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Fluid level checks BMW 3-Series 2008 - 2012 Petrol 320i - 2.0

OnDemand step-by-step maintenance & repair BETA

BMW 3-Series 2008 - 2012  | 320i - 2.0 Fluid level checks

  • time 5 to 30 minutes
  • difficulty 1

Underbonnet check points

2.0 litre petrol (N43) engine A Engine oil filler cap B Coolant expansion tank C Brake and clutch fluid reservoir (under the plastic cover) D Screenwasher fluid reservoir
2.0 litre diesel (N47T) engine A Engine oil level dipstick B Engine oil filler cap C Coolant expansion tank D Brake and clutch fluid reservoir (under the plastic cover) E Screenwasher fluid reservoir

Engine oil level

1 • Make sure that the car is on level ground.
2 • Check the oil level before the car is driven, or at least 5 minutes after the engine has been switched off.
HINT: If the oil is checked immediately after driving the vehicle, some of the oil will remain in the upper engine components, resulting in an inaccurate reading on the dipstick.

The correct oil

3 Modern engines place great demands on their oil. It is very important that the correct oil for your car is used.
Engine oil grade:
  Petrol engines BMW Long-life 01, 01-FE or 04. SAE 0W-40 or SAE 5W-30 (fully synthetic)
  Diesel engines:
    M57TU 6-cylinder engines BMW Long-life 01 or 04. SAE 0W-40 or SAE 5W-30 (fully synthetic). The lower viscosity oil is recommended in countries where the outside temperature frequently falls below -20° C
    N47 (4-cylinder) and N57 (6-cylinder) engines BMW Long-life 04. Note: This oil is specifically designed for engines with a particulate filter. SAE 0W-40 or SAE 5W-30 (fully synthetic)

Car care

4 • If you have to add oil frequently, you should check whether you have any oil leaks. Remove the engine undershield, place some clean paper under the car overnight, and check for stains in the morning. If there are no leaks, the engine may be burning oil, or the oil may only be leaking when the engine is running. Note that petrol models, and some 4-cylinder diesel engines, do not have a traditional oil level dipstick. Instead the level is shown on the instrument cluster. On other engines, the oil level is checked using a traditional dipstick.

Models without a dipstick

5 • Start the engine, lightly push the button on the indicator stalk up or down until the word OIL is shown in the instrument cluster display. Press the button on the end of the indicator stalk and the oil level will be displayed. If necessary, stop the engine and add engine oil until the level is correct. Refer to the owners handbook for details of the electronic oil level monitor.

Models with a dipstick

6 • Always maintain the level between the upper and lower dipstick marks, shown in photo 3. If the level is too low, severe engine damage may occur. Oil seal failure may result if the engine is overfilled by adding too much oil.
The dipstick top is often brightly-coloured for easy identification (see Underbonnet check points for exact location). Withdraw the dipstick.
Using a clean rag or paper towel remove all oil from the dipstick. Insert the clean dipstick into the tube as far as it will go, then withdraw it again.
Note the oil level on the end of the dipstick, which should be between the upper maximum mark (1) and lower minimum mark (2). Approximately 1.0 litre of oil will raise the level from the lower mark to the upper mark.
Oil is added through the filler cap. Unscrew the cap and top‑up the level; a funnel may help to reduce spillage. Add the oil slowly, checking the level on the dipstick often. Don’t overfill (see Car care).

Coolant level

Warning: Do not attempt to remove the expansion tank pressure cap when the engine is hot, as there is a very great risk of scalding. Do not leave open containers of coolant about, as it is poisonous.

