Nissan VG33E Engine Problems And Specs

Nissan VG is 2.0-3.3L V6 piston motor, employed for a number of vehicles from the brand’s range. The debut motor of the lineup appeared in 1983 and soon, VG turned into the first assembly line V6 motors in Japan. Keeping iron block plus aluminum heads, the primary motors of the range received a single overhead camshaft with two valves per cylinder.

Hereinafter, some updates were made, leading to the creation of motors with other blocks, plus a dual overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder. Moreover, the brand applied its specific modification of variable valve timing to make idle smoother plus achieved more torque at low and medium rpm. Block contains a monoblock main bearing cap.

Engines with such updates were utilized for Nissan GTP ZX-Turbo plus NPT-90 racing automobiles, which managed to gain victories at the IMSA GT Championships for three consecutive years.

Since 1984, VG motors were utilized in a vast number of Nissan automobiles. In 2004, their manufacture ceased and led to the creation of the VQ lineup.

VG33E, a 3.3L V6 60° four-cycle naturally aspirated ICE with water cooling, was released between 1996 and 2004.

Keeping cast-iron block plus 2 aluminum heads with single overhead camshafts and two valves per cylinder, these motors feature a multiport fuel injection system and an electrical ignition system with mechanical timing and distributor.

VG33E Engine specs

Engine codeVG33E
LayoutFour-stroke, V6
Fuel typeGasoline (petrol)
Compression ratio8.9:1
Displacement3.3 L, 3,275 cc (199.85 cu in)
Fuel systemMulti-Point Fuel Injection
Power adderNone
Power output170 PS (125 kW; 168 HP) at 4,800 rpm
182 PS (134 kW; 180 HP) at 4,800 rpm
Torque output266 Nm (27.1 kg·m; 196.3 ft·lb) at 2,800 rpm
274 Nm (27.9 kg·m; 202.2 ft·lb) at 2,800 rpm
Firing order1-2-3-4-5-6
Dimensions (L x W x H):
Standard12.2 kg/m2 (173 psi) / 300 rpm
Minimum9.0 kg/m2 (128 psi) / 300 rpm
Compression differential limit between cylinders1.0 kg/m2 (15 psi) / 300 rpm
Oil system
Oil consumption, L/1000 km (qt. per mile)up to 0.5 (1 qt. per 1200 miles)
Recommended engine oil5W-30, 10W-30, 10W-40, 20W-40, 20W-50
Oil type APIAPI SG or SH
Engine Oil Capacity (Refill capacity)With filter change 3.7 l (3-7/8 Us. qt., 3-1/4 Imp. qt)
Without filter change 3.4 l (3-5/8 Us. qt., 3 Imp. qt.)
Oil change interval, km (miles)Every 6,000 (3,750)
Ignition system
Spark plugStandard type: NGK BKR5ES-11
Hot type: BKR4ES-11
Cold type: BKR6ES-11
Spark plug gap1.0-1.1 mm (0.039-0.043 in)

Fuel System

VG33E employs 2 kinds of fuel injection timing:

  • Sequential multiport fuel injection works contemporaneously with the motor. Fuel enters cylinders at every cycle pursuant to firing order.
  • Simultaneous multiport fuel injection is launched after a motor’s start or during fail-safe system functioning. Fuel gets injected contemporaneously into all cylinders twice during a motorcycle.

Ignition System

ECU manages the ignition system, serving to preserve optimal air-fuel proportion for any type of engine operation. ECM stores ignition timing information, creating a map. ECM gathers data about injection pulse width plus camshaft disposition sensor signal. Calculating all data, ignition signals get forwarded to the power transistor. The compression index equals to 8.9.

VG33E features a 91.5 millimeters (3.6 inches) cylinder bore plus 83 millimeters (3.27 inches) piston stroke, producing from 168 hp (170 PS or 125 kW) to 180 hp (182 PS or 134 kW) at 4,800 rpm with torque from 266 Nm (27.1 kg/m or 196.3 ft/lb) to 274 Nm (27.9 kg/m or 202.2 ft/lb) at 2,800 rpm.

Cylinder Block

VG33E is provided with a cast-iron block featuring a 4-bearings crankshaft support system. Keeping 91.5 millimeters (3.6 inches) cylinder bore plus 83.0 millimeters (3.27 inches) piston stroke. It reaches a compression index of 8.9. Being supplied with two compressions plus one oil control ring, this motor has forged steel connecting rods featuring 154.10 millimeters (6.0669 inches) center spacing.

The crankshaft main journal is 62.9 millimeters (2.48 inches), while the crankpin is 49.9 millimeters (1.97 inches), and center spacing equals 41.5 millimeters (1.63 inches).

