The best BMW F31 upgrades

"Our tuning guide will help you choose the finest mods for your F31."

BMW F31 is one of the six-generation vehicle's three compact executive automobiles. this is the wagon/estate body style (marketed as "Touring") and shows that a car can have performance and practicality.

As a result of several inquiries from our forum users on the F31 and tips on how to modify one, we've prepared this article to discuss what we believe are the major areas that contribute to the car's improvement and will give you the ultimate tuning success.

This car established new standards for elegance, luxury, and sporting performance. The imposing external style exemplifies a meticulous evolution of this masterpiece, from its outward appearance to its internal details.

The vehicle's production began in 2011 and it was introduced to the market as a 2012 model in the 21st Auto Mobil International held at Leipzig. BMW produced numerous F31 versions with a variety of engine options, following which the vehicle received a facelift in 2015.

The post-LCI variants – F31 LCIs

These were manufactured until the release of its successor (BMW 3-series G20) in 2019.

Following the facelift, the engines were converted from naturally aspirated six- or four-cylinder units to turbocharged four- or three-cylinder units, which is where the tuning becomes interesting.

This three-cylinder engine was initially offered in BMW 3-series automobiles where it performed quite well and BMW saw fit to introduce it into the F31 models.

Additionally, electronic stability control, front suspension mounts, shock absorbers, LED headlights, and tail lights have been changed. Bluetooth audio streaming was introduced as standard equipment, as was rev-matching for manual transmissions and GPS-based gear selection for automatic transmissions.

BMW F31 engine specifications

Turbocharged engines were added across the lineup, as well as a plug-in hybrid model, we see quite a few innovations as BMW move towards the more stringent Euro emissions regulations.

We're developing the guides linked below to be some engine-specific tuning guidelines, so please share any thoughts or recommendations in the comments area below.

  • 328i, 320d and the 330d
  • 320i, 316d 318d models from October 2012

Gasolene variants

Diesel

N55B30 3-L Inline-six twin-power turbo with RWD setup 0.675 kWh batteries offering 2.5 miles range, annoyingly the batteries only provide limited boost, so the headline power figures are an "off the line" full battery scenario, for prolonged performance driving you are stuck with just the fossil fuel power train.

The Best BMW F31 Modifications.

With these improvements, you may transform your BMW into a superior vehicle. The following are the top upgrades:

The following tuning modifications are frequently installed by our members; but before you begin, decide how far you want to push your project car.

Choosing the greatest sports mods for your intended use of the vehicle saves both time and money. Stage 3 motorsport components just do not operate well on a route that is difficult to control in sluggish traffic.

F31 Stage 1 mods

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your F31. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best mods for your F31

  1. Flywheel lightening - a lighter flwheel will improve the engines free revving nature. But not always stuitable for all F31 engines.
  2. Turbo upgrades - forced induction is the most efficient approach to raise the intake air supply, ensuring you are able to utilize more fuel and make higher power. Typically one of the most challengeing mods it does provide the largest gains.
  3. Air Induction and Performance Exhausts - NB: on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER on most cars, but they can help lift power after other mods by lessening the restriction.
  4. 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.
  5. ECU Tunes - A remap provides the most power in terms of cost, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and inline Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  6. F31 Suspension Upgrades - Replacing worn bushings and shocks greatly enhances your F31 road holding and cornering. Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.
  7. Fast road Camshafts are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but they must be setup 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 cam for you.
  8. Brake Upgrades - Stopping your F31 should be somewhere in your mods list.

F31 Tuning Stage 1 mods

Typical stage 1 mods often include:   Remaps/piggy back ECU, Intake manifolds, Sports exhaust manifold, Panel air filters, drilled & smoothed airbox, Fast road camshaft.

F31 Stage 2 mods

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

F31 Stage 3 mods

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Twin charging conversions, Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Engine balancing & blueprinting, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Competition cam.

While peak power is desirable, a drivable and enjoyable car requires a broad torque band from low rpms and possibly an extended rpm range.

Remapping the F31

Remaps are the way to go; no other mod provides this level of power for such a small investment.

Custom maps with a rolling road are ideal for heavily modified vehicles, as they allow you to maximize the performance of each mod.

Choose a professional with experience working with BMWs for the best outcomes; the "we remap anything" firms are frequently just franchisees, and you'll likely receive an off-the-shelf generic enhanced map, but the car will have more potential but you are not getting the full power gain.

