PERFORMANCE BUILD UPGRADE GUIDE
for the 3000GT VR
For a while now some people have asked for a
'upgrade' list or 'staged upgrade' compilation. And while there are a
few floating around the internet they all fall short in their own way. They are either outdated or just regurgitated
copies of someone else's.
So here you go. A brand new and original.
First note that this is a lot of reading and I will try to break it up with some graphics if I can. But this area
is for those that are serious about doing a performance build on their VR4 (or TT) and want to know in
advance how to best plan it out and no
t waste money or ruin their engine and/or car. So with that in mind
this will be mostly all text.
Much of this information, advice, or whatever you want to call it, comes from years of answering email or
NW3S forum questions. So it is comprehensive in n
ature and covers things as if the reader is brand new
to performance building of the 3000GT or in general.
This is addressing the
twin turbo VR4
. There are two other models of the 3000GT which are both N/A (Naturally
Aspirated). In other words
rbo and FWD (Front Wheel Drive). I do not address those models here but some of
the performance sections can easily apply.
While there are things that can be done to modify or add performance to the NA models this will stay on the topic of
VR4s because th
at is the performance model of the 3000GT. Even with lots of modifications and upgrades to an NA
model the VR4 model will still just come along and out
perform the other models easily. The AWD and TT alone
surpasses whatever mods you might do to an NA.
r those contemplating turbocharging your NA model 3000GT:
CLICK HERE to see why this is not a good idea.
With that said, let’s get some groundwork and basic concepts out of the way
roperly doing a performance build on your VR4!
Don't skip this (or other text) because you don't want to READ. You must understand certain concepts
and methodology for this to do the most good. Only in this way will the later information do you the most
good or make the most sense to you.
Trust me tha
t I know this is a lot of text. I had to type it all out.
But it is all relevant and will play a role in the overall planning here.
First of all
this is unlike other places that refer to “stages” or “staged upgrades” that MUST be done in order or are
packages’ that some shop puts together. Instead it is a reasonable course of progression to take. Some things
done before others certainly. But others
(e.g.: like keeping the stock turbos but putting on a big FMIC for
show, that is not only s
tupid but degrades the cars performance too! Very ricey type of thing to do)
So realize that
certain things do have to be done before others or at the same time.
Another good example of this is larger
injectors. That is a big step because you must install
the proper electronics to control those bigger injectors. That isn't
an option but a must to make the car run.
So you can assign whatever 'stage' or number you want to. Those really mean nothing except a point of
reference. There is no standard and every
persons 'stage II' (or whatever) will be entirely different.
There will also always be things that are not included here. There are new things cropping up all the time for cars. As
is for aftermarket body parts and so forth. But instead this is the basics
at the time of writing or maybe a few things
that I like or think are a nice upgrade or performance addition.
Let's talk about where to get your info, parts, or advice.
I put this here because it ALWAYS seems to play a role in every car brought to my
tune, upgrade, or plan out a performance build.
I’ve built quite a few high performance cars over the years. Starting with bigblock chevy's in the 70s and working at a
speed shop specializing in dyno tuned race engines and machining (my first real
job, lol). For VR4s there’s my own
blue 95 (on this site) that, counting the car itself in 1995 , I have approximately $100,000 into with the engine,
transmission, suspension, and interior and electronic modifications upgrades. Then there’s my drag race ca
r that is
over 1,000 HP and over $175,000 in that build. In addition to these I’ve consulted, spec’d and built (along with my
race team co
members) a lot of cars ranging from simple tuneups and BPU (Basic Performance Upgrades) all the way
to several big pe
rformance builds in the ranges of $25
40,000 per car. So the average is about 10
15 3000GTs per
year that I either consult on or work with. Most every one of them wants some level of performance added. Some a
little, some a whole lot. Something to note is
that all my cars run and are not in various stages of needing this or
fixing that. They run and drive as designed and have no problems due to the modifications, build or anything else.
That's the ideal goal right?
The reason reason I bring this up is that
you want to
seek advice or listen to people that have physically done a
performance build (or preferably several) and have the experience and knowledge to back it up
. I have
seen time and time again people planning their build from
reading things on an
internet forum, and/or
on a performance parts retailer website and buying things before they even knew what they did or needed to support
them. I’ve had many a person show up with boxes of performance parts he purchased and wants them ‘install
This is totally the wrong way to plan or do things. It makes the build 10X harder (
is driven by the parts purchased rather than the other way around like it should be!
Or of course there are those that have a ‘
’ that advises them even though he personally has never in their life
done any of these things being discussed. Gauge things based on success or real time when you get serious about the
plan. This is the same thing on
. Advice abounds and co
mes from lots of people that have no idea
other than what they have read. They also like to nutswing on some of the more popular members or builders (do
they score points?
They are just parrots that regurgitate what they read without a full knowledg
even what they write.
You will also find that a majority of the time their car is not running or they are 'waiting' for that extra money for their
'big build' or those new turbos. In the meantime the car sits, leaks oil like a sieve and doesn't hardly
run. Essentially a
rust bucket they got for cheap and has more things wrong with it that right. Seems like the person to take advice
from right? (sarcasm here). In short it's called consider the source advice.
are quick to write up advi
ce or even what others are ‘doing wrong’. It’s rather funny sometimes except
it can sway a new person to waste thousands of dollars and then try and sell things to recoup MAYBE some of their
money back. There’s no shortage of people that got bad advice and
ran out of money which completely ended their
hopes for a performance build. Sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
So take ALL advice from
random strangers on the internet with a bit of skepticism.
I'm not saying that there are not people
what they are talking about on the forums or internet (hey, you're reading this! LOL). Instead I am saying you must
weed through the 'free advice from the peanut gallery'
and be careful in putting too much of your
decision process from t
his type of casual information. After all, if they are wrong who's out the money? YOU!
This goes for the internet racers too if racing is your goal. Those that quack all day about this or that HP or racing
times or so on. All the time the fact being they’
ve never done anything themselves except maybe a few mods and all
the rest is, again,
Unfortunately when they parrot they add in or leave out important
things that the performance builder NEEDS to know in order to have it work properly or
not waste build
ONLY THOSE THAT HAVE DONE IT will 100% truly understand the process, setbacks, planning needs and
As for listening to multiple builders
most will all have close to the same advice with a few minor differences here
re if they specialize in the 3000. But once in a while they differ a lot on their advice. This is either due to
personal preferences or they have a financial angle to their advice (i.e.
they are a seller of performance parts). I
don't say this as a negat
ive thing but it is something to keep in mind as a reality. They want to sell you THEIR stuff.
Both can be correct in their own way but have differing priorities or methods (more on priorities on page 2). So
understand that if they do not agree it does no
t mean either is wrong or right. Instead be guided by whomever has
the same type of goal in mind as you do and be guided by that. Especially if they have sat down with you and planned
things knowing your budget, your goal, and all the other things usually
not present in simple internet posts or
if you have already chosen who will plan your build or do the work or be your 'go
that the worst thing you can do is keep consulting other people (eg: the internet) and making
comments to him/them
so and so says this
" or "
I read that this should be that
" or whatever. Around about the 5th or 6th time you
might be invited to go ahead and have so and so do your build. Too many cooks in the kitchen can get, at the least,
ing. Not to say you cannot or should not ask questions but once you make your decision on your build don't go
continuing to make changes or change your mind because you read something or someone said something random.
Doing that will cost you more money (j
ust like making changes to the blueprints in building a home) and you will,
eventually if it keeps up, begin to piss off your builder or go
guy. This same sort of advice goes for machine shops
If you don't trust them 100% then why are you having th
em do the work?
Choose someone you trust
and don't second guess them every time you surf the internet!
A little inquisitive questioning and wanting to learn is fine but second guessing your
builder or quoting the internet or other builders will get old re
In summary my advice is
: choose someone that has the proven background and experience for what you are
wanting to do. Someone that has been successful at the same type of build or look or budget that you want. Then sit
down with them. Plan it
out. Do this BEFORE you spend money! If they are not close to you in physical distance then
as a minimum use the phone to discuss your build.
Get OFF the INTERNET and talk to the builder in real time 1:1.
IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
Let's get started
I hope you read the above information and did not skip. If not: go back and read
it. Otherwise later information will not be absorbed or understood properly!)
OK, more reading.
Remember, you are learning to lay the groundwork to performance build
On the average this ends up costing most owners a MINIMUM of $5,000. And those that plan on spending $2
end up spending 2
3X that more often than not. Realize that a medium high performance build covering the engine,
ion, brakes, etc. can average at around $25,000
Seriously. It is just how it goes. (if you don't think so then start adding it up as I'll show you in this section. Those
amounts are l
Read this info in it
tirety before getting to the
al parts list and money lists.
Start with basics
uneup/service, synthetic lubricants (oils). Hows the steering system? Suspension? Body (for many owners looks does
matter!). It makes no sense to start ‘mod’ing’ an engine that has worn bearings, lea
ky rings, etc.
That’s just silly and
a failure waiting to happen.
DO THE FOUNDATION FIRST.
One exception to this is if you don’t care and can afford
to grenade your engine or car in general. If that’s the case go ahead and experiment with the full knowle
dge that you
will be looking at a full rebuild sooner rather than later as well as
to open a window that lists what I consider a proper 60,000 miles service and tuneup
A typical price for a THOROUGH 60K is around $1,800
2,700 on average (give or take 20% and done by
experience mechanics). It is much more than an oil change a
nd timing belt.
