Nissan VG30ET Tuning

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

Now let's delve into tuning the Nissan VG30ET engine and uncover the optimal modifications to enhance your car's performance.

The VG30ET, favored for its tuning potential, can significantly benefit from upgrades such as remapping, turbo kits, and camshafts. These enhancements not only improve the engine's responsiveness but also elevate your overall driving experience.

Highlighting the VG30ET's capability, a race-tuned version powered the GTP ZX Turbo, achieving an impressive 739 horsepower.

This example showcases the substantial power gains possible with the right modifications, emphasizing the engine’s adaptability and potential for high-performance tuning.

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.

Comparing the VG30ET and VG30DETT Engines

When it comes to Nissan's VG series of engines, the VG30ET and VG30DETT have both made significant impacts in their respective fields. Let's dive into what makes each engine unique and how they stand up against each other.

The VG30ET Engine

The VG30ET, a pioneer in its time, was one of the first widely available turbocharged V6 engines from Nissan. Introduced in the early 1980s, this engine features a single turbocharger and a displacement of 3.0 liters. The design includes a cast-iron block and an aluminum head, which contribute to its durability. With a SOHC (single overhead cam) design, it typically delivers around 200 to 230 horsepower.

One of the main advantages of the VG30ET is its robustness. Thanks to its iron block, it can handle moderate increases in power without requiring extensive modifications. This makes it a favorite among enthusiasts looking to get a reliable performance boost without breaking the bank. The engine was a staple in models like the Nissan 300ZX and the Nissan Gloria, demonstrating its versatility in both sports and luxury applications.

The VG30DETT Engine Performance Comparison

When comparing the two, the VG30DETT clearly has the upper hand in terms of outright performance capabilities.

Its advanced twin-turbo system and DOHC setup allow it to produce more power and respond better to modifications than the VG30ET.

However, the VG30ET is not without its merits. It offers a simpler, more cost-effective solution for those looking to enhance a moderately powered vehicle without the complexities and expenses associated with a more advanced turbocharged engine.

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. The VG30ET is easier to work on due to its less complex design compared to the VG30DETT and fewer components.

As this engine did not come with variable valve timing it makes sense to source a better cam profile that puts the power where you need it most.

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.

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Best Engine Mods for your VG30ET

Engine Tuning Options for VG30ET: From Simple Remaps to Extensive Upgrades

Engine tuning is an art that combines precision, expertise, and the right components to boost performance effectively. For the VG30ET, various tuning methods can provide significant benefits depending on your needs and budget.

Cost-Effective Tuning with ECU Options

Remapping the engine, also known as tuning or chipping, offers a cost-effective way to enhance engine performance.

For those looking for more tailored options, aftermarket ECUs and piggyback ECUs present viable alternatives.

These systems allow for more precise control over the engine's parameters, maximizing the performance gains from other modifications you might have in place.

The Impact of Fast Road Cams

Installing fast road cams is one of the most impactful mechanical changes you can make. However, these components require expert installation and are not always readily available.

In some cases, you might find a local workshop that can regrind a stock camshaft to suit your performance needs—a bespoke solution that could offer significant benefits.

Understanding Intake and Exhaust Modifications

It's important to note that modifications to the intake and exhaust systems usually do not add power on their own.

Instead, they complement other upgrades by alleviating restrictions and improving the engine’s breathing efficiency. This is essential for realizing the full potential of your engine's performance after significant modifications.

Turbo Upgrades: High Costs, High Rewards

When it comes to increasing power output, turbo upgrades are among the most effective yet costly approaches.

By boosting the air supply, a turbo upgrade allows the engine to burn more fuel, thereby increasing power dramatically.

Despite the expense, the performance gains from a well-chosen turbo upgrade can be unparalleled.

Enhancing Engine Efficiency through Head Work

Porting and flowing the cylinder head are crucial for optimizing airflow into the engine and reducing flow restrictions and turbulence.

This kind of head work ensures that the air moves smoothly and efficiently through the engine, which is vital for achieving higher performance levels.

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.

Computer/Engine Tunes helps fully realize the full potential of all the parts you've done to your VG30ET. To unlock the full potential of your VG30ET, remapping the engine is crucial. This not only maximizes the output from all the modifications you've implemented but also ensures that each component works harmoniously to deliver enhanced performance.

Since the factory ECU of the VG30ET is locked and cannot be flashed, opting for an aftermarket ECU is essential.

These units are not only capable of surpassing the factory ECU's performance but also offer customizable features such as knock protection. Proper setup by a qualified professional is crucial to harness the full potential of these systems.

Some reputable brands to consider include Haltech, Link ECU, and AEM, all known for their reliability and advanced tuning capabilities.

Expected Power Gains

With a remap, turbocharged versions of the VG30ET can see power increases of around 30%. However, the actual improvement will depend on the quality of modifications and the engine's condition. It’s important to ensure that all parts are well-maintained and compatible for the best results.

Importance of Air and Fuel Management

In any tuning project, the goal is to increase the mixture of air and fuel entering the engine. The intake system plays a crucial role in this process by transmitting air from the filter through the suck phase and mixing it with fuel.

The design and efficiency of the air intake manifold are critical; they significantly impact fuel atomization and overall engine efficiency.

Upgrading Air Intake Manifolds

While many air intake manifolds from the factory are adequate, performance upgrades are often necessary to cope with increased air flow demands.

Some manufacturers offer optimized air intake manifolds that are well-suited for performance tuning.

Enhancing Engine Valves and Porting

Increasing the valve size, conducting port work, and improving head flow are effective ways to boost horsepower (bhp).

These modifications not only increase bhp directly but also enhance the performance gains from other upgrades by improving airflow and fuel mixture within the engine.

By implementing these strategies and carefully selecting high-quality components, you can significantly enhance the performance of your VG30ET, making your vehicle more powerful and responsive on the road.

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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