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  #1  
Old 08-28-2021, 01:52 PM
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Cool Absurd exhaust system proposal for e53 X5 3.0i M54 // headers back for under $1,250?

Hi X'ers ,

I wanted to start this thread not only to satisfy my own goofy exhaust urges, but also to see what some of the more unconventional exhaust setups you guys have done to your own e53s or have witnessed others do to their's.

Following a litany of maintenance repairs, my X5 runs smoother and quieter than I ever remember her to have (or ever thought she could again), and for the first time since probably 2014 the CEL is off (80% of the time at least ). So after achieving this milestone and now quickly approaching 200K miles, I decided it would be a good time to fulfill a lifelong X5 ownership dream and f*¢# it all up by installing a completely new, silly exhaust system.

After reading numerous exhaust threads on here and other forums relating to the M54 engine, and taking inspiration from some YouTube videos of people with much higher end BMW's doing ridiculous things to their multi-thousand dollar, M-tuned systems, I've settled on the below design to satisfy my adolescent craving for a bad-ass sounding and hp boosting system that is economically sensible for an almost 20 year old car with nearly 200k miles on it.

What I'm hoping you guys can talk me out of is:

- anything that could harm the X5 in the long run,
- anything you think would impede performance rather than benefit it,
- anything I'm taking too lightly (or not considering the actual expense of) in terms of the ability of what a standard local muffler shop guy can do
- anything you see here that there is a better alternative for in the same ballpark expense wise

-----

From front to back:

- $120: Knockoff Supersprint Ebay headers for an E46 (I realize they are too short to bolt on to the existing tubing leading to the resonator, but since the whole system is being gutted I'm hoping it won't be too expensive for a shop to adapt e46 headers to an e53 chassis: $120 vs the next best thing, which are the $530 Russian Dr. Lavr e53 specific headers.)

- $20: (2) x 90 degree oxygen sensor adapter/extenders (I've heard that due to clearance issues on aftermarket headers the only way to fit the O2 sensors is with such an adapter... also a chance that this cat-less header setup w/ the extensions won't foul out the sensors and trigger the CEL)

- $20: (2) x 2.25" to 2.5" exhaust adapters (I understand stock 2.25 piping on the M54 3.0i, but since I'm gutting all I figured why not turn it up a notch to 2 1/2 inches all the way through... Why not just go all out for 3" in that case? The less exhaust restriction the better, right? Except for in case of torque I hear you want some back pressure, no?)

- $60: 10 ft of 2.5" exhaust tubing from headers/adapters to x-pipe and then x-pipe to mufflers

- $120: Magnaflow Tru-X X-pipe, 2.5" in/2.5" out (is there any advantage to the Magnaflow one or could I get away with a $40 Amazon x-pipe?)

- $80: (2) x Cherry Bomb M-80 mufflers (check out the guy on You Tube who put another type of Cherry Bombs on his late model M3 - I think it sounds great!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wra6PEx6YiQ )

- $100: Knock off M3 style dual exhaust tips, 2.5" in/3.5" out X 4

-----

Thanks for humoring me if you've read this far. I just wanted to get some advice before ordering all this junk and finding a muffler guy willing to do it.

What do you guys think a shop would charge to do a job like this? I'm hoping I could strong arm a guy into doing the whole thing for under $600 labor if I supply all the hardware. Am I being unreasonable?

That would put the entire exhaust, header to tips, expense at under $1,250 ($520 parts + $600 labor + a little padding).

An Eisenmann sport cat-back exhaust would cost $2,300 in parts alone and doesn't include the headers which should provide the largest HP gain. Any reason to think that my proposed Frankenstein setup wouldn't yield the same performance benefits as an Eisenmann set-up?

***Can anyone recommend an exhaust guy willing to work on a cat-less setup in the North Texas/DFW area?*** (or should I just invest a few hundred more bucks in a set of universal high flow cats?)

attached are two diagrams I cobbled together: one of the stock exhaust system (apparently the internet doesn't have a diagram of the complete exhaust system solo for an e53 M54 X5), and one of my proposed silly exhaust system.

