What's the best oil / oil change interval? - North American Motoring


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What's the best oil / oil change interval?

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Old 09-25-2017, 10:01 PM
squawSkiBum squawSkiBum is offline
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What's the best oil / oil change interval?

This is one of those topics that make long time forum members think "Oh no! Not another oil thread!"

There are some that are obsessive-compulsive about their oil changes and intervals, and some that are not. Some (admittedly anecdotal) data follows, and some personal opinion as well.

MINI originally set the oil change interval for the Gen2 cars at 15,000 miles. That led to a lot of problems, especially with the N14 engines - clogged VANOS actuators, engine damage due to low oil, etc. etc. Eventually the interval was changed to 10K. In the first three years of included maintenance, dealers will typically change the oil at 8,000 miles or greater since the last change.

Personal opinion follows:

What's the best oil change interval?

I have always been a 5,000 mile interval guy. I think at 3,000 miles as recommended by the oil change places you are throwing money away. I try to keep it to 5,000 miles, maybe 7,500 at a stretch. There are people who send oil samples to a lab for testing, and there's data to suggest that with a high quality oil you're good to 10,000 miles. OK, I'm an engineer and I can appreciate data. I also appreciate the value of adequate "design margin", or being conservative so you don't have to worry about being close to the edge. Since I only drive 10,000 - 12,000 miles a year and do my own oil changes, I figure that doing oil changes at 5,000 mile intervals is good insurance and preventative maintenance for relatively small cost. I'm at 60,000 miles on my 2012 R56S with no engine issues. I have an Acura MDX that is 15 years old and nearing 300,000 miles, it has always had 5,000 mile oil changes and still runs perfectly so that's my proof point. (Or maybe it just means that Honda/Acura built a great engine.) Anyway, the summary of the experience of owners on NAM seems to be to keep the oil change interval to 10,000 miles at most, with 5,000 miles being preferred. Frequent checks of oil level in-between changes is mandatory for N14 engines as they tend to burn a lot of oil, with disastrous consequences if it gets too low.

What's the best oil?

There are probably as many opinions on this as there are forum members. Some swear by a particular brand / weight of oil, saying that mileage improves, oil consumption decreases, performance is better, hair loss is reversed, and they're more attractive to members of the opposite sex when they use brand X . OK I'm exaggerating for comic effect
Personally, I stick to Castrol Syntec European Formula 0-40, or Mobil1 0-40. Arguably it is overkill, MINI specs 5-30 oil. See my comment above about design margin. MINI also specs their long life LL-01 rating, however if you are changing oil every 5K this really doesn't matter so long as you are using a high quality synthetic oil.

That's my personal opinion, and it has worked for me (so far).

Let's hear it from the fans of particular brands, Royal Purple is frequently mentioned.
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:52 PM
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cornjuice cornjuice is offline
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I have zero experience with Mini engines up until a week ago when I bought my first. I do have 15yrs with Subaru motors and e85. It has taught me a lot about oil. Couple of key points specifically which relate to your post:

*heat cycles: how many times an oil has reached high/peak temps
*driving conditions during mileage: city, mountains, dusty back road?
*fuel: what, how much (directly related to the above and has effect on how soon oil needs to be changed before sheering)

for me..if I have hit my 'max' on 2 of the above 3.. I change my oil.

I consider a redline session or high heat cycle to take roughly 1k miles off my oil (changes normally at 5k). I consider 15 tanks of 91oct a max at normal driving before a full oil change & anytime I drive to Tahoe and back (for example) I take 1k miles off too.

*I also use oil which I have tested before in +20psi fa20 setup. Blackstone has a really comprehensive test if you purchase the sample kit. I learned that running pump gas (91oct here) under normal->spirited driving ..Pennzoil platinum 5w30 was good for 7k miles. Running a 30% e85 blend and the same oil tested ~same level of detergents at just over 5k. On a stock 2014 wrx [ej255] results were very similar. For reference - the oil still retained more than 70% of its detergents, as tested; summertime 105f ambient, 7k miles normal daily driving..with a few romps to redline.

Oil is life. Love it..your engine will love you. I'm saving for gauges on my JCW for this reason. I want to track max and average oil temp and pressure..as well as boost and other essentials. With that..i may be able to safely stretch my oil a bit further..but not until then.
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Old 09-26-2017, 05:49 AM
AnOldBiker AnOldBiker is offline
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The closest I've come to foreign engines are the Japaneese ones. I had a Toyota pickup for 13 years and put 400k on it before giving it to the neighbor kid when i retired. Changed with full sync oil / filter every 7.5k and never had the heads off. He had it for 80k and sold it when he had enough to buy a new car.

