Carina Tuning

"Thanks for reading this Toyota Carina tuning tips."

The Carina is an awesome tuning project to do. We see loads of people wasting money on their Carina doing the wrong mods and then having to start over. Follow our tips to avoid ruining your car.

The Toyota Carina never really made the same impression on the world as the Corolla. It had a production run from the 1970's to 2000 and underwent a number of model makeovers. It is sadly overlooked by many looking for a car.

This is a shame because it is a nice package and a good base for a tuning project. You will find that the modifications are quite extensive as the car was certainly not designed with track days in mind. It was aimed squarely at the family and suffers from soft wallowing suspension.

The 130bhp 2.0 engines are the best to base your tuning project on, so if you have the 1.8 your best bet is actually to do an engine swap.

The Carina is sadly overlooked by many, despite its appearance it is actually a nice car to drive and with a few choice modifications you will end up with something quite special.

Handling modifications are usually your first port of call for the Carina. We suggest that you fit uprated suspension and lower the car by 30-35mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with sports suspension.

Top end power should be your overall aim on the Carina with a nice fat peak torque band. The best power gains come from larger engine sizes. The more you start with the bigger the return on investment so engine swaps are good value mods for small engined cars.

Toyota Carina Tuning modifications.

These are the motorsport mods are usually installed by our members, decide how far you want to go before you get going.

Getting the correct grade of modified modifications for your planned usage of the car is a time and money saver. Stage 3 motor sport parts just won't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - 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.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 27mm - 37 mm.), Remap, Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Panel air filter.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam, Ported and polished head, Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, Competition cam, Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves).

Your aim when modding the engine should be a wide torque curve. You don't want all the torque to be at the top end unless you are creating a motorsport car.

In this article we shall give a brief overview of the best upgrades for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance mod. One of the most cost effective mechanical mods you can do to your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road camshaft.

The exhaust and intake valve durations play a huge role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car hard to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a cam upgrade with other mods and finish with a reflashed ECU to fully realise your gains.

When pushing up the power you will need to pay attention to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

Using higher octane fuel is another option if you find you are suffering from pinking or premature ignition on your Toyota project after fitting other motorsport modifications. Uprated injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust.  Induction kits will only help to boost performance if your cars air intake is restricted!

Adding an induction kit to most low power engines will see ZERO LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL.

If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

Derestricting the air flow into the engine is a primary goal of car tuners so get a better flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean. Induction kits can sound fun but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not add noticeable power and actually rob you of power.

Do not go with the largest exhaust you can get this will slow the exhaust rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

flowed (porting and polishing) the head will allow you to maximise your air/fuel charge. Leave this to a professional though with a proper flow bench and machine tools When you heavily modify your Carina you will reach a point that the standard clutch starts to suffer so get an uprated clutch. The best mods that we recommend for your Carina are a remap especially on a turbo, a fast road camshaft and sports exhaust, with a good air intake.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A remapped turbo will give large power gains and fully release the potential power of the engine. Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Superchargers are often easier to add than turbos. With a turbo the boost curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it harder to map.

It is more straightforward to map a supercharger because the boost is correlating to engine speed on a linear curve. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.

Toyota Carina Wheel modifications.

The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. The downside to large alloy wheels on your Carina is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on performance. Although some people have gone larger we would stick to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum.

Please join us in our forum to discuss the Carina options in more detail with our Carina owners. It would also be worth reading our Carina tuning articles to get a full grasp of the pros and cons of each type of modification.

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