3.6 VR6 EA390 engine Mods

"VAG EA390 Mods"

VAG EA390 tuning and the finest EA390 performance components for the 3.6 VR6 engine range (EA390). This article focuses on the 3.6 VR6 but we cover other variants in our EA390 guide.

We look into EA390 tuning and highlight the best modifications that work. The 3.6l VR6 FSI engine, which was initially introduced in the Audi Q7 in 2005, is an extremely dependable and robust engine.

This 3.6 VR6 engine has a 24-valve cylinder head with four valves per cylinder. The VR6 delivered powerful performance and silky-smooth power delivery.

VAG EA390s are excellent project engines, and with well-selected motorsport grade improvements, you can significantly improve your driving pleasure.

We've seen EA390 projects get 550-600hp, which is fairly astounding, but the block is sturdy, proven, and tested, and there are many tuning options available, including the ability to switch cranks and heads around to generate additional power without affecting the cylinder capacity.

EA390 Engine History, Engine Codes & Specs

3.6 VR6 power specs and applications

Please watch our video which covers mods & upgrades on the VR6. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Modifications for Your 3.6 VR6

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping offers the largest cost reductions, however aftermarket ECUs and piggyback ECUs are also options.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most important mechanical adjustments, but they must be fitted by someone who knows what they're doing, and they're not always easy to locate. However, you may be able to find a local outfit to regrind a standard camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Keep in mind that these changes will NOT ADD POWER ON THEIR OWN in most circumstances, but they may aid boost power after other mods by eliminating the limitation.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers – forced induction is the most efficient way to increase air supply, enabling you to burn more gasoline while producing more power. It is one of the most expensive modifications, but it delivers the finest results.
  5. Porting and flowing the head's aims are to get air flowing into the engine while reducing flow limitations and turbulence.

3.6 VR6 Tuning Stages

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

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

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

Best tuning modifications for the 3.6 VR6

Just because a component is popular among EA390 owners doesn't imply it's worth having, therefore we'll concentrate our attention and tuning suggestions on the parts and upgrades that will offer your EA390 the most value for money in terms of power gain.

Cam improvements may result in significant increases. Changing the cam profile on an engine changes the intake and exhaust durations, which may have a significant impact on torque and power production.

Fast road camshafts often boost torque across the rev range; you may lose some low-end power, but your higher-rpm power will be greater.

Despite having a V layout engine, the EA390 utilised a DOHC design due to the near closeness of the cylinders in each bank.

EA390 Camshaft upgrades

Motorsport camshafts boost the higher rpm power range, but the vehicle does not idle smoothly and low end power almost always suffers as a consequence. Cams with durations ranging from 264 to 272 seem to be the most popular options on this block.

On a regularly driven automobile, strive to adapt your power band to your normal driving style.

When driving in heavy traffic, a Race camshaft will never be a joy to live with since the bottom end power will be highly lumpy. Competition cams are engineered to provide maximum power at the high end of the RPM range, which most everyday commutes do not allow!

Different EA390 engines react better than others to less aggressive cam durations.

The map, as well as the fuel pump and injectors, will have a large impact on the power improvements you'll get but maps are best done last to ensure you get the best from all your other mods.

A longer valve duration may change the power band, and on most engines, the exhaust and intake durations do not have to match; nonetheless, although most cams and tuners employ matched pairs, there are certain benefits to lengthening the intake or exhaust durations.

Remapping the EA390 3.6 VR6

ECU mapping will assist you in determining the full potential of all the enhancements you've installed on your EA390.

(In certain circumstances, since the factory ECU is locked, flashing is not an option, therefore an aftermarket ECU is the way to go, and many of them will outperform original ECUs; however, be sure it has knock protection and that it is correctly configured.)

It will typically provide roughly 30% more power on turbocharged cars and 15% more power on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, although your mileage may vary depending on the changes you've made and the state of your engine.

Any engine tuning work requires getting air into each cylinder.

During the suck phase, intake transports air from the air filter and allows it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

The design and flow parameters of the EA390's intake may have a significant impact on fuel atomisation and engine efficiency.

Although some OEM give quite well tuned intake manifolds, it is not unusual for them to beg for an upgrade.

Fitting huge valve kits, performing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs, porting, and head flowing will all boost bhp and, more importantly, give room for a larger bhp gain on other tuning tweaks.

Turbo Upgrade kits for the EA390 3.6 VR6

The more air that enters an engine, the more gasoline that can be burned, thus improving induction with a turbocharger modification results in enormous power improvements.

