Nissan QG16DE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan QG16DE engine!"

The QG16DE engine, developed by Nissan, represents a notable step in terms of efficiency and reliability.

At the heart of the QG16DE engine's success is its 1.6-liter displacement, integrated with a 16-valve DOHC (double overhead camshaft) design.

One of the key technologies the QG16DE engine employs is the ECCS (Electronic Concentrated Control System). Think of ECCS as the brain of the engine, meticulously managing fuel injection and ignition timing.

Moreover, the engine features a lightweight aluminum block and cylinder head. This choice of materials isn't just a matter of cost or simplicity. Aluminum reduces the overall weight of the engine, contributing to a lighter vehicle directly impacting fuel efficiency and performance.

Another noteworthy aspect is the engine's roller rocker arm with needle bearings. This reduces friction for smoother operation and, you guessed it, better efficiency.

Lastly, the use of a timing chain instead of a belt in the QG16DE engine ensures durability and reduces maintenance needs. Timing chains are robust and designed to last the life of the engine, unlike belts that require regular replacement.

The Nissan QG16DE really good project engines and with the ultimate motorsport mods like a remap, turbo kits and camshafts you will certainly maximize your driving pleasure.

In this article we look into QG16DE tuning and point out the best upgrades.

History, Power & Specs of the QG16DE Engine

  • 118 hp (88 kW) at 6000 rpm 122 lbft (165 Nm) at 4000 rpm

The Q16DE was used in many models and thanks to this popularity there is much interest in tuning these blocks.

  • Nissan Sunny NEO
  • Nissan Sunny N16 series Sri Lanka
  • Nissan Primera (P11.144) 2000-2002
  • Nissan Primera (P12) edition Europe
  • Nissan Sentra N16 series in the Philippines
  • N16 series Pulsar  Australia and New Zealand
  • Renault Scala  Mexico and Colombia
  • Nissan Almera  South Africa

Tuning the Nissan QG16DE and best QG16DE performance parts.

Best QG16DE parts

The top QG16DE mods on an engine are as we have found the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular QG16DE mods, they need to be cost effective.

The camshaft profile plays a big part in the engines power output so camshaft upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake & exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen camshaft profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

Fast road cams tend to boost the bhp through the rev band, you may lose a little bottom end torque but your top end will be lifted.

Race cams, boost the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport camshaft will just annoy you whilst on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

You should ideally optimize your engines power to your driving style so for a car used daily stick with a fast road QG16DE camshaft

Different QG16DE engines respond better to mild cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuel pump and injectors also have an effect on the bhp gains you'll hit.

Altering valve durations can alter the bhp band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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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:
Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Intake manifolds, Panel air filters, Fast road camshaft, drilled & smoothed airbox.

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

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

The QG16DE power trains respond well to upgrades and thankfully there is a lot of parts and tuning parts around.

ECU flashing on most cars helps unlock the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your QG16DE however most Nissan owners go with an aftermarket ECU instead as this is more flexible and offers better upgrade potential

aftermarket ECU


Haltech ECUs are renowned for their versatility and wide range of features.

They offer tuners precise control over fuel, ignition, and boost management, making them a go-to choice for Nissan engine upgrades.

Whether you're racing or just looking for improved street performance, Haltech's user-friendly software and robust hardware make it a top contender.


AEM's Infinity and Series 2 ECUs are other favorites among Nissan owners. Known for their advanced tuning capabilities, AEM ECUs provide detailed maps and extensive adjustability.

AEM's support for CAN bus integration also means you can have a seamless connection with other vehicle systems.

Link ECU

Link ECUs, hailing from New Zealand, have gained popularity for their balance of performance, features, and cost.

Offering plug-and-play options for many Nissan models, Link ECUs simplify the tuning process.

They are especially favored for their robust boost control, launch control, and anti-lag features, making them a solid choice for both street and track applications.


For those seeking the pinnacle of engine management, Motec ECUs stand out. With a reputation for being used in professional motorsports,

Motec's systems offer unparalleled precision and control. While they come with a higher price tag, the level of customization and data logging capabilities they provide are unmatched.

It will usually give you around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but the end result usually vary depending on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

Feeding more air into the QG16DE engine is the whole point to any engine performance tuning task.

The intake plenum carry the air from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

Shape and flow characteristics of the Intake manifolds can make a large effect on to fuel atomisation on the QG16DE.

On popular production engines plenum chambers are ripe for aftermarket parts, although some car makers provide reasonably good plenum chambers.

Big valve conversions on the QG16DE, doing some port matching and head flowing will also boost bhp, and as an added benefit will permit an improved bhp increase on other tuning mods.

QG16DE Turbo upgrades

NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your QG16DE

While the QG16DE itself was not turbocharged by Nissan, the robust and versatile nature of Nissan engines means that enthusiasts and aftermarket tuners often undertake such modifications.

Turbocharging a naturally aspirated engine like the QG16DE involves adding a turbocharger, intercooler, and sometimes upgrading the fuel system and ECU to handle the increased air and fuel demands.

Such modifications can significantly increase power output but require careful planning and tuning to maintain engine reliability and performance.

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.

However you'll find engines will need better parts at higher power limits. We recommend you find these limits and upgrade to better quality crank and pistons to handle the power even reducing the compression ratio in most cases.

We see many tuners spending a lot of money on turbo charger upgrades on the QG16DE only to watch the motor throw a rod just after it's first rolling road session.

Thankfully the selection of turbo chargers is always improving and we now see variable vane turbo chargers, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust flow into a couple of channels and feed these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the QG16DE when loads more air is being sucked into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting power at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp gains, although more challenging to install. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.


When you lift the bhp and torque you will need to pay attention to the fuel system.

More bhp and torque needs more fuel. We strongly recommend you to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and affords you some spare capacity should the engine require 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.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

      • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 682cc/min 400hp

4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

      • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

      • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
      • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp
      • 58 PSI 625cc/min 400hp

QG16DE Performance Exhausts

Only look to upgrade your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you should find that 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 increase the flow of air through the engine.

But if the exhaust pipe is too large, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the exhaust flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions come around the emissions filters installed, so adding a better flowing high performance aftermarket one will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal decat, will keep the car road legal.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the QG16DE

The QG16DE engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

Regular oil changes are vital on the QG16DE, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your QG16DE engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss QG16DE tuning options in more detail with our QG16DE owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Nissan tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

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 tuning mods work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these QG16DE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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One Response to “QG16DE Tuning”

  1. lilly says:

    it’s so hard to find reliable information in regards to modifying the qg16de on the internet and with plans to slam my pulsar, this article has been very helpful!

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