Car Care

7 • With a sealed-type cooling system, adding coolant should not be necessary on a regular basis. If frequent topping-up is required, it is likely there is a leak. Check the radiator, all hoses and joint faces for signs of staining or wetness, and rectify as necessary.
8 • It is important that antifreeze is used in the cooling system all year round, not just during the winter months. Don’t top up with water alone, as the antifreeze will become diluted.
Antifreeze type Long-life ethylene glycol based antifreeze*
* Refer to your BMW dealer for brand name and type recommendations
The coolant expansion tank incorporates a float device which indicates the level of coolant. When the upper end of the float protrudes no more than 20 mm above the filler neck, the level is correct. See the information on the expansion tank adjacent to the filler neck.
If topping-up is necessary, wait until the engine is cold. Slowly unscrew the expansion tank cap, to release any pressure present in the cooling system, and remove it.
Add a mixture of water and antifreeze to the expansion tank until the level of the coolant is just below the Kalt/Cold mark on the expansion tank, or until the top of the indicator float protrudes no more than 20 mm above the filler neck. Refit the cap and tighten it securely. Should you need to replace the coolant, click below

Brake and clutch fluid level

Warning: Brake fluid can harm your eyes and damage painted surfaces, so use extreme caution when handling and pouring it.
Warning: Do not use fluid that has been standing open for some time, as it absorbs moisture from the air, which can cause a dangerous loss of braking effectiveness.
HINT: The fluid level in the reservoir will drop slightly as the brake pads wear down, but the fluid level must never be allowed to drop below the MIN mark.

Before you start

9 • Make sure that the car is on level ground.

Safety first!

10 • If the reservoir requires repeated topping-up this is an indication of a fluid leak somewhere in the system, which should be investigated immediately.
11 • If a leak is suspected, the car should not be driven until the braking system has been checked. Never take any risks where brakes are concerned
Release the three clips and remove the lid from the driver’s side lower pollen filter housing.
The MAX and MIN marks are indicated on the side of the reservoir.
If topping-up is necessary, first wipe clean the area around the filler cap to prevent dirt entering the hydraulic system.
Unscrew the reservoir cap and carefully lift it out of position, taking care not to damage the level switch float.
Carefully add fluid, taking care not to spill it onto the surrounding components. Use only DOT 4 fluid; mixing different types can cause damage to the system. After topping-up to the correct level, securely refit the cap and wipe off any spilt fluid.

Power steering fluid level

12 • Park the car on level ground.
13 • Set the steering wheel straight-ahead.
14 • The engine should be turned off.
HINT: For the check to be accurate, the steering must not be turned once the engine has been stopped.

Safety first!

15 • The need for frequent topping-up indicates a leak, which should be investigated immediately.
The reservoir is located near the front of the engine compartment (see Underbonnet check points for exact location). Wipe clean the area around the reservoir filler neck and unscrew the filler cap/ dipstick from the reservoir.
Insert the dipstick into the reservoir (without screwing on the cap), then remove it. The fluid level should be between MIN and MAX. When topping-up, use the specified type of fluid and do not overfill the reservoir. When the level is correct, securely refit the cap.
Power steering fluid Dexron II* or Pentosin CHF11S (marked as ATF or CHF on the reservoir filler cap)
* Refer to your BMW dealer for brand name and type recommendations

Screenwasher fluid level*

16 * On models with a headlight washer system, the screenwasher is also used to clean the headlights.
17 • Screenwash additives not only keep the windscreen clean during foul weather, they also prevent the washer system freezing in cold weather – which is when you are likely to need it most. Don’t top-up using plain water as the screenwash will become too diluted, and will freeze during cold weather.
Caution: On no account use coolant antifreeze in the washer system – this could discolour or damage paintwork.
The screenwasher fluid reservoir is located at the right-hand side.
Unclip the cap. When topping-up, add a screenwash additive in the quantities recommended by the manufacturer. It could also be time to replace the wiper blades. For details, click below
- Close + Open

Wiper blade replacement

Check the condition of the wiper blades; if they are cracked or show any signs of deterioration, or if the glass swept area is smeared, renew them. Wiper blades should be renewed annually.
To remove a wiper blade, pull the arm fully away from the screen until it locks. Swivel the blade through 90°, press the locking tab with your fingers and slide the blade out of the arm’s hooked end.
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