The 60K page at that link gives the info on basic maintenance and also some tips on parts
things like gaskets, bolts, wiring, etc. can all ADD UP! So you must factor this into
the build cost. You can
not just go with the cost of the major components. Many times the cost of the supporting
incidentals can be more than the main part you want to add! A PROPER budget is a very important thing to compile if
you want to have the most success and the least fai
lure or grief.
A little introspection is very helpful at this point. Meaning
what do you want to do to your car?
And let’s be
Leave the dreams in your bedroom for right now.
Don’t say you want 600AWHP and you have
$2000 to spend. That’s j
going to happen. It borders on the foolish.
Fix up my car a little but retain reliability.
The RELIABILITY is an important factor to consider.
The MORE your
modify for performance (ie
HP mostly) the more you lose reliability and longe
It is just a fact of life.
The more you push your turbocharged V6 the sooner things will fail or quit working properly. If you want to RETAIN
the reliability and longevity then admit this in the beginning and stay away from the higher modifications.
the basic bolt on modifications that just increase your engines’ efficiency (like a nice downpipe for example, or air
From here you can go into several different levels. Up to you to decide what you want (and realistically af
Another factor to consider here is what can you absorb as
? Performance building is full of things
that go wrong and cost 2, 3, 4X what you planned on. It is normal in the world of performance car building. So what
can you accept
financially if you damage your engine.
If you cannot afford to rebuild your engine then don’t
plan on a 600+ HP upper stage build.
I’m not saying that it will happen but you have to realize that by stepping
up into those ranges you increase the likelihoo
d of that happening by about 10 fold. It’s just the nature of the game in
high HP setups.
Figure Out Your Goal.
At least get some idea of what you want to do. The more accurate you can nail this down the easier things will be in
the future decision requir
ements later. Sometimes goals change and that is okay (to a point) but you must have a
r goal is going to dictate some
what major components like turbos as well as supporting them like
injectors and engine management control.
Can you afford what your goal is. If they do not match up then you have to either adjust your goal or adjust your
budget. Let’s get them to match to a reasonable degree before going forward. That will save a lot of time and wasted
purchases. Don't just cou
nt on the main components. You MUST count on all the parts or your budget will be all
skewed. You will either run out of money (and have a table with lots of parts laying on it), have to change your whole
plan (and possible sell, at a loss, some of those p
arts), or find the extra money you did not have available or want to
spend in the beginning.
Those are the two most important things above. Many don’t do this properly. Amazing when you think that in the end
some of these people are about to spend over ha
lf or more of what they earn a year into their car!
I would suggest using a spreadsheet (ie
Microsoft Excel) to layout your build.
Well, if you are just doing some simple bolt on mods that’s probably not needed. But if you are one of those that
500 AWHP” and have a budget of $10,000 or more then I would seriously recommend using a
In fact I use a sample spreadsheet of my 3000GT race car to show how a budget can climb to over
$150,000 very fast. (
My Racecar Sample Beginning Spreadsheet from 2008
). The sample spreadsheet shows
some basic numbers that are pretty accurate in the building phases. I've done all the things on that old spreadsheet
and a few c
hanges or additions since then. So it is an accurate depiction or real life building. Even if you aren't
building a race car the sheet will give you a brief idea of budgeting and how it adds up fast. Feel free to copy it and
use it for your own build by de
leting and/or adding your own.
Anytime I start to spec a build the first step is setting some basic goals and budget
Then it is time to open excel and get a spreadsheet going.
This is the only way to run a larger scale build
what things will cost you. You can also plug in the factors to help you see if your goal is matching your budget. They
usually don't match up well at first and one or the other has to be changed.
A quick note about buying used electronics
areful. With electronics or anything else that cannot be verified
easily with your eyes or simple operation or testing. You usually cannot get your money back on bad electronics if it
wasn't bought brand new. The problem with many used car parts like elect
ronics is that they are not 100% dead or
functional. But many times they have
wrong and is why it's being sold off. You can end up chasing
gremlins and ghosts all over for days or weeks because of it. So watch out for the
really good deals
'saving a lot of
money'. There's nothing wrong with saving money but not if it costs you 10X the labor and time or replacement parts
to find these gremlins they cause! And by the time you figure it out (if you do) the seller is long gone.
MY ADVICE IS TO
BUY CRITICAL ELECTRONICS NEW ONLY.
Critical means that if they fail or have a problem your engine will not run properly or can cause damage if they fail or
do not function as designed. By buying new you have a much better assurance of the product performi
ng properly as
well as the manufacturer warranty.
A NOTE ABOUT OEM SYSTEM REMOVALS
This is another thing related to things people read on the internet. People that talk about the removal of OEM systems
or engineered items. Things like ABS removal, EGR rem
oval, crash bar removal, vacuum reduction, EVAP removal,
AWS removal, harmonic balancer removal, etc. 99% of the time this is NOT a good idea for the individual. While there
are some very specific applications where it can be useful, for the average and st
reet car it is not. It is right up there
with converting an SL or base to a turbo (which we already addressed as a terrible idea and why).
Remember that the manufacturer spent a huge amount of money engineering and putting into production those parts
for the system. Over the entire design of the car this can approach millions of dollars. Realize that they do not do that
lightly (or they would
go broke from mismanagement, lol) so they had VERY good reasons to do it a certain way. Yes
yes I know, some will come up with some instances on certain things where it MIGHT be a good idea. Just realize that
MOST OF THE TIME you are not gaining anything
for your money and labor and worst case you are actually losing
performance or even introducing a safe
y hazard (like removal of the front crash bar
never ever do this!).
So try and not listen to some of the nonsense out there. There are a lot of stupid
people in the world and many of
them do things to their cars that are not too smart. If it was such a good idea why didn't the mfg'r do it and why
aren't lots of others doing it?
So my advice is to the average builder is to leave your ABS system alone, le
ave your EGR system intact, never ever
remove your crash bar (even my dedicated drag car has a front crash bar!), do not mess with your evap system (can
cause serious gas fume problems and safety issues), AWS is awesome but if you don't think so then remov
al will not
gain much except some weight savings, leave the factory balancer on your engine because it serves a very important
purpose as most all engine builders have known for a very long time. Do not remove things like radiator shrouds, or
like put fans on your SMIC, or replace breather lines with silicone hoses (the are not oil compatible),
sigh, the list goes on but you get the idea.
Just think it through and also talk with people that have proven experience and have done the type of
ld you are wanting to do.
Your solid answer is many times an
Let's go on to the actual build list now.
There is really no "staged" way of listing performance upgrades, modifications
or builds. Many things can be done at
certain times while others require previous modifications to work or operate properly. I will TRY to lay it out in a easy
to follow manner but realize that while there is some reason for the order you can also sub in t
his or that during
As previously mentioned,
you need to know your goal
. If you are truly going to build for, say 500ish AWHP then
you should give consideration to your engine internals (covered on page 5). While you can just DO IT and then
until your stock bottom end fails you (thereby needing to pull the engine and rebuild it), many choose to not
purposely do that. Notice I said purposely.
So once again
know your end goal (or at least a darned good idea). Because otherwise you might
very well do
something out of order in such a way as to waste labor, money or usually both.
Using the aforementioned
will also help you get your goals better identified by, if nothing else, showing you the costs as
they are added up.
ere is a LIST in categories such as:
BOLT ON, SOME INSTALLATION, MECHANIC INSTALLATION, NEED TUNING FOR (power producers), OUTSIDE AND
WEIGHT, BRAKE & SUSPENSION, ENGINE INTERNALS, and OTHER.
So for much of these categories the higher in the list it is d
one usually means to do it first or at least sooner than
items at the bottom of the category list. There is no set rule on most of this and you need to go back to having a PLAN
to reach your GOAL within your BUDGET (remember page 1!).
al tools usually needed and do not need technical adjusting or tuning, etc. Although you still will need
some tools and ability to use them. Most of these are giving you power increases by making the affected system
Increased efficiency of your air intake system by replacing the OEM air
filter system with an open filter.
Most popular is the K&N FIPK
next would be the HKS system. Stay away from the cheap eBay or
Get the good stuff
from the st
art and have no
The factory exhaust system is restrictive. By getting a Cat
components AFTER or towards the BACK of the CAT
(catalytic converter), you increase your exhaust flow. ANYTHING that
frees up flow in your exhaust is a plus on a turbocharged engin
want it as free as possible in restrictions. There are several brands
available all with differing sound and noise levels. Research as needed.
This will add to freeing up your restrictive exhaust system as well as
save you some weight. Re
member that saving weight can give you
some nice buttdyno results too! (see weight section later in the
listings). There are a few nice aftermarket ones available.
Megan Racing are popular.
Pay attention to whether the one oyu
are looking at ha
s a flex section or not. This can make a difference,
especially when you are looking at changing your motor mounts.
This is usually the best time to do this. When you replace your big
heavy downpipe you will want to ream/gut/remove the insi
des of the
front and back precat. Although many downpipes will save you from
doing the front one because they bolt right up and take the place of.
But the rear you want to gut out. You can get a rear precat adapter
instead but it isn't needed in lieu of ju
st drilling out the cat itself. But
either way is fine.
You will still have a main Catalytic Converter in your system at this
point. Some remove it entirely.
