BMW N57 Mods & Tuning Guide

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

The N57 engine is another interesting piece of machinery from Germany, especially if you're into cars and engines with plenty of torque.

The N57 is a diesel engine and was used in a wide array of models, belonging to their family of modular engines but it pulls and revs so smoothly you might mistake it for a naturally aspirated engine.

In this guide, we present various tuning options for your BMW N57 engine and highlight the top-notch enhancements for your vehicle. The N57 engine enjoys widespread popularity, and by considering advanced upgrades such as a remap, turbo enhancements, and camshaft modifications, you can significantly enhance your driving experience.

The N57, being a widely favored diesel engine, has generated numerous inquiries, prompting us to compile this comprehensive resource. We value your input and welcome any feedback or suggestions to further improve this guide.

It's essential to emphasize that our primary goal is to share knowledge rather than seeking profit.

We operate without sponsorship, ensuring that our recommendations remain impartial and free from any influence tied to financial gain. Rest assured, we only endorse modifications based on their merit and benefit to your vehicle's performance.

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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.

N57 Camshaft Upgrades

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.

Darkside offer a decent cam profile that provides a longer duration and a little more valve lift, this is a regrind or swap in replacement option.

Fit a set of uprated valve springs when you replace the cam, especially if you are focussing on getting more power at higher RPMs.

Fast road cams, that is a cam optimized for everyday driving, will 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. Overall the power will be where a typical driver needs it most across the middle third of the rpm range.

Race cams, however push up the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers. This is not something that would be suitable on a diesel engine like the N57.

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

The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, you would also be more prone to stall. So 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, each iteration was slightly different from the factory.

The ECU mapping and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the power gains you'll achieve so if you replace the cam you will need to adjust these to suit the new durations and profiles.

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.

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

Best mods for your N57

  1. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  2. Air Induction and Sports Exhausts - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER on most cars, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  3. 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 may be hard but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft .
  4. Flywheel lightening - a lower weight flywheel will improve the engines rev changes. But not always suitable for all N57 engines.
  5. ECU Tunes - N57 engine tuning/remapping offers the biggest gains compared to cost, replacement ECUs, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  6. Upgrades to turbochargers - Adding a Hybrid or larger turbocharger is the most dramatic method to improve intake air supply, allowing you to combust more fuel and make power gains. Typically one of the most complex modifications it offers big gains.

N57 Tuning Stages

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

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

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.

N57 ECU Tunes/Remapping

Remapping is a valuable technique for unlocking the full potential of the tuning upgrades you've made to your N57 engine. With a simple tune, even without additional modifications, you can expect an easy increase of around 60 horsepower on most N57 engine versions.

In terms of ease, cost-effectiveness, and power gains, remapping stands out as the top modification for the N57 engine. However, it's typically best to perform tunes or remaps after you've made other modifications to your vehicle. We recommend having your car set up on a rolling road to fully realize the power potential of your upgrades.

The final outcome largely depends on the tuning components you've installed and the condition of your engine. When you combine other modifications with ECU tuning/remapping, the N57 engine's performance can become truly impressive.

For example, by enhancing the exhaust flow through a DPF delete (where legal in your area), you can potentially achieve power increases of around 390 horsepower. In this case, a gearbox remap becomes necessary to handle the increased torque.

With the addition of an intercooler, exhaust enhancements, and intake modifications, some N57 owners have managed to push the N57 engine to achieve power levels ranging from 410 to 420 horsepower.

Ultimately, the primary objective in any engine performance tuning endeavor is to optimize the intake of air and fuel into each cylinder. The intake manifold plays a crucial role in this process, as it directs air from the intake filter into the engine, where it combines with fuel. The design and flow rate of the intake manifold can significantly impact fuel atomization on the N57 engine.

It's worth noting that many intake manifolds benefit from aftermarket upgrades, although some manufacturers offer well-optimized stock intake manifolds. Additionally, fitting big valve kits and performing port matching and head flow enhancements can further increase brake horsepower (BHP), expanding the potential for power gains in conjunction with other modifications.

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 tuned/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 smoky 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.

NOTE: If your N57 has the CP4 fuel pump then you should upgrade this especially if remapping, the R90 or R70 are good options. The CP3 seems to be better able to cope when remapped but will usually top out around 350hp.

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.

N57 Exhaust downpipes and cat back upgrades

If your current exhaust is restricting airflow, you may need to upgrade it.

