Volvo B230 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Volvo B230 engine!"

We shall review B230 tuning and show the best modifications. Volvo B230 have loads of potential and with carefully chosen motorsport tuning mods like a remap, turbo improvements and camshafts you will substantially maximise your driving fun.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

The B230 was a good solid reliable engine and found it's way into many Volvo models around the world with models that cater for the local fuel and power requirements to fit into the market, and it came as a 2.3 L (2,316 cc) SOHC 8-valve block

  • 1985–1986 B230F — 9.8:1 compression — 114 hp (85 kW; 116 PS) — U.S.
  • 1985–1987 B230E — 9.8:1 compression — 131 hp (98 kW; 133 PS)
  • 1988–1993 B230F — 9.8:1 compression — 114 hp (85 kW; 116 PS) — U.S.
  • 1985-1990 B230ET — 10.3:1 compression — 182 hp (136 kW; 185 PS) — Eu
  • 1985–1998 B230FT — 8.7:1 compression — 165 hp (123 kW; 167 PS) — US/Eu
  • 1993-1995 B230FB — 9.8:1 compression — 136 hp (101 kW; 138 PS) — Eu
  • 1994–1998 B230FK — 8.7:1 compression — 135 hp (101 kW; 137 PS) — Eu

Tuning the Volvo B230 and best B230 performance parts.

Best B230 tuning parts

The best B230 modifications on an engine are obviously the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular B230 modifications, they need to be cost effective.

Altering your B230 camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road cams tend to push up the performance across the rev band, you may lose a little bottom end torque but the higher rpm power will be lifted.

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

For a road car we recommend that you look at where you spend most time in your RPM range and then match your torque band to your preferences.

I'd be amazed if you have ever thought or claimed that a B230 Motorsport and race cam is a pleasure to live with when on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

Different B230 engines respond better to extreme cam durations than others.

The ecu map and fuelling also will say much on the power gains you'll hit.

Longer valve 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.

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

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

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

The B230 units are fantastic to work on and we're happy to report there is a growing number of mods and performance parts about.

remap will help to establish the full potential of all the parts you've done to your B230.

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

Shoving more air and fuel into your B230 is the main goal to any engine upgrade task.

Intake manifold transmit the air from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

The shape and flow characteristics of the Plenum can make a large effect on to fuel delivery on the B230.

On popular production engines plenum chambers are ripe for aftermarket tuning parts, although a few car makers provide fairly well optimized plenum chambers.

Larger B230 valves, doing some port matching and head flowing will also increase torque, and more importantly will raise potential for a greater torque increase on other parts.

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 B230

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

If the engine is turbocharged, parts are giving better power gains and turbo charged engines already contain stronger components.

However most engines have weakspots

We recommend you find these limitations and fit more solid crank and pistons to utilize the power.

We've seen car owners spending a loads on turbo charger upgrades on the B230 only to watch the motor throw a rod when it's finished.

Big upgraded turbos often suffer a bottom end lag, and low capacity turbos spool up quickly but don't have the peak rpm torque gains.

Thanks to new tech the selection of turbochargers is always moving on and we are seeing variable vane turbochargers, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and feed these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is not unusual that there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the B230 when loads more air is being drawn into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp 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 covering twinchargers if you want to read more.


When you improve the performance you will need to look at to the fuel system.

More performance needs more fuel. We strongly recommend you to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when fitting an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and provides 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.

B230 Exhaust upgrades

You only need to replace your exhaust if your exhaust is actually creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll find the flow rate is still ok 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 will certainly help air flow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too large or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalysts installed, so adding a higher 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 B230

The B230 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 B230, 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 B230 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our B230 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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One Response to “B230 Tuning”

  1. Dave says:

    We have been building the single overhead cam Volvo-Penta marine engines for about 30 years now. However, it’s time for me to retire. I have a number of 2.3 OHC blocks, cranks, rods and misc. ancillary stuff.

    Most of what we built was marine. I have two nice forged steel 2.5Liter B230 crankshafts in drop-in condition. The shortnose 63mm mains is also nitrated. The longnose is not, although it can take a thrust bearing on #3 or #5 Both standard size. Dave

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