The "Hot-Vee" BMW N63 V8 Twin-Turbo Engine
The V8 engine has always been known for power and performance. When BMW introduced this engine in 2008, it was the first of its kind. This engine has the turbos placed in the valley of the engine ("hot-vee") to keep them close to the exhaust manifold and reduce turbo lag. The result was an engine that cranks out 408 horses and 440ft/lbs of torque, which are great numbers to be paired with their large sedans, coupes and SUVs. While being ahead of its time and the first of its kind, there were numerous issues with the engine. If you have been curious about ownership of a N63, here is our list of 5 common N63 engine problems.
N63 Common Maintenance Items
- Ignition Coils: ignition coils are recommended to be replaced every 45,000 miles approximately. It usually makes sense to replace these at the same time as the spark plugs. The symptoms of bad spark plugs are the same ad bad ignition coils, which is why we recommend replacing both parts at the same time.
- Spark Plugs: recommended to be replaced every 30,000 miles, or every 15-20,000 miles for cars running tunes. The symptoms of bad spark plugs are slow cold starts, misfires, and rough idling.
The 5 Most Common BMW N63 Engine Problems
- Excess Oil Consumption
- Fuel Injector Failure
- Timing Chain Failure
- Leaking Valve Stem Seals
- Fast Battery Drainage
Excess Oil Consumption
Even when new, the N63 has been known to be quite thirsty for oil. This issue stems mostly from the design of the engine with the turbos being the middle of the "V" or the valley of the engine. This area is extremely hot, and causes the engine to burn through more oil, and even drying out gaskets which can lead to leaks. How much oil does it burn? Well BMW spec says that 1qt per 1000 miles is within the norm, and some owners showing a quart every 600 miles.
In spite of the oil burn off, owners still love the engine and mention that changing the oil every 4-6k miles and stocking a few quarts when the indicator goes off. There is no dip stick in these cars, so there is no fiddling under the hood. The BMW I-Drive will let you know when it's time to add another quart of oil. Keep a few quarts on deck, you will need them. It is easy enough to add oil to the car, and a quart of oil costs around $10.
Be careful: excess oil consumption is also a symptom of leaking valve stem seals which we cover further in this article!
Recommended BMW N63 Engine Oil: LiquiMoly 5w-30
N63 Fuel Injector Failure
This issues were systemic in this engine. Even cars with relatively low mileage were not spared. The fuel injectors seemed to go on the fritz pretty early on, with one citing 20k miles on this forum. If you are looking at a model with this engine in it, you should note that these injectors are not cheap. Cost for one injector is around $200 then you have to factor in the labor. So what kind of symptoms can you expect when it is the injector?
N63 Fuel Injector Failure Symptoms:
- Rough Idles
- Poor acceleration
- Black exhaust tips and black residue on the bumper from un-burnt fuel
- Check engine light
If you notice any of these symptoms, its more than likely the injectors. However, these symptoms are almost identical to those of bad ignition coils and spark plugs (which we covered at the beginning), so we recommend replacing those parts first. Replacing all the fuel injectors at the same time will be costly given they are approx. $300 each, but may save you in labor in the long run.
The DIY is an expert level, but it has been done. Follow the thread here.
N63 Timing Chain Failure
On 2008-2014 N63's the timing chains are known to stretch out over time which causes additional wear and tear to the valve-train and negatively impact performance. The belts can stretch to the point that they jump a tooth and bend cylinder valves, which results in a costly repair bill.
Rough idle and a check engine light could be early tells for this issue, yet still can be a silent engine killer. If it is not addressed, you could wind up with bent valves, or worse yet, engine failure. Thankfully BMW took it upon themselves to rectify the issue with a major service bulletin which we will cover in a bit.
BMW says “the timing chains on the the N63 have been found to been found to stretch and wear out prematurely, resulting in premature valvetrain wear and reduced engine performance.”
Fortunately, BMW is fully aware of this issue. For cars with CCP (customer care package), the timing chain will be checked on every visit, and in the result of untimely failure, BMW will cover the majority of the repair costs, which can be in excess of $15,000.
Leaking Valve Stem Seals
Did you just finish doing a burnout, or is that smoke from your engine? With the N63, it was more than likely from your engine. Due to the high heat given off by the exhaust and the turbos in the valley of the engine, these seals would go out causing leaks and huge bellows of white smoke to come out of your exhaust. Link to the pictures post and story here.
N63 Valve Stem Seals Failure Symptoms:
- White smoke from the tailpipes
- Excess oil consumption (more than 1qt per 5-7 days)
If you have white smoke coming out of the exhaust, it's probably your valve stem seals. The good news, the parts cost less than $60 here. The bad news, you need to drop the engine to replace them. Yes, drop the engine out of the car. You can see the fix at this site. Some people have claimed to have replaced them without dropping the engine - but unless you are an experienced mechanic by trade, I wouldn't mess with trying to DIY this. However, if you opt for the DIY the parts are fairly cheap.
Fast Battery Drainage
While not technically part of the engine, it is an important component for the N63. In the efforts of BMW's Efficient Dynamics. BMW push components in order to boost fuel economy wherever possible. In the case of the N63, this system relied on the car coasting in order to recharge the batteries instead of charging from the turns of the belts.
While this did help take effort off the engine to boost fuel economy, people who own a 50i don't do a whole lot of coasting. On top of this, the electronic systems would stay on after the car was off the keep the cooling system going to cool the turbos that were placed in the middle of the V in the engine. It is well known that the N63 eats up batteries and still continues to. BMW spec calls for a battery change every other oil change.
BMW did offer to swap out the old batteries for newer, larger models, but this seemed to be covering up a larger problem with a band aid.
N63 Customer Care Package
Great news if this list of 5 common issues hasn't made you run for the hills. BMW noticed there was a large issue with these engines and released the Customer Care Package in late 2014 and 2015. When looking for a model with this engine, keep an eye out for maintenance records, as it will be recorded. The Customer Care package was launched to address most of these issues with the N63 such as; timing chain, seals, head gasket, and fuel injectors to name a few. This is great considering a majority of these issues were on our list of common issues.
This was a great attempt to fix a large problem, and most owners appreciated what BMW did to rectify it. Most owners and enthusiast recognize that there are inherit issues with this engine you will have to deal with, but at the end of the day, the joy outweighs the issues.
Also, it is always a good idea to get a pre-purchase inspection done to ensure there are no other outstanding issues hiding under the hood. Still, take into consideration this is a high performance engine, needing attention and care. Not for the feint of heart, but for those willing to care for an engine known to bring massive amounts of power and joy down the road.
Link for more info on the care package.
Reliability Score: 1 is the Highest, 4 Lowest
I can't give it a full four on this one. There are great examples out there with over 100k miles, and with the care package BMW put out, there is hope they will last. Still, there is a great deal of risk and hefty shop bills if something were to (and probably) go wrong.
The prices of these models are getting very cheap due to the excessive maintenance costs. I found a 2012 550ix in the Bay Area in CA for $14,995 with 79k miles. When considering ownership of the N63, due diligence is key before the purchase to ensure you are minimizing headaches in the future.
If you are looking for BMW V8, look for the updated one, 2016 or newer.
If you liked these 5 common problems on the N63, check out the common problems on the N52.
Do you have any other experiences with this engine? Would you own one?