Nissan VQ23DE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Nissan VQ23DE engine!"

We shall examine VQ23DE tuning and show the optimum mods that work. Nissan VQ23DE make awesome project engines and with the ultimate performance upgrades like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will dramatically enhance your driving enjoyment.

The powerful race spec VQ30DETT was based on this VQ platform, and as sizes ranged from 2 to 4 litres, there are many swappable parts should you wish to do a "Frankenbuild" and increase cylinder capacity or reduce compression. Cranks from the 3.5 Turbos are particularly strong and well suited for high power builds.

History, Power & Specs of the VQ23DE Engine

This is a V6 engine block from Nissan and used by Renault in some models, it was very reliable and there is much scope for improvement.

173 PS (127 kW; 171 hp) at 6000 rpm and 166 lbft (225 Nm) at 4400 rpm

  • 2003–2008 Nissan Teana 230JM-J31
  • Nissan Cefiro (Neo VQ23)
  • 2006–present Renault Samsung SM7 177 PS (130 kW; 175 hp) (Neo VQ23)
  • 2008–present Renault Safrane 177 PS (130 kW; 175 hp) (Neo VQ23)

Tuning the Nissan VQ23DE and best VQ23DE performance parts.

Best VQ23DE tuning parts

The best VQ23DE parts on an engine are usually the ones that give the best power gain for you spend.

We won't be swayed by popular VQ23DE parts, they need to be cost effective.

Altering your VQ23DE camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine power band. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the power band accordingly.

Fast road camshafts normally raise the bhp throughout the rev range, you may sacrifice a little bottom end torque but top end will be better.

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

In a typical daily driver it makes a lot of sense to optimize your engines power to your typical driving style.

I would be surprised to hear from any driver that a VQ23DE Motorsport and race cam is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic because low end power will be very lumpy. Competition cams are designed for maximum power at the top end of the RPM range, a place that most daily commutes will not permit!

Each engine responds better to more or less aggressive camshaft durations than others.

The ECU mapping and fuelling also have an effect on the torque gains you'll achieve.

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

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

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

    The VQ23DE power plant make great tuning projects and we see that there are quite a few choices of parts and tuning parts out there.

    Remaps allows a tuner to establish the full potential of all the mods you've done to your VQ23DE.

    (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 your mileage usually depend much on the mods you've applied and the condition of your engine.

    Pulling more air into your VQ23DE is the aim to any engine upgrade task.

    The intake manifolds flow rates are important because this channels the air from the air filter and allow it to be sucked into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    Structure and rate of flow of the Intake manifold can make a big change to fuel delivery on the VQ23DE.

    Many mass produced engine intake manifold are improved through aftermarket tuning parts, although a few manufacturers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

    Fitting big valve kits, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also raise bhp, & more importantly will afford you increasing the bhp increase on other parts.

    VQ23DE 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 VQ23DE

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

    When a car is fitted with a turbocharger upgrades are going to net you a larger power gain and most turbo engines are built using more solid components.

    There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some just sufficiently able to handle stock powerSee where you'll find these limitations and install higher quality components to utilize the power.

    It's not unheard of mechanics spending a loads on turbo charger upgrades on the VQ23DE only to watch the VQ23DE go up in smoke when it's finished.

    Big capacity turbo chargers often suffer no power at low rpm, and smaller turbo chargers spool up more quickly but won't have the peak end power band gains.

    In the last 10 years the range of turbo units is always developing and we now see variable vane turbo units, where 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 flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbocharger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

    It is common that there's a limitation in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the VQ23DE when a lot more air is being sucked into the engine.

    We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped bhp and torque at a much lower level.

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


    When you improve the performance you will need to ramp up to the fuel delivery.

    More performance needs more fuel. We strongly recommend you to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

    The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and gives a little 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.

    All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

    6 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

    • 58 PSI 189cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 284cc/min 300hp
    • 58 PSI 378cc/min 400hp
    • 58 PSI 568cc/min 600hp

    6 Cylinder turbocharged engines

    • 58 PSI 227cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 341cc/min 300hp
    • 58 PSI 454cc/min 400hp
    • 58 PSI 682cc/min 600hp

    VQ23DE Performance Exhausts

    You may need to replace your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

    On most factory exhausts you'll see your 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 usually air flow out of the engine but do not go too big or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

    Common exhaust restrictions are in the catalysts installed, so adding a freer 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 VQ23DE

    The VQ23DE 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.

    Keep an eye on the oil consumption, piston ring and cylinder wear is exacerbated by poor quality fuel resulting in blow by.

    Exhaust cam cover wear and failure can result in rough idling.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the VQ23DE, 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 VQ23DE engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss with our VQ23DE 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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    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 VQ23DE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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