Ford S-Max Tuning

"Thank you for reading our Ford S-Max tuning guide."

The S-Max is a awesome project car to try. We see many tuners wasting money on their S-Max doing the wrong mods and then having to start over. Follow our pointers to avoid making the common mistakes.

In this article we examine the options for your S-Max tuning and provide tips on the best modifications. Ford S-Max have loads of potential and with carefully chosen tuning parts like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will improve your driving experience.

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

Handling/Suspension upgrades

Improving the handling for lots of DIY modders first priority in your S-Max tuning project.

If you set the toe out to 0.8 to 1.3 degrees on the front, and add slight negative camber then cornering will greatly benefit.

We would go to a maximum drop of 29mm - 42 mm. on most models. You risk grounding out if you go lower than this.

For dramatically improved braking fit better brake pads and match this with better brake discs.

Please note that motorsport pads can be noisier and will need to be hot before they bit.

On a road car the brakes are only used rarely so will not stop you as well so specify friction pads which have a low working temperature.

Don't just look at the peak power figures, you need to see the whole torque curve when determining if a mod is right for you S-Max.

Keep it looking standard but take off the badges creating a sleeper!

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.

Tuning modifications.

Typically these motorsport modifications are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you begin.

Getting the right tuning upgrades for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport mods just won't work well on the road hard to control in slow traffic.

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 S Max

  1. Brake Upgrades - Stopping your S Max ought to be somewhere in your mods list.
  2. Low mass flywheel - a lower weight flywheel will enhance the engines ability to rev freely. Not not a great upgrade for all S Max engines.
  3. ECU Tunes - S Max engine tuning/remapping ensures the biggest gains for your investment, replacement ECUs, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - Adding a turbocharger is the most significant way to improve intake air supply, this means you are able to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most complex upgrades it offers big gains.
  5. S Max Suspension - Replacing worn bushings and shocks greatly enhances your S Max road holding and cornering. Coilovers and Bushings are the usual go to mods
  6. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  7. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but we recommend they be fitted by someone familiar with setting them up on your car and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock cam for you.
  8. Air Intake and Performance Exhausts - Be aware on their own these mods will NOT ADD HP in most cases, but they enable you to enhance power after other modifications by losing a restriction.

S Max Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remap, Sports exhaust, Alloy wheels, Panel air filter, Suspension upgrade (drop 29mm - 42 mm.), Lighter flywheel.

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

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

You really need to keep as much low end power as possible and aim to achieve a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power spike.

The whole point of our hints is to give a little insight into the world of car tuning upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your tuning project, the best sport parts and all aspects of modding cars.One of the biggest mechanical modified modifications you can do to your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road cam .

The exhaust and intake durations play a big role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a tune/remap for the best performance gains.

Don't forget to ramp up the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

Most power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after tuning kits are done can usually be traced to fuelling or timing issues. Uprating the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned S-Max's uprated injectors.

 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust.  Air induction kits only help to boost power if your cars air intake is struggling! Adding an induction kit to most small engines will see ZERO LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL. If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

For most S-Max engines TorqueCars would suggest you just go with a washable panel air filter. On heavily tuned engines and turbo vehicles an induction kit will help release the power providing you address the problem of supplying cold air.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow out of the engine but do not go too wide or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Head work including a gas flow and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. A good heavy duty fast road power clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never skimp or think that your standard clutch to cope. The best mods that we recommend for your S-Max are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

Turbo engines are just crying out to be Reprogrammed. You will see impressive power gains on most modern turbo charged cars including diesels making a tune/remap one of the most cost effective and impressive modifications for your money.

We've also seen some tuners toying with twincharging conversions and making some very high power hikes.

Adding forced induction will see impressive power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. It is generally easier to bolt on a supercharger than it is to install a turbo. It is harder to map a turbo as the boost builds exponentially with revs.

Superchargers, however will give a boost which is proportional to engine speed so is simpler. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

 S-Max Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloy wheels include reducing your unsprung weight and better brake cooling via the extra air flow they allow. Get a good soft compound tire to improve your handling and help improve traction on your S-Max. We'd like to point out although they can look cool on the S-Max large alloys will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Due to this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 18 inches, although we know some of our members have installed larger rims with no problems.

  • 215/60 R16 99V
  • 225/50 R17 98W
  • 235/55 R17 103W
  • 235/50 R18 101W

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 S-Max options in more detail with our S-Max 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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