Ultimate 240SX Engine Guide

by Staff | Last updated 2nd December, 2021 | Posted in Guides

We give you everything you need to know about the Nissan 240SX engine lineup.

240sx engine guide

If you ask around what is the best car to get into drifting, most drifting experts will recommend a Nissan 240SX or a 180SX.

Besides having a rear-wheel drive configuration, a 240SX will offer you excellent handling, parts interchangeability, and plenty of engine swap options. Of course, you can’t forget that the 240SX has one of the best chassis ever made for drifting.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start from the beginning. In other words, we will be discussing everything that you need to know about the 240SX engine.

The First Generation (S13 Chassis): 1989 – 1994

Here is an interesting fact: the 240SX traces back its roots to the S13 Nissan Silvia that was released in Japan in mid-1988 but marketed as the 1989 model year.

The 1989 S13 Nissan Silvia was so popular among consumers, it won the prestigious Japan Car of the Year (JCOTY) award a few months after it was introduced.

In addition to that, Nissan introduced a hatchback version of the S13 Silvia known as the “180SX”. It wasn’t so different, except that the S13 Nissan Silvia was a coupe with fixed headlights but the Nissan 180SX was a hatchback with pop-up headlights.

Another thing; while the S13 Silvia came with either the CA18DE (naturally aspirated) or CA18DET (turbocharged) engine under the hood, the 180SX was only powered by a 1.8 liter CA18DET engine.

Of course, Nissan wanted to export its favorite Japanese car to the American and European market but there was just one problem; it was too expensive and time-consuming to use the same CA18DET engine in the North American market.

Instead, Nissan fitted the KA24E engine in the 180SX cars designated for the American market and called it the “240SX”. However, the European models built on the S13 chassis were known as “200SX” despite coming with a CA18DET stock engine.

Technically, the 180SX, 200SX, and 240SX are identical car models built on the S13 chassis but they came with different engines. As you’ve probably noticed, both the 180SX and 240SX are named in reference to the engine used: the 180SX was initially fitted with a CA(18)DET engine, and the 240SX was initially powered by a KA(24)E engine.

You can read all about the intricate differences of these cars in our 180SX vs 240SX guide.

Notice the engine codes coincide with the names?

Anyway, the Nissan 240SX was introduced to North America in 1989 and it was available in a coupe and hatchback body styles.

It was later in 1991 that Nissan decided to update the North American 240SX and the Japanese S13 Silvia/180SX engines. The Nissan 240SX was upgraded with a DOHC (dual overhead cam) KA24DE engine, while the Nissan S13 Silvia/180SX was revised with a 2 liter SR20DE (naturally aspirated) and SR20DET engines.

However, the European 200SX model didn’t receive an engine update.

Unfortunately, the production of the 240SX built on the S13 chassis was discontinued in 1994 for the American market. Similarly, the European S13 200SX was discontinued in 1993. But in Japan, the S13 platform was so popular that the 180SX was sold until 1998.

You can drive an S13 for free in the hit drifting game, Drift Hunters.

The Second Generation (S14 Chassis): 1994 – 1998

What is the difference between the S13 and the S14 chassis? Both the S13 and S14 chassis are perfect for drifting, but the latter is stiffer and heavier with a better suspension geometry.

However, the S13 chassis is smaller and lighter and it’s possible to stiffen it up and make it slightly better than the S14 chassis.

After the S13 240SX was discontinued in the U.S, Nissan went back to the drawing board and replaced the S13 chassis with an S14 chassis. The S14 240SX was introduced in 1994 as the 1995 model, but only a coupe variant with no pop-up headlights was available.

In fact, Nissan redesigned the S14 240SX to the point most parts were not interchangeable with the S13 240SX. However, the S14 240SX still used the same 2.4 liters DOHC KA24DE engine that was fitted in the S13 240SX.

In Japan, the Silvia built on the S14 chassis was also introduced; although it debuted a little bit earlier in 1993. The S14 Silvia body style was revised to make it lower and wider than the previous generation.

