Step by step instructions with pictures
Audi recommends changing the engine oil in the R8 only every 10,000 miles (approx. 15,000 km) except for the initial oil change at 5,000 miles. I prefer to change it more frequently than that. For one I track my car a lot, which does stress the engine. But also some mechanic friends of mine say that even the best filters can’t keep the small dirt particles out for that length of time, and dirt causes engine wear. I’ve been changing oil in all my cars around 4,000 miles. I’ve tracked my NSX really hard for about 6 years; it’s got 140,000 miles on it and the original engine still runs flawlessly. So, I’ve decided to change the R8’s oil every 5,000 miles. I’ll have to change it once between each scheduled service. Shouldn’t be too tough, right?
Wrong. The R8 has a dry sump engine so there's no deep oil pan with a single drain plug. There are 3 drain plugs in the engine and another in the big oil reservoir, and you have to remove the large plastic noise/aero covers under the car to get access to it all. You need some special tools to really do it correctly. I just changed it for the first time, and it was by far the most difficult oil change I’ve ever done. Here’s some notes and pictures to help you, if you decide to take this on.
R8 Oil and Oil Filter Change
What parts do I need?
- New filter element, Audi part 079-198-405-B, $23.47 USD recently for me at the dealer.
- 10 Liters (or 10.6 quarts) of oil. It needs to meet VW502 spec. Audi has published a list of approved oils, and that list is very long. There are many oils that meet the spec that do not say so on the bottle, including Mobil 1. Here is a link to Audi’s list: https://www.audiusa.com/content/dam/...e-Bulletin.pdf
What tools do I need?
- 32 MM socket to remove the oil filter cover.
- T-30 Torx tool to remove the screws holding on the plastic noise/aero covers under the car.
- 8 MM triple square drive tool to remove 3 plugs from the oil pan. I have an XZN socket set, and this tool is labeled XZN8M. You can remove 2 of the 3 oil pan plugs using this standard 8 MM tool. To remove the 3rd plug, you need a special Audi/VW tool T40159. See more info on this tool later in this thread.
- 12 MM triple square drive tool to remove the plug from the oil reservoir, XZN12M. Alternatively, you can use an 18 MM socket, but it’s more difficult to use that because it’s bigger and there is not much room for it due to the hydraulic clutch line going in to the transmission there.
- A small torque wrench if you really want to be sure to re-tighten the plugs to the exact proper tightness.
- Ramps or a lift or maybe jack stands to lift the car.
- A large pan to drain the oil into.
- Oil-proof gloves and a lot of paper towels.
Changing the Filter
This is the easy part. Lift the engine cover, and then remove the small center trim piece that says “V8 FSI” by lifting it straight up. Use a big 32 MM socket on an extension to unscrew the filter cover.
The filter canister automatically drains when you remove the filter, but have some paper towels ready because the filter drips oil as you remove it. To replace the filter element, first yank the old one out of the cap. Then remove and replace the big o-ring (#2 in the picture) on the cap. Clean the sealing surfaces on the cap and canister, being careful not to let any gunk get into the canister. Lubricate the new o-ring with some oil. Insert the new filter into the canister (not into the cap!), turning it until that bottom outlet and o-ring (#4 in the picture) goes into the matching hole in the canister. Press it down firmly. Then screw on the cover until it seats firmly. That’s all.
Changing the Oil
The service manual instructs that the engine should be at “operating temperature” before changing the oil. So, run the engine until the oil temperature rises to normal. Don’t you just love working on a hot engine?
Next, get the car off the ground but still be near-level. I have a slight hill in my driveway, so I backed the car up on ramps there and it worked acceptably. A lift would be better as there is not much room up under the oil pan. Next, use the T-30 Torx tool to remove the 2 (#1 and #2 below) air scoops and the entire rear noise cover (#3). The service manual says to also remove the front noise cover (#4) but you don’t need to; it’s sufficient to remove just the 5 closest screws on it and pull the edge of it down a bit when you need to. Remember to keep track of where you removed which screws; some of them have shoulders, others have special washers, others have thread locking compound on them, and the rest are plain. Also note that the 2 scoops are different from each other and must later be remounted in the proper location. Lots of fun!
Also, you should remove the oil fill cap before draining the oil, so there is good air flow in to allow the oil to flow out quickly.
So at this point, you would see something like this:
Now it’s time to drain the engine oil. There are 3 drain plugs on the oil pan, clearly marked with large arrows:
Use the 8MM triple square drive tool to remove the plugs and drain the oil. Just position a large catch pan under the plug, grab some paper towels, and have at it. Be careful not to lose those special copper washers on the plugs. There’s about 4 liters of oil in the engine itself. This is where I ran into a problem. There is very little room for the tool on the one plug that is very close to that red frame member. It’s so close that my socket type 8MM tool would not work. To get that plug out, you need just the right special tool. The Audi service manual says to use Socket T40159. So for my first oil change, I didn’t remove that 3rd plug. Later when I refilled the car with oil, it still took the full 10 liters to fill it, so apparently there is not a lot of oil left once you drain the engine using only the other 2 plugs. Afterward I checked with my local Audi R8 technician, and he pointed me to the proper tool. SEE T40159 TOOL INFO LATER IN THIS THREAD. When you replace the plugs, don’t over tighten them. They were not super tight; the service manual specifies 20Nm = 14 ft-lbs.
Now drain the oil from the oil reservoir tank. It’s the aluminum tank between the transmission and the left rear wheel, above the starter motor:
WARNING – you strike the mother lode of oil when you remove that plug! About 6 liters comes gushing out very quickly. Make sure your catch pan is empty and big enough to hold it all, and get ready to have your hand covered with (hot) oil. Latex or Nitril gloves are recommended. Use the 12MM triple square drive tool, or an 18MM standard socket. Go for it! Retighten the plug to only 22Nm = 15 ft-lbs.
OK, time to clean up a bit. Grab some soapy cleaner spray, and clean up the clutch line and the big ground wire from the starter motor that just got covered with oil under the reservoir. Also clean the bottom of the oil pan. It all should look at least as clean as it was when you got there.
Now you’re ready to button it up. As they say, installation is a reverse of removal. Replace all the covers and screws (you kept track of where the special ones went, right?) and scoops.
Back up on the top side, pour 10 liters (or 10.6 quarts) of oil into the oil fill location under the oil cap. Start the car and let it warm up until the oil temp needle is horizontal (normal operating temperature). Then turn off the car and wait 2 minutes. Then check the oil level using the dipstick there next to the oil cap. It should be in the “do not add” range; if not, add more until it is. The car should be level when you do this.
That’s it. A nice feeling – happy car, happy driver.
Here's a link to a Microsoft Word format document with this info (441 KB).