Nissan VH41DE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan VH41DE engine!"

We get asked questions for some tips on improving the VH41DE and which tuning modifications we rate as the best, so this article has been assembled and goes over what we feel are the primary areas and methods of modifying and tuning on the VH41DE engine.

Now we shall look into VH41DE tuning and show the ultimate mods that work. Nissan VH41DE really good project engines and with carefully chosen tuning tuning mods like remapping, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will noticeably increase your driving pleasure.

History, Power & Specs of the VH41DE Engine

268 hp (200 kW; 272 PS) at 5600 rpm and 278 lbft (377 Nm) at 4000 rpm

  • 1997-2001 Infiniti Q45 266 hp (198 kW; 270 PS), 278 lb⋅ft (377 N⋅m)
  • 1992-1996 Nissan Leopard, 266 hp (198 kW; 270 PS), 278 lb⋅ft (377 N⋅m)
  • 1991-1996 Nissan Cima Y32, 266 hp (198 kW; 270 PS), 278 lb⋅ft (377 N⋅m)
  • 1996-2001 Nissan Cima Y33, 266 hp (198 kW; 270 PS), 376 N⋅m (277 lb⋅ft)

Tuning the Nissan VH41DE and best VH41DE performance parts.

Best VH41DE modifications

Just because particular parts are are common on VH41DE it doesn't mean you should fit it, so we'll focus on the best parts that will give your VH41DE the best power gain for you money.

Significant gains on the VH41DE can be made from camshaft upgrades. Altering the camshaft profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the bhp and power output.

Fast road camshafts tend to boost the bhp and torque over the rev range, you may lose a little low end torque but the high end rpm power will be better.

Competition 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.

A Race camshaft is not great on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

You should ideally match your engines power to your typical driving style so for a car used daily stick with a fast road VH41DE camshaft

Different VH41DE engines respond better to more aggressive camshaft durations than others.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the power gains you'll achieve.

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.

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

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

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

    Review your options and then find your tuning parts and set yourself a power target to avoid costly mistakes.

    A remap will help fully realize the full potential of all the modifications you've done to your VH41DE.

    (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 outcome will rely on the modifications you've done and the condition of your engine.

    Forcing fuel and air into each cylinder is the whole point to any engine tuning task.

    Your intake manifold will direct the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

    Structure and flow characteristics of the Intake manifold can make a large improvement to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the VH41DE.

    Most manifolds are ripe for aftermarket tuning parts, although a few manufacturers provide reasonably well designed headers.

    Increasing the VH41DE valve size, getting VH41DE port enlargement and head flowing will also raise performance, and more importantly will give you a better performance increase on other mods.

    VH41DE 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 VH41DE

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

    If a car is fitted with a turbo upgrades are simpler to install and you will discover turbocharged engines are built with many forged and stronger components.

    However you will find engines have weakspots.See where you'll find these restrictions and install higher quality components to handle the power.

    We've seen mechanics spending a loads of money on turbo upgrades on the VH41DE only to have the car go up in smoke soon after it's used in anger.

    Bigger turbo chargers will usually suffer no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up really quickly but don't have the peak rpm engines power gains.

    Over the last 20 years the choice of turbochargers is always developing and we commonly find variable vane turbochargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

    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.

    It is common that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on the VH41DE when considerably more air is being drawn into the engine.

    You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited torque at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large performance gains, although more complex to install. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.


    Don't miss you'll need to boost the fuel delivery when you are increasing the performance - it makes the car more thirsty. Most tuners we speak with say to be generous with your injector capacity.

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

    VH41DE Performance Exhausts

    You should look to replace your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

    On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust 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 help balance the flow of gases through the engine.

    But if your exhaust is too large, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of the exhaust flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

    Usual exhaust restrictions are in the emissions filters installed, so adding a better flowing high performance aftermarket one will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal decat, will keep the car road legal.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the VH41DE

    The VH41DE 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 VH41DE, 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 VH41DE engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss with our VH41DE 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 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 VH41DE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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