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BMW E30 3 Series Performance Chip Installation

Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 3 Series Performance Chip Installation

Jared Fenton


2 hours2 hrs






13mm wrench, 10mm wrench, flathead screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, anti-static straps, small flathead screwdriver

Applicable Models:

BMW E30 3-Series (1984-93)

Parts Required:

Performance chip

Performance Gain:

More horsepower for your BMW E30

Complementary Modification:

Always run 91-octane fuel

In this tech article, we will discuss installation of a performance chip in the E30 BMW. While this tech article is specific to the E30 325is, the procedure is the same on nearly every BMW.

Why change the chip? The simple answer is more power. I recently go a hold of a Dinan performance chip for my E30. The benefits of this chip include raising the factory rev-limiter to 6900 RPM and increases horsepower from 168 to 183. It does this by essentially re-configuring the fuel injection map to advance the timing, fuel pressure, etc. This translates into a dramatic seat of the pants change in power, or as we refer to it, the butt dyno.

Replacement is a generally easy procedure, and should not take more than two hours.

The first step is to disconnect the battery on the car. Any time you are working around fuel injection components, you should disconnect the battery to prevent voltage spikes. This is important. If you fail to disconnect the battery, it could fry the computer.

That said, lets begin. The first step is to open the glove box. With the glove box open, look up, you will see there is an access cover. Remove the screws holding it in place, and remove the cover plate. You now should be able to see the computer. The computer is held in place by four 10mm bolts as shown in the picture. Remove these nuts. The computer should now drop down and will be still connected to the harness.

You will see that the harness is held to the computer by means of a large metal clip. Simply pull back on this clip, and the harness connector will slide back and free itself from the computer. Now the computer will be free of the car.

Now to remove the existing chip, you will first need to disassemble the computer. The first thing to do is ground yourself to the computer frame. The reason for this is to prevent static electricity from discharging and possibly damaging the computer. Any good computer store will carry anti-static straps that attach to your wrist, then clip onto the chassis. It's a good idea to use these if you are working around high levels of static electricity.

Next, look at the back of the computer. You will notice a series of tabs holding the cover in place. Pry these back very carefully, and you will be able to remove the cover. With the cover removed, you will now see two circuit boards stacked on top of each other. The chip is in between these two boards.

In order to gain access, we will need to remove the upper board. To do this, look at the connector on the front. You will see the pins that plug into the wire harness. On the sides of the pins, you will notice two plastic tabs. In order to remove this circuit board, we will have to pull this board out.

The first step is to go to the back of the board, where the cable connectors are. Very carefully pull the two boards apart at the back, they will separate. Now, go to the tabs at the front of the connector. Push them inwards, and at the same time, angle the board up. What this will do is lock the tabs inward, and help you remove the board. You may have to use a certain amount of force to get it out, but be very careful. If you feel anything hanging up, STOP, look around and see what the problem is. The board should now slide out of the connector. Once removed, carefully fold it over making sure not to damage the wires connecting to the lower board.

Now, look for the chip that has a small plastic cover on it. This is what we are replacing. Very carefully, remove the cover around the chip. A small screwdriver on either side should pry it off. With the cover removed, very carefully place a small screwdriver under the chip, then using equal pressure on both sides, lift the old chip out of it's receptacle.

Now look at the new chip. Note the small indentation on one side, it is important that the new chip is oriented so that the indentation lines up with the receptacle on the board. Once you have the orientation correct, using light pressure, very carefully push the new chip into the receptacle. Make sure that you do not bend or break any of the pins while doing this.

With the new chip installed, place the protective cover over it and lightly clip it in place. Next, re-orient the board so that the connector pins slide back into place as seen in the photo. Once in place, push the two boards together at the back , the two plastic connectors will clip together. Now place the protective cover back on the computer, and bend the holding tabs back in place.

Now, take the computer back out to the car and re-connect it to the wire harness. It will slide in at an angle. Make sure to line up the guide pins correctly. When they are lined up correctly, moving the metal clip on top of the connector will move the connector back into place and lock it shut.

Now, re-mount the computer to the underside of the dash using the four 10mm bolts as described before. Once in place, re-install the access cover between the glove box and the dash. Now re-connect the battery.

