BMW 5 Series Tuning

"Tuning guide to the most effective BMW 5 Series modifications."

The 5 Series is a brilliant car modification project to carry out. If you do your research then you can create an awesome 5 Series but don't be fooled there are lots of modified kits out there that will simply not suit it read our unbiased guides first.

The BMW 5 Series make awesome project cars and with carefully chosen parts like remapping, turbo kits and camshafts you will substantially maximise your driving opportunities.

First generation (E12 1972–1981)

  • 1.8-2.0 L M10 I4
  • 2.0-3.5 L M20/M30/M90 I6

Second generation (E28 1981–1988)


  • 1.8 L M10 I4
  • 2.0-3.5 L M20/M30/M88/S38 I6


  • 2.4 L M21 I6

Third generation (E34 1988–1996)


  • 1.8 L M40/M43 I4
  • 2.0-3.8 L M20/M50/M30/wI6
  • 3.0-4.0 L M60 V8

Diesel (turbocharged):

  • 2.4-2.5 L M21/M51 I6

Fourth generation (E39 1995–2003)


Diesel (turbocharged) :

Fifth generation (E60/E61 2003–2010)

  • 2.0 L N46 I4
  • 2.2–3.0 L M54 I6
  • 2.5–3.0 L N52 I6
  • 2.5–3.0 L N53 I6
  • 3.0 L Twin turbocharged N54 I6
  • 4.0–4.8 L N62 V8
  • 5.0 L S85 V10


  • 2.0 L turbodiesel M47/N47 I4
  • 2.5–3.0 L turbodiesel M57 I6

Sixth generation (F10/F11/F07/F18 2010–2016)


  • 2.0 L turbocharged N20 I4
  • 2.5 L N52 I6
  • 3.0 L N52 I6
  • 3.0 L N53 I6
  • 3.0 L turbocharged N55 I6
  • 4.4 L twin-turbocharged N63 V8


  • 2.0 L turbocharged N47/B47 I4
  • 3.0 L turbocharged N57 I6

Seventh generation (G30/G31/G38 2016–present)


  • 1.6-2.0 L B48 turbocharged I4
  • 2.0 L B48 turbocharged i4 PHEV
  • 3.0 L B58 twin-turbocharged I6
  • 4.4 L N63 twin-turbocharged V8
  • 4.4 L S63 twin-turbocharged V8


  • 2.0 L B47 turbodiesel I4
  • 3.0 L B57 turbodiesel I6

In this article we review and look at 5 Series tuning and outline the optimum upgrades.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums


Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the 5 Series.

Good suspension tweaks that greatly benefit handling for the 5 Series include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe (set out to improve cornering or in for better stability) on the front wheels.

We would go to a maximum drop of 26mm - 37 mm. on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

Fitting better brake discs and better high performance brake pads can make for radically improved stopping.

Please note that race friction pads will be noisy and will need a lot of heat before they are effective.

In every day driving the brakes are only used rarely so won't be all that effective so select brake pads which work well in daily use.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the 5 Series with a nice fat peak torque band.

Following our tips for modding your 5 Series you will create a practical but hot car that will embarrass bigger cars.

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Power mods.

This list of the stages and performance kits are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you begin.

Getting the right modified parts for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport parts just don't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Stage 1 mods: Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter, Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 26mm - 37 mm.), Sports exhaust, Remap.

Stage 2 mods: Fast road cam, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch.

Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox.

Your targets when modding the engine should be a wide torque curve. You don't want all the power to be at the top end unless you are creating a motor sport car.

The point of our articles is to give a limited introduction of modifying performance parts and point you in the right direction, our forum is the place to go for detailed advice and tips on your car tuning project, the best sport parts and all aspects of modding cars.

Fast road cams offer one of the biggest power gains for your money as far as a stand alone motorsport modifications goes on a NASP engine.

It improves the intake and exhaust flow and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a remap. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a motor sports profile cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

When pushing up the power you will need to ramp up to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

Using higher octane fuel is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your BMW project after fitting other uprated mods. Larger injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

If have increased your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine.  Please note that WE DO NOT SEE IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car with over 30 percent more power and are finding that the standard air intake has become a restriction.

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a performance panel filter should suffice for most applications.

TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow out of the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too big or you may end up will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Head work including a gas flow and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine.

Your clutch can fail as the power goes up if it starts to complain and the standard clutches are only ever good for power gains of up to 40%.

Fit a competition clutch to avoid power losses through the transmission. The best mods in our opinion for your 5 Series are Remapping or piggy back ecu, fast road cam and air intake and exhaust.

Remaps offer significant power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NASP engines the benefits are doubtful. However a flashed ecu on a NASP engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

We've also seen some tuners playing with twin charging conversions and making some impressively high power gains.

The most significant power gains for NASP engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Turbos are generally harder to add than a supercharger. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost builds exponentially with revs.

Superchargers, however will give a boost which is directly proportional to engine speed so is easier to map. Alternatively you could perhaps install water injection to reduce the risk of knock.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

Due to the fact that alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they can help to cool the brake disks.

Pay attention to your choice of tyres (tires) for your car, a good track legal slick tire can really enhance your cars handling.

Large 5 Series alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio.

With this in mind we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 18 inches, although we know some of our members have with bigger wheels with no problems.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss 5 Series options in more detail with our 5 Series 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.

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

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these articles which are continually updated.

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