Modding uprating the Mercedes M160 engine!

Car tuning tips:M160 Modifications"

M160 Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Mercedes M160

"Comprehensive guide to tuning and performance parts on the Mercedes M160 engine!"

Forums like the one at TorqueCars are regularly seeing threads asking about how to improve the M160 from people inquiring about getting more power from the M160 and wanting to know what are the best M160 mods that work. So let us look into Mercedes M160 mods and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some frequent tuning mistakes along the way.

The Mercedes M160 are good project engines and with the best motorsport parts like remaps, turbo kits and camshafts you will definitely maximize your driving pleasure.

Let us review and look at M160 tuning and outline the optimum modifications for your car.

Just because particular tuning parts are are common on M160 it doesn't mean you should fit it, so we'll focus on the top tuning parts that will give your M160 the best value for money to power increase.

Without us subscribing to the popular mentality 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'.

M160 induction kits

Improving air intake on the M160

You need fuel and air for an engine to work. If there is insufficient 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 engine performance tuning task to feed air and fuel into your M160 but this has a knock on effect with the air flow sensor.

You'll commonly see there's a restriction in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the M160 when loads more air is being sucked into the engine.

When tuning you may well find you need to get an air sensor or flow meter capable of upto 4 bars to cope with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp and torque at a much lower level.

The intake plenum transmit the air from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and flow characteristics of the air Intake manifold can make a large improvement to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the M160.

On popular production engines intake manifold are improved through a performance upgrade, although some car makers provide decently flowing intake manifold.

Big valve conversions on the M160, doing some M160 port enlargement and head flowing will also increase bhp, and more importantly will give you an improved bhp increase on other tuning parts.

M160 performance cam tips.

Some M160 engines respond better to extreme cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The map and fuelling also will make differences on the torque gains you'll hit.

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 & 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 increase the performance across the rpm range, you may lose a little low end power but the higher rpm power will improve.

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

A Motorsport cam is not great driving in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your engines power to your usage of the car so for a car used daily stick with a shorter duration M160 cam

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the M160

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 M160 parts:

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

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

Stage 2 M160 parts:

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

Stage 3 M160 parts:

Competition cam, Engine balancing & blueprinting, 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.

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

Remapping should help to release the full potential of all the parts you've done to your M160.

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 will vary depending on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the M160

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 M160.

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 your motor is fitted with a turbocharger tuning parts are simpler to install and turbo engines are made with harder and stronger components.

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

We recommend you find these limitations and fit more solid crank and pistons to survive the power.

We've seen car owners spending a lot of money on turbocharger upgrades on the M160 only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the engine go up in smoke just after it's been finished.

Larger upgraded turbochargers often experience no power at low rpm, and small turbochargers spool up really quickly but do not have the high rpm torque gains.

Thanks to progress the selection of turbos is always increasing and we are seeing variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into two channels and direct 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 difficult to get working. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the M160

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to increase the fuelling when you start going beyond 20% of a power hike. Experienced tuners recommend to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add another 20% when buying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and gives 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 M160 performance exhaust upgrades

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

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 help equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

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

Usual exhaust restrictions can be located the emissions filters installed, so adding a better 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 M160

Like most engines an M160, 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 M160, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned M160 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 M160 why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about M160 tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their M160.

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