To increase your car's total power output above 400 horsepower, you'll need a tune (remap) and some basic bolt-on upgrades.

The ECU does a lot of work, measuring Air temperature, engine speed, engine load, and even has control over turbo/wastegate control and fuel delivery rates now making it possible to control the ignition timing of the engine with great precision.

This means that you can get the most power out of the engine at all revs.

Avoid power blips, used to get big headline power figures, the red line in the graph above shows a bad dyno plot and highlights the importance of ignoring headline power claims.

With new Turbo chargers and injectors, you can now have a lot of control over how much fuel and how much power your car gets. In the past, manufacturers were mostly concerned about meeting emissions regulations.

This has led to a new level of development in the engine and in engine technology.

In this case, what does the ECU remapping do?

A complex map allows the manufacturer to make small changes to the economy at speeds like 30mph, 56mph, and 70mph, where most cars spend a lot of their time on the road. The remap improves this and allows all the power to be released.

Some manufacturers in the 2016 cheat software scandal have even written code that can tell when it's time to run super lean and pass emissions limits.

Now, when the throttle is wide open, you can move the timing forward for more power or slow it down when you're at a steady speed for better fuel efficiency.

Why are OEM maps so bad? When a manufacturer makes a timing map, they leave a lot of room for error so that they can deal with things like different fuel emission regulations in different parts of the world and different temperatures.

When a manufacturer makes a timing map, they leave a lot of room for things like bad weather, small faults, and bad conditions to happen. Some countries have different goals for CO2, HC, and NOx emissions, so the one set up for all approach usually has to be changed.

When people buy cars, they don't want to break down, have parts fail early, or get a bad reputation for being uneconomical, so the manufacturers build in a lot of room for error.

It's hard to keep all the cars on the road running smoothly because different countries use different kinds of fuel and have different kinds of weather. There are also a lot of different cars that come off the production line.

Some get 20bhp less than they should, while others can get 20bhp more than they should, depending on how well the parts are made and how well they are put together.

This means that they don't have to go through a unique process for each car to come up with a unique timing map. Instead, they use a standard one map fits all philosophy.

Other upgrades and tuning mods

Upgrades to your engine's airflow, fueling, and exhaust will remove any restrictions and position you for reasonable power gains.

To recoup lost power, replace the old coil packs and sparkplugs with new ones and ensure that the engine has been serviced and that the compression and clutch are in good condition.

Modifications to the F31's exhaust and intake system

Now we'll look at the intake and exhaust systems and guarantee unrestricted engine flow through the intake and exhaust.

Please note that WE DO NOT FIND IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS unless you have tuned your car to over 30% more power and are experiencing limitations from the stock air intake.

If you do decide to install an induction kit, ensure that it has a cold air intake and does not draw warm air from the engine bay.

Derestricting airflow into the engine is a fundamental purpose of performance tuning, so if you notice the car is running lean, replace the air filter.

While several of our members advocate the MST cold air intake to help your car breathe better and sound cooler and really rave about it, we believe that F31 induction kit modifications are more cosmetic than functional in terms of power gains.

Install an intercooler to absorb heat from the engine, allowing it to produce an additional 30 horsepower, depending on the other modifications you've made.

Although front-mounted intercoolers perform well, locating a spot for them and then installing them is frequently difficult. This may necessitate modifying the front bumper/fender.

Obtaining a professionally flowing (ported and polished) head with larger valves allows the engine's power to be fully released. Almost often, while tuning the F31, the clutch will complain and should be adjusted - for more information, see our guide on clutches. We recommend remapping, sports camshafts, and induction upgrades for your F31.

To avoid any issues, replace the plastic charge pipe with an aluminum charge pipe; the plastic ones were prone to failure.

Upgrades to the F31 exhaust system

We must discuss the F31 exhaust system, which is a major source of contention for the majority of owners.

The F31 OEM system is notorious for being a damp squib in terms of sound and performance, even playing false sound via your speakers, implying BMW was dissatisfied and rushed out a fast repair!

This is why custom part designers are developing a plethora of alternatives for fine-tuning the loudness, free flow, and appearance of your exhaust system, so depending on your location, you'll find a variety of high-quality improvements.

