More about flywheel options for M40, M42 and M44 engines

As I need to replace the clutch in my supercharged 1998 318is I have been looking into what options there are for a stronger and preferably lighter clutch.

M42/M44 dual mass flywheel and clutch


I presume my car has the original dual mass flywheel and clutch so I could go with just a new clutch kit. However, I have concerns that the flywheel may not be in good condition and it is not advised to have dual mass flywheels machined so there is a risk to just changing the clutch.

I would also prefer to replace the clutch with one that could handle the extra power from the supercharger better. There are a few choices in stage 1, 2 or 3 clutch kits for M42/M44 powered BMWs on eBay USA which is another option, but again I would prefer to replace the flywheel as well.

M40 solid flywheel and clutch


I looked at the M40 flywheel and clutch kit option, which is a bolt in replacement and requires only the M40 flywheel and shorter bolts, and an M40 clutch kit. This is a little lighter (1.72 kg) but the clutch is the same diameter (215mm) as the original so is not going to handle the supercharger any better than the original.

I did the M40 flywheel swap on one of my previous 318is's and I can't say I noticed much or possibly any difference in performance or driveability. I did notice a small increase in the amount of vibration and harshness, but really only when at low engine speeds under load, for example when taking off from rest uphill.

Valeo solid flywheel conversion and clutch


Valeo make a solid flywheel conversion kit for the M42/M44 but it is designed as an OE replacement and the flywheel is comparable in weight to the dual mass unit. I can't find any specifications but I presume it is the same size as the original, although one Australian retailer implies it is 235mm (they could not confirm to me if this was true). Assuming it is the same weight and the same size then this seems like an expensive alternative to the M40 flywheel swap. The Valeo part number for the M42/M44 is 52161203.

M20 solid flywheel and clutch


The solid flywheel from the M20 engine, usually the later model E30 325i, seems to be the most popular upgrade. Not only is it lighter (and can be lightened further) but it is also larger (228mm). My issue with this is that it is a more complex swap - you need an M20 flywheel, shorter bolts and an M20 clutch kit. But as the starter/ring gear is different you then either need to swap the ring gear, use an M20 starter (not all fit) or swap some of the M20 starter parts with the M4x starter. Then there's confusion about which throw out bearing to use - the majority say get one from an E21 323i but some say the one that comes with the M20 clutch kit works fine. Lastly you either need to remove some material from the flywheel or remove and fit the spacer from the M4x flywheel (riveted on and needs one hole drilled larger to fit) to stop the M20 flywheel from jamming against some bolts on the back of the engine.

M50/M52/M54/S50 flywheel and clutch


I have read about another option, apparently the M50/M52/S50 flywheels and clutches fit too. There isn't many people talking about this but the ones that are use an aftermarket solid flywheel from an E36 M3 3.0 with the clutch kit from the same model. The advantage is that the clutch diameter is 240mm and obviously designed for the M3 so should be up to extra power of a supercharger. The ring gear is the same so the starter does not need to be changed. One person mentioned they needed to fit the slave cylinder from the M3 too as the original didn't handle the extra pressure. The negatives of this are that the cost of M3 parts is generally much higher (clutch kit is around twice the price).

Apparently all M50/M52/M54 flywheels will bolt straight on without any modifications. All use either a 228 or 240mm diameter clutch plate. Most of the M50/M52/M54 flywheel and clutch combinations weigh around the same as the M42/M44 parts, and some are a little lighter. There is also apparently a conventional flywheel available for the early M50 (E34 525i and E36 320i) without air conditioning although I doubt any of these made it out of Europe and the weight is similar to the dual mass flywheel/clutch combination.

Update: I don't know if the flywheel/clutches from models with the ZF gearbox (eg. 328i) do fit or not. The 228mm flywheel/clutches from the M50 320i/325i and M52 323i, which use a similar Getrag gearbox to the 318is, seem like a safer choice.

M43TU dual mass flywheel and clutch


Recently I discovered that the M43TU engine fitted to the E46 318i (and maybe some E36 Compacts) uses a 228mm clutch plate. The earlier M43 engines can use the same clutch and flywheel options as the M40/M42/M44 so there is a good chance the M43TU flywheel will fit the M40/M42/M44 too. The downside is that the flywheel is a dual mass type so there wouldn't be any weight saving with this swap. I am yet to confirm that it is even possible and there certainly doesn't seem to be any discussion about this online.

BMW M43TU flywheel and clutch

Here is the weights of the various options:

FlywheelClutch KitTotalTotal (my scales*)
M42/M44(P/N 21211223550) 12.25kg(P/N 21211223571) 5.04kg17.29kg16.5 - 17.0kg
M40(P/N 11221739315) 9.99kg(P/N 21211223569) 5.58kg15.57kg14.8 - 15.2kg
M43TU(P/N 21207508409) 12.87kg(P/N 21217523618) 5.24kg18.11kg
M20(P/N 11221706573) 8.5kg(P/N 21211223102) 6.98kg15.48kg
M50 (325i)(P/N 21211223593) 11.134kg(P/N 21211223546) 5.920kg17.05418.0kg

*My scales is my own measurement using simple bathroom scales.

I am still investigating the options so will keep this page updated.

Have you changed your flywheel and clutch, or do you know anything else about these options? Please leave a comment below to share your experience.

Update 1 April 2015

I ended up buying a second hand flywheel and clutch from an early M50 engine. I paid A$150 and as the clutch plate was in very good condition I decided to use that rather than buying a new clutch kit. I did have to get a new throw out bearing though. Read more in my post.

