BMW M3 Tuning

"Thanks for reading my BMW M3 tuning tips."

The M3 is a good project car to execute. The key to M3 tuning is finding the right mods you can waste loads of money if you do it wrong.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Turning our attention to the engine we need to get a bit more power out of the top end.

Following our tips for tuning your M3 you will make a practical but sporty car that will potentially beat bigger cars.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Engine tuning mods.

Typically these performance parts are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you get going.

Getting the correct grade of performance upgrades for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport mods just won't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

Stage 1 mods: Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Alloy wheels, Remap, Sports exhaust.

Stage 2 mods: fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head, Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam.

Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam, Sports gearbox.

E30 generation (1986–1991)

BMW S14 four-cylinder engine, a high-revving DOHC

E36 generation (1992–1999)

6 Speed gearbox, engine capacity raised to 3.2

E90/E92/E93 generation (2007–2013)

S65 engine put out 414 bhp at 8,300 rpm and in 2008 a dual clutch 7 speed Getrag M DCT was added as an option.

F80 generation (2014–2018) 

BMW S55 twin-turbo straight-six replaced the V8 but power was raised to 444bhp.

You need to keep as much low end torque as you can and aim for a long power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power spike.

The point of our guides is to give a limited introduction of car tuning upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your customized car project, the best modified kits and all aspects of modding cars.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest torque gains for your money as far as a stand alone upgrades goes on a NASP engine.

It improves the intake and exhaust durations and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a remap. We'd also caution you not to go with a competition cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

Don't forget to ramp up the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

If you find you have flat spots and power surges after your modifications you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. To get sufficient fuel you may need to increase the injectors on your engine.

If you've uprated your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Induction kits will only help to add performance if your air intake is restricted!

We really love the Akrapovic exhaust systems for the V8 engines, we also highly rate Dinan and Corsa exhausts.

For most M3 engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter made from cotton gauze. Some of the air intake boxes out there really do help with top end power, it seems as though the BMW airboxes are restrictive. On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of needing cold air.

Sports exhausts equal out the flow of gases through the engine. But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Getting a professionally ported and polished head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. Your clutch can fail if it starts to suffer and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 46%. Fit an uprated clutch to avoid power losses through the transmission. The best mods we recommend for your M3 are Remapping or piggy back ecu, fast road cam and air intake and exhaust.

NASP engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give impressive power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block. The most phenomenal power gains for NASP engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Superchargers are usually easier to add than turbos. With a turbo the power curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it harder to map.

The nice proportional boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them simpler to map. Alternatively you could perhaps add water injection to minimise knock.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Many M3 owners uprate the handling of their cars with coilover suspension mods as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

We found that most M3 factory suspension setups need tweaking, a few degrees of toe out -0.8 to 1.3, and a little negative camber will usually improve your cornering and handling.

Drop the car by as much as 25mm - 38 mm and fit uprated stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

H&R offer a kit that works well with the BMW EDC. There is also a very nice coilover setup from KW.

It makes sense to uprate the braking as well, the M3 is a heavy car, especially with a V8 sitting at the front. Go with larger disks, that are vented but bear in mind that brake pad selection is critical here. Race pads will not warm up on the roads, some cheap street use pads will overheat and glaze so get a mid performance high friction pad that works well when cool.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are usually less heavy than the steel ones. Don't forget that your choice of rubber greatly affects your cars grip and handling. It is not worth compromising performance with cheap tyres when you can buy directional tread pattern performance tyres.Large M3 alloys can decrease performance. If you get big alloys you will be changing your final drive ratio.

With this in mind try to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the standard factory sizes. In all cases avoid going bigger than 18 inches. The 19's and over may look cool but they really upset the handling of this car.

There is a more updated version of this BMW M3 Tuning article on

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss M3 options in more detail with our M3 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased BMW tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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