Modding tuning and best performance upgrades on the Nissan VQ23DE engine!

Car tuning tips:VQ23DE Modifications"

VQ23DE Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan VQ23DE

"Comprehensive guide to tuning the Nissan VQ23DE engine!"

TorqueCars are frequently getting messages requesting information on how to improve the VQ23DE from people wanting to know what are the things tuners are recommending when it comes to VQ23DE upgrades. So let us look into Nissan VQ23DE upgrades and outline the best mods that work on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

In this article we detail the best approach to VQ23DE tuning and report on the premier modifications for your car. Nissan VQ23DE are awesome to work on and with the ultimate tuning mods like remapping, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will greatly improve your driving enjoyment.

When talking about the best parts for your VQ23DE engine, we are going to focus on the modifications that give the biggest return for your cash.

VQ23DE induction kits

Improving air intake on the VQ23DE

You need air and fuel for an engine to work. If there is a lack of fuel then it will run lean, if there is a lack of air it runs rich losing power which risks damage to the VQ23DE. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So the aim to any engine modification project to force air into each cylinder but this has a knock on effect with the air flow sensor.

It is common that there is a limit in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the VQ23DE 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 was restricting bhp at a much lower level.

Air Intake manifolds 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 shape and flow rate of the Headers can make a noticeable change to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the VQ23DE.

We often see headers are crying out for aftermarket parts, although some car makers provide decently flowing headers.

Larger VQ23DE valves, doing a bit of port matching and head flowing will also raise torque, & importantly will afford you a greater torque increase on other tuning parts.

VQ23DE performance cam tips.

Each engine responds better to mild camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

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

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.

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 power band gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

NB: Fast road camshafts tend to push up the bhp throughout the rev band, you may lose a little low down torque but your high end rpm power will be better.

Race camshafts, push up 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 typical daily driver you must carefully try to match your torque band to your preferences.

I'd be surprised if you have ever thought a VQ23DE Competition camshaft is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic.

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the VQ23DE

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 VQ23DE parts:

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

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

Stage 2 VQ23DE parts:

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

Stage 3 VQ23DE parts:

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

The VQ23DE units are fantastic to work on and we see that there is a lot of mods and performance parts out there.

Remaps allows a tuner to release the full potential of all the tuning mods you've done to your VQ23DE.

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 outcome often vary depending on the tuning mods you've done and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the VQ23DE

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 VQ23DE.

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

When a car is turbo charged mods are simpler to install and turbo engines are built using strengthened components.

However you'll find engines will have power limits

Discover these restrictions and upgrade to better pistons and crank to survive the power.

We've seen tuners spending a loads on turbocharger upgrades on the VQ23DE only to suffer the indignity of watching the engine block go up in smoke on it's first outing after it's been completed.

Larger turbochargers commonly suffer no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbochargers spool up quickly but won't have the top end torque gains.

Thanks to new tech the selection of turbo chargers is always increasing and we are seeing variable vane turbo chargers, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and feed these at differently angled vanes in the turbocharger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

Beefing up the air intake by adding a supercharger or additional turbo will help you achieve very large performance gains, although more difficult to install. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the VQ23DE

Don't dismiss the need look at the fuelling when you are increasing the performance - it makes the car more thirsty. It is important to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add another 15% when buying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and affords 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 VQ23DE performance exhaust upgrades

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

On most factory exhausts you'll see your flow rate is still 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 usually air flow from the engine but do not go too wide or you may end up will reduce the flow rate. Stick to one and a half to two and half inches as a rule of thumb.

The usual suspects causing problems in your exhaust flow rate come around the catalysts installed, so adding a higher flowing race alternative will help avoid this restriction.

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

Faults issues and things to look out for on the VQ23DE

Like most engines an VQ23DE, 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 VQ23DE, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned VQ23DE 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 VQ23DE why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about VQ23DE tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their VQ23DE.

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