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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Powertrain and Drivetrain Discussions > NA Engine (non-turbo) / Drivetrain / Exhaust Modifications > N51 and AA Headers Questions



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      12-27-2015, 07:53 PM   #1
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N51 and AA Headers Questions

Ok, had my '09 328i now for a few months, absolutely love driving it. While investigating opportunities for more power I discovered that I already have the 3 stage intake manifold so I quickly ordered a tune / simon 3 from AA. Before sending in my file for a map I got word on an unexpected bonus.. so I thought to myself it might be a good idea to kill two birds with one stone and install catless headers before getting my tune... which would save me a few hundred bucks down the road. Before I pull the trigger I have a few questions:

1. Will the AA headers for N52 engine fit the N51?
2. Is this a diy job? I helped my son put headers on his 03 mustang gt and that was a pita, removing motor mounts, etc... is it the same for the E90 328i?
3. What special tools should I get before I tear into it? Flex head box wrenches, etc.

Any info you guys can give would be great. Thanks.
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      12-27-2015, 09:44 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
Ok, had my '09 328i now for a few months, absolutely love driving it. While investigating opportunities for more power I discovered that I already have the 3 stage intake manifold so I quickly ordered a tune / simon 3 from AA. Before sending in my file for a map I got word on an unexpected bonus.. so I thought to myself it might be a good idea to kill two birds with one stone and install catless headers before getting my tune... which would save me a few hundred bucks down the road. Before I pull the trigger I have a few questions:

1. Will the AA headers for N52 engine fit the N51?
2. Is this a diy job? I helped my son put headers on his 03 mustang gt and that was a pita, removing motor mounts, etc... is it the same for the E90 328i?
3. What special tools should I get before I tear into it? Flex head box wrenches, etc.

Any info you guys can give would be great. Thanks.
1. Yes
2. Several have completed the installation on their own, it is not overly complicated just time consuming.
3. You will need continued access from both the bottom and from the top to access the header nuts, which I believe are 11 MM. The O2 sensors can be removed with regular wrenches. There are four O2 sensors, two pre cat and two aft cat, be sure not to mix them up.
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      12-27-2015, 09:45 PM   #3
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I just did mine.

It not that difficult. Just a bit tedious. No need to remove parts other than plastic underbody cover (you will need to access from under the car), remove engine cover, loosen up the coolant reservoir. when removing your headers, you will work mostly from above. You can reach almost all bolts. I recommend getting 3/8 socket wrench with swivel head. All bolts are 11 mm. You will need an extension too.

When installing, you will do most wrenching from underneath the car. I hope you have smaller hands, or will be working with someone who does. I highly recommend having 11mm wrench with swivel head handy (as well as one without swivel).

It should take you about 5-7 hours. It took me about 10, but that included several runs to get right tools and jacking up the car. Also, I was all by myself.

When installing the headers, you will need to put them in almost simultaneously. Out the back one on first, then feed the front one from the top. It fits.

Also, mark your connections for oxygen sensors. Do not try to remove oxygen sensors from existing headers while they are still installed. Simple unplug the wire. . You can swap them out once you remove the headers. Swap oxygen sensors one header at the time. You do not want to mix them up. Also, mark which wire goes where.

You oxygen sensors wires will appear short. They are just barely long enough to fit. I run my upper ones next to the firewall. Even used the clips to keep them away. Made it look really neat.

When tightening headers in place, alternate screws. I did outside bolts firs on each sidet, and went up and down. you will need to go back several times to make sure all bolts are tight as the magnesium rings gets pushed in and give more space.

Another tip. Place rings on headers once you line them up with the engine. Otherwise you might have issues trying to keep them from falling off.

Another tip. Soak your exhaust bolts with liquid wrench or wd 40 for about 39 min. It will make everything unbolt much easier.

Let me know if you have any questions or need clarification.
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      12-27-2015, 10:03 PM   #4
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      12-27-2015, 11:58 PM   #5
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thanks for all the feedback guys, guess the only thing holding me back right now is waiting for them to go on sale....
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      12-28-2015, 04:38 AM   #6
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I did it myself also in my driveway, took 10 hours since I had friends over and we goofed around alot but W37V pretty much covered everything.

