Buick Regal Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Buick Regal engine!"

One car that keeps cropping up in emails and questions we get sent is the Regal, and what upgrades work best on it.

The Buick Regal is a mid-sized premium car that was initially introduced by Buick for the 1973 model year and production ran until the last generation which launched in 2018.

So we've put together this page which covers our go to modifications that you should tune and outline which modifications we feel are the best.

This pages aim is detail the best approach to Regal tuning and outline the optimum modifications. A Buick Regal makes a good tuning project and with a few sensible modified enhancements like ECU maps, turbo upgrades, and camshafts you will positively improve your driving enjoyment.

Regal tuning mods

The ECU mapping and fuelling also will say much on the power gains you'll hit.

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.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your Regal. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best mods for your Regal

  1. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  2. Air Induction and Exhaust Upgrades - Please note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  3. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. Typically one of the most costly upgrades it offers big gains.
  4. Brake Mods - Improve your Regal's stopping power ought to be listed in your priority list.
  5. Regal Suspension Upgrades - Fitting a more sporty Suspension kit greatly enhances your Regal road holding and cornering. Poly Bushes and Coilovers are typically fitted to achieve this
  6. Mapping - A remap provides the biggest gains compared to cost, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  7. Fast road Camshafts are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be fitted by someone who knows what they are doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.

Regal Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Sports exhaust manifold, Panel air filters, Intake headers, Fast road camshaft, Drilled & smoothed airbox, Remaps/piggy back ECU.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: induction kit, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, high flow fuel injectors.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Twin charging conversions, Engine balancing & blueprinting, Competition cam.

The Regal makes a great tuning projects and thanks to their popularity there is a lot of mods and performance parts around. So you can have a luxury high end car with plenty of performance.

History of the Regal Engine

The Regal was primarily considered as a high-quality vehicle, and was sold as a coupe and sedan until 1997, when the coupe was discontinued due to a lack of sales/demand. For various model years between and 2004, the Regal shares bodywork and engines and transmissions with the comparable Buick Century, despite the Regal being positioned as a more premium vehicle.

Across North America The Regal was phased out in 2004, and the Buick LaCrosse took its place.

First generation (1973)

  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Buick V8
  • 455 cu in (7.5 L) Buick V8

Second generation (1978)

  • 196 cu in (3.2 L) Buick V6
  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6
  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6 Turbocharged
  • 252 cu in (4.1 L) Buick V6
  • 260 cu in (4.3 L) Oldsmobile Diesel V6
  • 265 cu in (4.3 L) Pontiac V8
  • 301 cu in (4.9 L) Pontiac V8
  • 305 cu in (5.0 L) Chevrolet V8
  • 307 cu in (5.0 L) Oldsmobile V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Oldsmobile Diesel V8

Third generation (1988)

  • 2.8 L X V6
  • 3.1 L X V6
  • 3.8 L Buick V6

Fourth generation (1997)

  • 3.8 L 3800 Series II V6

Fifth generation (2008)

  • 2.0 L LDK/LHU/LTG turbo I4
  • 2.4 L LE5/LAF/LEA/LUK I4

Sixth generation (2018)

  • 1.5 L LFV I4 (turbo)
  • 1.8 L I4 (hybrid gasoline/electric)
  • 2.0 L LTG I4 turbo
  • 2.0 L LSY I4 turbo
  • 3.6 L LGX V6

Tuning the Buick Regal and best Regal performance parts.

Best Regal modifications

The best Regal upgrades on an engine are usually the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular Regal upgrades, they need to be cost effective. And we see so many sites recommending parts that they want to sell when in reality these will do little to alter your Regals performance!

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Regal Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are at the top of your mod list for the Regal.

Putting slight negative camber to the front and around 1 to 1.7 degrees of toe (in for better stability or out to improve cornering), will substantially benefit your Regal in handling and cornering.

We suggest that you fit uprated suspension and lower the car by 30mm - 41 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with performance suspension.

For sharper improved stopping put better quality pads and mate this with bigger discs.

Bear in mind that some performance pads can be noisier and will need a lot of heat before they are effective.

In every day driving the brakes are occasionally used so won't be all that effective so specify friction pads which have a low working temperature.

Regal Camshaft upgrades

Performance camshafts raise the higher RPM power and we generally recommend this as a primary mod on petrol engines, and secondary on Diesels to a remap. Most cars will see top end power gains through performance camshafts on most engines.

So altering your Regal camshaft will make a difference to the engine's torque and bhp and where it peaks in the RPM range. Choosing a higher-performance camshaft profile raises the engine's power accordingly.

If you can't find a supplier locally you might be able to track down a specialist who can grind a stock cam to the profile you need, but ensure that you are not compromising the valve lift or this becomes a pointless effort, we are wanting to improve airflow into the engine.

Fast road cams commonly raise the bhp across the rpm range, you may sacrifice a little bottom end torque but higher rpm power will be lifted.

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

A Motorsport camshaft won't do well if in heavy traffic. You should ideally optimize your power band to your driving style so for a typical daily driver stick with a shorter duration Regal camshaft

Different Regal engines respond better to more aggressive camshaft durations, so think of each engine as unique and treat it as such.

