oil faster than other cars.

This article will investigate this issue and provide insight into what can be done about it.

So, do BMWs burn oil?

BMWs do burn oil more quickly than most other cars, but this is a normal part of the car’s function according to the German manufacturer. BMWs can burn up to one quart every 750 miles, and even more if it’s a high-performance model.

But why do BMWs use so much oil in comparison to other cars, and how would you know if your BMW was burning too much oil?

Is it normal for a BMW to burn oil?

It might be annoying and sometimes costly, but it is normal for BMWs to burn oil. It’s especially common in BMWs that are starting to age, and those that have over 100,000 miles on the clock.

For new BMW owners this might come as a surprise, but topping up the oil every now and again is unfortunately a necessity for most models.

Regularly checking the car’s oil level and keeping a container of oil in the car are both good ideas that should be worked into the owner’s routine.

In fact, some BMW dealerships offer oil storage travel bags for this very reason.

Top up the car’s oil supply when needed to avoid any problems further down the road.

When questioned about the high consumption of oil, a BMW spokesman told Consumer Reports that “BMW engines may consume up to one quart of engine oil per 750 miles.” It was also acknowledged that ‘M’ performance cars may consume even more.

BMW M5 engine
M Performance engines may consume more oil than regular engines

A BMW’s oil consumption is only a problem if it’s excessive – and this is where it gets tricky. But more on that later.

Why do BMWs use so much oil?

Oil consumption is a characterstic of BMW engines; it’s an unintentional consequence of BMW’s quest to develop powerful, efficient, and low-friction engines that can last well over 200,000 miles.

BMW produces some of the finest sports cars and luxury sedans on the market, and their engines are engineered to meet these high expectations.

Oil usage is a side-effect of this precision engineering; one that’s not planned but is accepted by BMW in order to produce the engines they do at a level of quality and performance that has come to be expected.

Many BMW owners have learnt to live with the oil consumption in return for the superior power and performance over other cars on the road.

Why does my BMW consume oil?

If your BMW is consuming more oil than is typical for the model, it could be down to:

  • Your driving style
  • The car’s age
  • High mileage
  • An oil leak

Even though burning oil is normal for BMWs, you should still keep an eye on how much your car is getting through. Anything more than the levels described in your car’s handbook could indicate a problem.

Driving style

Driving style plays a huge part in how much oil a BMW will consume. Hard and aggressive driving will always burn more oil than a sedate, smooth, and easy-going style.

It’s perfectly fine to extract as much performance as you want from your BMW, but you’ll need to accept that you may be topping off the oil more regularly than other BMW owners.

If you’ve noticed your BMW is losing oil but isn’t leaking, it could be that it’s being burnt more quickly thanks to your driving style.

Age, mileage and oil leaks

Like with any car, as BMWs age their rubber seals, pipes, gaskets, and other components can start to deteriorate. This means there’s a higher likelihood that oil is escaping from the engine and finding itself in places that it shouldn’t be.

Similarly, higher mileage means the car has been through more heat cycles and therefore these same components are more likely to start perishing.

Once leaking oil comes into contact with hot surfaces within the engine or on the exhaust, it is burnt off very quickly.

If this is happening, it can be tricky to diagnose but is well worth asking a mechanic to investigate.

BMW 1 Series engine
The older an engine get, the more likely it is to burn oil excessively

Oil can even leak into the car’s combustion chamber and be burnt off internally, which is even harder to diagnose and can be costly to fix.

If the leak is pinpointed and repaired, this should see a reduction in the amount of oil being consumed.

How do you fix a BMW that burns oil?

Whether you’re able to fix a BMW that is excessively burning oil will depend on the cause of the oil loss. The first thing to do is to ask a mechanic who has experience with BMWs to diagnose the issue with your car.

All BMWs will burn a certain amount of oil; this can’t be changed. But if your car is burning too much oil then you’ll need a professional to investigate the root-cause.

If there is an external oil leak it may be an easy fix. Replacing components that are easily accessible in the engine bay is a very cost-effective way of prolonging the life of a car.

But if a component inside the engine has perished and is leaking oil internally, it can be expensive to fix. Blue smoke coming from the exhaust is a telltale sign of this issue.

If there are no issues to be found and the oil consumption is within BMW’s guidelines (stated in the owner’s manual), then there’s not much to do other than keep a close eye on the oil levels and top up when needed.

What is a BMW oil consumption test?

An oil consumption test is part of an investigation that BMW can perform at its dealerships to establish whether a car is burning more oil than it should.

Thanks to a class-action lawsuit, BMW were forced to offer settlements and reimbursements for some customers who owned BMWs with N63 engines.

Part of this process involved testing the affected cars with an ‘oil consumption test’ at BMW dealerships.

Whilst only applicable to a handful of cars that featured the N63 engine, it’s interesting to note that BMW can offer an oil consumption test to establish whether a BMW has a problem.

To conclude

We’ve learned that most BMWs do burn oil as part of their normal operation, but excessively burning oil can be a problem, particularly on older BMWs.

The type of BMW can play a part, as can the driving style of the owner.

But ultimately, if you’re concerned that your BMW may be burning more oil than it should, you may want to consider asking an independent BMW specialist, or BMW themselves, to investigate the issue.

And one more thing… make sure you keep some spare oil in the trunk just in case!

4 thoughts on “Do BMWs Burn Oil? (And Can Anything Be Done About It?)”

  1. I had NO idea of this information regarding Oil consumption.
    After 5000kms ( 3000 miles )
    Our 328i with the 3.0 liter engine
    And 200,000 kms
    Burned 1.5 liters
    I was shocked until learning it’s Normal.
    I thought oil burning engines were something of the past like in the 1940s 50s and 60s

  2. Bernie Schneider

    Can you give me a copy or how I can access the class action law suit. I’d be very interested because I have a 550x model (2013) and burning oil much more than usual. In fact my BMW dealer basically said my car is a write off (130k).

  3. I have a bmw e87 msport and doesn’t burn one drop of oil from one service to a nother every other bmw I have owned burnt oil for fun ??

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Adam Chinn writes about the intersecting worlds of classic cars, driving pleasure, and smart investment strategies. Starting his journey at 26, he’s proven that one doesn’t need to be wealthy to begin investing in classic cars.

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