Mini Tritec Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Mini Tritec engine!"

The Mini Tritec are good project engines and with the right upgrades like remaps, turbo kits and camshafts you will certainly maximize your driving opportunities.

Tritec motors was a collaborative effort from Chrysler, Rover which were part of the BMW group and the focus was to create a small straight 4 block suitable for the new MINI range.

The engine works really well with a supercharger, and the setup in the MINI Cooper is fantastic. It can still be improved though so now TorqueCars will review and look at Tritec tuning and outline the best mods that work.

Amazing the cast iron blocks can take quite a bit of power, and we've heard of a 600bhp tuned version of the Tritec. It was superceded by the Prince engine though N13 and N14.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

It came as a 1.4 or 1.6 and the 1.6 also had a Roots Eaton M45 supercharger fitted.

  • 1.4(T14a)
    74 hp 90 lbft Mini One (Portugal, Greece) (until 2008)
  • 1.6(T16b3)  
    89 hp 103 lbft (Mini hatch)
     114 hp 110 lbft (Cooper)
    Chrysler Neon (in non-US markets)
    Chrysler PT Cruiser
  • 1.6 SC(T16b4)
    160 hp 150 lbft
    168hp 160lbft
    215hp 184lbft from 2006 JCW GP 

Best Tritec mods

Just because particular tuning mods are are common on Tritec it doesn't mean its worth having, so we'll optimum tuning mods that will give your Tritec the biggest power gain return for your cash.

Altering your Tritec cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road cams normally boost the performance through the rev range, you may sacrifice a little low down bhp but top end will be better.

Race cams, boost the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

For a car driven daily you need to optimize your engines power to your typical driving style.

I'd be shocked if you find a Tritec Competition cam is a pleasure to live with when on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

Some Tritec engines respond better to different camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuelling also have an effect on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

Altering valve durations 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.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - 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.
  4. 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. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

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

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

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

The Tritec units respond well to mods and we're finding that there is a growing number of mods and performance parts around.

Remaps should help to establish the full potential of all the parts you've fitted to your Tritec.

(In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but the end result usually vary depending on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

It is the whole point to any engine upgrade project to force more air into the Tritec engine

Air Intake manifolds carry the air from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders.

The bore size, shape and rate of flow of the Intake manifold can make a large difference to fuel mixing and power on the Tritec.

We often see intake manifolds are in dire need of motorsport parts, although some manufacturers provide reasonably good intake manifolds.

Fitting big valve kits, carrying out port work and head flowing will also boost bhp and torque, & importantly will give you a greater bhp and torque increase on other upgrades.

Turbo upgrades

NA (naturally aspirated) 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 Tritec

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

When the engine is turbo charged tuning parts are going to make more power and we find turbo charged engines are made using stronger components.

There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some only able to handle stock power

It is important to find these limitations and install better pistons and crank to utilize the power.

It's not unheard of tuners spending a lot of money on turbo upgrades on the Tritec only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the engine block explode soon after it's been finished.

Bigger turbochargers tend to suffer a bottom end lag, and small turbochargers spool up really quickly but don't have the top end engines power gains.

Thanks to progress the range of turbos is always moving on and we commonly find variable vane turbos, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust gases into two channels and feed these at differently designed vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there's a limit in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on these engines when a lot more air is being pulled into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large power gains, although more challenging to configure. We have a twincharger power adding guide if you want to read more.

Fuelling

When you improve the bhp you will need to increase to the fuel delivery.

More bhp needs more fuel. 

We strongly recommend you to over specify your injectors flow rate.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and gives some spare capacity should the engine need 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

4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

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

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

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

Exhaust

You should look to replace your exhaust if the current exhaust is creating a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the flow rate is still ok 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 increase the flow of air through the engine.

But if the exhaust is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of your flow rate and end up losing power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions are in the catalysts installed, so adding a higher flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the Tritec

The Tritec engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

The cast iron block and overall simple design make this engine particularly reliable, even when tuned.

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

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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