BMW N52 and N54, what really is the difference?

Cars from BMW come with sophisticated design, performance, and quality. As long as their designs come under changes, their systematic development appears in performance too. N52 and n54 are two engine models with high-performing ability and nature. Having a great necessity, today’s blog will make the comparison between N52 vs N54.

Brace yourself. Because the discussion is not going to begin.

If the key difference gets highlighted, the N52 engine comes with a better design and lower weight ratio.

N54 on the other hand comes with more weight and an aluminum-built engine. For that reason, both their nature and features bring good distinctions between them.

BMW N52 vs N54 Engine

BMW N52 engine
BMW N52 engine

The N52 engine in BMW was the most known and popular engine variant. A lot of models under BMW use a similar engine for a very long time. And it had a great contribution from to 2004 that lasts in 2015. This inline 6 cylinders engine has mass usage on some fantastic models from BMW.

Applied versions

And the variants with the N52 Engine are:

E90 AWD edition: 323i, 325i, 328i, 330i models (Inline 6 DOHC Engine)

  • E92 Wagon and Coupe
  • E93 RWD Convertible
  • E60 edition: 525i and 528i
  • Additional variants: X1, Z4, and 128i

Features of N52

Production Time  2004 to 2015
Main material  High-quality Aluminum
Fuel Type  Petrol
Engine typeInline 6 DOHC with VVT and VVL
 Valves4 valves per cylinder  

The N52 is featured 4 valves cylinder with high performing lightweight motor. The aluminum-made cylinder block has the best combination with a magnesium shell under the bonnet. The water pump is electrically made along with a hollow camshaft let its job perfectly done with the ride.

On top of that, the zero-maintaining timing chain requires no checkup or adjustment at all. That is why; it has the finest performing ability.

The performing ability

As the N52 engine has been used in different BMW models, they perform in different ways too. The performance chart below will clarify better.

Engine PatternEngine displacement Maximum power output
N52 B252497cc204Hp at 6400RPM
N52 B25 O12497cc219hp at 6500RPM
N52 B25 U12497cc180hp at 5000RPM
N52 B302996cc220hp at 6100RPM

Horsepower Distinctions

Though the N52 engine combines with some BMW models, they have different power modes. Various compression ratios, computerized training, and multiple manifold designs are the main thing behind the changes in horsepower.

The 215hp 325i and 230hp 238i models come with single-stage intake. But the 255hp 330i is formed with DISA intake 3 stage manifold. According to their manifold pattern and power, the engine makes different performances too.

But the previous models can also be upgraded for performance. Re-setting the engine computer with 3-Stage intake installation let the job done for the engine.

The Tuned N52 Engine

Tuning the engine means upgrading its power by using some additional tools. When it comes to tuning, turbo is the most common thing that gets heard.

Luckily, the N52 engine can be tuned up through a customized exhaust. The tuning can be set to a higher level by using a small turbo for the rear low manifold exhaust. In terms of a simple but efficient turbo, the top mount turbo is the best option to go for.

N54 Engine


The N54 engine is the refreshed version of the N52 one. It also can be called the replaced on with the better performance. All the 335i models of BMW come with the N54 engine from 2007-to 2010 years. But the engine has a production period from 2006 to 2016.

Low-boosting turbochargers of a pair get powered by three cylinders for each of them. And it has a maximum pressure of 8.8 Psi.

N54 is a very demanded and powerful engine for BMW. And the reason is, it comes with better performance than the previous model.

The high-pressure fuel injection directly makes a spray into the cylinder from the internal area. Altogether, this engine becomes an aggressive one to perform on the road. And thus, it can make a quick acceleration from 0 to 100 in less than 6 seconds!

Applied Version

The N54 engine is known as the 302hp with 400nm variant. Though it was an official rating, it has the practical performing ability of 311hp with 422nm.

And the variants that come with this engine have been given in below.

  • 335i version in E90, E91, E92, E93 models  (2006 to 2010)
  • 535i version in E60 and E61 models (2007 to 2010)
  • 135i version in E88 and E88 models (2007 to 2010)
  • XDrive35i in E71 and X6 models (2008 to 2010)
  • SDrive 35i in E89 and Z4 models (2009 to 2016)

Features of N54

Engine TypeStraight 6 cylinder
Displacement3.0litre 2979cc  
Main materialHigh-quality aluminum
Internal partsCasted piston with forged rods and crank
combustionTwin Turbo  
Compression ratio  10.2:1
Maximum horsepower300-335hp  
Maximum torque300-330nm  
Required fuelPetrol  

The twin-turbo engine has made a great identification in the market under the latest technology. As it contains several aluminum parts for the open deck block and head, it comes with very low weight in the car. Besides, high-quality rods and the forged crank provide solidity and strength to the engine.

Talking about nature, N54 comes with high revving behavior. This means it can be easily redlined to 7,000 RPM. Small turbo sizes with longer strokes allow for this level of performance in the engine.

The Tuned N54 Engine

Tuning the N54 engine with JB4 is the best combination. And through this, it can perform around 70-80whp or more. Switching to the j85, it can deliver a maximum of 100+whp to the ride without having any other modifications.

Turbo can be upgraded in individual ways too. The MHD flash tune with the collaboration of J84 increases the maximum ability of the turbo to perform.

Above all the tuning, the entire engine performance can be maximized with custom tuning. And once it is done with the modification, it can be redlined for 500-600whp too.

