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scoobysmak 11-01-2013 09:55 AM

Looking for more power or possibly a motor swap please look here:
Well in the past couple of weeks I have noticed an abundance of motor swaps questions and how to get more HP from our trucks so to clean stuff up a bit and try to get all the information in one location I posted this sticky.

There are quite a few options out there but some are really costly and others might not suit your needs. 99% of the time the cheapest way to get more power is modify what you currently have but depending on how far you want to go is going to determine how much your going to spend and if you will be happy with the results later. Before you do anything I would ask myself the following questions:

1. What is my budget?
2. What is the purpose for more power, are you creating a drag truck, street truck, drift truck, show truck, rock crawler or just hate getting run over trying to get on the interstate.
3. What HP/TQ requirements do you need to achieve your goals (remember power is addictive, when I took out my V6 that had 170 HP at the crank and put in my motor swap that had 230 HP at the wheels and thought I would be happy....nope now I want more and its going to cost me so this refers back to question #1).
4. Are there any special criteria for your swap/engine enhancement such as, I want to keep a Nissan motor, I need this to fit in the engine bay along with my 22's when my truck is layed out at a show, or do I need this to achieve at least 25 mpg on the hwy.
5. Is this your only car or a daily driver that you can't live without, does it need to have stuff like A/C?

(for some basic engine stuff feel free to start here, TQ= torque / HP= horse power / RPM = revolutions per minute, engine speed, the amount of boost is usually referred to as PSI)

I am going to state some basic engine performance features so you can get a better understanding of what you might need. The saying goes there is "no replacement for displacement" is pretty accurate. I can have a 5.7L 350 HP LSX motor or a 2.0L 350 HP SR20DET, I would rather drive the LSX on the street. Some might ask why, answer, the LSX motor will have way better response because there is no turbo lag and way more TQ. Turbo lag is from the time you hit the go pedal hard to the time you start to feel the turbo boost (another term used for this is spool). As you increase the size of the turbo the longer your going to wait for the turbo to spool but the more power you can get from it. The S13 SR20 comes with a T25 turbo and spools at about 2000 RPM and creates 205HP but put a T3 turbo on it and it might be 4500 RPM before it spools but you could have increased your HP to 450. Needless to say to get 350 HP from my SR20 I have to increase the size of the turbo, so the longer I am going to wait before I start to feel it boost, on the street the other guy with the 350 HP LSX motor hit the go pedal and all your going to see is tail lights. Besides the turbo lag there is another reason your going to see tail lights, the 5.7L has way more TQ than the SR20. People generally say I want HP but in reality you want both HP and TQ. TQ gets you off the starting line, its that power you feel that puts you glued to the back of your seat. HP is the ability to achieve a higher top speed. There is a balance between HP and TQ, these guys putting fart can mufflers on a stock honda might have increased the HP at high RPMs but cut the TQ to get off the starting line. Most of these cars are actually slower on the street than before.

On the drag strip my SR20 is still not quite there to the LSX motor mentioned before but its a bit closer. You might ask why, they both produce the same HP and the SR20 doesn't have as much weight to it. For the SR20 to produce this power though you might have to rev it up to 3500-4000 RPM, this is to get the turbo to spool so when the green light hits your already in boost. The LSX motor probably will overcome this with the extra TQ it has but with the proper setup and driving skills the SR20 has a chance. The other thing about the SR20 is its a high RPM motor compared to most, the redline is around 7000 RPM so you can stay in the gears longer and not have to worry about shifting so much. You can increase the redline of both motors but in stock form the SR20 revs higher.

For the rock crawler/off road guys I need some input since this is not my normal road of travel you might say. I would rather have the V8 for the lower torque output to get up over obsticals, not sure if weight plays a big role in this or not.

Fuel mileage, well in all honesty I think they both are about the same on the hwy, on the street it more depends on your driving style (lead foot syndrome or I forgot what the right pedal does disease). Why on the hwy would they both be around the same, well the LSX to maintain 70 MPH in a D21 if geared right will be at around 1200-1800 RPM, the SR20 has to be geared more like 3000-4000 RPM. The advantage the SR20 has again is weight but this engine was designed back in the late 80's, the LSX on the other hand first appeared around 1997 and is probably a bit more efficient (this is my opinion but could be wrong). I would pick an SR20 over a 350 swap in the fuel mileage game but the 350 has come out with some parts that have made this engine a bit more efficient, you just need to pick your parts more carefully than the LSX motors.

