BMW 5 Series Tuning

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

What mods and performance upgrades work best on the 5 Series BMW? Let's look at the many tuning options and upgrades and highlight the most effective ones for your project car, so you can build the ultimate modified BMW 5 series.

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, currently in its seventh generation, was the successor to the New Class Sedans in 1972, and the series has been making significant strides since then.

The 5 Series (E12, the first generation) had naturally aspirated four-cylinder and six-cylinder petrol engines under the hood. From the second generation, the 5 series added V8 and V10 engines, either turbocharged or naturally aspirated.

Diesel engines joined the fray in 1982. The BMW 5 Series make for awesome project cars and with carefully chosen parts like remapping, turbo kits, and camshafts you will substantially maximize your driving opportunities.

Please watch my video on BMW Tuning Tips. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

First generation (E12 1972–1981)

Second generation (E28 1981–1988)



  • 2.4 L M21 I6

Third generation (E34 1988–1996)


Diesel (turbocharged):

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

Best 5 Series 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.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your 5 Series

  1. Air Induction and Sports Exhausts - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER on most cars, but they can help enhance power after other mods by lessening the restrictive flow.
  2. Forced induction upgrades - A New Turbo is the most significant way to increase air supply, which permits you to utilize more fuel and make better power figures. Although one of the most expensive modifications but provides the best gains.
  3. Fast road cams are are often the best upgrade for an engine, but they must be fitted by someone who knows what they are doing and tracking one down can be a challenge but there might be a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft .
  4. 5 Series Handling Mods (suspension) - Upgrading your suspension dramatically improves 5 Series handling Poly Bushes and Coilovers are typically fitted to achieve this
  5. Flywheel lightening - a lower weight flywheel will improve the engines free revving nature. But not always suitable for all 5 Series engines.
  6. Brake Upgrades - Improve your ability to stop ought to be near the top of your Mods list.
  7. Flowing and porting the Head - Head work will get air flowing into the engine while removing turbulence or restrictions.
  8. Tunes - A tune/remap offers the most advantage compared to your outlay, replacement ECUs, and inline Tuning boxes are all alternatives.

5 Series Tuning Stages

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

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

Typical stage 3 mods often include: 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 NA (naturally aspirated) 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.

5 Series 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.

Uprated Bushes

Enhancements to the bushings: Things you need to know

The suspension components of the 5 Series may be connected to the car's chassis through bushes, which are rotatable rubber mounts. These rubber ones will wear out with time.

Installing new OEM rubber bushes may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

Because the polyurethane bushes are firmer, the ride may be a bit bumpier, but they will last longer and maintain the handling.

Worn bushes may also hasten the demise of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

A new set of poly bushings will assist in minimize the excessive play associated with rubber bushings.

Some polyeyurothane bushings are hard to locate, but most will find the primary mounts readily available in their regions You may be able to have custom poly bushes created to suit your needs.

A common misconception is that a non-adjustable suspension system that lowers the vehicle by70mm from a franchised component shop is the best option. But suspension design and setup is quite complex.

Claims are often made that all 5 Series models and years may be able to utilise the same suspension kits sold by vendors.

To adequately support a diverse variety of vehicles, the "compromized" approach is obviously a mistake as engine weights and equipment trim levels all affect the cars handling characteristics.

How low should you go on the 5 Series?

When it comes to road vehicles, the maximum suspension drop is 24 - 44 mm, but when it comes to hot hatchbacks with lower OEM suspension, the maximum suspension drop is 20 mm, according to TorqueCars.

These tolerances may be drastically reduced if the wheel size is changed. Even with 17" wheels and stock suspension, lowering the vehicle might result in lots of problems.

While the fact that the 5 Series being lower allows for less air to travel underneath it may aid in stability, the ultimate goal should always be to enhance handling. When lowering the springs, it is critical to use the proper shocks that match all round.

We found that most 5 Series factory suspension setups need tweaking, a few degrees of toe (set some toe out to improve cornering or use toe in for better stability) and you only need around 1-1.7 degrees, and a little negative camber will substantially enhance your cornering and handling.

We would go to a maximum drop of 24 - 44  on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

5 Series Brake Upgrades

Fitting better brake discs and better high performance brake pads can make for radically improved stopping. (They will brake effectively over longer periods during heavy use than stock brakes will, but grip has more of a bearing on the cars ability to stop).

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.

5 Series 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 might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 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 NA (naturally aspirated) engines the benefits are doubtful. However a flashed ecu on a NA (naturally aspirated) 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 NA (naturally aspirated) 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.

5 Series 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.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice 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.

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One Response to “5 series tuning”

  1. Charles D'Aquino says:

    A great site. Very helpful. I just need to find a parts supplier in Australia with your ethics.

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