Road to FBO - N54

Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
Hey guys so I’m almost ready to go full bolt on. I got MHD, VRSF coated downpipes, VRSF 7” FMIC, DCI, and still on the market for a charge pipe and BOV. I don’t want to put anything together until I have all that I need and all proper maintenance to make sure no issues come down the line. My goals are nothing crazy; I just want to go FBO with possibly a low ethanol blend (e30) on a protune from any one of the great tuners on this platform. The main thing I’m striving for is reliability. I hope I am taking all the proper precautions to make sure of this.
Maintenance wise, I just did my valve cover gasket 300 miles ago, walnut blasted 3k miles ago, oil change coming up soon (Motul 8100 Excess), index 12 injectors installed 14k miles ago, and finally plugs and coils. Right now I am in the process of choosing plugs and coils because these are crucial. I really wish I could go with the PR coil kit but my budget isn’t really allowing for it. With that being said, I have read a lot of good reviews about the Delphi coils(10571). However, I noticed that the 10328 for the s55 are applicable on the n54. Does anyone know the difference between the two coils?
Moving forward to plugs, I will end up going with the NGK 95770s gapped at .022. This seems to be the best combo from what I have read. Once that is complete, I will finally bolt on the goodies!
I do have some questions though.
1. Should I just save more and get the PR Coil kit? Also, will these coils need replacing periodically, or just the wires?
2. Going on e30 on the stock LPFP is easily achievable from what I have read. Over time, will it cause more stress on the pump, or no because it is below the threshold that negatively affects it?
3. Any other maintenance you guys see fit before I move forward? Cleaning vanos solenoids? Replacing serpentine belt? Etc.
4. Will the power gains from 93 octane to e30 blend be worth the headaches of checking ethanol content and possible complications that could arise from ethanol?
5. This may be a dumb question and lack of knowledge but is there any way that coated / exhaust wrapped pipes can cause more harm on the turbos due to not letting the heat radiate out as much and causing more heat build up in the turbos themselves?
6. I would love to hear how other people are doing with very similar set ups. I know it seems like I am asking some repetitive questions that are online already, but I am just looking for some reassurance and also that many of those posts are 5+ years old and the n54 platform keeps developing and evolving leading to new solutions for old problems. Any info and advice would be gladly appreciated. Thank you.
 

Jeffman

Captain
Jan 7, 2017
1,445
Hey guys so I’m almost ready to go full bolt on. I got MHD, VRSF coated downpipes, VRSF 7” FMIC, DCI, and still on the market for a charge pipe and BOV. I don’t want to put anything together until I have all that I need and all proper maintenance to make sure no issues come down the line. My goals are nothing crazy; I just want to go FBO with possibly a low ethanol blend (e30) on a protune from any one of the great tuners on this platform. The main thing I’m striving for is reliability. I hope I am taking all the proper precautions to make sure of this.
Maintenance wise, I just did my valve cover gasket 300 miles ago, walnut blasted 3k miles ago, oil change coming up soon (Motul 8100 Excess), index 12 injectors installed 14k miles ago, and finally plugs and coils. Right now I am in the process of choosing plugs and coils because these are crucial. I really wish I could go with the PR coil kit but my budget isn’t really allowing for it. With that being said, I have read a lot of good reviews about the Delphi coils(10571). However, I noticed that the 10328 for the s55 are applicable on the n54. Does anyone know the difference between the two coils?
Moving forward to plugs, I will end up going with the NGK 95770s gapped at .022. This seems to be the best combo from what I have read. Once that is complete, I will finally bolt on the goodies!
I do have some questions though.
1. Should I just save more and get the PR Coil kit? Also, will these coils need replacing periodically, or just the wires?
2. Going on e30 on the stock LPFP is easily achievable from what I have read. Over time, will it cause more stress on the pump, or no because it is below the threshold that negatively affects it?
3. Any other maintenance you guys see fit before I move forward? Cleaning vanos solenoids? Replacing serpentine belt? Etc.
4. Will the power gains from 93 octane to e30 blend be worth the headaches of checking ethanol content and possible complications that could arise from ethanol?
5. This may be a dumb question and lack of knowledge but is there any way that coated / exhaust wrapped pipes can cause more harm on the turbos due to not letting the heat radiate out as much and causing more heat build up in the turbos themselves?
6. I would love to hear how other people are doing with very similar set ups. I know it seems like I am asking some repetitive questions that are online already, but I am just looking for some reassurance and also that many of those posts are 5+ years old and the n54 platform keeps developing and evolving leading to new solutions for old problems. Any info and advice would be gladly appreciated. Thank you.
Xm,
Congrats.
How many miles on the car/engine? How has it been maintained this far?
In general I've been following this without any issues:

