• Anyone and everyone can lose a motor - Blown ESS-Tuning VT3 supercharged M3 S65 V8 engine

      The photos you will see below are of a blown S65 V8. Even the novice enthusiast can glance over the photos and see that something clearly was not right. So who is at fault? Is it ESS for a sloppy product? Is is it the owner for pushing his setup beyond where he should have? Is it perhaps a bad batch of fuel? Is it perhaps a freak accident? Is it perhaps a combination? The point being when you supercharge a high revving V8 that comes from the factory naturally aspirated you are taking risks.

      No company is expected to cover user error. If this is a case of the user pushing too much boost it is clearly his own fault. However, if this is the case of a product that has not undergone significant testing and without the necessary quality tuning to accompany it that would mean blame is not in the hands of the user.

      BimmerBoost is quick to point out there are hundreds of ESS supercharged cars on the road logging thousands of miles and running well. BimmerBoost is also quick to point out there are not thousands of miles on VT3 built motor setups and ESS does not officially even offer such a setup. How some users end up with these setups that one can not even officially purchase is up to you to figure out.

      When modifying cars there is a certain risk involved. Especially when pushing past double the horsepower if not more than a car had off the assembly line. It is important to work with a company that will work with you. Somebody that understands that pushing the limit comes with risks and there may be errors that are not anyone's fault. You live, you learn, you move on, and try to address whatever needs to be addressed.

      Below you will find the owner's take and you will also find the take of ESS-Tuning. Read it all and come to your own conclusion. Additionally, if you wish to push the limit keep in mind you should choose a company that will work with you and address any problems for your benefit as well as their own. There is a difference between supercharging and tuning an M3 and building the M3 S65 V8, supercharging it, and tuning it. If you make the wrong decisions you may end up in a finger pointing game with nothing positive being accomplished.

      Owner's Take:

      "It's a long story and the thread's title is self-speaking but I want to share that shitty situation I've been dropped in these "Happy New Year" days....

      My car is E90 M3 2008 with DCT - well known in Russia (Moscow Unlim 500+) and Europe being the fastest ESS car there.

      The story started in October 2009 when my car became the world's 1st production E9X M3 with ESS SC kit. The milleage was 13,000 miles at that moment. The car was DD and going through lots of pulleys and soft modifications, I was running VT2-625 with 92mm pulley (which is equal to VT2-650) for 2.5 years when in May 2012 at 67,000 miles the engine decided to blow... Piston is 7th cylinder was broken somehow and 3 inches hole appeared in the block...

      That time I bought low-milleage (less that 1,000 miles) used 2011 engine and installed it. In May 2013 I installed VT2-650 spec crank pulley and 94mm SC pulley which resulted to almost 9 psi boost. That setup was used for 1 day Race Event (1 Mile race) only with 104 RON race fuel. After that day the car was reverted to normal VT2-650 specs.

      However, in 2 weeks after that day this new engine also decided to blow, being used for 13,000 miles only... The hole in the block appeared in the 4th cylinder...

      No need to say that the car was always serviced with love and oil was changed every 3,000 miles and fuel used was 98+ RON...

      So, 2 engines gone is 1 year((((((((((

      That time I agreed with ESS to send the car as it is to Norway from Russia for full VT3 build... That was late June 2013.

      31 October 2013, after lots of problems with availability of BMW OEM spare parts, I received the car!!! However, it was tested on dyno for 50 runs and only half day of driving after the build cause it was very cold already in Norway...But the car was running absolutely clean during that testing (per ESS understanding) and Hans delivered the car to me!!!

      ESS did:

      1) fully build VT3 engine (low milleage "donor" was bought by them in Germany) with 10:1 pistons, Carillo rods, ESS rod bearings etc.

      2) fully build VT3 fuel system.

      3) VT3 belt system.

      I was very happy and started my long trip to Moscow (1,500 miles) which I considered the best way for breaking in the engine on good european fuel...

      On my trip to Moscow engine RPMs were no more than 4,000 - I am very conservative in breaking in procedures.... When I came to Moscow, I changed the oil and decided to go and make 2-3 runs from 40 to 250 kmh to understand the difference...