Because NA (naturally aspirated) engines need a lot of work when you install a turbo, we have a separate tutorial to assist you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of taking this path on your EA390.

However, there are a few kits available, making this a considerably smoother procedure since most of the bugs and difficulties have been ironed out.

Assuming perfect fuel delivery, air metering, and timing, and a powerful enough engine, the following peak power ratings may be attained with their respective turbo packages on the VR6.

  1. T3/T4 T3T04E 450hp Hybrid Turbo
  2. 480hp GARRETT T3/T4
  3. 525hp GARRETT GT3076R
  4. 500hp Garrett GT(X) 3076
  5. EFR 7670 470hp Borg Warner
  6. EFR 8374 630hp Borg Warner

If your vehicle is turbocharged, modifications will increase power more than they would on the stock NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

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

Every engine has similar points of failure, with some being overspecified and others barely able to handle stock power.

Determine these constraints and install forged components to handle the force.

Many folks spend a lot on turbocharger improvements for the EA390, only to have the whole thing throw a rod when it's finished.

Big turbochargers often have little power at low rpm, while compact turbochargers spool up rapidly but do not have the peak end engine power benefits.

Fortunately, the world of turbo chargers is always improving, and we are seeing variable vane turbo chargers, which enable the vane profile to be varied based on speed to reduce latency and boost top end power.

Twin scroll turbo chargers split exhaust gases into a pair of channels and direct them to variously shaped vanes of the turbocharger. They also improve the engine's scavenging ability.

It is fairly uncommon for these engines to have an air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) restriction when additional air is put into the engine.

As you go up the scale, you'll see 4 bar air sensors dealing with fairly substantial power improvements, when the OEM air sensor was limiting performance at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or another turbo will result in significant power improvements, but will be more complicated to setup. If you want to learn more, check out our twincharger power increasing tutorial.

EA390 Fuelling Upgrades

You must guarantee that the engine is not deprived of gasoline, therefore pay attention to the fueling when you start extending over 20% of a horsepower increase.

The high pressure fuel pump will be the first component that needs upgrading on the EA390, the stock injectors will handle around 425hp!

When you hit power around 450hp you'll need to investigate piggy-back port injection, assuming you've already done that high pressure fuel pump upgrade we just mentioned.

Don't forget to overspecify the flow rate of your injectors.

When purchasing an injector, the rule of thumb is to add extra 20% to account for injector degradation and to provide for some spare capacity in case the engine requires more fuel.

Exhaust Mods for the EA390

Only consider increasing your exhaust if your present exhaust is causing a limitation.

Even with moderate power improvements, most factory exhausts will have a good flow rate, but once you start pushing the power levels, you'll need a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts may typically increase engine air flow, but don't go too big or you'll merely stuff your flow rate and make matters worse. So, for the greatest outcomes, go to a size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

Typically, exhaust constraints can be traced back to the catalyst and filters fitted, therefore replacing the catalyst with a freer flowing performance catalyst eliminates the restriction. We should mention that performance cats operate similarly to decats and have the extra advantage of keeping your car street legal, since decats or catalyst removal are unlawful in most regions for road-going vehicles.

Points of weakness Problems and issues with the EA390

The EA390 engines are typically dependable and sturdy machines, as long as you adhere to the manufacturer's service schedules and use high-quality oil. Few issues should arise as long as they are serviced and maintained on a regular basis.

Carbon buildup in the head, especially around the valves, can drain power or cause flat spots; this is more of a problem with direct injection engines, but it should be avoided on all engines. We provide suggestions for eliminating carbon build up..

Some of our members have reported flat spots or difficulties after applying modifications, upgrades, or tuning; this is typically unrelated to the engine's design; instead, check our page (diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning), which should help you get to the bottom of the problem.

Early versions had stuttering and power loss due to coil pack failure, however most have since been replaced.

Because the CAM belt tensioner is prone to failure, we suggest that you replace it together with the belt and inspect it on a regular basis.

Regular oil changes are essential on the EA390, particularly when tuned, and will assist prolong the engine's life and dependability.

We appreciate hearing about what our visitors have been up to and which enhancements work best for you on your vehicle. As a result, we can keep our instructions and advice up to date and assist others with their customised automobile projects.

Your suggestions and comments are utilised to keep this website up to date and to enhance the accuracy of these articles, which are continually updated and edited.

If you want to learn more about tuning your VAG engine or simply receive some kind assistance, please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss EA390 tuning choices in more depth with other EA390 owners. It's also recommended reading our impartial VAG tuning articlesto fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of each tweak.

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