Volvo B42 Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Volvo B42 engine!"

In this article we outline options for your B42 tuning and summarise the greatest upgrades. Volvo B42 provide a fun base for your project and with the best performance parts like remaps, turbo kits and camshafts you will dramatically maximise your driving enjoyment.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

Tuning the Volvo B42 and best B42 performance parts.

Best B42 mods

When talking about the ultimate modifications for your B42 engine, we are going to concentrate on the mods that give the best power gain for you money.

Altering your B42 camshaft will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance camshaft profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road camshafts usually bump the bhp and torque through the rpm range, you may sacrifice a little low end bhp but the top end will improve.

Motorsport camshafts, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a typical daily driver must carefully try to match your torque band to your usage of the car.

I'd be completely gobsmacked if you find a B42 Motorsport and race camshaft is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic because low end power will be very lumpy. Competition cams are designed for maximum power at the top end of the RPM range, a place that most daily commutes will not permit!

Different B42 engines respond better to different cam durations than others.

The map and fuelling also have a large bearing on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

Altering valve durations 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.

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, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, drilled & smoothed airboxPanel air filters.

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

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

The B42 units respond well to upgrades and we're happy to report there is a lot of parts and performance parts around.

ECU flashing should help to release the full potential of all the modifications you've done to your B42.

(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 the end result often differs on the modifications you've applied and the condition of your engine.

It is the whole point to any tuning project to get air into each cylinder

Intake manifold carry the air from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The size of bore and shape and flow rate of the Air Intake manifolds can make a substantial improvement to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the B42.

Many mass produced engine intake are needing performance upgrades, although some makers provide well optimised intake.

Larger B42 valves, getting 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also boost performance, the fantastic side effect is it will permit an improved performance increase on other modifications.

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 B42

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

If your car has a turbocharger parts are more reliable and we find turbocharged engines are made with many forged and stronger components.

However you'll find engines will have power limits

It is important to find these limits and fit more solid crank and pistons to cope with the power.

There are many guys spending a lots of money on turbo upgrades on the B42 only to watch the motor catastrophically fail on it's first outing after it's been enthusiastically driven.

Large upgraded turbo chargers commonly suffer a bottom end lag, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up really quickly but won't have the peak end bhp gains.

Thanks to new tech the world of turbo units is always improving and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and flow these at differently profiled vanes in the turbocharger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on the B42 when a lot more air is being drawn into the engine.

We note 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 power gains, although more challenging to configure. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so need to ramp up the fuelling when you start extending past 20% of a bhp and torque increase.Most tuners we speak with say to over specify your injectors flow rate.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and provides 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.

Exhaust

You should look to improve your exhaust if your current exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you'll see 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.

Please dont run with the biggest 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.

Usual exhaust restrictions are traced to the filters installed, so adding a freer 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 B42

The B42 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 B42, 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 B42 engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our B42 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which 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 B42 tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

Please Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...

PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Feedback - What do You Think?

Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article, I really want to improve this article with your help and suggestions.


Please watch this video and subscribe to my YouTube channel.



Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).


BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning

Popular articles

Tuning Diesels
ECU Remaps
double clutching
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Tuning Chips
Insuring Modified Cars
Track day insurance
Diesel Remaps
MPG calc
DPF unblocking tips
Tuning in Forza


Gearboxes

Low ratio sport gearbox setup and selection.
Read more...

Converting A Car To Ev

Converting a car to EV
Read more...

Flip Paint

Getting a flip paint effect
Read more...

Vehicle Wraps

Total vehicle wraps and applying vinyl wrap to your car.
Read more...

Dent Removal

Removing dents
Read more...

2006 Car News

Review of car news during 2006
Read more...

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG
Read more...