E90 E92 E93 M3: What you need to know

The S65 V8 power unit found in the E9X M3 chassis is the successor to the almighty inline six S54 found in the previous generation E46 M3 – and it’s a lot more powerful. The naturally aspirated engine is also the latest and probably the last of the NA engines in BMW’s M heritage as they moved on to forced induction-based power units. If you are a owner, you have one of the best sounding BMW M3’s ever built and with proper maintenance, the S65 isn’t all that bad to maintain.

We did a complete maintenance guide for the E46 M3 a while ago and we’re going to do the same guide for the E9X M3. If you have an E46 M3, you might want to bookmark this page: E46 M3 Ultimate Maintenance Guide and Schedule

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Reset On-Board Computer

The on-board computer controls and displays several service features for your E90 E92 E92 M3. It is a secondary display that cross-functions with the DME to read out values but also can be used to change some settings such as resetting service intervals. There’s even a “hidden menu” that you can access! The mileage logged on the OBC determines when to flash a service warning at you via iDrive or gauge cluster lights.

Follow the procedure below to reset your service intervals on the OBC:

  1. Insert key fob or use Comfort Access then press "Start" once - do not start engine
  2. Depress brake pedal and hold the odometer reset button on the bottom left of your gauge cluster until the yellow triangle appears on the mini display
  3. Use the scroll wheel on the left hand turn stalk and select an icon to reset e.g. oil icon for oil service internal reset
  4. Press the "BC" button on the same turn signal stalk
  5. Click "BC" to choose Reset
  6. Press and hold "BC" for a few seconds
E92 M3 GTS Interior

E90 E92 E93 Basic Maintenance Schedule

The factory recommended service interval from BMW is listed below, however it is very important to note the factory oil change interval of 15,000 is considered pretty long and most owners change their oil a lot sooner. We’ll detail more below why it’s important to change the oil sooner, but long story short, the S65 has the same rod bearing tolerance and wear issues as the S54 so oil degradation can cause premature failure to your rod bearings especially if not driven after proper warm up procedures.

We recommend changing the oil every 7,500 miles or even 5,000 miles as your mileage gets higher towards the rod bearing service interval. So with that said, you can follow your own maintenance procedures for the engine oil and filter. Keep in mind, the harder to drive, the faster you should replace. Especially if your engine sees a lot of track time.

MilesEngine Oil & FilterDiff FluidTrans Fluid (MT)MicrofilterSpark PlugCoil PacksIntake FilterBrake FluidPower Steering FluidO2 SensorVehicle Check

Recommended Parts for Regular Maintenance

Oil Change Kit

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I use the LIQUI MOLY Synthoil Race Tech GT1 10W-60 on both my S65 E92 M3 and S54 E46 M3. You’re gonna hear a lot of mixed reviews about this product, but I’ll tell you I have 190k miles on my E46 M3 with a lot of hard track miles and my engine is still running very strong.

Oil Additives

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To be used occasionally during oil changes, CERATEC is a friction modifier which helps our rod bearings stay lubricated. Especially important because the S65 does have rod bearing issues similar tot he S54 on the E46 M3. Before your next oil change, pour in the ENGINE FLUSH, idle and drain the oil, do the oil change, then finally top off the engine with some CERATEC. Check out our review we did with the LIQUI MOLY MoS2 friction modifier.

Spark Plugs

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This is the spark plug I use on my S65 E92 M3 even with the ESS Tuning G1 supercharger kit. They are a reputable company and this is a direct replacement for the Bosch spark plugs (BMW P/N 12120032273) that come from factory. They come pre-gapped and allows you to retain the factory knock sensor system which is very important.

Ignition Coil Packs

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Bad coil packs will cause cylinder misfire followed by CEL codes. Why? Coil packs are responsible for delivering power to ignite your spark plugs. These are recommended to replace around 60k miles of use. If you’re getting codes for misfire, before you automatically go to replace your spark plugs, try moving around the coil packs from the problem bank to another to see if the code follows. If it does, you know it’s the coil packs.

Differential Oil

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Same as the Castrol “SAF-XJ” differential fluid and includes a friction modifier. Name of the product was rebranded to Syntrax. You’re probably asking me, don’t I need the FM booster? Let me clear this up as brief as possible. The “SAF-XJ+FM” has been a subject brought up all over the forums and internet because of users complaining about grinding sounds on full lock so BMW made the SAF-XJ+FM which just has more of the same friction modifier that the old one had. This pleases 90% of the street driven customers, however, this also causes problems on the track because too much friction modifier or “FM” can cause LSD to slip which is what a performance LSD should not be doing. TLDR: try the Syntrax, if you really don’t like grinding noises add a bit of off-the-shelf friction modifier. If you track, Syntrax will be just fine.

Transmission Fluid

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So far I’ve only done one transmission fluid change on the E92 M3 6 speed and I used the Red Line MT-90 which is a little thicker than the Red Line MTL but so far no issues even at cold startups. Every gear shifts super crisp. I’m very happy and haven’t thought about replacing the fluid.

Recommended Parts for Mandatory Maintenance

Rod Bearing

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You know this was coming. This can not be treated lightly and must be done as a preventative maintenance, not a reactive maintenance, because your engine can detonate. There’s no documented life expectancy from BMW because it highly depends on how you maintain and drive your car, but the community best practice is to shoot for the 80k mile mark. There’s a lot of debate on which type of bearings to get, but if it were me I would get BE simply because it has around .0024″ tolerance which is slightly larger than OEM spec. Is that the root cause of the issue? No one knows. The one thing I can tell you is that oil change and maintenance is the most important part. Which ever bearing you get, they will all wear. Do frequent oil changes, no cold start high revs, and make sure your installer knows how to properly install and torque the rod bolts to spec. Oh yeah, BE also is made with industry standard lead-copper so you can track wear with oil analysis samples.

Throttle Actuators

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VDO Throttle Actuators

Throttle Actuators are responsible for mechanically opening and closing the throttle so if it’s broken, you’re gonna be left stranded and on a flat bed back to a shop. The weak point inside the actuator are 2 things: plastic gears and electronics. The most common are the weak plastic gears which break over time. There are solutions to go with metal gears, however there is still a chance that your electronics are going to fail so it’s always recommended to replace the entire unit – both sides. We recommend the factory-supplier VDO for replacement actuators.