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Old 01-03-2020, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 93
ucsbwsr is on a distinguished road
Need to get caught up a bit on this thread. I just returned from a 2 week road trip through CA, NV, UT, and AZ but there were some important mods which happened prior to the trip.

- Engine, Transmission, Transfer Case, and F/R Differentials all flushed and I added some "Golden Eagle" oil, more on this below.
- Installed "Phantom Fuel System"
- Swapped to ZL1 Winter wheel setup
- Converted D1S bulbs to D2S and installed custom 50w Hella ballasts
- Installed Diode Dynamics 18" LED light bar
- Installed non-3rd row cargo floor and OEM rail system

Threw the X5 on the scales, 5,100 with a 1/2 tank of gas. So this should be 5,050 on the ZL1 wheels.

First up is the Phantom Fuel system. I stumbled upon this thing while searching Craigslist for X5D related stuff. I contacted the seller for more info and after connecting over the phone, sharing some info back on forth via email I am not a beta tester for the unit. I call this thing the wizard-tube but it is essentially filled with metals that excite the fuel as it passes through which in terms helps the fuel completely burn for better performance and efficiency. The tech is derived from petroleum drilling but has been implemented into commercial diesel fleets around Texas such as semi trucks and school busses with excellent results. The system can work on all fuels types so I might throw it on my E61 that runs ethanol to see how it performs. Data on more performance oriented vehicles like the X5 is limited which is where I come in. I will be sharing more info on this later.

Fluids were all flushed and Golden Eagle oil supplement was added. You add 10% to any engine/trans/gear oil. This is derived from the commercial refrigerant market and is essentially a hyper lubricant. The concept is simple, less friction = less parasitic loss which means better performance and efficiency. Not cheap at $135/gal but you don't need much. Before/After dynos have been done on C6 Z06s and Gen 2 Vipers and show a 10whp and 30whp gain respectively.

I pieced together a square setup of 20x11 ZL1 wheels off eBay, I ended getting 4 wheels for ~$700 and with the crazy ~$90/tire I paid for the Michelin Alpin LA2 295/40/20 (Tirerack has them on "closeout" for $1,000/set) the total cost was about $1,400 for the setup which isn't "cheap" but considering the quality and weight of the wheels and that the snow tires are new, it's a great value.

2 wheels with tires arrived

The other wheels are tires arrived

The stamp of quality

Wheels bored out to 74.1mm

Tires mounted and wheels installed. 3mm spacer up front to clear wheel carrier and 25mm in the back but a 30mm would be ideal for flushness. I am VERY happy with how everything came together. I love concave wheels and this design cuits the E70 well. I will likely keep these as my summer aka "all the time minus mountain trip" wheels.

The plan was to retrofit the headlights but I ran out of time prior to the road trip so I converted the bulbs to D2S which allows me to run the 50w ballasts, this bulb/ballast setup is currently running through the stock projectors (meh) but the same setup will be paired with the Lexus SC430 projectors below. The SC430s are amazing but low-beam-only so I needed a solution for the high beam. The plan was to install quad projectors, one low + one high, but there isn't enough room to stuff a decent high beam option so I reverted to an LED light bar for high beam use. A Diode Dynamics 18" Stage series light bar in "driving" optics was my choice. This was wired into the OEM high beam which means I have I retain the high beam assist feature with the light bar. Both the 50w ballasts and light bar use relay harnesses.

Here is the back of the headlights with the D2S igniters coming through sealing grommets. The additional pigtail on the left is the OEM input for the low beam and connects to the relay harness.

Originally I tapped the high beam pigtail inside the headlight as well but it wasn't triggering the relay harness, not sure if the voltage drops or if there was something going on with the CANBUS interrupting the signal so I switched the location to the wiring harness just before the headlight connector. Pigtail is soldered in and I wrapped it up with the fresh tape.

Light bar install was simple, I bolted the adjustable brackets to the plastic shroud under the kidney grills.

Blocking the power steering cooler and having the mesh grill block the light bar are both not ideal but they are compromises I am willing to make for the high beam performance. Where the grill does block a minimal amount of light it does offer a stealthier appearance which I like.

