Mercedes M285 Tuning

"All you need to know about performance parts and tuning the Mercedes M285 engine!"

The Mercedes M285 provide a fun base for your project and with the optimum performance upgrades like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will improve your driving experience.

Let us consider M285 tuning and provide tips on the optimum modifications.

History, Power & Specs of the M285 Engine


557 PS 550 hp at 5250 rpm 900 Nm 664lbft

2003–2012 Maybach 57 and 62

Tuning the Mercedes M285 and best M285 performance parts.

Best M285 modifications

Just because particular upgrades are appear in lots of M285 projects it doesn't mean you should fit it, instead we will focus upgrades that will give your M285 the best power gain for you spend.

Altering your M285 camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road camshafts commonly push up the bhp and torque across the rpm range, you might lose a little low down bhp but the higher rpm power will be lifted.

Motorsport and race camshafts, push up the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a typical daily driver must carefully try to match your power band to your usage of the car.

You'll never have found a M285 Motorsport and race cam is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic because low end power will be very lumpy. Competition cams are designed for maximum power at the top end of the RPM range, a place that most daily commutes will not permit!

Different M285 engines respond better to different cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

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

Altering valve durations 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.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    drilled & smoothed airbox, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Panel air filters, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Fast road camshaft, Intake manifolds.

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

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

    Carefully think through your options and then acquire your mods and set yourself a power target to save yourself from expensive mistakes.

    ECU flashing will help fully realize the full potential of all the tuning mods you've done to your M285.

    (In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

    It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but the outcome will vary depending on the tuning mods you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

    Forcing more fuel and air into each cylinder is the whole point to any car tuning job.

    The intake plenum carry the air from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    The shape and flow characteristics of the Plenum can make a noticeable difference to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the M285.

    Most plenum chambers are ripe for performance upgrades, although some makers provide decently flowing plenum chambers.

    Increasing the M285 valve size, doing a bit of port matching and head flowing will also raise torque, and more importantly will give you raising the torque increase on other mods.

    M285 Turbo upgrades

    NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your M285

    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.

    If your motor has a turbocharger upgrades are simpler to install and you'll see that turbo engines use stronger components.

    However most engines will need better parts at higher power limits.Discover these limits and install stronger pistons, crank and engine components to cope with the power.

    There are many tuners spending a fortune on turbocharger upgrades on the M285 only to suffer the indignity of watching the engine block literally blow up soon after it's been enthusiastically driven.

    Large upgraded turbos commonly experience a bottom end lag, and little turbos spool up quickly but do not have the high rpm bhp gains.

    Thanks to new tech the world of turbos is always moving on and we commonly find variable vane turbos, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

    Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and push these at differently angled vanes in the turbocharger. They also help the scavenging effect of the engine.

    It is not unusual that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the M285 when a lot more air is being sucked into the engine.

    We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp at a much lower level.

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


    Don't forget to uprate the fuel delivery when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. Don't forget to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

    As a rule of thumb add 20% when specifying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and provides 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.

    M285 Performance Exhausts

    You only need to boost your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you'll see the exhaust flow rate is still fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

    Sports exhausts can usually air flow from the engine but do not go too wide or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to around 2.5 inches to maximise flow rates, and this should take into account the amount of air your engine is moving.

    Common exhaust restrictions are traced to the emissions filters installed, so adding a freer flowing high performance aftermarket one will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal decat, will keep the car road legal.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the M285

    The M285 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 M285, 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 M285 engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss M285 tuning options in more detail with our M285 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Mercedes tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

    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 tuning mods 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 M285 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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