BMW V8 Alusil Engine

The BMW M62 engine replaced the M60 engine that benchmarked the V8 engine of the 1990’s which was prone to cylinder problems because of cylinders that were electro-plated with a similar type of hard chrome  developed, called Nikasil. It was found that Nikasil deteriorated due to high levels of sulfur present in certain types of fuels.

BMW together with Kolbenschmidt, KS, developed an aluminum alloy used to manufacture the M62 crankcases called Alusil which contains high levels of silicon. The block is honed to expose the silica within the alloy, creating a hard bearing surface for the cylinder walls. These silicon particles on the aluminum surfaces act as a wear layer for the pistons and essentially for the rings.

The M62’s V8 cylinder block and cylinder heads were produced as an all-aluminum engine as its predesessor the M60 motor. No V8 engine was produced using cast iron. Cast iron blocks are less able to dissipate heat than aluminum engines, and it is for that reason that BMW refrained from using a cast iron crankcases and cylinder sleeves for production.

The production of Nikasil coated M60 cylinder blocks ceased in 1997. Nikasil was not a long lasting and safe product which was proven to flaking and pitting, thus causing engine failure until petrol levels of sulfur were treated in the different blend of fuels. Today Nikasil is a widely used product and especially used in off-road motorcycle engines as it is quick and easy to change a piston sleeve or ‘barrel’ between race heats.

The M62 is fitted with double overhead camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder and fracture-split, forged, sintered connecting rods. In addition, the M62TU (4.4 and 4.6 litre engines), offered on later models is fitted with BMW's VANOS Variable Valve Timing system and SFI or sequential fuel injection.

In September 1998, BMW introduced the M62TUB44, which was equipped with the VANOS system and an electronically actuated butterfly throttle with each bank of its cylinders that included a single stage VANOS system. Also a larger air mass airflow sensor and lower flow intake plenum runners which improved low RPM torque characteristics were a standard item.

The BMW 4.4 litre M62 of the 540 and BMW X5 had similar horsepower of its predecessor, the M60, of which these engines made more power output than BMW initially published. There have been many claims made of E39 540i, well documented dyno runs proving that these engines could generate between 265 and 280 BHP at the rear wheels with allowances made for drive train power loss, and dynamometer statistical differences. These HP figures were in excess of what BMW originally provided.

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