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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 > Is the N52 Idiot-Proof?



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      07-16-2018, 12:04 PM   #1
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Is the N52 Idiot-Proof?

Well, I can safely say it's "prepared-idiot-proof", at any rate.





Over the weekend, I drove from Los Angeles to Birmingham. I pulled a U-Haul 5x8 trailer.

I started with the Draw-Tite Class I hitch. I bought a Brophy 5.5" Rise Draw Bar, and a Convert-A-Ball 1 7/8" / 2" ball setup.

The 328 says I can load 1014 pounds of cargo in the car - so that's 260 pounds of me, 200 pounds of tongue weight, and about 550 pounds of stuff. Ok, cool.

The hitch is rated for 2000 pounds. A U-Haul 5x8 weighs about 900 lbs dry, so I loaded it up with about 1150 or so pounds of stuff. I made sure to load the trailer properly such that the weight distribution and tongue weight was correct.

To prepare, I flushed all the fluids in the car except brake fluid. I changed the oil (Molygen 5W40), new trans oil (Ravenol MTF3), new diff oil (Redline) and new 60/40 water/BMW coolant.

Before I left I reprogrammed the Kombi to show Oil Temperature. I also used Torque on my phone and an OBD2 dongle to get some additional telemetry.

Lastly, I swapped my performance rear springs back out for my stock standard suspension springs to get the (unloaded) ball height up. As you can see by the pictures this seemed to work out well - when fully loaded, the trailer tongue seemed perfectly level and the rear of the car was about as low as it sits with the performance springs and 4 people in the car.



So how did the drive go?

It went great. I whipped the car's ass for three days and 2100 miles and it never flinched.

Some fun data:

There was one singular incline that was more difficult than any other hill. Traveling east on I40, when you leave Albuquerque you go from about 5000 ft above sea level to 7200 feet above sea level. This hill was responsible for some of the highest recorded temperatures of the trip. Third gear, 4500 RPM WOT, for about five or seven minutes.

Maximum coolant temp the whole trip was 215 F for a brief period of time in uphill in California. Second highest coolant temp was going up The Hill east of Albuquerque, at about 212 F. The car seems to do an outstanding job of regulating the coolant temperature.

My gauge cluster has an MPG display so I couldn't get perfect values for oil temp, but the highest the gauge read was on the "15" on the MPG display, so I'm guessing that was about 135 C. This was the only time I began to worry. I kept a good eye on the oil temp and I was prepared to pull over, but it seemed to peak and never got above the 15 MPG tick.

Max O2 sensor temperatures were 1660 F, same stretch of road.

The BMW Performance Intake is outstanding. 103 F ambient temps, 108 F intake air temps. Intake temps were as low as 2 F above ambient.

I got about 15 MPG. I was hoping for 20. This was the only part of the journey I fudged on. I burned a shiiitload of gasoline. $500 worth.

This trip (and the extra telemetry) allowed me to make some fun automotive observations. The holy trinity of power: Altitude (air density), Temperature (air density), and Fuel Quality. When you're at 5000 feet and it's 95 degrees and you're running shitty west coast 91 octane fuel...well, let's say some boost would have been nice. The motor really had to work for its money under those conditions.

On the other hand - when I finally found my first 93 pump in Arkansas, the power jump was so immediate that I pulled over after leaving the gas station but before getting back on I40 because I thought my trailer door must have opened and my stuff fallen out. I guess I owe BPC a high five for that.



So can you tow with a 328? Yes.

Can you safely tow with a 328? Yes.

Will you get funny looks from dudes in Dodge Pickups pulling the same size trailer? Yes.

Will you get snooty looks from dudes in F30 3 serieses? Yes.

Was it fun? Yes.

Did I feel like a miniature long-haul trucker? Yes.

Was it cheaper than renting a 10' box truck? A resounding hell yes.



I've been in the car for three days so I'd love to discuss this with everyone.
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Last edited by Phyrexia; 07-16-2018 at 04:55 PM.
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      07-16-2018, 12:28 PM   #2
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Welcome to Bama! There is an active FB group (BMW Enthusiasts of AL) centered out of Birmingham, just had a big meet yesterday. You should join and post your story there as well. Thanks for sharing!
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      07-16-2018, 12:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zstreet86 View Post
Welcome to Bama! There is an active FB group (BMW Enthusiasts of AL) centered out of Birmingham, just had a big meet yesterday. You should join and post your story there as well. Thanks for sharing!
Yeah I've lived in Birmingham for 18 years until January. I've been in BMW Enthusiasts FB group for two years or so

I'm surprised you didn't see my post about the tow balls.
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      07-16-2018, 03:22 PM   #4
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Damn 15mog! Lol
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      07-16-2018, 03:39 PM   #5
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Damn 15mog! Lol
I spent about $500 on gasoline.
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      07-16-2018, 04:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phyrexia View Post
I spent about $500 on gasoline.
What was your cruising speed on the interstates?

