Modding uprating the Volvo B52 engine!

Modifying and improving: "B52 Modifications"

How to modify and upgrade the Volvo B52

"Comprehensive guide to tuning the Volvo B52 engine!"

Forums like the one at TorqueCars are always getting messages requesting information on how to improve the B52 from people inquiring about getting more power from the B52 and wanting to know what are the things tuners are recommending when it comes to B52 mods that work. So let us look into Volvo B52 parts and outline the best mods that work on this great engine and point out some problems along the way.

The Volvo B52 provide a fun base for your project and with a few sensible uprated mods like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will dramatically maximise your driving experience.

In this article we look into B52 tuning and summarise the ultimate modifications for your car.

When talking about the optimum parts for your B52 engine, we are going to focus on the ones that give the best value for money.

B52 induction kits

Improving air intake on the B52

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 insufficient air it runs rich sapping power which risks damage to the B52. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So the aim to any performance tuning task to feed air into each cylinder but this has a knock on effect with the air flow sensor.

You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the B52 when considerably 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 was restricting torque at a much lower level.

The intake plenum take the during the engines suck phase from the intake filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and flow characteristics of the air Intake manifold can make a substantial improvement to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the B52.

Many mass produced engine plenum chambers are begging for a performance upgrade, although some OEM provide well optimised plenum chambers.

Larger B52 valves, doing a bit of 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also boost bhp and torque, and importantly will make space for a better bhp and torque increase on other tuning mods.

B52 performance cam tips.

Each engine responds better to more aggressive camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The ecu map and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the power gains you'll get.

Extending exhaust or intake durations 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.

The cam profile plays a big part in the engines power output so cam upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake and 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 normally increase the torque across the rev range, you may lose a little low end power but your high end rpm power will be higher.

Motorsport camshafts, increase 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 road car you need to match your engines power to your typical driving style.

I would be surprised if you find a B52 Motorsport camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas.

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the B52

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 B52 parts:

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

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

Stage 2 B52 parts:

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

Stage 3 B52 parts:

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

The B52 units are fantastic to work on and we're pleased to see that there is a lot of modifications and performance parts out there.

Mapping will help fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've done to your B52.

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

Turbo modifications on the B52

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 B52.

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 the engine has forced induction modifications are more reliable and most turbocharged engines are built with harder and stronger components.

However you'll find engines will have power limits

See where you'll find these limits and install forged components to survive the power.

There are many drivers spending a loads of money on turbocharger upgrades on the B52 only to experience the motor literally blow up when it's completed.

Big capacity turbochargers commonly experience no power at low rpm, and smaller turbochargers spool up quickly but don't have the high rpm torque gains.

Over the last 20 years the world of turbos is always evolving and we are seeing variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into a couple of channels and direct these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also boost 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 gains, although harder to setup. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the B52

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so need to look at the fuelling when you start extending past 20% of a performance hike. Experienced tuners recommend to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add another 20% when specifying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and affords some 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 B52 performance exhaust upgrades

We'd only recommend you look to upgrade your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if your exhaust is actually creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you should find that your flow rate is 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.

Please dont run with the widest exhaust you can buy this will reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts 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.

Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the filters installed, so adding a better flowing sports 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 B52

Like most engines an B52, 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 B52, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned B52 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 B52 why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about B52 tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their B52.

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