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BMW N54 Engine

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BMW N54 Engine For Sale

Made on the basis of the 3-liter M54B30, this engine is the supercharged version by means of a double turbocharger.

The general architecture, dimensional characteristics and materials are taken from the aspirated 3-liter. It is in fact an in-line 6- cylinder with bore and stroke measurements equal to 84×89.6 mm, for a total displacement of 2979 cm³. Although the most refined N52 engines equipped with the Valvetronic system were already in production, it was decided to rely on the 3-liter M54 because its structure in aluminum alloy with cast iron liners it is better suited to withstand the thermal and mechanical stresses deriving from double supercharging.

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Everything You Need To Know About A BMW N54 Engine

The BMW N54 engine is a twin-turbocharged, straight-6 petrol engine that replaced the naturally aspirated M54 and S54 engines. It was introduced in 2006 with the 2007 E90 3 Series sedan. The car's power output ranges from 225 kW to 240 kW (306 hp to 320 hp) at 6000 pm. BMW's internal motorsport division developed the N54 as a successor to the turbocharged 3.2 L straight-6 M60 engine found in models such as the 1992–1995 E36 M3 and 1995–1999 E36/7 Z3 M Coupe, both of which had been powered by an earlier iteration of this basic design since 1987. In comparison with its predecessor, it offered more power, better fuel economy, and reduced emissions. These improvements were due to the N54's twin-turbochargers, direct injection, all-aluminum construction, and variable valve timing for both inlet and exhaust camshafts (called dual VANOS by BMW). The N54 debuted on the E92 335i at the 2006 North American International Auto Show, and European sales began in 2007. The engine was named "the most powerful production engine ever built by BMW" at its introduction, which is true only if the big-bore conversions of M60 engines are not counted. The N54 has also become known for issues with head gasket failures due to incorrect coolant and an installed software fix for this issue.

What cars have the N54 engine?

BMW used the N54 engine in the following cars:
  • BMW E90 335i (E93 convertible, E92 coupe)
  • BMW E60 525i (E61 wagon, E63 6-series convertible)
  • BMW E83 X3 2.5si (E83X 2.5i is mated to the N52)
  • BMW E64 6-series (convertible, coupe)
  • BMW E81 1-series
  • BMW Z4 sDrive35i (Z4 xdrive35i is mated to the N54)

How much horsepower does the N54 engine have?

The N54B30 uses a twin-turbocharger system to produce between 225 kW and 240 kW (306 hp - 320 hp) from its 3.0 L displacement, depending on the model it is used in. It has a power-to-displacement ratio of 180 watts per liter. The engine block and cylinder head are made of aluminum alloy. The block features an "open deck" design in which the cylinder bores are machined to four times the usual thickness, significantly increasing rigidity and decreasing engine weight. The engine has dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing that BMW calls Dual VANOS.

How long does an N54 engine last?

BMW has claimed problems with the head gasket and auxiliary water pump may occur due to the incorrect or poorly maintained coolant. The N54 has proved to be the most unreliable engine of the BMW N54 family. Many owners have experienced repeated head gasket failures at around 80,000 miles (129,000 km), which has become a major problem for N54 owners. Many blame the issue on BMW using non-standard materials for the construction fluids. Reference. The N54 engine has also been subject to carbon buildup in the VANOS system, which may require replacing the entire unit. One repair estimate quoted around $2000 for this issue. BMW modified the N54 head gasket design in 2010. A green sticker identifies affected vehicles on the driver door pillar, and "upgraded" head asks are sometimes available for sale.

Why do N54 injectors fail?

N54 injectors fail for the same reason as most other cars equipped with direct injection. BMW's decision to use low-tension, high heat injectors has caught up with them in the form of increased carbon deposits inside the engine. The problem was exacerbated when BMW decided to use a cooling system additive instead of heavier grade glycol in its coolant mix. Over time, the coolant ends up concentrating into the cylinder during warm-up and then solidifying at low temperatures (roughly 20 degrees Fahrenheit or -7 Celsius), leaving behind carbon deposits on intake valves, intake manifold gaskets, and even inside the top ring land of the pistons. N54 owners who use Synthetic oil should be less likely to encounter this problem. *

What do N54 injectors come with?

N54 injectors come with different Mfg numbers and sometimes will not line up the same as your original BMW units. Some use universal or aftermarket double pintle nozzles instead of standard single pintle nozzles.

