Nissan VG30ET Tuning

"All you need to know about performance tuning the Nissan VG30ET engine!"

Now we shall examine VG30ET tuning and provide tips on the best modifications for your car. Nissan VG30ET are popular tuning projects and with a few sensible sports parts like remapping, turbo kits and camshafts you will certainly maximize your driving opportunities.

A race version of the VG30ET found it's way into the GTP ZX Turbo and this made around 739 hp showing the potential these blocks have for tuning up and modification.

History, Power & Specs of the VG30ET Engine

  • 200 hp (149 kW) 227 lbft (308 Nm)
  • 226 hp (169 kW) 250 lbft (332 Nm)
  • 230 hp (172 kW) 252 lbft (342 Nm) Eu

Thanks to a T25 Garrett turbo which was introduced in 87  power was increased to 205 hp (153 kW) and covered a wider part of the rev range with less turbo lag.

  • 1984–1989 Nissan 300ZX Turbo (Z31)
  • Nissan Leopard
  • Nissan Gloria 230 PS (169 kW)
  • Nissan Cedric 230 PS (169 kW)

Tuning the Nissan VG30ET and best VG30ET performance parts.

Best VG30ET tuning mods

The best VG30ET parts on an engine are as we have found the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular VG30ET parts, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the VG30ET can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the power band and power output.

Fast road camshafts normally increase the bhp throughout the rpm band, you could drop a little low end bhp but the top end will be higher.

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

A Race camshaft will just annoy you whilst in heavy traffic so they are best avoided on the VG30ET.

You should ideally optimize your power band to your cars usage so for a typical daily driver stick with a fast road VG30ET camshaft

Different VG30ET engines respond better to different camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

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

Altering 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.

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 VG30ET

    1. Engine Tunes - tunes or remaps provide the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives for the VG30ET.
    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 turbos are 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.

VG30ET Tuning Stages

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

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

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

The VG30ET units respond well to mods and we're happy to report there are plenty of upgrades and tuning parts out there.

Remaps helps fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've done to your VG30ET.

(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 will vary depending on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

It is vital to any tuning project to feed more air and fuel into your VG30ET

Intake transmit the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The bore size, shape and flow characteristics of the Air Intake manifolds can make a substantial effect on to fuel engine efficiency on the VG30ET.

Most air intake manifolds are needing a performance upgrade, although a few makers provide well optimised air intake manifolds.

Big valve conversions on the VG30ET, doing some port work and head flowing will also increase bhp, & importantly will make space for a better bhp increase on other parts.

VG30ET Turbo upgrades

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

If the engine is turbo charged tuning mods are simpler to install and we find turbo engines are made with better components.

Early models had the Garret T3 and from 1988 this was replaced with the T25 and higher compression ratio, for lower lag and a wider power band.

There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some just sufficiently able to handle stock power. Discover these limits and fit forged components to cope with the power.

We see many car owners spending a lots of money on turbo upgrades on the VG30ET only to watch the engine catastrophically fail on it's first outing after it's been completed.

Large turbos tend to experience no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbos spool up much more quickly but won't have the peak rpm engines power gains.

In recent times the range of turbo units is always evolving and we are seeing variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into two channels and feed these at differently profiled 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 on the VG30ET when loads 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 sapped performance at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large bhp and torque gains, although more complex to setup. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.


When you increase the bhp you will need to uprate to the fuelling.

More bhp needs more fuel. We would recommend you to over specify your injector capacity.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when fitting an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and affords 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.

VG30ET Performance Exhausts

You should look to boost your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the flow rate is still 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 do not go too large or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Typically exhaust restrictions are in the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a freer 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 VG30ET

The VG30ET 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 VG30ET, 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 VG30ET engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss VG30ET tuning options in more detail with our VG30ET 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.

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We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which modifications 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 VG30ET tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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