Quick note: this is illegal for a car licensed on
Drawbacks are fuel sme
ll all the time and also passing
emissions (if applicable) won't be possible. But you can remove it and
replace with straight pipe, or, buy a HI
Flow catalytic converter.
Unless you are racing all the time and have no emission worries I'd
advise to keep yo
ur main cat installed or get the
HiFlow Cat will still do it's job but give you much better efficiency. This
is usually the best way for many owners.
This is a good place for this since we are talking about exhaust and
freeing it up. You can get an electrically operated CUTOUT which will
bypass your whole exhaust system with the press of a button. You will
then get really freed up exhaust but also loud
(no mufflers). I have
further info on the cutouts here on my site at
manufacturer name is
This is a nice upgrade overlooked by many except the highest
modified cars. It frees up a LOT of ROTATING weight (which is an
extra plus for weight savings) and is something that
you can usually
feel the difference in with your buttdyno
. Personally I think
two piece Carbon Fiber shaft is the best way to go. This upgrade is
Spark Plug wires
This can come later depending on your goals and budget.
OEM wires are good quality but if they are old and worn out then get a
t on there. If you are going to be modifying your car to a
medium to high degree then you might consider some 8.5
wires for performance. If you go with an amplified ignition and higher
boost levels you'll need good wires. If not then just stay OE
M or equal.
Personally I like the Accel wires for a good middleground and the MSD
or Magnecore for the top end.
This is not necessary unless you start getting to modifying to a
medium degree. But it is nice to know WHAT temp you are at (ie
actual number) or WHAT your oil pressure really is. And the stock
boost gauge is really a load gauge not boost directly. If you are going
to go much past simple bolt on upgrades then you will want an
accurate boost gauge. And, again, do not go cheap
here. You need to
rely on it to be accurate or you can ruin your engine.
As for other gauges: Coolant Temp and Oil Pressure would be your
next two basics and good to have. There is A/F which isn't needed
until you get electronics installed (or EMS stand
alone) that can tune
for it. Without that it is just bling for now. EGT
same thing and even
more so. EGT tuning is only done by the hardest core racers these
days. If you know how to EGT tune then you don't need to be reading
any of this, ha! Oil tempera
ture is nice if you track or race at all.
Knowing your engine oil temps can be very useful. Other would be
volts. I like volts better than amps for everyday monitoring of my
go quality only. I personally think the best are AEM
now. There are Greddy and Defi but they are really hard to get parts
for or support for. Greddy pulled out of the USA and Defi changes their
models all the fricken time and then make their stuff obsolete in less
than a year or so. That then leaves Om
ori, which is mostly special
order, HKS, again hard to find/support and overpriced, Blitz, and Apexi
(which are nice products too). There is also Autometer and contrary to
some people's opinion is very nice stuff. They have a big range of
cheap to the expe
nsive (they're the biggest meter company in the
world). So Autometer is OK but get their upper end products if you
Digital or analog? Totally a personal decision. I've run both and
personally find the digital are much faster to read/comprehend than
nalog. You get instant exact number rather than have to convert the
'tick marks'. So for accuracy and speed of comprehension the digital is
One quick note:
if you even plan to go to a
of the AEM then consider the serial
gauges from AEM. I recommend
them highly. Each gauge can monitor 19 parameters and can easily
change with press of a button. They will display via telemetry anything
the EMS is monitoring. See more at aemsports or you can see mine on
my interior shots. So
if you think you'll be going to a full standalone
system to control your injectors and tune your car then I'd say hold off
and plan on serial gauges. You will be able to monitor a LOT more in
must less space. They are also very accurate and reliable plus o
features (like alarms and so forth).
Intercooler pipes and/or Y pipe
Your stock intercoolers, piping, and Y pipe are more than sufficient at
this point. However, if you plan on raising the boost to higher than
14psi eventually (eg: larger
injectors) then you might consider a new
Y pipe. Or if you want to add some bling, a nice set of polished
Stainless Steel pipes. The stock Y pipe likes to pop off at higher boosts
and is a PITA when it does (you will stall out immediately). Some
a tennis ball in there to hold it from blowing off (yes,
This is another thing that I say "stay away from eBay junk". Get
quality. If not then later you will find a problem if you want to, oh, say
tap for water injection, or install senso
r, or just have a quality engine
system under your hood. So again
do it right the first time. Get a
high quality one like the DNP brand. The good ones also are crushed
or bent by T
clamps like the cheap knockoffs.
New pipes themselves is mostly looks al
though they are a little bit
larger so you will gain efficiency and flow once you get larger turbos
on there. But if you are staying with stock turbos then the shiny pipes
are all looks. Again DNP makes the best in polished stainless steel.
Your stock int
ercoolers are perfectly fine for the time being. More
A turbo timer is a small electronic device that keeps your car running
for a predetermined time to let the turbos cool down before the engine
is shut down. This prevents the oil
from sitting in a really hot turbo
and 'coking'. Ever see a big OTR truck idling for a long time before
shutting off? That is what they are doing. Turbos get VERY hot,
especially if you start boosting in the upper ranges. I mean red hot. So
you want to coo
l those things down before you just stop the flow of oil
and water to them. If not the oil will coke (get baked to crap) and then
give you all sorts of problems. Many models also have an auto setting
that changes depending on your RPMs and boosting.
nterface with the eBrake and clutch pedal so no one can steal
your car if you turn off the ignition and walk away. The unit will turn
off your car for you. You can also lock the doors and engage your
alarm (2G owners).
I personally like the HKS model that
I use but Blitz makes a really nice
one that is small and very popular. There are also Greddy units but as
previously mentioned they pulled out of the USA and were having
company financial issues. So I don't buy a brand that has those
problems and possibl
e risk of no product support.
A lot of popel get a short shifter to replace the stock ones because the
throw is so far in comparison. And the 91
93 shifter is so tall it's
almost cartoonish. LOL
Easy to install and helps make shifting a lo
One other thing a 1G owner can do is swap in a 2G shifter which will
gain some better shifting. Not as short as a true short shifter but it is
Remember it isn't all about just going fast, you have to stop too!
Rotors and Pads
This is sufficient for the majority of lightly mod'd cars. Some nice
slotted rotors will free up rotating weight and cool better than stock.
Switch to a high grade of pads can gain you a little too.
If you are road racing then you might
want to look into a full brake
system upgrade like a brembo
If you are drag racing then a lightweight drag system like Brakeman
would be the absolute best in my opinion. I have the first, and so far
made for the 3000GT on my
drag race VR4
. (click link for brakeman on a 3000gt).
These are, in my opinion, a total waste of money. If your stock lines
are worn out then it won't hurt but do not buy these to replace stock
lines in good condition and expect any difference at all. You will spend
money and have zero difference from stock l
ines in proper condition.
Of course they do look nicer though!
Beyond the scope of this guide. For now I'd say leave your ABS intact.
Unless you really understand the reasoning (and drawbacks) I would
ignore messing with your ABS system.
to 2G calipers
If you have a 1G (1991
1993) then you can benefit from putting on a
2G brake system. The 2G (94
99) has much larger rotors to disperse
the heat better and prevent brake fade. Both have about the same
stopping power initially but repeated s
top/go/stop/go can cause the
brakes to fade quicker on a smaller rotor surface since it cannot get
rid of the heat as fast.
It is a nice middle ground between staying stock and going to brembo
or something extra large like that. For just about every stree
t or daily
driver VR4 the stock brakes. Just keep good straight rotors on there
and quality pads designed for your type of driving.
If you want bling, paint the calipers before install with brake caliper
epoxy paint. And use the stuff made for brake calip
ers or over time
regular paint, even high heat, WILL wear or flake off and look bad.
Another option is to have them powder coated which looks really nice
too. My advice is stay with a color that isn't way off from other brake
calipers. This means either gu
n metal, black, or red. Other colors like
yellow, blue, green, etc. look way out of place.
Lower to the ground gives you better control
There is no doubt that lowering your car will give you much better
road performance / cornering. This is a performance change that will
be felt right away. Remember that you need to make sure the wheels
are aligned properly after making any suspension chan
ges like this.
Don't forget to get that done and by qualified shop only!
The OEM struts are actually very high quality and perform
The ECS system in your VR4 is superb. There is the TEIN
system and I have two such systems in my cars. But I will tell you that
the stock ECS is the best hands down if you plan to drive your car on a
daily basis or mostly street driving in general. If your
struts are in
good shape and ECS functioning well then just look at lowering and
not replacing the whole system.
If you want to go to a more 'race' type setup (i.e.
TEIN FLEX) then
expect to have a VERY stiff suspension. The softest setting of 1
the FLEX is still stiffer than the stock SPORT setting.
One thing you can do when you order them is get the front and rear
coils softer (front = 10 instead of 12, rear 5 instead of 6). This is a
special order but should not represent a problem. I'm the fir
st to ever
do that AFAIK and several have done this since. It helps a little bit for
the street machine but is still a very stiff suspension designed
primarily for racing. Also note that you do not want to go any softer on
the coils because then the meteri
ng will be off and must be redone at
the factory. 10/5 is the farthest down you can go without special work
on the struts themselves.
One added note here on alignment (more is mentioned in detail at the
60K section). Sometimes the rear steering
alignment cannot be
brought into spec. So to accomplish that you need to install adjustable
rear control arms. Something to keep in mind if your alignment is not
dead on when you have it done. Get it to the mm dead on for the best
handling and ride.
For planning purposes expect to pay around $200
$300 for a thorough
AWD AWS alignment. Anything less and I would be wary.
