Nissan RB28DETT Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan RB28DETT engine!"

The Nissan RB28DETT are good project engines and with carefully picked sports modifications like remapping, turbo improvements and camshafts you will greatly enhance your driving enjoyment.

TorqueCars will detail the best approach to RB28DETT tuning and show the optimum modifications.

History, Power & Specs of the RB28DETT Engine

This is a NISMO tuned and fettled block added to a GT-R Z tune model it is based on an RB26 block.

510 bhp (380 kW; 517 PS) and 540 Nm (400 lbft) of torque

Tuning the Nissan RB28DETT and best RB28DETT performance parts.

Best RB28DETT parts

Just because particular tuning mods are popular with RB28DETT owners it doesn't mean its worth having, so we'll focus on the top tuning mods that will give your RB28DETT the best power gain for you money.

Performance camshafts work better at higher RPM, so are more suited to petrol engines, than diesel ones, but we've always seen top end power gains through performance camshafts on most engines.

Useful gains on the RB28DETT can be made from camshaft upgrades. Altering the camshaft profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the bhp and power output.

Fast road camshafts usually push up the performance throughout the rev range, you may lose a little bottom end bhp but your top end will be higher.

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

On a typical daily driver you should ideally to match your torque band to your typical driving style.

I'd never think that a RB28DETT Motorsport camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

Different RB28DETT engines respond better to less aggressive cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The map and fuelling also have an effect on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

Longer 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 RB28DETT

    1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the biggest power gains for your money,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Upgrades to turbos - Hybrid turbos and swaps are most efficient way to increase air supply on the RB28DETT, 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.

RB28DETT Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include:
drilled & smoothed airbox, Panel air filters, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, Intake manifolds, Sports exhaust header/manifold.

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

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

The RB28DETT power plant respond well to upgrades and thanks to their popularity there is a growing number of modifications and tuning parts out there.

(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.)

Some of our members have used the following aftermarket ECU's to good effect in their projects. You'll generally find harnesses available now for most of the aftermarket ECU options for these engines.

      • Syvecs
      • Haltech Elite 1000/1500
      • LINK G4X
      • Megasquirt

An aftermarket ECU is harder to setup but gives better performance and helps you optimize the timing and fuelling to a fine degree of accuracy - we suggest you go for the Link G4+ (or a G4 with an external knock control unit) or the better but more expensive Syvecs ECU (the upgraded data logging feature is extremely useful).

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 the outcome may rely on the mods you've applied and the condition of your engine.

It is the whole point to any engine upgrade task to push air into your RB28DETT

The intake plenum flow the air from the intake filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The size of bore and shape and rate of flow of the Plenum can make a noticeable improvement to fuel atomisation on the RB28DETT.

We often see manifolds are in desperate need of an upgrade, although some manufacturers provide reasonably well designed headers.

Larger RB28DETT valves, doing a bit of RB28DETT port enlargement and head flowing will also lift bhp, & importantly will make space for an improved bhp increase on other upgrades.

RB28DETT 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 RB28DETT

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

When a car has a turbo already fitted tuning mods are more reliable and you will discover turbocharged engines are built with harder and stronger components.

There are weak spots for every engine, with some being over specified and some only just able to handle stock power. See where you'll find these limits and fit better quality crank and pistons to cope with the power.

We see many mechanics spending a loads of money on turbo charger upgrades on the RB28DETT only to experience the car go up in smoke just after it's been finished.

Big capacity turbos tend to experience a bottom end lag, and little turbos spool up much more quickly but do not have the peak rpm bhp gains.

Over the last 20 years the range of turbo chargers is always improving and we now see variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

We've seen decent dyno figures from the EFR8374, GT2860-5 or GT2871R turbo with a good fuel pump and cannot stress enough how important it is to get the fuelling setup correctly.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and feed these at differently angled 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/MAP on the RB28DETT when a lot more air is being drawn into the engine.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting torque at a much lower level.

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


Don't omit to boost the fuel system when you are increasing the torque - it makes the car more thirsty. We strongly recommend you to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

Add in a high performance fuel rail, some 1000cc injectors and the EFR8374, GT2860-5 or GT2871R turbo with a good fuel pump (you should spec for around 280 litres per hour for this.) and you can push power to over 500bhp with the right supporting mods.

As a rule of thumb add 20% when specifying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and allows some 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.

RB28DETT Performance Exhausts

You only need to improve your exhaust if your exhaust is actually creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the flow rate is still fine 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 gases through the engine.

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

Usual exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a higher flowing performance catalyst removes the restriction. We note that performance cats perform similarly to decats and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decats or catalyst removal is illegal in most territories for road going cars.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the RB28DETT

The RB28DETT 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 RB28DETT, 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 RB28DETT engine please join us in our friendly
where you can discuss with our RB28DETT owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks
of each modification.

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