View Full Version : About to Buy a CA18DET

01-31-2012, 03:40 AM
Found a CA18DET full swap for a great price. I see a lot of people talk shit about these motors, but I have heard that they are strong and can take a beating.

I've built numerous SR20's and KA's, but I have never even seen a CA before haha. Any thoughts on the motor and how they perform?

I want at least 300whp. I'd probably be getting aftermarket pistons and rods for it too because I don't trust stock internals for anything.

So pretty much I just want some people to chime in that have actually owned one or worked on them, because I've never even seen one before.

01-31-2012, 03:47 AM
i like ca's, just freshen it up and 300 wont be an issue. They are not the norm so thats always a bonus.

01-31-2012, 04:02 AM
I've heard they are very "smooth" from various people.. And then there are others that say they are pieces of shit, little toy motors, etc. I usually just figure that those people are ignorant and have never driven a CA..

I know they are dreadfully slow in stock form..I was watching vids on youtube and my built KA without turbo was much faster. But then again I won't be keeping it stock.

Do they have any issues I should be aware of? Like how in early SR's the pickup tubes can break, KA's have timing chain rattle, RB's have that over oiling issue in the head..etc...

01-31-2012, 04:43 AM
Your Sig says 5.3 lsx swap so why go to 1.8?

01-31-2012, 06:17 AM
I have one (they are stardard engines in Europe S13). CAs main problem come from users not giving a damn about maintaining their engine, and as it has low oil capacity (3.5L ... but you can put 4L in ) it becomes a problem quite fast.

Strong engines as long as you use quality oil and check the oil level often. If you dont, oil will cook and block the breathers, preventing it from returning from turbo and head, causing a lack of lubrication and then bottom end goes.

Major issue comes from sump breather that has a nasty 90° bend and gets clogged. The condenser plates in the rocker cover suffers the same. First thing you do when you get that CA is to check both of these, if they are clogged then it has not been properly maintained and is likely to fail.

another reason of failure is the dipstick design, which is shite. To get a real oil reading, you need to clean the dipstick tube first ... you can clean it by lowering the dipstick in but not completely (you need to put it back up to the metal cable to plastic transition) and removing it 5 to 6 times . Wipe it every time, when it comes clean your dipstick tube is clean.

Bear in mind they are strong, but need proper and strict maintainance.

stock internals can withstand 300HP, even more but you need quality fuel. Or E85 .

Basically you can get up to 280 / 320hp with cheap / second hand parts from other nissan engines (SR20DET MAF, turbo, RB25/26 injectors...), and stock internals. Going higher usually requires forged internals for peace of mind and bigger turbo. These will give you lag though ... You will start to munch the gearbox by the 380/400hp mark.

Mine is around the 300hp mark. My injectors are too small (e85 ... got 510cc, 130% duty with a T28 and 1.2bar boost), it should reach around 320/330hp with proper injectors. Looking for FIC 1050cc or ID1000 (because i might go the GTX2863r next time i kill the turbo, so i might as well take some room)

If you rebuild it, dont hesitate to change the oil pump. Also make sure you have proper clearance for crank and rod bearings. You can get the nissan ones, they offer 4 different sizes for each "repair level", which is better than any aftermarket set that will only offer 1 (there are numbers on crank, rod and block to tell which one you have to use). Better use plastigauge though.

If you know how to map a car, nistune is quite easy to use. If you plan going north of 400/450HP i would recommand a real aftermarket ecu though, nistune kind of unlocks the oem ecu but it also has its limitations (as far as i can see, the oem ECU has trouble driving big peak and hold injectors)

01-31-2012, 06:46 AM
Engine is going to be as good as the person wrenching on it. I would recommend stand alone ECU before going over 300hp.

After spending thousands on my KA, I wish I had just got a LS1. Probably about the same coin involved.

01-31-2012, 08:05 AM
Ca18s are great engines now a few ppl that beat the crap out them and still run flawless just upgrading the stock ca turbo to a Sr stock turbo makes a good difference

01-31-2012, 10:19 AM
Engine is going to be as good as the person wrenching on it. I would recommend stand alone ECU before going over 300hp.

After spending thousands on my KA, I wish I had just got a LS1. Probably about the same coin involved.

This is what I was doing. But I am not paying $1500+ for a T56. I just can't do it.

01-31-2012, 06:03 PM
I would recommend stand alone ECU before going over 300hp.

Why ?
All the maps are stored in an unencrypted eprom, and it is quite easy to tune. It can be as cheap as free, using romeditor (but it IS painful), or really easy with a nistune (you can work in real time with it). The price tag is nowhere near the price of a standalone system too. I really cant see a reason to go standalone until the oem ecu is limited ...

edit :CA gearboxes have weakpoints though.
1st is the centerplate, which has too many holes. It creates oil starvation on 2nd, 3rd and reverse mostly.
2nd is how the gearbox is built,the axles are too long and there is a lot of torsion going on.
3rd is how painful it is to rebuild ... i did it once. Never again.

there are adaptation kits for Z32 gearboxes but they cost an arm and a leg. Aftermarket parts are available through ppg, os giken and nismo. But if you are afraid of the 1500$ of a T56, you might be afraid of the 5000-7000$ price tag of these. Then again, you get proper racing gearbox, with straight cut gears and dog engagement.

01-31-2012, 07:21 PM
to solve the gearbox issue you can swap in a ka one fairly easily and turbo upgrade maf upgrade injector upgrade exhaust and nistune and you'll prob be pretty happy i would recommend a bigger oil pan though to help with the poor lubricating system of the ca

02-01-2012, 01:25 AM
The KA one is the same, only bellhousing changes. SR20 and RB20 is also the same if i remember correctly. Gear ratio might not be the same but it has the exact same design (and flaws). Late SR20 have much less centerplate holes though so suffer less from starvation.

IMHO except centerplate, they are not really design flaws. the boxes were just not designed to take more than twice the torque the engine is supposed to output...