To begin, let's look at the exhaust manifold. With a unique free-flow exhaust header, the air can exit in the quickest and most effective manner possible. Permitting the engine to operate optimally, resulting in greater performance.

This can be an expensive and time-consuming tweak, but when done properly, it can add tens of horsepower to your build and make the car sound incredible.

Catalytic converters can also be restricting; as a result of the obligation to install one, numerous businesses are developing free-flowing cats that allow for maximum exhaust gas flow. (Ensure that removing or modifying your catalyst is legal in your region; there are numerous states and countries where doing so may result in tickets or the seizure of your vehicle.)

Our members appear to enjoy and rate the Remus Exhausts for the BMW F31's, which offers a complete exhaust system setup or the option to pick and choose from a variety of rear sections (more to improve the sound than the performance).

These systems are loud enough to be noticed, but not so loud that they endanger your ears or cause you to lose your mind on a long journey.

Exhaust tips are also an excellent method to enhance the appearance of the rear of your BMW, and when combined with a carbon fiber splitter, the aesthetic is elevated to an extreme level.

Mods to improve the handling of the F31

Modifications to the F31's handling are frequently a focus.

Suspension changes that often improve the F31's handling include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe (set out for improved cornering or in for increased stability) on the front wheels.

We recommend installing a performance suspension and lowering the vehicle by 27mm - 39mm. Larger drops necessitate arch work - much more so on cars fitted with a performance suspension.

Suspension upgrades for the F31 are very much possible, especially if you obtain a pair of adjustable shocks. H&R, Eibach, Vogtland, and Koni all provide some excellent possibilities, but as with any improvements or mods, you should avoid inexpensive poorly built alternatives, which are always a false economy.

Minor lowering can provide significant benefits, so you don't have to go to excessively low and hard suspension configurations to achieve better cornering.

F31 Brake upgrades

By upgrading to larger brake discs and higher-quality high-friction brake pads, you can significantly improve braking performance.

Bear in mind that motorsport friction pads are often louder and require heating before they begin to perform but a simple pad upgrade can make a big difference to your F31's stopping ability.

For greatly improved braking put better brake pads and match this with meatier brake discs.

Please note that race pads can be noisier and will need to be hot before they start to work.

On your regular commute to work, the brakes are occasionally used and won't be all that effective so specify friction pads that have a low working temperature.

Modifications to the F31 series

The variants of the 3 Series, dubbed the sixth generation, introduced us to the B58 engine. With only one turbocharger attached, the 3.0L petrol engine produces roughly 330 horsepower out of the box, which feels fairly energetic and quick, but as we've learned, you can never have enough power!

Thus, while this is a remarkable figure in and of itself, the B58 is capable of much more.

With the single turbocharger serving as the primary limiting element. As a result, the recommended modification would be a larger turbo and an exhaust capable of expelling those hot gases efficiently.

There are numerous options available, so we recommend determining where you want the peak power to be in the powerband, and basing your upgrade strategy on that, you can overdo the exhaust size.

Although a twin-turbo configuration is possible, there is little reason to do so when there are so many high-quality turbo designs available. Twin Scroll entrance turbos, boast a faster spool up, and an improved top end all contributes to an improved driver experience.

F31 Handling/Suspension upgrades

Many F31 owners uprate the handling of their cars with coilover suspension parts as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

 

Drop the car by as much as 29 - 38 and fit modified stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Upgrades to the F31's suspension and handling

Handling mods are often the initial step for the F31.

What considerations must you make when setting up and selecting your suspension if your F31 serves as a daily car as well?

Uprated Bushes

What factors should you consider when setting up and selecting your bushes if your F31 is also used as a daily driver?

It is possible to connect the F31's suspension components to the chassis of the F31 using poly bushes, which are direct replacements for the oem rubber mounts. The rubber ones will 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.

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

They may also lead to an increase in the decay of other suspension parts due to the increased vibration and play.

A new set of poly bushings may be able to reduce the excessive play that comes with rubber bushes.

You may struggle to find a full set of poly bushes, but most areas have the primary mounts available. You may be able to have custom polyeyurothane bushings created to suit your needs.

A frequent misconception is that the best setup would be a non-adjustable suspension system that lowers the vehicle by 50mm purchased from a franchised component shop.

Vendors may assert that their F31 suspension kits are compatible with any or all of the F31 model years.

