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N54 Engine Turbochargers Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

N54 Engine Turbochargers Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

*****

Tools:

Oxygen sensor socket, universal-joint adapter, flathead screwdriver, socket set (hex, Torx and external Torx), torque wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW 535i/xi Sedan (2008-10)
BMW 535xi Wagon (2008)

Parts Required:

Turbochargers, fasteners, seals, aluminum bolt kits

Hot Tip:

Work with a cool exhaust

Performance Gain:

Remedy fault codes and maintain proper running engine

Complementary Modification:

Replace in pairs

Starting with the 2008 E60 5 Series models, BMW introduced the turbocharged N54 engine. This 3-liter 6-cylinder engine produces more power (an extra 45 hp) and torque (an extra 80 lb-ft) than the equivalent 3-liter naturally aspirated N52 engine. The key to the additional torque and power is the twin-turbochargers integrated into the exhaust manifolds. As the exhaust is forced out of the cylinders, it powers a turbine which turns a compressor, essentially a high efficiency fan, blowing air forcibly into the intake system. The additional, denser air increases combustion efficiency and power as needed. This is an efficient way to achieve higher power output from an engine without increasing engine displacement.

Turbochargers spin at speeds of up to 10,000 rpm (or more) and require a very efficient oiling system. Eventually, with wear and tear, a turbocharger may be damaged and lose efficiency. You can replace one or both of the turbochargers, as needed. Usually they are replaced in pairs to avoid having to go back in when one fails shortly after the other.

A faulty turbocharger may cause smoking or produce boost fault codes. I would suggest having your diagnosis confirmed by a professional as this is a difficult and costly repair. Read through the procedure before beginning. Be prepared to replace all the bolts, clamps and seals you remove from the engine.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Start by draining the cooling system and engine oil. Then remove the engine splash shields and reinforcement plates. Next remove the right side wheel well liner. Then remove the complete exhaust system and the catalytic converters. Next remove the charge air ducts. See our tech article on charge air duct removing. Remove the coolant pump and thermostat. See our associated tech articles for those steps.

Work slowly and take notes. Double check everything as you go. There is not much room for error here. Bag and label the parts and gaskets you remove. Note the order of removal to aid when reinstalling. I would suggest grabbing a repair manual as it will have all the torque specs and special tool numbers. The repair manual will also have the factory procedure, which varies from the one here. I have included the torque specifications I had on hand at the end of the article.

This photo shows the majority of parts needed to replace a single turbocharger.
Figure 1

This photo shows the majority of parts needed to replace a single turbocharger. You have the turbocharger (green arrow). You will need seals and O-rings for the oil (yellow arrow) and coolant connections (red arrow). You will need clamps, exhaust hardware and gaskets, as well as aluminum bolt kits.

Drain the cooling system and remove the coolant reservoir.
Figure 2

Drain the cooling system and remove the coolant reservoir. See our tech article on coolant reservoir replacing.

Working at the vacuum reservoir, mark the vacuum line locations.
Figure 3

Working at the vacuum reservoir, mark the vacuum line locations. Then remove the vacuum lines (yellow arrows) by pulling them straight off the reservoirs. Then detach the vacuum lines from the mounts (green arrow). Remove the vacuum reservoir 8mm fasteners (red arrows). Then lift the reservoir up. Detach the vacuum hoses at the bottom and remove the reservoir from the engine.

Remove the engine cover 4mm Allen fasteners (red arrows) and cabin microfilter housing.
Figure 4

Remove the engine cover 4mm Allen fasteners (red arrows) and cabin microfilter housing. See our tech article on engine covers removing.

Then, remove the oxygen sensor electrical connectors from the holders (red arrows).
Figure 5

Then, remove the oxygen sensor electrical connectors from the holders (red arrows). Mark the electrical connectors so they are not mixed up later. Then pull the electrical connectors apart to disconnect them (inset). Once disconnected, remove the wiring harnesses from the mounts (blue arrows). Then feed the harnesses out from behind the cylinder head (green arrow), removing them from any mounts and snagged areas.

Working below the engine on the right side, remove the two T30 Torx oil return line fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 6

Working below the engine on the right side, remove the two T30 Torx oil return line fasteners (red arrows). Then remove the T30 Torx oil line support fastener (green arrow). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones. Then pull the oil line out of the crankcase. Be sure to replace the lower (yellow arrow) sealing O-ring.

