180 SX Tuning

"Tuning the Sexy Nissan 180"

Nissan have a pretty good track record when it comes to making cool cars. The 180 SX is certainly no exception.

The S13 has the lower powered CA18DET 1.8 Turbo engine but is still a pretty potent performer and just crying out for more power.

The 180 SX is also known as the S13 and also the S110 Silvia depending on the locality you are in. The pop up headlights are peculiar to this model but we have seen an S13 front end on the S14 and S15.

It was also badged 200 SX in some areas so can get confusing. We shall base this article on the CA18DET engine but you can read the other Nissan tuning articles for options on other engines.

Tuning tips and articles

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


Engine Tuning.

Typically these tuning modifications are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to go before you start.

Getting the best motorsport upgrade kits for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport mods just won't work well on the road and will make the car undrivable.

Stage 1 mods: Panel air filter, Sports exhaust, Remap, Lighter flywheel, Suspension upgrade (drop 30-40mm), Alloy wheels.

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

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

You really need to keep as much low end power as possible and aim to get a long power band rather than a narrow top end power hike.

Some 180 SX owners have managed to get engine swaps including the twin turbo unit from the 300ZX, the 2.4 NASP lump from the US 240 SX, the SR20DET engine and even the impressive Skyline RB25 block.

When tuning your 180SX keep the power band long and wide and focus on handling upgrades.

The 180SX is a brilliant fun sports coupe from Nissan and also makes a practical daily run around. Your targets when tuning the engine should be a nice flat torque range. You don't want all the torque to be at the top end of the rev range unless you are creating a motor sport car.The point of our pointers is to give a limited introduction of customizing mods and point you in the right direction, our forum is where you can ask for more detailed advice and tips on your customized car project, the best modified upgrades and all aspects of modding cars.One of the biggest mechanical upgrades you can do on your NASP engine is to fit a fast road cam .

The exhaust and intake durations play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU to fully realise your gains.

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

Using higher octane fuel is another option if you find you are suffering from pinking or premature ignition on your Nissan project after fitting other sports mods. To get sufficient fuel you may need to increase the injectors on your engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Breathing mods are usually next up. Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Sports exhausts generally help improve air flow from the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too large or you could will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

Polishing and porting the head will allow you to maximise your air/fuel charge. Leave this to a professional though with a proper flow bench and machine tools When you start tuning your 180 SX you will often find that the standard clutch starts to suffer so get an uprated clutch.

With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give big power gains and take full advantage of the strength of the block.

The single turbo 1.8 engine still manages to put out 173 which actually compares favourable to modern cars and with its light weight and rear wheel drive makes it into a fun track day car.

A turbo swap or even a hybrid turbo is an option for those wanting to get larger power gains. The standard block can reportedly handle power gains upto 250bhp with more on offer if you are prepared to do some strengthening mods.

Either remap the engine or fit a boost controller to fully realise the power you have on offer.

Handling/Suspension upgrades

When it comes to tuning the 180 SX, the brakes should be fairly high up on your priorities. The standard brakes prove to be pretty capable but with a set of good fast road pads you dramatically reduce your stopping distance and increase car safety. Upgrading to larger vented disks and a 6 pot caliper will really enable you to stop almost dead from any speed in next to no time.

Suspension mods are many and varied. The 180sx is popular for drifting although as a result of this a lot of 180's have parts and even body panels from the S14 and S15 fitted to them. We recommend  a suspension drop of no more than 40 mm for best results and would advise you to keep the rim size to 16 inches.

If you set the toe out to degrees on the front, and add a little negative camber then cornering will often improve.

We would go to a maximum drop of 29mm - 40 mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this.

To get better mid range and peak power you could add an induction kit with a cold air feed and a full performance exhaust with a sports cat. Add to this a fast road camshaft and you have a potent track day weapon.

Alloy wheel upgrades.

The benefits of alloys include reducing your unsprung weight and better brake cooling via the extra air flow they allow. Don't forget that your choice of rubber greatly affects your cars grip and handling. It is not worth compromising performance with cheap tyres when you can buy directional tread pattern performance tires.The downside to large alloys on your 180sx is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on performance.

Due to this fact aim to keep the overall rolling diameter of the wheel the recommended OEM sizes. We would advise you to keep the rim size to 16 inches.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss 180sx options in more detail with our other 180SX/s13 owners and see what they have done to their cars. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Nissan 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.

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.


Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).
Sign up now!!!

Popular articles

Tuning diesels
ECU Remaps
Double declutch
Safety mods
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Chip Tuning
Modified car insurance
Insuring Track days
Remap Diesels
MPG calculator
DPF cleaning

Tune A Car

Tuning a car engine

Fuel And Additives

Fuel and fuel additives octane and pressure boost valves.

Car Mats

Tailored fitted custom and off the shelf car mats.

Body Kits

Car bodykits. Side skirts, sills, bumpers and wide body kits.

France Driving

Requirements for driving in France: speed limits and highway code.

Best Car P2

Our look at the best coupe, classic, automatic, and Diesel cars

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG