BMW E60 E61 Tuning

"Tuning guide to the best BMW E60 E61 modifications."

We were often emailed and asked questions requesting we provide more information on tuning and building a modified E60 E61, so we've created this article which covers our go-to modifications for this car and what we feel are the greatest value modifications you can do.

The fifth-generation 5 Series, E60/E61, was produced between 2003 and 2010 and was available in two body styles: the sedan and the wagon style.

BMW released the E60/E61 M5, with 170 hp at 6100 RPM and 155 lb-ft at 3500 RPM, S85 V10 engine in 2005.

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The new models, targeted at the medium premium market, came with a couple of new electronic features such as voice control, active cruise control, and iDrive. It was designed as a truly modern 5 Series.

The E60 E61 is a brilliant tuning project to try. Think carefully and research E60 E61 tuning to save yourself making the usual disastrous slip ups we frequently get told about.

Tuning tips and articles

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

E60 E61 Best Tuning mods.

Typically these tuning modifications are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you start.

Getting the right modified modifications for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 motor sport parts just won't work well on the road hard to control in slow traffic.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remap via piggyback ECU, Panel air filter, Suspension upgrade (drop 29mm - 37 mm.), Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Alloy wheels.

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

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancingSports gearbox, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

You need to keep as much low end torque as you can and aim for a wide power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power spike.

Fifth generation (E60/E61 2003–2010) specs

We have provided some very specific engine tuning guides on the links below as the approach for tuning these engines varies quite a bit, and we wanted to put all the information in one easy to find page.

  • 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

The model was also the first to boast a turbocharged petrol engine and other new features such as an active headrest and night vision.

E60 Tuning modifications.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your E60. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your E60

  1. Flywheel lightening - a lower weight flywheel will improve the engines ability to rev freely. But not always suitable for all E60 engines.
  2. Turbo upgrades - A New Turbo is the most significant way to increase your intakes air supply, allowing you to combust more fuel and make power gains. Although one of the most costly upgrades you'll see massive gains.
  3. Intake and Exhaust Upgrades - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD POWER , but they can help release power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but they must be setup by someone who knows what they are doing and you might struggle to find one but there might be a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft .
  5. E60 Handling Mods (suspension) - Replacing worn bushings and shocks greatly enhances your E60 road holding and cornering. Coilovers and Bushings are the usual go to mods
  6. Flowing and porting the engine head - for larger gains, you will get better flow and make a more efficient engine if you do this to support your other mods.
  7. ECU Tunes - E60 engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage compared to cost, aftermarket ECUs, and inline Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  8. Braking Mods - Stopping your E60 ought to be high on your agenda.

E60 Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Alloy wheels, Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Suspension upgrade (drop ), Sports exhaust.

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

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

E60 E61 Tuning Mods and Upgrades

The best thing about the 5 series powerplant is that you can always squeeze more power from it. It does not matter whether it is Twin Turbo 535i, the mighty M5, or the N/A 525i; there is always room for a good performance squeeze.

Perhaps one of the areas you would never expect to be a source of power leaks is the stock diverter valves. Certainly, it makes sense to stop the power leak before seeking to add more. Don’t you think?

The factory plastic valves are poor seals, and so they leak boost, consequently creating a glass ceiling on the turbo.

Besides, your vehicle's plastic and rubber components get old, and you would expect them to get rusty in their performance. They can also fail under pressure.

Upgrading the BOV, or the diverter pipes and charge pipe, with good options such as Turbosmart Kompact Plumb Back Diverter Valve, add some good performance and eliminates a potential point of failure in the engine.

See it as preventive maintenance as well because it is necessary.

For the charge pipe, you can go with VRSF and COBB.

A BOV upgrade for your 535i will jump the performance of your E60 E61 by up to 26ft/lb!

Best Engine Mods for the E60 E61

S85 engines are great tuning platforms in every way and so quite receptive to the S85 Motorsport cam.

Race cams improve the overall power at the expense of the low-down power. Your E60 E61 will not idle smoothly with a race camshaft.

The happiest and the best performing engine is the one that runs cool. An air cooler is critical for an engine such as N54 that looks for every chance to blow hot.

Your supercharged or turbocharged vehicle can only reach its power potential with a cooler engine, and an oversized intercooler (larger than the OEM) is pretty much up to the task. This translates to better intake air temps from an aftermarket intercooler to increase the airflow optimally somewhere in the region of 90%, minimizing any lags in turbo and improving throttle response.