Turbos, turbos, turbos...humm everyone seems to want this. Adding a turbo is a great way to add power but there are several factors that you need to think about BEFORE you do this. First is can your motor handle it, a normally naturally assperated motor (N/A) usually has too high of a compression ratio to handle boost because the fuel will detonate before the piston reaches top dead center, this is a really bad thing (its kinda like taking your piston out and beating the top of it with a hammer serval thousand times a minute, probably won't last long). In some cases you can get a metal head gasket that is thicker so you reduce the compression ratio to acceptable limits. If your going the turbo route you probably need a metal head gasket anyway, they usually work better than the paper ones. Of course if your rebuilding your motor this is the time to choose what path your going to take. Even if you use quality parts for an N/A motor and then decide to turbo it later you still will probably run into problems installing a turbo. You can build a motor for a turbo and leave it naturally aspirated but with the decreased compression ratio a turbo motor uses it will have less power and your fuel mileage will be lower as well until you add the turbo, overall not recommended. A higher compression ratio will burn a higher percentage of the fuel injected into the cylinder. When you start adding boost then you are forcing more air and fuel into the cylinder and need the lower compression ratio to compensate for the added pressures.

There are so many turbo options out there its unreal but there is a reason for it, a turbo needs to be sized correctly for your motor and your HP goals and how much turbo lag you can deal with. I have heard of an SR20 making 750 HP, wow that's great but uh wait a second you have to rev it to 6000 RPM before it makes any true power, below this RPM level your probably better of with a N/A 2.0L motor. Turbos have several options and I don't even know all of it but some of the basics that you will see options for is flange style, compressor wheel A/R, turbine wheel A/R, waste gate options, and plenty of others I can't think of at the moment. Flange style is more like say a 5 lug or 6 lug pattern, how the turbo will bolt up to the exhaust manifold and usually is associated with size as well so when you start digging into putting on a turbo it can be clear as mud what your looking for if you don't know already. This is why GOOD performance shops can charge so much, they have been there done that and know what works and what doesn't (NOTE: just because they are good, make sure they are good with the motor your going to use, don't ask me how I know). Just don't expect to hit the junk yard and randomly find a turbo from some other car thinking its your new life source, you will be sorely disappointed (unless you can win the lotto 5 times in a row don't think you will get lucky here either).

My last comments on swapping motors, the daily driver issue. Look at the motor you really want to use and go find normal wear and tear parts at your local auto part store or even the dealer. Let me know if you find a water pump for an RB25 or RB26??? I snapped my thermostat housing on my SR20, needless to say I had to mail order this part. I don't drive mine daily so it was not an issue for me but it might be for others. If your still on the fence here is the second part of a swap, the only engines that mount directly up and take no fabrication are the stock motors. If your truck came factory with the VG30 the VG30eT could possibly bolt up if you change where the exhaust manifold wraps around the back of the engine and the turbo gets moved from where the steering column goes on the truck. Now your talking a custom exhaust system from scratch. Otherwise I have not seen ANY motor that is a direct swap without having to fabricate at least one or both engine mounts and possibly the transmission mount for either stock motor (this includes the SR20, CA18 swaps as well).

I will add my personal experience, I swapped to an SR20 so that is why it is one of the motors I mentioned. I did my swap around 2003, needless to say the LSX motors were there but really expensive plus I wanted a Nissan motor. My other options I really wanted were the VG30DETT and the RB26. The VG30DETT was too wide to fit nicely between the wheel tubs for show, engine bay would have looked ugly in my opinion. The RB26 was a bit out of the budget at the time but the true killer was I couldn't have A/C. Living in FL without A/C would drive me nuts, I would almost never drive the truck so the extra 6 inches that the firewall would be moved back to fit the motor was not an option. Having the motor stick though the front bumper wasn't either so you can see where that got me. If you have enough money you probably could have the RB26 and A/C but that was not the case for me (say an electric style system from a prius or an aftermarket option).

Stock D21 truck motors, I use the D21 because that seemingly is the most common truck here but the frontier is very close to the D21 in some ways:

The Z24- which is a 4 cyl motor that I know almost nothing about
The KA24- which is a 2.4L 4 cyl inline single over head cam motor, there is a KA24 for the 240 SX that was dual overhead cam, you need to make several modifications for this to work in a truck (things like motor mounts, oil pans etc etc), there are quite a few performance parts for the dual overhead cam motor, some of which can be used on the truck motor but not all.
The VG30i/e- which is a 3.0L V6 single over head cam motor (the "i" was for like a throttle body injection and the "e" was for electronic injection), there is pretty much nothing for performance parts for this motor. The closest parts are for the Z31 Nissan 300zx with the N/A motor. Very reliable motor but I hate the timing belt and with almost no aftermarket support I choose to swap from this motor. Now I might think about a custom twin turbo option for this motor but still probably be too wide for my purpose.

