Nissan VQ30DD Tuning

"All you need to know about performance tuning the Nissan VQ30DD engine!"

The Nissan VQ30DD are good project engines and with carefully picked motorsport upgrades like a remap, turbo kits and camshafts you will noticeably enhance your driving fun.

We shall examine the options for your VQ30DD tuning and show the optimum mods that work.

When direct injection was added we get the DD version of the VQ30 and this allows higher compression ratios and makes for pretty good economy to power ratios.

History, Power & Specs of the VQ30DD Engine

231 PS (170 kW; 228 hp) and 217 lbft (294 Nm)

  • 1997–1999 Nissan Leopard Y33
  • 1999–2004 Nissan Cedric Y34

245 PS (180 kW; 242 hp) and 228 lbft (309 Nm)

  • 1999–2004 Nissan Gloria Y34
  • 2001–2004 Nissan Skyline V35

259 PS (190 kW; 255 hp) and 239 lbft (324 Nm)

  • 2001–2004 Nissan Stagea M35

Tuning the Nissan VQ30DD and best VQ30DD performance parts.

Best VQ30DD parts

The greatest VQ30DD parts on an engine are typically the ones that give the best power gain for you spend.

We won't be swayed by popular VQ30DD parts, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the VQ30DD can be made from camshaft upgrades. Altering the camshaft profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the torque and power output.

Fast road cams tend to push up the power through the rev band, you might lose a little bottom end torque but the high end rpm power will be higher.

Competition cams, push up the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

In a road car you'll need to match your engines power to your preferences.

I'd be amazed if you find a VQ30DD Competition cam is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

Different VQ30DD engines respond better to less aggressive camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The ECU mapping and fuel pump and injectors also have an effect on the bhp gains you'll hit.

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

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

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

    The VQ30DD power plant respond well to mods and thanks to their popularity there is a lot of parts and tuning parts around.

    ECU mapping allows a tuner to fully realize the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your VQ30DD and this is best achieved with an aftermarket ECU.

    (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 vary depending on the upgrades you've done and the condition of your engine.

    Feeding more air into your VQ30DD is vital to any performance tuning project.

    The intake manifolds take the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    Shape and flow characteristics of the Intake manifold can make a substantial difference to fuel atomisation on the VQ30DD.

    Most air intake manifolds are in dire need of motorsport parts, although some OEM provide reasonably well designed air intake manifolds.

    Adding a VQ30DD larger valve kit, doing some port matching and head flowing will also boost power, & importantly will make space for raising the power increase on other mods.

    VQ30DD 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 VQ30DD

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

    However you will find engines have weakspots. Research these limits and install stronger pistons, crank and engine components to survive the power.

    It's not unheard of car owners spending a loads on turbocharger upgrades on the VQ30DD only to experience the whole thing catastrophically fail just after it's finished.

    Big turbo chargers tend to experience low end lag, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but don't have the peak end torque gains.

    Thanks to new tech the selection of turbo units is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

    Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into two channels and push these at differently designed vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

    You'll commonly see there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the VQ30DD when a lot 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 bhp and torque at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although harder to get working. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.


    Don't omit to ramp up the fuel delivery when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. Don't forget to be generous with your injectors flow rate.

    The accepted safe increase is to add another 20% when buying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and provides 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.

    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

    VQ30DD Performance Exhausts

    You only need to upgrade your exhaust if the current exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

    On most factory exhausts you'll see the flow rate is still good 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 avoid an exhaust that is 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 around 2.5 inches to maximise flow rates, and this should take into account the amount of air your engine is moving.

    Usual exhaust restrictions can be located the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a freer 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 VQ30DD

    The VQ30DD 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 VQ30DD, 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 VQ30DD engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss VQ30DD tuning options in more detail with our VQ30DD 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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