Update 20 May 2016

I found a company in Sydney (Australia) that sells a lightweight flywheel for the M42, M44 and M50 engines for a very reasonable price. They say it uses the original M42/M44/M50 starter motor. You use a clutch is for the M20 engines (228mm), including any aftermarket options with a higher clamping force if needed. Weight is 3.2kg (7lb). See RHD Engineering. Shame I didn't know about this before I fitted an M50 flywheel and clutch.

Comments

Charlie

by Charlie | March 9, 2016

Very interested in this subject if you could update it would be much appreciated

Reply

John Avis

by John Avis | May 19, 2016

Hi Charlie. See my update about a light weight flywheel option from RHD Engineering that I would definitely look into if I hadn't just fitted a stock M50 flywheel/clutch to my car. For US$219 it looks like a great option and you can use a M20 clutch kit.

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Tomas

by Tomas | April 7, 2019

Hi, will this work on E36 Compact 318ti M44B19???

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John

by John | April 7, 2019

Yes, all info applies to all M44s.

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Rein

by Rein | May 23, 2019

Hi John, thanks for the helpfull article! I've just upgraded my M42 in my 318ti with an M50/M52/M54/S50 flywheel. It is a 240mm kit. I bought a kit of ebay, complete with clutch and pressure plate. It bolted straight up, only needed shorter flywheel bolts (witch were included in my kit). It was a cheap option (around 350 euro's shipped to Holland) and works like a charm.

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John Avis

by John Avis | May 23, 2019

Thanks for the feedback, Rein. I think 240mm is usually found on the M54. What brand did you get and did you weigh the old and new parts to compare?

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Rein

by Rein | May 23, 2019

The brand was XTD. The old stuff was stock (dual mass flywheel and stock clutch- and pressure plate) and I didn't weigh those. I did weigh the new flywheel, what was 6.4kg's. Unfortunately I didn't weigh the whole package.

Reply

John Avis

by John Avis | May 23, 2019

Sounds like a big weight saving over the stock 12kg dual mass flywheel. I assume it wasn't a dual mass that you bought? Did you notice any change in performance or driveability?

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Rein

by Rein | May 23, 2019

Yep, the flywheel is about half the weight. The pressure plate is a bit more weighty than stock, since it is bigger, but that is not that much. I didn't weigh both, but I don't think its more than a few 100 grams. And yes, it is a single mass flywheel. I'm still in my break-in kilometers, so I didn't drive it hard yet. But it feels a bit more responsive. And the clutch is way more 'grabby'. It is a stage 2 clutch (which means a bit stiffer pressure plate) so it is also a bit heavier than before. Even tho my old clutch was in great shape, it slipped way more than this one. It takes some getting used to, but so far I like it a lot, and it is what I hoped for. Concerning sounds, at idle I hear nothing. From 1000 to 2000 rpm on throttle there is some rumble kind of sound, but nothing major. And engine braking from 3000 4000ish there is some weird droning kind of sound, which I can not explain yet. If I don't forget I'll let you know in a few months how it is holding up, and how it feels driving it hard.

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John Avis

by John Avis | May 23, 2019

Thanks for the information!

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Ravinder Gill

by Ravinder Gill | December 16, 2019

Hi Good Evening.. Would like to know about the BMW E36 323i M52 CLUTCH KIT... FLYWHEEL SIZE.... Pls... What is the clutch kit size of the flywheel for BMW E36 323i M52... Thanks...

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John

by John | December 16, 2019

The diameter of the M52 clutch plate is 228mm. is that what you wanted to know?

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Brian

by Brian | March 22, 2020

Hi John! First and foremost thanks so much for what you do here. It has been an invaluable resource to me, as I am refreshing my Dad's 96 Z3 that we DASC'd 15+ years ago if memory serves. Am I correct in assuming a kit like this found on Ebay CM-STAGE-1-CLUTCH-KIT-FLYWHEEL-w-SACHS-BEARING-BMW-E36-E34-E39-M50-M52-S50-S52 will bolt in to an M44? and possibly only need shorter bolts and a potential upgrade to the slave cylinder? Considering how the car only gets driven less then 5k a year and he is now in his 70s It won't need to stand up to tons of abuse, the current clutch slips badly and I think that's a function of the reused factory dual mass having 65k and the aging 6 puck that's in there now.

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John Avis

by John Avis | March 22, 2020

Hi Brian. From my research all of the M50, M52 or M54 flywheels will fit the M44. My only personal experience was with fitting a M50 flywheel and clutch to my M44 which works fine (still using this now 3+ years later). I looked at that kit on eBay and looks good to me. Only thing I noticed was that it is 240mm clutch (9.5"). The M50 part I fitted was 228mm (9"). From my research, either should be fine but I have never seen anything to confirm the larger size fits so I'm not 100% sure (but confident it will). Looks like that kit includes the right bolts already and don't think you will have any issue with slave cylinder if everything is in good condition. Let us know how it goes and what kind of difference the much lighter flywheel makes. Thanks!

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Brian

by Brian | March 22, 2020

Thanks for pointing that out. I wonder if there will be an issue with the starter not lining up with the flywheel because of the increased size?

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John Avis

by John Avis | March 22, 2020

The flywheels are the same size, just the clutch surface area on the flywheel is different, so that won't be a problem. I am confident that the 240mm/9.5" will be fine, just can't give you a definitive answer because I have no personal experience. But everything I have read and heard says there is full interchangeability of parts from M42/M44/M50/52/54.

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