Modding tuning and best performance upgrades on the Nissan MR20DE engine!

Car tuning tips:MR20DE Modifications"

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan MR20DE

"Comprehensive guide to tuning the Nissan MR20DE engine!"

TorqueCars are regularly getting posts requesting information on how to improve the MR20DE from people inquiring about getting more power from the MR20DE and wanting to know what are the ultimate MR20DE mods that work. So let us look into Nissan MR20DE upgrades and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some frequent tuning mistakes along the way.

Now we will consider MR20DE tuning and highlight the best upgrades. Nissan MR20DE are fantastic to work on and with carefully picked motorsport enhancements like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will maximize your driving enjoyment.

When talking about the best parts for your MR20DE engine, we are going to concentrate on the modifications that give the biggest return for your cash.

MR20DE induction kits

Improving air intake on the MR20DE

You need air matched to fuel for an engine to work. If there is a lack of fuel then it will run lean, if there is insufficient air it runs rich losing 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 Pushing air into each cylinder is the whole point to any tuning project.

You'll commonly see there is a limitation in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the MR20DE when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

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

Engine intake manifolds flow the on the suck phase from the air filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the air Intake manifold can make a substantial improvement to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the MR20DE.

Many mass produced engine intake manifold are begging for performance upgrades, although some car makers provide fairly well optimized intake manifold.

Fitting big valve kits, getting port work and head flowing will also lift torque, and importantly will afford you increasing the torque increase on other upgrades.

MR20DE performance cam tips.

Some MR20DE engines respond better to extreme cam durations check your engine on a rolling road.

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

Longer valve durations can alter the bhp 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.

The camshaft profile plays a big part in the engines power output so camshaft upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake and exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen camshaft profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

NB: Fast road camshafts commonly bump the bhp across the rpm range, you may sacrifice a little low down bhp but your higher rpm power will improve.

Motorsport and race camshafts, bump the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a road car you need to optimize your power band to your typical driving style.

I'd be shocked if you have found a MR20DE Race cam is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas.

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the MR20DE

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 MR20DE parts:

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

Stage 2 MR20DE parts:

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

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

Stage 3 MR20DE parts:

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

Carefully think through your options and then buy your parts and set yourself a power target to save yourself from expensive mistakes.

ECU mapping should help to unlock the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your MR20DE.

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 the end result will differs on the upgrades you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the MR20DE

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 MR20DE.

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 an engine has forced induction upgrades are simpler to install and you will discover turbo charged engines already contain stronger components.

There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being very over engineered and some only able to handle stock power

Discover these restrictions and upgrade to forged components to survive the power.

It's not unheard of mechanics spending a lots of money on turbo charger upgrades on the MR20DE only to suffer the indignity of watching the whole thing explode just after it's been completed.

Bigger turbo units will usually experience low end lag, and small turbo units spool up really quickly but do not have the peak end torque gains.

Thanks to progress the market of turbo chargers is always moving on and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

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

Beefing up the air intake by adding a supercharger or additional turbo will help you achieve very large bhp and torque gains, although more complex to get working. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the MR20DE

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so must increase the fuelling when you start going beyond 20% of a power hike. We would recommend you to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and provides some spare capacity should the engine require 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 MR20DE performance exhaust upgrades

The only time you should look to increase your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your current exhaust is actually creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the flow rate is still ok 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.

Don't go with the biggest 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.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be located the catalysts installed, so adding a higher flowing high performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

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

Faults issues and things to look out for on the MR20DE

Like most engines an MR20DE, 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 MR20DE, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned MR20DE 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 MR20DE why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about MR20DE tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their MR20DE.

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