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BMW B48 Water-Methanol Injection (WMI) Guide

About Zach Mayock - DieselIQ

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Zach is a BMW enthusiast with a passion for performance. With over 10 years of experience modifying and performing DIY work on BMWs, he’s developed a deep understanding of virtually every BMW engine. He’s also the proud owner of a 600whp N54 with upgraded twin turbos and an E30 325i drift car and has a particular affinity for the S58 engine. Zach is highly knowledgeable about all things BMW, but his expertise in tuning and performance mods sets him apart. His experience as an enthusiast, combined with his technical knowledge, makes him an essential resource for anyone looking to improve the performance of their BMW.

I briefly discussed water-methanol injection in this BMW B48 fueling mods guide. Methanol is a high-octane fuel with similar benefits to E85. However, it’s too lengthy of a topic to cover in-depth in the fueling guide. As such, I am writing a separate article to fully examine B48 WMI including benefits, risks, costs, and more.

B48 Water-Methanol Injection Benefits

  • 15-100+whp gains
  • IAT cooling
  • Knock suppression
  • Acts as high-octane fueling

The massive power gains possible with WMI kits are the main selling point. Depending on mods and how heavily you rely on WMI, it can show power gains of 15-100+whp. Gains may only come in around 15-25whp on the stock turbo with conservative tuning. However, power gains may be as high as 50-100+whp on an upgraded turbo with aggressive tuning and significant flow.

Power gains might be the selling point. It’s really the other benefits of B48 WMI that allow for the impressive performance, though. Water helps cool the intake air temperature and internal cylinder temps. Methanol acts as a high-octane fuel and is very similar to ethanol (E85).

Cooling benefits combined with its high octane rating make water-methanol injection highly knock resistant. This allows you to safely run higher boost and more aggressive ignition advance without increasing the risk of knock or detonation. In essence, that’s what allows WMI to show huge power gains.

B48 WMI Kit - Water-Methanol Injection UpgradesPin

E85 vs WMI

While B48 WMI kits offer a number of excellent benefits, I strongly believe ethanol is the better fueling solution for high power builds. Ethanol and methanol have very similar characteristics and benefits overall. However, if accessible, E85 is much easier and simpler to run.

Water-methanol injection relies on an external controller, pump, and tank. You can’t just simply fill up the gas tank as you do with E85. All the external accessories also increase the risk of problems or oversights that could lead to severe engine failure – if you’re heavily relying on methanol as a source of fueling and octane.

However, not everyone has easy access to E85 and that’s where WMI comes into play. The B48 is very dependent on quality, high-octane fuels. It simply cannot make as much power without fueling solutions like race gas, WMI, or E85. Race gas is expensive and often hard to find; plus its knock suppression and cooling benefits aren’t as impressive. If you don’t have easy access to ethanol and want to maximize the potential of the B48 then WMI is often the most effective solution.

As a quick side note: you can also run E85 and water-methanol injection together. In this case, it’s often best to rely on ethanol as the source of high-octane fuel and run a higher water mixture for the cooling benefits.

Risks of Water-Methanol Injection

Now, as I briefly mentioned in the previous section, WMI doesn’t come without a few risks:

  • External accessories
  • Loss of WMI flow
  • Uneven WMI flow

The first two points can be considered insignificant risks with a quality WMI kit, user awareness, and good custom tuning. Still, additional accessories – especially when external – do increase the risks of things going wrong.

For example, if you run out of fuel in the gas tank the engine will simply shut down (the gas gauge also makes this much less likely). If you run out of your water-methanol mix in the external tank and then go WOT, the engine is relying on that mixture for the added cooling and knock suppression but not receiving it.

Uneven water-methanol flow is really the biggest risk that is less controllable. The mixture is sprayed into the charge pipe where it then flows thru the throttle body, intake manifold, and into the intake ports. Not all cylinders are receiving the same exact flow, which can be concerning for aggressive setups. Fortunately, this can be avoided with B48 direct port WMI.

As a final note, these are all very small risks on a conservative setup. If you’re using WMI for cooling benefits and added safety then even if things do go wrong (i.e loss of flow or uneven flow) it’s unlikely to cause any engine damage. The risks are primarily for those who are relying on methanol as a major source of fuel and octane.

Charge Pipe vs Direct Port WMI

One way to eliminate the biggest risks of water-methanol injection is to opt for direct port WMI. Just like port fuel injection, this setup uses a plate that installs between the intake manifold and cylinder head. It utilizes four injectors to spray the water-methanol mix directly into the intake ports – as the name suggests.

Spraying the mixture directly into the ports ensures reliable, consistent flow to all cylinders. It also has better flow capacity compared simply spraying thru one or two nozzles in the charge pipe.

Ultimately, we highly recommend direct port methanol for those who plan to heavily lean on WMI as a source of octane and fueling. For example, if you don’t have access to ethanol and want to build a 450whp B48 then you’ll likely be relying on water-methanol injection (i.e flowing 50-100+whp worth of methanol for octane purposes). Direct port WMI is going to be your safest and best bet.

On the other hand, B48’s using WMI primarily for added safety and cooling benefits shouldn’t have any concerns with basic charge pipe injection. It’s a cheaper, simpler setup that is completely safe and effective if you’re only flowing about 15-40whp of methanol.

Other B48 WMI Considerations

That clears up the lengthier topics in this article, but there are still a few other considerations and factors to discuss:

  • External controller
  • Water-methanol mixtures
  • Single vs dual nozzles and sizing

In the next few sections, I will quickly move through these final considerations and then move onto some of the best B48 WMI kits.