Cylinder block alloyCast-iron
Compression ratio:8.9:1
Cylinder bore:91.5 mm (3.6 in)
Piston stroke:83.0 mm (3.27 in)
Number of piston rings (compression/oil):2 / 1
Number of main bearings:4
Cylinder inner diameter (standard):91.500 mm (3.6024 in)
Piston skirt diameter (standard):91.485 mm (3.6018 in)
Piston pin outer diameter:20.971-20.983 mm (0.8256-0.8261 in)
Piston ring side clearance:Top0.024-0.076 mm (0.0009-0.0030 in)
Second0.030-0.070 mm (0.0012-0.0028 in)
Oil0.015-0.185 mm (0.0006-0.0073 in)
Piston ring end gap:Top0.21-0.44 mm (0.0083-0.0173 in)
Second0.50-0.69 mm (0.0197-0.0272 in)
Oil0.20-0.69 mm (0.0079-0.0272 in)
Connecting rod small end diameter:20.982-20.994 mm (0.8261-0.8265 in)
Connecting rod center distance:154.1-154.2 mm (6.067-6.071 in)
Crankshaft main journal diameter:62.975 mm (2.4763 in)
Crankpin diameter:49.974 mm (1.9675 in)
Crankshaft center distance:41.47-41.53 mm (1.6327-1.6350 in)

Cylinder Head

The cylinder head is built of durable but lightweight aluminum alloy and provides the motor with great cooling. It keeps monoblock single overhead camshafts for every head plus a rocker shaft featuring rocker arms. One timing belt controls camshafts.

The diameter of the inlet valve is 42.0 millimeters (1.65 inches) while the exhaust one is 35.0 millimeters (1.38 inches). Camshaft duration equals 244 degrees for the inlet part plus 240 degrees for the exhaust one. Every valve employs a double valve spring. VG33E features 2 valves for each cylinder, keeping hydraulic tappets with automatic adjustment. While the motor’s lower inlet manifold is made of cast aluminum, the upper inlet manifold may be of the identical material as well as of plastic.

What Cars Have A VG33E Engine?

Nissan Pathfinder1996–2004
Infiniti QX41997–2000
Nissan Frontier1999–2004
Nissan Xterra2000–2004
Nissan Elgrand (E50)1997–2002
Nissan Quest (V41)1999–2002
Mercury Villager1999–2002
Nissan Paladin1999–2004
Nissan Terrano (R50)1995–2002

Nissan 3.3 VG33E Engine Problems and Reliability

  • Timing belt
  • Water pump
  • Fuel sending unit
  • Oil leaks

Wear and tear components in all engines wear down faster than the engine internals. When it comes to gaskets and seals, age is just as damaging as mileage. The point is that the Nissan VG33E was a very dependable engine when it was a little newer. They may still be trustworthy, but older vehicles require more maintenance.

Nonetheless, keeping the VG33E 3.3 engine in good working order is critical. Look for a vehicle and engine that have been well cared for. Quality oils, timely fluid changes, and rapid problem repair are all beneficial. The Nissan VG33E engines have proven to last considerably longer than 200,000 miles without having many significant issues along the road.

Is the Nissan 3.3 V6 Engine an Interference Engine?

YES. However, despite this, many auto mechanics report that when the valve belt breaks, it does not always have the valve to piston problem. But the water pump and thermostat needed to be changed every time.


VG33E is an outstanding motor. Though it may seem to lack energy compared to modern models, it easily copes with various types of terrains. Plenum construction is rather complex, but still, every car enthusiast will cope with it.

Elements are for sale at pretty low prices. The motor may run for more than 300,000 miles with no faults if proper maintenance is provided.

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The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. The author and publisher make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of any information presented. The reader is advised to consult a qualified professional, such as a mechanic or dealership, before making any decisions related to their vehicle's engine oil or maintenance.

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2 thoughts on “Nissan VG33E Engine Problems And Specs”

  1. Hi Dan,
    I got Nissan Elgrand with 3.3 VG33E roaring ๐Ÿ™‚
    It’s 35k miles on the clock, car was made in 2000
    Do I need to change timing belt?
    Or is there anything else i need to change in this car? I live in UK, car is imported from Tokyo.
    Much appreciate for any tips ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi, Michal. My congratulations!:)
      You cannot be sure that the previous owner changed everything on time, so my recommendation is to change engine oil (with filter) and check the timing belt with all other drive belts. This is a must.
      Next parts should have been replaced earlier (you can inspect them and change if needed):
      – Air cleaner filter (every 30k miles)
      – Fuel lines (check every 30k miles)
      – Cabin air filter (replace every 15k miles)
      – Automatic transmission fluid (check every 15k miles)

      Timing belt (check every 30k miles and replace at 105k miles)
      Spark plugs – replace every 105k miles.

      Inspect belt for cracks, fraying, wear and oil. If necessary, replace (when engine is cold).
      Inspect drive belt deflection or tension at a point on the belt midway between pulleys

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