BMW  M10 engine Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the BMW M10 engine!"

Our aim here is to look into M10 tuning and summarise the best modifications for your car. BMW M10 are popular engines and with the optimum uprated tuning mods like remapping, turbo improvements and camshafts you will definitely improve your driving fun.

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History, Power & Specs of the M10 Engine

M10B18

  • 74 kW (100 PS) at 5800 rpm 135 Nm (100 lbft) at 3500 rpm
  • 77 kW (105 PS) at 5800 rpm 145 Nm (107 lbft) at 4500 rpm
  • 75 kW (102 PS) at 5800 rpm 135 Nm (100 lbft) at 4500 rpm

M10B20

  • 81 kW (110 PS) at 5700 rpm 152 Nm (112 lbft) at 4350 rpm

The M10 designation also covers the following engines over the years with many later being classed as an M10.

  • M115
    55 kW (75 PS) @ 5800 rpm 118 Nm (87 lbft) @ 3700 rpm
    60 kW (82 PS) @ 5700 rpm 118 Nm (87 lbft) @ 3000 rpm
  • M116
    63 kW (85 PS) @ 5800 rpm 130 Nm (96 lbft) @ 3500 rpm
    77 kW (105 PS) @ 6000 rpm 141 Nm (104 lbft) @ 4500 rpm
  • M41
    66 kW (90 PS) @ 6000 rpm 167 Nm (123 lbft) @ 4000 rpm
  • M98
    55 kW (75 PS) @ 5800 rpm 110 Nm (81 lbft) @ 3200 rpm
  • M118
    66 kW (90 PS) @ 5,250 rpm 144 Nm (106 lbft) @ 3000 rpm
    81 kW (110 PS) @ 5800 rpm 148 Nm (109 lbft) @ 4000 rpm
    96 kW (130 PS) @ 6100 rpm 157 Nm (116 lbft) @ 5100 rpm
  • M05
    74 kW (100 PS) @ 5500 rpm 157 Nm (116 lbft) @ 3000 rpm
    88 kW (120 PS) @ 5600 rpm 167 Nm (123 lbft) @ 3500 rpm
  • M17
    85 kW (115 PS) @ 5800 rpm 165 Nm (122 lbft) @ 3700 rpm
  • M15
    96 kW (130 PS) @ 5800 rpm 177 Nm (131 lbft) @ 4500 rpm
  • M43
    80 kW (109 PS) @ 5800 rpm 160 Nm (118 lbft) @ 3700 rpm
  • M64
    92 kW (125 PS) @ 5700 rpm 175 Nm (129 lbft) @ 4350 rpm
  • M31
    125 kW (170 PS) @ 5800 rpm 245 Nm (181 lbft) @ 4000 rpm

Tuning the BMW M10 and best M10 performance parts.

Best M10 upgrades

When talking about the greatest modifications for your M10 engine, we are going to concentrate on the tuning parts that give the best power gain for you spend.

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

Fast road cams tend to push up the torque throughout the rev range, you might lose a little low down power but the high end rpm power will be higher.

Motorsport and race cams, push up the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a typical daily driver must carefully try to match your bhp range to your preferences.

I'd never have found a M10 Competition camshaft is a pleasure to live with when on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

Each engine responds better to different cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also have an effect on the bhp gains you'll hit.

Extending exhaust or intake 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.

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Best mods for your M10

  1. Flywheel lightening - a lower weight flywheel will noticeably improve the engines rev changes. Not always suitable for all M10 engines.
  2. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  3. Forced induction upgrades - Adding a turbocharger is the most significant way to increase your intakes air supply, this means you are able to burn more fuel and make power gains. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  4. Intake Mods and Exhaust - NB: on their own these mods will NOT ADD PERFORMANCE in most applications, but they permit you to lift power after other mods by minimizing the restriction.
  5. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but ideally be setup by someone competent and some cams are hard to find but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock cam for you.

M10 Tuning Stages

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

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

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

Carefully think through your options and then find your upgrades and set yourself a power target to avoid costly mistakes.

It is the main goal to any tuning task to force air into each cylinder so improve the intake manifold which will carry the air from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Also I found the structure and rate of flow of the Intake can make a noticeable change to fuel atomisation on the M10.

Commonly we find the intake manifold are ripe for performance upgrades, although a few car makers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

Big valve conversions on the M10, getting port matching and head flowing will also lift torque, & more importantly will give you a greater torque increase on other tuning mods.

M10 Turbo upgrades

NA (naturally aspirated) 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 M10. The M12 used in motorsports is primarily a heavily modified and turbocharged M10.

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes significant power gains.

When your car has forced induction tuning mods are simpler to install and turbocharged engines will have harder and stronger components.

There are weak spots for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some only just able to handle stock powerSee where you'll find these limitations and fit better pistons and crank to utilize the power.

We've seen car owners spending a loads of money on turbocharger upgrades on the M10 only to experience the whole thing explode on it's first outing after it's first rolling road session.

Large upgraded turbo chargers will usually experience no power at low rpm, and smaller turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but won't have the peak rpm engines power gains.

Thankfully the market of turbos is always improving and we commonly find variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into a couple of channels and flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the M10 when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped power at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although more difficult to configure. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling mods for the M10

Don't omit to increase the fuel delivery when you are increasing the bhp and torque - it makes the car more thirsty so upgrading to fuel injection will give more control over fuel delivery and is a sensible way to go if you plan to heavily tune your M10.

We would recommend you to over specify your injectors flow rate.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when fitting an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and allows you some 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.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

      • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

      • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

      • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp

M10 Performance Exhausts

You may need to boost your exhaust if the existing exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the exhaust flow rate is still ok 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 equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

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

Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the emissions filters installed, so adding a higher flowing race alternative such as a sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed, but keeps the car road legal.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the M10

The M10 engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

Regular oil changes are vital on the M10, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your M10 engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss M10 tuning options in more detail with our M10 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased BMW tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

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