Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. BMW N63 is a twin turbo V8 engine that has been powering fast BMWs for over a decade and today we will talk about the common issues, technical updates, best and worst years to buy and my 4-year experience with the engine.
The BMW N63 replaced the naturally aspirated N62 V8 engine and had many improvements over the years. It was also the first hot-V layout, first direct injected and first turbocharged V8 engine from BMW.
This engine begun production in 2008 and is still being used in many BMW vehicles. Of course, over the years there were 3 technical updates creating 4 different versions of the engine, adding more horsepower and torque, improving reliability and making a better engine overall. There are lots of forum posts and groups discussing different issues on different version of the engine and it can be a little difficult to keep up. I have sorted through most of this information over the 4 years I had this engine in my BMW 550i and organized it in this video. I will explain the difference between each version and what was updated as well as what BMW models the specific version of the engine was used in. Let’s get to it!
The original N63 engine was first used in the E71 X6 and produced 402 HP and 443lb ft of torque and later used in the 550i, 750i, X5 and X6 between 2008 and 2013 with the exception of the 650i where it was used from 2012 to 2017.
If you have heard horror stories about the N63 engine, it was probably about this version of the engine, but there are a few common issues across the entire run. To start with, most of these engines will burn some oil. This original version will do so excessively and it’s important to make sure you never run low. In addition to burning oil, the timing chain is a weak point on these and becomes an issue at higher mileage. As soon as you can hear any chain rattle, it should be replaced as soon as possible. Another common failure on this engine was the HPFP and injectors which caused the engine to stutter, lose power and run very rough in most cases. On top of these, there were also issues with mass air flow sensors, vacuum pump, low pressure fuel sensor, turbo seals and crankcase ventilation lines.
Obviously, that is a huge list of common problems on these original BMW N63 engines, but luckily BMW took ownership of the problem and issued a voluntary recall called the Customer Care Package where they revised the service internal from 15,000 to 10,000 miles and fixed or replaced any issues related to the timing chain, fuel system, battery, vacuum pump, crankcase vent lines and more! This helped many owners at the time and prevented many unhappy owners in the future. If you are looking at a BMW with this engine [show cars again], check that this service has been performed or the items have been serviced individually. This is a must.
Clearly that was a lot and BMW realized that they had some major issues they needed to fix here and that’s what they did. In 2012, they have redesigned most of the engine in the Technical Update 1. The new engine was now known as the N63TU and it got an updated timing chain, forged rods and crank, new pistons, turbos, injectors and HPFP. On top of that, they changed the VANOS system to the one used on the N55 engine and updated the crankcase ventilation on a new valve cover among many other things. Not only did all of these changes make a huge difference in reliability, it also added 42 more HP and 37 lb ft of torque. This engine was used in the same range of cars as the previous version. [list on the screen]
That’s a lot of changes, but did any of this help? Actually, YES! The BMW N63tu is a much more reliable engine, but being a typical BMW, it still has its common issues. Oil consumption is typical if thinner oils are used or not changed as often and it can burn a quart of oil between changes, but if you see some smoke out of the tail pipes, it could be much worse as it could be an indicator that the valve seals need to be replaced. My friend had this happen at 35k miles, but the dealer covered it completely. As per BMW, the engine has to be pulled out of the car to do this job and it can get very, very expensive if out of warranty. Of course, there are other minor issues that can creep up on this engine, but nothing too excessive. I’ve seen reports of leaking here and there but nothing engine destructive. A much better and more reliable engine.
Next update came in 2016 and the biggest change this time was switching to twin-scroll turbochargers giving the engine a wider powerband. Other changes were mostly there to support the turbo upgrade and to optimize the engine. The stock power levels remained the same and so did the reliability. This engine was used in the 750i as well as the M550i between 2016 and 2020. [list on the screen]
Luckily these changes have made the N63TU2 engine even more reliable with not many common problems. The oil consumption has been reduced and if you change your oil every 7000 miles, you shouldn’t have these issues. A couple problems I’ve seen come up from time to time were leaky coolant lines as well as issues with intercoolers which were covered by a service bulletin from BMW. Overall, a very solid engine.
The last version of the BMW n63 engine is the N63TU3 which is once again used in the top-of-the-line versions of each series. There is a lower powered version making 456hp and 479lb ft that’s used in the regular X5 and X7. This engine received a new ignition system and improved thermal shielding for the crankcase and cylinder head and even forged rods from the S63 engine. The valve stems have been updated as well. The more powerful version of the N63TU3 is used in the M versions of the 5, 7 and 8 series as well as X5, X6 and X7 SUVs. [but not actual M5, M7, M8 etc] It includes all of the updates already mentioned as well as larger turbochargers, different ignition system, rebalanced crankshaft with new main bearing shells, piston skirt coating and electric arc wire sprayed cylinder walls. All of these upgrades result in massive power gains making 523 HP and 553lb ft of torque and it’s not even an S63 motor.
There isn’t too much information on these engines as far as reliability just yet as they are still fairly new, but since the valve stems have been upgraded among many other things, the engines seem to no longer burn oil even with hard driving. Overall, the N63TU3 is the most reliable and most powerful N63 engine with a decade of improvements and upgrades.
Best and Worst Years:
So, what are the best and worst years to buy a BMW with the N63 engine? In my opinion, unless you are willing to deal with the issues or they have already been completely taken care of, I would skip the original N63 engine cars and go for 2014 or newer models to be safe. [put list of years when switched]. Of course, if you got the cash, the latest N63TU3 is a beast and makes for a very fun driving car with no reliability issues but will cost a pretty penny. [Driving X6M] I think that N63TU and N63TU2 are a bargain at the moment with decent reliability and power figures and that’s the ones I would go for.
As I mentioned earlier, I owned a 2014 BMW 550i for over 4 years, so I had the N63TU engine and I have to say, it was VERY reliable for ME. In all of that time, all I have had to do was change the ignition coils and spark plugs around 60k miles and of course changed the oil every 5k miles! This is very important to keep these running smoothly.
In conclusion, this engine gets a bad rap based on the early years, but many issues have been fixed on the second iteration of the engine and further perfected over the years. I wouldn’t hesitate to own another N63 powered BMW as long as it’s 2014 or newer and has been taken care of properly over the years. A healthy BMW N63 provides a very powerful, fun, sporty and torque-y driving experience that’s hard to get anywhere else. Check out my BMW N20 reliability report video and stay tuned for the BMW N55 video coming soon. Thanks for watching, leave your thoughts, suggestions and comments down below and I’ll see you in the next one.