Which one is best? N52 or n54

The N52 is a powerful engine with a lower weight. For that reason, it comes with a faster running ability with perfect on-road performance. Plus, the magnesium shell cap with aluminum-made construction ensures its lengthy running ability too.

N54 on the other hand is a little bit complicated engine design. Though it’s made in a two-piece design, all the parts are enough problematic during usage. And there is even no similarity with the N52 engine.

It means that the N54 has different heads, intakes, blocks, and valves. They can only be replaced with similar engine parts too. The electric water pump is the common one among both these engines.

But the N54 can be transformed into a better and faster engine with fewer risks. As a real fact, it gets used for racing purposes by upgrading the engine.

Besides, the dual pumping system makes frequent injects and fueling. When a single lower-pressure one performs the job for the N52 engine, a dual high-pressure pump does this thing in a better way.

 The N52 engine is also applicable with the modification and tuning. But it doesn’t make any efficiency like N54.

That is why the N52 engine can be called the best one by considering all the related terms and factors. Its advanced design with a lower weight ratio performs better in every way on roads.

Common Issues in N52 engine and n54 engine

It’s not unusual to have problems with the engine. Both N52 and N54 follow the same thing. Here are some common issues are given below. They can either appear as major or minor ones.

  • Defected water pump
  • Valve cover leaking
  • Gasket leaking
  • Slow starting up
  • Defected hydraulic lifters

Defected water pump

N52 comes with a very common problem of water pump failure. A similar issue gets seen in the N54 engine too. The main reason behind the defect is, the water pump is made from plastic.

While used for a long time, it starts to get cracked and loses its density. As a result, the impellers and bearings also start to break down. The Majority of N52 users claim that the water pump failure will be seen around 70-80k Miles Odo.

Signs of failure

  • Car gets overheated
  • Coolant leaking
  • Radiator steams

Replacing the water pump is the only option to avoid this issue.

Valve Cover Leaking

Both the N52 and N54 engines come with similar valve covering. Leaking the valve cover or gasket is one of the simplest issues get seen in the engine. When the gasket starts cracking or degrading by itself, it appears very closer to leaking.

The valve covering is also made with similar plastic as the water pump. That is why; having cracks is certainly a common thing in them. Extreme engine heating is the main reason behind the cracking. After creaking, it results in the leaking of oil in the entire engine chamber. Replacing the cover is the best and only option to avoid the problem.

Signs of leaking

  • Ignition coil comes under oil
  • Availability of oil in spark plug
  • The engine head and cylinder block become oily
  • Engine smokes and burning smell
  • The low engine oil indication switch turns on

Gasket Leaking

The leaking of the oil filter housing is another great issue for these engines. But luckily, it is not a major problem for the car. Replacing the filter can make the thing easy.

If the issue is not observed carefully, it can be the reason for destroying the engine. When the oil leaking gets increased, it will come down from the serpentine belt and make it oily. Then, the belt will become very slippery and come down at any time.

Going the belt in a backward direction and lastly gets torn up by the timing covering. It will create havoc on the front-sided crank seal and the engine. And lastly, the engine will completely lose its efficiency as the internal parts get damaged.

So the oil filter defection looks simple and not enough major.  But ignorance will appear as great suffering.

Signs of the issue

  • Oil will come down under the ride
  • The engine head will smell burned
  • The intake manifold becomes oily from the surrounding area
  • Presence of oil around the side of the engine

Slow starting up

 Slow starting comes with poor mileage, aggressive idling, and low power. But these engine variants might face these common problems too. All these need a simple solution, changing the spark plugs. It may not solve all the problems but works for maximum issues.

The ignition coil on the other hand is another thing to concern under the solution. Although they are the most common issues, they can appear as the biggest threat to the engine.

Signs of the issue

  • Very bad mileage economy
  • Lengthy startup
  • Slow acceleration
  • Misfires from exhaust
  • Poor idling

Defected Hydraulic Lifters

This problem gets seen in the engine whenever it gets run for higher ODO. Cars below 40k of mileage might have an annoying sound coming from the engine. And it mostly gets seen during cold days or short runs. The sound is mainly caused by the lifters, known as hydraulic valve adjusters.

Though it doesn’t appear so much harmful, any additional sound from the engine might not appear suitable to the users.

Most of the N52 and N54 engine users face this issue. When there’s a problem, there’s a solution too.

And the only thing to solve the problem is, to change the lifters with the cylinder head. It’s the only thing to perform for getting the job done. Though it’s a very lengthy process, precautions must be followed from early times.

Measuring the Engine

BMW Users sometimes have confused about their engine model. They live with the doubt of whether the engine is N52 or N54. Practically, it’s very easy to find out the engine type. All the models from BMW come with engraved emissions. And it is placed at the top left-hand sideways. The model along with numbering can easily get found in that.

Best-quality engines need the best-quality fuels to run. That is why; give a view in the Costco Gas vs Shell V-Power comparison. You’ll find the right choice for your ride.

Final Statement

Engines from BMW never require any additional description. They prove themselves through their performance. N52 vs N54 is the finest creation of the company. Successful productivity of both those models is the best achievement for them.

It’s now all up to you. Either the N52 can be under your bonnet or the high performer N54. No matter which one gets chosen, they’ll never make you disappoint indeed.

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