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BMW R1200GS Engine Oil Change & Engine Oil Level Check

BMW R1200GS Motorcycle Oil Change
The BMW Maintenance Schedule recommends changing the engine oil and engine oil filter at the scheduled 6000m (10,000km) service intervals.

See also: R1200GS Engine Oil Q&A

See also: BMW R1200GS Alternative Engine Oils & Other FAQ

BMW R1200GS Engine Oil change without new filter (interim oil change)

BMW R1200GS engine oil level check:
See below for the correct procedure for checking the engine oil level

R1200GS checking engine oil level - oil level sight glass

BMW R1200GS engine oil level sight glass - checking engine oil level
R1200GS Oil & Filter Change - What You'll Need
  • 4 litres new engine oil
  • Oil filter & new sump plug crush-washer
  • Oil filter removal tool
  • Oil filler cap removal tool
  • 3/8" square drive ratchet / socket wrench
  • 10mm & 13mm sockets, 8mm Allen key or Allen socket
  • Oil funnel & oil drain container for old oil (old washing up bowls are excellent;-)
  • Paper towels and/or cloth rags 
Tightening Torque Settings
  • Oil filter - Sealing ring wetted with engine oil 11 Nm
  • Oil drain plug, M16 x 1.5 - 23Nm (initial), 32 Nm (final)
  • Sump guard fixings - 10mm fixings 8Nm, 13mm fixings 19Nm

R1200GS sump engine oil drain plug location

Oil Drain Sump Plug & Crush Washer (seal)

You can get away with reusing the crush washer but for the sake of saving a few pennies you're better off buying a new one when you get your new oil filter.

R1200GS oil drain plug and sealing / crush washer

Oil filter location and oil filter removal tool
R1200GS engine oil filter removal - oil filter removal tool

 OE R1200GS Oil Filler Cap & 'O' Ring (seal)
R1200GS oil filler cap / plug with rubber 'O' ring (sealing ring)

Alternative to OE item - Wunderlich Alloy Oil Filler Cap
Alloy (aluminium) replacement oil filler plug

Before you drain the old engine oil the engine needs to be warmed up so the old oil will drain more thoroughly. BMW recommends taking the bike for a ride but the oil will be warm enough to change/drain if you just start the engine and let it idle for a while until the first two or three bars show on the engine temperature cockpit display readout (CARE: BMW Boxer engines are air/oil cooled and the manual explicitly states to ride off immediately since idling for any length of time (eg. >10min) carries the risk of overheating.;-)

** Remember that the exhaust pipes are now hot! **

Remove the sump guard, fixed with two nuts and two bolts (curiously BMW chose to use 3 different parts for this, 13mm nuts, 13mm bolt, and a 10mm bolt!)

BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

R1200 / R1200GS sump drain plug (centre of photo)
BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

R1200 / R1200GS engine oil filter location
BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

Undo and remove the oil filler plug using the tool from the bikes tool kit (Touratech and others sell a tool if you don't have one), this allows air to enter the engine more easily as the oil drains and so the oil will drain more quickly. Note the rubber 'O' ring seal that most likely will remain seated in the filler opening. You can leave it there or remove it for cleaning. If you do remove it, remember to put it back!

Place a suitable container under the sump and then remove the oil drain plug - partially undo with the Allen key socket and ratchet and then finish by hand whilst pushing upwards so that the drain plug stays in place until completely undone at which point 'whip' it away quickly so your hand doesn't get covered in old oil. (in the interests of H&S I suppose I ought to say that you should be wearing latex gloves as used engine oil is carcinogenic!).  Note the aluminium or copper crush washer / seal on the oil drain plug - best replaced with a new item before refitting the drain plug.
And remove the old oil filter - unscrew a few turns until oil starts to 'leak', leave a few moments before unscrewing a little further allowing more oil to escape (saves your hand from getting covered in quite so much oil;-) - now unscrew and remove completely.

BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

Leave the drain plug / oil filter out for some time, it's surprising how long oil will continue to drip for, I even put the bike on the sidestand for a while which helps oil drain from 'nooks and crannies' within the engine (care re your container under the bike that is now full of used oil!;-)

Clean and then reinstall the oil drain plug having fitted a new crush-washer. Torque to 17 ft-lbs (23 Nm) initially, then to 24 ft-lbs (32 Nm).

