Ford Puma Tuning

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The Puma is a awesome car tuning project to try, it was produced 1997–2002 and targeted the European market.

Think carefully and research Puma tuning to spare yourself making the usual disastrous slip ups we typically hear about.

The Ford Puma are great bases for a tuning project and with carefully picked performance enhancements like remaps, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will definitely improve your driving fun.

TorqueCars will review and look at Puma tuning and point out the best modifications.

Tuning tips and articles
See our video which provides a complete introduction to Ford Tuning, it contains some tips on performance and handling modifications.

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

Enjoy your Puma to the limit with our awesome modding hints - do the right mods in the right order.

The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Tuning modifications.

Typically these motorsport mods are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you want to go before you get started.

We have an engine tuning guide for the Ford Zetec-SE engine.

  • 1.4 (1388cc) 16-V
    91 PS (67 kW; 90 hp) @ 5500 rpm 125 Nm (92 lbft)
  • 1.6 (1596cc) 16-V
    104 PS (76 kW; 103 hp) @ 6000 rpm 145 Nm (107 lbft)
  • 1.7 (1679cc) 16-V VCT
    125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp) @ 6300 rpm 157 Nm (116 lbft)
  • 1.7 (1679cc) 16-V VCT
    155 PS (114 kW; 153 hp) @ 7000 rpm 162 Nm (119 lbft)

There was also a super rare Racing Puma, which boasted flared arches and a more sporty setup essentially making the racing Puma a new model.

Looking to the tweaks on the Racing Puma gives clues on where you can make power gains on the standard Puma models.

Getting the right tuning parts for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport parts just won't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your Puma

  1. Puma Suspension Upgrades - Fitting a more sporty Suspension kit radically improves your Puma handling Poly Bushes and Coilovers are typically fitted to achieve this
  2. Brake Upgrades - Stopping your Puma ought to be somewhere in your mods list.
  3. Lighter flywheels - a reduced weight flywheel will significantly improve the engines free revving nature. Not a great mod for all Puma engines.
  4. Fast road Camshafts are significant power adders, but we strongly suggest they be fitted by someone competent and they are not always easy to source but there is usually a local firm to regrind a stock cam .
  5. Air Intake and Performance Exhausts - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD PERFORMANCE in most applications, but they permit you to lift power after other modifications by freeing up a restriction.
  6. Flowing and porting the engine head - for larger gains, you will get better flow and make a more efficient engine if you do this to support your other mods.
  7. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - Adding a turbocharger is the most significant way to improve intake air supply, ensuring you are able to use more fuel and make higher power. Although one of the most complex upgrades but provides the best gains.
  8. Remaps - Puma engine tuning/remapping ensures the biggest gains for the money, aftermarket ECUs, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.

Puma Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Alloy wheels, Sports exhaust, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Suspension upgrade (drop 29mm - 40 mm.), Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancing.

You really need to keep as much low end torque as you can and aim to get a wide power band across the rev range rather than a narrow top end power hike.

In this article we shall give a little insight into the world to the best performance parts for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance modification.Fast road cams offer one of the biggest bhp gains for your money as far as a single upgrades goes on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

It maximises the intake and exhaust flow and increases the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a performance chip. TorqueCars would caution you not to go with a competition cam as this affects the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to pay attention to the fuelling.

Frequently power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after modified upgrades are done can usually be traced to fuelling or timing issues. Upgraded injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

If you are increasing your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust.  Please note that WE DO NOT SEE IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car extensively and are finding that the standard air intake has become limited.

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for Puma engines you should go with a sports panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Do not go with the widest exhaust you can find this will reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Getting the head ported and polished will assist in flowing more air into each cylinder. This is definitely a job for a pro with a flow bench. In nearly all cases of Puma tuning your clutch will start to suffer and this needs to be uprated - read our tips on clutches for more information. The best mods that we recommend for your Puma are fast road camshaft, remap, induction and exhaust, suspension.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A tuned/remapped turbo will give impressive power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block.

We've also come across some owners playing with twincharging conversions and making some impressively high power hikes.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Turbos are generally harder to add than a supercharger. With a turbo the power curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it more challenging to map.

The nice correlating boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them more straightforward to map. Adding forced induction will often require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloys include lowering your unsprung weight and better brake cooling. Get a good soft compound tire to improve your handling and help improve traction on your Puma. The drawback to large alloys on your Puma is that you're changing your effective final drive ratio and this will have a negative effect on acceleration and performance.

Although some people have installed larger rims without issues we would restrict ourselves to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for people often first priority in your Puma tuning project.

TorqueCars research and testing indicate that the maximum suspension drop for most road vehicles is 30 - 44 millimetres, whereas the maximum suspension drop for hot hatchbacks with lower OEM suspension is 20 millimetres.

These tolerances may be drastically diminished if the wheel size is changed. Even with 16 or 17-inch wheels and conventional suspension, lowering the vehicle may create a a slew of new complications.

Stability may be improved by lowering the Puma, but the ultimate goal should always be to enhance handling. It is critical to use the right shocks when employing lower springs.

Adding some negative camber to the front and a few degrees of toe (in for better stability or out to improve cornering), will usually benefit your Puma in handling and cornering.

Upgrading your Bushes

Enhancements to the bushings: Things you need to know

The suspension components of the Puma may be mounted to the car's chassis through bushings, which are rotatable rubber mounts. These rubber ones will wear out over time.

Installing new OEM rubber bushings may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

Because polyurethane bushes are stiffer, the ride may be rougher, but the bushes will last longer and maintain the car's handling for longer.

Worn bushings may also accelerate the stress of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

A new set of poly bushings will help to mitigate the excessive play associated with rubber bushings.

You may struggle to find a full set of poly bushings, but most regions have the primary mounts available. You may be able to have custom polyeyurothane bushes created to suit your needs.

Good suspension tweaks that often improve handling for the Puma include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe (set out to improve cornering or in for better stability) on the front wheels.

We suggest that you fit motorsport suspension and lower the car by 29mm - 40 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with uprated suspension.

Putting better brake discs and better quality pads should make for dramatically improved braking.

As a word of warning please note that race friction pads can be noisier and will need a lot of heat before they bit.

In every day driving the brakes are only applied now and then and won't stop you as well so source friction pads which have a low working temperature.

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

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One Response to “Puma Tuning”

  1. Dale lhomme says:

    Hi I have a 97 1.7 ford puma that I’ve done a fair bit of modifying to, few tips to add-when fitting 17″ alloys then swapping to the fiesta 1.6zs final drive will counter the loss of acceleration. Ford puma 1.7 FD= (3.82) fiesta zs FD=(4.25) if fitting 16″ wheels then the 1.4 puma gearbox has a FD= (4.19) which fitted in the 1.7 gearbox would suit 16″ wheels. Also one of the worse mods to do is lower the car on any type of suspension (springs,sports kit, coilovers.) Without also modding/fitting a set of drop links non or adjustable to set the anti roll bar back to its pre-load position, even lowering -25mm has a noticeable impact on body roll without matching drop links. Hope this helps, kind regards Dale.

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