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Video | Some Quirks of Owning a BMW E92 M3

I have been daily driving a 2012 BMW E92 M3 since February 2016. I purchased the car from CarMax and bought the now Doug-famous CarMax Warranty and let me tell you it was a life saver. That warranty saved me over $6,000 on one trip to the dealer. Darn valve spring.

Now that I’m approaching three years of ownership, I thought it would be a good time to detail a few of the quirks of owning my M3. Some of the quirks I will mention are known to non-owners, some are known only if you’ve ever owned a E92 M3, and one is something owners might not have thought of.

OEM Carbon Fiber Parts Do Not Match

I will start with the “quirk” of the BMW E92 M3 that most owners might not know of or even notice. It’s relatively well known that BMW E92 M3s have a carbon fiber roof, which was first released on the BMW E46 M3 GTR and E46 M3 CSL. The BMW E90 M3 sedan does not come with an available carbon fiber roof, which changed for the next generation of the 4-door M3 when both the 4-door BMW F80 M3 and the 2-door BMW F82 M4 both received a carbon fiber roof.

Now that you have some history of the carbon fiber roof, you need to know that the BMW E92 M3’s carbon fiber roof is made with a 1×1 carbon fiber weave.

M3 carbon fiber roof

BMW M Performance sells OEM aftermarket carbon fiber options for the E92 M3. You can purchase carbon fiber front splitters, carbon fiber mirror caps, and a carbon fiber spoiler direct from BMW. The quirk that E92 M3 owners may not even notice is that the OEM aftermarket carbon fiber options from BMW M Performance do not match the OEM carbon fiber roof. The roof is a 1×1 weave, while the BMW M Performance parts are made in a 2×2 weave.

M3 carbon fiber mirror caps

Sorry if you’re OCD, I may have just messed up your E92 M3 ownership — all because of a carbon fiber roof.

Unique Oil Weight

My next quirk deals with the M3’s blood — its oil. Not many outside of BMW M ownership know about the E92 M3 and its sedan and convertible kin requiring 10w-60 weighted oil. 10w-60 oil is not exactly something you can run to your local Walmart, Advance Auto or Autozone for. Owning my M3 for nearly 3 years, I have yet to find a bottle for sale anywhere in person not counting a BMW dealer. I personally buy it online or as part of oil change kits sold by many BMW tuner shops online such as ECS Tuning and Turner Motorsports. Along with the unique oil weight, the E92 M3 also needs a lot of oil: an oil change requires nearly nine liters of oil.

BMW originally recommended a Castrol specific oil formula, Castrol Edge Professional TWS, which was prominently placed on a sticker in E92 M3 engine bays. BMW’s recommendation changed through the years — and through marketing deals with Shell, a new bottle was recommended — a blue bottle named BMW M Twin Power.

M3 castrol oil bottle

If you followed the original Castrol formula like I do, the bottles also changed since the time the E92 M3 was new. The new bottle is branded as Castrol Edge Supercar. The Castrol Edge Supercar bottle itself has an Easter Egg on it. On the back the bottle states that it is approved for use in BMW M-Models as well as being approved for Koenigsegg engines. Clearly in good company then, eh?

M3 oil Koenigsegg oil

You have to register your battery

Many performance cars have engines that eat up every ounce of space in their engine bays. A combination of this lack of space and moving the weight around the car has the E92 M3’s battery located in the trunk — a location also shared with the base BMW 3 Series, the E90 M3 and the E93 M3.

The quirk with the battery is the red square battery device, which Alien-face-huggers itself around the top of the battery. This device in combination with the E92 M3’s ECU requires you to register batteries to the car when they are being replaced.

It can be done at home with the right DIY equipment. I personally did it with the Carly BMW Android application and a Bluetooth OBD adapter — but unless you have this, or an alternative, you may find yourself visiting a BMW dealer or independent shop just to register your battery.

There is not really a definite reason for registering the battery, but many owners claim on the forums that not registering your battery can open up your E92 M3 to electronic gremlins and issues, as well as problems with your battery overcharging or your battery draining.

No Dipstick

There is not one quirk that E92 M3 owners do not unite over hating more than the lack of a dipstick.

M3 engine bay

Oil in the E92 M3 is read through sensor and displayed electronically in two locations for the driver: Between the speedometer and the tachometer, as well as on a vehicle status screen on the iDrive system.

M3 engine gauges

The problem with having no physical dipstick is the M3’s thick 10w-60 oil takes time to warm up and cycle through the engine. The sensors do not read the oil level until being up to around 210 degrees.

There are some aftermarket dipstick options available, but the normal E92 M3 owner does not want to drill holes into or cut into their oil pan to weld on a dipstick. I know I don’t.

The Moving Redline and Cold Start

This quirk is less of a quirk and more of an interesting protective engineering feature.

The E92 M3 has a unique cold start up and a moving redline which will “unlock” the engines full ability to rev to 8,250 rpm once the engine is up to operating temperature. The moving redline behaves much like the BMW E60 M5, which was covered by Doug. Depending on temperature, the redline is initially limited to around 6,000 rpm and slowly unlocks along the way to its full potential. When my E92 M3 had its $6,000 valve spring issue, the car went into limp mode and the moving redline locked itself at around 4,000 rpm to protect the engine as much as it could.

The cold start up sequence is unique and is mainly used to warm up the E92 M3’s catalytic converters through a slightly higher idle, which produces an angrier start up which many E92 M3 owners love. One of my old exhaust comparison videos will give you an idea of the “louder” cold start up.

Agree with my five quirk choices? Are you an E92 M3 owner who thought I should have mentioned others? Leave them in the comments below, I would love to converse with you.

If you want to follow more content about my M3 be sure to follow me on Instagram.

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  1. Dunno if this is national or just specific to my city, but I’ve always been able to find Liqui-Moly 10W60 at my local NAPA store. They usually have a decent amount of it in stock at any given moment, so much so that I can do an impromptu oil change on an M-car on any day of the week.

    • Oh the good ol’ rod bearings.

      Depending on who you speak to they might recommend not starting your M3 every morning without changing your rod bearings. 

      I personally do a Blackstone Oil analysis with every oil change for some sort of piece of mind.

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Danny Korecki
Danny Korecki
Danny Korecki is an author specializing in new vehicles, car culture, and racing. Once upon a time Danny had a short stint in the video game industry, since then he has worked for a Fortune 500 financial company as an Analyst, but his true passion is in the automotive space. Danny's words, photos, or videos have been featured on or in countless car websites, car blogs, and car magazines. Danny... Read More about Danny Korecki

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