Build Log: M57 X5

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Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Paddles in action! :)

Also, this chirping noise shown below would happen periodically on start up, usually when the engine hasen't been ran for >12 hours. This was resolved when replacing my harmonic balancer, alternator pulley, and water pump. My guess it was caused by the alternator pulley.

I had some odd locking behavior, the driver door stopped unlocking at all and you needed to utilize the "actual" key however the driver door would lock with the FOB. Gas cap also needed a manual release to open. All other doors were unresponsive. Research said it was either a fuse or lock actuator. Thankfully it was a fuse, I replaced the 15A with 20A.


My initial fog light retrofit utilized 3M VHB which is amazing stuff but it didn't offer the structural rigidity needed for this application and with the heat sinks of the projectors completely exposed there was too much space for water and dirt to ingress so I revised the design.

To mount the LED projector bracket to the fog housing I used my ultra tiny drill bit and some steel wire to create 4 anchor points

Next was JB Weld which completely seals the perimeter and also adds rigidity.

Last were rubber housing caps to seal the rear, these work but they are a little excessive in their volume and the flange that grabs onto the housings could be deeper so I will be trying a different design later to optimize the design.

I gave the X5 a wash immediately after installing the revised fogs and so far so good, next wash will be with a power washer :)



I finally had the opportunity to take some output pics. Some things to note on these photos: The X5 is parked at a slight angle relative to the wall and the ground also has a slight angle which makes the output scale up in size towards the left. I did a quick aim of the projectors inside the fog housings before installing them into the bumper but never did another aiming once in the bumper, as you can see the driver side is aimed a bit higher and should be lower to match the passenger side.

The passenger side is aimed about as low as it can go, the projector assmebly bottoms out on the fog housing limiting the downward angle. I might be able to improve this a little by mounting the LED projector up a little higher in the fog housing when I join the two assemblies but the improvement will be small. The limited downward aim combined with the relatively high location of the fog lights in the X5's bumper these fog lights are more like supplemental driving lights. That being said with the ho-hum performance of the E70's adaptive xenon lights and the impressive output of the small LED fogs, they do a nice job complimenting the headlight's low beam output and help fill out the beam pattern. Photos are with an iphone and exposure is on auto.

LED fogs only

Low beams only

Low + Fog

Fog only

Here is a video cycling through the lights


Nov 6, 2016
Sell me a set of those fogs. I'll take that revision. Go make another with whatever improvements you want ;)

I have a cracked housing which let moisture inside.


Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Where to begin? Lots to cover so I will get to it.

I added twin Diode Dynamics Stage 6" "wide" light bars as reverse lights. I run a single DD bar on my E61 and it's amazing, this is double amazing. Tapped into OEM wiring, mounted to the subframe braces. These offer tons of light and with their optics and location tucked forward under the bumper you aren't going to be blinding people when reversing ...unless thy happen to be on their hands and knees for some reason.






Installed H&R 1.2 front springs, they come with adjustable links for the rear but before ordering the springs I already DIYed some adjustable links by modding the stock units. I hear mixed reviews on the H&R springs and the ride quality but I figured I would give them a shot and come to my own conclusion. I should really get some struts which are intended to operate lowered but as part of the experiment I wanted to see how the stock struts performed, I replaced thin bushings and upgraded from teh "3rd row" bump stops to the "sport."






Rear links set to 65mm as H&R recommends, I like the drop but those tires are a bit thin



Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
I like custom stuff and I like turbo noises so I "built" aka trimmed and assembled some silicone and metal. The goal was to retain the cold air source like stock but shorten the intake ducting and hopefully increase turbo response and flow capabilities. Freeing up room in the engine bay is always a bonus. I plan on dyno testing this vs stock to confirm performance later. I have a detailed thread on this project in the forum, just search! :)
Stock intake for reference

My intake




Thick boy tires. The Michelin PSSs originally on the 612M wheels were 285/35/21 and 325/30/21 A 30 profile tire is too thin IMO for a 5,000+lbs SUV. With the short gearing and only 6 spd trans on the diesel I wanted meatier tires to A) add comfort and B) give it some longer legs at highway speeds. The added rotational mass will hurt acceleration and braking a bit but I have some solutions lined up for that. :)

These are Continental SportContact 5P 285/40/21 and 325/40/21 If you recall I test fit a 285/45 front tire that DIDN'T fit up front, that is the matching tire for these monstrous rear tires. With tire sizes limited in 21" I had limited options and this was staggered setup was my best option. I am not crazy about the Hot Wheels raked look but this was a function>form modification. The front tire looks perfect, if they made a matching 325/35 rear it would have been ideal buuuuuuut they don't! These rears have a 31" diameter!



