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  • Tuners tips on "Tuning the BMW M54"

    Tuning the BMW M54 Guide

    "Comprehensive guide to tuning the BMW M54 engine!"

    The BMW M54 make awesome project engines and with carefully chosen performance upgrades like remapping, turbo kits and camshafts you will definitely increase your driving opportunities.

    TorqueCars will look into M54 tuning and report on the optimum mods that work.

    The top M54 modifications on an engine are usually the ones that give the best value for money.

    We won't be swayed by popular M54 modifications, they need to be cost effective.

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

    NB: Fast road camshafts normally increase the torque throughout the rev range, you could drop a little low down power but high end rpm power will be higher.

    Motorsport and 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.

    For a daily driver should ideally to optimize your power band to your preferences.

    I'd never find a M54 Motorsport cam is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic.

    Different M54 engines respond better to different cam durations so view each engine as unique.

    The engine timing and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the bhp gains you'll hit.

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

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

    Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing & blueprinting, Competition cam, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Twin charging conversions, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression.Carefully think through your options and then acquire your modifications and set yourself a power target to avoid wasting your time and money.

    Remaps should help to fully realize the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your M54.

    It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but your results may depend much on the upgrades you've applied and the condition of your engine.

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

    Intake manifold transmit the air from the filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine cylinders.

    The bore size, shape and flow rate of the Air Intake manifolds can make a large improvement to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the M54.

    On popular production engines plenum chambers are ripe for aftermarket parts, although a few manufacturers provide reasonably good plenum chambers.

    Adding a M54 larger valve kit, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also lift torque, and as an added benefit will raise potential for increasing the torque increase on other parts.

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

    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 M54

    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.

    If the engine is fitted with a turbocharger upgrades are going to make more power and turbocharged engines already contain more solid components.However you'll find engines will have power limits

    Research these restrictions and fit stronger pistons, crank and engine components to handle the power.

    We've seen people spending a lot of money on turbo upgrades on the M54 only to have the engine literally blow up soon after it's been completed.

    Large capacity turbochargers will usually experience low end lag, and little turbochargers spool up quickly but won't have the peak end engines power gains.

    Thankfully the selection of turbo chargers is always developing and we now see variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

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

    You'll commonly see there is a limit in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the M54 when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

    We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited power at a much lower level.Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large power gains, although more complex to configure. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

    Fuelling upgrades and mods

    When you improve the performance you will need to ramp up to the fuelling.

    More performance needs more fuel. We strongly recommend you to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

    The rule of thumb is to add another 20% when specifying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and allows a bit of 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

    Only look to uprate your exhaust if the existing exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

    On most factory exhausts you'll find the exhaust 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 help increase the flow of air through the engine.

    But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

    Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalysts installed, so adding a freer flowing high performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

    Weak spots, Issues & common problem areas on the M54

    The M54 engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the M54, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

    For more information on Tuning your M54 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our M54 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

    Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

    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 M54 guides and tips are kept up to date.

    References

    Tuning the BMW M54 and best M54 performance parts.

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