External Controller

Of course, the BMW B48 didn’t come from the factory with water-methanol injection. This means the engines computer (DME) cannot control the WMI setup. As such, you’ll need a controller that can actually trigger the pump, injectors/nozzles, and manage the timing and volume of flow.

Most WMI kits will either include a controller or offer the option. I’ll be quick here and talk about controllers a little more while discussing actual products. Anyway, some of the most common controllers include the JB4 FSB (for those with JB4 tunes), Snow Performance, and AEM.

Water-Methanol Mixture

Another important topic is the actual WMI mixture. What is the best mix of water and methanol? There isn’t always a perfect answer, so it’s a good thing to discuss with a tuner based on your setup, goals, and needs.

Water offers superior cooling benefits while the methanol acts as high-octane fueling. 60-80% water and 20-40% methanol is typically a good range to use WMI for cooling and added safety. A 50/50 blend offers a good balance of cooling, safety, and high-octane fuel. Those looking to utilize WMI for significant octane and power gains should opt for higher methanol blends.

Single vs Dual Nozzle & Sizing

This topic is for those opting for charge pipe injection. Most aftermarket charge pipes include two 1/8″ NPT ports, which means you can run either a single or dual nozzle setup. Dual nozzles are ideal as it helps improve atomization and distribution of the water-methanol mixture. This holds true regardless of your intended use and reliance on WMI. Two smaller injectors are generally better than one larger injector.

Then there is nozzle sizing which ties into flow capacity. This may be quoted in cc/min (same as ml/min) or gallons per hour. GPH can be odd as it’s often stated as something like CM5 or M5, where the number represents the GPH flow rate.

Dual CM5 nozzles (~350 ml/min) are a good setup for most B48 WMI kits. However, there isn’t a perfect answer for everyone. Ultimately, choosing the right nozzles/injectors comes down to your personal goals and needs. Smaller nozzles may be ideal for those running higher water content mostly for cooling and safety. On the other hand, larger nozzles are best suited for those running high methanol mixtures and more flow.

Best B48 WMI Kits

With all the WMI basics out of the way, it’s time to move onto some of the best B48 WMI kits including:

  • BMS WMI Kit
  • Snow Performance
  • Direct Port WMI

In the next couple sections, I will briefly discuss each of these water-methanol injection kits. A few quick notes before jumping in, though. There are numerous great kits for the B48 as well as some universal kits. You can also piece together your own. Point is – this is by no means an exhaustive list, and instead I’m simply discussing a few of the best popular, quality WMI kits.

1) BMS Water Methanol Injection Kit

Price: $488-862

Buy Here: BMS B48 WMI Kit

Burger Motorsports offer their popular, universal water-methanol injection kit for virtually all the modern turbo BMW engines. It includes everything you need to get up and running including the controller, tank, pump, lines, and nozzles. There are also options for single or dual nozzle, a steel braided line upgrade, and various tank sizes.

When it comes to controllers, BMS offers the kit with either the FSB JB4 controller or an AEM controller for those running flash tunes (it is a separate product listing, so ensure you choose the kit with the proper controller for your setup). Ultimately, the BMS B48 WMI kit is a quality kit with plenty of customization to meet your needs.

2) Snow Performance WMI Kits

Price: $520-600+

Snow Performance is a major name is the water-methanol injection space. They offer tons of awesome WMI kits of a variety of vehicles. Their stage 2 and 2.5 boost-controlled WMI kits are both great choices for the BMW B48. As with the BMS kit above, these are full kits with everything you need to get up and running.

It features their boost referenced VC-50 controller, dual nozzles, lines, a 300psi pump, and 3 quart tank. My only complaint is the relatively small 0.75 gallon tank. Depending on how much water-methanol you’re flowing and how often you’re going WOT, the small tank can run dry pretty quickly. Not a huge deal if you don’t mind paying closer attention and topping up more frequently. Alternatively, you can look into larger tank options as a future upgrade.

3) Direct Port WMI

Price: $1,000

I am not aware of any direct port WMI available specifically for the B48 engine at this point in time. There just aren’t enough people pushing the engine to the levels where direct port methanol is a popular upgrade. That said, it’s certainly possible to piece together your own setup.

Direct port methanol can use standard port injection plates and fuel injectors, like this PI kit from IPOS. However, you’ll still need a tank, pump, controller, lines, and any necessary fittings to get the PI setup to work for water-methanol injection.

It’s likely some kits will start popping up as the B48 ages and more and more people push the engine further. For now, a direct port WMI setup will require some modifications and a little ingenuity to get up and running. Still, this is the ideal route for anyone looking push the B48 to the limits without access to E85.

B48 Water Methanol Injection Summary

There are tons of awesome benefits to running water-methanol injection on the B48 engine. Methanol acts as high-octane fueling with similar benefits to E85. Water offers great cooling benefits and knock suppression. Together, these factors allow WMI kits to show power gains of 15-100+whp.

B48 WMI does come with a few risks, but they can be mitigated with a quality setup and tuning. Those looking to heavily lean on WMI as a source of fueling should consider running a direct port methanol setup. Charge pipe kits are the cheaper and simpler option if you’re mainly looking for cooling and added safety.

Burger Motorsports & Snow Performance both offer complete B48 WMI kits that are popular upgrades for many BMW engines. Unfortunately, no direct port methanol kits are currently available but it remains the safest and most effective setup if you plan to heavily rely on WMI.

Looking for more B48 content? Check out some of our additional mod guides including intakes, downpipe upgrades, and a BM3 tuning guide.

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