Tuning guide to the KA24DE

"We look at the best mods for KA24DE's."

Nissan have made revisions to the KA24E and created a fantastic solid block, that responds really well to tuning and has plenty of hidden potential just waiting to be unlocked.

The KA24DE has 4 valves per cylinder, against the 3 of it's SOHC brother improving it's breathing and power output considerably.

The redlines vary, but this is quite a complex story, the original KA24DE has a higher 6900 redline* than the 1988 KA24E 6500rpm, with the main differences being that the KA24DE has a DOHC (double overhead camshaft) and other revisions including heavy duty main bearings, a better knock sensor  and revised oil pickup.

*The oil feed was revised, and rpm was limited to 6900rpm, then this was cut to 6400 rpm to facilitate the implementation of the Nissan 240SX's cam profile and intake design around 2004. Some SUV versions of this engine had a redline of 6100rpm.

Engine blocks were made in Mexico and Japan, depending on the destination market. The blocks that were made in Mexico were primarily for models destined for the US market. Then Japanese domestic market car engines were built  in Japan.

There are significant differences and revisions between these two blocks, despite bearing the same engine code and having similar designs.

Japanese engines are lighter, with larger diameter girdled main bearings and were generally tuned to higher RPM and power levels they also weight less than the Mexican blocks. We also note that oil feed and camshaft differences have also been flagged up as problems when sourcing parts for these engines.

The Mexican blocks were heavier because they were cast iron. But this is not a bad thing as they can tolerate higher power figures than the JDM engines.

If you have a heavy truck and are looking for more power then this article will cover the basics, but you'll be looking for more low end torque, and probably not after a high revving engine.

So although the engine was built for trucks there is probably more tuning potential and adding more power is unlikely to break anything!

Telling the Mexican and Japanese engines apart.

The dipstick location is the best way to tell the engines apart, as JDM engine dipsticks were located in the centre of the engine, and the Mexican engines has the dipstick located to the rear.

Typical power outputs varied by year, and by application. SUV's tended to be built for Torque and reliability by way of a different compression ratio and cam design.

  • 134 hp (100 kW) (1988-1996)
  • 155 hp (116 kW) (1996-2004)
  • 143 hp (107 kW) (1998-2004

Parts are not necessarily interchangeable between the two versions so please check carefully before ordering upgrades, particularly camshafts and anything to do with the oil feed and pickup.

Most of our visitors have this engine in the 240SX so were are going to look at tuning this block with "track day sports car in mind".

Camshaft choice is the thing that differentiates the power band, along with head work (gas flowing, porting and polishing).

With NASP only mods you'll probably gain around 20-30bhp, when you add forced induction you can be looking at an extra 100bhp or more!

Regular maintenance & weakspots

Valve adjustments should be checked every 1200 miles.

Replacing the outdated mechanical spark timing with a proper electronically managed solution will make your future tuning mods easier.

Fuelling can struggle at higher power figures, as with most tuning projects your choice of injectors and mapping is vital.

Piston and crank are forged, and pretty solid, as such the engine can take quite a bit of punishment.

It is considered bulletproof, subject to proper servicing and in particular regular oil changes.

Pistons are good for power figures around 260hp but going beyond this it makes sense to uprate the pistons, and crankshaft. We've heard of some running power figures of 320hp on stock internals as they are so solid, but we would worry about reliability.

Tuning the KA24DE

Stage 1 mods: Panel air filter, Remap, Sports exhaust.

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

Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

Turbo kits for the KA24DE

There are a few good quality turbo kits around for the KA24DE and you should hit power figures around 380hp to 400hp. The oil feed drain lines need uprating, you'll need an intercooler and timing adjustments.

Fuelling would also be a problem for a turbo kit so you'll need better injectors, rated to flow what you've tuned the car to handle and an aftermarket engine management kit.

We favour the GT3071R Dual Ball Bearing OR GT3076R Dual Ball Bearing turbos, they spool up nicely on this engine and make for a good top end power boost without too much low down lag. 4500 rpm is where you really feel these turbos spooling up and where power stays flat on the NASP engine through to redline you'll get a big pickup around 5000rpm on the turbo setup.

A twin scroll turbo is the route to go if you are adding forced induction to the KA24DE.

Clearance in the engine bay can be an issue with bottom mounted turbo manifolds, so give some thought to adjusting the floorpan or the downpipe to accommodate this. Power steering brackets can also get in the way and may need grinding back.

The KA24DE was replaced in 2004 with the 2.5L QR25DE

Please help us to complete this article, use the feedback box below if you spot any errors or have any additional tips or comments to pass on to other KA24DE engine tuners

We have another version of this KA24DE tuning guide on TorqueCars.com

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