BMW Z3 Tuning

"Thank you for reading our BMW Z3 tuning guide."

The Z3 is a brilliant project car to carry out. If you do your planning then you can create an awesome Z3 but don't be fooled there are lots of sports mods out there that will simply not suit it read our unbiased guides first.

Here we review and look at Z3 tuning and point out the premier modifications for your car. BMW Z3 are awesome to work on and with a few sensible sports upgrades like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will dramatically maximise your driving fun.

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Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Z3 Engine Tuning.

The following upgrades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get going.

We have some more detailed engine tuning guides for the following engines, so please be sure to check them out.

Getting the best uprated modifications for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport parts just don't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic.

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 Z3

  1. Lighter flywheels - a reduced weight flywheel will improve the engines free revving nature. But not always suitable for all Z3 engines.
  2. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  3. Turbo upgrades - Adding a turbocharger is the most dramatic method to improve intake air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make power gains. Typically one of the most complex upgrades you'll see massive gains.
  4. Braking Mods - Improve your Z3's stopping power needs to be high on your agenda.
  5. Intake and Sports Exhausts - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD POWER , but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  6. Fast road cams are are often the best upgrade for an engine, but they must be fitted by someone who knows what they are doing and tracking one down may be hard but you might have a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft .
  7. Engine Tunes - A tune/remap ensures the most advantage for the money, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  8. Z3 Handling Mods (suspension) - Upgrading your suspension dramatically improves Z3 handling Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.

Z3 Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Alloy wheels, Lighter flywheel, Sports exhaust, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Suspension upgrade (drop 26mm - 40 mm.), Panel air filter.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: high flow fuel injector, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch, Ported and polished head.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Competition cam, Engine balancing, Sports gearbox.

You should keep as much low end torque as you can and aim to get a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power spike.

The point of our articles is to give a brief overview of modifying upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is the place to go for detailed advice and tips on your customized car project, the best sport kits and all aspects of modding cars.

A fast road camshaft is one of the best NASP power modifications you can do with a single part fitted to your engine.

It improves the intake and exhaust flow and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip.

TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a competition cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to increase the fuelling.

Using high octane petrol is another option if you find you are suffering from detonation or premature ignition on your BMW project after fitting other tuning parts. Upgrading the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned Z3's uprated injectors.

Z3 Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for DIY mechanics first priority in your Z3 tuning project.

Good suspension tweaks that greatly enhance handling for the Z3 include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe in or out on the front wheels. Toe in for stability, or Toe out to improve cornering. It would also pay to improve the brakes, by adding larger discs and or higher friction pads..

Upgrading your Bushes

Enhancements to the bushings: Things you need to know

Bushes, which are rubber mounts, allow the Z3's suspension components to be connected with the car's chassis. The rubber ones will degrade over time.

Installing new OEM rubber bushes may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

It's probable that the ride may be a touch rougher because of the stronger polyurethane bushes but they'll last longer and maintain tighter handling.

Worn bushes may also accelerate the stress of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

With a new set of polyeyurothane bushes, the excessive play associated with rubber bushes may be reducde.

You may struggle to find a full set of polyeyurothane bushings, but most areas have the primary mounts available. You may be able to have custom poly bushings created to suit your needs.

A common misconception is that a non-adjustable suspension system that lowers the vehicle by90mm from a franchised component shop is the best option. But suspension design and setup is quite complex.

Vendors may claim that their Z3 suspension kits are compatible with any or all model year Z3s.

The 'generic one set for all models' approach is obviously a flawed assumption when it comes to adequately supporting a diverse variety of cars. Engine weights and trim levels, and even alloy rims will affect the handling and require different suspension setups.

How low should you go on the Z3?

A suspension drop of 28-36 millimetres is typical for most road cars, whereas a suspension drop of 22 millimetres is typical for sporty compact cars with lower OEM suspension.

The diameter of the wheels may considerably reduce tolerances. Even with 17-inch wheels and standard suspension, lowering a car may cause a number of problems.

It's possible that the Z3's lower centre of gravity helps with stability; nonetheless, the primary objective should always be to improve handling. When using lower springs, it is vital to utilise the correct shocks when purchasing matching components as a kit.

In order to get the most performance out of your Z3, you'll need a car with a fully adjustable suspension.

Look at the whole torque curve, not just peak power, when deciding if a tweak is suited for your Z3.

Make the most of your Z3's potential with the help of our informative articles on performance optimization.

In terms of power, a larger engine is preferable than a smaller engine. If you have a tiny engine, an engine exchange is a viable choice.

Z3 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine.  Contrary to popular belief there is often very little power gain to be had by fitting an induction kit, they only help and are recommended after you raise the engines power to the point where the standard air intake box cannot cope!

Induction kits may work well on turbo engines and bigger power engines (if given with an appropriate cold air feed or air box), but for most Z3 engines and tuning projects with a gain of 20%, we'd suggest using a high-performance panel air filter ideally made from cotton.

Exhaust systems for performance cars are designed to keep the engine's gas flow balanced. In contrast, if your exhaust pipe is overly large, such as having a bore of more than 2.5 inches, you'll lose power and torque.

Head work including a gas flow (ported and polished) and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. A good triple plate fast road uprated clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never cut corners or ask a standard clutch to cope. The best mods in our opinion for your Z3 are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A tuned/remapped turbo will give big power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block.

We've also come across some owners experimenting with twincharged conversions and making some seriously high power hikes.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Superchargers are usually easier to add than turbos. It is more challenging to map a turbo as the boost builds exponentially with engine speed.

It is simpler to map a supercharger because the boost is correlating to engine speed on a linear curve. Alternatively you could perhaps fit water injection to reduce the risk of knock.

Z3 Alloy wheel upgrades.

As alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they can help to cool the brake disks. If you are serious about performance then you will need to carefully choose your tires - ideally with a soft compound tire. Large Z3 alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio.

With this in mind aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the standard factory sizes. In all cases without going over 18 inches.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Z3 options in more detail with our Z3 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased BMW tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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4 Responses to “Z3 Tuning”

  1. Damon says:

    Great article, I have a 97 z3 and I love that car!. going to do some improvements and your site is just what I have been looking for. Sent 30 for you. Thanks

  2. TorqueCars says:

    Glad you’re liking the site and finding it useful and we really appreciate your generous donation.

  3. Walter Reil says:

    Thank you for your very informative web page. In September 2019 I obtained a superb mint-condition 1997 BMW Z3 1.9L 5-speed, having 39,000 miles. At age 67, I love driving it. But, I have been wondering what the simplest performance upgrades are for my Z3 that will not notably challenge and cause operational issues for the car’s operation. So, your website is making me think a little. Not sure yet what can be done to possibly enhance its performance, if anything is recommended. Thank you.

  4. Hutch Gugasyan says:

    Very happy Interesting reading my things clearer thank you

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