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      06-04-2013, 12:00 AM   #1
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1200 mi break-in Oil Analysis Report

Here is a used oil analysis done at the first 1200 mi (done by Polaris Labs) of the factory fill from a 2013 BMW M3. For comparison sake, the virgin oil analysis of the service fill, the Castrol TWS 10w60. is here:

I did the 1200 mi uoa partly to dispel what I believe is the myth of the need to "wash out" wear metals during the break-in perioid. The fact that BMW requires a 1200 mi drain of the factory fill on M cars has led many owners of regular non-M BMWs to believe that it is necessary/prudent to likewise drain the factory fill at 1200 mi, even tho BMW does not require it.

Here's the data (elements reported in the uoa as 0 are omitted):

iron 19 ppm
aluminum 4 ppm
copper 47 ppm
tin 3 ppm
silicon 6 ppm
sodium 7 ppm
potassium 8 ppm
moly 4 ppm
manganese 2 ppm
boron 4 ppm
magnesium 882 ppm
calcium 1151 ppm
barium 2 ppm
phosphorous 859 ppm
zinc 902 ppm

fuel dilution 1.5 %
vis at 100 C 11.4
TBN 8.54
oxidation 7 abs/cm
nitration 9 abs/cm

Polaris flagged copper as abnormal (as labs frequently do on BMWs) and viscosity as critical.

My own comments:

First, I think it is a mistake to assume that the factory fill is identical to the service fill. In some cases the factory fill may be made by an entirely different lube mfr (e.g. FUCHS "The factory fill specialist" oil which goes into many German cars at the factory, including BMW diesels). If you compare this uoa to the TWS voa, the factory fill clearly seems to be a different oil.

As far as wear metals are concerned, I believe the metals of most concern in this or any uoa would be iron (and possibly silicon if from dirt). They are both hard elements that in high concentrations could make the oil abrasive and cause abnormal wear of the softer metals, particularly lead - - and thus justify an early drain . Blackstone's limit for ppm iron is 200. The wear metals in the report are well within limits (lead is virtually 0), with the possible exception of copper. But every uoa from a BMW that I've ever seen has shown relatively high copper, even as the engine ages. I don't think the high copper is from abrasive wear. I believe that much of it is copper leached from the oil cooler, which on the M3 is quite large.

The thing that really surprised me is the viscosity at 100 degrees C of 11.4, which is a thick 30 weight. That would be abnormal IF the factory fill was the normal TWS, but I don't think it was. Even with the fuel dilution (which is well within limits), I don't think a 60 weight would thin out to that degree in just 1200 miles. I think the factory fill is some sort of break-in oil, and that is the reason BMW wants to drain it so early - - it's not an oil intended for an extended drain.

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      06-04-2013, 12:08 AM   #2

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Interesting theory, a transitory oil used by the factory
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