This will drastically improve handling. The front is pretty easy to
install. The rear is a different matter and is a very lengthy and labor
These help tighten up your car by tieing the R & L struts together at
the top wit
h a bar that goes across the car. There are front and rear
bars. They provide some effect but no where near as much difference
as better sway bars.
Yes, looks DO matter!
In fact out of everything on these entire lists the looks is what will ADD
value to your car easier and
more than anything!
Paint and Body
I'm not sure why I see so many owners reluctant to get a nice new
paint job. And get any dings taken care of too.
It is NOT that much
money compared to other things on this list.
But if anything will
add to the value of your car it is a new paint job. No question. So give
serious thought to this being part of your performance upgrades or
plans. It is easy and painless. Stay with the same color I say 99% of
the time. Get a shop tha
t is trusted and honest (they do exist, if you
live in W WA i can steer you to one!).
So if your VR4 has dents, faded paint, or just tired (or is a 91
do yourself a huge favor and restore that awesome
sportscar to what it should loo
k like! You WILL be glad you did!
If there is ONE thing that will raise the value of a used car it is
a new paint job. Almost 90% of all the other things talked
about here will NOT bring more money or value to your car like
a paint job will. In fact some
will lower the value. So keep this
Missing body panels
Part of getting your car up to snuff in my opinion is replacing any
loose panels that are missing. Sometimes this is hard to achieve (like
the front spoiler/splash shield) but
at least try
to put things back if
you have a car that a previous owner lost or was too lazy or cheap to
put back or replace your panels, splash guards, or other such pieces.
Having all of the stock shields will protect most of the front under
carriage and give you a
clean car to work on. There is a HUGE
difference in looks and quality of cars that have had the shields on vs
off. Same for the window trim and side pieces.
Wheels and Tires
Stock wheels are heavy. But it is also hard to find nice looking
heels that fit the VR4. Just take your time and look
around though, they're out there.
And by reducing the ROTATING
weight you are truly doing a performance modification. it is
NOT just looks.
I see too many owners going cheap here. Remember the
cheaper or 'higher mileage' tires (aka
HARD rubber) have a
drawback. This is that they handle like crap compared to a nice sticky
(soft rubber) tire. Yes they wear out a little sooner and cost more. But
you WILL notice the difference. I say,,,,,
difference between a $375
400 tire and a $200 and below tire is
immense. The ride is much worse on the cheap tires as is the handling
While it does come down to cost sometimes I will advise that if you
want to do high speed driving and/or cornering then
do not go cheap
Go with a top tire like the Eagle F1s or equal (about $400
per tire). The VR4 came from the factory with these
quality tires for a
reason. If you have ridden/driven a VR4 with the higher quality tires
then trust me you never want to or can go to the cheap ones. I know
that 400each is costly but you ARE driving a top end sports car that
50K in it's day (whi
ch would be a 70
80K car today if they still
Is it a performance mod? Yeah, I would say so. The stickier
expensive tires grip better, better launches if that is your thing,
and safer too. The VR4 kicks ass on other cars in cornering but
f you got the nice tires to do so. See what I mean? This is
a performance consideration. Maybe not a 'glamorous mod' but
it's one that will perform and give you results for your money.
Some things that don't fit anywhere else bu
t are important
If you are like me then the cars stereo is critical and considered a
So when planning your build keep the thoughts of stereo upgrades in
your plans. Here's some of my
custom stereo work
Removing weight can give you the same results as added horsepower.
Now many say the VR4 is "heavy". Well uhhh yeah. It is a GTO. it is
made for the OPEN ROAD.
weight is what gives it stability
where other cars haven't.
I've ridden in many other cars where the
owners claim the VR4 is 'heavy' and my fillings about rattled out of my
teeth in their Supra (or whatever) at over 125 mph. My VR4? Set a
cup of coffee on
the front dash at those same speeds.
and ride stability.
So don't let people squawk nonsense.
weight is not all bad for what the car was/is designed for
open road / high top speeds.
But if you want more power like for racing then
rotating weight is a much better savings than non
They can both be a plus but the rotating weight will be multiples better
for increasing your buttdyno results.
wheels ; all those are rotating mass.
thing I would say
to do on losing weight is two
1) lightweight flywheel
total waste of money in my opinion and
many others. You will not notice any appreciable gains regardless of
theory but you will notice the PITA starting from a stop whe
loose that rotating mass. This mass is important and in fact if you
want to drag race at all you WANT that heavier flywheel there. Ignore
those wanting to sell you a LW flywheel. Stay with the stock steel one.
2) Keep the
stock Harmonic Balancer
pposed to going for a
lightweight aluminum aftermarket underdrive pulley. That balancer
provides a function important to your crankshaft. Some might get
away with it but it really is not a change I recommend. The
advantages are slight compared with the los
s of the function that the
stock balancer provides. And if into serious or hardcore racing you
actually want an even better balancer there. So, no to lightweight
3mm Hydraulic Lifters
See the 60K page on these and whether you need them or
when doing service to your heads is the easiest way. Some people
however want to plan on these as an upgrade when they are planning
to take the car in to get worked on.
Silicone Dress Up
Dressing up the engine with higher quality silicone
hose is common
with the majority of owners. As is polished intakes and other bling too.
The silicone hose is more durable and heat resistant and comes in
many colors to accent your engine bay. Buy the quality stuff (again,
many hoses sold at places like eB
ay are junk) and be advised to NOT
use silicone hoses on anything that comes into contact with fuel or oil.
Silicone cannot handle petroleum product contact for very long as it
will break down. Do not use it for valve cover or breather lines.
LOT of owners add on polished aluminum parts. Like the upper
intake plenum, or valve covers, or add on like fusebox covers, etc.
They look nice even though they do not have anything to do with
performance. Be advised though
do not polish OEM parts under
hood that are steel and/or have a anti
corrosion finish on them (that
green tint coating like on your brake lines). Because if you do they will
then rust and you'll have to keep maintaining them all the time.
This also goes for bolts. For more detai
l on bolts and fasteners (and
why to stay away from Stainless Steel in many instances)
A lot could be said about batteries and also the smaller race style. But
for here just realize that you want a battery that is in
. They do not last forever. The average is around 4
The VR4 is very voltage intense. Meaning it has a h
demand (which is why the 110A alternator o
utput). So make sure your
ctrical system is in good health before you get too far into a large
build and adding electronics or stereo.
As for brand, I like the Optima red top. Regardless of intern
or other people's experience they have performed well for me over the
last 10+ years. But a good brand like interstate works well too. Just
don't expect your battery to last forever. They don't.
Some add a ground wire kit (I prefer the HKS brand
kit) to help with
power distribution. Other than that this is a maintenance issue not
build issue. But it is something that must be kept in mind during a
As for a bigger or aftermarket alternator
only the biggest stereo
system type build
should worry about the stock alternator not being
enough. The OEM alternator is a very high quality item will fulfill just
about all other builds except the massives stereo system ones. Save
your money and just make sure your stock one is in good conditio
use a stock alternator on my 1995 VR4 and have a pretty large
and have zero issues electrically.
When reviewing your 60K you might have found you need new motor
mounts. Here's a good time to consider what mounts you want to
install. The OEM mounts are the best choice for most street cars. They
are also the most expensive. The other choices are afterma
are either A) poly
mount style (polyurethane) or B) solid mounts (no
flex at all). Both are
stiffer than stock mounts.
If you are building a race car or one that your only main concern is
pure performance then the solid style mounts
are fine. And less
money. But realize that you are removing the stock mounts that
absorb the movement and vibrations of the engine. So there is a
noticeable difference. So much so that many people do not like it once
they install them. You will feel the di
fference in the cab and when you
drive the car.
So again it is
on your goals for the car. If you want a nice
ride like stock and prefer not to go into performance to such a degree
that you add rattling and shaking then stick with OEM mounts for sure.
OK, that is it for BOLT ON, BRAKES/SUSPENSION, EXTERIOR and MIS
Now it is time for the more serious mods that start going beyond "bolt on".
Okay here is page 4 of a listing of "staged upgrades" or modification stages as some would say. But as already
explained there really is no set stage or stages. There are things that need done prior to certain other changes,
modifications or upgrades yes.
But in general you can mix some of these up here and there to achieve YOUR goal
(whatever that might be) and to match your budget. If you haven't yet done your goals and budgeting then please
return to page 1 and get that stuff done. It will save you time
and money. Guaranteed.
We are getting into some products that require knowledge of operation and turbocharged engine theory and
operation. Before you buy an expensive piece of engine electronics or other hardware you should have an
understanding of exactl
y how they work or what they are controlling. If not, ask some questions and get to
understand the function(s) of these items. That is the only way you can make the best plan for your build. If you are
working with an experience performance builder they wi
ll explain these products to you (or they should!).
I'll try and touch on some of the technicalities or basics but also realize that some topics could take up to several
pages themselves to cover all aspects or theory of operations.
If you are going to be
doing your own wiring and installation then the first thing on your list should be the FSM
(Factory Service Manual). It is very difficult to do proper wiring and other service work without this manual(s). They
are invaluable. You can buy reprints of the m
anuals or there are places you can download the PDF versons.
Medium Upgrades / Stages
Will require some knowledge of installation and operation.
There are basically two types of boost controllers to replace your stock system.
Manual and Electronic.
First of all, your stock system is set for 9 psi (91
93: 60 kPa ) or 10 psi (94
69 kPa) of turbo boost pressure. This can be turned up but only so
far. How far
depends on the health of your engine and your fuel system.
On a stock fuel
system and engine you will NOT be wanting to turn it up past ~14psi due
to this being at/over the 90
95% IDC of the stock 360cc injectors.
other words, this is the m
aximum you can go on stock injectors before you 'run
out' of injector (or basically
fuel). Whether you can go to 14 or not depends on
your car. What you are wanting to avoid is overboosting. Or basically "knock".
This will ruin your engine.
Controllers (MBC) are just that. Manual. You install, set them,
Electronic Boost Controllers (EBC) are operated electronically from the cab and
also perform some other nice functions. Most have a boost gauge or display also.
They are a lot mor
e money and for a good one the price averages $500
This is also the point where having an
accurate boost gauge
is important. A
good one, not a POS one that will ruin your engine because it is inaccurate. e.g.
12 psi showing on gauge versus 15 psi
(or more) being actual pressure in the
engine = damage to your engine from overboosting. Or, you can just go with the
one in the EBC itself but most owners want a gauge they can see easier than the
built in ones on the EBCs. Most are hard to read or in a
place not quickly visible
and again, a good boost gauge will be the most accurate for setting and/or
This is an item that gives you a big bang
buck. There is a BIG
difference from 9psi to 14 psi (more than a 50% increase).
turning up the boost will place much more strain on engine parts. If
your bottom end has a lot of miles or you have other things that are worn then be
careful. In fact you may want to consider not going all the way to 14 psi. The only
way to really know i
s to monitor knock. You can do this with a logger system (big
PITA IMO) , or, better yet
a scanmaster system. But in lieu of that you can just
go to 12
13psi. talk to someone that knows about injector IDC and knock as it
applies to your car and be guided
by their advice.
Do not overboost your engine!
wise I personally prefer the Blitz brand of EBC. Either the i
color one or
even the model just prior to the icolor which has a nice limiter and interface. But
there's always new stuff coming out so ta
ke a look at whatever are the top sellers
at the time you go to buy. Many also have other features like multiple settings (ie
valet setting, and so forth), HP calculators from accelerometer calculations, and
NOTE: SEE PAGE 5
if you are possi
ble going with a new EMS (like the
AEM ECU package)
then you do not need an electronic boost controller
The AEM can do all of that for you. Save your money.
Blow Off Valve
The stock BOV works pretty well most of the time. but
when you start turning up
the boost it will need a better one for the higher pressures. The BOV controls the
turbocharged air when you let off the throttle (and close the throttle plate) so the
air has somewhere to go.
The stock system (MAF) is one that h
released air RECIRCULATED as opposed to released in the atmosphere.
While some cars go open most will have some lag or stumble so to do it right you
want to recirc the air. The only other way to not recirc is to go to a MAP system
which usually invo
lves installing a new EMS system (replacing your ECU entirely).
This is beyond the average owner that does not want to install this many
modifications and tuning requirements.
Your MAF system has already METERED the air once it goes into your
hen you let off the air is redirected back to the intake side of your
turbos. Your ECU is expecting that air to be there. So if you do not recirc and blow
it to the open air then that metered air must be made up to the ECU and it's
calculations for your en
gine. That's the basics of why many can get a stumble if
they do not recirc. Some report they don't but it is more likely that they just do
not notice. The air that was already metered is lost if not recirc'd and that
represents performance lost.
popular by far is the HKS SSQV BOV. It works very well for even high
power cars. Beware black market knockoffs! eBay sells bunch of crappy fake HKS
ones. Do NOT buy these! They leak and are junk. You risk damaging your engine.
Pay the price for a proper q
The other ones are the Greddy, which is okay but older style was best and now
hard to get. Another is Tial
and they make the best ones I think but usually these
are only indicated on the very high HP applications. They can handle the big stuff
(by that I mean 1,000 HP and higher). For most the HKS will do nicely.
There are a few others and some are really loud
. While I realize some want that
sound, it should NOT be a reason to choose one over the other. Besides, doing it
right means you will recirculate it so sound means nothing. Leave the playing with
car parts to make noises to the ricers and amateurs.
do not recirc your
BOV you will actually be losing performance.
The fuel pump modification is two fold. One is
the pump itself.
There is another
model of Denso pump other than the one that came with your car that has a
slightly higher output
of fuel than the stock one in your VR4. It is sometimes
called a "supra" pump because it came with those cars. But both (Your OEM one
and the Supra one) are Denso brand pumps with different output specs. The
higher output pump will basically 'drop in' to r
eplace your existing one. Denso Part
This isn't to say that the novice can take 20 minutes and do it because that's not
the case. But it isn't a huge job and there's a few tips to make it easier and things
There is also the walbro
pump that many have used but I see no reason to put in
a pump that isn't drop in and is really noisy. Plus the walbro can fail in a
cavitation situation (as in low fuel in tank and a sharp corner). The only reason I
see for someone to put in a walbro is t
o save $100 (or thereabouts). To me that
is not a good enough reason. just spend the little extra money and drop in a
proper Denso fuel pump. You'll be glad you did.
The other thing to be done is called
Fuel Pump Hotwire.
What this involves is
stock wiring in the VR4 is a little too small for the power that the fuel
pump pulls. Even more so when you go to a little bit bigger output pump. So what
is done is a larger gauge wire is run from the front of the car, direct to the
battery, back to a rel
ay for the fuel pump in the rear. Always make sure to have a
proper fused line (at least 30A) and seek the advice of an expert if you are not
educated on working around gas tanks and power wires.
Some of the early hotwire kits had the little in
line type b
lade fuse holders. These
melted and failed. They could easily cause a fire in your car (and actually has for
So make SURE and use a quality high amperage fuse in your
hotwiring of your fuel pump.
The stock turbos
(9b) are really not as bad as some people want to portray. They
do however peter
out in the upper RPMs and are quite limited in what they can
produce over stock levels. And it is usually easier to just replace worn stock
turbos with ones a little bigger.
Like some 13's. The other popular size is the 15g
turbos. Both the 13 and the 15 are TD04 which means they will mount right up to
your stock manifolds. They are bolt on.
Larger, like 16G, etc. are TD05 and require a lot more modifications. They are not
ly bolt on and go turbos.
There are other ones too that utilize the makers initials or naming. But saying
WHICH turbos is not the goal of this list. You'll have to figure out your goal and
budget (remember?) and then go with some advice from owners of thos
that fall into your goal/budget. Not all turbos in the same HP potential or price are
created equal. And don't believe the internet racers on which turbo to get. I've
seen one particular turbo be talked about like it is really great but my experie
(in several installations) is that they are really a poor choice and have a lot of
Be advised that you can run these turbos (the 13 or15) as you would your old 9b
ones for now but you will not realize any higher potentials they have until yo
in more fuel. Adding in more fuel (bigger injectors) is a big step in budgeting. But
don't go too big on your turbos only to fall flat. You want to match up the turbos
with your expected goals and fuel system plans too.
Lastly, make sure and get the
on your turbos. Most ALL turbo
retailers will require you install brand new oil feed lines for the warranty. If not
they may not honor the warranty. So ask before you buy what the warranty
covers and requires before you buy them.
e: What turbo and their capabilities = this is a favorite topic of the forum
parrots. They just love to quote other people's builds and what they got for HP
even though they themselves don't even own a dyno sheet for their car. So
beware parrot or nutswing
er claims about this turbo or that turbo. Personally i
have seen one of the most 'talked about' and parroted turbos be nothing but
garbage with over 50% failure rates. If considering certain turbo(s) it is best to
discuss with a reliable turbo dealer (note
reliable) and/or discuss with
someone that has used, tuned, installed or otherwise physically and in the real
world (not on a computer) used the turbos in question and most likely many
I'm not going to elaborate here about the differen
t turbos other than as above
already. It is a lengthy topic and also depends on your other factors such as
goals, fuel, street or race or both or.....you get the drift. First decision is size (ie
manifold mounting) being TD04 TD05 or even bigger like a s
ingle or custom. A
fast bolt on to your car is TD04 (9b, 13, 15g, etc). If you want larger like 16 then
those are TD05 and require all different manifolds in order to use them (read
add into the cost of the turbos). On manifolds see next section:
There's no good aftermarket headers for the VR4. The only ones I've seen do not
fit very well and certainly are not flow tested for performance. This is for TD04
applications. There are other applications and modifications (eg
, single turbo kits,
TD05 kits, etc) that come with headers. But other than that,
stay with the stock
exhaust manifolds. They'll be fine for all TD04 turbo applications.
really desire headers for a TD04 application then I'd recommend the DNP headers
above the others. If going TD05 or other non
TD04 then you will need something
to replace the stock manifolds.
OK, we talked about plug wires earlier. Now the ignition system itself. The stock
coil packs are very good. All but the heavi
est mod'd 3000 needs to change out the
stock coils, but if you want to there is the MSD system that has been used by
quite a few owners in the higher HP ranges. I am not going to go into detail on
the MSD change as that is more complicated than we want to
So the coil pack is good for most. Wires depends on your application and goals
(see page 2). If you are going to be turning up the boost on your engine then you
may want to at least move the plug gap a little closer. The other option is to
ll an ignition amplifier. One of the best is the
HKS Ignition Amp
. It is a
terrific performer and I've never heard anything bad on them at all. They are
pretty easy to install and will give your ignition one heck of a bump (so forget
about changing your ga
p, you can keep it up there).