On top of that, Nissan updated the SR20DET engine fitted in the S14 Silvia with a variable timing cam and a larger turbocharger.

Nissan went on to manufacture the North American S14 240SX and Japanese S14 Silvia until 1998. Despite that, Nissan produced the KA24DE engine until 2004.

The Third Generation (S15 Chassis): 1999 – 2002

Nissan introduced the S15 Silvia in 1999 and it was sold in Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Unfortunately, it was never made available in North America.

The S15 Silvia was designed with a coupe and convertible body style. It was also fitted with an SR20DE or SR20DET engine just like the previous generation; although the power in the S15 Silvia engine was more bumped up.

In contrast, the S15 chassis is stiffer and heavier with slightly better performance than the S14 and S13 chassis; especially if you’re driving the

S15 Silvia coupe Aero variant with the rear wing and side skirts.

As history goes, the last Nissan Silvia was manufactured in August 2002.

Nissan 180SX, 200SX, 240SX, and Silvia Specifications: S13 – S15

Model S13 240SX 180SX / Silvia 200SX S14 240SX S14 Silvia S15 Silvia
Engine KA24E
Year of
1989 – 1994 1988 – 1998 1989 – 1993 1994 – 1998 1993 – 1998 1999 – 2002
Layout Front engine,
Rear wheel drive
Front engine,
Rear wheel
Front engine,
Rear wheel
Front engine,
Rear wheel
Front engine,
Rear wheel
Front engine,
Rear wheel
Capacity 2.4 L 1.8 – 2 L 1.8 L 2.4 L 2 L 2 L
Power 140 – 155 hp 132 – 205 hp 166 hp 155 hp 220 hp 250 hp
Torque 152 – 160 lb-ft 117 – 203 lb-ft 168 lb-ft 160 lb-ft 203 lb-ft 220 lb-ft
Gearbox 5 speed

4 speed

5 speed

4 speed

5 speed

4 speed

5 speed

4 speed

5 speed

4 speed

5 speed

6 speed

4 speed

Weight 2,601-2,698 lb 2,601-2,698 lb 2,698 lb 2,762 lb 2,762 lb 2,646-3,197 lb

Nissan 180SX, 200SX, 240SX, and Silvia Stock Engine Guide: S13 – S15

CA18DE/CA18DET Engine

The CA18DE stock engine was used in S13 Nissan Silvia from 1988 to 1991. It’s a 1.8 liter naturally aspirated DOHC 16V gasoline engine with an output of 132 hp at 6400 rpm and 117 lb-ft of torque at 5200 rpm.

Its cylinder head is made out of aluminum while the cylinder block is cast iron with a five-bearing support system. It also comes with a multiport fuel injection system.

On the other hand, the CA18DET engine was fitted in Japanese 180SX and European 200SX. However, it’s a 1.8 liter turbocharged DOHC engine with four valves per cylinder. In fact, it’s similar to the naturally aspirated CA18DE engine except that it was upgraded with a Garrett T25 turbocharger to improve the airflow and an intercooler to reduce fuel consumption; although some units didn’t come with an intercooler.

The CA18DET engine version without the intercooler is capable of producing 143 hp at 6400 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. But if it’s the CA18DET engine version with the intercooler, you should get up to 173 hp at 6400 rpm and 166 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

Here is a breakdown of the engine code:
CA: Engine family
18: 1.8 liter displacement
D: DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft)
E: Electronic fuel injection
T: Turbocharged

CA18DE/ CA18DET Engine Specifications

Configuration: Inline 4
Displacement: 1,809 cc
Cylinder block alloy: Cast iron
Valvetrain: DOHC (4 valves per cylinder)
Piston stroke: 83.6 mm
Cylinder bore: 83.0 mm
Compression ratio: 10.0.1 (CA18DE) | 8.5.1 (CA18DET)
Power output: 132 hp (CA18DE) | 143 hp – 173 hp (CA18DET)
Torque output: 117 lb-ft (CA18DE) | 148 lb-ft – 166 lb-ft (CA18DET)
Fuel type: Gasoline
Weight: 249 lbs (CA18DE) | 282 lbs (CA18DET)
Oil change interval: 3500 miles
Engine oil capacity: 3.6 l (with oil filter) | 3.2 l (without oil filter)
Recommended engine oil: 10W-30| 20W-40 |20W-50

CA18DE/ CA18DET Tuning Potential

To begin with, if you have a stock CA18DE engine and you want to increase the power, you should first make it level with the turbocharged CA18DET engine. That means you should consider updating it with a single Garrett T25 turbocharger and an intercooler.

