Nissan QG18DE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan QG18DE engine!"

The Nissan QG18DE are popular tuning projects and with carefully chosen uprated tuning mods like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will certainly maximise your driving opportunities.

We shall outline options for your QG18DE tuning and provide tips on the ultimate upgrades.

History, Power & Specs of the QG18DE Engine

  • 115 hp (86 kW) to 128 hp (95 kW) at 6000 rpm 122 lbft (165 Nm) to 130 lbft (176 Nm) at 2800 rpm

The QG18DE is used in the following vehicles:

  • 1998-2006 Nissan Avenir
  • 1999-2005 Nissan Wingroad/AD van Y11
  • 1999-2005 Nissan Bluebird Sylphy G10
  • 1999-2006 Nissan Primera
  • 1999-2002 Nissan Primera P11.144
  • 2000-2006 Nissan Almera N16
  • 2000-2006 Nissan Almera Tino
  • 2000-2006 Nissan Sentra B15 and N16
  • 2000-2005 Nissan Pulsar N16
  • 2000-2006 Nissan Expert
  • 2002-2007 Nissan Primera P12

Tuning the Nissan QG18DE and best QG18DE performance parts.

Best QG18DE tuning mods

When talking about the best modifications for your QG18DE engine, we are going to focus on the tuning mods that give the best value for money.

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

Fast road cams commonly increase the bhp and torque through the rev band, you could sacrifice a little low end bhp but top end will be higher.

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

A Motorsport and race cam makes it harder when in heavy traffic because low end power will be very lumpy. Competition cams are designed for maximum power at the top end of the RPM range, a place that most daily commutes will not permit!

You should ideally optimize your bhp range to your usage of the car so for a daily driver stick with a fast road QG18DE cam

Different QG18DE engines respond better to more or less aggressive camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also will make differences on the torque gains you'll make.

Extending exhaust or intake durations can alter the torque 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.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    Fast road camshaft, drilled & smoothed airbox, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Intake manifolds, Panel air filters.

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

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

    The QG18DE engine blocks respond well to upgrades and we're pleased to see that there are quite a few choices of mods and tuning parts out there.

    ECU flashing helps to establish the full potential of all the mods you've done to your QG18DE.

    (In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

    It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but figures achieved usually depend much on the mods you've done and the condition of your engine.

    Getting air into your QG18DE is the aim to any engine upgrade project.

    Intake Manifolds carry or channel the air during the suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

    The bore size, shape and flow rate of the Intake manifolds can make a noticeable effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the QG18DE.

    On popular production engines manifolds are in dire need of aftermarket parts, although some makers provide well optimised headers.

    Big valve conversions on the QG18DE, carrying out port work and head flowing will also boost power, & more importantly will allow you to get raising the power increase on other parts.

    QG18DE 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 QG18DE

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

    When your motor is fitted with a turbocharger tuning parts are giving better power gains and turbo charged engines use more solid components.

    There are weak spots for every engine, with some being very over engineered and some just sufficiently able to handle stock powerIt is important to find these limits and install better quality crank and pistons to survive the power.

    We see many car owners spending a a stack of money on turbo charger upgrades on the QG18DE only to suffer the indignity of watching the QG18DE catastrophically fail soon after it's first rolling road session.

    Larger upgraded turbo units commonly suffer low end lag, and small turbo units spool up quickly but won't have the peak rpm engines power gains.

    In the last 10 years the choice of turbo units is always developing and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

    Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and direct these at differently designed vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

    It is common that there's a limit in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the QG18DE when a lot more air is being drawn into the engine.

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

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although more difficult to get working. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.


    When you lift the bhp and torque you will need to ramp up to the fuel delivery.

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

    The rule of thumb is to add another 20% when buying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and provides a bit of 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.

    QG18DE Performance Exhausts

    You only need to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you'll find the flow rate is 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 can help balance the flow of air through the engine.

    But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

    Typically exhaust restrictions can be located the emissions filters installed, so adding a better flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the QG18DE

    The QG18DE 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 QG18DE, 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 QG18DE engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss QG18DE tuning options in more detail with our QG18DE 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.

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    We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which parts 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 QG18DE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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