Volvo B4184 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Volvo B4184 engine!"

This pages aim is examine B4184 tuning and provide tips on the greatest upgrades. Volvo B4184 make awesome project engines and with the right uprated upgrades like remaps, turbo kits and camshafts you will greatly improve your driving enjoyment.

History, Power & Specs of the B4184 Engine

  • 1.8L I4 (125 hp) B4184S2 B4184S11
  • 1.8L I4 (125 hp) B4184S2 B4184S8 Flexifuel

Tuning the Volvo B4184 and best B4184 performance parts.

Best B4184 parts

When talking about the optimum modifications for your B4184 engine, we are going to focus on the parts that give the best value for money.

Altering your B4184 cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road camshafts tend to increase the power across the rev band, you could drop a little low end bhp but high end rpm power will be better.

Race camshafts, increase the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport cam makes it harder 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.

You should ideally optimize your power band to your typical driving style so for a car driven daily stick with a fast road B4184 cam

Some B4184 engines respond better to less aggressive camshaft durations than others.

The ecu map and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the bhp gains you'll get.

A longer valve duration can alter the bhp 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, Panel air filters, Intake manifolds, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Fast road camshaft, drilled & smoothed airbox.

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

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

    The B4184 units are fantastic to work on and we're finding that there are plenty of upgrades and tuning parts around.

    ECU flashing will help to establish the full potential of all the parts you've done to your B4184.

    (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 power output usually vary depending on the parts you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

    It is the whole point to any engine performance tuning task to pull fuel and air into each cylinder

    An intake manifold will channel the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be fed into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    The shape and flow characteristics of the Intake manifold can make a big effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the B4184.

    It's not uncommon that intake are crying out for aftermarket tuning parts, although some OEM provide well optimised intake.

    Increasing the B4184 valve size, doing a bit of B4184 port enlargement and head flowing will also improve performance, this will permit raising the performance increase on other upgrades.

    B4184 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 B4184

    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.

    When an engine has a turbocharger tuning parts are going to make more power and we find turbo engines are built using stronger components.

    There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being very over engineered and some only just able to handle stock powerWe recommend you find these restrictions and fit stronger pistons, crank and engine components to survive the power.

    We see many tuners spending a fortune on turbo charger upgrades on the B4184 only to watch the whole thing go up in smoke on it's first outing after it's finished.

    Bigger turbochargers tend to suffer low end lag, and smaller turbochargers spool up quickly but won't have the peak end torque gains.

    We are pleased that the choice of turbochargers is always evolving and we are seeing variable vane turbochargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end power.

    Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and push 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 limitation in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the B4184 when considerably more air is being fed into the engine.

    Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting power at a much lower level.

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


    Don't forget to ramp up the fuel delivery when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. Most tuners we speak with say to be generous with your injector capacity.

    The rule of thumb is to add another 20% when fitting an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and allows you 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.

    All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

    4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

    • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp

    4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

    • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp

    4 Cylinder supercharged engines

    • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp

    B4184 Performance Exhausts

    You may need to uprate your exhaust if your current exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you'll see the flow rate is still good 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 out of the engine but do not go too big or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

    Typically exhaust restrictions can be located the 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 B4184

    The B4184 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 B4184, 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 B4184 engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss B4184 tuning options in more detail with our B4184 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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    We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which tuning parts 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 B4184 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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