Otherwise, if you have a turbocharged CA18DET engine, it’s possible to modify the engine and achieve over 250 hp. We’ve even seen aggressively modified CA18DET engines that have made 690 hp, but that would require rebuilding the engine on stronger forged internals.

Anyway, if you want to modify the CA18DET engine, we recommend you add the following parts in three stages:

Stage 1: Sports exhaust, lighter flywheel, panel air filter and remap.

Stage 2: Fuel pump upgrades, fast road camshafts, high-flow fuel injectors, sport clutch, ported and polished head, upgraded intercooler.

Stage 3: Engine balancing, larger turbocharger, forged pistons, competition camshafts, and stronger gearbox.

Since the CA18DET engine is known for consistent strong torque and its ability to spool faster at lower RPMs, it’s important that you tune the engine to deliver a flat torque curve.

CA18DE/ CA18DET Common Problems

The CA18DET is a very reliable engine and as long as you don’t skip maintenance, you can surpass over 200,000 miles without doing any major repairs. However, we recommend the following maintenance checks to avoid serious and expensive problems with your CA18DET engine:

  • If you’ve modified the engine to improve the performance, make sure that you regulate the engine water temperature to keep it cool.
  • After you’ve tuned the engine, upgrade the fuel pumps and use higher-octane fuel to prevent knocking or detonation.
  • Make sure you replace the timing belt/cambelt after every 55,000 to 60,000 miles. While you replacing the timing belt, it would be a good idea to also replace the water pump, tensioner, thermostat, idler pulley, and AUX belts.
  • Don’t forget to change the engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluid on schedule as recommended.

SR20DE/ SR20DET Engine

It’s a shame the SR20DET engine was never released in North America. However, it was used in the S13 Nissan 180SX, S14 Nissan Silvia, and S15 Nissan Silvia after the CA18DET was shelved. How good is it? Straight out of the factory, the SR engine had better performance than the CA and KA engines.

To be specific, the SR20DE is a naturally aspirated 2 liter DOHC (dual overhead camshaft) gasoline engine with a multi-point fuel injection system that’s capable of up to 162 hp at 6400 rpm and 141 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm. Both the cylinder head and block are made out of aluminum which helps to reduce the weight.

The SR20DET is the turbocharged version of the SR20DE engine. To break it down, there are 4 generations of the SR20DET.

The S13 Red Top
The first generation variant is known as the ‘red top’ SR20DET’ engine and it was made from 1991 to 1993. It can produce 205 hp at 6000 rpm and 203 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The S13 Black Top
The ‘black top’ SR20DET was used in S13 180SX from 1994 to 1998. It’s not so different from the ‘red top’ SR20DET engine. In fact, the horsepower and torque remained the same; 205 hp at 6000 rpm and 203 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The S14 Black Top
The S14 ‘black top’ SR20DET came with the Nissan Silvia from 1993 to 1998. It was updated with a variable cam timing, ECU software, 370cc injectors, oxygen sensors, reinforced pistons, and a bigger Garrett T28 turbocharger. This version can produce 220 hp at 6,000 rpm and 203 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm.

The S15 Black Top
The S15 ‘black top’ SR20DET was introduced in the S15 Nissan Silvia from 1999 to 2002. It was designed with a variable cam timing just like the previous generation but the intake manifold was upgraded. It’s also equipped with a six-speed gearbox and 480cc fuel injectors.