BMWCCA Mike Miller's recommended maintenance schedule.
Change the oil every 5,000 miles
Brake fluid change once a year
Spark plugs (highly tuned N54 change every 20K-30K miles)
Change the coolant every two years or every 30,000 miles
Change the differential fluid and transfer case fluid (AWD) every 30,000 miles.
Power Steering Fluid: Every 30,000 miles
VANOS solenoids: clean them / reverse them only if you get codes. Mine gave codes at 40,000 and then 60,000 miles. Cleaning/reversing worked each time.
Fuel Filter: Every 60,000 miles (E90 is in the fuel tank - driver's / left side in tank)
Water pump, thermostat every 60,000 miles (mine went at 45K)
Engine Drive Belts: Replace O.E.M. BMW poly-ribbed serpentine belts every 60,000 miles.
Every 90,000 miles: radiator, expansion tank, fan - consider an all-aluminum radiator and expansion tank and you won't have to do it again at 180,000 miles
Coolant and Fuel Hoses: Every 120,000 miles

Regarding your mods:
1. Definitely try to prepare for E30 or E40! Huge gains. I've been going crazy trying to get E85 again after all three stations here in the Philly area stopped selling it. I'm actually going to spend $45 for a five gallon pail of X98 from VP Racing Fuels to blend in my tank tomorrow to make E40-E50. In my experience knowing the exact ethanol% is not critical since the ethanol does a fantastic job of surpressing knock-related timing pulls. I've guesstimated the number of gallons of ethanol in my tank for two years without testing and never had a problem. DON'T WORRY ABOUT ETHANOL - IT'S YOUR ENGINE'S BEST FRIEND.

Stock fuel pump should be fine up to E30. At E40 the low fuel pump pressures start getting low (40 psi) @ WOT. I got the Fuel-It LPFP Stage 2 bucket pump to go up to E60 where you get the most power. Save the LPFP mod to do only when you need to.

I did the one-step colder NGK plugs gapped to 0.022" like you're planning.

The cost of the PR kit is just a little more than new coils. I've heard great things about them and in fact I got them but haven't had the time to install them yet. I wouldn't worry about new coils unless you are getting misfires on your tune. So I think since you're just starting out you should focus on the charge pipe and blowoff valve / diverter valves first.

One more thing: I still have my original catted downpipes and exhaust so I can't comment on whether ceramic coating is a problem or not.

GOOD LUCK AND GOD SPEED, BUT DON'T KILL YOURSELF OR ANYBODY!
 
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[email protected]

Lieutenant
Nov 14, 2016
655
North Wilkesboro
Logging is your friend when it comes to E-Blends

Definitely got some play room with the mods there. I'd highly suggest the PR/BL coils simply due to the extra power in the spark and not worrying about MOSFET issues.

PM me if you need any guidance.
 
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Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
Here is a thread for plugs:

https://bmw.spoolstreet.com/threads/n54-the-best-plugs-injectors-and-coils-thread.1094/

I run the N20 plugs and my car runs great, but I'm ST. Also until you get upgraded coils, you may want to run a smaller gap to avoid misfires. I run a 0.018 even still on E54.

What are your power goals?
I read the plugs thread a couple times! Nice job on that. And yeah, I did reference that a couple times when looking at the options.

My power goals are between 375-425 whp. I believe that's what I should get for fbo with custom tune and e30. And yes I definitely thought about smaller gap but I don't have any crazy levels of boost, thinking 18 psi-ish. Don't know if it needs to be more to get to my power goals in mind. And by upgraded coils are you referring to the bimmerlife/PR coils?
 

Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
Xm,
Congrats.
How many miles on the car/engine? How has it been maintained this far?
In general I've been following this without any issues:

BMWCCA Mike Miller's recommended maintenance schedule.
Change the oil every 5,000 miles
Brake fluid change once a year
Spark plugs (highly tuned N54 change every 20K-30K miles)
Change the coolant every two years or every 30,000 miles
Change the differential fluid and transfer case fluid (AWD) every 30,000 miles.
Power Steering Fluid: Every 30,000 miles
VANOS solenoids: clean them / reverse them only if you get codes. Mine gave codes at 40,000 and then 60,000 miles. Cleaning/reversing worked each time.
Fuel Filter: Every 60,000 miles (E90 is in the fuel tank - driver's / left side in tank)
Water pump, thermostat every 60,000 miles (mine went at 45K)
Engine Drive Belts: Replace O.E.M. BMW poly-ribbed serpentine belts every 60,000 miles.
Every 90,000 miles: radiator, expansion tank, fan - consider an all-aluminum radiator and expansion tank and you won't have to do it again at 180,000 miles
Coolant and Fuel Hoses: Every 120,000 miles

Regarding your mods:
1. Definitely try to prepare for E30 or E40! Huge gains. I've been going crazy trying to get E85 again after all three stations here in the Philly area stopped selling it. I'm actually going to spend $45 for a five gallon pail of X98 from VP Racing Fuels to blend in my tank tomorrow to make E40-E50. In my experience knowing the exact ethanol% is not critical since the ethanol does a fantastic job of surpressing knock-related timing pulls. I've guesstimated the number of gallons of ethanol in my tank for two years without testing and never had a problem. DON'T WORRY ABOUT ETHANOL - IT'S YOUR ENGINE'S BEST FRIEND.

Stock fuel pump should be fine up to E30. At E40 the low fuel pump pressures start getting low (40 psi) @ WOT. I got the Fuel-It LPFP Stage 2 bucket pump to go up to E60 where you get the most power. Save the LPFP mod to do only when you need to.

I did the one-step colder NGK plugs gapped to 0.022" like you're planning.

The cost of the PR kit is just a little more than new coils. I've heard great things about them and in fact I got them but haven't had the time to install them yet. I wouldn't worry about new coils unless you are getting misfires on your tune. So I think since you're just starting out you should focus on the charge pipe and blowoff valve / diverter valves first.

One more thing: I still have my original catted downpipes and exhaust so I can't comment on whether ceramic coating is a problem or not.

GOOD LUCK AND GOD SPEED, BUT DON'T KILL YOURSELF OR ANYBODY!
Thanks so much for this! Currently the car is at 92k miles. Maintenance on the car has been meticulously taken care of. So hopefully it won't lead to any surprises down the road. Any luckily here in the Chicagoland area e85 is pretty easy to come by. I also didn't know you don't have to critically be on top of how much ethanol you have in your tank. Gives me a little piece of mind. Moving forward like you said, I might just stick with a new set of coils and not push for PR/bimmerlife yet. Really appreciate your experience.
 
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Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
Logging is your friend when it comes to E-Blends

Definitely got some play room with the mods there. I'd highly suggest the PR/BL coils simply due to the extra power in the spark and not worrying about MOSFET issues.

PM me if you need any guidance.
The whole mosfet issues are what really are pushing me for one of the upgraded coil kits. That's the last thing I want. I feel like that is hit or miss if it'll occur or not. And will be doing a lot of that. Just hoping I can save and get it lol done before winter comes lol.
 

[email protected]

Lieutenant
Nov 14, 2016
655
North Wilkesboro
The whole mosfet issues are what really are pushing me for one of the upgraded coil kits. That's the last thing I want. I feel like that is hit or miss if it'll occur or not. And will be doing a lot of that. Just hoping I can save and get it lol done before winter comes lol.
Just make sure to really draw out your build before jumping on one thing or another. I can't tell you how important the small things are. I have seen people with upgraded turbos + FBO and they never looked into a upgraded TMAP sensor, Upgraded PCV Valves, New Vacuum lines, etc..

There's a lot of small things that can truly go a long way.
 
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antiochasylum

Specialist
Mar 10, 2017
66
I was upgraded turbos before a new TMAP lol. Unless your targeting 22 psi. It's not needed. Good list. Just stay on top of your maintenance. Even if it doesn't need it. Replace all your gaskets, coils, plugs and all.
 
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Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
Just make sure to really draw out your build before jumping on one thing or another. I can't tell you how important the small things are. I have seen people with upgraded turbos + FBO and they never looked into a upgraded TMAP sensor, Upgraded PCV Valves, New Vacuum lines, etc..