      In the 1st run the car was extremely fast and was spinning the wheels at 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 gear changes like it was lauch control from the stand point... even spinning the wheels so badly and hitting the RPMS limiter at all gears 100-200 kmh time was 5,7sec which is almost 0,9 sec faster than my VT2-650 best summer time on DRs!!!

      I decided to start againg and at 4th gear at 6000 RPMS I felt some "boom-boom" sound in the exhaust and little jerking during the acceleration... That time I stopped testing and the next day the car was taken to a trailer to be delievered to my native town (1,000 miles from Moscow)...

      I went to BMW dealer for diagnostic of any potential problem and had conversations with ESS on that... Nothing was found, except for some instability in fuel pressure regulator work, and ESS sent me out that regulator which I was waiting for 3 weeks from US... In the meantime, I was driving the car moderately and found the thing that the car was starting jerking at any speed if I floor the pedal more that 1/4, but at the same time could easily heat 270 kmh if pushing the peda moderatedly....

      The whole milleage by the day of receiving new fuel pressure regulator and new sparks and coils (ESS recommendation to change) was 400 miles... Also, I ordered and received by that day Awron Gauge with full options...

      However, when we let off the sparks, the following picture was with the spark from 4th cylinder... It was melted.... All other sparks were OK...

      We measure the compression ration in all the cylinders and.... 10.5-10.7 in all except 4th cylinder - 8.8....(((

      So, we installed all the new plugs, coils and FPR, and also fully discassembled the manifold for installation of EAS stack for boost gauge, then assemble all back and I leaved the dealer for testing... The car was running sooo clean that day on mid RPMS and fast driving!!! So, I decided to go full throttle...

      1st run from 3rd gear from 40 to 230 kmh was clean and the time from 100 to 200 kmh was VT3 time...) I stopped the car and tried againg but from 2nd gear from 30 kmh. And.... at 7000 RPMS of that 2nd gear the car started jerking and afterwards working like 2 or 3 cylinders are not working.... (((

      On that conditions I drove to the dealer (15 miles)... So, the whole milleage after changing the sparks etc was 70 miles. We took off the spark from that 4 th cylinder and it was melted the same way We measured the compression in that cylinder and it was 5.... Changing the spark did not help at all and the car did not work properly....

      I decided to take it to the trailer to Moscow fro investigation by letting off the heads to understand the problem in detail... That was discovered:

      1) From the side of 1-4 cylinders:

      > burn-through of cylinder head gasket near 3-4 cylinder (2.7sm approx hole)
      > scratches in 3 and 4 cylinder
      > broken piston in 4th cylinder around the bottom of piston and not good piston in 3rd cylinder

      2) From the side of 5-8 cylinders:

      > scratches in 5 and 8 cylinders

      The guys told me that the traces of detonation could be found in all 8 cylinders...

      Fotos attached...

      The only thing I am doing for last 7 days is crying in the situation of full silence and absence of support from anywhere"

      ESS-Tuning perspective:


      You have been told for a very long time you have no warranty or support on your kits because you have always modified them with additional boost going back to your very first kit which ran a 92mm pulley. The VT2-625 runs a 96mm pulley with much different software than a 650 kit. You should never run a VT2-625 with a 92mm pulley unless you intend to take full responsability. AJ has always told you that your motors will blow if you run more than intended boost while racing at your events. Your 2008 car was over boosted and lasted 67,000 of hardcore racing. It lasted much longer than it really should have, you were lucky.

      Your second motor you ran the VT2-650 crank and the same 92mm pulley which generates close to 12 psi of boost. This is far beyond what we run on our production kit. Off the shelf VT2-650 runs a 99mm SC pulley and generates 8 psi which is max you can run. Even if you claim 94mm with the 650 crank this is much smaller than what we spec and still generates close to 11 psi, you knew this at the time.

      We do not sell a VT3 product to the public currently, there is no such product on our website and we do not offer support for such a product currently. You were informed that if we built you a prototype high boost setup there would be no support on it. You also picked up the vehicle without allowing us to do any road testing. You were informed by AJ at the time that we did not have proper time or road conditions due to weather to do any extended testing but you insisted on taking delivery anyway. You later contacted AJ complaining of hesitation on acceleration and a diagnostic report showing a failed 02 sensor. You were told NOT to drive the car at all until you could install gauges to monitor fuel delivery / AFR's which you did not do. You decided to continue driving the car anyway despite AJ's instructions up to speeds 180 mph according to your email. Your motor failed after you were warned to not drive it. Iím not surprised the motor gave out considering you most likely had a fuel delivery issue like a failed pump pickup or fuel pressure regulator and maybe a bad 02 sensor with continued high load use.

      We told you before the motor blew to send the car in for inspection and you refused. You said you wanted to do it local. After your motor failed Hans told you over the phone last week to get the motor inspected locally then and follow up so we could see what could be done. You just emailed AJ and Hans yesterday with the results. Why would you make a post saying no one has followed up with you when we just got your email this weekend and we offered to help you out before the motor ever failed?

      This is a very good reminder as to why we tell customers to NOT modify our products and run more boost than designed and to follow our instructions at all times. Hopefully customers who currently are doing so or are considering doing so will learn from your mistake and not run more boost than we design the kit to run."

      "Again, just to make this 100% clear: There is a very good reason we set the maximum boost pressure the way we do in the various kit stages. We do not leave massive amounts of safe power on the table as some people seem to think. If you increase boost over our standard settings, there will be a much greater risk of failure as Sergei has demonstrated. The fact that the bolt-on 625 kit ran for 67.000 miles with a massively overboosting 92mm pulley is actually much longer than expected.

      When Sergei was getting ready for the Moscow unlimited 1 mile race on his second engine he asked me what I thought of running the 650 crank/92mm SC combo, and I specifically told him that he may get through the race but that the engine will with very high probability be damaged in a short period of time. The stock S65 simply can not take 11-12 PSI. He made his race, and the car ran for another week or two before caving in -as expected. The cost of a new engine is the price he chose to pay to run 4PSI overboost at his event.

      When it comes to the VT3, it is critical that fuel delivery is monitored at all times. If any part of the new stand-alone, high capacity fuel system fails the engine will be damaged in a matter of seconds at high load. In Sergei's case with a brand new VT3 prototype setup being installed, I told him that I strongly recommend leaving the car with us for 6-8 weeks after assembly to properly test it in various conditions. He did not have time for this and forced us to deliver the car 1 day after assembly with only a few dyno pulls and a short road test in 35F, wet roads conditions on it's back. He then chose to ignore my specific instructions on not operating the car hard without O2 monitoring equipment installed. I specifically recommended the EAS gauge setup. He chose to ignore all warnings, and he denied to send us the car back when he experienced high load acceleration hesitations and a primary O2 sensor on bank 2 error code. Instead he kept driving the car without any monitoring equipment until the engine eventually had massive failure due to fuel starvation combined with high load operation.

      We received the email of the engine condition yesterday from Sergei, and my initial plan was to simply have the car sent back to us in Norway as previously instructed and sleeve the block/install new pistons and go through the entire fuel system/O2 sensor system again to find the error that most likely has developed during his 2000 miles of use as the car operated and dynoed correctly before we delivered it. This is a relatively quick and easy fix that does not cost very much, however we do not and we never will give any kind of warranty on high-boost custom setups as the chance of failure is very high unless the driver is attentive and has proper measurement gauges installed. The VT3 is a race setup, and it should only be used by people who are aware of it's risks and high chance of long term problems due to the massive power delivery and the complex nature of the system. Sergei was informed over and over again of these risks, both on overboosting his previous VT2 kits as well as on the prototype VT3 setup.

      Sergei's VT3 engine build, boost and software is identical to Drew's setup. The only difference that keeps Drew's still running strong is the awareness of the driver when operating such a complex and delicate beast. If an O2 sensor goes bad, back off it! If one of the fuel pumps stops working correctly, back off it! Follow these simple rules and the VT3 will live for a long time as Drew has demonstrated."

