Tuning the Mini Tritec

"Comprehensive guide to performance tuning the Mini Tritec engine!"

The Mini Tritec make a good tuning project and with the optimum modified modifications like remapping, turbo kits and camshafts you will enhance your driving experience.

Our aim here is to review and look at Tritec tuning and point out the best mods that work.

The best Tritec mods on an engine are typically the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by popular Tritec mods, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the Tritec can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the bhp and power output.

NB: Fast road cams normally bump the performance throughout the rpm band, you may sacrifice a little low down bhp but the top end will be better.

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

A Motorsport camshaft will just annoy you whilst driving in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your power band to your cars usage so for a daily driver stick with a shorter duration Tritec camshaft

Each engine responds better to mild camshaft durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The engine timing and injectors and fuel pump also will make differences on the torque gains you'll hit.

Extending exhaust or intake durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Stage 1 mods: Drilled & smoothed airbox, Fast road camshaft, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust manifold, Intake headers, Panel air filters.

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

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

The Tritec engines make great tuning projects and we're happy to report there is a growing number of mods and performance parts out there.

ECU mapping allows a tuner to to establish the full potential of all the upgrades you've fitted to your Tritec.

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but your mileage may differs on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

Pushing fuel and air into your Tritec is the aim to any car tuning task.

Intake flow the air from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

The bore size, shape and flow rate of the Intake can make a substantial change to fuel atomisation on the Tritec.

On popular production engines intake are ripe for performance upgrades, although some manufacturers provide well optimised intake.

Fitting big valve kits, doing some Tritec port enlargement and head flowing will also boost power, this will permit raising the power increase on other parts.

Turbo upgrades

NASP engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your Tritec

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

When your motor is turbocharged, tuning mods are giving better power gains and we find turbo engines use many forged and stronger components.

There are practical limits for every engine, with some being incredibly solid and some just sufficiently able to handle stock power

Discover these limits and install more solid crank and pistons to cope with the power.

We see many guys spending a loads on turbo upgrades on the Tritec only to watch the Tritec go up in smoke soon after it's been completed.

Big upgraded turbos often suffer low end lag, and little turbos spool up really quickly but won't have the top end torque gains.

We are pleased that the selection of turbo units is always increasing and we are seeing variable vane turbo units, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

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

It is not unusual that there is a limitation in the air flow sensor MAP/MAF/AFM on the Tritec when loads more air is being fed into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large power gains, although more difficult to install. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling upgrades and mods

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will have to pay attention to the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a bhp and torque increase.It is important to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when specifying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and allows a bit of spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

Exhaust upgrades and mods

You may need to uprate your exhaust if your exhaust is creating a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find your flow rate is fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow through the engine but do not go too big or you could will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 1.5 to 2.5 inches as a rule of thumb.

Common exhaust restrictions can be located the filters installed, so adding a freer flowing performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Weak spots, Issues & common problem areas on the Tritec

The engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

The cast iron block and overall simple design make this engine particularly reliable, even when tuned.

Regular oil changes are vital on the , particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

History of the Engine

These Tritec engines were  a collaborative effort from Chrysler and Rover which were then part of the BMW group and the focus was to create a small but powerful and reliable straight 4 block suitable for the new MINI range.

Amazing the cast iron blocks can take quite a bit of power, and we've heard of a 600bhp tuned version of the Tritec. It was superceded by the Prince engine though N13 and N14.

It came as a 1.4 or 1.6 and the 1.6 also had a Roots Eaton M45 supercharger fitted.

  • 1.4(T14a)
    74 hp 90 lbft Mini One (Portugal, Greece) (until 2008)
  • 1.6(T16b3)  
    89 hp 103 lbft (Mini hatch)
     114 hp 110 lbft (Cooper)
    Chrysler Neon (in non-US markets)
    Chrysler PT Cruiser
  • 1.6 SC(T16b4)
    160 hp 150 lbft
    168hp 160lbft
    215hp 184lbft from 2006 JCW GP 

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

We need your help improving this article, so please send us your feedback in the comments box below and pass on any tips, points or facts we have wrong or have not covered.

We really like hearing from our readers, and hearing about which modifications were the most effective for them, it helps us improve our recommendations and articles to reflect current trends in modifications and ensures that our guides and tips are kept up to date.

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