It is about the BMW 3 liter diesel marked with the code M57, which made its debut in 1998 and does not just power the cars of this brand. It is appreciated by users and tuners alike and has a reputation for being armored. While in the United States the best diesel engines for popular pick-ups are those from Cummins, there is no doubt in Europe whose designs deserve the highest ratings.
BMW M57 Engine History
As an engine manufacturer, BMW has designed many attractive designs with excellent parameters, but over time it often turns out to be defective or fail. Some hoped in the late 90’s that this German brand, which is known especially for its sports cars, will contribute to the history of the automotive industry with diesel engines.
The M57 was produced between 1998 and 2013, but is still the topic of conversation for many people looking for used cars. Also for those who are considering replacing the damaged original engine with another engine. Without a doubt, this 6-cylinder design is the most successful European diesel in modern history and perhaps the best engine BMW has produced in the last two decades.
BMW M57 Engine Specs
The M57 diesel – not the successor to the N57 – is currently used by Rosenbauer, a company that specializes in fire truck construction. Their latest RT hybrid combat vehicle uses the M57 as a battery charging unit.
Diesel N57, a newer version, has also proven successful in motorsport. The 4 wins in the Mini team’s Dakar Rally in 2012-2015 were thanks to a very reliable and very powerful diesel engine, which still powers BMW cars and is one of the most popular choices among customers, especially in the X5 or X6 SUV. Three turbochargers made this unit a real 381hp rocket, and the BMW M department was responsible for the preparation of the variant marked in the production model as the M50d.
BMW M57 Engine Problems & Reliability
The M57 engine won the Engine of the Year title four times in a row in the 2.5 to 3.0 L category from 1999 to 2002, and the dual turbo variant that was more powerful twice from 2005 to 2006. In total, thirteen power versions were made, three capacity versions, and engines installed in production cars of three brands. The BMW engine with the weakest power M57D30 variant from 177 hp is mounted on the Range Rover, but generally the weakest version of the M57 engine in the 2.5-liter version is mounted under the hood of the Opel Omega B.
What Makes The 3 liter M57 Diesel Popular?
An engine can be rated for its dynamism, reliability or durability, and BMW diesel has all of these qualities. On the one hand, it can be used to drive a mid-range sedan and provide good dynamics with relatively low fuel consumption. It can be used for 15-20 years, and the 400,000km-500,000km mileage won’t get him into trouble.
On the other hand, it can drive a powerful SUV, allowing not only to tow heavy trailers, but also to travel hundreds of kilometers on mountainous terrain, and after releasing the trailer, it can accelerate cars weighing more than 2 tons in 7 seconds.
What else? This engine can be set from around 200 HP to 300 HP, and from nearly 300 HP to more than 400 HP. Without disturbing the crank and piston systems, a value of 450 HP and over 700 Nm was achieved. By the way, such an engine tuned will tear the gearbox converter to tears and blow up xDrive.
If you want your BMW 3 Series to be right in front of the M3 in the same period, then buy the 330d, turn it on and watch the M3 disappear not only in your rearview mirror, but also in black smoke.
The secret of the M57 is durability, which allows it to achieve excellent parameters without negative consequences with a high work culture. All of this stands on widely understood ecological phenomena. Cast iron and heavy engine block ensure excellent rigidity, and a good balance results in low vibration levels, which also translate to durability.
The turbocharged six-cylinder delivers 184 hp and 390 Nm of torque. Such a unit made its debut in 1998 as a more powerful variant of the 4 cylinder diesel. What distinguishes the M57 from its predecessor M51 is of course the Common Rail power system, which makes this machine much more dynamic and economical.
Over time, the engine was upgraded (the mark of the next TÜ) and the performance was improved, the block was changed to an aluminum block (a version marked as TÜ2), and a DPF filter appeared. The EGR valve was installed from the start, but in the end, the M57 is an engine designed to last, work hard and don’t meet any emission standards. However, this has drawbacks only in areas that have been changed to conform to the prevailing standards. The top version reaches the parameters of 286 hp and 580 Nm.
An integral element associated with this unit is the swirl flap in the intake manifold, which is not available in the 2.5 liter version (M57D25). However, they caused a lot of damage after a long period of time.
- The intake system flap is the only engine fault.
- In the first series, there was a small flap that broke and could fall into the machine. The effect is different. The cap can get caught in the inlet, which doesn’t cause any damage. When it passes through the valve and falls into the cylinder, there are more problems – from damage to the piston itself, to damage to the cylinder head, to damage to everything. Now that is practically not the case, because either the flaps have been thrown out, or the machine they fell on is gone. Some have replaced the caps with new ones, so you should check after buying a car with this M57 engine.
- After 2007, the O-ring flap frequently leaked and indicated oil leakage to the outside of the engine via the intake manifold. Any conscious user of this engine and other modern diesel engines knows that the flaps must be removed for their own safety and peace of mind. It is known that they have an unspecified effect on the purity of the flue gas, but they are not a problem for some users.
- There are various theories about flaps and their impact on removal, but from a user point of view, there is no difference between machines with and without flaps. One thing is for sure – there is no negative effect of removing the engine cover.
