BMW N57 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the BMW N57 engine!"

Herein we outline options for your N57 tuning and highlight the premier modifications for your car. BMW N57 are popular engines and with the ultimate modified upgrades like a remap, turbo improvements, and camshafts you will noticeably maximize your driving pleasure.

The N57 is a popular diesel and engine and we are getting quite a few questions about them, so we've put together this guide and we welcome your feedback and suggestions so we can make it better.

Remember that we are not here for profit, just to share the knowledge and we are not sponsored so you'll always get unbiased advice and we won't recommend something just because we are being paid to or are getting a commission.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

The N57 is a turbocharged straight six and delivers power like a large V8 NASP in a steady linear manner. It doesn't even feel like a diesel engine due to it's refinement and power delivery, and we would say these are severely detuned from the factory, so you have plenty of tuning potential from them.

201 hp @ 4000 (332 lbft) @ 1750-2500

242 hp @ 4000 (398 lbft) @ 1750-3000

  • 2008-2013 BMW 3 Series E90/E91/E92/E93 330d/330xd
  • 2010-2011 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 530d
  • 2009- BMW 5 Series GT F07 530d GT/530d xDrive GT
  • 2008-2012 BMW 7 Series F01/F02 730d/730Ld
  • 2010-2013 BMW X5 E70 xDrive30d
  • 2010-2014 BMW X6 E71 xDrive30d

254 hp @ 4000 (413 lbft) @ 1500-3000

  • 2011-2016 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 530d
  • 2011- BMW X3 F25 xDrive30d
  • 2012-2019 BMW 3 Series F30/F31 330d
  • 2012-2015 BMW 7 Series F01/F02 730d/730Ld

302 hp @ 4400  (443 lbft) @ 1500-2500

  • 2010-2011 BMW 5 Series F10/SF11 535d
  • 2009-2017 BMW 5 Series GT F07 535d GT/535d xDrive GT
  • 2009-2015 BMW 7 Series F01 740d/740d xDrive
  • 2010-2013 BMW X5 E70 xDrive40d
  • 2010-2014 BMW X6 E71 xDrive40d

309 hp @ 4400  (465 lbft) @ 1500-2500

  • 2011-2016 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 535d
  • 2011-2018 BMW 6 Series F12/F13 640d
  • 2011- BMW X3 F25 xDrive35d
  • 2013-2019 BMW 3 Series F30/F31 335d
  • 2014- BMW 4 Series F32/F33/F36 435d
  • 2014- BMW X4 F26 X4 xDrive35d
  • 2015- BMW X6 F16 X6 xDrive40d

376 hp @ 4000-4400  (546 lbft) @ 2000-3000

  • 2012-2017 BMW 5 Series F10/F11 M550d xDrive
  • 2012-2015 BMW 7 Series F01 750d xDrive
  • 2012-2015 BMW 7 Series F01 750Ld xDrive
  • 2012-2013 BMW X5 E70 M50d
  • 2012-2014 BMW X6 M50d

Tuning the BMW N57 and best N57 performance parts.

Best N57 tuning mods

Just because particular modifications are are common on N57 it doesn't mean it is good, we will concentrate on the top modifications that will give your N57 the best value for money to power increase.

Instead of us falling into the common "if it's shiny and makes more noise it must be good" mentality of many car sites and tuning magazines.

Altering your N57 cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine engines power. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the engines power accordingly.

Fast road cams normally push up the bhp and torque throughout the rev band, you could drop a little bottom end bhp but the top end will be higher.

Race cams, push up the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

In a car used daily, really you should, ideally aim to optimize your power band to your driving style.

I'd never find a N57 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.

Different N57 engines respond better to extreme cam durations so view each engine as unique, the basic concept of a cam on a diesel engine is to put the power band where you want it, a vernier pully can be used for minor changes, but a replacement cam gives much more control over valve duration and lift.

The ECU mapping and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the power gains you'll achieve.

Altering valve durations can alter the power 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: Remaps/piggy back ECU, Panel air filters, drilled & smoothed airbox, Intake headers, Sports exhaust manifold, Fast road camshaft.