Here are some output pics...

LED fogs

Low beam (stock projectors + Philips XV2 + 50w Hella ballasts)

High beam (projectors + LED Light bar)

With the 3rd row deleted this is what the cargo area looked like

...so I sourced the cargo floor from a non-3rd row X5 ($50) and snagged some OEM cargo rails ($50). I still need to get some touch up pieces but this is essentially how it will look. Given my 2nd row is designed for the 3rd row which means it has sliding, reclining, and pivots forward for rear entry the floor and cargo trim near the 2nd row is very different between the 3rd now and non-3rd row vehicles. The added adjustability of my second row is great and I have no interest to swap in the "static" 2nd row found on non-3rd row X5s but this also means I can't get the base piece where the cargo floor's hinges pivot on (and gas strut mount) nor can I run the cargo area side trim pieces without the built in 3rd row armrests that my X5 has. Not the end of the world but it does mean my cargo floor essentially just laying into position and isn't bolted to anything. A bit of a bummer a proper OEM conversion isn't possible but IMO the adjustability of the 2nd row is worth it. Hope that made sense!


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Old 01-13-2020, 06:51 PM
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 93
ucsbwsr is on a distinguished road
Here are a bunch of pics from my Holiday road trip.

Duck Creek Village, UT.
Cargo box was a life saver...

Zion National Park, UT

Zebra Slot Canyons, UT.

Bryce Canyon, UT

Sedona, AZ

Free car wash in Sedona

Terrible pick but proof I was in Flagstaff, AZ as well!

Lake Havasu City, AZ

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Old 01-14-2020, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Mid Michigan
Posts: 72
MillerMav is on a distinguished road
Killer trip and great upgrades. Nice one!
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Old 02-03-2020, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 93
ucsbwsr is on a distinguished road
After the winter road trip I picked up a set of Pirelli Scorpion Verde A/S tires. 295/40/20. I will run these as an temporary solution as I am still going back n forth with keeping a 20x11 square setup or going to a staggered 20x10F 20x11R. With the snow tires and cargo box removed I was curious to see what kind of MPG gain there would be. It's hard to get pure highway MPG figures that don't get diluted with my aggressive city driving.

I was able to get some clean highway runs in, only ~40 miles total but the drive was an out and back on the same stretch, average speed was 65mph and the return was 35mpg, nice!

I became fond of the looks, strength, and weight of the Camaro ZL1 wheels and didn't see putting the Style 612Ms back on so they were sold

Mountain bike! \M/

20mm spacers were replaced with 30mm for flushness in the rear



Installed my 3" QTP exhaust valve. These slip on clamps made installa breeze and I am happy with the results. I still need to mount the switch in the cabin.

Front suspension is now completely refreshed, new OEM top hats, bushings, sport bump stops, KYB struts, and H&R 1.2 springs.

With the rear suspension things are a bit more complicated...

Researching on RealOEM and on other sites I heard that the rear struts for non-air equipped E70s have longer struts and taller (cupped) strut mounts, in a particular photo where someone was comparing the air vs non-air rear struts it looked like the sturt body was the same but the stanchion was longer on the non-air. So my though was to install the non-air struts and mounts on my X5 which, based on my info at the time, would allow 2" more suspension travel before the bump stops came into play, allowing better ride quality when lowered. However after ordering 2 sets of new rear struts (both air and non-air) it became apparent the 2" length difference is 100% in the sturt body so my plan fell apart.

Non-Air TOP vs Air BOTTOM

Here is the 2" difference in the strut mounts. Air=Flat Non-Air=Dome

Another X5 owner was brainstorming with me and he had the idea to run the shorter "Air" rear struts with the domed non-air mounts; the idea being with domed strut mount would allow the strut extra room to move on a lowered vehicle and hopefully allow for proper strut function at a lowered ride height. I gave this a shot and after about 1 week or testing I came to the conclusion that this combo also wasn't ideal, ths strut was operating at essentially full length. If the sturt only saw compression this is probably OK and better than having the sturt working while significantly compressed however, knowing that the suspension will articulate and extend periodically I could see this damaging the strut when if it was topped out.