- Another problem with the M57 engine is the DPF filter, but as I know, it’s not about the device itself, but about poor resistance with the thermostat.
- On average, they last 5 years and if not replaced, they maintain the temperature at 50-70 degrees Celsius, which prevents the DPF filter from burning out. It’s usually a faulty thermostat that’s causing the problem with it.
- Some models have an upstream throttle from the EGR valve. If the throttle has a problem, the DPF will not burn either. These are elements that are safe enough to fail.
Of course, like any diesel engine, this M57 engine has its problems too, but this is due to three things: long mileage, poor quality fuel, or improper service. If the engine is well maintained and all minor faults can be controlled, the M57 is a practical machine to drive.
What should you be aware of?
- Common Rail system is fuel sensitive. The injector falls off with the same frequency as in other brands. There are no rules here, it’s important not to neglect fuel filter changes.
- In the BMW 5 Series (E60), it happens that the diesel goes into the lubrication system. This is the fault of the Common Rail pump, which travels 400,000km-500,000km, may have a boiling cut groove on the drive shaft. Therefore, if there is more engine oil, it does not always mean that the DPF is not burning. Sometimes the reason is worn pumps and seals, and diesel oil getting into the engine oil reduces its viscosity, even causing wear of the crankshaft bearings. Therefore, you need to control the oil level, even if the engine is not using it.
It’s hard to ignore this engine, and if the oil is changed every 10,000-15,000km and it pours good fuel, you can sleep well.
- The timing has practically not changed, although common sense advises to do it after, say, 400,000 km. However, I did not find, for example, in the oil container, worn slip marks, as in many other engines.
- Problems can only occur with biturbo engines with factory power of 272 hp and 286 hp. It happens that the timing chain breaks due to high loads – a powerful engine plus a heavy car, for example the X5 with four-wheel drive.
- Therefore, in this engine it is advisable to pay closer attention to the chain. This can be checked by removing the valve cover and installing a lock. The mechanic also warns against making unprofessional adjustments. Yes, this engine is very susceptible to modification and tolerates it very well, but too fast torque jumps in combination with the car’s large weight and four-wheel drive can lead to a situation where the chain will break.
- In my opinion, the safety limit of this machine is approximately 350 HP, without disturbing the crank system and other structural elements, so you cannot overestimate by chipping.
M57 Engine Swap for Nissan Patrol
Many Nissan Patrol Y60 and Y61 users have changed or are planning to replace the original engine with the BMW M57. There is some reasons. First of all, because the engine itself is, as you already know, close to perfection, which is the opposite of the standard Nissan engine.
- The option to mount the M57 for off-road vehicles is supported by several arguments, according to the opinion of a mechanic who specializes in off-road car tuning and M57 transplants. “Produces a lot of power compared to serial engines, in cars like patrols, jeeps, etc. And I’m talking about diesel engines. This power can be increased very easily without having to change half of the engine. This engine is very heat resistant, provided the part used to swap properly selected, such as the cooling system, intake system, etc. “
- The 3 liter 6 cylinder engine fits like a glove, because original Nissan engines or some jeeps also have 6 cylinders lined up and have a capacity of 2.8 liters – 4.2 liters. It also has fairly simple electronics, unlike the newer N57.
- This engine fits perfectly into the compartment of off-road vehicles. “The big plus is the price of the complete engine, the price of parts and its large availability. The added advantage is its combustion. The Jeep Cherokee XJ with the M57 can save fuel up to 7 l / 100 km, and importantly the Nissan patrol can burn 10- 12 liters, in a very long expedition.
For example, patrol Nissan users after the transplant get a car that is almost twice as dynamic and half as economical, where there is no shortage of manpower in heavy tourism and offroad, and no fear of overheating.
The engine of the M57 is not the only one that Nissan patrols, but check for yourself, for example, in the ad, how many such cars are and how much they are worth. I also asked a specialist, who had specialized in assembling the M57 for Nissan patrols for many years, and why it was special.
- It must be remembered that such transplants are carried out differently, and good work comes at a price.
- The M57 is used not only in off-road vehicles, but wherever the driver is powerless or has a defective drive. The M57 was also put under the hood of the model where the original engine was damaged and the second one could not be found. This is one of the few engines where it is extremely difficult to overheat.
- In this engine, there is practically no such thing as overheating. And this is probably the best recommendation for every SUV owner with problems with it.
To bring the 3-liter unit up to already stringent emission standards, it was modified significantly in 2008, changing the designation to the N57, and leaving the M57 in production. The N57 engine has a very distinct timing drive, located at the rear of the engine, between the unit and the gearbox.
The timing on the N57 requires more attention, among others by the start / stop system. Unfortunately, this solution requires using the starter several times more frequently while driving, for example in traffic jams. Yes, it saves the environment, but it is torturous. The N57 also features a piezoelectric injector which is more delicate and prone to breakage, and at the same time is very expensive and non-regenerable. Overall the engine is still good, but not like the M57 anymore.
The best variant of this BMW engine is the M57D30TÜ version with 218 HP power and 500 Nm of torque. With corrections after the first series. It is a relatively simple, very durable and above average robust construction which makes it the best known diesel engine in the world. And the only thing where the terms “diesel” and “sport” do not cause conflict.