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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-03-2011, 04:31 AM
CHROMECHILD1 CHROMECHILD1 is offline
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Adding performance

What can you add to improve performance in the 1998 bmw 528i?
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2011, 07:33 AM
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DennisCooper! DennisCooper! is offline
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You can add lots of things potentially, just depends on the size of your wallet!

Have a search for other threads where this has been asked many many times before, cross reference with known reputable companies who can do the work you might eventually settle for.

Work out what you want to acheive, and evaluate if it's worth spending the money modifying this car, or upgrading to a 530i, 540i, M5 etc...

Cheers, Dennis!
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  #3  
Old 09-03-2011, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHROMECHILD1 View Post
What can you add to improve performance in the 1998 bmw 528i?
Trying to squeeze more power out of a BMW engine is usually a losing proposition, it typically costs *over $100 per horsepower gained*....most veterans around here will tell you "FUGGEDABOUDIT !!!". Either learn to love what ya got, or sell it and buy something faster....
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  #4  
Old 09-03-2011, 07:48 AM
bimmerteck bimmerteck is offline
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Fast Bob is correct, it can get very pricy trying to coax more power out of a BMW motor, though I believe my average will be somewhere closer to $50-$60 dollars per HP.(I do all my own work though) You will need to spend some cash on preventative maintenance to keep from loosing power though. A bad CCV or leaky VCG or bad vanos seals can reduce your output by 30hp if you don't keep the maintenance up.
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  #5  
Old 09-03-2011, 08:47 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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You're not the first to ask.

Start at the bestlinks ...

- Which is better, stock or aftermarket cold air intake (1) (2) & a home-made CAI (1) & the general consensus on the effectiveness of an aftermarket CAI versus the stock BMW CAI (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) and of the K&N oiled air filter over the stock air filter (1) & how to reduce the risk of hydro lock (1) (2).

For suppliers, this is in the bestlinks when I search for "performance":
Performance,mods & repairs
Also this:
Performance Upgrades
BMW Performance Exhaust Systems
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  #6  
Old 09-03-2011, 10:05 AM
bimmerteck bimmerteck is offline
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If your goal is to make the car a little more fun to drive and you have the budget for it then have at it.

If you think it's a fast car and want it faster. . . you are mistaken, keep in mind that a even if you add 50hp to your stock motor; assuming it's performing up to snuff (nearly impossible without boost) you'll have 243hp.

A fresh off the lot Mazda 6 with a completely stock v6 makes 272hp and 269lbft. of torque. . . quite a competitor when your suggesting dumping 1/3 of it's MSRP value into modifications on a '97 to net 20-30hp. (a base model 2012 Kia Optima will beat your car currently)


If your stuck on speed with a BMW m52 motor I recommend finding a clean straight e30 BMW chassis, using your 528i as a donor car, and part out the rest b/c losing the extra 1500lbs can help a lot in the "want to go fast" category.
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  #7  
Old 09-03-2011, 05:38 PM
Quick99Si Quick99Si is offline
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A close friend of mine has a 2000 528i and having had highly modified cars all my life, and having considered the relatively limited options for his car, it pretty much boils down to "LSX swap or sell + buy LSX car" if you wanna do more than keep up with traffic. Supercharger works too, but your bang/buck and limit are far from good in the current car. Here's a couple quick numbers to consider:

LS1 350hp
LS6 405hp
LS2 400hp
LS3 430hp
LS7 505hp
LQ4/LQ9 truck engines: iron block and typically cheaper

LS6 + $700 worth boltons netted 380rwhp in my Z28 (30mpg!)
LS1 + cam + fewer boltons netted 410rwhp in my WS6 <-- this one destroyed a handful of local d-bags in modified M3/M5's strong-armin' it in their polos

/mullethead HmmmHHHmm
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  #8  
Old 09-03-2011, 05:41 PM
Quick99Si Quick99Si is offline
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I would say that funds intended for significant performance upgrades are better off sitting under your mattress in preparation for any one of the costly and several "events" in the life of an an e39.
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540i - Stock/Sport / 6MT / 13.9@100mph
WS6 - 231/234 / 6MT / 4.10 / 410rwhp
ITR - 262/262 / 5MT / 12.2:1 / 9600rpm

