VW Transporter Tuning T5 and T6
VW Transporter T6 and also T5 tuning is more common than you might realise. Both the VW T6 and VW T5 rolls out of the show room in a fairly low state of tune as standard.
This leaves us with plenty of ways to increase the power output without spending a load of money. Here we will explore the best VW T6 and T5 tuning methods.
VW Transporter Tuning box (Chipping)
The easiest and cheapest way to increase your power output is with the installation of a tuning box which is also commonly referred to as a chip.
Tuning boxes for the VW T6 can be picked up for around £200 and is a good starting point for anyone looking for a cheap and safe gain in power.
This is a plug and play device. The better-quality products (and it is worth paying a little bit more for them) plug directly into the rail sensor connector which is easily accessible towards the top of your engine and can be installed with very little mechanical skill.
Depending on which setting and which box you buy depends on the output gains you might expect but some models of the VW T6 can see improvements of around 30% in BHP and torque as well as 15% to 20% improvement in mile per gallon.
The main reason for this very easy gain is that the ECU is programmed by VW to focus on low emissions to meet the tight regulations as well as long-life performance.
Applying a VW Transporter tuning box is therefore perfectly safe to do as it is essentially unlocking the potential of the engine that has been restricted by the manufacturer.
Do tuning boxes void the warranty?
No! They leave no trace on the ECU of a vehicle so can be easily unplugged without affecting warranty making this the preferred option for most transporter owners.
Best Tuning box for VW T6
Best Tuning box for VW T5
Remapping a VW Transporter for the purpose of tuning is also a common process. It is a little dearer than a tuning box as it is a bespoke process carried out by a specialist garage. Remapping is also more permanent.
Will remapping my transporter void the warranty?
Yes. If you are concerned with retaining your VW Warranty or have your Transporter on lease/company vehicle this route probably isn’t the best for you. Remapping a vehicle will invalidate the warranty on certain key components such as the engine, turbo, clutch, gear box etc.
That said, if warranty is of no concern to you then remapping is a very good way of getting the maximum power out of your Transporter and if done by a specialist garage is perfectly safe and legal to do.
Cost of Transporter remapping
The professional remapping of a VW T6 and VW T5 can start as low as £200 and go as high as £1000 depending on the location and reputation of the garage that you use.
For the cheaper tuning you are more likely to get a standard “copy and paste remap”. If you pay a bit more you will get a more bespoke service and should expect the specialist tuner to tune your vehicle to the criteria that you ask for.
As a rule of thumb, the more power that your remap unlocks the more wear and tear you are going to get on the engine and components so be careful pushing the remap too far unless you are ready to accept higher servicing costs in the longer run.
A reputable tuning specialist will work with you on this and should explain the pros and cons of the specific remap that they install for you.
Transporter performance exhaust
Upgrading the exhaust system on a VW Transporter is less common than remapping as the power gain vs cost involved is much lower. However, it is another good way to unlock extra power from your vehicle.
As standard the Transporter T5 and T6 exhaust systems are designed for the emission reduction and sound deadening qualities with less focus on power output.
This means VW have given us plenty of scope to improve the power output of the vehicle safely without any compromise to the vehicle safety or reliability.
Best Transporter T5 and T6 exhaust system
Transporter performance exhaust power increase
A decent exhaust system can unlock somewhere in the region of 10% to 15% extra power and a great way for VW Transporter tuning.
It comes with the added benefit that it can change the sound of your engine at the same time. Some of the designs are more aesthetically pleasing the stock items also with some Transporter owners opting for twin exits etc.
In terms of power gain, having twin exits over a single exit pipe does not really make much difference to a Transporter. However twin pipes will of course sound and look different and a bit more unique compared to a single exit exhaust.
If you are going to the expense of having your exhaust changed it is important to note that the best gains will be had if you do this at the same time as a remap with a specialist tuner.
Changing your exhaust system affects the gas flow and back pressures to your engine and therefore a remap will address this change and tweak the air flow as well as the fueling to the engine to ensure that it is all aligned with the new configuration.