The only other thing would be to go
a range colder on your spark plugs
are going to routinely be running higher boost on 93 octane. This helps prevent
knock. before going to change your spark plug heat range I'd advis
e to learn
about what the heat ranges means and what you want to achieve. Until you turn
up the boost to over 10 you needn't worry about a colder plug. If you go above
10psi to , say, 18+ then go 1 range colder to start. More than 24 and you go even
. It can be trial and error by reading your plugs directly.
And contrary to what some say, stick with iridiums unless you are doing a lot of
track work and want to change them out all the time. The base (aka 'copper',
although they are actually nickel, lo
l) plugs are fine if you are a racer and change
them all the time but most of the people reading this will not be those people. So
decide on oyur heat range based upon your fuel/boost and go with the iridiums in
that range. You can always look at a couple
in front to see how they are doing
(reading a spark plug reference for you
DRIVETRAIN AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Things that can come into play depending on where you are at and how much more power you are making with your
modifications. You will want to consider these things somewhere in your upgrade plans usually but the degree
depends upon your individual goals an
Somewhere along the line you need to pay attention to your clutch. The best
clutch by far is the OEM kit from Mitsubishi.It lasts the longest and gives the best
results. However, if you start approaching 400 and higher your stock clutch w
not hold. You will have to go bigger. There is a range of clutches out there and
brands. Suffice to say that this guide hasn't the room for a full clutch discussion
or review. For the average performance mod'er SPEC makes a good line up of
you want a top end clutch that will hold most anything you throw at it
(and is rebuildable for a low price) then the Carbon
Carbon by RPS is the answer.
But initial cost is high.
So just realize in your planning that a new clutch system will be
Some people want to put on a big FMIC (Front Mount InterCooler) for looks
(rice?). Which is rather stupid, especially if you are running stock turbos.
actually LOSE performance. But there will always be those that think they can just
buy and stick in a FMIC and 'be cool'. Same guys that use fake carbon fiber and
vinyl wrap on their car, lol. You will also find them talking up a storm as if they
were engine builders and machinists,,,lol. At best they are forum parrots and
should not be listened to (see previous pages).
On your VR4 you will not need a big FMIC until you start putting out some
on some pretty large turbos (like 16 and la
rger). They are just
. Plus you introduce system lag (aka
compressor surge) which will
reduce performance and give you grief (like chuff chuff chuffing at cruise levels).
Not every car gets it or in varying degrees but it is present in a twi
n system so
until you get some very large turbos I would advise to not put in a FMIC.
Another thing you introduce is blocking your radiator and reducing your cooling
system's efficiency. This has to be accounted for or you may begin having
ues. Do if your build does not truly need an FMIC then don't put
one on. You are spending money to reduce performance and introduce other
Heat soak concerns are something internet racers talk about. Are you
really going to be doing back to back
drag racing? Probably not! So SMIC
(Side Mount InterCoolers)
do just fine
Seriously, are you building a
dedicated drag car or just want some added power to your DD or weekend car?
You CAN upgrade the stock SMICs to larger ones that are custom made by a fe
people in the USA (like the "DSM" SMIC which are popular currently). They are
quite a bit larger and deeper and do a great job for most turbos up to the 16s and
600HP ranges. HKS also made some but are no longer available except if you
find a set use
Front Mount Oil Cooler
Putting in a larger oil cooler (eg: Setrab 920) and moving it to the front is a good
mod for the health of your engine. Fairly easy to do and will help keep your oil a
lot cooler while also improving the air flow through yo
ur driver side intercooler.
Your engine oil is a critical component in your engine temperature control so this
helps stabilize your temps a lot.
We could do a whole section on transmissions and mods but I'll be brief. As you
out more power you must be prepared for the rest of you drivetrain
to deliver it to the wheels. So your transmission is the start of the process and will
be getting hit harder as you turn up the power.
Making sure it is in good condition and nice clean oil
is a start. There's not a lot
you can do with it in the car. Once it is out you can get a bellhousing brace
welded in, add in a 300M output shaft, or just send it in to 1 of 3 places that will
currently give you a performance rebuild.
You can also upgrad
e the front and center differential in your AWD tranmission.
This will give you increased control and traction.
There's not a lot for me to address here as it isn't for the novice to do anything
As with the transmission, there isn't
a lot to mention here. At a certain point if
you are putting out a lot more power or wanting to do some drag launches you
will want to either
get a brace onto the transfer case, or,
get a billet case.
You can check your axles and make sure yo
ur splines are in good condition. There
are also 300M axles available (limited) for the rear which are usually the ones
that break under high HP launching. They run about $1,000 a set. Most medium
mod'd owners will not have to go to this extreme. But I wan
ted to include it
anyway as FYI.
Used by many owners. It helps take out oil fumes from re
entering your intake
and therefore helps keep your intake cleaner. A simple add on that assists with
maintaining your engine.
krankvents (a brand name). As you start tuning up the power on a turbo
charged engine your stock crankcase ventilation system can get over run. This is
bad. And you lose power. So consideration in getting a larger crank vent syst
in place is important. You can run Krankvents which can hold very high pressures
and vent very well, or run an open system like the old style cars. Personally I
advise to keep a "PCV" style system on your car unless full racing is your goal.
Even then I
use krankvents on my race car rather than open. It helps the
Logging or monitoring
There are some 'loggers' but most are very clunky and there is a lot of limitation
on what they can do for you. There is the Scanmaster which
is very nice and can
monitor knock live and display it. So for tools to monitor some engine parameters
the scanmaset is one of the best. It reads stock O2 trims so you can tell if you
have a vacuum leak and reads real time knock. Not to mention displays co
volts, coolant temp, can be configured to read the wideband 02s on the front
screen, can log and graph all parameters, etc. All for approximately $250 new!
Note: You can't use it at all with a standalone EMS so if you are going to go that
route with a
n upper build plan don't bother with this as your standalone can
already do all this and more.
The basic idea is
having some way to start watching your engine performance in
a few critical areas once you get to the upper HP ranges. This really won't be
eeded until you get into larger injectors But I mention it here anyway. If you go
standalone EMS you won't need any of this (its all part of it). See EMS in the next
NOW ONTO THE BIG MODIFICATIONS
Okay so here is page 5 of a listing of "staged upgrades" or modification stages as some might say. These
modifications are a lot more money and time. They will also change the car substantially. There's always a trade off
for reliability and high horsepowe
r and high performance.
Taking this step requires a lot more planning than the previous pages. This page has
upgrades that pretty much require to work together with other upgrades or additional
systems to be installed.
Power Producing Upgrades / Stages
se provide additional power on their own as opposed to just increasing efficiency.
Many of these require supporting modifications.
Now that you've pretty much squeezed the most out of the bolts ons
efficiency mods, if you want more power you've got to
burn more fuel
Fuel produces the power. So you want to put more of it into your engine.
You don't want to go too small for your expected goals but you also don't
want to toss in huge injectors if
that is not matching up with your turbos or
your performance plans and goals. But this must be decided because the
car will have to be tuned for them. Usually this is done on a dyno which is
the most accurate and professional way to do it.
There are seve
ral brands out there and varying prices.
recommend Injector Dynamics brand.
They are more expensive than
the others but they tune up quicker and nicer than any other injector
around. They are also high impedance so you will want to remove your
injector resistor pack under your hood too. Or you can go with a set of RC
or other brand too. It's up to you but in my opinion the Injector Dynamic
brand gives the best results and are nice and stable (and the battery offset
tables are dead on which can'
t be said for the others).
Anyway, match up the size (550cc, 650cc, 750cc, 1000cc, etc) to your plan
Be wary of used injectors unless you trust the seller.
Even then you
might want to send them in to get cleaned and checked before using them
ey are not brand new.
The problem is
to control it properly You cannot just put more gasoline
into the engine and call it a day.
Your stock ECU is expecting 360cc injectors. That is what it bases all of it's
calculations on. And there are many (remember
the air calculation from the
intake MAF v BOV?, things like that). So when you put in larger injectors
you must add something to control them properly. See below.
Engine Management System
You have an ECU (Engine Control Unit) in your
car now. It is a LOCKED
system. Meaning you cannot 'tune' or adjust it. So how do you get it to
work with larger injectors?
A) piggybacking, or B) replace it.
Piggyback units like an aftermarket fuel controller (Apexi, etc) or The
eManage, go in between your ECU and your injectors. They then
translate the signals and "fool" your ECU into thinking the injectors are
stock. That's it in a nutshell.
This is the lesser expensive way (initially) but not that much once you add
up the adde
d wiring and tuning time to get it dialed in. The other drawback
in my opinion is that these devices always drift or are needing tweaking ALL
the time. I've yet to see a high HP performance car with a piggyback in it
that the owner wasn't fussing with all
the time. To me that's a big PITA. But
some have luck with them. They also couple it with a MAF translator too.
By the time you are done figure on at least $800
Replace it with what's called a Standalone or
System). The one most people use in our cars is by
. But there are
also other brands like Motec and Haltech.
The standalone replaces the entire ECU.
It is open meaning that
everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is now adjustable / tunab
le! So you
tune for the larger injectors directly. As well as your timing map, fan
controls, knock sensing, O2 feedback, the works. You basically now have
control over just about every aspect of your engine. It will control nitrous,
, boost (
no need for a boost controller
700 bucks right there!