Working under the vehicle ahead of the right side transmission bell housing (yellow arrow), remove the vacuum hose (red arrow) from the rear turbocharger waste gate.
Figure 7

Working under the vehicle ahead of the right side transmission bell housing (yellow arrow), remove the vacuum hose (red arrow) from the rear turbocharger waste gate.

Next, remove the 10mm nut from the duct (red arrow).
Figure 8

Next, remove the 10mm nut from the duct (red arrow).

Pull the duct away from the turbocharger in the direction of the red arrow and allow it to hang.
Figure 9

Pull the duct away from the turbocharger in the direction of the red arrow and allow it to hang. It will not be in the way when removing the turbocharger.

Working below the turbochargers, remove the E8 external Torx fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 10

Working below the turbochargers, remove the E8 external Torx fasteners (red arrows). Then remove the small heat shield from the engine. Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Now it is time to remove the lower coolant line from the rear turbocharger.
Figure 11

Now it is time to remove the lower coolant line from the rear turbocharger. Remove the two T30 Torx fasteners (red arrows). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Then pull the line (red arrow) out of the flange at the engine block.
Figure 12

Then pull the line (red arrow) out of the flange at the engine block.

Next, remove the line (red arrow) from the turbocharger.
Figure 13

Next, remove the line (red arrow) from the turbocharger. I find these are usually stuck. Use a flathead screwdriver to lever the line as you wiggle it out of the turbocharger. If the line is damaged in the slightest bit during removal, replace it.

Next, remove the upper coolant line from the turbocharger.
Figure 14

Next, remove the upper coolant line from the turbocharger. Note the rust on the line fitting. This is why they get stuck.

Working at the top of the turbocharger, remove the T30 Torx oil line fastener (red arrow).
Figure 15

Working at the top of the turbocharger, remove the T30 Torx oil line fastener (red arrow). Then remove the oil line from the turbocharger. The photo shows the fastener as viewed with an inspection mirror.

Now it is time to remove the rear turbocharger fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 16

Now it is time to remove the rear turbocharger fasteners (green arrows). I suggest using a T50 Torx to remove them, as they are either external 11mm or T50 Torx internal.

Remove the turbocharger from the engine in the direction of the red arrow.
Figure 17

Remove the turbocharger from the engine in the direction of the red arrow.

With the rear turbocharger removed, you can now remove the front one.
Figure 18

With the rear turbocharger removed, you can now remove the front one. This is more difficult as space is limited and working with the lines becomes more of a task. Remove the T30 Torx coolant line (yellow arrow) fastener (red arrow). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new fasteners. Remove it from the flange as you did the opposite side line earlier.

Next, remove the four E8 external Torx fasteners from the coolant pipe flange (red arrows).
Figure 19

Next, remove the four E8 external Torx fasteners from the coolant pipe flange (red arrows). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Pull the coolant line flange / pipe down out of the engine compartment.
Figure 20

Pull the coolant line flange / pipe down out of the engine compartment.

Working near the front engine mount bracket (green arrow), remove both coolant lines from the front turbocharger.
Figure 21

Working near the front engine mount bracket (green arrow), remove both coolant lines from the front turbocharger. Remove the T30 Torx fasteners (red arrow). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones. Next, remove the line from the turbocharger. I find these are usually stuck. Use a flathead screwdriver to lever the line as you wiggle it out of the turbocharger. If the line is damaged in the slightest bit during removal, replace it.

Working below the front turbocharger, remove the two T30 Torx oil return line fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 22

Working below the front turbocharger, remove the two T30 Torx oil return line fasteners (red arrows). Then remove the T30 Torx oil line support fastener (green arrow). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones. Then pull the oil line out of the crankcase. Be sure to replace the lower sealing O-ring.

Remove the remaining three E8 heat shield fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 23

Remove the remaining three E8 heat shield fasteners (red arrows). Then remove the heat shield (green arrow) from the engine. Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Remove the T45 Torx oil line fastener (blue arrow).
Figure 24

Remove the T45 Torx oil line fastener (blue arrow). Then pull the oil supply line out of the crankcase (red arrow). Separate the line from the connection to the front turbocharger (green arrow). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

I had a hard time releasing both coolant lines.
Figure 25

I had a hard time releasing both coolant lines. The lower line came out, but not the upper. I decided to unbolt the upper line from the crankcase and separate it once it was on the workbench. Working at the front of the crankcase next to the turbocharger, remove the T30 Torx coolant line fastener (red arrow). Then pull the line out of the crankcase. Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Support the engine from below or above.
Figure 26

