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  #1  
Old 02-15-2018, 05:31 PM
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3.0i Header Options

I was thinking of installing a set of exhaust headers for a little more sound/performance, but after searching, I'm really only seeing 2 options out there:

1) cheap ebay headers for about $100
2) something like supersprint for $1500+

In looking at realoem, it appears that the E53 and E39 use the same exhaust manifolds for the M54-equipped cars. However, all the ebay listings that list fitment for the E39 show the same part for the E46, which I understand will mate to the head but are too short and will need custom work to attach to the E53 stock exhaust.

Is there a decent quality bolt-on solution in between? I'm willing to spend more (not $1500), but even the few see for $5-600 appear to be the same cheap ebay headers for the E46 just at a higher price.
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  #2  
Old 02-16-2018, 01:37 AM
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Also interested in this...
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  #3  
Old 02-16-2018, 11:21 AM
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Honestly, I don't know that there is a reason to spend more than $150 for the headers and then about that for new, good quality cats. I arrived at that conclusion by reading a ton of e46fanatics.

There is not a ton of power left on the table on the exhaust side on these motors where X5s can use it - the M54 and S54 motors were designed to make torque up higher in the RPM band than A)is useable by a 5500lb truck, or B) it turns out is feasible for the M54 because the harmonics over 6k rpm are bad and the oil pump nut might spin off, so you don't want to be up there anyway.

Go look at dyno charts of M54 to confirm that.

The major point I see on the X5 exhaust manifold is that the bends right off the head are tight and the cat is mounted way up high to get it to light off faster so it could make the higher tier of emissions (PLEV...some stupid acronym).

So I don't know that other than having better bends and having hi-flo cats there is much to do on an M54. I have a set of ebay headers I am about 25% of the way through getting on. There are about 4 different kinds of ebay headers that fit, but they are all more or less the same 2 designs. And then there are the 1500 ones.

EDIT: You have a Z3 - I actually looked at using factory Z3 manifolds, which are more like a header, but IIRC there was some emission thing they had/didn't have that I did not want to bother with. The high level Z3 and 330 OEM steel header type manifolds look pretty good. Could be an improvement over X5 OEM.
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Old 02-16-2018, 02:43 PM
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Yeah, I see what you're saying. I'm not looking to get every last ounce of power. What I'm trying to avoid is having a nice-looking set of stainless headers connected to some crappy looking exhaust shop adapters then on to the factory exhaust. That, and just the trouble of getting it done - i.e. finding a shop that can a) do nice TIG welds in stainless and b) will work on a car without cats.

If I go that route, I'll probably spend a few more bucks and go for these Schmiedmann's vs. the bay headers:

https://www.schmiedmann.com/en/bmw-E...ct=SCM5254MANI
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:05 PM
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I have a set of BimmerBrakes headers on my E46 325Ci (M54B25).

These headers will also fit the M54B30 in the E39 and I am guessing the E53 as well...

I dont know if they are still making them as I bought these 5 years ago, but they have been great in terms of sound and the butt dyno

Going to source a new set for my E53 3.0i soon...

*EDIT*
They actually have two versions now

This is the one I have...
BimmerBrakes SS M54B25/M54B30 V1 Performance Headers - EuroPartsOnline

Version 2
BimmerBrakes GEN3 M54B25/M54B30 Performance Headers - EuroPartsOnline

Version 2 looks like it might have equal length ports vs the V1... is that worth $75 more though??

Last edited by LOWvert; 02-16-2018 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 02-18-2018, 03:15 AM
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We went with MagnaFlows and we could not be happier. I swear, we gained 25-30HP, the truck pulls like crazy. I though it was all in my head until my kid drove it for a couple of days and said the same thing. They are integrated manifolds & cats, and loving the the SES light is gone and we passed our emissions test finally! Here's the part numbers for our 2002 3.0 E53:

Magnaflow 49772 | BMW 525I/530I/X5 | 2.5L/3L | Front | Catalytic Converter-Direct Fit | OEM Grade EPA 49772 1
Magnaflow 49773 | BMW 525I/530I/X5 | 2.5L/3L | Rear | Catalytic Converter-Direct Fit | OEM Grade EPA 49773 1

Direct fitment and even come with front & rear gaskets, rear bolts, etc. We paid $1,087 for both shipped with an online coupon. Hope this helps!
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Old 02-18-2018, 01:41 PM
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Check out e46 fanatics. There doesn't seem to be much a benefit beyond the eBay headers.
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Old 03-10-2018, 04:33 PM
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Bringing this back up. I just installed 4.6is mufflers and got just a little more sound, still too quiet, though, IMO.

After looking at the manifold to center section transition, I was able to have an educated conversation with several ebay sellers about their fitment. Conclusion is that NONE of the China/Taiwan headers will mate up to stock exhaust on the E53/E39 M54 engine even though several claimed they did. Neither does bimmerbrakes or racing dynamics (to give them credit, neither of those claim to fit but some of their resellers claim E53/E39 bolt-up fitment).

However, after talking with the sellers of "russian ebay headers" aka bmwdoctor.ru, I have some confidence they'll bolt-up to our stock exhaust. They swear it does and sent pictures that at least show the correct flange clocking.

So, with a one-day only 20% off ebay coupon ($450 delivered), I'm giving these a shot:

Russian Ebay Headers

Based on their instagram page, I suspect they're buying them from somewhere in asia and correcting the output side to fit various other models correctly. Over on an E90 forum, someone posted pictures and the comments were they look much better than the standard China-headers but aren't up to par with supersprint.
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Last edited by e39_touring; 02-23-2021 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 03-10-2018, 10:26 PM
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Do you need to use a cat simulator to pass emissions?


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Old 03-12-2018, 04:22 AM
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There are a few options to pass emissions without integrating cats into the exhaust:

1) Use the euro tune that will suppress the check engine light, but this will only work if your state doesn't require all OBDII monitors to be in a "ready" state.

2) Some have had success using spark plug anti-foulers/o2 sensor extensions that put the after-cat o2 sensors out of the direct exhaust stream keeping their readings within tolerance.

3) Use real o2 simulators for the after-cat o2 sensors to mimic the correct values the ecm is expecting

4) I don't know if anyone has done this successfully yet, but adjust the parameters for the after-cat secondary o2 sensors so that they'll accept any value without impacting monitor readiness.

For me, this is one of those "cross that bridge when we get there" situations. I've done a lot of tuning on GM cars to this effect and am hoping the same can be done here. If all else fails, it's re-install the factory manifolds every other year - tho yuk.
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