Volvo V50 Tuning

"Thanks for reading this Volvo V50 tuning guide."

The V50 is a good tuning project to execute. If you do your homework then you can create an awesome V50 but don't be fooled there are lots of performance kits out there that will simply not suit it read our unbiased guides first.

The Volvo V50's are actually awesome to work on and with carefully chosen sports enhancements like a remap, turbo improvements and camshafts you will greatly maximize your driving pleasure.

We find that most of the Volvo engines have been setup for reliability and there is a wide scope for tuning them and  getting more power, especially on the turbocharged engines.

Let us review and look at V50 tuning and show the best modifications.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Tuning modifications.

The following mods and ugprades are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you start.

There were quite a few engines fitted to the V50, with some responding better than others to tuning. We will be adding some engine specific tuning guides that go more indepth on our Volvo tuning section.


Diesel: (not available in North America)


Getting the best uprated upgrades for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 competition upgrades just don't work well on the road hard to control in slow traffic.

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 mods for your V50

  1. Brake Mods - Improve your ability to stop should be somewhere in your mods list.
  2. V50 Suspension Tuning - Upgrading your suspension greatly enhances your V50 road holding and cornering. Adjustable coilovers and better bushings are what is needed here.
  3. Flowing and porting the engine head - for larger gains, you will get better flow and make a more efficient engine if you do this to support your other mods.
  4. Lighter flywheels - a lower weight flywheel will improve the engines free revving nature. Not not a great upgrade for all V50 engines.
  5. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - Adding a turbocharger is the most dramatic method to increase air supply, which permits you to use more fuel and make better power figures. Although one of the most technically difficult modifications it offers big gains.
  6. Intake Upgrades and Sports Exhausts - Please be warned on their own these mods won't ADD HP , but they will enable you to enhance power after other mods by losing a restriction.
  7. ECU Tunes - V50 engine tuning/remapping ensures the biggest gains for your outlay, aftermarket ECU upgrades, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  8. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but we recommend they be setup by someone familiar with setting them up on your car and they are not always easy to source but we are sure you'l; find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft for you.

V50 Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Lighter flywheel, Sports exhaust, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Panel air filter, Alloy wheels, Suspension upgrade (drop 29mm - 42 mm.).

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, Power/Sport clutch, Fast road cam, Ported and polished head.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Sports gearbox, Competition cam, Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

Peak power is good on competition cars but for a daily driven car you need a long torque band and perhaps extending the rev range.

The whole point of our hints is to give a brief overview of customizing mods and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best sport parts and all aspects of modding cars.

V50 Handling/Suspension upgrades

Many V50 owners uprate the handling of their cars with coilover suspension modifications as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

We found that most V50 factory suspension setups need tweaking, a few degrees of toe (set some toe out to improve cornering or use toe in for better stability) and you only need around 0.8 to 1.3 degrees, and a little negative camber will dramatically benefit your cornering and handling.

We would go to a maximum drop of 29mm - 42 mm. on most models. You risk grounding out if you go lower than this.

Improvements to the bushings

Enhancements to the bushings: Things you need to know

Bushings, which are rubber mounts, allow the V50's suspension components to be affixed to the car's chassis. The rubber ones will lose their shape with time.

Installing new OEM rubber bushings may dramatically improve the performance of your car.

Because polyurethane bushings are stiffer, the ride may be rougher, but the bushings will last longer and maintain the car's handling over a longer time.

Worn bushings may also quicken the stress of other suspension components due to the increased vibration and play.

With a new set of polyeyurothane bushes, the excessive play associated with rubber bushings may be mitigated.

You may struggle to find a full set of poly bushings, but most areas have the primary mounts available. Often, custom V50 polyeyurothane bushings may be manufactured to your requirements.

How low should you go on the V50?

When it comes to road vehicles, the maximum suspension drop is 29 - 40 mm, but when it comes to cars that are factory fitted with lowered springs, the maximum suspension drop is 17 mm, according to TorqueCars.

These tolerances may be drastically reduced if the wheel size is changed. Even with 17" wheels and stock suspension, lowering the vehicle might result in lots of problems.

Stability may be improved by lowering the V50, but the ultimate goal should always be to enhance handling. It is critical to use the right shocks when employing lower springs.

Fully adjustable suspension allows you to fine tune the handling of you V50 radically improving your drive.

V50 Brake Mods

For dramatically enhanced stopping you should get better high friction brake pads and combine this with meatier brake discs.

We should point out that motorsport brake pads will be noisy and will need to be hot before they are effective.

On your regular commute to work the brakes are only used rarely, therefore won't be as effective at slowing you up so source brake pads which have a low working temperature.

Power Mods and Upgrades

For dramatically improved braking you should get better quality pads and combine this with bigger discs.

We should point out that some performance friction pads can grind and will have to be hot before they are effective.

On a road car the brakes are occasionally used, therefore won't stop you as well so select brake pads which have a low working temperature.

Our aim in engine tuning should be to increase peak power and torque at the top end.

V50 make good sleepers if you debadge them and fit the most powerful engine mods and handling mods you can !

Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have a small engine size.One of the best mechanical sports upgrades you can do to your NA (naturally aspirated) engine is to fit a fast road cam .

The exhaust & intake flow play a big role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car challenging to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a performance chip to fully release the power gain.

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to look at the fuelling.

Frequently power losses, flat spots and erratic idling after performance parts are done can usually be traced to timing or fuelling issues. To get sufficient fuel you may need to uprate the injectors on your engine.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

V50 Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. 

Please note that WE DO NOT FIND IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car with over 30 percent more power and are finding that the standard air intake has become the bottleneck.

Induction kits can work well on turbo engines and larger engines (if supplied with a suitable cold air feed or air box), generally though we'd just recommend for V50 engines you should just fit a sports panel air filter preferably made from cotton.

Sports exhausts balance the flow of air through the engine. But if the exhaust pipe is too big, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the exhaust flow rate and end up losing power and torque.

Airflow through the head can be dramatically increased with some professional flowed (porting and polishing). These should match and be setup to take into account any other engine mods. When you start tuning your V50 you will often find that the standard clutch starts to fail so get an uprated clutch. The best mods we would do for your V50 are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications. With turbocharged engines this is another story. A tuned/remapped turbo will give significant power gains and fully release the potential power of the engine. The most impressive power gains for NA (naturally aspirated) engines usually involve the addition of forced induction. Superchargers are usually easier to add than a turbo. It is more challenging to map a turbo as the boost comes on exponentially with revs.

Superchargers, however will give a boost which is correlating to engine speed so is simpler. Adding forced induction will nearly always require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

V50 Alloy wheel upgrades.

Alloy wheels will help the brakes cool down and are generally lighter than the steel ones. Further improvements can be made to your cars handling with the addition of track legal slick tire. We should point out that although they can look cool on the V50 big alloys will actually decrease your performance. The larger you go the lower your acceleration will be - this to the change in your effective final drive ratio.

Due to this we would advise sticking to a maximum wheel size of 16 inches, although we know some of our members have fitted larger wheels with no problems.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss V50 options in more detail with our V50 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Volvo tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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