Support the engine from below or above. I used a screw jack with a wood block to protect the engine (red arrow)

Remove the 16mm engine mount nut (red arrow).
Figure 27

Remove the 16mm engine mount nut (red arrow). This photo is as viewed from below the engine. Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Then remove the three E14 engine mount fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 28

Then remove the three E14 engine mount fasteners (red arrows). Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Position the engine mount bracket so you can unbolt the ground cable.
Figure 29

Position the engine mount bracket so you can unbolt the ground cable. Remove the 16mm nut (red arrow). Then remove the engine mount bracket from the engine.

Working below the turbocharger, next to the oil drain (green arrow), remove the E8 heat shield fastener (red arrow).
Figure 30

Working below the turbocharger, next to the oil drain (green arrow), remove the E8 heat shield fastener (red arrow). Then slightly bend the heat shield just enough to remove the lines behind it. Discard all of the fasteners and replace them with new ones.

Remove the turbocharger from the engine.
Figure 31

Remove the turbocharger from the engine.

Working at the exhaust ports on the cylinder head, remove the exhaust sealing gaskets (red arrow).
Figure 32

Working at the exhaust ports on the cylinder head, remove the exhaust sealing gaskets (red arrow). The green arrow points to a port with one already removed.

This photo shows the heat shield slightly bent after removing the turbocharger.
Figure 33

This photo shows the heat shield slightly bent after removing the turbocharger. Be sure to get it back to the correct shape if you have to bend yours. Prep the engine for installation. Clean all sealing bores and surfaces using a lint free cloth. Lay out your parts and be sure you have everything. Begin by replacing the O-rings on the oil and coolant lines. Then install the new gaskets into the cylinder head. Install the front turbocharger. Then attach the lines and heat shields in the reverse order of removal. Once secure, install the engine mount bracket. Then install the rear turbocharger in the reverse order of removal. Install: the coolant pump and thermostat, charge air ducts, complete exhaust system and the catalytic converters, right side wheel well liner, the engine splash shields and reinforcement plates. Fill the engine oil and fill and bleed the cooling system. Torque info: Oil drain fasteners 8 Nm, Coolant pipe to turbocharger 8 Nm, Coolant lines to flange at crankcase 8 Nm, Coolant flange / pipe to crankcase 9 Nm, Coolant return line to crankcase 8 Nm, turbocharger to cylinder head 20 Nm.

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Comments and Suggestions:
GP83 Comments: I just want to say thank you for this great write up. It may have taken a day longer than I was planning on, but couldn't have gotten it done without all the information you provided.
November 8, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Volvo776 Comments: No check engine light is on ..
Sparks plugs..replaced
AMP sensor replaced.
Ignition coils..replaced
Airfilter replaced ..
August 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Still need to determine what is causing rough running. I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Volvo776 Comments: 08 bmw 535i e60 n54 ..it shaking at every start ..coils sparks plugs..been replaced..what other thing could be..ty all
August 1, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the check engine light on or flashing when the problem is present? Sounds like an engine misfire. I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
kfzmeister Comments: Thanks for converter removal link. I finally got them out. They were aftermarket downpipes; no cats! What a nightmare.
December 1, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
kfzmeister Comments: Really tough to remove both exhaust pipes from turbo. Having one hell of a time. Bentley manual not much help!
November 28, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See this tech article:

http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/BMW-E60/69-EXHAUST-N54_Engine_Catalytic_Converter_Replacement/69-EXHAUST-N54_Engine_Catalytic_Converter_Replacement.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
5Dirty5 Comments: took me 3 hrs to get too and remove my rear turbo. This is where I am at now. But how am I to get to the other connections.
October 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remove the engine mount and mount bracket. You will have to support the engine from above. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799.- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
5Dirty5 Comments: how come my 2008 535i sport looks different than these pictures?
David G
October 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't know, maybe your model is a bit different from our subject vehicle. If in doubt, grab a repair manual. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
nils Comments: Thanks for the quick reply; not sure I appreciate the extra task, but at least i don't have to pull the engine!
August 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I feel your pain. These cars are getting less and less space every year. Sometimes pulling the motor is easiest, to be honest. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
nils Comments: Other than even less space; how much more difficult with four-wheel drive Xi?
August 17, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not that bad, once you get the right side axle out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:39:01 AM