How much torque does the N54 engine have?

The N54 has a maximum torque of 320 lb/ft (434 Nm) at 1500 pm. Over 95% of this is available between 2500–5000 rpm. The turbochargers are a key factor in the N54's strong torque characteristics. Unlike traditional turbochargers, twin-turbo systems provide the rapid response of a small turbo and the increased performance available from a larger one. However, they operate at about 70% of their maximum output in full production mode, only coming on when the throttle is engaged fully. The N54 engine uses an advanced Valvetronic throttle-less intake system to optimize volumetric efficiency through the range of rpm and engine loads. This allows for sufficient low-end torque, high fuel economy at partial load (especially on turbocharged vehicles), and maximum power at high rpm; the transition between low RPM and high RPM performance is not as sudden as a conventional throttle, and you can thus drive the engine more smoothly.

Does the N54 have forged internals?

All BMW N54 engine models have forged internals. Here are some specs:
  • N54 Displacement : 3L (2996cc)
  • Max Horsepower/Torque : 300 hp @ 5500 rpm / 300 lb-ft @ 1850 rpm
  • Block/Head material: Alusil with VANOS variable valve timing,
  • double-row timing chain and updated cooling system for enhanced durability.
  • N54 Displacement : 3L (2996cc)
  • Max Horsepower/Torque : 335hp @ 5500 rpm / 300 lb-ft @ 1850 rpm
  • Block/Head material: Alusil with VANOS variable valve timing, double-row timing chain, and updated cooling system enhance durability.

How much HP can stock N54 turbos handle?

BMW rates the stock turbos for up to 500hp. It is possible, but not recommended, to go beyond this.

Does the N54 have a timing belt or chain?

The N54 engine has a double-row timing chain. No replacement interval is posted for this item, but you can assume that it needs replacing at roughly the same time as the water pump. Due to the way these chains are routed around other parts of the engine, this may also be a labor-intensive job, with the possibility of additional parts being replaced simultaneously.

What are the common N54 engine problems?

The most common failure of the N54 engine is the premature failure of its direct fuel injectors. Other problems that occur with this engine, but less frequently than with its fuel injectors:
  • VANOS: Early VANOS units suffered profile wear and would develop a pronounced "tick" after 30,000 miles. BMW extended the warranty on this unit to 80,000 miles or 8 years (whichever came first). VANOS aftermarket rebuild kits are available, as well as a custom fix for those not under warranty.
  • Vano's pump: One case of a vanos pump failure causing an engine oil leak.
  • Valvetronic motor: A few reports of a Valvetronic motor failure leading to a complete loss of function.
  • Valvetronic hydraulic unit: Early valves had rocker arm failures leading to damage, both externally and internally, through debris ingress caused by leakage. The hydraulic unit was also phased out in early production and replaced with a later unit.
  • Valve springs: The valve springs in the N54 engine are fairly strong and prone to breakage when cold, leading to significant loss of compression and possible engine failure if oil is not present. Replacement intakes should be realigned after installation, as they may have been bent due to an obstructed camshaft.
  • Oil pump: One case of a failed oil pump leading to engine failure in a 2007 DCT N54, 60k miles into its life. The cause was determined to be an improperly routed hose that rubbed against the oil pump housing.

What problems have been reported with the N54 twin-turbo system?

BMW has had several complaints about high-pressure hoses that feed the twin turbos. These hoses are routed very close to sharp edges and can chafe through due to vibration. Symptoms of a blown hose include hesitation under acceleration, boost lag, and finally, complete loss of power.

Final Thoughts

As with any new engine, there are kinks to work out. The N54 engine is no exception--early production was plagued with problems that BMW has since worked out of the system. However, owners of newly-introduced models should be wary of potentially problematic parts like fuel injectors and vanos components. If you're considering purchasing a late-model BMW with an N54 engine, you should be aware of the potential for problems and have the vehicle thoroughly inspected before signing on the dotted line. Buying from a dealer should help to ensure that your car has been inspected and any necessary repairs are taken care of. However, if you are buying from a private owner, look for evidence that they have already addressed the potential issues with the engine before you take over their problem. If you buy a 2006-2007 model E90 or E92, be particularly wary of faults with the VANOS system and direct fuel injectors. The best bet is to look for low mileage models under a BMW warranty or with extended coverage to mitigate the potential cost of these repairs.