Clean the underside of the sump, wipe old oil from where the oil filter locates and then install the new oil filter. Lubricate the oil filter seal / rubber gasket with a little clean engine oil make sure it seals well and as the torque value BMW quote requires you pre-oil the rubber seal. I also like to fill the filter with new oil although I don't know if this makes a positive difference or not but it does mean that on first running the engine after the oil/filter change there won't be that brief period of low oil pressure you'd otherwise get whilst the oil pump fills the filter.

If you do fill the filter with oil do so slowly, it takes a few minutes and a few top ups before it is really full as it takes time for the filter material to soak up the oil.

BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

Torque the oil filter to 8 ft-lbs (11 Nm). (or just tighten it by hand, then put the ratchet drive on it and turn it an additional 180 degrees / ½ a full turn).

Pour your new oil slowly into the oil filler opening on the top of the left cylinder. Easy with 1ltr oil bottles as shown below but best done with a funnel (TIP: cut the top off an old plastic bottle to make a funnel if you don't have one;-). In theory the bike should take the full 4 litre capacity but, just in case, don't add all 4 litres of new oil at this point, just add 3.5ltrs or so. The oil level should show about midway in the oil level sight glass.

R1200GS filling or topping up the engine oil

As an alternative to using a funnel, I have a plastic 2ltr measuring jug that I can decant oil from larger oil containers into and pour into the engine filler.

BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

Replace the oil filler cap making sure the O-ring, is in place.

To check the oil level properly/accurately, the engine (and oil) needs to be at normal operating temperature - start the engine and let it idle for a while until the first two or three bars show on the engine temperature cockpit display readout again (CARE: air cooled engines can overheat left running with the bike stationary;-) Wait at least 5 minutes but no more than 10, after heating the engine to operating temperature before checking the engine oil level which will have dropped to or below the bottom of the site glass and add a little more oil to top up, say another 250ml.

NB: Engine oil, quantity for topping up - the difference between MIN and MAX marks is a maximum of 0.5ltr (remember that added oil takes some time to drain to the sump;-)

**Damage to the engine can result if it is operated without enough oil, but the same also applies if the oil level is too high. Always make sure that the oil level is correct.**

Replace the sump guard, check everything is tightened properly (filter, sump plug etc) and take the bike for a ride to get it to normal operating temperature - repeat the oil level checking procedure on your return, top up to the max level and check that you have no leaks.

BMW R1200GS motorcycle engine oil change - changing the engine oil

** Dispose of used oil in an environmentally friendly manner. **
Find your nearest oil bank / recycling centre (UK): www.oilbankline.org.uk

R1200GS - Checking Engine Oil Level
NB: Engine oil, quantity for topping up - the difference between MIN and MAX marks is a maximum of 0.5ltr (remember that added oil takes some time to drain to the sump;-)

The oil level varies with the temperature of the oil. The higher the temperature, the higher the level of oil in the sump. Checking the oil level with the engine cold or after no more than a short ride will lead to misinterpretation; this in turn, means that the engine will be operated with the incorrect quantity of oil.

In order to ensure that the engine oil level is read correctly, check the oil level only after a lengthy trip. Wait at least 5 minutes but no more than 10, after heating the engine to operating temperature before checking the engine oil level.

**Damage to the engine can result if it is operated without enough oil, but the same also applies if the oil level is too high. Always make sure that the oil level is correct.**

R1200GS checking engine oil level - oil level sight glass

BMW R1200GS engine oil level sight glass - checking engine oil level


R1200GS oil level window and engine oil filler

BMW R1200GS Engine Oil change without new filter (interim oil change)
For the sake of a few £/$ it's best to change the oil filter as well but should circumstances arise where you change the oil but can't source a new filter read on (thanks to Jonathan Switzman for the info):

OK oil change done at 4k (just giving it a little extra during it's early life). Being a sad and obsessive person, I measured the amount of oil that came out of the filter that was removed and took note of the amount of oil needed to top the engine after refilling and running the engine up with a new filter

About 100 ml is retained by the (old) filter although judging by the filter's weight its saturated by up to an additional estimated 50 ml. Also about 50+ ml leaks out as the old filter is removed - so about 200ml in all is 'lost' with the old filter removal

On initially filling the sight glass to full - about 250 - 280 ml of oil is still left in the new 4 litre oil container. After running the engine up and letting it stand - it takes all of remaining 250+ml of oil to fill to the top of the sight glass level (I suppose the extra 80 or so is required to charge the pump up?)

When I last had an oil change done by Vines of Guildford they over filled it - the sight glass remained full even with the engine running! When I drained off the excess and measured it - it was equivalent to - and you guessed it - the amount needed to top up after running up the engine after an oil and filter change.

So my guess is, either they added too much oil or hadn't changed the filter

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