Nissan RB30 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan RB30 engine!"

The Nissan RB30 offer good returns when tuned and with the best modified modifications like remapping, turbo improvements and camshafts you will definitely improve your driving experience.

The RB30 block internals are not as strong as the RB26 but the extra cylinder capacity can make a better tuning base to work from, especially if you are rebuilding the engine and get a chance to make it stronger.

TorqueCars will examine the options for your RB30 tuning and highlight the premier modifications for your car.

The RB30 bottom is not universally available, for example in the UK  they are quite rare, and it is more common to see an RB30 made from the N1 RB26Block decked to make 3 liters.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

  • RB30S - carb single-cam
    100 kW (134 hp; 136 PS) @4,800 rpm, 224 Nm (165 lbft) @3000 rpm
  • RB30E - fuel-injected single-cam
    114 kW (153 hp; 155 PS) @5,200 rpm, 247 Nm (182 lbft) @3,600 rpm)
  • RB30E - fuel-injected single-cam
    117 kW (157 hp; 159 PS) @5,200 rpm, 252 Nm (186 lbft) @3,600 rpm)
  • RB30E  - fuel-injected single-cam
    130 kW (174 hp; 177 PS) @5,500 rpm, 255 Nm (188 lbft) @3,900 rpm)
  • RB30E - fuel-injected single-cam
    140 kW (188 hp; 190 PS) @5,600 rpm, 270 Nm (200 lbft) @4,400 rpm)
  • RB30ET - fuel-injected single-cam turbo
    150 kW (201 hp; 204 PS) @5,600 rpm, 296 Nm (218 lbft) @3,200 rpm)

Enterprising tuners created an RB30DET version also known as the RB25/30 or RB26/30

Typically created by using a RB30E bottom end and cylinder head from the RB25DE, RB25DET* or RB26DETT as the bore sizes match nicely.

It is usual to disable the variable valve timing on these hybrid engines.

*Oil feeds need altering.

Best RB30 upgrades

The optimum RB30 parts on an engine are as we have found the ones that give the best power gain for you spend.

We won't be swayed by popular RB30 parts, they need to be cost effective.

Most of the highly tuned RB30s have forged rod and pistons and a crank now (usually RB25/26) so rev quite well but not usually above 8000.

The very serious motors use spool/rips cranks which can be 3.0 litre up to 3.4 litre they rev for fun, so long as the motor is specified correctly and setup.

Alternativley there is an OS Giken complete bottom end which is in the same league.

Our forum member SLEEPER has the OS Giken motor which has the complete OS Giken bottom with an new N1 RB26 block that is bored and decked to 3 liter.

This is different to most other rb30 based engines, there is no modding just put an RB26 head on thats job done!

It also has a big valve head and stage 3 cams and is rated to a safe 1000bhp and unlike stock rb30s OS Giken engines have a recommended rev limit of 9000rpm although thats purely acedemic as even changing at 8000 keeps you in the sweet spot.

One thing re all the rb30s because the motor is taller lots of things need modding - belts chains and anything that bolts to the head directly or indirectly is a fair bit higher.

That's more than you might imagine so do your research carefully or risk biting off more that you can chew.

Significant gains on the RB30 can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the engines power and power output.

Fast road cams commonly bump the bhp and torque through the rev band, you could drop a little low down bhp but top end will improve.

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

In a typical daily driver you need to optimize your torque band to your cars usage.

I'd be surprised if you find a RB30 Motorsport camshaft is a pleasure to live with 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!

Each engine responds better to mild camshaft durations than others.

The ecu map and fuel pump and injectors also have an effect on the power gains you'll hit.

A longer valve duration can alter the power 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.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your RB30

  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.

RB30 Tuning Stages

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

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

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

The best RB30 mod is a 6Boost manifold as they do a specific RB30 manifold which leaves the turbo roughly the same height as when RB26.

Plan your options and then buy your modifications and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

RB30 Remapping options

Remaps allows a tuner to fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've fitted to your RB30.

(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 recommended the following aftermarket ECU's from their projects. You'll generally find harnesses available now for most of the aftermarket ECU options for these engines.

  • LINK G4X
  • Megasquirt
  • Apexi
  • Syvecs
  • Haltech Elite 1000/1500
  • IMPUL Hi Power

An aftermarket ECU is harder to setup and requires some specialist knowledge of your engine and parts you've fitted, 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 your mileage usually differ on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

It is the whole point to any engine modification job to feed more fuel and air into the RB30 engine

A stroker kit such as the 3.2 (Nitto), 3.3 (RIPS), 3.4 (Spool Imports) will help to make more power.

Intake manifold transmit the air from the intake filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders.

The shape and flow characteristics of the Plenum can make a big difference to fuel mixing and power on the RB30.

I usually find intake manifold are in dire need of a performance upgrade, although a few OEM provide decently flowing intake manifold.

Adding a RB30 larger valve kit, doing some RB30 port enlargement and head flowing will also increase torque, and as an added benefit will afford you a greater torque increase on other tuning mods.

RB30 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 RB30

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 car is turbo charged modifications are going to net you a larger power gain and turbocharged engines use more solid components.

There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some only just able to handle stock power

It is important to find these limits and install more solid crank and pistons to utilize the power.

It's not unheard of car owners spending a fortune on turbocharger upgrades on the RB30 only to see the RB30 literally blow up just after it's completed.

Large turbo chargers often suffer no power at low rpm, and small turbo chargers spool up quickly but won't have the peak rpm torque gains.

Thanks to progress the world of turbo chargers is always moving on and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and push these at differently angled vanes in the turbo. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the when loads more air is being pulled into the engine.

Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped bhp and torque at a much lower level.

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

RB30 Fuelling

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so must look at the fuelling when you start extending past 20% of a power increase.We would recommend you to be generous with your injector capacity.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when specifying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and gives 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.

RB30 Exhaust mods

You should look to uprate your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you should find that 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.

Catalysts tend to be the area that soaks up the power, so if legal in your area, remove the catalyst or replace it with a higher flowing alternative.

After this the rest of the exhaust makes very little difference to your power output, so catback systems are only really going to provide an alternative exhaust note.

Sports exhausts increase the flow of air through the engine.

But if your exhaust is too large, ie: it's over 3 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions are in the catalyst and 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 RB30

These engines generally prove to be reliable and solid 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 RB30, 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 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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