The bottom ones you definitely can't mix up since the plugs are color coded yellow to yellow and green to green if memory serves me right. Just a bit more info on the O2 Sensors to make it easier so you don't mix them up:

Bank 1 - Front Header (Closest to Radiator)
Black Sleeve O2 Sensor Wires Only

Bank 2 - Rear Header (Closest to Firewall)
Grey Sleeve O2 Sensor Wires Only
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      12-28-2015, 01:24 PM   #7
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Agreed with everyone above me on each point. It will fit the N51, isn't too difficult just time consuming but it's all worth it at the end. I've had mine on with the tune since February and the powerband feels more and more smooth as time rolls by. I'm getting a Dyno done tomorrow at EAS so I'll try and post results at the end of tomorrow or wed.
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      12-28-2015, 05:27 PM   #8
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I used an 11mm deep socket with a 2" extension on a flex ratchet. Seemed like the only way to reach a couple of the nuts
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      12-29-2015, 12:59 AM   #9
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http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=811982

This should be quite helpful. Good luck!
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      12-30-2015, 06:19 PM   #10
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As promised. (Sorry, I know it's been posted multiple times.)
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      01-01-2016, 11:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDemetris View Post
I used an 11mm deep socket with a 2" extension on a flex ratchet. Seemed like the only way to reach a couple of the nuts
I was looking at the "s" and the half moon shaped ratchet wrenches on ebay and was thinking of adding a set to my arsenal, would either of them be helpful on this job?
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      01-01-2016, 11:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W37V View Post
I just did mine.

When installing the headers, you will need to put them in almost simultaneously. Out the back one on first, then feed the front one from the top. It fits.
is it possible to install the back header entirely before installing the front or do I just need to get it in the general vicinity, drop the front in and then connect them both?

Headers are ordered and on their way to Swain for White Lightening coating... will probably be a month before I get them but can't wait.....
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      01-01-2016, 01:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
is it possible to install the back header entirely before installing the front or do I just need to get it in the general vicinity, drop the front in and then connect them both?

Headers are ordered and on their way to Swain for White Lightening coating... will probably be a month before I get them but can't wait.....
General vicinity.

Don't bolt them in until you get everything lined up.

Since there are so many questions, I will create a DIY I took pictures along the way. Hopefully it will address all the questions.
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      01-01-2016, 09:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
I was looking at the "s" and the half moon shaped ratchet wrenches on ebay and was thinking of adding a set to my arsenal, would either of them be helpful on this job?
not really... On my e30 these were really useful: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....02-main-sm.jpg

but for the e90, this was the most useful thing i had:

http://www.harborfreight.com/3-8-eig...het-96782.html

you probably will need an extension in addition to a deep socket for the front bolts... Only thing you really need to take out of the way is the coolant resevoir
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      01-19-2016, 11:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W37V View Post
General vicinity.

Don't bolt them in until you get everything lined up.

Since there are so many questions, I will create a DIY I took pictures along the way. Hopefully it will address all the questions.
Any progress on the DIY? Headers should be here at the end of the month and I can't wait to get them installed
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      01-30-2016, 09:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
Any progress on the DIY? Headers should be here at the end of the month and I can't wait to get them installed
shit man. I got busy with work. I am still looking to make it.

do you have any burning questions that i can address in the meanwhile?
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      02-01-2016, 08:29 PM   #17
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I understand.. no real burning questions... except maybe does it help any to take wheel well out when doing the job?
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      02-01-2016, 09:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
I understand.. no real burning questions... except maybe does it help any to take wheel well out when doing the job?
No. You don't need to take off wheels. Just raise the car. Since i don't have the lift, i used jack stands and the drive on ramps to lift the car by a foot of the ground.

I back up the rear wheels on the ramps and then lifted the front end. car was supported by jack stands. I think they were on 4th notch.

Everything is accessible from above and below. While removing the headers, you will mostly work from the above. During the installation, you will have to tighten some bolts from the below.

Btw. After you put on about 500-1000 miles, you will need to retighten all nuts again - double check them for just in case they got lose.
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      02-02-2016, 03:23 PM   #19
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i will be using the same method (jack stands and ramp) and was prepared to remove the wheels, just assumed removing the wheel well would give me better access to some bolts. Thanks for the follow up on that.
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      02-02-2016, 05:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
i will be using the same method (jack stands and ramp) and was prepared to remove the wheels, just assumed removing the wheel well would give me better access to some bolts. Thanks for the follow up on that.
This is what I did and had more than plenty of space.
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      02-07-2016, 11:39 AM   #21
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what's the "official" torque for the headers nuts? Also, is it correct to assume due to the design of the header / block gaskets the header flange wont be firmly seated against the block?
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      02-07-2016, 10:02 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpregione View Post
what's the "official" torque for the headers nuts? Also, is it correct to assume due to the design of the header / block gaskets the header flange wont be firmly seated against the block?
Don't worry about torquing them down to spec as it will be almost impossible to get the torque wrench in there.

Tighten them until you feel comfortable - you can judge how tight they need to be by how tight they were when you took them off. just don't over tighten to break the bolt.

Also, don't forget. you will need to retighten everything after few hundred miles. Just to make sure nothing became lose.
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