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Driving a twin-turbo 6 cylinder? Get the software update

Others | February 15th, 2009 by 5
bmw-n54

I have been meaning to write about this for quite some time now. Back in November we posted a press release issued by BMW North …

I have been meaning to write about this for quite some time now. Back in November we posted a press release issued by BMW North America, in which it was confirmed that the N54 engine powering the 135i, 335i/xi, 535i/xi and the X6 xDrive35i are affected by a turbo-lag issue.

Out if these models, the only ones affected were the those manufactured prior to March 2008. Unfortunately, I was one of them, my 335i was build in December 2007. To give you a better picture of this issue, here is that press release that was issued at that time:

Driving a twin turbo 6 cylinder? Get the software update

“In an effort to address specific noise concerns, BMW updated the turbocharged engine software on 335i/xi and 535i/xi models built from June 2006 through March 2008. The updated software causes a small amount of increased “turbocharger lag” under certain circumstances and, while not substantial, the lag may be perceptible to the most sensitive BMW drivers. X6, 135i, and 3 Series/5 Series vehicles from March 2008 production onward are not affected.

Release of the new software to restore the original turbocharger response is planned for January 2009, and it will be available for vehicles produced from September 2007 through March 2008 when they are brought to an authorized BMW center for a repair which requires a programming update. Clients with vehicles produced from June 2006 through September 2007 may request installation of the January 2009 software update.

Clients who get this update should understand that there is a possibility of slightly increased engine noise levels under certain circumstances.”

Basically what BMW is saying that by upgrading to the latest software version, you might be experiencing a slight increase in engine noise. That statement made me delay my upgrade and research the issue a bit more. After driving a 335i with the newest software and compared to my own car, I noticed that the sound increase is not really noticeable, unless you really want to get into sound decibels measurement.

With that being said, I took my car in to the dealer and requested the upgrade. Twenty-four hours later, after the software was upgraded and the engine was turned for  hours, I picked up my car. Now, I do imagine things from time to time, but this wasn’t one of those moments, my 335i was and is definitely more responsive and the turbo-lag is very very minimal right now.

Since I drive a manual, I decided to test the car some more and see how it handles during gear shifting, and let me tell you…..in the first or second second gear, the car was like a “little rocket”, so much power and torque coming from that engine, that it reminded me why I love BMWs. The lag used to be more obvious in lower gears, but I noticed a change in good when shifting up.

So, if you’re debating about this upgrade and you simply didn’t know about it, I encourage you to go ahead and get it done, it’s a painless process.

Okay, I’m done, I hope I didn’t go overboard with my enthusiasm….

  • bmwtechal

    yes it is amazing what the software program can do. basically the program is a trade off. we had 2 problems with the N54. one being the slight turbo lag felt by the most expierence drivers, and another was you avg. mom complaint of noise from the engine bay. actually a rattling noise in the turbocharger area. this noise was contributed to the wastgate valves hanging up. think of the wastegate valve like your avg cyl. head valve. not only does it recipricate up and down, but also from natural mechanical motions engineered into the valve train the valve also rotates around during the opening and closing phases. its not alot of rotation relativley speaking but this rotation of the face of the valve (any valve) is important in developing a good matched fit. over time the face of the valve and the seat the valve compresses against wear with each other. rotation helps even wear by not keeping only one space in contact with another space forever. there was a program initally to fix this complaint however one of the results was found out to be slightly increased turbo lag. the newsest software now is just a tune slightly between the 2. the goal in being trying to achieve the least amount of lag with the least amount of noise. but this isnt a perfect world. the can be anoticedable noise after this software program. this is totally normal and some people like it. turbo engines are naturally a little louder than N/A eninges anyway, and whats better than the sound of a loud engine? not just in the exhaust but when you hear all the rotating and recipricating mechanical sounds!

    • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

      @bmwtechal, Thanks Al, I think we should let you explain better in an article, the difference between these software upgrades.

  • Henry

    How can I find out whether my X6 35i has the latest software program? Besides the mechanic?

  • Henry

    I changed the exhaust tip of the X6 35i to the 50i and realized that during the process they have remove the valve and now I feel that there is a lost in the low end torque. What can I do to solve this lost of power? Can the latest software program helps? or I should go for the remaping of the ECU? Please help?

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