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Ikiris the X5: 2002 e53 m54 3.0i in Oxfordgrün, 180K ///

Last couple of years she's spent time all over the US from NYC to Detroit to New Mexico to LA and everywhere b/w, she's paid her dues in the Mojave, the Badlands and the Rockies. Recently rear ended by a prostitute in Dallas, where we are settled... for the moment

Was my dad's last car. He was a master mechanic w/ a successful Euro repair shop in Dallas. In his honor, I plan on running this thing 'til the wheels fall off.

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Old 08-28-2021, 04:37 PM
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I am dealing with some of this right now...My cats are bad...

I believe you should just buy the Russian headers which apparently fit right out of the box and flash the EU2 tune to your E53.. Do you NEED to pass emissions in your state? In my state (MA) i don't after 15 years. I flashed the EU2 tune to my '03 530i and still get an inspections sticker ea year.

People who have done this (install headers) claim an extra 10-20 hp..You may not get much in the way of extra sound.

If you're willing, to could likely sell your cats to pay for the headers.

I am hearing the O2 spacers will NOT be enough to prevent a CEL...I also hear some aftermarket cats. I have yet to see anybody on E39, E46, or E53 install headers and O2 spacers and not have a CEL (without the EU2 tune).

Even though my cats are bad, they are not plugged. I tested them for back pressure.
My plan is just to flash the EU2 tune and leave my bad cats on.
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Old 08-28-2021, 05:36 PM
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RE: flash the EU2 tune

To be honest with you, I didn’t realize that the EU2 tune was an option to get rid of the CEL on catless systems. Thanks for the head’s up! I just did a little reading and to my dismay the Shark tune doesn’t have an option for this which is a bummer because that was going to be my next mod after the exhaust. I wish the Shark tune had an EU2 option available to get all the advantages of both.

Technically in TX I could not get a sticker w/o cats, but you also can’t get a sticker with the CEL burning, which, until now, mine’s been on for half a decade (that’s what happens when your dad was a master mechanic - “cobbler’s shoes” or whatever) so “I know a guy” that’ll make it work.
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Ikiris the X5: 2002 e53 m54 3.0i in Oxfordgrün, 180K ///

Last couple of years she's spent time all over the US from NYC to Detroit to New Mexico to LA and everywhere b/w, she's paid her dues in the Mojave, the Badlands and the Rockies. Recently rear ended by a prostitute in Dallas, where we are settled... for the moment

Was my dad's last car. He was a master mechanic w/ a successful Euro repair shop in Dallas. In his honor, I plan on running this thing 'til the wheels fall off.

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Old 08-28-2021, 06:14 PM
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According to RealOEM, an EU2 tune that turns off rear O2's is ZUSB 7545687 for an '02 3.0

You will lose all CEL light functionality also (unless you get a custom tune), but you will still be able to see codes other than those related to rear O2's, with a code reader.
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Old 08-29-2021, 05:30 PM
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I suggest you start with everything from behind the exhaust manifolds and see how you like it. It's kind of a PITA to have to mess with the exhaust manifolds and starting there and working back would be quite a bit easier. If you still want to go through all that effort later to get 5 more horsepower into a pretty heavy ride you will be older and wiser already.
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Old 08-30-2021, 01:27 PM
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It is possible that the length of headers can decrease torque. It largely depends the overall length and if they are equal length. Torque is what gets you going. Be sure headers for the 3.0 do not reduce torque. Claims of increase HP and TQ by owners are hardly ever backed up by dyno runs, the butt dyno means nothing.

I wouldn't add headers unless they were a name brand that lists gains. It doesn't mean the claims will be accurate but that is why they build headers. The gain with the right exhaust isn't much. As an example the Dinan free flow muffler for a 3.0, when it was available, increased the HP by 5 at 6500 RPMs and TQ 4 also at 6500 RPMs.

If you are after better sound I would install electric cutoffs equal length from the exhaust manifolds and past the first O2 sensor. The cutoffs should increase performance but I don't know how much. Based on Dinan only offering the muffler for the 3.0, a low restriction muffler should be beneficial.

Before modifying the 3.0 exhaust I think I would start with letting more and cooler air in as happens with a cold air box. Once you have more air going in letting more exhaust out should help a little more. If you then get it tuned to match up with the changes you should get yet a little more improvement.

