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Why Are BMW Oil Changes So Expensive? [5 Reasons 2023]


BMW is the most popular European car brand in the USA. These vehicles are associated with innovation and luxury, excellent craftsmanship, and performance. They are more expensive than other makes and models, but you can expect a BMW to last.

However, not only the car is costly. Maintenance can also cut a hole in your budget, with even the most basic things – such as an oil change – being expensive. 

A 2020 BMW M4 is on display at a car show in North Dakota. Photo: Greg Gjerdingen / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The main reason BMW oil changes are so expensive is the type of oil used. The Original BMW Engine Oil is more expensive than generic synthetic oil. Most BMW models have a larger oil tank compared to other cars. Qualified technicians charge more for servicing your vehicle. Furthermore, the actual oil and filter type also impact the oil change cost.

Keep reading to learn more about BMW engine oil change costs, why it is so expensive, and how to reduce costs.

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1. Specialty Oil 

Engine oil is one of the most important fluids in your BMW – and in any other diesel or gasoline vehicle. Its role is to lubricate the internal parts of the combustion engine, keeping the car running smoothly. 

If the engine runs out of oil, it will start to grind, then size up, and ultimately stall. A lack of oil can damage the engine and potentially ruin it forever. 

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However, not all engine oils were created equal. 

There are essentially three types of engine oils: mineral, semi-synthetic, and full synthetic. BMW recommends the use of synthetic oil with its engines, which is the most expensive of all three. 

Synthetic oil is expensive because it is more stable than mineral and semi-synthetic types. It produces less build-up and increases the engine’s lifespan. However, generic synthetic oil costs about 2.2 times more than mineral oil.

If using a more expensive oil type is not enough, BMW takes things one step further. The brand recommends the use of the Original BMW Engine Oil with all its vehicles.

According to BMW, its Original oil helps maximize the car’s power and efficiency thanks to its enhanced viscosity and performance. This oil also helps the engine start faster in cold weather and protects the moving parts from wear, tear, and corrosion.

Using Original BMW oil also helps you prevent warranty issues in case your car needs servicing. However, a quart of Original BMW Engine Oil costs around $12, on average – almost twice as much as generic synthetic oil.

Owners who want to save a buck can use another type of premium synthetic oil, such as Mobil 1 or Castrol. Just make sure the oil you choose has the right viscosity.

2. Required Oil And Filter Type 

All types of BMW oils are synthetic and share similar characteristics. However, not all BMW engine oils are compatible with all models from the brand. The main thing to consider is whether your BMW runs on gasoline or diesel fuel. 

Some oils from the brand are compatible with both gasoline and diesel engines. Others work with diesel engines alone. 

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The main difference between these fluids is the viscosity, so you must use the appropriate oil, or you could damage the engine. 

BMW recommends a specific oil type in the vehicle’s manual, or you can check the fluid’s compatibility at the brand’s shop by selecting your car’s year and model. Engine oil prices vary from around $10 to $15 per quart.

When changing the engine oil, most dealers and authorized service centers also replace the filter. Like engine oils, BMW oil filters come in different models, some more expensive than others.

3. Oil Tank Size 

We already established that BMWs use an expensive oil type, but a quart of oil is never enough. Your car might need anywhere between five and eight quarts, depending on how large the engine oil tank is. 

Thus, you could easily spend between $50 and $120 on fluid alone. You must then add up the cost of a new oil filter and labor.

Your user manual can tell you how large the motor oil tank in your car is. If you don’t have the manual, know that a 4-cylinder engine from BMW requires at least five quarts of oil. A 6-cylinder engine needs around six quarts, and a high-performance V-8 engine needs around eight quarts.

4. Shorter Oil Change Intervals

An indirect factor that increases the oil change cost per year is the change interval. 

Perhaps you already know the 3,000-mile oil change rule. Things are different with synthetic oil, which can last between 15,000 and 25,000 miles. 

However, just because the oil can last this long doesn’t mean that you should run all 25,000 miles without changing it.

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In fact, while BMW user manuals tell owners to change the oil at least every 15,000 miles – assuming you’re using BMW Original oil – most dealers and service centers recommend checking and changing the fluids every 7,000 to 10,000 miles

Depending on your contract terms, failing to change the oil on time can lead to a void warranty and costly repairs. 

5. Expertise 

Lastly, BMW oil changes are so expensive because you’re paying for the technician’s expertise. 

Although changing the oil on a BMW is similar to changing it on any other vehicle, you might prefer scheduling an appointment with your local dealer or BMW service center. 

BMW mechanics are highly trained technicians that have to complete an educational program and earn a certification before getting a job in the industry. This program helps them gain specific expertise in working with European luxury vehicles that can be differently constructed compared to American-made cars.

A BMW dealer or service center also has access to equipment and original parts needed for proper servicing of the car.

How much the oil change will actually cost you depends on the model and dealership, but it can range between $135 and $175, including fluids, parts, and labor.

Alternatively, you could schedule an oil replacement with any local mechanic or even do it yourself. However, this could void the warranty.

Key Takeaways

BMW oil changes are so expensive because all vehicles from the brand use synthetic oil. This is the most expensive engine oil type. The oil change frequency, the actual type of oil, and the type of oil filter the car needs also influence the cost. Ultimately, a BMW oil change costs more compared to other vehicles because you’re paying for the technician’s expertise.

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