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Driveline, Engine & DME Tuning
Talk about driveline improvements, NA tuning and DME tuning your E46 BMW here. This includes diffs, intakes, exhausts, chips, software and OBD tuning.

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Old 08-14-2008, 12:57 PM   #1
hoveringuy
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Tech question: head coolant flow

I've been trying to figure out how the M54 head is different than the earlier M50/M52 heads in regards to coolant flow. I've seen plenty of references to the fact that "BMW redesigned the coolant flow...".

Does anyone have the details on how it is different and why?
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Old 08-16-2008, 01:17 PM   #2
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Old 08-16-2008, 01:20 PM   #3
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listen to me.
IT WONT WORK.
i have a buddy thats a BMW tech, he has a 528iA with the M52TU, he acquired a M54 head. this is what he found after pullin goff his entire head. the bolts and stuff line up perfectly, but the cooling jackets DO NOT... so no, the two are not interchangeable.

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Old 08-17-2008, 10:14 AM   #4
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listen to me.
IT WONT WORK.
i have a buddy thats a BMW tech, he has a 528iA with the M52TU, he acquired a M54 head. this is what he found after pullin goff his entire head. the bolts and stuff line up perfectly, but the cooling jackets DO NOT... so no, the two are not interchangeable.

youre welcome
Did I say I was trying to put an M54 head on an older block? I'm not stupid. I have an M54 head going on an M54 block, I'm pretty sure that will work.

So back to my original question... how is the coolant flow path different on this head??
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Old 08-17-2008, 12:13 PM   #5
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if if its the same head why wouldnt it fit?
the M54 head flows better thats why he tried it, and the block is the same.
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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The block has stayed almost unchanged since the M50 first came out. Most of the changes have been up in the head. The M52tu was the first head that didn't fit on the old block because of the change in the coolant layout. The M50 had the spider hose that distributed coolant to the cabin and the resevoir tank.

The M54 no longer has a spider hose and I don't think it has a connection at the back for the heater core.

I know that valve geometry has changed on it with higher lift and I'm sure it flows better because of it.

I'm interested in knowing how the coolant flow through the head has changed from the earlier heads. Does it go a different direction? Has a new coolant passage been incorporated? If they changed it was it for power, reliability or emissions?
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:20 PM   #7
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ohhhh, i read wrong, my bad, i thought you were comparing m52 to m54 only.
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Old 08-26-2008, 04:27 PM   #8
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ok the m52tu m54 head as well as the block is different from earlier m50-m52 designs.

please find attached a technical writeup on the m52tu-m54 engine. look up page 15-17 on the cylinder head changes which also necessitates changes to the block coolant passages as well. the gasket for for single vanos m52 and m52tu/m54 is entirely different in designs.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf m52tu -m54b30.pdf (977.8 KB, 222 views)

Last edited by lefortez; 08-26-2008 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 08-26-2008, 04:29 PM   #9
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from what i understand the vanos on the M54 and M52TU are the same. matter a fact i just bought a vanos unit off a M54 for my M52TU.
if you swap vanos unit im pretty sure it has to be a dual vanos unit too.
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Old 08-26-2008, 09:33 PM   #10
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Thank you lefortez! That's exactly what I was looking for.

Next question: Is the electronic thermostat backwards-compatible with the old "dumb" thermostats?

Disregarding the fact that the ECU would protest, could the electronic thermostat simply be replaced with the older mechanical one?
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:41 AM   #11
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I opened the PDF, and searched all over, but can't find anywhere that states a difference between the M52tu and M54B30 head. Many sources even give the same part number for the two? How sure are you of this, snikwad?

btw, lefortez, great PDF! Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:12 PM   #12
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I opened the PDF, and searched all over, but can't find anywhere that states a difference between the M52tu and M54B30 head. Many sources even give the same part number for the two? How sure are you of this, snikwad?

btw, lefortez, great PDF! Thanks!
how sure am i about what? the vanos, or the difference between the M54 and M52TU heads?
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:12 PM   #13
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The difference between the heads.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:16 PM   #14
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The difference between the heads.
i have a buddy thats a BMW tech, he has a 528iA he acquired a M54 head as his master tech told him it had better air flow, he took hois entire head off, and tried to fit the M54 head, and thats when he saw it, the water jackets are totally different, but everythign else matches, it can even be bolted on, but the water jackets between the M54 head and the M52TU head, dont match.

I also asked my parts guy and the same buddy and they both say as far as they can tell the vanos units of the M54 and M52TU are all interchangeable, whats different are the actual cams and the cranks. and as mentioned, the water jackets.

