• BMW 2.0 liter four cylinder N20 turbo motor already having issues? Head cracks under stress above 331 pound-feet of torque?

      Some interesting information was posted in the N20 section of the BimmerBoost BMW forums regarding the durability of the N20 motor. Now, the motor is becoming very popular and is winning multiple awards and rightfully so as it is currently the best factory 2.0 liter turbo four cylinder in production. The keyword there being factory as apparently it is not going to be a stout aftermarket tuning platform at least not yet. Take the information you are about to read as unconfirmed but from an interesting source.

      There are companies that stress test engines for OEM's. One of these companies has been testing the N20 apparently. The advice given is not to go beyond Stage 2 on the N20 which means a slightly more aggressive tune on the factory turbocharger. Why? The N20 head apparently cracks at around 331 pound-feet of torque. That is not exactly a whole lot of torque in the turbo tuning game especially considering the motor puts out an underrated 258 pound-feet from the factory.

      Apparently the engine is just running very hot and multiple heat cycles are creating problems. BMW behind the scenes is supposedly trying to correct the issue. For whatever reason BMW seems to have a reputation for problems with new motors. S54 bearings, S65 bearings, and the next BMW new motor issue looks to be the N20 head cracking.

      The story is that one of the lead designers and engineers for the N20 was flown out to the USA to inspect the findings for himself. It is doubtful BMW would do that unless there was something of substance to this. This same company also apparently tested other BMW motors including turbo motors such as the N54 and N55 when they were new and they did not run into these head issues.

      So what is going to happen? Well, right now it is not recommended for N20 owners to push their motors too far which they can't anyway as there are not aftermarket turbo options out just yet. BMW will likely resolve the problem with a new head which will mean for those with the N20 there will either be a recall or there will be a BMW part number option to get the new head. We will have to wait and see what happens but N20 owners should be aware of the potential issue especially if intending to tune as BMW is unlikely to say anything until they have to.

      This article was originally published in forum thread: N20 Owners started by VargasTurboTech View original post
      Comments 163 Comments
      1. nbrigdan's Avatar
        nbrigdan -
        I'm pretty curious about this, is it safe to assume a stage 1 type kit would get you to around 300whp?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by nbrigdan Click here to enlarge
        I'm pretty curious about this, is it safe to assume a stage 1 type kit would get you to around 300whp?
        From what I have seen from Stage I it gets you close to a stock N54 so in the 270 wheel range. Stage II is over 300: http://www.germanboost.com/showthrea...-dynojet-graph
      1. nbrigdan's Avatar
        nbrigdan -
        That's pretty awesome, I'm super excited to see the highest 91 octane numbers people are getting because E85 isn't available here.

        I'm pumped for N20 turbo upgrades because I've seen ATP's bolt on turbo kit for the 1.6L Prince engine making 300whp on 91 with stock internals, so I bet we'll see 400bhp on the N20 Click here to enlarge At least I'm hoping!
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by nbrigdan Click here to enlarge
        That's pretty awesome, I'm super excited to see the highest 91 octane numbers people are getting because E85 isn't available here.

        I'm pumped for N20 turbo upgrades because I've seen ATP's bolt on turbo kit for the 1.6L Prince engine making 300whp on 91 with stock internals, so I bet we'll see 400bhp on the N20 Click here to enlarge At least I'm hoping!
        Careful: http://www.germanboost.com/content.p...feet-of-torque
      1. nbrigdan's Avatar
        nbrigdan -
        It'll be sorted out soon enough I bet Click here to enlarge
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by nbrigdan Click here to enlarge
        It'll be sorted out soon enough I bet Click here to enlarge
        I would think so but BMW sure is doing a good job keeping quiet.
      1. B005tBuM's Avatar
        B005tBuM -
        Not to fan the fire on this, but I think there could be some legs to this one. I have personal knowledge of 2 cases of head cracking on N20s which required complete engine replacements for both vehicles. One case was on a '12 sport line and the other a '13 M Sport. Both were sub-15k cars.

        Don't want to say much more than that or speculate on the causes, but I'm interested to see if there's more to come on this potential issue.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by B005tBuM Click here to enlarge
        Not to fan the fire on this, but I think there could be some legs to this one. I have personal knowledge of 2 cases of head cracking on N20s which required complete engine replacements for both vehicles. One case was on a '12 sport line and the other a '13 M Sport. Both were sub-15k cars.

