Nissan RD28 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Nissan RD28 engine!"

The Nissan RD28 are popular tuning projects and with a few sensible motorsport enhancements like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will really increase your driving experience.

Let us review RD28 tuning and highlight the premier modifications for your car.

History, Power & Specs of the RD28 Engine

  • 100 PS (74 kW; 99 bhp)  (181 Nm; 134 lbft)
  • 94 PS (69 kW; 93 bhp) at 4,800 rpm  (177 Nm; 130 lbft) at 2,400 rpm

The first gen engine came in the...

  • Nissan Skyline R31 series 1985–1987
  • Nissan Laurel C32 ~ C34 series 1986–1993
  • Nissan Cedric / Nissan Gloria Y30 ~ Y32 series 1985–1993
  • Commercial (taxi) Nissan Cedric / Nissan Gloria Y31 series sedan 1987–1999
  • Nissan Crew K30 series 1993–1999

2nd generation

100 PS (74 kW; 99 bhp) at 4,800 rpm  (178 N⋅m; 132 lbft) at 2,400 rpm

  • Nissan Cedric / Nissan Gloria Y32 & Y33 series 1993–1999
  • Nissan Laurel C34 - C35 series 1994–1999

Tuning the Nissan RD28 and best RD28 performance parts.

Best RD28 parts

When talking about the best modifications for your RD28 engine, we are going to focus on the parts that give the biggest return for your cash.

Getting a fast road cam helps you to make more peak power, and we generally recommend this as a primary mod on petrol engines, and secondary on Diesels to a remap.

Altering your RD28 cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine engines power. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the engines power accordingly.

Fast road camshafts commonly bump the torque through the rpm range, you may lose a little bottom end torque but the high end rpm power will be lifted.

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

In a daily driver one must carefully try to optimize your bhp range to your cars usage.

I'd be shocked if you'd think that a RD28 Motorsport camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas. This is because a competition cam causes a very lumpy idle, and makes the car more prone to stall or jerk along in stop start traffic, sadly though many ignore this and end up ruining a perfectly good car and having to revert back to a fast road, or OEM cam profile.

Each engine responds better to less aggressive camshaft durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuelling also have a large bearing on the torque gains you'll hit.

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

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

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

    The RD28 power plant are great to work on and thanks to their popularity there are quite a few choices of modifications and performance parts out there.

    A remap helps fully realize the full potential of all the tuning parts you've done to your RD28.

    (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 rely on the tuning parts you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

    Forcing air into your RD28 is the whole point to any car tuning project.

    Intake take the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be pulled into the engine cylinders.

    Structure and rate of flow of the Intake can make a substantial improvement to fuel mixing and power on the RD28.

    It's not uncommon that manifolds are needing aftermarket tuning parts, although a few manufacturers provide reasonably good headers.

    Increasing the RD28 valve size, doing a bit of port matching and head flowing will also increase torque, and significantly will allow you to get a better torque increase on other modifications.

    RD28 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 RD28

    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.

    When the engine has a turbocharger upgrades are going to net you a larger power gain and you will discover turbo engines are made using many forged and stronger components.

    There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being incredibly solid and some just sufficiently able to handle stock powerSee where you'll find these limitations and fit better quality crank and pistons to survive the power.

    It's not unheard of mechanics spending a loads on turbo charger upgrades on the RD28 only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the engine explode soon after it's been completed.

    Big capacity turbos tend to experience low end lag, and low capacity turbos spool up quickly but do not have the peak end power band gains.

    We are pleased that the world of turbo chargers is always improving and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

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

    You'll commonly see there is a restriction in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the RD28 when considerably more air is being fed 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 feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.


    You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will have to pay attention to the fuelling when you start extending past 20% of a bhp increase. It makes sense to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

    The rule of thumb is to add 20% when fitting an injector, this takes into account 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.

    RD28 Performance Exhausts

    You only need to uprate your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

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

    But if the exhaust pipe is too large, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of the flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

    Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a higher flowing race alternative such as a sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed, but keeps the car road legal.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the RD28

    The RD28 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 RD28, 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 RD28 engine please join us in our friendly
    where you can discuss with our RD28 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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