Modding upgrading and tuning the Nissan ZD30DD engine!

Tuners tips on "ZD30DD Modifications"

ZD30DD Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan ZD30DD

"Comprehensive guide to tuning and performance parts on the Nissan ZD30DD engine!"

Forums like the one at TorqueCars are regularly getting posts requesting info on how to improve the ZD30DD from people inquiring about getting more power from the ZD30DD and wanting to know what are the ultimate ZD30DD upgrades. So let us look into Nissan ZD30DD modifications and outline the best mods that work on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

The Nissan ZD30DD are popular tuning projects and with the optimum performance parts like remaps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will greatly maximize your driving enjoyment.

In this article we review ZD30DD tuning and point out the optimum upgrades.

When talking about the ultimate parts for your ZD30DD engine, we are going to concentrate on the parts that give the biggest return for your cash.

ZD30DD induction kits

Improving air intake on the ZD30DD

You need air matched to fuel for an engine to work. If there is not enough fuel then it will run lean, if there is too little air it runs rich sapping power and potentially damaging the engine. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So Feeding air and fuel into each cylinder is the aim to any engine modification project.

It is common that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the ZD30DD when a lot more air is being drawn into the engine.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped bhp and torque at a much lower level.

Headers carry the air during the suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The size of bore and shape and flow rate of the Intake headers can make a big improvement to fuel engine efficiency on the ZD30DD.

Most air intake manifolds are improved through a performance upgrade, although some OEM provide decently flowing air intake manifolds.

Fitting big valve kits, getting ZD30DD port enlargement and head flowing will also lift performance, & importantly will make space for raising the performance increase on other mods.

ZD30DD performance cam tips.

Different ZD30DD engines respond better to more aggressive camshaft durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and injectors and fuel pump also will say much on the torque gains you'll get.

Extending exhaust or intake durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Altering your ZD30DD cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine power band. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the power band accordingly.

NB: Fast road camshafts usually raise the bhp and torque through the rpm range, you might lose a little low end power but the high end rpm power will be higher.

Race camshafts, raise the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a car used daily you need to optimize your torque band to your typical driving style.

I would be surprised if you have ever thought a ZD30DD Motorsport and race cam is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas.

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the ZD30DD

Before we break the best tuning upgrades down into stages of tune, let's list the most effective tuning upgrades for you.

  1. Suspension Upgrades - always improve your cars handling
  2. Brake Upgrades - Even before adding power improve those brakes
  3. Intake - make sure the intake is not restricted, use filters and intake upgrades to improve this
  4. Exhaust - as with 3 ensure there is not restriction in the exhaust, cats are the usual bottleneck
  5. Tunes - remapping, piggyback ECU's and aftermarket ECU's can all make decent gains
  6. Fuelling - when you've increased power you'll need to match this with more fuel
  7. Turbo upgrades - Improving the intake with a large turbo and better flowing intercooler will be the biggest power gain you'll see (but one of the most complex).

This video guide to tuning cars is a great starting point to work from in your project.

Stage 1 ZD30DD parts:

Panel air filters, Fast road camshaft, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust manifold, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Intake headers.

Stage 2 ZD30DD parts:

induction kit, fuel pump upgrades, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, high flow fuel injectors.

Tuning tips and articles Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Stage 3 ZD30DD parts:

Twin charging conversions, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Competition cam, Engine balancing & blueprinting.

Carefully think through your options and then find your tuning mods and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

Remaps should help to to establish the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your ZD30DD.

You will typically expect to see gains of approximately 20-30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but figures achieved may rely on the upgrades you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the ZD30DD

To get a turbo working on a NASP engine there is a lot involved, from lowering compression ratio to improved fuel supply and mapping, so we have found a great guide to helpavoid the common pitfalls or end up with an unfinished project because you were not told what you were getting into by doing this on the ZD30DD.

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes significant power gains.

When your motor is fitted with a turbocharger modifications are going to make more power and turbocharged engines will have strengthened components.

There are practical limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some only just able to handle stock power

It is important to find these restrictions and install stronger pistons, crank and engine components to survive the power.

It's not unheard of people spending a fortune on turbocharger upgrades on the ZD30DD only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the motor literally blow up just after it's used on the roads.

Larger turbos will usually experience no power at low rpm, and little turbos spool up more quickly but won't have the top end bhp gains.

In the last 10 years the range of turbo units is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and direct these at differently designed vanes in the turbo. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

Beefing up the air intake by adding a supercharger or additional turbo will help you achieve very large power gains, although more complex to setup. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the ZD30DD

Don't miss you'll need to raise the fuelling when you are increasing the bhp and torque - it makes the car more thirsty. At this point we flag up the need to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add 20% capacity when buying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and allows you some spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

Don't forget that different fuel grades will usually require different settings, a high octane fuel will burn more efficiently than lower octane fuel for example. A car will trim fuel supply to keep within the ideal air fuel mix but at the extreme ends you may need to adjust your injector capacity, or the mapping or you'll get flat spots and potential lean or rich fuel issues..

Recommended ZD30DD performance exhaust upgrades

We'd only recommend you look to increase your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your current exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll see your flow rate is fine even on modest power gains, but on a serious tuning project with a big boost in power you will certainly need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Note that with the widest exhaust you can get this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between one and a half to two and half inches. Your exhaust design, the bend angles and construction are what have more effect on flow rates than your pipe width to a certain extent. So the exhaust design is a big factor.

The usual suspects causing problems in your exhaust flow rate are traced to the emissions filters installed, so adding a higher flowing sports alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Decatting (NB:catalysts reduce harmful engine emissions) is illegal in most countries and regions.

Faults issues and things to look out for on the ZD30DD

Like most engines an ZD30DD, should have few issues if it gets properly serviced and looked after.

We cannot stress enough the need for oil changes with the correct grade of oil on the ZD30DD, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned ZD30DD this is more important than ever and close attention should be paid to your maintenance schedule.

If you are interested in learning more or getting impartial tuning advice for your ZD30DD why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about ZD30DD tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their ZD30DD.

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