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R100GS Oil Filter Installation

OK, listen up! The picture above shows the parts that come from BMW in the oil filter change kit. I use everything in the kit except the paper gasket (the triangular gray gasket on the left in the picture above) and the small copper washers that I've heard are for use with the thermostat housing on other BMWs. I install an oil filter in my R100GS by inserting the parts from right to left as they are shown in the photo. That translates to first the filter (the end with the glued on o-ring goes in first), then TWO steel shims, then the white o-ring, then the black o-ring in the filter canister cover, then the cover itself. I'm careful not to let either the white or black o-rings slip out when positioning the oil filter canister cover. This strategy has worked for the last 125,000 miles, the bike doesn't leak, and the oil pressure light never comes on when the engine's running. Having said that, though, I'm told by reputable sources that other GS bikes, and other BMWs that use oil coolers, don't use the same parts in the same order. The most controversial aspect of the filter change is whether or not you're going to use the paper gasket that fits between the oil filter canister cover and the engine case. Some folks say to never use the gasket, as it moves the oil filter canister cover away from the end of the oil canister, decreasing compression of the white "O" ring, possibly allowing high pressure oil to leak back into annulus between the canister and the engine case, returning to the sump without first lubricating the motor (the canister is what makes the shelf around the outside of the oil filter, about 3 mm from the end of the oil filter opening). Obviously, this could lead to engine failure, and I've communicated with one person that has had this happen. My own take on this, for my own GS, the dimensions of which may differ considerably from yours, is to use two steel shims and not the paper gasket. I determined that two steel shims were necessary by measuring the distance between the oil canister lip and the outer surface of the engine case. Under no circumstances will I use the paper gasket. For a detailed discussion of this issue, see this web page by Snowbum.

My GS came to me from the original owner with the paper gasket and steel shim in place. My understanding is that the bike was always serviced by a BMW dealer. Granted, this is second hand information, but if true, it means that BMW dealers are using the paper gasket when they replace oil filters. I've also communicated with Jhed Webster, BMWNA's west coast warranty arbitrator, who said the "official" take is to use the steel shim and the paper gasket. So your mileage may vary! The best recommendation I can make is to refer to this page and make the measurements needed to determine which parts you should use to get the correct compression on that white o-ring. When I followed those directions I found that the canister depth was 4.2mm. By using two steel shims and NO paper gasket, the gap for the white o-ring goes to 3.6mm, well within the 3.1mm to 3.8mm BMW recommends.

For this '93 R100GS, here's how it goes: There's a black square section "O" ring attached to one end of the filter. That end goes in first when you install the filter. Next goes the steel ring, which sets on the little shelf created by the end of the oil canister inside the engine case. I always check to make sure that the old shim has been removed before installing a new one. On top of the steel ring goes the white "O" ring, the one that is round in cross section. Now put the black "O" ring, the one with the rectangular cross section, into the groove in the underside of the oil filter canister cover. That's the thing with the two pipes that go to the oil cooler. A drop or two of oil helps hold this "O" ring in place. Push the oil filter door down onto the oil filter, and you should feel some resistance before it bottoms out on the engine case. That means the "O" rings are being compressed, and that's a good thing. Start the three screws into the oil filter door by hand, then use an allen wrench to draw them up a little at a time, working from one to the next until the door is flat against the case. Give each one a final twist up to the proper torque (go 'till they strip, then back off half a turn, er, no, just kidding!).

Don't forget to fill the bike with oil when you're done!