Modding uprating the BMW N53 engine!

Everything You Need To Know About "N53 Modifications"

How to modify and upgrade the BMW N53

"Comprehensive guide to performance parts and tuning the BMW N53 engine!"

Our friends at TorqueCars are always getting emails requesting information on how to improve the N53 from people wanting to know what are the things tuners are recommending when it comes to N53 power upgrades. So let us look into BMW N53 upgrades and outline the best upgrades on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

The BMW N53 great bases for a tuning project and with the ultimate uprated mods like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will definitely maximize your driving experience.

This pages aim is review and look at N53 tuning and outline the ultimate modifications for your car.

The best N53 tuning mods on an engine are obviously the ones that give the best gains for your money.

We won't be swayed by popular N53 tuning mods, they need to be cost effective.

N53 induction kits

Improving air intake on the N53

You need air matched to fuel for an engine to work. If there is too little fuel then it will run lean, if there is a lack of air it runs rich resulting in lost power which risks damage to the N53. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So Forcing more fuel and air into each cylinder is the whole point to any performance tuning task.

It is not unusual that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the N53 when loads more air is being sucked into the engine.

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

Intake headers transmit the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The bore size, shape and flow rate of the Headers can make a large improvement to fuel mixing and power on the N53.

Most plenum chambers are in desperate need of aftermarket parts, although a few OEM provide well optimised plenum chambers.

Adding a N53 larger valve kit, getting port work and head flowing will also improve torque, & importantly will afford you a better torque increase on other tuning parts.

N53 performance cam tips.

Each engine responds better to different cam durations than others.

The engine timing and fuelling also have an effect on the power gains you'll make.

Altering valve durations can alter the power 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.

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 power band gains are on offer for cam upgrades.

NB: Fast road camshafts tend to increase the bhp and torque over the rev range, you could sacrifice a little low end bhp but the high end rpm power will be lifted.

Race 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 Race cam is not great in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your bhp range to your cars usage so for a daily driver stick with a shorter duration N53 cam

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the N53

Before we break the best tuning upgrades down into stages of tune, let's list the most effective tuning upgrades for you.

  1. Suspension Upgrades - always improve your cars handling
  2. Brake Upgrades - Even before adding power improve those brakes
  3. Intake - make sure the intake is not restricted, use filters and intake upgrades to improve this
  4. Exhaust - as with 3 ensure there is not restriction in the exhaust, cats are the usual bottleneck
  5. Tunes - remapping, piggyback ECU's and aftermarket ECU's can all make decent gains
  6. Fuelling - when you've increased power you'll need to match this with more fuel
  7. Turbo upgrades - Improving the intake with a large turbo and better flowing intercooler will be the biggest power gain you'll see (but one of the most complex).

This video guide to tuning cars is a great starting point to work from in your project.

Stage 1 N53 parts:

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

Stage 2 N53 parts:

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

Tuning tips and articles Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Stage 3 N53 parts:

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

Review your options and then buy your tuning parts and set yourself a power target to save yourself from expensive mistakes.

Remaps helps fully realize the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your N53.

You will typically expect to see gains of approximately 20-30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but figures achieved usually vary depending on the upgrades you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the N53

To get a turbo working on a NASP engine there is a lot involved, from lowering compression ratio to improved fuel supply and mapping, so we have found a great guide to helpavoid the common pitfalls or end up with an unfinished project because you were not told what you were getting into by doing this on the N53.

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

If a car has forced induction upgrades are going to net you a larger power gain and you'll see that turbocharged engines are built with better components.

However you will find an engines have weakspots

See where you'll find these limitations and install stronger pistons, crank and engine components to handle the power.

It's not unheard of drivers spending a lots of money on turbo upgrades on the N53 only to experience the N53 explode just after it's used in anger.

Large turbo chargers tend to suffer a bottom end lag, and small turbo chargers spool up quickly but don't have the high rpm torque gains.

In the last 10 years the choice of turbochargers is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbochargers, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into two channels and direct these at differently designed vanes in the turbo charger. They also help the scavenging effect of the engine.

Beefing up the air intake by adding a supercharger or additional turbo will help you achieve very large bhp gains, although more difficult to setup. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the N53

When you raise the bhp and torque you will need to ramp up to the fuelling.

More bhp and torque needs more fuel. Care modifiers usually say to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% when specifying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and affords a little spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

Don't forget that different fuel grades will usually require different settings, a high octane fuel will burn more efficiently than lower octane fuel for example. A car will trim fuel supply to keep within the ideal air fuel mix but at the extreme ends you may need to adjust your injector capacity, or the mapping or you'll get flat spots and potential lean or rich fuel issues..

Recommended N53 performance exhaust upgrades

Only look to improve your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if the existing exhaust is creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the exhaust flow rate is good even on modest power gains, but on a serious tuning project with a big boost in power you will certainly need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow out of the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too large or you may end up will reduce the flow rate. Stick to one and a half to two and half inches for best results.

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

Decat pipes (NB:catalysts reduce harmful engine emissions) is illegal in most countries and regions.

Faults issues and things to look out for on the N53

Like most engines an N53, should have few issues if it gets properly serviced and looked after.

We cannot stress enough the need for oil changes with the correct grade of oil on the N53, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned N53 this is more important than ever and close attention should be paid to your maintenance schedule.

If you are interested in learning more or getting impartial tuning advice for your N53 why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about N53 tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their N53.

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