BMW M57 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the BMW M57 engine!"

Our aim here is to examine the options for your M57 tuning and provide tips on the ultimate upgrades. BMW M57 great basis for a tuning project and with carefully picked enhancements like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will really maximize your driving opportunities.

The M57 replaced the M51 and comprised a strong cast iron block initially which was later replaced with an Aluminum block. The early blocks are favored by tuners thanks to the strength they offer, and these engines can make very decent power gains from a simple remap, and a few bolt on parts.

The design of the M57 specified a small sequential turbo design, and pretty much eliminates turbo lag, making this engine feel like a very  large NASP block. It is no surprise to us that the M57 offers so much tuning potential.

We do wonder if BMW detuned these from the factory so they could sell the petrol units. Simple remaps are adding around 80hp to the engine.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

M57 straight-6 diesel engine based on M51 and came as a 2.5 2.9 and 3.0





  • BMW E60/E61 525d


  • Range Rover L322
  • E39 as 530d
  • E46 as 330d/330xd
  • E38 as 730d
  • E53 as X5 3.0d
  • E39 as 530d
  • E38 as 730d


  • E46 as 330d/330Cd/330xd
  • E83 as X3 3.0d
  • E53 as X5 3.0d
  •  E60/E61 as 530d/530xd
  •  E65/E66 as 730d
  •  E83 as X3 3.0d
  • E60/E61 as 535d


  • E90/E91 as 325d
  •  E60/E61 as 525d
  • E65/E66 as 730d
  •  E90/E91 as 330d/330xd
  •  E60/E61 as 530d/530xd
  • E60/E61 as 530d
  •  E70 as X5 xDrive30d
  •  E71 as X6 xDrive30d


  • E60/E61 as 535d
  •  E63/E64 as 635d
  •  E70 as X5 3.0sd
  •  E71 as X6 xDrive35d
  •  E83 as X3 3.0sd
  •  E90/E91/E92/E93 as 335d


Tuning the BMW M57 and best M57 performance parts.


Best M57 parts & mods

The best M57 parts on an engine are usually the ones that give the best value for money.

The top of the list for our best mods on the M57 is a remap, and if you are only planning one simple mod, this should be it.

A standalone remap on the M57 will generally push the 286bhp to around 365bhp, with an improved intercooler this will be around 375bhp. Removing the DPF *(Illegal in most regions) will net another 20hp.

We strongly recommend you add a performance air filter, as you are making quite a bit more power with a remap, and factory airbox will struggle to flow enough air.

ECU flashing should help to establish the full potential of all the parts you've fitted to your M57.

We won't be swayed by popular M57 parts, they need to be cost effective. The early cast iron blocks are considered bulletproof and make a great basis for your tuning project.

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

Fast road camshafts normally increase the power across the rpm band, you might lose a little low end torque but top end will be better. When you are replacing the camshaft, it is advisable to upgrade the valve springs too.

Competition camshafts, increase the top end band but as a result, the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

For a daily driver must carefully try to optimize your torque band to your preferences.

I'd be surprised if you find a M57 Motorsport camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

We've seen some decent cams appearing, but please don't view cams as a standalone upgrade, you should get it mapped, replace the valve springs, and for serious power gains address the fuelling and turbocharger with suitable upgrades.

Some M57 engines respond better to less aggressive cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The ecu map and injectors and fuel pump also will say much on the bhp gains you'll make.

A longer valve duration 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.

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

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

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

Plan your options and then acquire your modifications and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

It is vital to any engine modification task to get air and fuel into the M57 engine, and it rewards your effort with mountains of extra torque and power.

Intake manifolds, or headers, flow the air from the air filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

Swirl flap replacement is often recommended, the OEM ones can fail and cause lots of damage, and they are only generally effective in low RPM conditions. Swirl flap removal kits are also an option, so if you didn't want the swirl flaps they can be removed, but they do help fuel economy and improve emissions at lower RPM's.

The shape and rate of flow of the Intake headers can make a large change to fuel engine efficiency on the M57.

We often see headers are needing aftermarket parts, although some OEMs provide decently flowing headers.

Larger M57 valves, getting M57 port enlargement and head flowing will also increase torque, the fantastic side effect is it will give you a greater torque increase on other modifications.

Turbo upgrades for the M57

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.

There are a few turbo kits around for the M57, that will take power to anywhere from 350hp to around 400hp. There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some showing stress at mid range power gains.

Research these limitations and install forged components to handle the power.

It's not unheard of drivers spending a loads on turbocharger upgrades on the M57 only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the engine go up in smoke just after it's used in anger.

Bigger capacity turbochargers will usually suffer low end lag, and smaller turbochargers spool up quickly but do not have the peak end bhp gains.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting power at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large performance gains, although harder to install. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.

M57 Fuelling / injector upgrades

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will have to uprate the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a bhp and torque increase.

The rail pressures  1600 BAR will start to struggle with higher power gains, but the later M57 were equipped with a 2700 BAR pressure rail, and swapping to the newer parts is a no brainer on the early units. At around 350hp the OEM fuel pump will start to reach it's limits.

Don't forget to over specify your injectors flow rate, there are some decent bosch injector upgrades around. Don't forget to look at the fuel pump, and common rail pressure sensor, as these will all affect your tuning results and note that the 0.9cc fuel pump will handle around 550hp easily so should be good for most applications.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% when specifying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and allows a little 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.

M57 Exhaust mods downpipes and cat back

You only need to replace your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction in flow. The M57 is a rather lazy low RPM engine, compared to some of the higher revving petrol engines around, so exhaust flow is generally sufficient, at least from the catalyst to the rear of the car.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust flow rate is ok even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

The EGR and cat are common bottlenecks, but removing these is not legal in most regions and areas, so looking for higher flowing options is generally the way to go. The DPF likewise limits the potential of these engines, but removal is not street legal in most places.

Sports exhausts equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

We see the most gains coming from a better header or manifold design, the rest of the exhaust actually flows pretty well so there is not  much to be gained from a DPF back system. I am not a fan of the sound of "sports exhausts" on the M57 and personally rate the way BMW designed the silencers, but this is always subjective and you may well have different ideas.

That DPF is sucking around 15bhp from the engine, so finding a higher flowing alternative or if legal in your area removing the DPF will add this missing power and improve engine responsiveness.

But if the exhaust pipe is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of your flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the M57

The M57 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 M57, 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 M57 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our worldwide members, or read our tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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