At some angles the rear tires look out of place and at other angles they just look beefy. The exaggerated rear flares do help the rear meat blend in a bit.





Apparently the 3rd row got some use with the previous owner, good for them. Aside from a comical test to see if all 6'8" 255lb of me could fit in there I have never and will never use it. I bought the X5 with 3rd row for the load leveling so this seat is nothing but added weight and cargo space. 100lbs and 6 cu/ft of cargo space to be exact! I purchased some of the OEM cargo rails but will install once my new non-3rd row cargo floor arrives.




Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Now onto the good stuff. The diesel motor has been chock long enough, time to let that motor be efficient. In addition to the bump in MPG, and +150whp and +150wtq with the DPF, SCR, and Uerea tans gone that is another 100lbs lost.


Cleaning as I go


Fabbed up a block off plate for the low pressure EGR connection



Malone Tuning + Flashzilla tuning device. I currently have Stage 2, 2.5, and 2.9 to play around with. Currently running 2.9 and will data log and see if we can't make some tuning revisions to optimize everything.



Let's take a moment to appreciate this Rawtek exhaust, this features a 3.5" DP and an high flow cat in the mid-pipe. Rawtek is more expensive than other X5D exhaust options but with build quality like this the price is easy to justify for the discerning enthusiast.







The real headlight retrofit is coming soon until then I wanted to test out these new Philips XV2s.

Since removing the rear DVD system I had a void in the console, the gentleman who bought the system was supposed to send me his storage cubby but I never heard from him so I sourced the parts from eBay. Hard to see but now I have a place to put "oddments" as BMW would say.

With some exhaust sensors now rendered useless I went through the engine bay, removing what I could, rerouting some items, and giving a little nip/tuck to clean things up. Happy with how it is looking.



Feb 23, 2018
Dude. This X5 is incredible. You are really making me consider one but then I realize how much work involved to get to your level, oof! Amazing job like always.
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Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
The X5 has it's first road trip under it's belt (~700 miles round trip). Being deleted the X5 has the potential to be efficient but you really need to be mindful of your driving habits, for me >70mph the MPGs really start to deteriorate. I averaged 23MPG on the outbound trip which included getting over some mountains and also some spirited "demo" driving with relatives. On the return trip the first 80 miles were mainly rolling 2 lane road with light traffic and 55-65mph, this yielded 28.3 mpg and once back on the highway doing 75-80mph for the next ~300 miles including the mountains the gauge read 25mpg once I returned home.

I have some more tricks up my sleeve to optimize efficiency but it's pretty clear driving habits are the most important variable with fuel efficiency. I am interested to see what kind of mileage I can get with the beast but the reality is I rarely have the patience to drive that way, lol. I have another road trip for the holidays were I will do my best to see what ind of MPG I can achieve.

On a side note, while running the Propel HPR fuel there is no visible smoke while driving even at WOT, awesome. In addition to no smoke the renewable fuel also has almost double the cetane of regular diesel, and the icing on top is the fuel reduces green house emissions by 40-80%, SICK! You gotta be in CA to indulge.

I found a cheap E60 M5 cluster on eBay made a hybrid cluster. M5 gauges, X5 gauge faces, M5 needles, M5 bezel, X5 KOMBI. I was torn on the white vs red needles, I modded the cluster in my E61 and left the needles white as there is no arguing the superior daytime visibility. I prefer the svelt looks of the M5 needles so I figured I would give them a shot and see how I get along with the red. At this point the hybrid cluster is just an aesthetic mod but my goal is to get the radial engine oil temp gauge that surrounds the tachometer to work so I can know when my engine is up to temp before stomping on it.