For anyone looking at HP upgrades, here are a few threads dedicated to each motor. I would read each and look for the pros and cons of each and what suits you best, I hope this helps clear some of the questions that have been asked.

For Z24 questions go here:
Carb Kit for Z24 from a different forum:
????, need to find some good info, PM me if you find it before I do and add it.

For KA24 questions go here:
Difference between the KA motors:
For KA-T info:
For the KA24DE-R (It's the supercharged cousin to the KA-T):

For VG30i, VG30E, and VG33 important differences, I also believe there was a supercharger for the VG33 but have not found it to add a link:
Performance information for the VG30:

For SR20 questions or advice go here (2.0L 4cyl inline turbocharged):
The different SR20 motors that were produced and things to think about if you want to swap to this motor:
This is parts or performance information that might help:

For CA18 questions or advice go here (1.8L 4cyl inline turbocharged)

For RB20 questions go here:
I thought the RB20 and RB25/26 blocks were the same size so never included this before but maybe they are different, PM me if you have any good info on these so I can link to it.

For RB25/26 questions go here (2.5/2.6L 6 cyl inline turbocharged/twin turbocharged):

For VG30eT questions go here (3.0L V6 single overhead cam turbocharged):

For VG30DE questions go here (3.0L V6 dual overhead cam N/A):
I have not seen this swap done so far, no information but someone here is thinking about it

For VG30DETT questions go here(3.0L V6 dual overhead cam twin turbocharged):

For VH questions go here (Nissan V8 motor I believe, never investigated this):
Not sure if anyone has completed a project with this motor
the only input I have seen so far:

For Chevy LSX (this would be any Chevy 4.8/53./5.7/6.0 truck motor or your LS1/LS2/LS3 ect ect car motors)

For Chevy 350 or Ford 302/351 questions go here:
Create a thread, probably could be fairly basic but people really familiar with the motor could add great input

For the Ford 2.3L turbo motor here is a thread that should really help:

I found these links for injector sizing, there might be better options but these will give a few ideas and looked to be fairly complete, just make sure you read the information for the calculator so you put the correct data in to get the correct sizing.

If there are other swaps that you know the technical details of problems that someone else might encounter if they do the swap create a thread for it so I can link to it, example is a 1JZ or 2JZ (think I have seen that somewhere here before).

Some of this is a little basic but I admit before I bought an SR20 my knowledge of turbos was petty basic (CAVEMAN VOICE: engine exhaust spools turbo and forces more air and fuel into the intake). My dad made me put together my first car, this might not be the case for everyone so I hope this could be a good starting point for anyone.

If anyone has information on other swaps or ones I do not have information on please PM me so I can edit this thread.

dvdswan 11-01-2013 02:02 PM

Nicely put together!

Motorhead 12-10-2013 03:00 AM

nice job well said

fastazz240 01-24-2014 03:59 AM

was a very nice read Scooby just one thing to add the frontiers that have the DOHC ka in it there is a fairly well built Supercharger adapter for the 240 SX i am going to see if i can adapt it to the truck if i get the chance too. So yet another option for power.

scoobysmak 01-27-2014 06:05 PM


Originally Posted by fastazz240 (Post 373849)
was a very nice read Scooby just one thing to add the frontiers that have the DOHC ka in it there is a fairly well built Supercharger adapter for the 240 SX i am going to see if i can adapt it to the truck if i get the chance too. So yet another option for power.

Let me know if this works, might be something to modify a thread or two with.:thumb:

waker_mikie 03-16-2014 12:19 AM

Needs a RB20, I feel it doesn't fit in the rb25/26 range as it's smaller..close to sr

InissanT 03-20-2014 06:54 PM

Also, anyone with info on the Z24, I'd greatly appreciate it.

scoobysmak 03-21-2014 07:21 AM


Originally Posted by waker_mikie (Post 380601)
Needs a RB20, I feel it doesn't fit in the rb25/26 range as it's smaller..close to sr


Originally Posted by InissanT (Post 381192)
Also, anyone with info on the Z24, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I added a section to put a link for both motors, at this moment I dont have the information but when I find it or receive it I will link to it.

InissanT 03-21-2014 08:56 PM


Originally Posted by scoobysmak (Post 381263)
I added a section to put a link for both motors, at this moment I dont have the information but when I find it or receive it I will link to it.

Cool. Thanks man. I checked nico forum and there was a write up about a weber carb install, but it never said what carb kit to order. Sounds like something I really want to do, but without knowing exactly what to order, I'm still kind of clueless..hahahaha

InissanT 03-21-2014 10:34 PM

I found this info for an upgrade from the shitty TBI to a Weber carb for the Z24i even though Weber says it can't be done. It's a good read and worth it if you want a fairly easy bolt on upgrade.

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