I knew aero drag is bad, but didnít think it that bad! Ha

Manual trans it sounds like? I commend you for this trip - love to see people using their cars properly!
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      07-16-2018, 04:28 PM   #7
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I averaged about 77mph. The cruise was usually set to 80 or 85, and my phone's GPS was telling me that was between 77 and 81 mph. I would have probably seen closer to 16 or 17 mpg if I'd kept it closer to 60 but I'm too impatient for that. Got into the high nineties passing some assholes once or twice but I was not going for speed records and brought it back down pretty quickly once I realized how fast I was going.

Until I hit 93 octane country, I was frequently dipping into 4th and 5th gear to pull hills. Once I crossed the Mississippi river, though, I stayed in 6th gear for 90% of the drive. I attribute this to the gasoline, altitude, and terrain.

It turns out with a trailer you can see real demonstrable efficiency improvements by drafting semis...you don't even have to follow extremely closely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tlow98 View Post
What was your cruising speed on the interstates?

I knew aero drag is bad, but didn’t think it that bad! Ha

Manual trans it sounds like? I commend you for this trip - love to see people using their cars properly!
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      07-16-2018, 04:34 PM   #8
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Pretty cool about the semis. Also, bad ass, high 90s passing while towing. Cheers!
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      07-16-2018, 09:07 PM   #9
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I've towed the same size trailer with a 90hp VW Scirocco 500 miles including over the Mackinaw Bridge, managed to at least keep up with traffic. Also used to tow a 16foot sailboat with the same car over that distance. I miss those cars...
No doubt the N52 is stout engine. I wonder how the automatic would have held up? There are a lot of images of our euro friends towing all sorts of campers "caravans" and such with the E90. Given the HP rating and durability of the driveline it doesn't make sense not to give it a tow rating.
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      07-16-2018, 09:50 PM   #10
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Haha awesome story....cool AF,the 328 is 1 reliable work horse that takes a beating and munches miles like a champ.
I wonder what best 0-60 times could be achieved pulling U-haul.....?!
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      07-16-2018, 10:58 PM   #11
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0-60 in forever.
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      07-17-2018, 07:23 AM   #12
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15mpg at 77mph, A/C?, towing a brick behind you, loaded with lots of stuff is is pretty damn good
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      07-17-2018, 10:37 AM   #13
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Remember a very large proportion of cars in Europe are turbodiesels. So even the dinky 1.8 or 2.0 L diesels have tremendous torque and are great for towing
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      07-17-2018, 12:42 PM   #14
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Glad to see I'm not the only one that tows with their E90 I've hauled close to 1000lbs without issue on HR Sport springs with Koni Yellows, worried I might rub but it pulls just fine! Diff swap and bolt ons really help with towing performance. Did you install the hitch yourself?
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      07-17-2018, 01:15 PM   #15
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Yeah, I tend to do all the work on my cars myself. The tow hitch install was quite easy and straightforward.

I agree, a diff swap would have been nice but wasn't totally required. MILVS would have helped too.

If I hadn't had quite as much stuff, I would have left the Performance springs in the back. But I had to put some things in the trunk behind the axle so I knew it would pull the car down pretty low.

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Originally Posted by dwashy View Post
Glad to see I'm not the only one that tows with their E90 I've hauled close to 1000lbs without issue on HR Sport springs with Koni Yellows, worried I might rub but it pulls just fine! Diff swap and bolt ons really help with towing performance. Did you install the hitch yourself?
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      07-17-2018, 02:54 PM   #16
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The hills can be killer, but it sounds like it did well. I know what it's like to be full out and not be able to do the speed limit - did a trip in our Subaru wagon, I think I was in 3rd gear, WOT, for about 10 minutes.. I was pretty sure it was going to explode. Literally, I could only go about 45 in a 70 (man, I hated that car, so gutless). We did the same trip again in our E91, loaded with twice as much stuff, and it did the same hill without any effort.
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      07-17-2018, 03:56 PM   #17
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Didn't that U-haul trailer have a 'speed limit' like 55mph?

Here's a pic, backwards so you can see it in your side mirror, ha.

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      07-17-2018, 04:48 PM   #18
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Awesome read! I did the same drive from Cleveland Ohio to LA and back again. I know the hill you're talking about on I40 and it really is something else. I did it in a 15 passenger van with a 10' trailer and a bad rear differential. Let's just say it was fun coming home lol.
Glad to hear it went well for ya, and it is also cool to see that this can be done in these little cars. Find me something (within reason) that an N52 car CAN"T do!
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      07-17-2018, 07:42 PM   #19
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I feel this.
I bought my junk and less than 30 days I was taking an unknown 100K mile BMW across the country.

everyone told me I was gonna die.

I put 30K miles on it in the first 12 months, only thing that failed was a starter.
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      07-17-2018, 11:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I feel this.
I bought my junk and less than 30 days I was taking an unknown 100K mile BMW across the country.

everyone told me I was gonna die.

I put 30K miles on it in the first 12 months, only thing that failed was a starter.
I bought this car in November, dropped the transmission and installed a new clutch in December, drove it to California in January, and drove it back in July. I trust the thing now.

13,000 miles since I bought it.
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      07-18-2018, 10:08 AM   #21
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I can only imagine the looks you must have gotten.
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      07-18-2018, 11:05 PM   #22
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Nice! Not sure I'd do that though lol
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