Modding upgrading and tuning the Nissan VK50VE engine!

Explore VK50VE Modifications"

How to modify and upgrade the Nissan VK50VE

"Comprehensive guide to tuning and performance parts on the Nissan VK50VE engine!"

Our friends at TorqueCars are regularly getting posts requesting info on how to improve the VK50VE from people wanting to know what are the best VK50VE upgrades. So let us look into Nissan VK50VE modifications and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some frequent tuning mistakes along the way.

In this article we detail the best approach to VK50VE tuning and provide tips on the greatest upgrades. Nissan VK50VE are fantastic to work on and with the best sports parts like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will positively enhance your driving enjoyment.

When talking about the greatest parts for your VK50VE engine, we are going to concentrate on the modifications that give the best power gain for you money.

VK50VE induction kits

Improving air intake on the VK50VE

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 insufficient 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 Pushing air and fuel into each cylinder is the main goal to any engine performance tuning task.

It is not unusual that there is a limit in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the VK50VE when a lot 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 sapped bhp and torque at a much lower level.

Air Intake manifolds carry the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The shape and flow rate of the Plenum can make a noticeable difference to to fuel delivery on the VK50VE.

Commonly we find the headers are needing a performance upgrade, although some car makers provide fairly well optimized headers.

Big valve conversions on the VK50VE, carrying out port work and head flowing will also improve power, and more importantly will make space for a better power increase on other tuning mods.

VK50VE performance cam tips.

Some VK50VE engines respond better to mild camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The map and fuelling also will say much on the power gains you'll make.

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.

Altering your VK50VE cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine engines power. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the engines power accordingly.

NB: Fast road cams normally bump the bhp through the rev range, you could drop a little low down torque but the high end rpm power will be better.

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

A Competition camshaft is not great on the daily commute.

You should ideally optimize your power band to your usage of the car so for a daily driver stick with a mild fast road VK50VE camshaft

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the VK50VE

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 VK50VE parts:

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

Stage 2 VK50VE parts:

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

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

Stage 3 VK50VE parts:

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

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

ECU flashing will help fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've done to your VK50VE.

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 figures achieved often vary depending on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the VK50VE

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 VK50VE.

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

When an engine has a turbocharger mods are going to net you a larger power gain and most turbocharged engines are made with uprated components.

There are weak spots for every engine, with some being incredibly solid and some only able to handle stock power

We recommend you find these limitations and fit better quality crank and pistons to survive the power.

We see many guys spending a lot of money on turbo upgrades on the VK50VE only to suffer the indignity of watching the motor literally blow up when it's completed.

Large capacity turbochargers often experience no power at low rpm, and smaller turbochargers spool up much more quickly but won't have the peak rpm power band gains.

Thanks to progress the market of turbo units is always improving and we now see variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into two channels and feed these at differently angled vanes in the turbo. 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 and torque gains, although more challenging to get working. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the VK50VE

Don't omit to ramp up the fuel system when you are increasing the torque - it makes the car more thirsty. Experienced mechanics will tell you to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add 15% when specifying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and gives a little 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 VK50VE performance exhaust upgrades

You should look to upgrade your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the exhaust flow rate is still fine 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 gases through the engine.

But if the exhaust pipe is too big, ie: it's over two and a half inches diameter, you will lose much of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a better flowing performance 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 VK50VE

Like most engines an VK50VE, 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 VK50VE, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned VK50VE 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 VK50VE why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about VK50VE tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their VK50VE.

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