To install a new exhaust system and ignore the remapping of the engine could actually be detrimental to your power gains and leave your vehicle running badly.
It is not uncommon to see professional tuners upload dyno tests that show vehicles pre tune that have lower than the stock power output because of a new exhaust that has not been set up correctly.
Transporter DPF delete power gain
An older Diesel Particulate Filter that has become blocked or clogged could lead to power loss over time and should be corrected by replacing the DPF with a new one.
A DPF delete is sometimes seen as a cheap way to by pass this.
A DPF delete is an illegal process that can lead to a fine in the UK that essentially bypasses the diesel particulate filter to allow for a quicker/easier flow of exhaust gases out of the engine.
For vehicles that are intended for use on a public road – this should not be attempted as it is firstly illegal/bad for the environment but also is an MOT failure in the UK.
You may see some exhaust manufacturers list this as a selling point of their product, especially the ones that are imported from places like China.
You will find that a lot of aftermarket exhaust systems are compatible with the process but should always be sold to you as a standard set up without bypassing your DPF in any way.
VW Transporter – turbo upgrade
This is really only for the those that want to push their vehicles to the max and have a big budget! This also certainly invalidates any warrantee that you may have with VW and will likely lead to higher running and maintenance costs depending on how high you push the engine.
You can spend upwards of £2,000 on a refined turbo charger that aims to enhance the airflow through the turbo. Refined turbos will usually have enlarged exhaust/inlet intakes and the channels within the turbo itself will be highly polished to reduce friction of gasses as much as physically possible.
Upgraded turbo’s are usually just “plug and play” and bolt straight onto the original fitments in your engine bay. Some companies offer to carry out modifications to your existing turbo which keeps the costs a little lower.
With a high-quality turbo charger, remap and exhaust system together you can push the 2.0 Transporter T5 and T6 engines up to 450ps with the correct set up.
It is important to note that in changing your turbo set up (similar to changing your exhaust system) you will always need a remap to ensure the fuel mix is correct and avoid lean running/expensive damage to your engine.
The higher you push the power with a turbocharger then the more components in the engine bay you will need to consider upgrading. Replacing things such as conrods and pistons with metals manufactured to higher specifications to cope with the increased pressures.
This isn’t a project for mechanically shy individuals, and you need to have a real passion for it or a big budget and a good tuner.
That said, tuning a Transporter turbo is a relatively safe process and is essentially only focused on improving air flow through the turbo. It is ultimately the remapping of the ECU that will decide how much added strain that the improved turbo will bring. So long as the mapping of the ECU is kept within reasonable tolerances you should not really experience any loss in reliability.
As with all tuning, the more you push it however the more issues you will need to overcome.
Transporter Inlet valve cleaning (Walnut blasting)
Inlet valve cleaning deserves a mention. Whilst it won’t improve power on a new vehicle it can be a very good option for an older vehicle that may have built up carbon deposits on the inlet valves.
As we have explored and explained above with the turbo enhancements, the efficient air flow and blow by gas flow is important for the power output of an engine.
Intake valves that have carbon build up will be detrimental to the flow of gases and can also in severe cases cause the valves them selves to not close properly.
So if your vehicle is high mileage or is suffering performance loss from standard, it is worth looking at getting your inlet valves cleaned. This process is often referred to as walnut blasting which will clean the inlets back to a nice polished factory finish and restored any performance lost.
The process will also likely improve MPG, cold start issues and rough idles.
If you take an older T5 or T6 to a specialist tuner this should be one of the things that they discuss with you especially if they see that your Transporter power output is less than stock before they change the mapping.
Hopefully that has given you some ideas on the easiest and cheap ways to tune a VW Transporter T5 and T6.
A lot of people overlook the benefits from hardware upgrades and go straight for a tuning box or remap. It is also important to consider that by applying a remap you might be masking an underlying problem of power loss.
My advice if you just want a cheap, easy, quick gain, go for a tuning box.
If you want to get a bit more serious then go to a specialist Transporter tuner for a remap and also ask them to look at other areas such as exhaust systems, inlet valve cleaning and turbo enhancement depending on your budget and desired power.