Before we actually start the car and take it out for a test, it's important that you make sure that you have 91 octane or better fuel in the tank. Keep in mind that installation of an aftermarket chip requires you to run high-octane for as long as the chip is installed. The reason for this is that one of the chip's functions is to electronically advance the timing. If you advance the timing on any car without running a higher-octane fuel, it will cause detonation (commonly referred to as pinging or knocking) this can cause major damage to the pistons over time. So just remember to always use 91 or better from now on.

That said, fill the tank with high-octane and start the car and take it out for a spin. In my car, I noticed a huge difference in the mid-range response and the overall performance of the car. It feels more powerful in the higher RPM range, however the low-end feels pretty much the same.

Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs. If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one. Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one. As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Comments and Suggestions:
Jake Comments: Can this be run with stock injectors? What about 17lb injectors? negative effects?
May 1, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes it can. I have no experience with 17lb injectors on this vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shiftbmw Comments: You guys rock!! Question: What are the negative side effects if any with running a chip with 91 octane?
October 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Possible detonation, valve damage, etc. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rob Comments: I have a 1987 BMW 325. It runs well until about 3500 rpm and then begins to break up. After 4300 rpm it runs smooth again. I have a 325i that needs a short block due to a blown head gasket and subsequent cylinder scorching so I've been swapping parts; fuel pump, plugs, wires, cap, rotar, etc, etc. nothing works. I checked for vacuum leaks and tested fuel injectors. Thinking now that the fix may be in changing out the ECM or maybe installing a performance chip. Any comments? The car runs great otherwise and I would use the it but I can't get it to pass Calif. smog check with the current misfire.
Thanks, Rob USA
September 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like an engine misfire. I would check spark, fuel and compression on all cylinders. One of those items will be faulty. In the high rpm range, I would think fuel delivery may be the issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rob Comments: 1989 325IC 121,000 miles, automatic, work in progress, new plugs and plug wires, new paint, new top, just had the valves adjusted. Leaking oil from the front and rear seals on the books to be repaired along with the timing belt. The question is lately a slight hesitation when I give it gas. The valve adjustment did not help. Any suggestions?
September 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a failing fuel pump. I would perform a fuel delivery system test. Check fuel pressure, volume and quality.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Sandra Hugh Comments: Nice article, Thanks for sharing great information.
July 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Sandra Hugh Comments: Nice article, Thanks for sharing great information.
July 22, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Betwo Comments: I have a 1984 318i with M10 engine love the car lots of fun but started to get an issue with the engine not dropping revs between gear changes without tapping the fuel pedal. Have checked most things but can not find the reason can anyone help?
October 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check the adjustment of the throttle switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jay-b Comments: Hey guys I'm from south africa I have a e30 320i 92'model bmwwhere can I get the performance chip for my car,at the the moment my car is heavy on feul,it is autamatic is this myaybe the problem why it is heavy on feul?
July 31, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Pelican Parts has a chip for your vehicle. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Doorgoo Comments: I have a 1986 325, how do I know which number of pins chip my ECU has? I've seen chips for my year eta with both 24 and 28 pin configurations. Thanks, I realize this is an old topic.
June 30, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Using the last seven digits of your VIN, you can look up the part number for the chip. Then cross reference with the part you want to install. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dgulso Comments: Hi there. I have a right hand drive Australian model 1991 e30 318is and would really appreciate any info on what performance chip to get, as I was looking at a turner motorsports conforti chip, would this be suitable for my car?
December 9, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
shadowmedic Comments: I am havingproblems with starting my bmw 325i 1990 convertible. It cranks and starts at times. Then at other times the car won'tstart. It acts like it wants to run then dies on me before I can put in gear. Could it be the fuel pump or the fuel filter? Does my car have 2 pumps and if so. Where are they located? I know about the one in gas tank. Where is other located if there is another.
February 15, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Before you go digging into your fuel system, have you confirmed that fuel is the missing piece from the puzzle? Your vehicle has one fuel pump, under the right rear seat, there is an access panel.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Calogero Comments: Hello, I own two E30's, one a 1987 325iS coupe and a 325i covert. The coupe has 152,00 miles and the convert has 86,000 miles. Both are hard starting so much that it is embarrassing when someone is watching and listening.PLS advise as to how I should start to find the cause. Is it fuel filter, fuel pump, pressure regulator or ???? PLS HELP SOON!!! Thanks, Calogero
January 10, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try an new fuel filter. Also check while the engines are cranking and not starting that you have spark, injector pulse and fuel pressure. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
emenot Comments: Hi Boys and Gals, I spoke to Dinan and since I have a 1988 E30 Super ETA they insist the effort is not worthy for my model as BMW own calibration for this engine is sport on!

