Modding upgrading and tuning the Nissan RB20DE engine!

All you need to know about "RB20DE Modifications"

RB20DE Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan RB20DE

"Comprehensive guide to tuning and performance parts on the Nissan RB20DE engine!"

Sites like TorqueCars are always getting emails requesting info on how to improve the RB20DE from people inquiring about getting more power from the RB20DE and wanting to know what are the things tuners recommend when it comes to RB20DE upgrades. So let us look into Nissan RB20DE parts and outline the best mods that work on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

The Nissan RB20DE make awesome project engines and with the optimum uprated parts like remapping, turbo kits and camshafts you will positively maximise your driving opportunities.

Our aim here is to look into RB20DE tuning and point out the optimum modifications.

Just because particular parts are popular with RB20DE owners it doesn't mean you should fit it, instead we will concentrate on the best parts that will give your RB20DE the biggest power gain return for your cash.

Without us subscribing to the common myth of 'if it's shiny and makes more noise it must be good' you seem to get in many tuning magazines and on car forums'.

RB20DE induction kits

Improving air intake on the RB20DE

You need fuel and air for an engine to work. If there is little supply of fuel then it will run lean, if there is a lack of air it runs rich resulting in lost power . We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So Forcing more air and fuel into the RB20DE engine is the whole point to any engine upgrade project.

It is not unusual that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the RB20DE when considerably more air is being drawn into the engine.

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

Air Intake manifolds flow the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The shape and flow rate of the Headers can make a large effect on to fuel engine efficiency on the RB20DE.

We often see intake headers are begging for a performance upgrade, although a few makers provide decently flowing intake headers.

Fitting big valve kits, getting RB20DE port enlargement and head flowing will also increase power, & more importantly will permit a better power increase on other parts.

RB20DE performance cam tips.

Some RB20DE engines respond better to more aggressive camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

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.

Altering your RB20DE cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine torque. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the torque accordingly.

NB: Fast road camshafts tend to push up the performance throughout the rpm range, you could drop a little bottom end torque but the top end will improve.

Motorsport camshafts, push up the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Race camshaft makes it harder when in heavy traffic.

You should ideally match your bhp range to your cars usage so for a daily driver stick with a fast road RB20DE camshaft

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the RB20DE

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 RB20DE parts:

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

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

Stage 2 RB20DE parts:

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

Stage 3 RB20DE parts:

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

Carefully think through your options and then acquire your parts and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

ECU mapping will help to establish the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your RB20DE.

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 power output usually differs on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the RB20DE

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 RB20DE.

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

If your motor is turbocharged, modifications are more reliable and most turbo engines already contain harder and stronger components.

However every engines will have power limits

We recommend you find these limitations and upgrade to higher quality components to cope with the power.

It's not unheard of tuners spending a lot of money on turbo upgrades on the RB20DE only to suffer the indignity of watching the RB20DE explode when it's used on the roads.

Larger turbos often experience low end lag, and little turbos spool up much more quickly but don't have the peak rpm power band gains.

Thanks to new tech the range of turbochargers is always improving and we commonly find variable vane turbochargers, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust flow into a couple of channels and flow these at differently angled vanes in the turbocharger. They also help 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 gains, although more difficult to get working. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the RB20DE

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to ramp up the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a performance hike. Experienced mechanics will tell you to over specify your injectors flow rate.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and provides a bit of 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 RB20DE performance exhaust upgrades

You may need to improve your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your current exhaust is creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust flow rate is good 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.

Sports exhausts can help increase the flow of air through the engine.

But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over two and a half inches diameter, you will lose a lot of the flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

The usual suspects causing problems in your exhaust flow rate are in the catalyst and 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 RB20DE

Like most engines an RB20DE, 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 RB20DE, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned RB20DE 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 RB20DE why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about RB20DE tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their RB20DE.

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