Tuning the BMW N13

"Comprehensive guide to performance parts and tuning the BMW N13 engine!"

The BMW N13 provide a fun base for your project and with the optimum modified enhancements like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will certainly improve your driving opportunities.

Let us review N13 tuning and outline the premier modifications for your car.

The best N13 modifications on an engine are usually the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular N13 modifications, they need to be cost effective.

The cam profile plays a big part in the engines power output so cam upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake and exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen cam profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for cam upgrades.

NB: Fast road camshafts usually bump the power throughout the rpm band, you may lose a little bottom end bhp but the top end will improve.

Motorsport camshafts, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport and race camshaft will just annoy you whilst in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your power band to your preferences so for a car driven daily stick with a shorter duration N13 camshaft

Each engine responds better to extreme camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The ecu map and fuelling also will say much on the bhp gains you'll get.

Altering valve durations 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.

Best N13 Tuning Modifications & Upgrades

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N13 Guide to the best tuning mods & Upgrades

  1. ECU Tuning & Remapping

    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. Some cars may require a piggyback ECU's or aftermarket ECU's to change the OEM map

  2. Strengthening to your Engine

    Tuned cars will show up weak spots manifest as a fault this is usually the turbochargers, a clutch and other internal engine components. Most engines can cope with mild tuning mods, TorqueCars recommend that you upgrade the internal components before these problem areas show up.

  3. Modifications to Remove Restrictions

    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 Fuel Delivery

    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 Improve Airflow

    Increasing the air supply is just as essential as improving fuelling, we suggest you look at engine 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.

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

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

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

The N13 engines make great tuning projects and we're happy to report there is a lot of parts and tuning parts around.

Mapping should help to release the full potential of all the tuning mods you've fitted to your N13.

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 tuning mods you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

It is the main goal to any car tuning project to pull air into your N13

The intake plenum take the air during the suck phase from the air filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

Structure and flow characteristics of the Air Intake manifolds can make a substantial effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the N13.

Many mass produced engine intake are improved through motorsport parts, although some OEM provide reasonably well designed intake.

Larger N13 valves, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also boost torque, & more importantly will allow you to get a better torque increase on other upgrades.

Turbo upgrades

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 N13

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 a car is turbo charged modifications are simpler to install and we find turbo engines will have harder and stronger components.

However you'll find engines will have power limits

Discover these restrictions and fit stronger pistons, crank and engine components to cope with the power.

We've seen drivers spending a fortune on turbo charger upgrades on the N13 only to watch the motor throw a rod on it's first outing after it's first rolling road session.

Big turbo chargers tend to experience low end lag, and small turbo chargers spool up more quickly but won't have the peak end power band gains.

We are pleased that the selection of turbochargers is always evolving and we now see variable vane turbochargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and feed these at differently designed vanes in the turbo. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is not unusual that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on the N13 when loads more air is being sucked into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp and torque at a much lower level.

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

Fuelling upgrades and mods

Don't dismiss the need improve the fuelling when you are increasing the bhp and torque - it makes the car more thirsty. It is important to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when specifying 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.

Exhaust upgrades and mods

You should look to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is actually creating a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find your 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.

Please dont run with the largest exhaust you can buy you'll slow the exhaust rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

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

Weak spots, Issues & common problem areas on the N13

The N13 engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

Regular oil changes are vital on the N13, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

There have been factory recalls for failing HPFP (high pressure fuel pumps) in the N13 engines.

Carbon build up has been noted, and we recommend a good regular thrash with some BG fuel cleaner to keep on top of things.

History of the N13 Engine

Jointly developed with the PSA group we have the N13 engine, a turbocharged unit available in a few power versions.

It was produced from 2011 to 2016 and was BMW's first recent 4 cylinder turbocharged petrol engine since the early 1970's

See the PSA prince tuning article for more on this engine.

The Mini had an N14 and N18 version of this engine fitted.

75 kW version

  • 2012–2015 F20 114i

101 kW version

  • 2011–2015 F20 116i
  • 2012–2015 F30 316i

125 kW version

  • 2011–2015 F20 118i
  • 2012–2015 F30 320i ED

130 kW version

  • 2015-2016 F20 120i

For more information on Tuning your BMW engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss N13 tuning options in more detail with our N13 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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We really like hearing from our readers, and hearing about which parts were the most effective for them, it helps us improve our recommendations and articles to reflect current trends in modifications and ensures that our guides and tips are kept up to date.

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