Modding tuning and best performance upgrades on the Nissan RB20DET-R engine!

Tuning guide "RB20DET-R Modifications"

RB20DET-R Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan RB20DET-R

"Comprehensive guide to performance tuning the Nissan RB20DET-R engine!"

Sites like TorqueCars often are getting emails requesting info on how to improve the RB20DET-R from people inquiring about getting more power from the RB20DET-R and wanting to know what are the ultimate RB20DET-R modifications. So let us look into Nissan RB20DET-R tuning mods and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some potential pitfalls along the way.

The Nissan RB20DET-R are popular engines and with the optimum modified upgrades like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will positively enhance your driving opportunities.

In this article we review RB20DET-R tuning and summarise the best mods that work.

The optimum RB20DET-R upgrades on an engine are sensibly the ones that give the best power gain for your hard earned cash.

We won't be swayed by popular RB20DET-R upgrades, they need to be cost effective.

RB20DET-R induction kits

Improving air intake on the RB20DET-R

You need air and fuel for an engine to work. If there is too little fuel then it will run lean, if there is too little air it runs rich sapping power which risks damage to the RB20DET-R. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So Shoving more fuel and air into your RB20DET-R is the primary aim to any engine upgrade job.

It is not unusual that there's a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on the RB20DET-R when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

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

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

The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the air Intake manifold can make a noticeable effect on to fuel mixing and power on the RB20DET-R.

I usually find intake manifold are needing an upgrade, although some manufacturers provide well optimised intake manifold.

Big valve conversions on the RB20DET-R, getting port work and head flowing will also lift bhp, & importantly will make space for a greater bhp increase on other mods.

RB20DET-R performance cam tips.

Some RB20DET-R engines respond better to different cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuel pump and injectors also will make differences on the power gains you'll hit.

A longer valve duration can alter the power 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.

Significant air intake, and exhaust improvements on the RB20DET-R can be made from camshaft upgrades. Changing the camshaft profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the bhp and power output.

NB: Fast road camshafts normally bump the power across the rpm range, you might lose a little low end torque but the top end will be lifted.

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

For a car used daily you should ideally to optimize your bhp range to your cars usage.

I'd be gobsmaked if you have found a RB20DET-R Race cam is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic.

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the RB20DET-R

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 RB20DET-R parts:

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

Stage 2 RB20DET-R parts:

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

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

Stage 3 RB20DET-R parts:

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

Plan your options and then acquire your parts and set yourself a power target to avoid expensive mistakes.

A remap helps unlock the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your RB20DET-R.

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 your results usually rely on the upgrades you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the RB20DET-R

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 RB20DET-R.

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

If your car has forced induction tuning parts are giving better power gains and we find turbo engines are made with uprated components.

However you'll find engines will have power limits

Research these restrictions and upgrade to better quality crank and pistons to handle the power.

It's not unheard of car owners spending a loads of money on turbo upgrades on the RB20DET-R only to have the engine block throw a rod just after it's been enthusiastically driven.

Larger upgraded turbochargers tend to experience a bottom end lag, and low capacity turbochargers spool up more quickly but do not have the top end bhp gains.

Thankfully the market of turbo units is always increasing and we now see variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into two channels and push 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 challenging to configure. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the RB20DET-R

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so must ramp up the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a bhp and torque hike. At this point we flag up the need to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when specifying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and allows a little 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 RB20DET-R performance exhaust upgrades

Only look to upgrade your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if the current exhaust is actually creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you should find that your 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.

Please dont run with the widest exhaust you can buy this will reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best 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 come around the emissions filters installed, so adding a better flowing performance 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 RB20DET-R

Like most engines an RB20DET-R, 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 RB20DET-R, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned RB20DET-R 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 RB20DET-R why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about RB20DET-R tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their RB20DET-R.

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