December 10, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for letting us know what Dinan thinks of this modification - Nick at Pelican Parts  
shoe Comments: hey i got a 84 318i i just want to know what is a good replacement chip and how much
May 6, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Contact our parts specialist at 888 280 7799 and they can help you. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Reece Comments: I can't find my ecu as stupid as that sounds You say to refer to the picture for the four 10 mm bolts holding it in place but I cant see any picture on this page, nor can i see 4 10 mm bolts under the black cover in my glovebox. I have a 91 318is if that changes anything. Please help
February 3, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What type of vehicle do you have? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nuno Comments: Hi, I own an e30 318i with a M10 engine. I would like to install a chip, but don't know what chip is the proper one for this engine. Can you help me? Thank you.
January 31, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right chip.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Tico Comments: For Nish: With the stock valve retainers you should not rev you engine over 6900 rpm, rocker arm eventualy will break!
October 4, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Biohazard89 Comments: what chip can i use on my e30 318i with m40 motor?
August 30, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check this web page for your model: #item0 - Nick at Pelican Parts
Nish Comments: Can any one comment or advise me on an Alpina chip 7200rpm. I intend on installing it into my e30 325i.
August 3, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'd be careful taking a stock engine RPM that high.

Here's a reply from Tico:

For Nish: With the stock valve retainers you should not rev you engine over 6900 rpm, rocker arm eventualy will break! - Nick at Pelican Parts
Andrew Comments: Hello, im from south america too, uruguay, I have a 89' 325ix
Does the chip lets more air, there for more combustion, but does the chip affect the injection making the car consume more gas? if that so, how much more comsumption? 5%, 10%?
July 14, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Fuel consumption will increase with performance mods. It is hard to say how much. 10% might be a safe number. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
May 8, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don't have any experience with them. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
bonillita Comments: how can i program my conputer i have the same problem as pablo does or what can i buy to programe it my car is a bmw 325i 1989 2dor and the car doesnt star because doesnt pump gas to the engine
January 29, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It doesn't sound like it would be a performance chip issue. I don't have enough information to assist you. Try posting this in our forums with some more info on exactly what the problem is. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
slim40 Comments: What’s up guy; first let me thank you for the info on this chip install it was very helpful, now some pictures would have been nice to help locate clips and or locks ECT, on my 1988 E30 computer there was a lock on center of connector other than that your info was very useful .

Again thank you for posting this information

Slim 40
October 5, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No sweat! - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Mike Comments: As a side-note the 173 ecu has only 1 panel and no separation needs to happen. simply bend the clips back, take off the plastic retainer, swap chip, and re-assemble.
September 17, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Bill Comments: I'm interested in installing a computer chip how can I tell if there is already one installed Thanks
August 22, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There's no way to know unless you crack open the DME and look at what's in there. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Muggee007 Comments: I have an 88 e30 Bosh 153 ECU in my hand right now and thank goodness for the post containing the comments on the two boards, because it has two boards and without the instructions I wouldnt have known how to remove the top board. Just an FYI to everyone else.
June 25, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Pablo Comments: Hi Guys;

I´m writting from Chile Southamerica; I have 325 iac 87,automatic. Now I got a DINAN Performance Chip D900-2532. My car is build for german market without cathalitic exhaust system....I try the chip on the board computer but the car didnt I have to install the original one there any special think I have to do ? my board computer is a BOSCH 0261 200073 have parts for replacing my soft top? and the rubbers ...couse they are burn with the sun
October 5, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The chip has to be programmed for your specific type of car - sounds like it's not a match. As for the top, that's a pretty broad question? We carry all of the parts needed for refurbishing your top... - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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