Nissan QR20DD Tuning

"All you need to know about performance parts and tuning the Nissan QR20DD engine!"

This pages aim is review and look at QR20DD tuning and highlight the premier mods that work. Nissan QR20DD are awesome to work on and with carefully picked tuning tuning mods like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will substantially enhance your driving pleasure.

History, Power & Specs of the QR20DD Engine

  • QR20DD 148 hp at 6000 rpm 148 lbft at 4400 rpm

Tuning the Nissan QR20DD and best QR20DD performance parts.

Best QR20DD parts

Just because particular upgrades are popular with QR20DD owners it doesn't mean you should fit it, we shall focus on the best upgrades that will give your QR20DD the best power gain for you spend.

Altering your QR20DD cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine power band. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the power band accordingly.

Fast road camshafts usually boost the power throughout the rev band, you could drop a little low end power but your higher rpm power will improve.

Motorsport camshafts, boost the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport and race cam won't do well if 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 match your engines power to your typical driving style so for a daily driver stick with a shorter duration QR20DD cam

Each engine responds better to more aggressive cam durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The ecu map and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the torque gains you'll get.

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. Mapping - 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, Panel air filters, Intake manifolds, drilled & smoothed airbox, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU.

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

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

    The QR20DD engine blocks make great tuning projects and we see that there are quite a few choices of mods and tuning parts around.

    Remaps should help to release the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your QR20DD.

    (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 your mileage often differs on the upgrades you've applied and the condition of your engine.

    It is the main goal to any engine modification task to pull air and fuel into each cylinder

    The intake manifolds take the air during the suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    Structure and flow characteristics of the Intake manifold can make a substantial change to fuel atomisation on the QR20DD.

    It's not uncommon that intake manifold are in dire need of a performance upgrade, although some manufacturers provide well optimised intake manifold.

    Adding a QR20DD larger valve kit, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also increase performance, & more importantly will permit increasing the performance increase on other tuning mods.

    QR20DD 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 QR20DD

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

    If a car has forced induction upgrades are relatively easy and we find turbocharged engines already contain stronger components.

    There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some only able to handle stock powerDiscover these limitations and upgrade to higher quality components to handle the power.

    We see many guys spending a loads of money on turbo upgrades on the QR20DD only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the motor catastrophically fail soon after it's finished.

    Larger turbo units often suffer low end lag, and low capacity turbo units spool up quickly but don't have the high rpm power band gains.

    In the last 10 years the range of turbos is always increasing and we now see variable vane turbos, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

    Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into two channels and flow these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

    It is common that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the QR20DD 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 power at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although more difficult to setup. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.

    Fuelling

    Don't overlook the need to boost the fuel delivery when you are increasing the torque - it makes the car more thirsty. It makes sense to be generous with your injector capacity.

    The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and allows a little 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

    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

    QR20DD Performance Exhausts

    You only need to replace your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you'll find the exhaust 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 usually air flow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too big or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

    Usual exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a freer 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 QR20DD

    The QR20DD 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 QR20DD, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

    Valve clearances need to be checked and reset on all engines without hydraulic lifters.

    Overheating can cause major issues so check the cooling system is in good condition especially the water pump.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your QR20DD engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss QR20DD tuning options in more detail with our QR20DD 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 QR20DD tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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