        Don't want to say much more than that or speculate on the causes, but I'm interested to see if there's more to come on this potential issue.
        Why can't you say more about it?
      1. B005tBuM's Avatar
        B005tBuM -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Why can't you say more about it?
        Call it the Edward Snowden effect; you never know who's watching these days. I don't want to be overly secretive though, so I'll say that one of the two examples was actually my ride. The other I was informed of by a point of contact at BMW.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by B005tBuM Click here to enlarge
        Call it the Edward Snowden effect; you never know who's watching these days. I don't want to be overly secretive though, so I'll say that one of the two examples was actually my ride. The other I was informed of by a point of contact at BMW.
        Understood. As long as experiences are confirming the report that's all I need to see.
      1. B005tBuM's Avatar
        B005tBuM -
        Hey Vargas, any updates on the N20 Stage1 upgrade development?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        @VargasTurboTech
      1. VargasTurboTech's Avatar
        VargasTurboTech -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by B005tBuM Click here to enlarge
        Hey Vargas, any updates on the N20 Stage1 upgrade development?
        No progress, no updates, plate is full right now. But as soon as I have some time, I will get back on it. The stage 1's for these cars will require having a custom compressor wheel made, which is no big deal but will take a couple months. Just not sure the tuning is even there right now to take advantage of a turbo upgrade, but do not worry, these are 100% on the radar.
      1. B005tBuM's Avatar
        B005tBuM -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by VargasTurboTech Click here to enlarge
        No progress, no updates, plate is full right now. But as soon as I have some time, I will get back on it. The stage 1's for these cars will require having a custom compressor wheel made, which is no big deal but will take a couple months. Just not sure the tuning is even there right now to take advantage of a turbo upgrade, but do not worry, these are 100% on the radar.
        Cool, it'll be a while before I'm in the market for a turbo upgrade anyways. Just wanted to make sure there was still hope for a VTT upgrade offering at some point down the road!

        Agreed that the tuning isn't there at the moment either. My gut tells me it'll likely be 2014 before Terry unlocks electronic solenoid control and Stage 2 gets the beta tag removed. Heck, do we even have a dedicated N20 FMIC offering available to us yet? The lag time for the N20 tuning market to get going has been disappointing...

        Thanks for the update though!
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by B005tBuM Click here to enlarge
        Cool, it'll be a while before I'm in the market for a turbo upgrade anyways. Just wanted to make sure there was still hope for a VTT upgrade offering at some point down the road!

        Agreed that the tuning isn't there at the moment either. My gut tells me it'll likely be 2014 before Terry unlocks electronic solenoid control and Stage 2 gets the beta tag removed. Heck, do we even have a dedicated N20 FMIC offering available to us yet? The lag time for the N20 tuning market to get going has been disappointing...

        Thanks for the update though!
        The N55 has been on the market for a while and it's barely getting going.

        The N20 will go faster though because it's entry level.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by B005tBuM Click here to enlarge
        Not to fan the fire on this, but I think there could be some legs to this one. I have personal knowledge of 2 cases of head cracking on N20s which required complete engine replacements for both vehicles. One case was on a '12 sport line and the other a '13 M Sport. Both were sub-15k cars.

        Don't want to say much more than that or speculate on the causes, but I'm interested to see if there's more to come on this potential issue.


        We need to talk Click here to enlarge PM inbound
      1. ModBargains.com's Avatar
        ModBargains.com -
        Tony how much power do you guys expect to make with a Stage 1 upgrade? My 328i Msport desperately needs a stage 1 upgrade Click here to enlarge
      1. morkusyambo's Avatar
        morkusyambo -
        When a turbo ugrade eventually becomes available for the '12+ 328i what piggyback/flash solution will be recommended and/or used?
      1. VargasTurboTech's Avatar
        VargasTurboTech -
        Hey Frank, right now we have no real idea what a stage upgrade will make over stock, as we do not know where the stock turbo maxes out but I can tell from looking at wheel size etc, the stocker should only be good for about 300 WHP then it's on the edge. These motors are so efficient you ca prob work them a little harder and get more but I can't see them flowing more than 325 or so. picking up 30-70 WHP wouldn't be out of line for the upgrade with proper supporting mods and tuning. To answer the person below you, that is the main stumbling block right now, there is no real tuning available to take advantage of a turbo upgrade, I know a Terry offers tuning for the N20 I spoke with him about it, he wasn't sure the tuning was there either. It will come along soon enough, we will be getting these ready for when it does.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        The hardware can be taken care of as Vargas stated but there just isn't a level of tuning out there yet to accompany it. It will come...