BMW M20B23

BMW M20B23The BMW M20B23 is a 2.3 liters (2,316 cc, 141.3 cu·in) straight-six, four-stroke cycle natural aspirated gasoline engine from BMW M20-family. The engine was manufactured from 1978 to 1987.

The BMW M20B23 engine features a cast-iron block and aluminum head with a single overhead camshaft (SOHC) and two valves per cylinder (12 in total). The cylinder bore is 80.0 mm (3.15 in) and the piston stroke is 76.8 mm (2.99 in).

The first version of the M20B23 engine uses the same head “200” and block as the M20B20 but a longer 76.8 mm (3.02 in) stroke crank. This engine used mechanical fuel injection system K-Jetronic, the compression ratio is 9.5:1 and the redline is 6,400 rpm. This engine produced 143 PS (105 KW; 141 HP) at 6,000 rpm of horsepower and 176 Nm (17.95 kg·m; 129.89 ft·lb) at 4,500 rpm of peak torque.

The 1982 version used L-Jetronic, the 731 cylinder head, a compression ratio of 9.8:1. This version produced 139 PS (102 kW; 137 HP) at 5,300 rpm of maximum horsepower and 205 N·m (20.9 kg·m, 151.1 ft·lb) at 4,000 rpm of torque.

In 1984, the fuel injection system, exhaust, and camshaft were upgraded to LE-Jetronic. Redline increased to 6,500 rpm. This engine produced 150 PS (110 kW; 147 HP) at 6,000 rpm of maximum output power and 205 N·m (20.9 kg·m, 151.1 ft·lb) at 4,000 rpm of peak torque.

The breakdown of the engine code is as follows:

  • M20 – Engine Family
  • B – Gasoline
  • 23 – 2.3 Liter Displacement

General information

Engine Specifications
Engine codeM20B23
LayoutFour stroke, Inline-6 (Straight-6)
Fuel typeGasoline
Displacement2.3 L, 2,316 cc (141.3 cu in)
Fuel system Mechanical fuel injection system (Bosch K-Jetronic)
Electronic fuel injection system (Bosch L-Jetronic, LE-Jetronic)
Power adderNone
Max. horsepower From 139 PS (102 kW; 137 HP) at 5,300 rpm
to 150 PS (110 kW; 147 HP) at 6,000 rpm
Max. torque From 176 Nm (17.95 kg·m; 129.89 ft·lb) at 4,500 rpm
to 205 N·m (20.9 kg·m, 151.1 ft·lb) at 4,000 rpm
Firing order1-5-3-6-2-4
Dimensions (L x H x W):
Weight170 kg (374.8 lbs)

Cylinder block

The BMW M20B23 engine has a cast-iron cylinder block, bore is 80.0 mm (3.15 in) and stroke is 76.8 mm (2.99 in). The cylinder block, a monoblock specially cast structure. The pistons are each fitted with two compression rings and a single oil ring.

Cylinder block
Cylinder block alloyCast iron
Compression ratio:9.5:1, 9.8:1
Cylinder bore:80.0 mm (3.15 in)
Piston stroke:76.8 mm (2.99 in)
Number of piston rings (compression / oil):2 / 1
Number of main bearings:7
Cylinder inner diameter (standard):80.000 mm (3.1496 in)
Piston skirt diameter (standard):79.980 mm (3.1488 in)
Piston ring side clearance:Top0.040-0.080 mm (0.0016-0.0031 in)
Second0.030-0.070 mm (0.0012-0.0028 in)
Oil0.020-0.050 mm (0.0008-0.002 in)
Piston ring end gap:Top0.200-0.500 mm (0.0079-0.0197 in)
Second0.200-0.500 mm (0.0079-0.0197 in)
Oil0.200-0.500 mm (0.0079-0.0197 in)
Crankshaft journal diameter:60.000 mm (2.3622 in)
Crankpin diameter:45.000 mm (1.7717 in)

Main bearing cap bolts tightening procedure and torque specs:

  • 60 Nm (6.12 kg·m; 44.28 ft·lb)

After securing bearing cap bolts, make sure crankshaft turns smoothly by hand.

Connecting rod bearing bolts

  • Step 1: 5 Nm; 0.51 kg·m; 3.69 ft·lb
  • Step 2: 20 Nm; 2.04 kg·m; 14.76 ft·lb
  • Step 3: Tighten bolts at the angle of 70°

Cylinder head

The cylinder head is made of an aluminum alloy with good cooling efficiency. The engine has a single overhead camshaft with two valves per cylinder. The camshaft is driven by a timing belt.

Intake valves are 40.0 mm (1.57 in) in diameter and exhaust valves are 34.0 mm (1.34 in). The valves are opened and closed by rocker arms. These rocker arms perform a dual function of cam follower valve adjuster, as one end contains the eccentric and the adjustment nut. The rocker arms pivot around rocker arm shafts.

Cylinder head
Valve Arrangement:SOHC, belt drive
Valves:12 (2 valves per cylinder)
Intake/Exhaust duration:
Valve head diameter:INTAKE40.0 mm (1.5748 in
EXHAUST34.0 mm (1.3386 in)
Valve steam diameter:INTAKE7.0 mm (0.2756 in)
EXHAUST7.0 mm (0.2756 in)

Head tightening procedure and torque specs:

  • Step 1: 30 Nm (3.06 kg·m; 22.14 ft·lb)
  • Step 2: Tighten bolts at the angle of 90°
  • Step 3: Once again, tighten bolts at the angle of 90°

Maintenance data

Valve clearance
Intake valve0.25 mm (0.010 in)
Exhaust valve0.25 mm (0.010 in)
Compression pressure
Minimum10.2 kg/cm2 (9.9 bar, 145 psi) / 350 rpm
Oil system
Recommended engine oil 5W-30, 5W-40, 10W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50, 15W-40, 15W-50
Oil type API
Engine oil capacity (Refill capacity) With filter change 4.25 l
Without filter change 4.0 l
Oil change interval, km (miles)10,000 (6,000)
Ignition system
Spark plugBosch: W8LCR, NGK: ZGR5A
Spark plug gap0.7 mm (0.028 in)

Vehicle applications

ModelYears Produced
BMW 323i (E21)1977–1982
BMW 323i (E30)1982–1984
BMW 323i (E30)1984–1987
Author: Sergei Wers
About: Co-founder and CEO of a multi-brand auto repair shop (engine repair, chassis repair, body repair and painting) for over 15 years. I have been developing internet sites with technical specifications for more than seven years.

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