Continuing to drive a BMW after it displays the engine oil level low or below minimum or oil pressure too low can cause engine damage.
This message is critical and means the engine does not have enough oil to operate properly. See instructions below on how to check the oil level and add engine oil.
Do not drive a BMW with no oil or low oil level, as this can cause excessive engine wear even in as little as 10 or 15 minutes.
Pull over immediately, check the oil level, and add engine oil as needed. The easiest way to find which oil to use on your BMW is to open the hood and look at the sticker on top of the radiator, under the hood itself, or the oil cap.
Regardless of the oil brand you use, it is critical to have oil in the engine and have the oil warning light turn off than drive with the oil light on.
When possible, use BMW-approved oils (LL01, LL02) for your engine. In most cases, it will be 0W-40, 5W-30, or 5W-40 full synthetic.
BMW recommends Castrol, but you can use any BMW-approved log life oil as specified in LL01 or LL04 sheets, including Castrol, Elf Excellium, Galp Energy, Liqui Moly, Mobil 1, Motul, Oest, Pennzoil, etc.
If the recommended oil is not available, use conventional oil and then get an oil change and use the correct oil in the next one to two weeks.
How to check/add oil on a BMW.
- Park vehicle on level ground, turn off the engine.
- Wait for at least ten minutes. This allows the oil to return to the oil pan so that you can get an accurate measurement.
- Pull the hood release under the dashboard on the driver's side. Some models require you to pull the hood lever twice for the hood to release. If that's the case, the hood level will have x2 on printed on top.
- Go to the front of the vehicle and release the hood latch. Ensure the hood stays up on its own. If the hood supports are too weak, the hood will shut down. If that's the case, have someone hold the hood open for you.
- Locate the oil dipstick and pull it out. The oil dipstick is on the side of the engine and usually has a yellow handle. Some BMWs do not have an oil dipstick. In those models, you check the engine oil level via the dashboard.
- Wipe clean the oil dipstick with a lint-free cloth, note the hatched area on the dipstick. This indicates the MIN and MAX range.
- Reinsert it in the oil dipstick tube.
- Pull out the dipstick again and note the oil level. It should be between the MIN and MAX marks.
- If the level is below the MIN level, remove the oil cap by turning it counterclockwise, add one quart or one liter of oil and recheck the level. To raise the oil level from the MIN to the MAX mark, you need about one quart of oil. Do not overfill above the MAX mark.
- If you rectified the oil level, but the oil level or oil pressure warning light remains on, do not drive the vehicle. Call your auto mechanic and ask for advice. The vehicle may need to be towed to a BMW dealer or mechanic shop.
What oil should I use?
When adding oil to a BMW, it is important to use the oil recommended by BMW.
BMW recommends using Castrol 0W-40 full synthetic in most models. Check the owner’s manual and verify.
There are two ways to find which oil to use on a particular BMW. The easiest way is to open the hood and look at the sticker usually found on top of the radiator support or under the hood.
The second method is to look it up in your owner's manual.
BMW-approved oils specification sheets are designated with LL01, LL04, etc.
BMW shows oil level warning, but oil level is correct
You may check the engine oil level using the dipstick and find that the oil level is correct.
In such cases, the problem could be either due to a problem with the oil pump, which can cause low oil pressure, or a faulty oil pressure sensor.
Do not drive your BMW with the oil light warning on for days, weeks, or months. If the oil pressure is low, that is a serious problem that needs to be fixed immediately.
If the oil pressure sensor is faulty, the engine may run and drive fine. Get the sensor replaced as soon as possible.
The challenge is to find out which one is the problem. You or your auto mechanic should perform an oil pressure test and check the resistance of the oil pressure sensor with a digital multimeter.
I can’t find the correct oil. Should I wait until tomorrow?
Having the correct oil level is more important than having no or low oil.
Let’s say the oil light comes on while you are on a long trip. You stop at an auto parts store, but they do not have the recommended oil.
Should you drive with the oil light or use an alternative oil?
It is better to use substitute oil than drive with low or no oil.
Driving with low oil can lead to excessive and rapid premature engine wear. If the recommended oil is not available, it is ok to use 5W-30. Once you make it home, you can change your BMW engine oil and use the recommended oil.
Do not drive with the oil light on or a low oil warning.
BMW Oil Warning Messages
- Engine oil pressure! Stop carefully. Engine oil pressure is too low—possible engine damage. Switch off the engine. Continued during is not possible. Please contact the nearest BMW center.
- Engine oil level. Oil level below minimum. Continued driving may cause engine damage. Check and add oil as required as soon as possible. Refer to the owner's manual.
- Engine oil level above maximum. For important information, see the owner's handbook. (In this case, the engine oil level is too high, and some oil needs to be removed to bring the level between the MIN and MAX levels.
- Engine oil at a minimum level. Add 1 quart of oil as soon as possible. See owner's manual.
- Engine oil at the minimum level. Please add 2 quarts of engine oil.
- Engine oil level at minimum. Top up 1 liter of oil at the earliest opportunity. See owner's handbook. Then measure the engine oil level.
- Engine oil level below minimum. Please add 1 quart of engine oil immediately.
- Engine oil level below minimum. At the next opportunity, top up with 1 liter of engine oil. See owner's handbook.