PSA DT17/DT20 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the PSA DT engine!"

The PSA DT makes a good tuning project and with carefully picked sports modifications like ECU maps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will positively maximize your driving enjoyment.

Our aim here is to examine the options for your DT17/DT20 tuning and show the best upgrades.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

Built through a venture with Ford, Jaguar and LandRover the Lion engine V6 diesel was conceptualized. (Other brands badged this the AJD V6)

This is a 60-degree V6 engine, twin-turbo diesel, 2,993 cc (3.0 L; 182.6 cu in), the Crankcase and cylinder block are of a Graphite iron cross bolted block that has been compacted

Valvetrain and cylinder heads on the DT is of a DOHC, high-strength aluminum, with four valves per cylinder

Power is increased by virtue of the twin turbochargers, electronically operated variable geometry, transient over-boost capabilities, and a port deactivation mechanism

DT17 — 2.7 L (2,720 cc)
DT20 — 3.0 L (2,993 cc)

Tuning the PSA DT and best DT performance parts.

Best DT17/DT20 upgrades

When talking about the best modifications for your DT engine, we are going to focus on the parts that give the biggest return for your cash.

In a typical daily driver must carefully try to match your engines power to your typical driving style.

Different DT engines respond better to more aggressive cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuelling also have an effect on the power gains you'll make so engine tuning/remapping after your mods is compulsory and release the full gains from all of your upgrades.

Extending exhaust or intake durations 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 mods for your DT

  1. Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  2. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - A New Turbo is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. Although one of the most costly upgrades it does provide the largest gains.
  3. Intake Mods and Exhaust Upgrades - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Fast road cams are generally the biggest mechanical mod upgrade, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they are doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  5. Tunes - A Remapped DT ECU provides the biggest gains in terms of cost, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.

So we will break these usual recommendations down and see if these 'best mods' are appropriate for your car and we shall look in detail at the mods that will work for you and your needs.

DT Tuning Stages

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

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

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

It's because of the popularity of the DT engines that there are more modifications and parts for them than there used to be.

DT remappingECU mapping allows a tuner to get the most out of all the changes you've made to your DT.

When the factory ECU is locked, flashing it isn't an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the best option. Many of these will outperform factory ECUs, but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it set up correctly before you buy one.

It will usually give you about 30% more power on turbocharged cars, and about 15% more power on NA (naturally aspirated) engines. The amount of power you get will depend on the modifications you've made to your car and the condition of your engine.

DT Intake and Fuelling upgrade ModsIt is the whole point of any task to get fuel and air into your DT.

They let the air from the air filter get through and into the engine cylinders, so it can start the engine.

This can make a big difference in how well the fuel mixes and how much power it makes on the DT.

Although some manufacturers supply pretty well designed plenum chambers, many mass manufactured engine plenum chambers are enhanced by aftermarket components.

Adding a DT bigger valve kit, as well as some DT port enlargement and head flowing, will boost performance and, as an additional bonus, will allow room for a higher performance gain on other components.

DT 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 DT

Getting more air into an engine means that it can burn more fuel, and adding a turbocharger makes a huge difference.

When your car has a turbocharger, it's easy to make changes, and we usually find that turbocharged engines have better parts.

Every engine has a limit to how much it can be tuned. Some engines are very well-designed and can handle a lot of power, while others can only handle a lot of power at the stock setting.

Fit better pistons and cranks to deal with the extra power.

It's humiliating to see the engine block throw a rod on the DT's first outing after it has been driven a lot.

Big turbos will usually suffer low end lag, and small turbos spool up much more quickly but do not have the peak rpm torque gains.

Variable vane turbos have been around for about 20 years now, and they change the shape of the vane based on how fast the car is going. This helps to reduce lag and increase top-end power.

Twin scroll turbos split the exhaust flow into two different channels and feed them to different vanes in the turbo. As a result, they also help the engine clean itself.

It's not unusual for the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the DT to have a limit when a lot of air is being sucked into the engine.

Going up, you'll see 4 bar air sensors that can handle a lot more power gains than the air sensor that came with the car.

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

Intercooler upgrades om the DT

It turns out that the colder the air is, the more oxygen it has. This is based on chemistry and physics.

What is the point of this? In order to burn diesel fuel, you need oxygen, and the more oxygen you have, the more fuel you can burn, which increases the car's speed and power. In order to learn more about this, check out the page on air inlets.

It's important to know what an intercooler is and what it does.

An intercooler should be viewed as a radiator that cools the air charge before it goes into the engine.

Make sure to put an intercooler in front of the radiator to take advantage of all the lovely cold air that is coming into it.

It would go after the air intake filter and before the turbocharger or supercharger, where most of the heat comes from.

Most vehicles feature front-mounted intercoolers that sit in front of the radiator and, as a result, offer superior air cooling than top-mounted intercoolers.

This means you should think about how little air gets to the radiator, so you might need to change your car's radiator in very bad situations if you want to keep the temperature low on the track.

An intercooler that is well-designed can provide 5% to 10% more power and last longer when it gets hot.

DT Fuelling improvements

Don't overlook the need to uprate the fuel system when you are increasing the bhp - it makes the car more thirsty. Don't forget to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add 20% to the flow rate when buying 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.

DT Exhaust upgrades

People should only look to add exhaust if their current exhaust is clogging up the flow.

On most factory exhausts, you'll be able to get enough exhaust flow even with typical power gains. When you start to push the power levels, you'll need to get a better exhaust.

Sports exhausts will help with air flow from the engine, but don't go too wide. You might end up clogging up your flow rate and making things worse, so be careful. So, for the most part, keep the size between 1.5 and 2.5 inches for the best results.

Adding a better-flowing race alternative, like a sports catalyst, removes this restriction because it has a bigger size and surface area. This means that the car's performance will rise to the level you would expect without a catalyst, but it will still be legal to drive on the road.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the DT

The DT 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 DT, 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 DT engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our DT owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning 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 hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which 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 DT tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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One Response to “DT Tuning”

  1. Phill Glasson says:

    Great article, however I’m not looking to increase the top end of my DT17, what I want is to reduce the turbo lag. It nearly kills me every time I enter a roundabout, thinking I’ve got plenty of time, but the lack of throttle response is attrocious. What can I do to address that in my DT17?

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