2012 BMW X3: Before the Oil Change
August 14, 2012
Our long-term 2012 BMW X3 didn't come due for its first oil change until about the 14,500-mile mark, but during my big road trip, it did ask for a quart of oil.
The request for a top-up came at 11,771 miles (conveniently, during a fuel stop), and since we were less than halfway into the trip, it only made sense to comply.
I've been known to pour gas-station oil into BMWs in the past, but my better half quickly located an Auto Zone in Santa Rosa. This particular variety of Castrol synthetic wasn't on the list of acceptable oils in the owner's manual, but when we looked on the back and saw the "BMW Longlife-01," we knew it would meet the needs of the N55 engine. No funnel is needed to pour in the oil, as you can see.
The only other warning we got during the trip was a low tire-pressure warning light. I unfortunately did not get a photo, but the circumstances warrant mention here. We pulled into our hotel in Berkeley around 11 one night after a Giants game -- and it was a chilly night there, just 50 degrees according to the X3. And that point, the BMW let us know that all four tires were low on pressure.
"Oh, no!" I thought. "Four pinch flats." (We'd seen our share of rough roads that day.) I jumped out of the X3 and began frantically examining the tires for telltale sidewall bulges. Thirty seconds later, sanity returned, and we remembered the temperature variation the X3 and its tires had experienced that day. We'd started the day around Mt Shasta, driving through triple-digits around Redding, and then turned west toward the cool, moist air of the East Bay. Perhaps all that had confused the tire pressure monitor?
Indeed it had. When we left the hotel around noon the next day, we reset the tire pressure monitor, and sure enough, all four tires were in acceptable range of the car's factory spec. This was a mildly interesting experience -- I've gotten a low tire pressure warning before in subfreezing temperatures, but I hadn't considered it could happen in the summer.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor