7 Simple Ways to Identify the Nissan SR20 Engine

nissan sr20det engine identification

It can sometimes be tricky to identify and differentiate between the Nissan SR20 engines if you are not familiar with them. With these simple visual clues I’ve put together, you’re sure not to mix them up again.

Identification Table

Chassis Code Year Engine Code Turbo ECU Pinout Valve Cover Rear Slant Front Hump # of Gears
S15 1999+ SR20DET Yes 16/14/16/20 Black Yes Yes 6
S14 1996-1998 SR20DET Yes 16/14/16/20 Black Yes Yes 5
S14 1993-1996 SR20DET Yes 16/20/20/20 Black Yes/No Yes 5
S14 1993-1998 SR20DE No 16/14/16/20 Black Yes Yes 5
RPS13 1996-1998 SR20DET Yes 16/14/16/18 Black No No 5
RPS13 1996-1998 SR20DE No 16/14/16/18 Black No No 5
RPS13 1991-1995 SR20DET Yes 16/14/16/18 Red No No 5

Engine Codes

Every Nissan engine has the engine code stamped into the block. It’s located on the front of the engine to the right of the exhaust manifold, right next to where the engine and transmission bolt together, followed by the engine serial number. I’ve circled it in the photos below.


Another really simple way to tell the difference is to see if it’s turbocharged. For those of your who don’t know what a turbocharger looks like, here is a photo one on a SR20 engine (circled in red). Not only that, but stock SR20 turbochargers are made by Garrett, and will be stamped into the turbo (2nd photo).


ECU (Computer) Pinouts

Your engine most likely came with an ECU (computer). It has a specific number of pins.

Take the S13 ECU for example. If you lay it flat (horizontal) it has 16/14/16/18 (pictured below)

Nissan S13 SR20 ECU Pinouts
Nissan S13 SR20 ECU Pinouts


Valve Cover Color

Every engine has a valve cover. It sits on top of the engine covering the valves. Simple enough. On the Nissan SR20 engines they are two colors, red or black.

Nissan SR20 red and black valve covers
Nissan SR20 red and black valve covers


Rear Slant & Front Hump

Nothing complicated here. This is simply the shape of the valve cover. Some have a rear slant and some a front hump. And some have neither.

The front of the engine is the direction facing the timing chain and fan belt. And the rear is facing the transmission.


Transmissions Gears

And lastly, one of the easiest ways to tell if you have an S15 SR20, is by the number of gears in the transmission. You can easily check by manually shifting the gears on the transmission. But be aware, some engine sellers might stick a S14 transmission to a S15 engine. So make sure you are using all the clues to identify the engine.

Nissan S15 SR20DET 6-Speed Transmission
Nissan S15 SR20DET 6-Speed Transmission


Identifying the Nissan SR20 engine is pretty easy once you know what to look for. Hopefully these clues will help you avoid any confusion in the future.

If you’d like to share any of your experiences or leave a comment, post them below in the comment section.

Posted by Hans Desjarlais

After accidentally locking himself in a scrapped '85 Renault for several hours at the age of 5 years old, Hans developed a love/hate relationship with cars which eventually became an obsession. Right out of high school Hans started his first business importing and selling Japanese engines. After selling the business in 2008, he launched Import Insider to obsessively cover the auto industry and offer advice and tips to import car enthusiasts.

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