It's not hard to see why BMW's slogan is "sheer driving pleasure"—the German automobile manufacturer has produced excellent vehicles powered by equally high-performing engines. These engines are some of the best available to the general public. BMW has been awarded International Engine of the Year 5 times, and if they continue on the course of exceptional engineering, that number will only continue to rise.
The engine is one of the most important parts of your vehicle, so as an owner of one that uses a BMW engine, keep reading to learn where to source replacement BMW engines, about the different BMW engines and a few notable ones, and how to take care of your BMW engine to ensure it performs at its best for as long as possible.
Sourcing BMW Engines (OEM vs. Aftermarket)
When you purchase a brand new BMW, it comes with an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) engine made by BMW. Engines made by third-party manufacturers and usable in BMWs fall under the "Aftermarket" parts category.
Unless the engine of your BMW is out of production and impossible to find, we recommend investing in an original BMW engine to return your car to its original level of performance. Because of the more stringent levels of manufacturing, you'll likely get more use out of an OEM replacement. Aftermarket engines might not only not be covered by BMW's warranty—they could also void the warranty and even damage your vehicle when installed. Moreover, they might not even fit into your BMW's engine bay properly. When it comes to an expensive part like the engine, it's prudent to avoid taking chances and to go with the original.
Types of BMW Engines
BMW's bread and butter is the inline-six or straight six engine, a design that the V6 has all but replaced by other car manufacturers. But besides the straight six, BMW has also produced gasoline and diesel inline threes, inline fours, V8s, V10s, and V12s from 1.2L to 6.75L.
BMW's gasoline engines are as follows:
Inline three turbo: B38
Inline four: M10, M40, M42, M43, M44
Inline four turbo: B48, N13, N20
Straight six: M20, M30, M50, M52, M54, M78, M88, M328, M335, M337, N52, N53, S50, S52, S54
Straight six turbo: B58, M102, M106, N54, N55, S55, S58
V8: M60, M62, N62, OHV V8, S62, S65
V8 turbo: N63, S63, S68, S68T
V12: M70, M73, N73, S70
V12 turbo: N74
The following are BMW's diesel engines, all of which are turbocharged:
Inline three turbo: B37
Inline four turbo: M41, M47, N47, B47
Inline six turbo: M21, M51, M57, N57, B57
V8 turbo: M67
Engines Used in Hybrid Cars
The B38, B48, and B58 are turbocharged inline-three, inline-four, and inline-six engines used by BMW's hybrid cars.
Notable BMW Engine Series
BMW M engines are those designed before 2001. These include the M50, one of the best engines ever made by BMW. The straight six ranges from 2.0L to 2.5L and produces 184 hp. It can be found in the 520i and 525i E34s of the period, lasting over 560,000 km of mileage without breaking a sweat. Fuel efficiency comes in at around 7.6 km/l. Another standout in this range is the simple and reliable M54 powering the E46 3 series. It can achieve a fuel consumption rate of 10.1 km/l.
The N engines are those designed after 2001. Among them is the 3.0L N52 straight six, the first engine to use magnesium/aluminum composite construction in the engine block. It is a reliable engine that made Ward's "10 Best Engines" list in 2006 and 2007. You can find it in models like the E90, E92, and E93, achieving a fuel efficiency of 8.9km/l.
In 2009, BMW launched the N55, their first straight six engine to use a twin-scroll turbocharger. It ranked on Ward's "10 Best Engines" for three consecutive years from 2011 to 2013, similar to the N52. It has been used in the E90, E91, E92, and E93 models, with fuel efficiency at around 9.4km/l.
BMW's modular engines produced after 2013 fall under the B Series. It features the B58 3.0L turbocharged straight six, the successor to the N55. The B58 is arguably one of the brand's most versatile engines, seeing use in an X5 SUV, 745E plug-in hybrid, and M240i. So exceptional is the B58 that Toyota even adopted it for use in their Supra.
Maintenance & Care of Your BMW Engine
To realize your BMW engine's fullest potential, both in terms of performance and longevity, it's crucial that you pay attention and care for it properly. Given the high cost of an engine replacement, you'll be doing a favor for your BMW engine and your wallet.
Key Routine Maintenance Tasks
Here are some simple maintenance tasks that you can do yourself to keep your vehicle in good condition:
1. Regularly change the engine oil to keep the parts lubricated.
2. Check and maintain the coolant levels.
3. Be aware of any leaks and address them promptly.
4. Replace the spark plugs, wires, and fuel filters when necessary.
Common Issues & How to Address Them
You might encounter these common engine issues along the course of ownership of your BMW. One might be engine overheating, which can be due to a leak in the cooling system, a bad radiator fan, a faulty water pump, a faulty thermostat, or low engine oil levels. Another is engine noises due to anything from a bearing to a timing shaft problem. Fixes for these will involve repairing or replacing the necessary parts or topping up engine oil. If significant damage to the engine has already occurred, you may need to replace the entire unit.
Are BMW Engines Expensive?
All that performance is costly. BMW engines are pricier than the average, but you can be sure you'll get a reliable and high-performing engine.
Where to Buy Genuine BMW Engines Online
You can buy brand-new OEM crate engines directly from your country's BMW and OEM parts retailers. On the other hand, second-hand BMW engines can be a cost-effective alternative. You can find them in great condition and at affordable prices here at BE FORWARD Auto Parts.