Tuning the BMW S54B32

"Comprehensive guide to performance parts and tuning the BMW S54B32 engine!"

Here we review and look at S54B32 tuning and provide tips on the ultimate upgrades. BMW S54B32 are fantastic to work on and with the optimum modified enhancements like remapping, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will greatly maximize your driving pleasure.

The best S54B32 mods on an engine are typically the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular S54B32 mods, 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 normally increase the power through the rev range, you might lose a little low down bhp but higher rpm power will improve.

Race camshafts, increase the higher 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 in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your engines power to your typical driving style so for a road car stick with a mild fast road S54B32 camshaft

Different S54B32 engines respond better to more aggressive cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The engine timing and fuelling also will make differences on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

Extending exhaust or intake 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: Fast road camshaft, Sports exhaust manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Panel air filters, Intake headers.

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

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

Plan your options and then buy your tuning mods and set yourself a power target to avoid wasting your time and money.

A remap helps to establish the full potential of all the modifications you've fitted to your S54B32.

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

Pulling more air into your S54B32 is the main goal to any engine modification job.

Air Intake manifolds take the air during the suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be sucked into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The shape and flow characteristics of the Plenum can make a substantial effect on to fuel engine efficiency on the S54B32.

On popular production engines headers are in desperate need of aftermarket tuning parts, although some manufacturers provide fairly well optimized headers.

Larger S54B32 valves, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also increase power, and as an added benefit will permit raising the power increase on other tuning parts.

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 S54B32

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

When an engine is fitted with a turbocharger mods are going to net you a larger power gain and you'll see that turbo engines are made with harder and stronger components.

There are weak spots for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some just sufficiently able to handle stock power

We recommend you find these restrictions and fit forged components to utilize the power.

We've seen mechanics spending a fortune on turbo charger upgrades on the S54B32 only to suffer the indignity of watching the car explode just after it's used on the roads.

Large capacity turbos will usually suffer a bottom end lag, and low capacity turbos spool up quickly but do not have the top end power band gains.

Thanks to progress the choice of turbos is always increasing and we commonly find variable vane turbos, allowing 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 flow these at differently designed vanes in the turbo. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there is a limitation in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the S54B32 when loads more air is being drawn into the engine.

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

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

Fuelling upgrades and mods

When you boost the bhp you will need to uprate to the fuel system.

More bhp needs more fuel. We would recommend you to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add another 20% when buying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and provides a little 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 should look to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you should find that 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.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow out of the engine but do not go too big or you could will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a better flowing performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Weak spots, Issues & common problem areas on the S54B32

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

Regular oil changes are vital on the S54, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

Overheating due to faults and problems in the cooling system have been reported.

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

History of the Engine

The S54 is not an upgraded M54 but instead has more in common with the S50 and was fitted to the Z3 and Z4 cars.

It boasted improvements over the S50 namely, VANOS, Siemens MSS54 ECU electronic throttle, a higher compression ratio and enhanced scavenging oil pump.

  • S54B32 3,246 cc 343 hp @7,900 rpm 269 lbft @4900 rpm 2000–2008
  • S54B32HP 3,246cc 265 kW (355 bhp), 370 Nm (273 lbft)

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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 guides and tips are kept up to date.

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