I have a Dodge 4x4 with a Cummins and installed an oil bypass system when new, send in a sample every year to BlackStone and wait until they said I was near the outside of the perimeters and change the oil. Main filter is changed every 5k, and the bypass changed every 10k. This last run has 60k on the oil and still within perimeters. (engineers calculate the bypass oil filters the oil 10 times per running hour through a 2 micron filter)

Oil actually never breaks down, but the additives will. This is what causes all the problems with engines/engine oils. Oil companies would recycle the oil, (and have in the past) but the cost is prohibiting. It's more cost effective for them to just refine new. I do know if they could have an economical way to reprocess, they would. I retired from an oil refinery and they have/do look for ways over the last several decades. Once it's extremely hard to find and extract crude oil, they will be in a financial pinch, and they know it.

But as 'cornjuice' mentioned about, I'm a bit longer in owning a Mini than he, but by 2 1/2 weeks. So I'm in AWE as to the way Mini does their oils. Way different than I've been use to.

My mini says I'm to use 0w-20 with LL-14 fe+ oil. Way different animal than I'm use to, but intend to use until warrantee is over. But per the owners manual. I can use almost every grade listed in the free market if I can't find 0w-20, as long as it's in the LL-14 fe+ ratings.

And the discussions of other Mini owners using 5w-30, 5w-40 and every number with in the oil rating world, foreign and domestic .. seems martian to me ... when the engine designers usually require a specific grade/rating of oil unless major modification is done.

So I'm subscribing to this thread to see what others are thinking and doing ... if it doesn't add to my confusion.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:34 AM
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Oils I've used
Mobil 1 5W-30. Changed at 5,000 miles. Burns quickly. I'll go thru all 5 quarts and be low again
Valvoline 5W-30. Changed at 5,000 miles. Burns nearly as quick as Mobil 1.
Pennzoil synthetic 5W-30. Changed at 6,000 miles. Burns less quickly.
Castrol Edge 5W-30. Also burns less quickly. Changed at 6,000 miles.
Pentosin 5W-40. Noticeably less burning. Still on my first round of this at 4,000 miles.

N14 R56 Cooper S 6-speed. Manic Stage 3 autocross and weekend track day car.
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Old 10-02-2017, 05:17 PM
thebombardier thebombardier is offline
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I'm on the 5000 mile interval. Mainly use Redline as it's the only synthetic I can get locally that is API Group V and certified BMW LL-04. I'll burn through nearly 2 qts before i change my oil though.
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Old 10-03-2017, 10:58 AM
ke3ee ke3ee is offline
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I currently own 2 R60s. a 2012 with 75k and a 2016 with 18k. Ive changed the oil at 5k on both cars. I have used Castrol Edge 5w-30 in the 2012 ever since new with either an OEM or K&N filter. On the 2016 its been changed 3 times total , once at the dealer. When I changed it, I used K&N filters and Liqui Moly 5w-30.

I think the thread starter stated it well, don't go to the design limits. Ive always believed that while the oil doesn't breakdown it does carry more and more dirt, fine particles etc.. and the little filters can only hold or filter so much for so long.

$45 every 5k to me is good insurance, I read about failed timing chain tensioners, failed Vanos and have to think that dirt and sludge play a part in those failures.
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Old 10-03-2017, 01:17 PM
f60jcw f60jcw is offline
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I have been using AMSOIL for years on Dodges, Jeeps, and Land Rovers. This is my first MINI, and I plan on using AMSOIL as well.

When I first started using their oil, I was changing oil at 6,000-mile intervals. Then I started using BlackStone Labs for oil analysis and found that the AMSOIL in the engine had plenty more life in it and extended intervals to 10,000 - 12,000 miles. I continued with oil analysis and found I that I was at about the right interval for my driving and maintenance styles. No engine problems, excessive wear, etc.
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Old 04-03-2018, 07:17 PM
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I have been driving a Gen 1 R53 for 12 years and I use Castrol Syntec 5-30 and change my oil every 6000 kms or once a year which ever comes 1st. 134,000 kms no problems with this formula for me.
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Old 04-12-2018, 12:04 PM
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Motul 300V 5W30, every 3-4k with OEM filter on both N14 and N18 cars, zero issues.
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Old 04-12-2018, 01:50 PM
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Mini changed from 5W-30 to 0W-20 in mid model. They now recommend the latter, but I still have the 5W-30 sticker under my hood. I think the only reason they changed was to squeeze a little better mileage from the cars. Probably more of a bureaucratic decision than an engineering one. I see no reason not to stick with Mobil1 0W-40 and my usual 5-7K mile change. That oil and interval worked well in my R56 for 135K miles and so far on my F56 with 31K. I let the dealership use their oil every 10K and do my own change at 5. When I run out of "free" oil changes the car will not see any more 0W-20.
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Old 04-13-2018, 04:42 PM
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I run 0w-40 in all my cars and a 5k mile change interval. I was using Mobil 1, but changed to Castrol Edge when M1 no longer met the BMW LL rating.
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