) and a huge list of other things.
The AEM serial gauges also plug right in and save you from multiple gauges
(each one can monitor multiple parameters at once).
al tuner at the AWD dyno will also be able to tune the car
faster and better. AND it will stay dead on unlike the tweaking piggybacks.
So in the end it is actually LESS money to go standalone due to
savings on boost controller, gauge abilities, tuning cos
ts, and also
many other things that would take too long to go into here.
The standalone is the
to take care of tuning your bigger
injectors and getting the HP you want out of your engine safely and
consistently. It is what I recommend. Th
e EMS box and sensors will cost
you approximately $2,000
$2300 (AEM brnad that is). The AEM is the most
used brand name for the 3000GT. Just about all professional tuners are
familar with the AEM software and setup.
Considering it controls the entire engi
ne and many other things too
it right the first time makes sense. Your VR4 depends on the ECU/EMS for
so much that to go cheap just doesn't make sense to me. It is a critical
component in the performance build.
A quick note about the recent "chro
me" or reflashing of Factory ECU that has come up in the last year or so
factory 3000GT ECU was never intended to be "open source" to the public nor be programmable by the end user.
Although there are a few that figured out how to 'reflash' the EEPRO
M in the ECU to make changes that isn't the best
for most peoples situation
. It is pretty much just a hobbiest type scenario and also few individuals hoping to
make a little money off those wanting a stand alone but not wanting to spend the money. Hec
k the two are even
arguing amongst themselves these days and wanting the chump change all for themselves. Seriously, you don't want
to bother with that sort of high school type setup unless you are into tinkering and have nothing better to do. If after
ear or two these prove to have value and not just some new fad to make a couple kids a few dollars then I might
revisit the topic.
There's no real professional support for such methods currently nor will most professional tuners bother with such
style modifications. Now if you want to go at it as a hobby, risk your engine being damaged, or ruin your
factory ECU then this might then make sense.
It has no where near the abilities of a true standalone like the
AEM. Not even close to the features, abi
lities or support.
A true standalone does hundreds of other settings,
controlling, amd monitoring that these "reflashed" modified ECUs (
telemetry, gauge controls and outputs,
transmission and shifting control, nitrous control, staging, launch control, boos
t control and racing controls, dozens of
switches with parameters to do whatever you want (at xxx rpm do this and do that unless over/under/at xx mph,
traction controls, tons of ignition options, custom and water injection controls, etc. etc
). My recommend
need a standalone system then do it properly and buy the AEM or equal standalone EMS system. You'd be glad you
did. It is just too important to your entire engine and performance to risk with some homespun hack job or hobby
ng. heck just look at the AEM (or motrec, etc) software and you can see how much they do. There
really is no comparison.
Lastly it goes back to the beginning of this writeup and listening to forum parrots and people that just read about
others and nonsens
e on the internet. 99% of those saying the AEM is this or the reflashed are that have never
themselves even tuned a car or used an AEM standalone system of any kind. It's called rationalization whereby they
cannot afford the AEM so they convince themselves
that going cheap with this hobby stype system is as good or
better (lol,,yeah, right). For those that do
no offense meant but if I am going to be honest in this guide then these
things need to be said to prevent others from spending money or planning be
fore they see the entire playing field and
stop listening to parrots on car forums.
Fuel Pressure Regulator
Once you start needing to deliver higher volumes of fuel with the larger
injectors you will need an aftermarket FPR. The most popular is made by
AEM. The really big systems go to the Aeromotive brand. The stock FPR will
get overrun and not be able to prope
rly control your fuel pressure. You also
need to get the fuel rail adapter and there is an optional gauge to screw in
at the rail too (which is handy for setting the regulator)
Fuel Rails and Larger Lines
The stock fuel rails can handle a pretty good amount of fuel. There is a fuel
rail loop that is popular due to the belief that the stock one (that joins the
front rail to the back rail) is restrictive. I don't know when that would truly
present itself but
they aren't much money so it is not a bad idea. I don't
know any numbers that anyone has produced that actually show this to be
the case though.
The aftermarket fuel rails do look a lot nicer though!
As for larger fuel lines. All but the biggest builds go
to new fuel lines and
fittings and filters. Pretty much 1000 HP and higher are the ones that need
to do this. The stock lines can easily handle a 750hp range build.
Radiator / Fans
Once you start making more horsepower you also create more heat. This
a direct relationship. So you will need a larger radiator when you get up
into the higher numbers. The VR4 radiator is very efficient as stock and the
fans are also very effective. In fact many higher HP cars prefer the stock
fans over the FAL brand (F
Lite). The FAL is very popular too though
for close to direct drop in and where the limited space (like for larger
turbos) is crucial.
Most go with a multi
pass Aluminum Radiator like Koyo brand. And many
go with the FAL dual fans because they hav
e to fit in there! The bigger
radiator gives problems getting in the stock fans.
Another important factor is to keep your radiator shrouds and under engine
panels all in place to keep the effectiveness of the fans and their air flow.
On older cars that might have been subjected to careless maintenance over
the years, examine the coolin
g system for scale build up. Many times this
can be the main contributor to overheating problems.
If you are going for a very big build (~ over 700
800 AWHP)I recommend
brand fans. They pull a lot more power though so you cannot
use the stock w
iring harness by itself. But they cool like no other fan I've
ever used. You'll just have to do custom fabrication to install them.
Also see the information on your
maintenance plus other information.
Make sure your harmonic balancer on your engine is in good condition.
Unfortunately there are not SFi high performance balancers available (that
I know of) for our engines. So OEM is the
next best thing. Do not replace
this with some aluminum pulley. You want this on your crank. I'm not going
to go into specifics as there's enough on the internet if you're so inclined.
Also make sure your engine builder does his balancing for you with your
balancer installed (IOW
make sure your machine shop has your balancer
that you are going to use on the engine so they can use it, along with the
flywheel, crank gear, etc. when the balance your engine)
Planning for tuning costs is part of the build process. I've seen several
people spend all their money on the car and/or engine but be left with no
funds to get it tuned properly. Set aside some of your budget for getting
tuned professionally on a dyno.
Make sure and talk to other owners about the tuner and results!!!
Do NOT take for granted they know what they are doing if you cannot
confirm from some other car owners the results and satisfaction. A tuner
can destroy your engine very fast and that's tha
t. You don't get a second
chance and you will be stuck.
VERIFY who you are going to let tune your system. YOU can do it
yourself later but you cannot just open the book and all of a sudden be a
car tuner. Nor will there be any map that will work from
another car in your
If you are going to be upgrading to the point of needing to protect your bottom end internals from a much higher HP
output then you have to decide when you will be wanting to do this. Usually it is a good idea to
get this done sooner
rather than later because you really cannot seek that higher power output without risking damage to your bottom
end/internals. So this area is separate as it is more the 'shortblock' build plan for a performance engine. Meaning if
are going to be going over ~500 AWHP or more then this is something you want to examine now. If you are not
but you have high mileage then this work will probably be a good idea too but not necessarily all the parts like the
pistons and rods will be neces
sary. Again this is very subjective to your overall goal, timeline, and budget.
If you have what's called a 4 block main block then you will likely have a
forged crankshaft (some 1993s and all 1994
1999). If you have an older
car then you probably have a cast crank. Most would agree that you should
just put in a forged crank now if yo
u are gong high performance.
Sometimes the old cast can hold a lot of power so it's up to the owner. Just
realize that if it does then you will have to rebuild all over again. A new
forged crank from Mitsubishi is about $1,000 with tax, shipping, etc.
I am not going to address custom cranks or things like that here. If you are
going that route then there is more to talk about than there is room for
Forged Pistons are a standard upgrade to a performance engine build. Ross
some nice ones for our engines.
Forged Rods are a standard upgrade to a performance engine build. There
are several good brands available.
Standard new parts for your rebuild. Clevite's "coated" bearings are now
available for our e
ngines. For rings I have always like the PerfectCircle
The stock head bolts are pretty good up to a point. When you start getting
into the higher boost pressures though you may decide you want stronger
studs to hold your heads down. I
1 Technology head studs. A
set runs about $800.
You will have to decide how much higher you want to go on your head
are also a good
High Rev Springs
are a plus if you are going to be
racing or squeezing that power out on a dyno.
Have your lower intake ported. Make sure the person doing it knows how to
do this right. Like many things in life there is more to it than meets the
More aggressive street or race cams will get you some good power
Adjustable Cam Gears
Not really needed if unless you have stock cams, or, you have a tuner and
the time to dial them in for the race cams.
or performance coating is a nice way to contain the heat in
a turbocharged system. Increased performance is seen by keeping in the
heat. Heat wrap is also an option. High HP builds get nice gains from this
and the time to do it is when your engine is apart
and getting rebuilt.
Performance coating of pistons is not advised.
One of the biggest performance coating companies is right in Auburn,
Larger Throttle body
Increase throttle body size can make a big difference but you must have
other parts to work with it or it is pointless. Stock size is 62mm and you
can increase to 90mm using a Q45 one (most popular) and matching up to
a new upper plenum (intake). But you
will lose much functionality of your
stock system. Not advised except for racing only.
Things not discussed here and beyond the intended scope of this list.
N2O systems are pretty common in the race world and non
street cars. It isn't too common for turbo street cars. It is beyond the scope
of discussion here but it is something that comes into play for performance
planning. In short
for more fuel to be burned by making more
oxygen available to your engine.
