Paul Cowland

Paul Cowland


Project Car Builds

Project 328 Part 4 – Oil Change

6 Jan , 2015  

Although my 328 has the kind of history that even Simon Sharma would find impressive, and has just been fully serviced, I’ve only gone and given it an oil change. There is method in my madness however, as you’ll find out!

Some things in life you can’t do too often I reckon. Bacon sandwiches, for example. Ringing home to Mum always seems to go down well, too… and then there’s changing the oil on your car. As the lifeblood of your engine, it really can’t be too clean and too frequently changed. Think of it as a transfusion for your pride and joy, and you’ll realise that, even with today’s impressive lubricant technology, frequent and over-zealous oil changing can only be a good thing for your motor.

The service record and supporting receipts for the 328 were an exemplum of the art of car care, and showed that the previous owner had not only been servicing the old girl on the button, but also using decent quality parts and lubricants to boot. Although there are a few parts of the car that feel a bit wobbly and woolly to my mind – the bushes being a great example here, the drivetrain on this car feels like brand new, with an exceptionally strong and smooth power delivery from the engine and a positive, if slightly notchy, gear-change action.

Keen to keep the E36 in the manner to which it had become accustomed, I decided to jump the gun a bit and bring the next oil service forward a bit… by a few thousand miles, to be precise. With a trip planned down to Gloucestershire specialists Litchfield Imports on the cards, to carry out a GT-R photo-shoot, I thought it might be a great time to have this work done at the same time.

Although Litchfield cut its teeth on Japanese sports and supercars, and is now Europe’s leading authority on the fire-breathing GT-R, it’s easy to forget that running throughout its impressive Japanese vehicle CV is an impressive level of commitment to the Blue Propeller. Boss Iain Litchfield has owned every single incarnation of the M3, and even has the new M4 in a high state of tune already. With such devotion to the marque, you know you’re leaving your car in good hands. It’s always nice to see that many of Litchfield’s accomplished spanner-wielders run E36s too, with a healthy selection of M3s and 328s in the staff car park.

My chosen engine elixir for this job would be an oil I’ve used many times before. It’s also been used to great effect in many of Litchfield’s 900+ bhp engine conversions, too. For that reason, I figured it would be fairly unstressed by the 328’s fairly paltry output. The oil in question is Synionic, and, as the name suggests it’s rather clever in that it uses the heat of the combustion process to bond the moving metal parts at an ionic level, honing and smoothing the microscopic imperfections in the machined surface in order to reduce internal friction. This is known as a ‘surface modifying’ oil and it also has a much higher film strength than normal lubricants, meaning that the oil is much less likely to break down under high temperatures and loads. It’s all very clever stuff, and if I’m honest, the full explanation would fill the rest of this feature, so if you’re really interested in what it’s all about, you’re probably best to hit up the company’s website. The summary version? If makes your car run smoother and cooler, and can take anything you throw at it… That’s all I needed to know!

The Litchfield team went into ‘race’ mode and made short work of draining the old oil out of both the engine and gearbox. Having run the car up to temperature first made this job an awful lot easier, of course! Having checked that all was well in the old lube (which it thankfully was!) the lads cleaned the sump plugs, fitted up a new filter and set about putting the new stuff back in again. I went for Synionic’s ‘Race Spec’ 5w/40 oil for the engine, as I’ve used it before in my own little track-spec Golf to great effect and 75w/90 for the transmission. It was great to see the care and attention taken over my old tub. I suppose that comes on working on exotica for most of the day! Almost everything else in there had wheels worth a lot more than my car!

Once the lads had the levels checked and all caps tightened up it was time to me to go out and see if this super slippy lubricant had made any difference to how the car felt. Last time I did this exercise; I swapped to Synionic in my similarly engined E38 728 and netted a few bhp on the dyno at THOR Racing in Coventry. Although we weren’t doing that precise kind of comparison this time, it was pretty clear to feel that the super-slippy oil had made the gearchange much more fluid in its action, even before I had got to the end of the road. Interestingly, after I had settled up and driven the long schlep home, the car’s engine also felt just a tiny bit smoother and quieter throughout the rev range, too. Possibly my imagination, but when two regular passengers mentioned it too, it does all make you start to wonder…

So that’s a very happy car and owner this month! A huge thanks to the ever-impressive Litchfield team – one well worth checking out if you’re even slightly near Gloucestershire, and of course, a big thumbs up to Synionic. Both are definitely ones to consider when it comes to your next service!

Until next time!

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