Nikasil problems on BMW engines.

"A look at the BMW Nikasil Issue"

BMW NIkasil issue

The Nikasil issue is a problem that affects all BMWs with M60 and M52 engines.

We will take a look at the causes of this issue, the models affected and the likelyhood of your BMW being affected by it.

The M60 from 1993 to 1996 used a Nikasil liner on the block, as did the M52 from 1995 to 1998. M52s produced after this used a steel liner.

The problem occurred due to the high sulphur content that existed in low quality fuels.

The sulphur reacted with the nickel lining and once damaged the alloy block was quickly worn beyond repair.

BMW did not test the block with high sulphur fuel and therefore did not know about the problem until it was too late.

A lot of people worry about the BMW Nikasil issue so we take a look at what it is, how to avoid it and the engines affected.

It was discovered that ‘cheap’ supermarket fuel contained high sulphur levels, found in particular to be present in the North-West of the United Kingdom.

However, if the car was run on high quality fuel with low sulphur content the engine would not experience any problems. It is possible that some Nikasil engines are still going strong.

Symptoms include a rough idle (which be attributed to a number of causes), uneven bore wear, loss of power, oil consumption rises dramatically and some M52s were known not to start in the cold.

The simplest way to check is to get a leakdown test done. One of our members was recently quoted £110 at a local independent garage.

BMW replaced blocks that were rendered useless and changed the lining used. V8s got an alusil lining and M52s switched to iron liners. Some Nikasil engines have failed as early as 30,000 miles! It is unknown how many blocks were affected and replaced.

If you have a Nikasil engine then chances are it is perfectly fine (due to luck, one would presume) but for peace of mind TorqueCars would suggest a leakdown test is done ASAP. There is no reason why the car should not be fine assuming the correct fuel was used. High sulphur fuel is now uncommon and the problem should no longer exist (or worsen) due to this.

Written by Matt Ayling (a.k.a. forum member Prince)

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Feedback - What do You Think?

Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article


Please watch this video on our new YouTube channel.



2 Responses to “What is the BMW Nikasil issue”

  1. Steve Taylor says:

    I had a Nikasil M60 in a 5 series which I sold at just under 200k miles on original engine, still running fine with no oil consumption or other symptoms.

  2. Ozgen says:

    My VW 1.9 TD engine on Golf 1997 model eat engine only at 50.000 Km.s. All cylinders got eggshaped and drinking lubeoil. It got 20 years -until I could read your article- to find out the reason why…

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).


BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning

Popular articles

Diesel Tuning
ECU Remaps
Double Clutch
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Tuning Chips
Modified car insurance
Insuring Track days
Remapping Diesels
Work out your MPG
Unblock a DPF
Tuning in Forza


Low Profile Tires

Truth about low profile tires
Read more...

Rebore Engine

Reboring engines
Read more...

Under Car Neons

How to fit under car neon light kits. Fitting neon tube glow light
Read more...

Single Wiper

Conversion to a single wiper
Read more...

How To Repair Leather Car Seats

How to repair leather car seats.
Read more...

Pro Street

Need for speed pro street
Read more...

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG
Read more...