Tuning the KA24DE

"We look at the best mods for this popular Nissan engine."

Taking the KA24E as the origin, Nissan have made revisions and created a fantastic block, that responds well to tuning and has plenty of potential.

KA24DE has a higher 6900 redline* than the 1988 KA24E 6500rpm, with the main differences being that the KA24DE has a double overhead camshaft and other revisions including a better knock sensor, heavy duty main bearings and revised oil pickup.

The KA24DE has 4 valves per cylinder, against the 3 of it's SOHC brother.

*The oil feed was revised, and rpm was limited to 6900rpm, then this was cut to 6400rpm to facilitate the implementation of the Nissan 240SX's cam profile and intake design around 2004. Some SUV versions of this engine had a redline of 6100rpm.

Some blocks were made in Mexico for models destined for the US market. Then JDM market car engines were built  in Japan and there were significant differences between these, despite bearing the same engine code.

The Japanese engines were lighter, and had larger diameter girdled main bearings and were generally tuned to higher RPM and power levels. The oil feed and camshaft differences have also been noted.

The Mexican blocks were heavier as they were made from cast iron, and as such tolerate higher power figures than the JDM engines. So although the engine was built for trucks there is probably more tuning potential and adding more power is unlikely to break anything!

The dipstick location is the best way to tell the engines apart, as JDM engine dipsticks were located in the center of the engine, and the Mexican engines has the dipstick located to the rear.

Parts are not necessarily interchangeable between the two versions so please check carefully before ordering upgrades, particularly camshafts and anything to do with the oil feed and pickup.

Typical power outputs varied by year, and by application. SUV's tended to be built for Torque and reliability by way of a different compression ratio and cam design.

  • 134 hp (100 kW) (1988-1996)
  • 155 hp (116 kW) (1996-2004)
  • 143 hp (107 kW) (1998-2004

Most of our visitors have this engine in the 240SX so were are going to look at tuning this block with "track day sports car in mind".

If you have a heavy truck and are looking for more power then this article will cover the basics, but you'll be looking for more low end torque, and probably not after a high revving engine.

Camshaft choice is the thing that differentiates the power band, along with head work (gas flowing, porting and polishing).

With NASP only mods you'll probably gain around 20-30bhp, when you add forced induction you can be looking at an extra 100bhp or more!


KA24DE Tuning Tips

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/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: Sports exhaust, Remap, Panel air filter

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

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

There are a few good quality turbo kits around for the KA24DE and you should hit power figures around 380hp to 400hp. The oil feed drain lines need uprating, you'll need an intercooler and timing adjustments.

Fuelling would also be a problem for a turbo kit so you'll need better injectors, rated to flow what you've tuned the car to handle and an aftermarket engine management kit.

We favour the GT3071R Dual Ball Bearing OR GT3076R Dual Ball Bearing turbos, they spool up nicely on this engine and make for a good top end power boost without too much low down lag. 4500 rpm is where you really feel these turbos spooling up and where power stays flat on the NA (naturally aspirated) engine through to redline you'll get a big pickup around 5000rpm on the turbo setup.

The twin scroll turbo is the route to go if you are adding forced induction to the KA24DE.

Clearance in the engine bay can be an issue with bottom mounted turbo manifolds, so give some thought to adjusting the floorpan or the downpipe to accommodate this. Power steering brackets can also get in the way and may need grinding back.

The KA24DE was replaced in 2004 with the 2.5L QR25DE

Regular maintenance & weakspots on the KA24DE

Valve adjustments should be checked every 1200 miles.

Piston and crank are forged, and pretty solid, as such the engine can take quite a bit of punishment. It is thought to be bulletproof, subject to proper servicing and in particular regular oil changes.

Replacing the outdated mechanical spark timing with a proper electronically managed solution will make your future tuning mods easier.

Pistons are good for power figures around 260hp but going beyond this it makes sense to uprate the pistons, and crankshaft. We've heard of some running power figures of 320hp on stock internals as they are so solid, but we would worry about reliability.

Fuelling can struggle at higher power figures, as with most tuning projects your choice of injectors and mapping is vital.

Please help us to complete this article, use the feedback box below if you spot any errors or have any additional tips or comments to pass on to other KA24DE engine tuners

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One Response to “KA24DE tuning”

  1. Matt says:

    I`m sure you have been asked a million times. But for a high mileage KA24DE with decent compression, would it be worth upgrading just exhaust maybe port polish or would the bottom end be fine with cam upgrades and fueling to reach 200+ hp?

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