Nissan VG30DE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan VG30DE engine!"

The Nissan VG30DE is a prominent member of the VG engine family, introduced in the late 1980s. This 3.0-liter V6 engine is noted for its smoothness, reliability, power and versatility, powering a wide range of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles over its production span.

Known for its naturally aspirated design, the VG30DE offers a balanced combination of performance and durability, making it a popular choice among automotive enthusiasts.

We were asked for more information on tuning and building a modified VG30DE and particularly which upgrades work best, so this feature has been assembled which covers our go to modifications for this engine and what we feel are the greatest value modifications you can do.

The Nissan VG30DE really good project engines and with the optimum uprated parts like remapping, turbo improvements and camshafts you will definitely improve your driving fun.

Our aim here is to outline options for your VG30DE tuning and highlight the best upgrades.

History, Power & Specs of the VG30DE Engine

  • Nissan 300ZX Z31 (300ZR only) 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS) 1986–1989
  • Nissan 300ZX Z32 222 hp (166 kW; 225 PS) 1990–1997
  • Nissan Fairlady Z Z32 222 hp (166 kW; 225 PS) 1989–2000
  • Nissan Leopard F31 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS) 1986–1992
  • Infiniti J30/Nissan Leopard J Ferie 210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS) 1992–1998
  • Nissan Gloria and Cedric 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS) 1992–1995
  • Nissan Cima 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS) 1989–1991

Tuning the Nissan VG30DE and best VG30DE performance parts.

Best VG30DE parts

Just because particular parts are appear in lots of VG30DE projects it doesn't mean it is good, instead we'll focus on the greatest parts that will give your VG30DE the biggest power gain return for your cash.

The VG30DE is built with an aluminum block and aluminum heads, which helps reduce the overall weight of the engine. It features a DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft) design with four valves per cylinder, enhancing its ability to efficiently manage airflow, which is crucial for optimizing combustion and overall engine performance.

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

Fast road camshafts commonly boost the bhp and torque across the rpm range, you may sacrifice a little low end bhp but the high end rpm power will be higher.

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

For a car driven daily you'll need to optimize your engines power to your driving style.

I would be surprised if you have found a VG30DE 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.

Some VG30DE engines respond better to different cam durations so view each engine as unique.

The ecu map and fuelling also will make differences on the bhp gains you'll make.

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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The VG30DE set a high standard for V6 engine design during its time, influencing subsequent engines in the VQ series, which continued to build on its legacy of balancing performance with reliability.
While the VG30DE is no longer in production, its impact on Nissan's engine development can still be seen in the newer generations of V6 engines that offer even higher performance and more advanced technologies effectively an evolution of the VG30DE engine.

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.

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

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

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

The VG30DE engines respond well to mods and we see that there is a growing number of upgrades and performance parts around.

A remap helps fully realize the full potential of all the modifications you've done to your VG30DE.

(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 the end result usually differs on the modifications you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

It is the main goal to any engine performance tuning task to force fuel and air into the VG30DE engine

Intake Manifolds carry or channel the air during the suck phase from the intake filter and allow it to be sucked into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and flow characteristics of the Air Intake manifolds can make a substantial effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the VG30DE.

It's not uncommon that intake manifold are in dire need of an upgrade, although some makers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

Larger VG30DE valves, getting port work and head flowing will also increase performance, this will give you a better performance increase on other modifications.

VG30DE 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 VG30DE

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 an engine is turbo charged parts are going to net you a larger power gain and we find turbo engines are built using harder and stronger components.

However most engines have weakspots.See where you'll find these limits and install higher quality components to cope with the power.

We've seen guys spending a fortune on turbocharger upgrades on the VG30DE only to see the car catastrophically fail on it's first outing after it's used on the roads.

Larger capacity turbo chargers commonly experience low end lag, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up really quickly but do not have the peak end power band gains.

Over the last 20 years the market of turbochargers is always increasing and we now see variable vane turbochargers, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

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

You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the VG30DE when considerably more air is being pulled into the engine.

You'll see that 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 bhp and torque gains, although more challenging to install. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.


When you improve the performance you will need to increase to the fuel delivery.

More performance needs more fuel. It makes sense to over specify your injector capacity.

As a rule of thumb add 20% when specifying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and gives 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.

VG30DE Performance Exhausts

Only look to boost your exhaust if your current exhaust is actually creating a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the flow rate is good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Do not go with the widest exhaust you can buy you'll slow the exhaust rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Common exhaust restrictions can be located the catalyst 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 VG30DE

The VG30DE 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.

Common maintenance practices include regular oil changes, timing belt replacements at recommended intervals, and keeping the cooling system in optimal condition to prevent overheating—a potential risk that can lead to serious engine damage.

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 VG30DE, 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 VG30DE engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss with our VG30DE owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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 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 VG30DE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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