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 F31?

According to TorqueCars research and testing, the maximum amount of suspension drop for most road vehicles is 29 - 38 millimetres, whereas hot hatchbacks with lower OEM sport suspension have a maximum suspension drop of 18 millimetres.

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 a slew of issues.

Because the F31 is lower, less air travels under it, which may aid in stability; nonetheless, the main goal should always be to enhance handling. It is critical to use the proper shocks when employing lower springs buying matched components as a kit.

If you set the toe out to around 1.5 degrees on the front, and add slight negative camber then cornering will radically improve.

For dramatically enhanced stopping add better performance pads and match this with bigger discs.

Bear in mind that some performance brake pads can be noisier and will need to be really hot before they start to work.

On your regular commute to work the brakes are only used rarely so won't stop you as well so choose pads which don't need to be really hot.

Modifications to the F31's appearance

Carbon fiber components are trendy, and they look fantastic on a black, white, or grey F31. Rear spoilers complement the F31 perfectly, and fortunately, there are a plethora of options available, so whatever your preferences, TorqueCars is confident you'll find something to suit you.

Numerous upgrades and modifications to the F31 are stylistic tributes to the M3, with wings, wheels, and spoilers proving to be popular additions.

  • Carbon fiber modifications are extremely popular.
  • Spoiler in the rear made of carbon fiber (3M adhesive)
  • Mirror caps made of carbon fiber
  • Front lips made of carbon fiber
  • Grilles for the kidneys made of carbon fiber

Although the majority of kits and parts use carbon fiber embellishments and have an M3 vibe, there is a wide variety of appearances and styles available. We are more of a tuning and power site than a styling site, therefore we won't go into detail here, but you can get ideas in our car styling section.

Upgrades to the F31 alloy wheels.

Alloy wheel upgrades potentially have a number of advantages, including a reduction in unsprung weight and improved brake cooling efficiency due to the increased airflow. The disadvantage of installing large rims on your F31 is that you will modify your effective final drive ratio, which will have a negative influence on acceleration.

Runflats ruin an otherwise pleasant ride, and we would recommend avoiding larger wheels; even 18's can feel very crashy and unwieldy in comparison to 17's, but there are some light 18's available that should help bridge the gap between looks and performance.

After one year typically the bridge-stone run-flat tires will often need to be replaced, so inquire around in our forums for better options, because this gets quite expensive.

Purchase a decent track-approved semi slick tire to assist improve your F31's handling and traction in the dry.

As a result, attempt to keep the wheel's overall rolling diameter within the regular factory specifications. In all situations, no more than 17 inches.

Avant Garde wheels are pretty fashionable and complement the F31 rather well. Ditch the run flats in favor of something that fills the arches slightly more, but avoid heavy wheels.

After speaking with a number of F31 owners, we've noticed a preference for smaller alloy wheel sizes, with users citing tram lining and reduced steering feel, though one could argue this is also due to the different tire sizes used.

When the 18's were installed, some people preferred the passive suspension setting over the active which seemed a little hard and crashy, but we prefer the way the car handles on the 17's.

Alloy wheels are a matter of personal preference, but fortunately, there are a plethora of aftermarket options that perform admirably and, more importantly, look fantastic on the F31.

F31 Problems frequently encountered faults, issues, and weak points

  1. The F31's power steering is not as engaging as the E90's.
  2. Additionally, it may experience oil leaks from the oil filter housing and valve cover gaskets.
  3. Certain models may have electrical problems.
  4. Pre-LCI cars had timing chain issues, which were resolved with the facelift.
  5. A drive chain failure may occur, necessitating the repair of your car's axle and differential.
  6. When brakes make a squeaky noise, it's time to change the brake pads.
  7. The transmission seal may fail, necessitating the replacement of the entire transmission.
  8. The oil filter housing gasket may have failed and will need to be repaired.
  9. Occasionally, the coolant line will burst, dispersing the coolant across the area.

To learn more about tuning your car, please visit our friendly forum, where you may discuss F31 options in greater detail with other F31 owners. Additionally, it is worthwhile to read our unbiased BMW tuning articles to have a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of each adjustment.

Kindly assist me in my aim to improve these tips by providing feedback in the comments section below.

We're always interested in hearing about what our visitors are up to and which mods work best for them on which kind of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these constantly updated articles.

Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...


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