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      01-22-2014, 01:12 AM   #1
Griffster
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Finally Modding my N54 - questions and comments welcomed

It's funny in a way, my 135i is probably the only car i've owned for more than 6 months without modding in some way. Age must be getting to me, cause this is the 08/09 model I bought new!

Anway, I recently finally decided that a power upgrade was required to my 135i. It's only got 20k miles on the clock but it is the daily car, so reliability outweighs the outright power for now. I'm particularly not into super loud exhausts that drone on long trips, been there, done that, had the headaches, too old now.

What i'm after is a nice power increase for the street, that can also translate over to car club days, motorkhanas etc, but generally only a few times a year. I'm not planning on turning it into a pseudo track car, just a nice sleeper that most people wouldnt look twice at.

With that in mind, i've planned the following mods, and am just looking for feedback, particularly on orders to do things

a) ECU - i've orderd a Cobb tuner, and for better or worse hope that the stock tunes will do me for the most. There's no close Cobb tuning shops, so I hope I don't run into problems

b) FMIC - I was looking at the ER Comp. fmic in the black anodised for that stealth look. The local shop is trying to convince to me to go the VRSF 7" though. Any thoughts?

c) DP - I was thinking of the AR Catted downpipes. I don't want to have the hassle of fault codes from O2 sensors, but the shop wants me to go VRSF catless. I'm a bit confused about the whole cat situation - is there still one in the midpipes on the N54? I dont want to go completely catless either for legal reasons

d) Midpipes - I've been told to stay stock if I don't want it too loud, but will I suffer a big performance drop if I stay stock? The Cobb talks about "Cat Back" exhausts being required with some of their tunes. I'm confused if this means all the way from the DP's or just the final muffler?

e) Final Exhaust - or whatever it's called. Meisterschaft has been suggested, but boy are they expensive. Again, I was thinking of just going the BMW motorsports here as I'm after that "euro sports car" sound, not "street hoon".

f) Intake - does a DCI really do anything other than change the noise?

The exhaust really confuses me despite days reading the posts here. Any thoughts warmly welcomed :-)

I figure most of this is all old news to most people here, but i'm hoping to tap into the "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" knowledge that will help me avoid too many pitfalls.
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      01-22-2014, 05:38 AM   #2
MuNkY6913
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If you go JB4 you won't have to worry about o2 codes or check engine lights. The auto tune function will adjust as you add mods. N54 does have cats in the mid pipes. I have catless downpipes and passed inspection here in pa, I think it was just a visual. I would think cat back would refer to downpipes back. I could be wrong though. Good luck!
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      01-22-2014, 07:27 AM   #3
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Cobb stock maps will be fine you will be pleasantly surprised by the boost in power. As for a front mount you really don't need a 7inch unless your looking to upgrade your turbos. A 5inch will be fine I have a cobb front mount, but ETS/helix is your best bang for the buck. I'm on the mobile app so I don't know where you live, but any sort of down pipe will make you fail most OBD emission test in the U.S. You can install a DP fix when you do go for the emissions testing but it is recommend you remove it once you pass. You won't lose power keeping the stock mids and they will help keep the smoke/ smell at bay as well. I have berk exhaust and it isn't overly loud at all. The Dual cone intakes are just noise makers and will lead to heat soak. Make sure you install a charge pipe and blow off valve to handle the extra boost from the tune the stock ones are made of plastic and is known to expand/ break with higher boost I suggest you go with ERs charge pipe with a tailQ blow off valve. Good luck in modding and don't be afraid to ask more questions.
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      01-22-2014, 08:16 AM   #4
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OP, looks like you have a well thought out plan for modding your N54. I was in a similar position. I wanted more power without being loud or without sacrificing reliability. I'm getting older too and I have been there and done that with other cars. That's why I went with just a tune to increase power. I went with a Dinan Stage 2 tune for the reliability of it. I also added an ETS intercooler and a K&N fllter. Otherwise I'm running the stock intake, downpipe, mid pipes and exhaust. I am considering going with N55 mid pipes, but otherwise I'm planning to leave the rest of the exhaust system stock. A tune really brings the car to life and those other mods only make the car incrementally better with a tune.