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

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

The N57 power plant respond well to upgrades and we're pleased to see that there are quite a few choices of parts and performance parts about.

Remaps allows a tuner to establish the full potential of all the tuning parts you've fitted to your N57.

This is the single best mod for the N57 in terms of ease, costs and power gain, but remaps are best done after your other mods and we'd recommend getting the car setup on a rolling road to fully realize the potential power from your mods.

It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but the end result usually depend much on the tuning parts you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

It is the main goal to any engine performance tuning task to pull air and fuel into each cylinder

Intake headers transmit the air from the intake filter and feed it into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Structure and flow rate of the Intake can make a noticeable improvement to fuel atomisation on the N57.

We often see intake headers are begging for aftermarket parts, although some makers provide fairly well optimized intake headers.

Fitting big valve kits, getting port matching and head flowing will also increase bhp, this will raise potential for raising the bhp increase on other parts.

N57 Turbo upgrades

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

Hybrid turbos are a good upgrade option, with many citing the stock engines turbos as a potential weak point, when they are remapped and expected to produce a lot more power.

The  Garrett GTD2872VR & GTD2873VR are great options for the N57 if you want a turbo replacement that has lots of potential, and wd e see these for sale with suitable mounts for the N57 saving you the need for custom development and fabrication.

We see many people spending loads on turbocharger upgrades on the N57 only to experience the car throw a rod just after its first rolling road session just because it's not been mapped correctly.

Big upgraded turbo chargers commonly suffer a bottom end lag, and smaller turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but do not have the high rpm torque gains. Check the spool and flow characteristics to make sure you get the turbo that fits your needs, if the power is not there in your usual RPM range you'll have wasted your money.

We are pleased that the range of turbochargers is always developing. We are seeing variable vane turbochargers, permitting the vane profile to be altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and feed these at differently designed vanes in the turbo. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp gains, although harder to get working. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling mods for the N57

When you improve the power you will need to look at to the fuel system. The whole point of a diesel engine is to burn fuel, and this the N57 does effectively, but to avoid a very sooty and smokey output you need to increase the flow of air.

However the sticking point on most highly tuned N57's after the turbo is the fuelling so it really pays to improve the fuel delivery.

The simple fact is that if you want to make more power you will need more fuel. Don't forget to be generous with your injector capacity.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and gives a bit of spare capacity should the engine need 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.

Exhaust downpipes and cat back upgrades

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

The key gains come around improvements to the downpipe and cats, but mods to the cat involving replacement or removal are not street legal in some areas. Expect around 7% of a power gain here.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the 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 stock exhaust on the N57 flows pretty well, so many owners will replace the exhaust to get a more sporty sound, rather than with the expectation of a power gain.

I'm not convinced that a loud exhaust is a positive addition to the N57, but this is a matter of taste and is therefore subjective.

Sports exhausts can help equal out the flow of air through the engine with the most commonly restricted area being the headers and DPF/catalysts.

But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque. The stock exhaust on the N57 actually flows really well, so it's unlikely you'll see a power gain by just swapping to a performance exhaust.

That said, if you've increased the power significantly you may now have a restriction in the exhaust flow, so at this point it is worth looking at your N57 exhaust upgrade options.

Typically exhaust restrictions can be traced to the emissions filters installed, so adding a faster flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the N57

The N57 engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturer's 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 N57, 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 N57 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our 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 upgrades work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these N57 articles which are continually updated.

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Your Constructive comments on this article

2 Responses to “N57 Tuning”

  1. Christian says:

    I have a 2012 BMW X6 e71. I was reading about your tuning mods including piggy back ECU, panel air filters and smoothed air boxes. would you be willing to provide a step by step video for me to follow for these mods?

    • TorqueCars says:

      We are currently working really hard on new video content and will add your request to the schedule (which is already pretty long over 1000 entries) your suggestion has given us some other ideas, I think many people would like simple concise video tutorials to follow.

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