Tuning the BMW M88

"Comprehensive guide to tuning the BMW M88 engine!"

We often are seeing threads about the things we recommend when it comes to M88 modifications. So let us look into BMW M88 upgrades and outline the best mods that work on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

TorqueCars will review M88 tuning and provide tips on the best upgrades. BMW M88 great bases for a tuning project and with the best uprated tuning mods like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will certainly maximize your driving opportunities.

The ultimate M88 modifications on an engine are in our opinion the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular M88 modifications, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the M88 can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the power band and power output.

NB: Fast road camshafts usually raise the power throughout the rpm range, you could drop a little low down power but higher rpm power will be better.

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

In a daily driver you need to optimize your power band to your driving style.

I'd be shocked if you find a M88 Motorsport camshaft is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic.

Different M88 engines respond better to mild camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and injectors and fuel pump also will make differences on the bhp gains you'll hit.

A longer valve duration can alter the bhp 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.

M88 Tuning Stages

Stage 1 M88 modifications: Sports exhaust manifold, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Panel air filters, Intake headers, Fast road camshaft.

Stage 2 M88 modifications: induction kit, high flow fuel injectors, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head.

Stage 3 M88 modifications: Competition cam, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancing & blueprinting, Twin charging conversions, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves).

Carefully think through your options and then source your mods and set yourself a power target to void expensive mistakes.

A remap helps fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've done to your M88.

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but the outcome will differs on the parts you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

It is the aim to any car tuning task to pull fuel and air into the M88 engine

Intake headers take the air from the intake filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The bore size, shape and flow rate of the Air Intake manifolds can make a large improvement to fuel mixing and power on the M88.

We often see headers are in dire need of a performance upgrade, although some OEM provide decently flowing headers.

Larger M88 valves, getting 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also lift performance, and significantly will give you raising the performance increase on other modifications.

Turbo upgrades for the M88

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 M88

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 the engine is fitted with a turbocharger parts are relatively easy and you will discover turbocharged engines are made using uprated components.

However most engines will have power limits

We recommend you find these restrictions and upgrade to better quality crank and pistons to survive the power.

We've seen guys spending a lots of money on turbo charger upgrades on the M88 only to watch the engine block literally blow up when it's been completed.

Large capacity turbo chargers will usually suffer low end lag, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but don't have the peak end engines power gains.

Over the last 20 years the selection of turbo chargers is always moving on and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

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

It is common that there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the M88 when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting power at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large performance gains, although more challenging to install. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.

Uprating M88 fuel injectors

Don't miss you'll need to improve the fuel system when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. It makes sense to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add 20% capacity when fitting an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and affords a bit of spare capacity should the engine need 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 M88 performance exhausts

You may need to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is creating a flow problem.

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

Do not go with the largest exhaust you can get you'll reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Usual exhaust restrictions are in the catalysts installed, so adding a freer flowing sports alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Problems and issues to look out for on the M88

The M88 engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

Regular oil changes are vital on the M88, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

For more information on Tuning your M88 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our M88 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 upgrades were the most effective for them, it helps us improve our recommendations and articles to reflect current trends in modifications and ensures that our M88 guides and tips are kept up to date.

Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...


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