Skip to main content

Read our primer articles on High Mileage Oil, Synthetic Oil and Kinematic Viscosity

I'm looking for more technical details on just what technical requirements an oil has to meet in order to be approved under one of BMW's oil specs.

Here's what I've gathered so far:

LL-98 - Must be ACEA A3 and API SJ and meet some sort of requirements after a 370 hour run in a M44 engine with reduced oil volume.

From datasheets I've found, these oils seem to range from a Kvis100 of 11.6 to 15.2, averaging about 13.9. HTHS averages about 3.8, TBN about 9.5, and density about 0.853.

From various VOA's found at BITOG, ZDDP levels seem to run from at about moderate levels, mag at moderate to high levels, calcium at very low to low levels, and boron and moly at only trace amounts.

BMW LL-01 - Like the LL-98, also required to be ACEA A3 and run a 370 hour test, but the test engine is now an M54 with compatibility with the valvetronic system being a specific test requirement.

From datasheets I've found, these oils seem to run a little bit lighter and the LL-98, with a Kvis100 range of 11.3 to 14.1, averaging about 12.3. HTHS averages about 3.6, TBN about 10.4, and density about 0.849.

From various VOA's found at BITOG, ZDDP levels seem to run from low to moderate levels, mag at trace to moderate to high levels, and calcium, boron, and moly vary tremendously from trace to high amounts.

BMW LL-04 - Basically seems to be LL-01 spec with additional test requirements for compatibility with particulate filters on diesel engines.

From datasheets I've found, these oils seem to run about the same as the LL-01 oils, but with a lower average TBN of about 7.

I have not been able to find enough VOA's or other info to draw any conclusions about the additive package.

The question at the end of day revolves around the use of oils that are not specifically BMW approved. Understanding that the BMW approval process is likely expensive (not to mention a bienniel requirement) I can see whay some manufacturers, such as Amsoil, Redline, Royal Purple, etc, would choose not to bother with it. But while I wouldn't necessarily hold the absence of the official BMW blessing against them, the fact that many of the properties of these oils are outside or at the extremes of known approved oils does raise some questions. How big a concern do you think this should be?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Dear JPR,

The focus of your query is very honest but I ould recommend if you want the regimen for the BMW testing you should write to the company. But there is a more important factor here. If you choose to use a non approved formulation with your car you run the risk of voiding your engine warranty.

Please stick with the majors, look for the API Sun burst and service symbol. These are your best guidelines to stay away from the snake oil. To be fair; you are right there are many brands of ills which will not be on the approved list, but if it does not have the Certification and service codes I would steer away. See

FYI Generally auto manufacturers will specify performance criterion for lubricating oils (These are covered by the API service Symbol "Donut." If you want more information about which oils are "Listed." See the link above and then follow the links to the left for the Licensee directory, Service categories, and Engine oil publications. Oil manufacturers have spent over $500,000 per engine qualification test to insure and certify that their oil mets the "Service requirements " of the engine / vehicle manufacturer. Folks at SAE, ASTM, ASME,DIN, and the major manufacturers say that these tests, and the corresponding certifications are a recommended or necessary procedure. I think there is some room for trust here, by the weight of evidence regarding the warranty claims; which have been way below 1% for lubrication related issues for a very long time. If it's not broken don't fix it.
Well the response was pretty much as expected -
I sent this message to BMW Group -
I've been doing a little personal research project on engine oils and I'm looking for more technical information on what properties an oil must have to be Longlife-98, -01, or -04 approved. I understand it starts with ACEA A3 and API SJ approvals, but other properties are required to be demonstrated by test? Are there specific cold and hot viscosity range requirements? Are there minimum and/or maximum limits on specific additives? Any technical information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

This was then forwarded on to BMWUSA, who sent this reply -
Thank you for contacting BMW of North America, LLC regarding technical information on oil ratings. We appreciate your interest.

We do not have the ability to advise you in a technical matter via e-mail. I suggest contacting the service team at your authorized BMW center directly, so they can review your concerns in person and provide technical support. Should you need it, you will find a complete listing of authorized centers, categorized by name, state, or ZIP code, on our website at
We are sorry we could not answer your question directly. If you have any further questions, please respond to this e-mail or contact the Customer Relations and Services Department at 1-800-831-1117, Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time. Again, thank you for contacting BMW
attend Reliable Plant 2024
Link copied to your clipboard.