To conclude what really needs to happen is to take these 2" taller non-air struts mounts, have 1" of material removed, and have them welded back together. This should allow the strut to operate in an acceptable range on a lowered vehicle.

With the short strut + domed mounts installed I knew the strut might perform better at an even lower ride height to I adjusted the rear down another 3/4". With the strut bolt removed you can see how the strut at full extension sits in relation to the control arm.

I raised the rear back up and reverted to the shorter air strut and flat strut mount. Ride quality isn't as good as it was with the taller mount but I know won't be potentially damaging the strut.

Check this out. A tuning company is pushing the limits of the M57 motor with their 335D. I can't imagine it staying together long at this power level (and 50% nitrous) but these numbers are crazy for a STOCK engine and STOCK turbo M57. Just nuts!
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Old 02-03-2020, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: New Jersey, USA
Posts: 161
spyro235 is on a distinguished road
65mph on the dash, on cruise control for the 35mpg run? If so... Maybe I need to get some of that oil additive you used...

I'll have to pop along at 65mpg on a flat stretch of road and see how my car does. I really don't know what it would do. Plus, we have different tunes. Looking forward to the results of the 3.15 too! Mpg is the goal for me.

For the rear lightbars, where did you route the wires to for the drivers side unit? I don't really see any nice pass through like the passenger side had right above and behind the exhaust tip.
'10 X5 35d- 279k mi, deleted and DUDMD stage 2, daily and tow vehicle
'01 330i- Drift car: SLR Super angle, BC coils- keep it simple
'07 335i 6mt - Sold @ 171k miles- stage 2 daily commuter for 2 years
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Old 02-03-2020, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 93
ucsbwsr is on a distinguished road
Originally Posted by spyro235 View Post
65mph on the dash, on cruise control for the 35mpg run? If so... Maybe I need to get some of that oil additive you used...

I'll have to pop along at 65mpg on a flat stretch of road and see how my car does. I really don't know what it would do. Plus, we have different tunes. Looking forward to the results of the 3.15 too! Mpg is the goal for me.

For the rear lightbars, where did you route the wires to for the drivers side unit? I don't really see any nice pass through like the passenger side had right above and behind the exhaust tip.
I didn't use cruise control, not a fan of it if I am trying to be economical, it is aggressive with the throttle to maintain speed where I have better control driving myself.

For the wiring I just tucked it up and zip tied it safely out of the way, no real tricks, just common sense.
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Old 02-03-2020, 09:59 PM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Man Jose, CA
Posts: 30
robinasu is on a distinguished road
Too bad about the short shock / tall upper shock mount combo! Maybe using some wide aluminum bar as a spacer in the cup could be an option? A hole in the bar, and threaded rod and a coupler (plus a bunch of red thread locker) could extend the shock threads, essentially making a super thick flange. Or, drill out the studs, use longer bolts and machine a quick spacer.

I bought some Bilstein B8 shocks and the tall upper shock mounts - hope they work or I will have to figure out something.
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Old 02-17-2020, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: San Diego
Posts: 93
ucsbwsr is on a distinguished road
I had a chance to execute the 3.15 rear end swap, I will be making a separate thread on this but will add some cliff notes here. For those who have done diff swaps, the change from 3.64 to 3.15 doesn't offer any surprises. Install was straight forward. The downside is acceleration from a dig isn't as dramatic but normal daily driving benefits from the gearing as the X5 has a lot of torque and has no issue moving itself along. The real benefit of this comes at highway speeds, I did some stretches at 60-65mph and it was returning ~35mpg which is what the 3.64 mustered. 65-80mph is where the 3.64 would fall apart and MPGs would drop down to the low-mid 20s, with the 3.15 at 70mph the X5 was still returning 35mpg. I still need to do some testing at higher highway speeds, 80+mph, but the X5 is definitely not as affected by the added speed. I will be swapping in the front diff to complete the gearing conversion and recommend this mod to others who value highway MPG and a less dramatic driving experience overall.

