Tuning the BMW M10

"Comprehensive guide to performance tuning the BMW M10 engine!"

We often are seeing threads inquiring about getting more power from the M10 and wanting to know what are the premier M10 mods that work. So let us look into BMW M10 modifications and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some common pitfalls along the way.

The BMW M10 great bases for a tuning project and with the optimum tuning mods like a remap, turbo improvements and camshafts you will greatly increase your driving experience.

Here we provide a guide to M10 tuning and provide tips on the best modifications for your car.

When talking about the greatest parts for your M10 engine, we are going to focus on the ones that give the best value for money.

Altering your M10 camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the bhp accordingly.

NB: Fast road cams commonly bump the performance across the rpm band, you may sacrifice a little low end torque but higher rpm power will be higher.

Race cams, bump the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

In a car used daily you need to match your power band to your cars usage.

I'd never have ever thought a M10 Motorsport cam is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic.

Different M10 engines respond better to different cam durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuelling also have a large bearing on the torque gains you'll achieve.

Altering valve durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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Guide to the best M10 tuning mods & Upgrades

  1. ECU Map Tuning & Remaps

    Some cars may require a piggyback ECU's or aftermarket ECU's to change the OEM map, but remapping is the most vital step of your tuning project to fully maximise your mods. Expect 10-20% on NASP engines and 30-40% on turbocharged units.

  2. Strengthen Your Engine

    Tuned cars will show up weaknesses, typically in the turbochargers, clutch and internal engine components. Whilst most engines can cope with mild tuning mods, TorqueCars recommend that you upgrade the internal components before these weak spots manifest themselves.

  3. Mods that Remove a Restriction

    A restricted intake or exhaust will have an impact on your performance, so use a better flowing air filter/induction kit and better flowing exhaust (sports cats where legal are a good option) whenever your tuning creates a flow restriction. Turbo engines also benefit from intercooler upgrades as these resist heat soak for longer periods of time.

  4. Mods that Improve Fuelling

    Every tuning project will aim to increase the air supply, but fuel supply is just as vital and will need to match the air the engine can utilise,  a fuel pump and injector upgrade are usual mods, but also in many cases the fuel regulator will need improvement.

  5. Mods to Provide better Airflow

    Increasing the air supply is just as essential as improving fuelling, we suggest you look at head mods (flowing and porting, 5 angle valve jobs), fit bigger valves, fast road cams and forced induction upgrades (adding a better flowing turbo) to improve air intake.

M10 Tuning Stages

Stage 1 M10 modifications: Fast road camshaft, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Intake headers, Panel air filters, Sports exhaust manifold.

Stage 2 M10 modifications: Ported and polished head, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Fast road cam, induction kit, high flow fuel injectors, fuel pump upgrades.

Stage 3 M10 modifications: Competition cam, Engine balancing & blueprinting, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Twin charging conversions, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

The M10 engines respond well to upgrades and we see that there are increasing numbers of mods and performance parts out there.

ECU mapping will help release the full potential of all the parts you've done to your M10.

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but power output often vary depending on the parts you've done and the condition of your engine.

It is the aim to any car tuning job to feed air and fuel into each cylinder

Headers take the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and rate of flow of the Intake headers can make a noticeable change to fuel mixing and power on the M10.

Many mass produced engine intake manifold are crying out for aftermarket tuning parts, although a few makers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

Fitting big valve kits, carrying out M10 port enlargement and head flowing will also boost bhp and torque, the fantastic side effect is it will give you an improved bhp and torque increase on other parts.

Turbo upgrades for the M10

NASP engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your M10

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes excellent power gains.

When your motor has forced induction modifications are relatively easy and you will discover turbocharged engines already contain many forged and stronger components.

However every engines will need better parts at higher power limits

We recommend you find these limits and upgrade to forged components to utilize the power.

There are many guys spending a loads of money on turbo charger upgrades on the M10 only to experience the engine catastrophically fail when it's been completed.

Big upgraded turbo chargers commonly experience a bottom end lag, and little turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but do not have the peak rpm bhp gains.

Thankfully the range of turbochargers is always increasing and we now see variable vane turbochargers, allowing the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into two channels and flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on the M10 when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting bhp and torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp gains, although harder to setup. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Uprating M10 fuel injectors

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to ramp up the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a torque increase.It is important to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

As a rule of thumb add 20% when buying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and allows a little spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

Best M10 performance exhausts

You only need to to replace your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust flow rate is still fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts balance the flow of gases through the engine.

But if your exhaust is too large, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of your flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Common exhaust restrictions come around the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a faster flowing race alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Problems and issues to look out for on the M10

The M10 engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

Regular oil changes are vital on the M10, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

For more information on Tuning your M10 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our M10 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

We need your help to complete and improve this page, so do give us your feedback in the comments box below.

We really like hearing from our readers, and hearing about which modifications were the most effective for them, it helps us improve our recommendations and articles to reflect current trends in modifications and ensures that our M10 guides and tips are kept up to date.

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