With an upcoming multi-state trip for the holidays and 2 pups some extra cargo space is needed. I was eyeing up the Thule boxes but found a killer deal on a Yakima Skybox, not crazy about the styling but the dimensions and capacity were a good fit. I paired it with some Yakima Whispbars, this is my 3rd set and love the sleek profile. Happy with how it all turned out but the red really clashes with my color scheme. Pffffft.

Box was functionally perfect after lubing the locks but it had a bunch of stucco and white paint marks on it from careless handling/storage but I polished the turd and made it a little more presentable.





Worn front end sway bar links replaced with Meyle HD

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Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Another chill upgrade. ATM stepped intachilla. I went with the optional ASV pipe so all the leaky OEM connectors from the turbo outlet to the intake manifold are replaced with quality silicone and clamp connections.






Clean as you go!

Can you tell which screw was close to the turbo outlet? lol

Adapters installed on turbo outlet and ASV

Stuffed in there. I will probably build a custom shroud that goes down to the bottom of the intercooler so airflow is optimized.

Everything reassembled, time to datalog and make sure I don't blow off any connections.

The last piece of the puzzle for the upcoming road trip is a winter wheel/tire setup. I have the OEM 19s that came on the X5 but 19s won't clear the eventual X5M brake upgrade and I don't want to reconfigure the winter set again down the road so I was on the hunt for some 20s. The OEM 20" X5 wheels are all heavy AF and during researching "5x120" on Craigslist I found a set of Camaro ZL1 wheels that caught my eye since they are concave and had a 10-spoke design that I would describe as more of a split 5 spoke. With more researching I found they have the same 20x10 20x11 widths as OEM X5 wheels and mangeable offsets at 23F and 43R. Bore is 67 so that will need to be machined out to 74.1 but no biggie.

The kicker is they are FORGED and made by Alcoa, tipping the scales at 26lb F and 27lb R, light, really light! I decided to go with a square 20x11 setup for simplicity and found a killer deal on Michelin Aplin LA2 tires, 295/40/20. Got 4 new tires for a little more than the retail price for a single tire!

My current 21" 612M wheels are forged but carry a bit more weight and the beefy Continental add more weight, especially the monstrous rear tire. My current setup tips the scale at 68lbs F and 80lbs R. The winter setup will be 61lbs per corner. I am eager to see how performance is impacted. If all goes well I might consider the ZL1 wheels for summer (all the time buy mountain trips) as well.

Pic of the ZL1 wheels for reference, I think the styling will suit the X5 well. I had some concerns of putting sports car wheels on a performance truck but considering the quality of the wheel and the fact that the ZL1 isn't THAT much lighter than the X5 I think it should be fine, if my wheels breaks in half while driving then the jokes on me.



Cheap rubber at
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Jan 28, 2018
Strong Island
dude thats some great research on the wheels. I think they should be able to carry the weight of the truck with zero issues, especially being forged. I Pmed you on facebook btw regarding some wheel ideas


Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Need to get caught up a bit on this thread. I just returned from a 2 week road trip through CA, NV, UT, and AZ but there were some important mods which happened prior to the trip.

- Engine, Transmission, Transfer Case, and F/R Differentials all flushed and I added some "Golden Eagle" oil, more on this below.
- Installed "Phantom Fuel System"
- Swapped to ZL1 Winter wheel setup
- Converted D1S bulbs to D2S and installed custom 50w Hella ballasts
- Installed Diode Dynamics 18" LED light bar
- Installed non-3rd row cargo floor and OEM rail system

Threw the X5 on the scales, 5,100 with a 1/2 tank of gas. So this should be 5,050 on the ZL1 wheels.

First up is the Phantom Fuel system. I stumbled upon this thing while searching Craigslist for X5D related stuff. I contacted the seller for more info and after connecting over the phone, sharing some info back on forth via email I am not a beta tester for the unit. I call this thing the wizard-tube but it is essentially filled with metals that excite the fuel as it passes through which in terms helps the fuel completely burn for better performance and efficiency. The tech is derived from petroleum drilling but has been implemented into commercial diesel fleets around Texas such as semi trucks and school busses with excellent results. The system can work on all fuels types so I might throw it on my E61 that runs ethanol to see how it performs. Data on more performance oriented vehicles like the X5 is limited which is where I come in. I will be sharing more info on this later.



