Tuning the BMW N57

"Comprehensive guide to performance tuning the BMW N57 engine!"

Herein we outline options for your N57 tuning and outline the ultimate modifications for your car. BMW N57 make awesome project engines and with the right sports tuning mods like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will definitely maximize your driving experience.

The best N57 modifications on an engine are as we have found the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular N57 modifications, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the N57 can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the engines power and power output.

NB: Fast road camshafts normally increase the torque through the rev range, you could drop a little bottom end torque but your high end rpm power will improve.

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

A Competition camshaft makes it harder when driving around busy urban areas.

You should ideally optimize your bhp range to your driving style so for a car driven daily stick with a mild fast road N57 camshaft

Each engine responds better to more or less aggressive camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and fuelling also have an effect on the bhp gains you'll make.

Longer 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.

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

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

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

Plan your options and then buy your parts and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

ECU mapping will help fully realize the full potential of all the tuning mods you've fitted to your N57.

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

It is the main goal to any car tuning job to feed more air into your N57

Headers transmit the air during the suck phase from the air filter and allow it to be sucked into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The bore size, shape and flow characteristics of the Intake can make a large change to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the N57.

It's not uncommon that air intake manifolds are in dire need of performance upgrades, although a few manufacturers provide well optimised air intake manifolds.

Increasing the N57 valve size, doing a bit of port work and head flowing will also raise power, the fantastic side effect is it will afford you increasing the power increase on other tuning mods.

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 N57

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

If the engine is turbo charged parts are more reliable and most turbocharged engines are built with many forged and stronger components.

However most engines have weakspots

Research these restrictions and fit better pistons and crank to survive the power.

There are many car owners spending a lots of money on turbocharger upgrades on the N57 only to suffer the indignity of watching the whole thing catastrophically fail on it's first outing after it's first rolling road session.

Big upgraded turbos tend to experience no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbos spool up quickly but don't have the top end torque gains.

Thanks to new tech the choice of turbos is always improving and we commonly find variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into two channels and direct these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there is a restriction in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the N57 when considerably more air is being pulled into the engine.

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

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although more challenging to configure. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling upgrades and mods

When you increase the bhp you will need to increase to the fuel system.

More bhp needs more fuel. It makes sense to over specify your injectors flow rate.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and allows some 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.

Exhaust upgrades and mods

You may need to improve your exhaust if your current exhaust is actually creating a restriction.

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.

Sports exhausts increase the flow of air through the engine.

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

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

Weak spots, Issues & common problem areas on the N57

The N57 engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

Regular oil changes are vital on the N57, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

History of the Engine

The N57 is a turbocharged straight six and delivers power like a large V8 NASP in a steady linear manner.

201 hp @ 4000 (332 lbft) @ 1750-2500

242 hp @ 4000 (398 lbft) @ 1750-3000

  • 2008-2013 BMW 3 Series E90/E91/E92/E93 330d/330xd
  • 2010-2011 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 530d
  • 2009- BMW 5 Series GT F07 530d GT/530d xDrive GT
  • 2008-2012 BMW 7 Series F01/F02 730d/730Ld
  • 2010-2013 BMW X5 E70 xDrive30d
  • 2010-2014 BMW X6 E71 xDrive30d

254 hp @ 4000 (413 lbft) @ 1500-3000

  • 2011-2016 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 530d
  • 2011- BMW X3 F25 xDrive30d
  • 2012-2019 BMW 3 Series F30/F31 330d
  • 2012-2015 BMW 7 Series F01/F02 730d/730Ld

302 hp @ 4400  (443 lbft) @ 1500-2500

  • 2010-2011 BMW 5 Series F10/SF11 535d
  • 2009-2017 BMW 5 Series GT F07 535d GT/535d xDrive GT
  • 2009-2015 BMW 7 Series F01 740d/740d xDrive
  • 2010-2013 BMW X5 E70 xDrive40d
  • 2010-2014 BMW X6 E71 xDrive40d

309 hp @ 4400  (465 lbft) @ 1500-2500

  • 2011-2016 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 535d
  • 2011-2018 BMW 6 Series F12/F13 640d
  • 2011- BMW X3 F25 xDrive35d
  • 2013-2019 BMW 3 Series F30/F31 335d
  • 2014- BMW 4 Series F32/F33/F36 435d
  • 2014- BMW X4 F26 X4 xDrive35d
  • 2015- BMW X6 F16 X6 xDrive40d

376 hp @ 4000-4400  (546 lbft) @ 2000-3000

  • 2012-2017 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 M550d xDrive
  • 2012-2015 BMW 7 Series F01 750d xDrive
  • 2012-2015 BMW 7 Series F01 750Ld xDrive
  • 2012-2013 BMW X5 E70 M50d
  • 2012-2014 BMW X6 M50d

Tuning the BMW N57 and best N57 performance parts.

For more information on Tuning your N57 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our N57 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased 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 tuning 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 N57 guides and tips are kept up to date.

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