540i/6 Sport, Jet Black, Style 65, LED tail, DICE+GROM USB, !CDV, Redline MT-90, M1 0-40w
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  #9  
Old 09-03-2011, 06:51 PM
e30e e30e is offline
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If you want some easy power put a m50/s50 manifold on the 528i, there are a couple headers out there that'll help it breathe better. If you open the head up you can so s52 cams.
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  #10  
Old 09-03-2011, 07:07 PM
bimmerteck bimmerteck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e30e View Post
If you want some easy power put a m50/s50 manifold on the 528i, there are a couple headers out there that'll help it breathe better. If you open the head up you can so s52 cams.
And here's a dyno sheet for the s52 cams in an m52b28 with an m50 manifold and software- 209hp not bad but in a 3500 pound car you'll need a lot more grunt to move it quickly.

dyno sheet

A e39 M5 can currently be had for under 20k and will easily walk on a very highly modified 528i even if you had a budget for mods as large as the price of the M5. If you want to go fast in an e39 the 6 cylinder models are not the chassis to start with. I'd recommend you either pick up a later 540i/6 or an M5. You will be happier with either in the long run.
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  #11  
Old 09-03-2011, 07:10 PM
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Fragzem Fragzem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHROMECHILD1 View Post
What can you add to improve performance in the 1998 bmw 528i?
biggest performance booster for a 1998 528i, is Mario Andretti.

I would say go for the supercharger, tho. Mario is hard to get a hold of, or so I'm told.
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  #12  
Old 09-03-2011, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by e30e View Post
If you want some easy power put a m50/s50 manifold on the 528i, there are a couple headers out there that'll help it breathe better. If you open the head up you can so s52 cams.
Complete waste of time & money....
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  #13  
Old 09-03-2011, 10:02 PM
thecushion thecushion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHROMECHILD1 View Post
What can you add to improve performance in the 1998 bmw 528i?
Put a V8 in it!!
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  #14  
Old 09-03-2011, 10:19 PM
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moots moots is offline
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Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
Complete waste of time & money....

A: The M50 mani.(92-95) flows 40% more air per Cylinder, than the M52(96+) mani. Source - BMW-M.net

No Tuning
*Some loss of low-end Tq
*Car will pull Much stronger from 5k-redline

With Tuning
*Loss if Tq almost undetectable
*top end even STRONGER

A:It's all about improving volumetric efficiency, Engines are big air pumps, more air in + more fuel in + more air out=more power.
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  #15  
Old 09-03-2011, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by moots View Post
A: The M50 mani.(92-95) flows 40% more air per Cylinder, than the M52(96+) mani. Source - BMW-M.net

No Tuning
*Some loss of low-end Tq
*Car will pull Much stronger from 5k-redline

With Tuning
*Loss if Tq almost undetectable
*top end even STRONGER

A:It's all about improving volumetric efficiency, Engines are big air pumps, more air in + more fuel in + more air out=more power.
The *minimal* gain doesn`t justify the time & expense. I stand by my previous statement.
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  #16  
Old 09-04-2011, 12:20 AM
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Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
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Look at Maintenance and a tune-up:
Replace:
1. spark plugs
2. Filters (fuel and air)
3. Vanos Seals
4. CCV
5. old vacuum hoses and elbows
6. clean the throttle body, ICV, disa valve, and air distribution piece
7. clean MAF, etc....

Then, I would look at the suspension and cooling system (big ticket items).
Replacing the shocks, struts, mounts, springs, and spring pads with bump stops will have a huge effect on your car IMO.
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  #17  
Old 09-05-2011, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fragzem View Post
biggest performance booster for a 1998 528i, is Mario Andretti.

I would say go for the supercharger, tho. Mario is hard to get a hold of, or so I'm told.
I heard he was at the race in Baltimore over the weekend giving rides in the two seater Indy car.

If you want to drive like Mario, attend a HPDE school. The best way to improve the performance of the driver............
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  #18  
Old 09-05-2011, 08:14 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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M50 intake is worth it; it's a simple modification, requires only a few hundred bucks (at a scrapper) and a few hours time.

I love this: http://tinyurl.com/3vfkabp
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Last edited by bmw_n00b13; 09-05-2011 at 08:15 PM. Reason: eat my shorts spam filter
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  #19  
Old 09-05-2011, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
M50 intake is worth it; it's a simple modification, requires only a few hundred bucks (at a scrapper) and a few hours time.

I love this: http://tinyurl.com/3vfkabp
The basic rule of thumb is, unless a mod yields a net gain of *at least* ten RWHP, you might as well ignore it, `cause you`re never gonna feel it in the seat of your pants.

As far as that gizmo in the link, those bullsh!t devices have been around for 50 years, usually sold by catalog houses like J.C. Whitney...."The Power Of A Thousand Butterfly Farts Can Be YOURS !!!!....Just Buy This Crappy Widget For $69.95 !!!"

