Volvo B204 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Volvo B204 engine!"

Here we examine the options for your B204 tuning and show the ultimate modifications. Volvo B204 make awesome project engines and with the optimum parts like remapping, turbo kits and camshafts you will noticeably maximise your driving opportunities.

History, Power & Specs of the B204 Engine

1989–1993 B204GT B204FT

2.0 L (1,986 cc) DOHC 16-valve

Volvo 740/780/940/960

Tuning the Volvo B204 and best B204 performance parts.

Best B204 upgrades

Just because particular parts are are common on B204 it doesn't mean it is good, so we'll concentrate on the greatest parts that will give your B204 the best power gain for you spend.

Significant gains on the B204 can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the power band and power output.

Fast road camshafts tend to bump the bhp and torque across the rpm range, you could drop a little low down torque but the high end rpm power will be better.

Motorsport and race camshafts, bump 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 typical daily driver you need to optimize your engines power to your cars usage.

You will never find a B204 Motorsport 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.

Some B204 engines respond better to different cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The ecu map and fuelling also will make differences on the torque gains you'll get.

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

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

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

    The B204 power trains are great to work on and thanks to their popularity there are quite a few choices of upgrades and tuning parts about.

    A remap should help to unlock the full potential of all the parts you've done to your B204.

    (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 rely on the parts you've done and the condition of your engine.

    Feeding more air and fuel into each cylinder is the whole point to any performance tuning job.

    The intake manifolds take the air during the suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the Intake manifolds can make a large improvement to fuel engine efficiency on the B204.

    I usually find manifolds are begging for an upgrade, although some makers provide decently flowing headers.

    Increasing the B204 valve size, doing a bit of B204 port enlargement and head flowing will also increase torque, and importantly will permit an improved torque increase on other modifications.

    B204 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 B204

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

    If your car is fitted with a turbocharger parts are going to net you a larger power gain and you'll see that turbo charged engines are made using more solid components.

    There are common areas of failure for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some only just able to handle stock powerSee where you'll find these restrictions and fit higher quality components to utilize the power.

    There are many drivers spending a lot of money on turbo charger upgrades on the B204 only to have the car literally blow up when it's used on the roads.

    Bigger turbochargers will usually suffer a bottom end lag, and small turbochargers spool up more quickly but don't have the peak end engines power gains.

    Thankfully the selection of turbo units is always developing and we are seeing variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

    Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and feed these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

    It is common that there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the B204 when considerably more air is being sucked into the engine.

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

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


    When you increase the torque you will need to look at to the fuelling.

    More torque needs more fuel. It makes sense to over specify your injector capacity.

    The accepted safe increase is to add 20% when fitting an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and gives some 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.

    B204 Performance Exhausts

    You only need to replace your exhaust if your current exhaust is creating a restriction.

    On most factory exhausts you should find that your flow rate is still fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

    Don't go with the largest exhaust you can find you'll slow up the exhaust flow 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.

    Common exhaust restrictions come around the emissions filters installed, so adding a better 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 B204

    The B204 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.

    The B204 16 valve engines had balance shaft oil seals which are prone to leak and really should be replaced along with the worn shaft.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the B204, 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 B204 engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss B204 tuning options in more detail with our B204 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volvo tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

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