Modding uprating the Volvo B230 engine!

Tuners tips on "B230 Modifications"

B230 Modifications Guide

How to modify and upgrade the Volvo B230

"Comprehensive guide to tuning the Volvo B230 engine!"

Popular tuning sites like TorqueCars are always getting messages asking how to improve the B230 from people inquiring about getting more power from the B230 and wanting to know what are the greatest B230 mods that work. So let us look into Volvo B230 modifications and outline the best modifications on this great engine and point out some potential pitfalls along the way.

Our aim here is to review and look at B230 tuning and show the ultimate modifications for your car. Volvo B230 are good project engines and with the best uprated mods like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will substantially maximize your driving fun.

Just because particular parts are popular with B230 owners it doesn't mean you should fit it, so we'll concentrate on the ultimate parts that will give your B230 the best power gain for you spend.

Without us subscribing to the common myth 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'.

B230 induction kits

Improving air intake on the B230

You need air matched to fuel for an engine to work. If there is a lack of fuel then it will run lean, if there is too little air it runs rich sapping power which risks damage to the B230. We'll pick up on fuelling later in this article but for now we shall look at air supply.

So Forcing fuel and air into the B230 engine is the aim to any engine tuning job.

It is common that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the B230 when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped performance at a much lower level.

Intake carry the during the engines suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and flow characteristics of the Intake can make a substantial improvement to fuel engine efficiency on the B230.

Most headers are ripe for a performance upgrade, although some OEM provide reasonably well designed headers.

Big valve conversions on the B230, getting B230 port enlargement and head flowing will also lift bhp, this will give you increasing the bhp increase on other modifications.

B230 performance cam tips.

Different B230 engines respond better to mild cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The map and fuel pump and injectors also will make differences on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

A longer valve duration can alter the bhp 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.

Significant air intake, and exhaust improvements on the B230 can be made from cam upgrades. Changing the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the power band and power output.

NB: Fast road camshafts normally bump the power over the rpm range, you may lose a little bottom end power but the higher rpm power will be higher.

Motorsport camshafts, bump 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 makes it harder when driving around busy urban areas.

You should ideally match your bhp range to your typical driving style so for a car used daily stick with a mild fast road B230 cam

Stage 1, 2 and 3 mods for the B230

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 B230 parts:

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

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

Stage 2 B230 parts:

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

Stage 3 B230 parts:

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

The B230 engine blocks are fantastic to work on and thanks to their popularity there are quite a few choices of modifications and tuning parts out there.

Mapping helps unlock the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your B230.

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 may depend much on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

Turbo modifications on the B230

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 B230.

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.

If the engine is fitted with a turbo mods are giving better power gains and you will discover turbo engines will have stronger components.

There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being incredibly solid and some just sufficiently able to handle stock power

It is important to find these limitations and upgrade to more solid crank and pistons to survive the power.

There are many mechanics spending a loads on turbocharger upgrades on the B230 only to watch the motor explode when it's been enthusiastically driven.

Big turbos often experience low end lag, and low capacity turbos spool up really quickly but do not have the top end bhp gains.

Thankfully the range of turbochargers is always developing and we now see variable vane turbochargers, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into a couple of 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 performance gains, although more challenging to get working. We have this in depth look at twinchargers if you want to read more.

Tips about fuel supply on the B230

When you lift the torque you will need to increase to the fuelling.

More torque needs more fuel. Don't forget to over specify your injectors flow rate.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, which takes into account 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 B230 performance exhaust upgrades

You may need to upgrade your exhaust system with an upgraded one is if the existing exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the 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 equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

But if your exhaust is too large, ie: over two and a half inches diameter, you will lose a lot of the flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalyst installed, so adding a higher flowing performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

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

Faults issues and things to look out for on the B230

Like most engines an B230, 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 B230, failure to do this will exacerbate engine wear, on a tuned B230 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 B230 why not pop over to the forums at TorqueCars where you can chat about B230 tuning options and read about others projects who may be planning to do similar modifications on their B230.

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