What about suspension mods? That is where the 1 series really needs improvement. The stock dampers are the weakest link. And the runflats don't exactly add to the performance of the car.
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      01-23-2014, 12:52 AM   #5
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From your reasoning I would've suggested jb4 over the cobb, with the on the fly map change you can leave it in map 0 or 4 for daily purposes and jump to map 1 or 2 when you want power, literally only takes 2 secs from the steering wheel controls.

you also dont really need the 7" front mount unless your running the can for prolonged amounts of time, either way the 7" is an improvement over stock but not necessary.

dps arn't necessary if you want a little power jump but are if your looking to make a big jump, both jb4 map 2 and certain cobb maps require catless or highflow dps.

there is a secondary set of cats in the n54 midpipe, it really doesn't do much but quiet down the exhaust and add a little restriction, not a big deal but if you dont want them and still want a quiet exhaust then the n55 midpipe is a good option, either that or just find a shop thats willing to cut them out and weld in a straight piece. the power difference between n55 mids and aftermarket mids that are 2x the price is almost nonexistent, they just make more noise, if you do go completely catless tho be prepared for the smell.

as for axleback exhaust, I would avoid anything thats straight piped as your not looking for super loud or drone, my advice would be to set up your dps and mids first then decide if thats loud enough or too quiet, you'd be surprised how loud the car is after dps alone. I had berk race axleback on mine originally then installed agency power dps, it went from nice n loud with minimal drone to stupid loud with lots of drone. I'm currently running the dps with n55 mids and factory axleback because I couldn't take the straight pipe anymore.

o as for the dci, they make a cool noise and look cool under the hood, not sure on actual benefit as they were already installed by the pervious owner when I bought my car
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      01-23-2014, 04:50 AM   #6
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Thank you all for your great responses so far. The Cobb turned up today, and I have to say that yes, I was pleasanty suprised with the power increase. I jumped straight to Stg1 agressive, and it certainly pulled a shed load harder and for longer than stock. In fact i was suprise just how quick it got from 0-60. Reminds me of some very heavily modded cars in my past, and all with just a flash. I was very suprised.

I think I might take a more step by step approach now so I can understand and get to experience the difference. Still vaccilating on what to do with the exhaust, I definately want to keep cats, can't stand the smell of a car with no cats, and i'd like to let the motor breath, but don't want anything too loud.

And maybe I just changed my priority to a bigger set of stoppers and some suspension tunes first to handle the power increase. Must be time to go visit the suspension forum!

Cheers
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      01-23-2014, 05:21 AM   #7
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I went with the wisper quite down pipe back. The catless midpipe get some of the gains expected from the catless dps without the smell. I'm not overly "green" but I have visited China a few times which has inspired me to keep my cats.

Also the whisper quite is, as titled, very quite. It's a bit louder than stock with feelable and dump proven power gains

Last edited by jturboawd; 01-23-2014 at 07:28 AM..
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      01-23-2014, 06:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Griffster View Post
Thank you all for your great responses so far. The Cobb turned up today, and I have to say that yes, I was pleasanty suprised with the power increase. I jumped straight to Stg1 agressive, and it certainly pulled a shed load harder and for longer than stock. In fact i was suprise just how quick it got from 0-60. Reminds me of some very heavily modded cars in my past, and all with just a flash. I was very suprised.

I think I might take a more step by step approach now so I can understand and get to experience the difference. Still vaccilating on what to do with the exhaust, I definately want to keep cats, can't stand the smell of a car with no cats, and i'd like to let the motor breath, but don't want anything too loud.

And maybe I just changed my priority to a bigger set of stoppers and some suspension tunes first to handle the power increase. Must be time to go visit the suspension forum!

Cheers
Unless you plans include serious tracking of the car( multiple hard laps) the stock Brembos are more than sufficient. For very hard street use and some tracking all you would need is, new pads which handle more heat that OE, high temp fluid like Motul 660, and a set of titanium backing plates.
As far as suspension, a set of M3 control arms and a sway bar will get you headed in the right direction without spending a boatload of cash.
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      01-24-2014, 05:04 AM   #9
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ER intercooler works well for me and is stealth like you said.
In regards to exhaust I would do just the downpipes first and see how you like it.
I've gone through three different exhaust revisions and I am still not 100% happy.

Also you can get a custom tune done remotely by someone like Pro tuning freaks. I have only heard positive things.
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      01-24-2014, 05:55 AM   #10
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Cobb & PTF will give better results than a JB4. The Cobb just has way more advantages IMO.
7" FMIC is excess, 5" is sufficient.
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      01-24-2014, 09:10 AM   #11
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I'd install a FMIC (ER and VRSF are both good) next and have the car ProTuned by PTF. The bump in power from stage 1 to stage 1+ FMIC is big....then ProTune usually adds another 30-40 whp/wtq and better overall drivability.

To give you an estimate, I'm stage 1+ ProTuned by Bren Tuning (I think he does e-tuning also) and made 386whp and 430wtq on the dyno. My OTS stage 1+ was 340whp and 400wtq.

I have stock DP, N55 mids with Vibrant Resonators welded in, and the Meisterschaft Race axle back. It sounds great...louder than stock with a beautiful exhaust note. I added the resonators because the N55 mids induced some rasp that I was trying to eliminate.

Enjoy, and Happy Modding!!!
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