GM A17 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the GM A17DTS engine!"

As many of our forum members have asked about the A17DTS and tips on how to modify one, so we've created a guide to take you through what we feel are the main modifications that make for improvement and tuning success on this great car.

The GM A17DTS are popular engines and with the right mods like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will dramatically improve your driving opportunities.

In this article, we examine the options for your A17DTS tuning and report on the ultimate modifications for your car.

History of the A17DTS A17DTC A17DTF A17DTE Engine

The engine codes relate to the fuel economy and emissions, but all can be viewed as the same unit, it is primarily the mapping and particulate filters/catalyst differences to meet the standards in differing regions.

  • A17DTS MT6
  • A17DTC MT6 130PS

Stop start versions

  • A17DTE MT6 ecoflex
  • A17DTS MT6
  • A17DTF MT6
  • A17DTC MT6
  • A17DTR MT6

A17DTS

  • Opel Corsa D 1.7 CDTI (2011-13)
  • Opel Astra J 1.7 CDTI 130cv (2011-14)
  • Opel Meriva B 1.7 CDTI 130cv (2010-13)
  • Opel Mokka 1.7 CDTI ( 2012 -15)
  • Chevrolet Cruze 1.7 VCDi (2012-14)
  • Chevrolet Trax 1.7 D ( 2013 - 15 )

A17DTE

  • Opel Meriva B 1.7 CDTi 16v 110HP (from 2010)
  • Opel Zafira B 1.7 CDTi 16v 110HP (2008-14)
  • Opel Astra J 1.7 CDTI 16v 110HP (2010-14)

A17DTR Euro V compliant

  • Opel Zafira B 1.7 CDTI 16V 125hp ( 2009 -14)
  • Opel Astra J 1.7 CDTI 125hp (2010-11)

Tuning the GM A17DTS and best A17DTS performance parts.

Best A17DTS upgrades

The optimum A17DTS A17DTC A17DTF & A17DTE parts on an engine are sensibly the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular A17DTS parts, they need to be cost effective.

A17DTS Camshaft Upgrades

Getting a fast road cam will work better at upper RPM range power so are more suited to petrol engines, than diesel ones. We've always seen peak power gains through performance camshafts on most engines.

Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the torque and power output.

Fast road camshafts tend to push up the performance throughout the rpm range, you could drop a little bottom end bhp but the top end will be higher, bear in mind that diesels are not high RPM engines, so the gains from a performance cam will not be as high as on a petrol engine.

You should ideally match your engine's power to your usage of the car so for a car driven daily stick with a fast road A17DTS cam

Each engine responds differently primarily due to the airflow when camshafts are fitted depending on the camshaft being more or less aggressive camshaft durations and cam duration as unique due to manufacturing tolerances and quality variations|so set your engine up on a rolling road|check your engine on a rolling road.

The ecu map and fuel pump and injectors also have an effect on the power gains you'll hit.

Altering valve durations can adjust the power range, and on most engines there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations and valve lift.

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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. 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.
    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. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
    4. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

    So we will break these usual recommendations down and see if these 'best mods' are appropriate for your car and we shall look in detail at the mods that will work for you and your needs.

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

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

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

The A17DTS engines are great to work on and thanks to their popularity there is a growing number of upgrades and performance parts about.

ECU Mapping Improvments for the A17DTS

ECU flashing will help fully realize the full potential of all the tuning mods you've installed on your A17DTS.

(Sometimes remapping the ECU is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and most of these exceed the specs and prefromance of your factory ECU's but ensure it has knock protection and that you get it installed right.) It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles but power output often differs on the tuning mods you've done and the condition of your engine.

Air Flow improvements on the A17DTS

Forcing more fuel and air into the A17DTS engine is the aim to any car tuning job.

The intake plenum carries the air during the suck phase from the filter and allows it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The shape and flow rate of the Intake headers can make a large improvement to fuel atomization on the A17DTS.

We often see air intake manifolds are in desperate need of performance upgrades, although some makers provide reasonably good air intake manifolds.

Adding a A17DTS big valve conversion, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also increase bhp and torque, the fantastic side effect is it will permit raising the bhp and torque increase on other modifications.

A17DTS Turbo upgrades

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

If the engine has a turbocharger tuning mods are simpler to install and turbo charged engines are built using stronger components.

There are common areas of failure for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some just sufficiently able to handle stock power. Discover these limits and fit stronger pistons, crank and engine components to cope with the power.

We've seen car owners spending a stack of money on turbo upgrades on the A17DTS only to see the car throw a rod just after it's been finished.

Big upgraded turbochargers often experience no power at low rpm, and smaller turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but won't have the high rpm bhp gains.

Thankfully the selection of turbochargers is always increasing and we are seeing 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 flow into a couple of channels and flow these at

It is common that there's a limit in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the A17DTS when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited power at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp gains, although more complex to get working. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.

A17DTS Fuelling Upgrades

When you improve the torque you will need to pay attention to the fuelling.

More torque needs more fuel. Boosting the fuel pressure can improve acceleration & responsiveness but can lead to excessive soot, especially if there is insufficient air.

When Honda took this engine they installed direct injection rather than low pressure injectors used by GM.

We would recommend you over specify your injector capacity.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when specifying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and provides a little 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.

A17DTS Performance Exhausts

You should look to upgrade your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find your 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 balance 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 the flow rate and end up losing power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be located in the catalysts installed, so adding a better flowing sports aftermarket unit will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal catalyst & DPF removal, will keep the car road legal.

Please note that performance catalyst perform a similar power improvement to decat and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decat or catalyst removal is not a street legal modification.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the A17DTS

The A17DTS engines are fairly reliable as long as they are regularly serviced.

Frequent oil changes are essential on the A17DTS, especially when tuned, and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you want to disover more, or just get more pointers on Tuning your A17DTS engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss A17DTS tuning options in more detail with our A17DTS owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased GM tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

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

We love to know what our members have got up to and which parts work best for them on each model of car. Comments are used to improve the accuracy of these A17DTS articles which are continually updated.

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