I was able to get a drive from San Diego up to Orange County, just under a 200 mile round trip, mainly flat with some rolling hills. On the drive up I was able to get 32.2mpg and this included 10 miles of urban driving to a shop. On the way home I got 35.1mpg highway only. Unfortunately I wasn't able to hand calculate the figures, this is based off cluster read-out and mine is usually 0-1mpg optimistic so take it for what it's worth.

Big Ass Wrench

If you recall I was playing around with running the shorter rear-air struts with the taller (2" taller) upper strut mounts from a non-air X5 and the goal was to get proper strut actuation while lowered. the air strut with the air mount was too compressed and the air strut with the non-air mount was too extended so I made some 1/2" and 3/4" spacers out of plastic cutting boards which are used to space the taller non-air mount down bring the strut into normal operating range.

To accommodate the spacers I needed to replace the OEM M10 studs with longer versions, after some research I found that ATVs run M10 wheels studs and with all the crazy modding that is going on in that industry, some companies make extended wheel studs to accommodate spacers. I found some that gave me an extra ~20mm of usable thread length.

Old studs out

Extended studs

Building spacers

I made 2 sets of 1/2" and a pair of 3/4" so I can space the mounts as needed between 1/2-1"

What's interesting is how little stanchion travel BMW allows before the bump stops come into play on the rear struts. There are 3 OEM bump stop options: short, medium, and long with the short being sport, long being for 3rd row, and medium for X5s spec's in the middle.
Looking at the meidum bump stop install you can see there is only about 10mm of travel before the bump stop is activated, this is why most X5s ride so poorly when lowered, most are riding on the bump stops, literally.

Here is the medium BS in the back and the sport (short) bump stop installed.

Here is a sport trimmed.

I installed the medium bump stop and paired with a 1/2" spacer which positions the strut in an acceptable operating range but closer to the "extended" side of the spectrum as opposed to "compressed." I know I am still mis-matching the dampening characteristics of the strut with squished air bags but this is a step in the right direction, more testing to do.

I got around to installing the switch for my QTP exhaust valve. I ditched the huge/ugly/hard-to-operate switch QTP supplies for a sleeker momentary switch I bought off eBay, I wanted a more OEM look and easier operation. The goal was to mount the switch in an easy to access location that was also a bit out of sight, and I wanted to mount the switch into a panel or piece of trim that could be easily replaced if I wanted to revert back to stock. Very happy with how everything came together.

With the dark theme of the X5 the taillights and their bright red bothered me a bit so I got some Lamin-X smoked film. This is the lightest they make and offers the "dark-cherry" look I was going for. I also used some knifeless tape to cut the film so that it was only on the red and the white/clear sections have no film.

As a lighting nerd this is a step in the wrong direction in terms of illumination and safety so I had to offset that. I upgraded the rear turn signal and brake light bulbs to Diode Dynamics LED bulbs, I also coded the light module to do a double hazard flash. The bulbs are significantly brighter and combined with the instant-on flash of LEDs the turn signal more effective now than it was in the OEM configuration, even with the tint.

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Old 02-17-2020, 12:47 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Mid Michigan
Posts: 72
MillerMav is on a distinguished road
Great work as always! If I were to ever get a new job and do more highway driving I would certainly perform those diff swaps, that's a great bump in MPG's.
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Old 02-18-2020, 11:57 AM
Best4x4xFAR's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Maryland
Posts: 347
Best4x4xFAR is on a distinguished road
You are aspiring.

I find myself reading your build thread and day dreaming about working on the X5, but then the reality of work and family life smacks me right between the eyes.

I have a long list of a) Needs and b) Wants, but the reality is that I can hardly find enough time to wash the X5, or fit in an oil change. Have no clue where you find the time..

More power to you..

Black Sapphire Metallic/Sand Beige '13 E70 35d, SP, NAV, Tech, Comfort Access/Seats
20" Style 214's Wrapped in Continental DWS06 Extreme Contacts

(SOLD) Alpine White/Sand Beige '06 E53 3.0, SP, PP, CC, RC, NAV, Sat Radio
19" Style 63's
Wrapped in Bridgestone Dueler HP Sports-- Summer Shoes
18" Style 131's Wrapped in 255/55-18 Nokian WRG2 SUV's -- Winter Boots
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