Conclude the mods with a good ECU mapping to get the best out of the changes fitted in your S85. TheE60 E61 ECU is usually locked and not DIY mappable, so an aftermarket device is the best option at your disposal and a good shot at performance mod.

The good thing is that most of the aftermarket ECU's such as the Cobb Tuning AccessPORT, outperform the original equipment, but with a caveat. You have to set them properly and ensure they come with knock protection.

Cobb Tuning AccessPORT is an easy install for the proper tune/remap tune, and more importantly, one of the few that are legal in California.

Expect around 15% additional power with naturally aspirated engines and 30% for the turbocharged with the aftermarket ECU tune.

E60 E61 Exhaust Upgrades

Unless there are apparent restrictions with your current exhaust, an upgrade may not be necessary. The exhaust flow rate is usually reasonable, even with various performance mods. Why fix it if it works fine?

Options such as sports exhausts will improve the airflow and give your 5-er some loud sounds that call for some attention.

However, our favorite is Remus Exhaust because of its refined sound and European character.

In fact, the Remus Single Exit exhaust is kind to the visuals and does not require cutting into the valance or bumper.

Magnaflow exhaust is for people that prefer aggressive audios to show off some engine muscles, and most importantly, improve the horsepower figures. We are talking of a gain in the region of 9whp / 12tq.

You can also run away with Billy Boat's Exhaust for E60 535i for more powerful sounds and power gains. Whatever exhaust you choose, keep the size between 1.5 and 2.5 inches.

E60 E61 Handling/Suspension upgrades

An aging factory air suspension stands in the way of the handling and capability of your 5-er, and more than not, an overhaul is necessary. Besides, only a few of us are fans of air suspension.

Many E60 E61 owners uprate the handling of their cars with tuning suspension upgrades as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

If you set the toe out to 1 to 2 degrees on the front, and add some negative camber then cornering will substantially improve.

We suggest that you fit motorsport suspension and lower the car by 29mm - 37 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with motorsport suspension.

An aftermarket performance suspension with cup kits, CNC machined anodized ball joint, lowering springs, dampers, and coil-overs can dramatically enhance the handling of your E60 to feel like a new ride.

With a high-quality monoball kit, you can improve high cornering loads performance by avoiding deflection, typical of rubber stock bushings.

Good brands for the suspension kits are not in short supply. There is Eibach, H&R, BC Coilovers, and V-Maxx, but we prefer Turner Motorsport suspension parts for E60.

Turner changes your bimmer's appearance, comfort, and performance to enhance the driving experience better than their factory counterparts.

Improvements to the bushings

Bushing mods are needed so what's involved?

It is possible to connect the E60's suspension components to the chassis of the E60 using poly bushes, which are replacements for the oem rubber mounts. The rubber ones usually lose their shape with time and need replacing anyway so why not upgrade.

By replacing new OEM rubber bushings, you may greatly improve your vehicle's performance.

It's probable that the ride may be a touch rougher because of the stronger polyurethane bushings but they'll last longer and maintain tighter handling.

They may also accelerate the depreciation of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

With a new set of polyeyurothane bushes, the excessive play associated with rubber bushes may be minimized.

Some polyeyurothane bushings are hard to locate, but most will find the primary mounts readily available in their local stores Custom polyeyurothane bushings are often made to your requirements.

Alloy wheels can help the brake cooling and are generally lighter than the steel ones. Don't forget that your choice of rubber greatly affects your cars grip and handling. It is not worth compromising performance with cheap tyres when you can buy directional tread pattern performance tires.

Large E60 E61 alloys can decrease performance. If you get big alloys you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Although some people have gone larger than this without issues we would restrict ourselves to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum but most prefer the feel of the 16's.

E60 E61 Brake upgrades

For greatly enhanced stopping you should get better high friction brake pads and mate this with bigger discs.

As a word of warning please note that race pads will be noisy and will have to be hot before they are effective.

On your regular commute to work the brakes are only applied now and then so won't be all that effective so select brake pads which work well in daily use.

Admittedly, the factory brakes in your E60 fall short in appearance, size, and sometimes, performance. Evo Brembos are an excellent alternative for appearance, handling, and stopping performance.

With standard Brembo ceramic brake pads, the Brembo kits can critically improve your lap time. These pads are fade-resistant, and their initial bite is outstanding.

The custom brake pads and kits by Dinan, with 380mm rotors, 6-Piston mono-block aluminum calipers, and stainless steel brake lines, are highly recommended. They work well with BMW's brake wear sensors, vital for safety.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss E60 E61 options in more detail with our E60 E61 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. We use your comments and feedback to improve the accuracy of these tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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