(It WILL make your car faster, by virtue of lightening your wallet !)
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  #20  
Old 09-06-2011, 07:54 AM
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manticore33 manticore33 is offline
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I agree with FastBob! Natural aspirated BMWs are not that moddable without spending a serious amounts of cash. Maybe it is worth it to you, but really at current e39 price points it is not worth it. A $6k-$10k base price for a car, plus another $6-$10k in modifications is a waste of money considering the good used cars you can buy today. People have mentioned the e39 M5 already. How about this one, a Mercedes S600 with a twin-turbo V12 (495hp) or supercharged S55 AMG (495hp v8) can be had in the 20's (check the options on the S-Class; makes the e39's features look pathetic). Porsche Cayenne twin-turbos (500hp) are $25k, 996 (911) twin-turbo cars are in the $30s, and not to mention the legions of 996 based Carreras in the 20s. Highly modify the e39 wut? This is why you do not see many e39s modified beyond appearance upgrades such as wheels, bumpers, and springs.

In regards to engine swaps, I really doubt it is ever worth it. There always to be some compromise with a frankencar and knowing what parts to use or replace. Even if the e39 was at e30 price points, I do not think the swap would be worth it. My 944 turbo stock will run with a naturally aspirated e30 s50/s52 car (and I paid less than a conversion car). Plus, I have bigger brakes and overall better track set up from the factory than any e30. In addition, retaining the stock engine gives me much more flexibility to run with PCA since the track is really the only place to use major horsepower.

My advice is to recondition the car to an exceptional stock form. This will yield a better performing and more enjoyable car. If the non-sport suspension bothers you that much, change the springs and maybe add thicker sway bars. BMW does not leave much on the table when it comes to performance and usually any performance in excess of a factory configuration starts the trade offs. Even the M5 has a trade off by losing a spare tire for dual exhaust. And the two 1:00 a.m. flats I have had I have been thankful for that full-size matching spare.
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Last edited by manticore33; 09-06-2011 at 07:57 AM.
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  #21  
Old 10-19-2011, 03:45 PM
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seemyad seemyad is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHROMECHILD1 View Post
What can you add to improve performance in the 1998 bmw 528i?
You can clean/replace your MAF and ICV as well as change your spark plugs. All for less than $20 (see following correction).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fast Bob View Post
"All for *less than $20*" ????

Where do YOU shop ?
Great catch. Thanks

EDIT: ...for less than $60
(Clean MAF, ICV, change spark plugs)



If your DISA is bad that will cost you some performance as well so check it too -
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=575367

Puchase discount DISA - http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...ght=diy&page=4


These few items alone will bring back horse power and response that your engine has lost over the years.



Try this thread - ITEMS RECOMMENDED FOR PERIODIC CLEANING:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...=1#post6390037


In my view the BMW was finely tuned right out of the factory. The return on mods are very small and very costly. I drive the 530i Sports Package. I cleaned my MAF and changed my pugs a week or so ago and could not belive the difference. My next project is to clean the ICV. All sorts of "experiments" have been tried to improve performznce with mixed results yet with a high price tag.

BMWs, unlike Mustangs, were born ready.


.

Last edited by seemyad; 10-19-2011 at 08:08 PM.
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  #22  
Old 10-19-2011, 05:19 PM
BlackMagic528 BlackMagic528 is offline
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Unfortunately, there's really no way to turn a heavy sedan into a straight-line screamer. Not without completely altering the entire essence of the vehicle.

That said, it is very doable to improve the handling, which for most people increases the fun quotient even more than raw speed. My advice is to start with the brakes. Any kind of performance mod - even suspension mods - will increase the workload on the brakes. Once you've done that, I'd suggest going with springs, rims, and tires. I have 17" rims and z-rated tires on my '97 528i with a perfectly stock suspension (granted most of the suspension was recently overhauled, but with factory parts) and I can feel a significant difference just from the wheel and tire combo over the factory 16s.

Just my two cents.
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  #23  
Old 10-19-2011, 06:15 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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K&n air filter and a tornado intake and don't forget the magnets on the fuel lines.
holy thread resurrection.
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Last edited by bmw_n00b13; 10-19-2011 at 06:17 PM.
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  #24  
Old 10-19-2011, 07:30 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
K&n air filter and a tornado intake and don't forget the magnets on the fuel lines.
holy thread resurrection.
And don`t forget....more chrome reduces wind resistance....
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  #25  
Old 10-19-2011, 07:32 PM
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Fast Bob Fast Bob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemyad View Post
You can clean/replace your MAF and ICV as well as change your spark plugs. All for less than $20.
.
"All for *less than $20*" ????

Where do YOU shop ?
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