Up until 2004 BMW published an approved oil list. On this list were the oils that met BMW specifications and could safely be used by individuals performing their own maintenance or to top the levels off. Since then it has been a crap shoot as to what types meet the BMW criteria and wether LL-01 or LL-04 is the current rating required.
If you look in your manual it will tell you the recommended intervals, viscosity and to look on the BMWUSA.com website for further information, as we enthusiasts know there is no such page on the site. Brand loyalists have asked this question countless times and a simple GOOGLE search will yield many threads on forums regarding what oil to use and the responses are usually not in compliance with BMW standards.
This is all about to change! After contacting a source within BMWNA the wheels were finally set in motion and we are pleased to announce that in the not so distant future we will be able to report on what oils meet the requirements and there in fact should be a page on the BMWUSA.com site dedicated to this topic.
What we can tell you now is that for most newer gasoline BMW models in the US the required oil must meet BMW LL-01 (approved not recommended for) specifications. There is further confusion because BMW LL-04 is recommended in gasoline and diesel engines for most other countries. In the US it will be required only for the new Advanced Diesels.
The issue with the LL-04 oil in the US is that even though the sulfur content in gasoline has decreased in the US it is still not consistent. The inconsistency in levels makes the LL-04 oils not recommended in the US gasoline engines. Since the new sulfur requirements of diesel in the US require consistent levelsLL-04 can be utilized in these applications.
It is important to note that some oils will say recommended for or some wordingother than approved. Not all synthetic oil is equal and there is in fact a reason for BMW having its own standards.
As always we will keep you updated as we receive more information.