However, the S15 ‘black top’ SR20DET is more expensive and difficult to find compared to other SR variants but it has the best performance stats. It’s capable of 250 hp at 6,400 rpm and 220 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm.

Here is a breakdown of the engine code:
SR: Engine family
20: 2.0 liter displacement
D: DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft)
E: Electronic fuel injection
T: Turbocharged

SR20DE/ SR20DET Engine Specifications

Configuration: Inline 4
Displacement: 1,998 cc
Cylinder block alloy: Aluminium
Valvetrain: DOHC (4 valves per cylinder)
Piston stroke: 86.0 mm
Cylinder bore: 86.0 mm
Compression ratio: 8.5.1
Power output: 162 hp (SR20DE) | 205 hp – 250 hp (SR20DET)
Torque output: 141 lb-ft (SR20DE) | 203 lb-ft – 220 lb-ft (SR20DET)
Fuel type: Gasoline
Weight: 306 lbs (SR20DE) | 400 lbs (SR20DET)
Oil change interval: 3000 – 6000 miles
Engine oil capacity: 3.4 l (with oil filter) | 3.2 l (without oil filter)
Recommended engine oil: 5W-30 | 10W-30| 20W-40 | 20W-50

SR20DE/ SR20DET Tuning Potential

How much power can you boost out of the SR engine? Well, it depends on the SR engine variant. If you have the naturally aspirated SR20DE stock engine, you only need to upgrade it with a Garrett T-25G turbo and boost 7 psi of pressure to produce 205 hp.

But if you want to modify the SR20DET to achieve its peak performance, we recommend the following stages:

Stage 1: Upgrade the engine with a 550 cc fuel injector, 3-inch performance exhaust system, front mount intercooler, fuel pressure regulator, blow-off valves, Walbro fuel pump 280 lph, downpipes, boost controller, and ECU tuning. This should be enough to increase the air pressure to 15 psi and produce 320 hp if you have the S13 red top and black top SR variant with no VCT. However, if you have the S14 or S15 black top SR variant, you should produce over 320 hp.

Stage 2: Update the engine with a bigger Garrett GT2871R turbocharger, 850 cc/min fuel injectors, ARP studs, new head gaskets, and JWT S3 camshafts, forged pistons, and new H-beam rods. At this stage, it’s possible to tune the engine and produce over 400 hp.

Stage 3: Upgrade the engine with 1000 cc/min fuel injectors, Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger, larger valves, and 272/272 camshafts. Also, you need to add a 2.3 L stroker kit and do some head porting. At this stage, it’s possible to achieve over 500 hp.

Note: The SR20DET can safely handle 13 to 15 psi when modified. If you want to go beyond that, you could damage the turbo. However, if you want to take the risk and push more than 15 psi, you need to forge the pistons.

SR20DE/ SR20DET Common Problems

The SR engine is reliable with no major mechanical issues that affect performance. However, some enthusiasts have reported experiencing rough idling which is usually caused by inconsistent fuel combustion and idle air control valve. Fortunately, this is a minor problem that can be easily fixed.

Of course, you must use high-quality engine oil and perform proper maintenance on the engine if you want to extend its service life. Another thing; the SR20DET comes with a timing chain that needs to be replaced after 150,000 miles.

KA24E/ KA24DE Engine

When the 240SX was first introduced in 1989, it came with a 2.4 liter single overhead cam KA24E gasoline engine with 3 valves per cylinder. It only produced 140 hp and 152 lb-ft of torque; it was better equipped for low-end torque than high revving horsepower. Because of that, most 240SX owners who were drifters swapped it with something else more powerful.

However, Nissan brought the 2.4-liter dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) KA24DE gasoline engine in the 1991-1998 240SX; both the S13 and S14 240SX came with the KA24DE engine. It was an improved engine with 4 valves per cylinder and capable of 155 hp at 5,400 rpm and 160 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Besides that, the KA24DE engine was designed with better knock sensors, larger diameter inlet valves, and a revised oil pickup.