Fluids were all flushed and Golden Eagle oil supplement was added. You add 10% to any engine/trans/gear oil. This is derived from the commercial refrigerant market and is essentially a hyper lubricant. The concept is simple, less friction = less parasitic loss which means better performance and efficiency. Not cheap at $135/gal but you don't need much. Before/After dynos have been done on C6 Z06s and Gen 2 Vipers and show a 10whp and 30whp gain respectively.

I pieced together a square setup of 20x11 ZL1 wheels off eBay, I ended getting 4 wheels for ~$700 and with the crazy ~$90/tire I paid for the Michelin Alpin LA2 295/40/20 (Tirerack has them on "closeout" for $1,000/set) the total cost was about $1,400 for the setup which isn't "cheap" but considering the quality and weight of the wheels and that the snow tires are new, it's a great value.

2 wheels with tires arrived

The other wheels are tires arrived



The stamp of quality

Wheels bored out to 74.1mm

Tires mounted and wheels installed. 3mm spacer up front to clear wheel carrier and 25mm in the back but a 30mm would be ideal for flushness. I am VERY happy with how everything came together. I love concave wheels and this design cuits the E70 well. I will likely keep these as my summer aka "all the time minus mountain trip" wheels.





Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
The plan was to retrofit the headlights but I ran out of time prior to the road trip so I converted the bulbs to D2S which allows me to run the 50w ballasts, this bulb/ballast setup is currently running through the stock projectors (meh) but the same setup will be paired with the Lexus SC430 projectors below. The SC430s are amazing but low-beam-only so I needed a solution for the high beam. The plan was to install quad projectors, one low + one high, but there isn't enough room to stuff a decent high beam option so I reverted to an LED light bar for high beam use. A Diode Dynamics 18" Stage series light bar in "driving" optics was my choice. This was wired into the OEM high beam which means I have I retain the high beam assist feature with the light bar. Both the 50w ballasts and light bar use relay harnesses.

Here is the back of the headlights with the D2S igniters coming through sealing grommets. The additional pigtail on the left is the OEM input for the low beam and connects to the relay harness.

Originally I tapped the high beam pigtail inside the headlight as well but it wasn't triggering the relay harness, not sure if the voltage drops or if there was something going on with the CANBUS interrupting the signal so I switched the location to the wiring harness just before the headlight connector. Pigtail is soldered in and I wrapped it up with the fresh tape.

Light bar install was simple, I bolted the adjustable brackets to the plastic shroud under the kidney grills.

Blocking the power steering cooler and having the mesh grill block the light bar are both not ideal but they are compromises I am willing to make for the high beam performance. Where the grill does block a minimal amount of light it does offer a stealthier appearance which I like.


Here are some output pics...

LED fogs

Low beam (stock projectors + Philips XV2 + 50w Hella ballasts)

High beam (projectors + LED Light bar)

With the 3rd row deleted this is what the cargo area looked like
UlYbVxtUzlHrsGIdgf5Y5vlLqekGhGLAo71g=w1300-h977-no.jpg I sourced the cargo floor from a non-3rd row X5 ($50) and snagged some OEM cargo rails ($50). I still need to get some touch up pieces but this is essentially how it will look. Given my 2nd row is designed for the 3rd row which means it has sliding, reclining, and pivots forward for rear entry the floor and cargo trim near the 2nd row is very different between the 3rd now and non-3rd row vehicles. The added adjustability of my second row is great and I have no interest to swap in the "static" 2nd row found on non-3rd row X5s but this also means I can't get the base piece where the cargo floor's hinges pivot on (and gas strut mount) nor can I run the cargo area side trim pieces without the built in 3rd row armrests that my X5 has. Not the end of the world but it does mean my cargo floor essentially just laying into position and isn't bolted to anything. A bit of a bummer a proper OEM conversion isn't possible but IMO the adjustability of the 2nd row is worth it. Hope that made sense! :)




Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Here are a bunch of pics from my Holiday road trip.

Duck Creek Village, UT.
Cargo box was a life saver...






Zion National Park, UT


Zebra Slot Canyons, UT.







Bryce Canyon, UT

Sedona, AZ


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