Also called Water / Methanol or Water/Alcohol Injection
used to cool down
the cylinders and allow the boost to be turned up without getting knock.
Developed back in WW II actually. Again
the full operation, theory and
application is beyond the scope of
this guide. But if you're wanting to get in
to the upper HP ranges on pump gas (rather than race gas) and turn your
boost up high then WI is something you might consider helping you
achiever that. If you can run race fuel then there's not as much need, if
all, for WI.
This is also an area where the forum parrots are very loud and post
whoring. Seriously, the number of people out there that are blathering on
and on about this and that and have not even themselves yet installed,
tuned or ran a WI is at a
n all time high. Like the guy that writes up pages
of "what you should do for WI" and has himself yet to even run one. All it is
is a running on of things he has read and gathered on the internet. Which is
a place to start yes but it doesn't mean the perso
n knows what they are
talking about so take the advice with some healthy skepticism is all. I mean
some of these guys even think fake carbon fiber vinyl is cool (eyeroll).
Anyway, be careful with what you read/believe as this is a favorite topic of
um racers and computer races and those that would use the 'virtual
dyno' rather than a real one.
There is lots of good info and the best place to start is understanding the
theoretical methodology. How does it work and why. A big red flag is when
insists on continuing to use the words "meth injection". Yeah,
sounds real cool. But in reality the technology is WATER injection. The
methanol is there to support the process but it is not the process itself.
Also be aware that if you plan on running race
gas then WI is most of the
time redundant and not warranted at all. No need. The higher octane race
fuels do not need or benefit from WI.
As mentioned above, usig race gas is a consideration for high HP builds.
Not just racing. Of course if
you are going to drive your car everyday then
this isn't always an attractive option. But you CAN have two maps available
if you run a standalone EMS (eg
AEM EMS) and use the pump gas map for
normal driving and then switch to race gas for the track. A mi
is that you do have to drain your fuel tank to switch over each time.
There is a lot that can be written on race fuels. I personally prefer the VP
brand fuels but they are also the most expensive (as in $15
enough to note here
that not all race gas is the same. Not even close. And
you will have to dyno tune for the fuel so choose your fuel wisely. There is
enough difference in them that you cannot tune on one brand and then
switch to another without potential problems. I order m
y VP Race fuels and
they deliver them to my door so that is convenient. Or if you always go to
the same track, see what they might carry if you prefer. For more info see
VP RACE FUELS
or any other e
qually large supplier like Sunoco, Torco, etc.
Basics: Race fuel has a much higher octane (as in the 110
120 ranges). It
burns slower. It prevents knock at levels that lesser octane fuels cannot.
(note: this is also why your VR4 says PREMIUM FUEL ONLY
knock that the 92
93 octane can prevent and the lower octane pump gas
It can help cool the cylinders (which is why WI isn't always needed
on race fuels). You can also go with a leaded race fuel, but you should be
committed to your car being race only if you do that (in my opinion). Those
are just a few basic reasons for usi
ng race fuel. If you understand the
differences and why it is used over pump fuel then it can help you decide
on adding it to your overall goals/plans or not.
Don't let running race gas intimidate you. It isn't that complicated and if
you have an AEM or o
ther standalone you just have two maps. When you
want to race and use the race gas you upload the racing map. If your car is
a street car and you want to go back to pump gas you just upload the
pump gas map which is a different tune. There you go.
some like this and can get some nice results. However the
majority abandon it when the hassle of obtaining it sinks in or the fact that
you have to build to supply so much volume to match the power of a real
race gas. Not to say it isn't great for some j
ust make sure you don't jump
on a bandwagon only to find out the downsides later (and there ARE many
downsides to it, which is why many at the track are still running good old
race gas and not ethanol
think about it).
method on intercoolers, fuel systems and other
components to help lower the charge air to increase power.
Full build buyouts
In the racing world you can sometimes find good deals on those getting out
of the biz or moving on to another platform and such.
For the 3000GT VR4
platform you can also sometimes find deals where people did not budget,
listened to the wrong people (ie
did not read this build guide, lol) and in
the end ran out of money, ruined the car, blew the engine, or combinati
of that and
The end result is that you can pick up a lot of the parts for a fraction of the
cost when they realize they have to get out from u
nderneath all that money
A few things to keep in mind when buying a whole car:
when they list t
hings like what spark plugs are in the car that is just
trying to stretch the list of mods and indicates desperation or that the list
really isn't that big. Who cares what spark plugs are in it. Seriously. How
ridiculous. Or what coolant is in the car or e
ngine oil and other such silly
many will try to represent the car as doing really well and only selling
because of (insert basic excuse here). Don't believe it. Chances are 10:1
that there is something wrong with it. It's been heavil
y mod'd and
something went wrong most likely. That is still okay for your purposes just
don't buy into that BS.
considering the car a "parts car" is not the same as fixing it all up
yourself as a car. In other words: getting it for parts for your car (
know what's been done and you want to upgrade or mod or performance
addon to it) is one thing. Buying the car to fix it is another. Why? Because
buying parts to pull off, verify and refurbish as needed is not the same as
buying a car with unknown t
hings wrong that you may very well have to
So look at the parts costs and add up the PARTS. Not the car. The parts
that you want. Then, depending on the miles or amount of use on the parts
take anywhere from 60
85% off new cost. IOW
if 100,00K in "
parts then a 'good deal' would be 20k. This is especially true of electronics
(that are hard to verify if any problems) as well as parts that wear fast like
a clutch. Unless it is a RPS rebuildable or something similar then a used
clutch isn't wor
th much. Yes I know, the guy only drove it twice and the
little old ladt on weekends,,,lol......Remember, it is not a 'good deal' if half
the parts are worn, the turbos are blowing oil, the ECU has quirky
problems, etc. Don't kid yourself
people sell off
their 'project cars' like
that all the time. They know there's another multi
thousand dollar rebuild
needed and are now looking to unload.
In the end if there are parts that you would BUY ANYWAY and the entire
cost is over 75% off of new cost (for just th
e parts you want, not
everything) then it is worth considering. If not then be careful you don't
self into it being a good deal when it really isn't once all said and
done. Spending all your money on something like that and turning around
it has a blown set of turbos, cracked crank, and so on, is not
something that you want.
Note that I am talking about performance mod'd cars. Not stock with some
bolt ons. The more heavily mod'd
the car is the higher the discount if trying
to unload. BE SKEPTICAL! Nothing personal to the seller, it is just good
Also don't kid yourself to recoup some of the cost by reselling stuff on the
car you don't want. The same applies to you tryin
g to sell it too. There is
always lots of "interest" on the forums but the actual money isn't as fluid as
you might think or want. You don't want to get stuck with a bunch of parts
you have to take your time to sell o
ff just for a sorta okay deal.
IF ONLY 10
(or thereabout) you are better to just bite the bullet and buy new.
Otherwise you are buying on faith with no warranty and could be one of the
many people stuck with worn out, shot, or just plain ruined parts.
so many guys sav
e only 10
20% and then end up chasing around a
problem the eventually leads back to the used part being bad and they did
not know it (especially electronics). It cost them a LOT more than what
they saved by not buying new the first time. In time AND money.
caution and don’t pay close to new price for use parts.
I'm sure there are things I may have missed and someone will tell me.
Some things I have purposely left out.
NOTE: this isn't a DIY but a guide for those that are newer to the
orm or performance concepts so there are things not included
So if anything comes up that I forgot to mention, or added info deemed
helpful, I will add in here. Or, if you are on the NW's local 3000GT forum
feel free to comment in there.
I hope this information has been helpful and informative for you.
If you have any
feedback or corrections feel free to
If you have further questions or
feel free and if I am not too busy I will reply back to
Enjoy making, and keeping, your VR4 in nice condition and a high performance sports car
like it deserves!
In summary, if you get nothing else from this site / writeup:
Know your goal ahea
d of time
or at least the REAL expectation of what you want to end
up with and what you can truly afford. FACT: Most "builds" end up costing 2X or more than
what the new builder thought. Many are left with half done projects because they ran out
PLAN your build out on paper first
(*I suggest a spreadsheet like Excel that will to the
math totals for you as you work). Add in the little things the best you can. These "little
things" add up and can push you well over your budget.
Do this B
EFORE you spend money
Round UP because there will be things that you forgot or will run into once
you start disassembling your car/engine/trans. It's just how it goes. Plan on it accordingly
with a buffer on your budget. If you don't then y
ou will run out of money before
completion or will have to take short cuts that sometimes have sad outcomes.
3) Get off the internet forums that are mostly huge collections of BS and and many times
totally wrong. There are certainly times when there is go
od information there but be
aware of knowing the difference or take into account the person handing out the advice.
90% of the time you get ridiculous advice from the nut
swingers and dreamers. If you
know (or know of) someone that has a proven record of b
uilding and success then reach
out and contact them.
One caveat when asking for advice
beware of people that are making thier living (or trying to) off selling
parts or running a shop. While there are many trustworthy people there are just as many that
are not and
sell you on parts of levels way above what you need. Keep in mind thier desire is to make a
profit from your purchases so take the advice with some skepticism. Sort of a "trust but verify" attitude is
in order. It's nothing against anyone personally but is just wise to keep these things in mind, especially
on big builds that will exceed 10's of t
housands of dollars.
Good luck on your build, whatever the level. Enjoy the process too!
I hope this has helped you out.