But not everything was changed; the capacity remained at 2.4 liter and the cylinder head was made out of cast aluminum, while the cylinder block was fabricated from cast iron.

Here is a breakdown of the engine code:
KA: Engine family
24: 2.4 liter displacement
D: DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft)
E: Electronic fuel injection

KA24DE/ KA24DE Engine Specifications

Configuration: Inline 4
Displacement: 2389 cc
Cylinder block alloy: Cast iron
Valvetrain: SOHC (3 valves per cylinder) KA24E | DOHC (4 valves per cylinder) KA24DE
Piston stroke: 96 mm
Cylinder bore: 89 mm
Compression ratio: 9.1.1 (KA24E) | 9.5.1 (KA24DE)
Power output: 140 hp (KA24E) | 155 hp (KA24DET)
Torque output: 152 lb-ft (KA24E) | 160 lb-ft (KA24DE)
Fuel type: Gasoline
Weight: 370 lbs
Oil change interval: 3000 – 6000 miles
Engine oil capacity: 4.1 l
Recommended engine oil: 5W-30 | 5W-40| 10W-30 | 10W-40

KA24E/ KA24DE Tuning Potential

Truth be told, the American 240SX engine got the short end of the stick compared to the 180SX engine that was released in Japan. For starters, there was no turbocharged version of the KA engine that came out of the factory; unlike the SR20DET.

Nevertheless, the KA engine has a bigger 2.4-liter capacity compared to the 2-liter capacity of the SR engine. That means it’s possible to modify a KA24DE engine to deliver more power than an SR20DET stock engine. How do you go about that?

Stage 1: Equip the engine with cold air intake, 248/248 stock cams, lightweight flywheel, 2.5-inch straight pipe exhaust system, 4-2-1 header, and an engine control unit. At this stage, the engine is still naturally aspirated but you should be able to gain at least 20 extra horsepower if you adjust the ECU.

Stage 2: Update the engine with cams 272/272, valve springs, VK45DE throttle body, adjustable cam gears, Xcessive intake manifold, 370 cc fuel injectors, and 4-1 header. Also, you could do head porting and forge the pistons. This should boost the KA engine to about 200 horsepower without turbochargers.

Stage 3: If you want to build a KA24DET engine, you should upgrade it with an SR20 T25 turbocharger, intercooler, 550 cc fuel injectors, Walbro 255 lph fuel pump, downpipe, wideband O2 sensor, mass airflow sensors, blow off valve, wastegate, piping kit, multi-layer steel head gasket, and Clevite rod and main bearing. On top of that, you should also include a 3-inch exhaust system and an engine control unit.

If you do it right, you should inject about 16 psi into the engine which should be enough to produce about 350 whp.

Stage 4: If you modify the engine with a bigger turbocharger and forge the pistons, it’s possible to achieve 500 horsepower on a KA24DET engine. It would also be a good idea to install valve springs, bigger valves, and cams 264/264.

Note: If you want to tune a KA24DE engine, we recommend you install turbochargers. This is because it could be more expensive to modify a naturally aspirated KA24DE motor compared to a turbocharged engine.

KA24E/ KA24DE Common Problems

The KA24DE is one of those engines that can last almost forever as long as you do proper maintenance. However, one of its most common issues is a rattling timing chain after 100,000 miles. Fortunately, you can easily fix this problem by replacing the timing chain or tensioner. Alternatively, you could try using a different oil grade if it will fix the problem.

Beyond that, most of the maintenance work is no different from any other engine; just use high-grade oil, do valve adjustments, and don’t forget to change the coolant and transmission fluid as recommended in the user’s manual.


Think of it like this: the Nissan 180SX, 240SX, and Nissan Silvia are like identical siblings but with different engines under the hood. Since they’re all engineered on the same S-chassis platform, it doesn’t really matter which model you pick as long as you’ve got enough power and torque to have a blast.

What about the engine? Well, the SR20DET is the most powerful stock engine compared to other options. Then again, a properly tuned KA24DET engine can give the SR20DET a run for its money. So throw the dice and choose!