How to Upgrade the Cooling System of a Nissan Skyline GT-R for Track Use?

March 10, 2024

A Nissan Skyline GT-R is the quintessential Japanese sports car with legendary performance. However, if you’re looking to take this automotive beast onto the racetrack, some upgrades are necessary. While engine power and suspension tweaks are commonly discussed, one aspect that often goes unnoticed is the cooling system. Upgrading your GT-R’s cooling system will ensure the engine performs optimally, even under the duress of a high-speed track day. In this guide, we will walk you through the essential steps in upgrading your GT-R’s cooling system for maximum performance.

The Role of the Cooling System in the Performance of a Car

Before we delve into the specifics, it’s crucial to understand the role of the cooling system in your car’s performance. The cooling system in a vehicle is responsible for maintaining the engine’s optimal operating temperature. When driving at high speeds on a racetrack, your engine generates more heat, putting more strain on the cooling system. If the cooling system is not able to cope with this extra heat, it can lead to engine overheating, resulting in decreased performance or, in the worst case, severe engine damage.

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Upgrading the cooling system of a Nissan Skyline GT-R for track use involves enhancing the capacity of the system to dissipate the excess heat generated. This includes upgrading components like the radiator, oil cooler, and cooling fans. The ultimate goal here is to ensure the engine maintains the ideal operating temperature for maximum performance, even in the demanding conditions of a racetrack.

Upgrading the Radiator

The radiator is a key part of the cooling system. It cools down the engine coolant, which in turn cools the engine. The factory radiator in a Nissan Skyline GT-R is designed for regular use, not for the intense heat generated during a track day. Therefore, to enhance your car’s cooling capacity, an upgraded radiator is necessary.

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When selecting a new radiator, look for one that is larger and has added cooling rows. An aluminum radiator is a good choice due to its excellent heat dissipation properties. Consideration should be given to the fitment of the radiator to ensure it will fit correctly without modifications to the car.

Installing an Oil Cooler

The oil in your Nissan Skyline GT-R is not just for lubricating the engine parts. It also plays an integral role in cooling the engine. Therefore, installing an oil cooler can significantly enhance the cooling system’s capacity.

An oil cooler is a small radiator that cools the engine oil before it circulates around the engine. By cooling the oil, the oil cooler helps to maintain the engine’s optimal operating temperature. When choosing an oil cooler, consider its size, location, and the type of oil you are using in your GT-R. Also, make sure it’s designed for high-performance track use.

Upgrading the Cooling Fans

The cooling fans of your Nissan Skyline GT-R draw air through the radiator when the vehicle is stationary or moving slowly. This function is crucial during a track day when you’ll be repeatedly coming off high-speed stretches and slowing down for corners.

Upgrading to high-performance cooling fans will increase airflow through your radiator, enhancing the cooling system’s overall capacity. When choosing new fans, consider their CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating – a higher rating means a greater airflow. Also, ensure they are designed to withstand the intense heat of a racetrack.

Final Thoughts

Upgrading the cooling system of your Nissan Skyline GT-R is a vital part of preparing your car for track use. By enhancing the cooling capacity of the system, you’ll ensure your engine maintains its optimal operating temperature for maximum performance, even in the demanding conditions of a racetrack. Remember, an efficient cooling system is a key factor in the performance and longevity of your vehicle’s engine. So, invest in the right parts, take the time to install them correctly, and enjoy the thrill of pushing your GT-R to its limits on the track.

Optimizing the Fuel and Exhaust System

A crucial but often overlooked aspect of upgrading your Nissan Skyline GT-R for track use involves optimizing the fuel and exhaust system. These systems interact closely with the cooling system, so it’s important to consider them as part of your overall upgrade plan.

The fuel system plays a massive role in ensuring your engine runs smoothly. A high-performance fuel pump can deliver more fuel to the engine, thereby preventing it from running lean during high-stress track driving. A lean condition can cause the engine to heat up excessively, overtaxing your cooling system and potentially causing damage.

Upgrading to a high-flow fuel pump and adding larger fuel injectors can help maintain a proper fuel-to-air ratio, even under high-speed conditions. This reduces strain on the engine, helping it stay cooler and making the cooling system’s job easier.

Additionally, consider adding a fuel cooler to your GT-R. Just as an oil cooler keeps the engine oil temperature in check, a fuel cooler does the same for the fuel, contributing significantly to the cooling system’s effectiveness.

The exhaust system also plays a significant role in managing heat within the vehicle. An aftermarket exhaust system can improve the efficiency of heat expulsion from the engine, limiting the amount of heat that needs to be dealt with by the cooling system.

Stainless steel is a popular material choice for aftermarket exhaust systems due to its heat-resistant properties. Look for an exhaust system with larger diameter pipes for improved exhaust flow and heat expulsion.

Enhancing the Brake System and Suspension

Another key aspect to consider when preparing your Nissan Skyline GT-R for track use is the brake and suspension systems. Upgrades in these areas not only improve handling and braking performance but also contribute to the overall cooling efficiency of your vehicle.

Big brake kits offer larger discs and pads, which allow for more effective heat dissipation during heavy braking. The use of ventilated brake discs can also enhance this effect. Similarly, upgrading to high-performance brake pads can withstand high temperatures without losing effectiveness, crucial for track use.

The suspension system also contributes to cooling by affecting airflow under the car. Lowering springs and sway bars can reduce the car’s ground clearance, improving aerodynamics and channeling more air towards the under-car components like the oil cooler and exhaust system.

When purchasing these parts, remember to use the quick view and add cart functions on the retailer’s website to streamline and simplify your shopping experience.


Enhancing the cooling system of your Nissan Skyline GT-R for track use is a comprehensive process that extends beyond simply upgrading the radiator, oil cooler, and cooling fans. It involves a detailed understanding of the car’s fuel and exhaust systems, brake system, and suspension. Investing in high-quality parts like stainless steel exhaust systems, big brake kits, high-flow fuel pumps, and lowering springs can significantly enhance your car’s performance on the racetrack. Remember, the goal is to ensure your GT-R maintains the ideal operating temperature for maximum performance, even under the high-stress conditions of a racetrack. So, take the time to select the right components, install them correctly, and enjoy the exhilarating thrill of pushing your GT-R to its limit.