There's a lot of small things that can truly go a long way.
That's exactly what I want to do. Not trying to jump the gun on anything and just making sure I do it correctly. But I did replace my PCV valve with the RB valve 10k miles ago. And for the tmap sensor, don't I only need to upgrade it if I choose to run higher than 20lbs of boost? If that's true then I won't worry about that. But will definitely do the vacuum lines.
 

Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
I was upgraded turbos before a new TMAP lol. Unless your targeting 22 psi. It's not needed. Good list. Just stay on top of your maintenance. Even if it doesn't need it. Replace all your gaskets, coils, plugs and all.
Sadly my oil pan gasket is leaking . Will need to take that in to get it done. Don't have the balls to do it myself especially with owning an xi.
 

LessIsMore

Specialist
Aug 21, 2017
56
1. Should I just save more and get the PR Coil kit? Also, will these coils need replacing periodically, or just the wires?
I say no - Stock coils should be fine for you, no need to replace them if you don't have any issues/misfires currently. They can be a PITA though, so if PR's are easier why not, but doesn't seem necessary at all.

2. Going on e30 on the stock LPFP is easily achievable from what I have read. Over time, will it cause more stress on the pump, or no because it is below the threshold that negatively affects it?
Should be fine at least in the short/mid term - yes it will run a little hotter since fuel mass/volume will be lower, thus dissipating less heat - but in reality I wouldn't worry. If the LPFP eventually fails, replace with a stage 2 fuel-it bucket or something. (then you could run higher ethanol content and use an e85 BEF to make a lot more power too!)

3. Any other maintenance you guys see fit before I move forward? Cleaning vanos solenoids? Replacing serpentine belt? Etc.
regular maintenance schedule, and frequent inspections of the components. I try not to create problems for myself by fiddling with things that are not broken.

4. Will the power gains from 93 octane to e30 blend be worth the headaches of checking ethanol content and possible complications that could arise from ethanol?
yes, power gains are absolutely worth it to run e30 vs 93. And don't worry about checking ethanol content if you're only running e30, total overkill. Just mix the right ratio at the pump.

5. This may be a dumb question and lack of knowledge but is there any way that coated / exhaust wrapped pipes can cause more harm on the turbos due to not letting the heat radiate out as much and causing more heat build up in the turbos themselves?
Not sure, but never heard of any issues. Also not many wrappingtheir exhausts, etc. except for turbine blankets on singles turbos.

6. I would love to hear how other people are doing with very similar set ups. I know it seems like I am asking some repetitive questions that are online already, but I am just looking for some reassurance and also that many of those posts are 5+ years old and the n54 platform keeps developing and evolving leading to new solutions for old problems. Any info and advice would be gladly appreciated. Thank you.
I ran FBO/e30 for years and had zero reliability problems or complications. Definitely recommend that, for a DD that's probably a good sweet spot of power and reliability. Would even recommend one step further and doing Stage 2 LPFP and MHD e85 map so you can run more ethanol. It really wakes the car up. but you'd be pushing the stock turbos hard at that point.
 

Xm-n54

Private
May 8, 2017
49
I say no - Stock coils should be fine for you, no need to replace them if you don't have any issues/misfires currently. They can be a PITA though, so if PR's are easier why not, but doesn't seem necessary at all.



Should be fine at least in the short/mid term - yes it will run a little hotter since fuel mass/volume will be lower, thus dissipating less heat - but in reality I wouldn't worry. If the LPFP eventually fails, replace with a stage 2 fuel-it bucket or something. (then you could run higher ethanol content and use an e85 BEF to make a lot more power too!)



regular maintenance schedule, and frequent inspections of the components. I try not to create problems for myself by fiddling with things that are not broken.



yes, power gains are absolutely worth it to run e30 vs 93. And don't worry about checking ethanol content if you're only running e30, total overkill. Just mix the right ratio at the pump.



Not sure, but never heard of any issues. Also not many wrappingtheir exhausts, etc. except for turbine blankets on singles turbos.



I ran FBO/e30 for years and had zero reliability problems or complications. Definitely recommend that, for a DD that's probably a good sweet spot of power and reliability. Would even recommend one step further and doing Stage 2 LPFP and MHD e85 map so you can run more ethanol. It really wakes the car up. but you'd be pushing the stock turbos hard at that point.
Thanks so much for all the feedback. I love hearing when guys go years without any issues, same thing I want!
 
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