Improvements to the downpipe and catalytic converters are vital, however modifications to the cat that include replacement or removal are not permitted in certain jurisdictions. Here, you should expect around a 7% increase in power.

It is possible to get by with a factory exhaust with moderate power improvements, but when you start increasing the level of power, a more efficient exhaust will be mandatory. Many owners of the N57 swap out the factory exhaust for a more sporty sound rather than expecting an increase in power.

Adding a loud exhaust to the N57 does not sit well with me, but this is a question of personal preference and is thus subjective.

Headers and DPF/catalysts are two of the most typical places where air flow is impeded by sports exhausts.

It's possible to lose a lot of power and torque if your exhaust pipe has a diameter of more than 2.5 inches. Due to the N57's excellent stock flow, upgrading to a performance exhaust is unlikely to result in any power gains.

It's worth noting that if you've drastically boosted the power, you may find that your N57's exhaust flow has been restricted.

Addition of a faster flowing sports alternative usually solves exhaust limitation issues caused by fitted emissions filters.

Your automobile will flow better because of the increased surface area and design. This keeps your car on the road while also improving its performance. To remove a catalyst is prohibited in most jurisdictions and locations, making the alternative decat an off-road only modification.

Lighter Flywheel and Clutch Upgrades.

Small changes can yield significant results. Fitting a lighter flywheel and opting for an uprated clutch kit is one such modification that can make a big difference in how your vehicle performs.

Focus on reputable brands like Sachs and Luk and research the drawbacks of single mass flywheel conversions. The dual mass fitted works well and makes the engine feel smoother, but this is subjective and you really need to discern which you can live with.

Improved Engine Response and Acceleration: One of the primary benefits of installing a lighter flywheel is the improvement in engine response.

By reducing rotational mass, your engine can rev up and down more rapidly, resulting in snappier acceleration.

This is particularly advantageous in situations where quick bursts of speed are needed, such as merging onto highways or navigating stop-and-go traffic.

A lighter flywheel also grants better throttle control. With a lighter component, you can more precisely modulate your throttle input, providing a smoother and more efficient driving experience.

Furthermore, reduced rotational mass means fewer drivetrain losses, allowing more of your engine's power to reach the wheels, which can lead to improved fuel economy.

Strength and Durability with Sachs and Luk: When you're considering an uprated clutch kit, choosing a trusted brand like Sachs or Luk is essential.

These manufacturers are renowned for their high-quality components, which means that your clutch can handle higher torque and power levels.

This ensures not only a robust clutch engagement but also enhanced durability, making it suitable for both high-performance and heavy-duty applications.

Minimizing Slippage and Handling Engine Upgrades: Uprated clutch kits, such as those offered by Sachs and Luk, reduce the likelihood of clutch slippage.

This is crucial, especially if you've made engine modifications that increase power and torque.

These enhancements will prevent premature wear and ensure consistent performance, even in the face of significant engine upgrades.

So upgrading to a lighter flywheel and an uprated clutch kit, particularly from well-regarded brands like Sachs and Luk, can deliver a host of advantages to your vehicle.

From improved engine response and acceleration to better throttle control and durability, these modifications are key to optimizing your vehicle's performance, especially when engine upgrades are in play.

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.

Turbocharger Problems: Some N57 engines have experienced issues with the turbochargers, including failures and wastegate rattling. These problems can result in a loss of power and require costly repairs.

EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) Valve Clogging: EGR valve clogging is a common issue in diesel engines, including the N57. This can lead to reduced performance, increased emissions, and sometimes a "check engine" warning.

Swirl Flap Failure: The N57 engine is equipped with swirl flaps in the intake manifold. These flaps can become clogged with carbon deposits or, in some cases, break. When this happens, it can lead to poor engine performance and costly repairs.

High-Pressure Fuel Pump (HPFP) Issues: Some N57 engines have experienced problems with the high-pressure fuel pump, which can lead to rough idling, misfires, or hard starting.

Timing Chain and Timing Chain Tensioner Problems: Premature timing chain wear and issues with the timing chain tensioner have been reported by some N57 engine owners. This can result in engine noise and, in extreme cases, engine damage.

DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) Clogging: Like many diesel engines, the N57 can suffer from DPF clogging if the vehicle is primarily driven in stop-and-go traffic or for short distances. This can lead to reduced fuel efficiency and the need for DPF cleaning or replacement.

Cooling System Problems: Cooling system issues, such as coolant leaks or failures in the water pump, have been reported by some N57 owners.

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 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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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?

  2. 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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