In short, I would add an air box, a low restriction muffler and electric cutouts and call it a day. Both the muffler and air box will improve the sound of the engine and cutouts are great fun if nothing else.
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Old 08-30-2021, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahlem View Post
I suggest you start with everything from behind the exhaust manifolds and see how you like it. It's kind of a PITA to have to mess with the exhaust manifolds and starting there and working back would be quite a bit easier. If you still want to go through all that effort later to get 5 more horsepower into a pretty heavy ride you will be older and wiser already.
Ha! Thanks for the advice. Are installing the headers the PITA or the emissions hoops you have to jump through afterwards and persistent CEL on the PITA? From everything I’ve read it always seemed to me that headers were the most efficient way to boost power on the m54, no? With the stock manifolds in place I can’t imagine much benefit coming from anything you bolt on behind them, unless you’re just after the sound (which I am also).
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Old 08-30-2021, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcredliner View Post
It is possible that the length of headers can decrease torque. It largely depends the overall length and if they are equal length. Torque is what gets you going. Be sure headers for the 3.0 do not reduce torque. Claims of increase HP and TQ by owners are hardly ever backed up by dyno runs, the butt dyno means nothing.

I wouldn't add headers unless they were a name brand that lists gains. It doesn't mean the claims will be accurate but that is why they build headers. The gain with the right exhaust isn't much. As an example the Dinan free flow muffler for a 3.0, when it was available, increased the HP by 5 at 6500 RPMs and TQ 4 also at 6500 RPMs.

If you are after better sound I would install electric cutoffs equal length from the exhaust manifolds and past the first O2 sensor. The cutoffs should increase performance but I don't know how much. Based on Dinan only offering the muffler for the 3.0, a low restriction muffler should be beneficial.

Before modifying the 3.0 exhaust I think I would start with letting more and cooler air in as happens with a cold air box. Once you have more air going in letting more exhaust out should help a little more. If you then get it tuned to match up with the changes you should get yet a little more improvement.

In short, I would add an air box, a low restriction muffler and electric cutouts and call it a day. Both the muffler and air box will improve the sound of the engine and cutouts are great fun if nothing else.
I like the way you think and electric exhaust cutouts are about as absurd as any exhaust mod I could think of. Do you happen to have them on yours or know anyone with a 3.0 X5 who has had them installed?

I’m a little confused on what your recommended placement is… you said: “install electric cutoffs equal length from the exhaust manifolds and past the first O2 sensor” —— I think it’s the O2 sensor part that’s tripping me up; aren’t those in the manifold? Maybe a better question to ask is if I delete the resonator at the same time should these come before the x-pipe?

In terms of performance, it’s funny but I couldn’t find much in way of definitive numbers for hp gains with cutouts, besides some guy with a 500hp Challenger who dyno tested it with cutouts open and closed and he reports a +10hp gain with them open.

I already have a “short ram induction” exposed cone style filter installed on her. It’s not one of the fancy aFe or Dinan ones but I’m sure it gets the job done all the same. I didn’t notice a particular increase in power from it until about 3500 rpm but that could also be just wishful thinking on my part. Sounds nice though.

Anyhow, thanks for the cutout advice. I am seriously considering it now! (Would just love to find another X5 owner who has already done it though.)
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Old 08-30-2021, 03:42 PM
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I wouldn't add headers unless they were a name brand that lists gains. It doesn't mean the claims will be accurate but that is why they build headers. The gain with the right exhaust isn't much. As an example the Dinan free flow muffler for a 3.0, when it was available, increased the HP by 5 at 6500 RPMs and TQ 4 also at 6500 RPMs.

Also bcredliner: the headers I was interested in are definitely not manufactured by a name brand, but from what they claim and I’ve read they are pretty good knock offs of the Supersorint E46 M54 headers which are equal length and claim to increase power by 20hp on a 330i. Yes, there are fitment issues regarding the O2 sensors and bolting up to stock exhaust, but those are the same complaints I hear about the $1,200 authentic ones as well and can be worked around fairly easily. Everyone says they bolt up to to the head just fine, which if they didn’t would obviously be a deal breaker. In summary, they sound kind of annoying, but effective and at 1/10th the price of the genuine ones still very tempting to try.
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:39 PM
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I would strongly suggest buying headers that fit vs. hoping that you’ll save money getting an exhaust shop to make them fit. There’s a hood chance you’ll end up breaking even cost-wise, and you’ll definitely have a worse final product.
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