Modding and performance tuning parts for the Nissan VG20ET engine!

Tuning guide "VG20ET Modifications"

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan VG20ET

"Comprehensive guide to performance tuning the Nissan VG20ET engine!"

Let's take a nostalgic trip into the past and explore the VG20ET engine – a powerplant that played a significant role in the history of Nissan's performance-oriented vehicles.

The VG20ET, introduced in the 1980s, is a 2.0-liter V6 engine that powered Nissan's iconic sports car, the Nissan 200ZR. This engine is part of the VG series, which includes other well-known engines like the VG30DET found in the Nissan Z cars.

In terms of specifications, the VG20ET is turbocharged, bringing forced induction to the compact V6 engine. This configuration not only enhanced power output but also contributed to the engine's reputation for providing a spirited and engaging driving experience.

The VG20ET proudly features an overhead camshaft (OHC) design, ensuring precise control over the valvetrain for optimal performance. This design choice aligns with Nissan's commitment to engineering precision and responsiveness.

One notable characteristic of the VG20ET is its contribution to the performance legacy of Nissan's Z cars and sports models. The turbocharged V6 engine, combined with a lightweight chassis, provided a dynamic driving experience that resonated with enthusiasts.

As we explore the intricacies of the VG20ET, we witness a chapter in Nissan's history where performance and innovation converged to create sports cars that left an indelible mark on automotive enthusiasts. The VG20ET represents an era when compact, turbocharged engines became a hallmark of spirited driving.

The Nissan VG20ET engine stands as a symbol of 1980s performance engineering, where turbocharging and V6 power came together to create vehicles that captured the imagination of driving enthusiasts. Its role in the Nissan 200ZR and other sports models reflects a period in automotive history when the pursuit of speed and excitement was at its zenith.

Forums like the one at TorqueCars are always getting posts asking about how to improve the VG20ET from people wanting to know what are the optimum VG20ET upgrades. So let us look into Nissan VG20ET mods and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some common pitfalls along the way.

The Nissan VG20ET are fantastic to work on and with the best performance upgrades like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will certainly increase your driving enjoyment.

Car Tuning Tips will look into VG20ET tuning and report on the optimum upgrades.

When talking about the best parts for your VG20ET engine, we are going to focus on the upgrades that give the best power gain for you spend.

VG20ET induction kits

Improving air intake on the VG20ET

You need air matched to fuel for an engine to work. If there is too little fuel then it will run lean, if there is not enough air it runs rich resulting in lost 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 the primary aim to any car tuning job to feed more air and fuel into the VG20ET engine but this has a knock on effect with the air flow sensor.

It is not unusual that there's a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the VG20ET when considerably more air is being drawn into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited power at a much lower level.

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

Design and rate of flow of the Intake headers can make a substantial change to fuel delivery on the VG20ET.

On popular production engines intake manifold are begging for aftermarket parts, although some makers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

Fitting big valve kits, doing a bit of 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also improve power, and importantly will afford you raising the power increase on other mods.

VG20ET performance cam tips.

Some VG20ET engines respond better to less aggressive camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also will say much on the torque gains you'll achieve.

Longer valve 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.

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

NB: Fast road camshafts tend to raise the bhp and torque over the rpm band, you may sacrifice a little bottom end torque but your top end will improve.

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

For a typical daily driver you must carefully try to match your torque band to your typical driving style.

I'd be amazed if you have ever thought a VG20ET Motorsport and race camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas.

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the VG20ET

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

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

Stage 1 VG20ET parts:

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

Stage 2 VG20ET parts:

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

Stage 3 VG20ET parts:

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

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

A remap should help to fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've done to your VG20ET.

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 mileage will rely on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the VG20ET

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 VG20ET.

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.

If an engine has a turbocharger tuning mods are simpler to install and you will discover turbo charged engines already contain many forged and stronger components.

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

See where you'll find these restrictions and upgrade to higher quality components to utilize the power.

There are many guys spending a loads on turbo charger upgrades on the VG20ET only to experience the engine block literally blow up soon after it's first rolling road session.

Big upgraded turbos will usually experience no power at low rpm, and smaller turbos spool up more quickly but won't have the peak rpm power band gains.

Over the last 20 years the choice of turbos is always developing and we commonly find variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and push these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. 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 torque gains, although more challenging to setup. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the VG20ET

Don't omit to improve the fuel delivery when you are increasing the torque - it makes the car more thirsty. Most tuners we speak with say to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% capacity when specifying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and allows a bit of 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 VG20ET performance exhaust upgrades

Only look to boost your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the exhaust 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.

Note that with the widest exhaust you can buy you'll slow up 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 can be located the catalyst installed, so adding a higher flowing performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

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

Faults issues and things to look out for on the VG20ET

Like most engines an VG20ET, 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 VG20ET, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned VG20ET 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 VG20ET why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about VG20ET tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their VG20ET.

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