      This article was originally published in forum thread: ESS VT3 M3 - Engine Fails Before 2,000 Miles started by benzy89 View original post
      Comments 144 Comments
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
        Just add a high HP/reliable DCT upgrade and it's golden.
        And this exists and is being installed. New discs, new pump, new pan (thanks so much for that leaky piece of $#@! SSP) and new tuning. It's going to hold whatever is thrown at it and I can launch as much as I want to.
      1. IMHOWTFFTW's Avatar
        IMHOWTFFTW -
        Good breakdown sticky.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        This is just my personal theory and I'm not saying it's what happens but just what I think happens behind the scenes.

        ESS has some guys that push their setups and that get some 'extra' support versus others showing numbers somehow nobody else is hitting with supposedly the same pulley, fuel, tune, etc., as everyone else. Some guys that maybe go a bit too far are quietly then upgraded to a VT3 behind the scenes in exchange for keeping their mouths shut. It's happened with guys who said they weren't going to do a built motor setup suddenly going quiet and then saying oh yeah I intended to do a VT3 (which isn't officially offered) all along. How can you intend to do something they don't offer? The VT3 is the oopsy stage IMO.

        Do I believe some VT3 guys were VT2 guys that blew a motor? Yes. There may be all kinds of reasons for that blown motor but then they are moved to a VT3 setup by default so to speak. It's done as cheaply as possible simply getting lower compression pistons and reusing all the rest of the same hardware.

        I think any of the tuners can tune a built motor setup. Tuning it and building the hardware are two different things. As is tuning for much higher horsepower setups.

        Active has the resources to build you a solid motor. Evolve as well. You can also go to VAC. I'm not sold on VF but I have seen them get good results when they got a good engine builder/tuner. They can't do it in hosue. Gintani has demonstrated the ability to do different setups, tunes, and hardware setups for the S65 in-house. It's a step above the self-proclaimed 'best' who tout they are the best due to sales figures. KIA sells more cars than Ferrari, so what?

        ESS has limitations. A one size fits all stock internal bolt on 'kit' and a custom low compression setup designed for high performance require vastly different skill sets. If ESS is as good as they claim, why can't they compete? Why don't they sell a VT3? Why can't they go head to head? The answer is because they can't.

        There is a big wave of change coming in the S65 scene. I can't say what's going on but hopefully people will finally have their eyes opened unless they intend to keep their heads buried in the sand.

        By the way, I'm not saying the ESS supercharger kits aren't good. They are a fine choice as is the Vortech based supercharger hardware. I'm just saying they aren't nearly as good as the manipulated perception they have created through a certain forum. They're actually better at doing that than they are at building/tuning high performance S65 setups.
      1. s65e90's Avatar
        s65e90 -
        Simply put there's some people who have too much $$$ and little knowledge. I have found that over the course of owning over 25-30 cars (most built) that the more expensive the car, the less knowledge the owner has.

        If anyone thinks they're gonna get a warranty on a built motor (unless this was assembly error) they're crazy.

        Even more crazy to not run gauges in even the smalles SC setups.

        These cars really should have dedicated AFR gauges, and IMO I would run 2 of em, one in each collector.

        Tuning a SC car is not rocket science. Boost is dependent on RPM on a linear scale. Tuning turbos are more in depth, but essentially, you can put the car together and as long as the fuel pump is capable, add a rising rate regulator and it will add fuel pressure as boost increases.

        This car looks like it was also beat on and detonated to the point of blowing up. Not uncommon, I have blown up plenty of motors, and rarely have blamed my guy who built it
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by s65e90 Click here to enlarge
        Tuning a SC car is not rocket science. Boost is dependent on RPM on a linear scale.

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by s65e90 Click here to enlarge
        This car looks like it was also beat on and detonated to the point of blowing up. Not uncommon, I have blown up plenty of motors, and rarely have blamed my guy who built it
        That it does. You need to have good quality hardware too. This motor doesn't look all that different from the blown stroker motor.