Increase Performance of your BMW with an Engine Management System

From Carburetors to Electronic Fuel Injection

For decades, BMW has used electronic fuel injection in its street and race cars to provide optimal engine performance. BMW had previously used carburetors and forms of mechanical fuel injection. While vintage cars can still be found on the road and track using these fuel delivery systems, most of the cars racing today have electronic fuel injection (EFI) with an electronic engine management system.

Carburetors were used on the earliest BMW models like the prewar 328 and up to the classic 2002 and are the simplest form of fuel delivery. With the proper tools and knowledge, they can be dialed in for a specific purpose and work well on vintage cars but are limited when it comes to upgrading and tuning. Mechanical fuel injection and continuous injection were developed to provide greater performance, especially under racing conditions, but mechanical injection can be expensive to repair and tune. Race cars from the ’70s and early ’80s, such as the M1 and 3.0 CSL, are some of the most famous BMWs to use mechanical fuel injection. The ’80s and ’90s saw BMW move to electronic fuel injection for their street and race cars. This type of injection uses an engine management system that can be modified or tuned to provide greater performance. 

An engine management system, in simple terms, is a Digital Motor Electronics (DME) that is responsible for timing, fuel delivery and can and often does control other aspects of a vehicle's operation. It takes information from various sensors which measure coolant temperature, air and exhaust mixtures, engine component timing, and manifold pressure. The DME uses this information to control the fuel injectors and ignition or spark. BMW’s stock engine management systems are set up to provide maximum fuel efficiency, performance and compliance with different emission regulations around the world.

Reasons to Replace and Upgrade your Engine Management System

There are several reasons to upgrade to a DIY Autotune engine management system, and all of them involve improving engine performance. If you have already upgraded your BMW with performance parts like Condor engine mounts and suspension bushings, then it might be time to look at fine tuning your engine next. BMWs come out of the factory with a powerplant that was designed to provide maximum performance and efficiency, and their engine management systems do a great job. As engine modifications are made in the name of speed and performance, fuel delivery, ignition timing and spark need to be modified to keep up. This proves that you can increase engine performance without sacrificing reliability, but you will need to upgrade your engine management system to accomplish this goal.

Some of the most popular BMW models to modify and race include 3 Series models like the E30 and E36, and just about any performance racing part or engine part that you can think of are available for these cars. Any serious enthusiast knows that you can’t just bolt on an aftermarket turbo or long tube exhaust headers and expect it to run correctly, be reliable (or safe). Chances are, if you are serious about performance upgrades, we know you are purchasing the best BMW parts available, but they need to be managed properly to maximize performance and reliability. If you add a turbocharger to your BMW, you will need a tunable DME to make the most of that upgrade. Upgrading to high-flow fuel injectors or building an engine with more displacement might not make as much of a performance difference as you think unless you’re fine tuning your engine management system as well. 

While there are plug-and-play replacement DME options available for BMW engines like the M20, M50 and S50, stand-alone engine management systems can be adapted for use in almost every BMW model that features electronic fuel injection. If you have the engineering and fabrication skills necessary, any engine can be converted to run an aftermarket DME.

Choosing the Best BMW Engine Management System for You

When it comes to choosing a new engine management system for your BMW, we offer two options. One is a plug-and-play (PNP) stand-alone engine management system. This comes in the form of a new DME and software that is fully programmable or tunable. The plug-and-play term comes from the fact that this new DME is a direct replacement for a factory control unit, with very little or no modification to your car's wiring harness as it is made for a specific engine family or car model. This allows for quick installation, and once installed, you can change settings and tune your engine for your specific modifications. The Megasquirt PNP systems include a base tune, and installation is simple enough that you can plug it in and drive, but you will still need access to a dyno and a knowledgeable tuner to properly set up your new engine management system to its full potential. Condor Speed Shop has two popular choices when it comes to PNP engine management systems, the first being for cars powered by M20, M30, and S38 engines found here.

They also feature a PNP system for the popular E36 and E34 chassis with OBD1 engines like the S50 and M50, which can be found here

If you didn't know, Condor Speed Shop was the first BMW performance parts supplier to work with DIYAutotune to develop, dyno-test, and track-test their prototype PNP engine management system on Condor's wide-body turbo m20. The products they offer are the best in the business. Here's a video of that track test at Virginia International Speedway, from 2011 at the Ultimate Track Car Challenge in a Turbo BMW E30. 

For chassis and engine combos that do not have PNP systems available, the second option is a universal stand-alone engine management system. Like DIY’s PNP systems, this system is the ultimate tool for fine-tuning your engine. It includes a new DME and software but is not tailor-made for a specific application, engine, or BMW model. This gives you maximum tuning-ability but will require custom wiring and in-depth knowledge about engine wiring and tuning. It’s an excellent option for models that don't have a PnP system available. Check out this one offered by Condor Speed Shop.

Upgrading to a programmable engine management system is one of the best ways to see and feel performance gains, so get the best performance parts available at Condor Speed Shop, install them yourself, or with the help of your favorite independent BMW shop or local tuner, and head to the track!

September 08, 2021 by The Condor

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