As for the M52 and the M52TU, i cant say for sure what the little differences are.
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:47 PM   #15
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the m52tu-m54 engine has a new design for its coolant passages which optimizes the flow directly to the cylinder head. the block is entirely different from the previous m50-m52/s50-s52 engines, hence the block and head of both engines cant be interchange. the block casting is different, the head is different, the gasket is different. the head can be bolted on but whats the use when the coolant cant flow.

sigh....how i know? well i got my hands into a m54 based R35 racing dynamic short block and thought of mating it to my s52 head for 3.5l stroker but now looks like i can only instead. ARGHHHHH
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
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the m52tu-m54 engine has a new design for its coolant passages which optimizes the flow directly to the cylinder head. the block is entirely different from the previous m50-m52/s50-s52 engines, hence the block and head of both engines cant be interchange. the block casting is different, the head is different, the gasket is different. the head can be bolted on but whats the use when the coolant cant flow.

sigh....how i know? well i got my hands into a m54 based R35 racing dynamic short block and thought of mating it to my s52 head for 3.5l stroker but now looks like i can only instead. ARGHHHHH
I know that the m52tu/m54 is different from the iron block M50/52 and S50/52, but snikwad was stating that the M52TU head and the M54B30 head were different. However, I couldn't find anywhere else that confirmed that. I need a new vanos unit and was considering just getting a ported/polished M54B30 head, but now I'm not sure if they are the same.
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:36 AM   #17
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My guess is that the cam profiles between the M54 and M52tu are different, but the castings are the same.

Getting back to the thermostat, is the design backwards-compatible with M50/M52 thermostats??
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Old 08-28-2008, 10:38 AM   #18
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I know that the m52tu/m54 is different from the iron block M50/52 and S50/52, but snikwad was stating that the M52TU head and the M54B30 head were different. However, I couldn't find anywhere else that confirmed that. I need a new vanos unit and was considering just getting a ported/polished M54B30 head, but now I'm not sure if they are the same.
like i said, my tech buddy had the same thought, it wont work, but the vanos will.
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:27 PM   #19
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I almost bought some M54 cams on here to put into my sharked M52.
I was told that I'd prolly have to remove the shark injection since it wouldn't match the M54 cams.

Then when I enquired about the actual cam swap, my tech buddy asked his master tech. He said there is a special tool that is required to replace the cam brackets, I believe they're called journals. Well anyway, this tool is to ensure that they are not over tightened when replacing the cam. I 1st thought, hmm, what about regular ass torqueing it to specs. But I guess our BMW heads are too sophisticated for that simple method. Since its already 2 for the master tech and 0 for us, I decided to just take his word on this one.
Besides after contacting TMS they said I'd have to get custom software or a piggyback type setup to correct my AFR that the cams would throw off. So I've decided to research swapping M3 brakes unto my 328i and maybe dropping a S52 motor inplace later on, instead of boosting.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snikwad View Post
I almost bought some M54 cams on here to put into my sharked M52.
I was told that I'd prolly have to remove the shark injection since it wouldn't match the M54 cams.

Then when I enquired about the actual cam swap, my tech buddy asked his master tech. He said there is a special tool that is required to replace the cam brackets, I believe they're called journals. Well anyway, this tool is to ensure that they are not over tightened when replacing the cam. I 1st thought, hmm, what about regular ass torqueing it to specs. But I guess our BMW heads are too sophisticated for that simple method. Since its already 2 for the master tech and 0 for us, I decided to just take his word on this one.
Besides after contacting TMS they said I'd have to get custom software or a piggyback type setup to correct my AFR that the cams would throw off. So I've decided to research swapping M3 brakes unto my 328i and maybe dropping a S52 motor inplace later on, instead of boosting.
Wow I'm going to call BS on you needing diff software to run M54 cams.

BMW even sells the ZHP cams as a "BMW Performance upgrade" to the non-m owners. There are lots of people on here running even more aggressive Schrick 264/248 profile cams even without any form of tune. Vanos can compensate for different profiles enough, and you will definitely notice a performance increase without software. While I will agree that a custom tune would be best, running your shark with any cam profiles publicly available will be fine. I'll also say that I wouldn't spend money on labor to put 330 cams, or even zhp cams... If you are going to do it, get the schricks for sure!

As for the cam tool, that's true. It can be done without that tool, but BMW says it shouldnt... just like we should never change our transmission or diff oil The part about the cam change process that may be difficult is the timing, which I think there is a special tool for as well.
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