Remapping the Regal

ECU flashing will help you get the most out of all of the upgrades you've made to your Regal.

The best thing to do if you can't flash the ECU is to buy a new one. Many of these will outperform factory ECUs, but make sure it has knock protection and that you set it up correctly.

Usually, turbocharged cars will have 30% more power, and NASP engines will have 15% more power, but this will depend on the upgrades you've made and the state of your engine.

Improving the Regals air intake

Pulling more air and fuel into your Regal is the whole point to any performance tuning task.

Air Intake manifolds take the air from the intake filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine cylinders.

Shape, design and flow rate of the Headers can make a large change to fuel atomization and engine efficiency on the Regal. This varied a lot over the production run of the engine, so please check our our GM engine specific tuning guides for more information.

I usually find air intake manifolds are needing motorsport parts, although a few OEM provide reasonably good air intake manifolds.

Larger Regal valves, carrying out Regal port enlargement and head flowing will also increase performance, this will afford you an improved performance increase on other tuning parts.

Regal Turbo upgrades

NASP engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your Regal

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

If the engine has a turbo already fitted mods are going to net you a larger power gain and turbo engines are made with stronger components.

However, every engine has weakspots. We recommend you find these restrictions and install forged components to utilize the power.

There are many mechanics spending a lot of money on turbocharger upgrades on the Regal only to have the whole thing go up in smoke when it's finished because they didn't lower the compression ratio, or fit stronger parts or get the mapping set correctly.

A note about choosing a Regal Turbo Upgrade

Large turbochargers will usually suffer low end lag, and low capacity turbochargers spool up more quickly but do not have the high rpm engines power gains.

In the last 10 years the selection of turbo units is always moving on and we are seeing variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there's a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the Regal when considerably 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 limited bhp and torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although more difficult to get working. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.

It is simpler to map a supercharger because the boost is directly proportional to engine speed on a linear curve. To cope with forced induction you will usually need to decrease the engine compression ratio .

Regal Fuelling mods

When you lift the torque you will need to pay attention to the fuel system.

More torque needs more fuel. A simple fuel pressure boost valve will improve your throttle response on most models. On some later ones, you need to uprate the injectors and fuel pump to keep the supply of fuel to match your air, especially if you've done forced induction upgrades.

TorqueCars strongly recommends that you over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add another 20% when specifying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and affords a little spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

      • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 682cc/min 400hp

5 Cylinder turbocharged engines

      • 58 PSI 273cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 409cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 545cc/min 400hp

4 Cylinder NASP engines

      • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 568cc/min 400hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

      • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 625cc/min 400hp

6 Cylinder NASP engines

      • 58 PSI 189cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 284cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 378cc/min 400hp

6 Cylinder turbocharged engines

      • 58 PSI 227cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 341cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 454cc/min 400hp

Regal Performance Exhausts

Only look to upgrade your exhaust if your exhaust is creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the exhaust flow rate is fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow through the engine but do not go too big or you could stuff up your flow rate. Stay at around 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Typically exhaust restrictions come around the catalyst installed, so adding a faster flowing high performance aftermarket catalyst unlocks that lost power, and instead of doing an illegal test pipe mod, will keep the car road legal.

We should explain that performance catalysts perform a similar power improvement to cat removal and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decat or catalyst removal is illegal in most territories for road going cars|such as a sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to the larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed, but keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design.

The alternative catless mod or catalyst removal should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars (and in some you can't even replace a working catalyst).

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the Regal

The Regal engines are generally reliable and solid as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Regular oil changes are vital on the Regal, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

Rough idling and running problems and stalling have been noted, typically down to a faulty sensor.

There have been many electrical problems from window issues, exterior lights and in engine components. These can be quite hard to track down, but checking circuit continuity and replacing relays is a good point to start from.

Brake issues also seem quite common on the Regal, but most are simple to fix and can be avoided if you fit good quality brake components, with cheap pads containing high levels of metal causing the most problem, and exacerbating wear on the disks resulting in uneven surfaces.

Regal Intake Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and ensure proper flow through the engine.  Please note that WE DO NOT FEEL YOU GET POWER GAINS FROM INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car extensively and are finding that the standard air intake has become limited.

Derestricting the air feed into the engine is the primary part of performance tuning so get a freer-flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean only if you find the car is running lean. Induction kits can sound great but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not really increase power and actually rob you of power on most cars.

Airflow through the head can be dramatically increased with some professional polishing and ported. These should match and be set up to take into account any other engine mods. In nearly all cases of Regal tuning your clutch will start to fail and this needs to be uprated - read our tips on clutches for more information. The best mods in our experience for your Regal are fast road camshaft, remap, induction and exhaust, suspension.

Regal Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are generally less heavy than steel ones. Get a good soft compound tire to improve your handling and help improve traction on your Regal. Large Regal alloys can decrease performance. If you get big alloys you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Although some people have gone larger than this without problems we would restrict ourselves to a 16 inch rim size as the maximum on early models and 18's on later generations.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Regal options in more detail with our Regal owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Buick tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these articles which are continually updated.

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