Nissan 5.6 V8 VK56DE Engine Reliability, Specs And Problems

The Nissan VK engine (previously called the ZH) is a V8 piston motor, featuring an aluminum dual overhead camshaft with four valves.

Actually, VK56 was built on the framework of the brand’s VQ V6 motor but not VH V8, applied for Q45/Cima vehicles. Among the main differences are a variable intake manifold of polymer, restyled heads, and a better drive of the wire throttle chamber. Intake manifold routes air in different directions depending on the engine speed. It helps to enhance low-end torque or high-end horsepower.

Nissan 5.6 V8 VK56DE Specs

Manufacturer Decherd Plant
Also called Nissan VK56
Production 2003-present
Cylinder block alloy Aluminum
Configuration V8
Valvetrain DOHC
4 valves per cylinder
Piston stroke, mm (inch) 92 (3.62)
Cylinder bore, mm (inch) 98 (3.86)
Compression ratio 9.8 (VK56DE)
10.8 (VK56VD)
Displacement 5552 cc (338.8 cu in)
Power output (horsepower) 224 kW (305 HP) at 4,900 rpm
239 kW (325 HP) at 5,200 rpm
298 kW (405 HP) at 5,800 rpm
300 kW (408 HP) at 6,000 rpm
Torque output 522 Nm (385 lb·ft) at 3,500 rpm
533 Nm (393 lb·ft) at 3,400 rpm
560 Nm (413 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm
550 Nm (406 lb·ft) at 4,400 rpm
Redline 6,000
HP per liter 54.9
Fuel type Gasoline
Weight, kg (lbs) 227 (500)
Fuel consumption, L/100 km (mpg)
for Infiniti QX80
20.6 (11)
11.0 (21)
14.5 (16)
Turbocharger Naturally aspirated
Oil consumption, L/1000 km
(qt. per miles)
up to 1.0
(1 qt. per 600 miles)
Recommended engine oil 5W-30, 5W-40, 10W-30, 10W-40
Engine Oil Capacity, L (qt.) 6.5 (6.9)
Oil change interval, km (miles) 5,000-10,000
Normal engine operating temperature, °C (F)
Engine lifespan, km (miles)
-Official information

400,000+ (250,000)
Tuning, HP
-Max HP
-No life span loss

The breakdown of the engine code is as follows:

  • VK – Engine Family
  • 56 – 5.6 Liter Displacement
  • D – DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshafts)
  • E – Multi-Point Fuel Injection

The manufacture VK56DE was launched in 2003 as the power unit for the Nissan Armada car, sold in the United States. Being an American product, this 5.6L motor has more compact modifications, VK45DE and VK50VE.

Though VK56DE has much in common with VK45DE, they differ in some aspects. Thus, the height of the cylinder block rose to 232 mm while the bore became 98 mm (in comparison with 93 mm in the original version).

The motor keeps connecting rods of 154.2 mm along with fresh pistons able to diminish the compression index to 9.8. Consequently, the engine turned out to be a more classically torquey V8 and became a great option for pickups, SUVs, and some other big vehicles.

With aluminum cylinder heads, featuring 4 valves per cylinder and 2 camshafts, this motor keeps an intake camshaft with a Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control system (shortly CVTCS). While the engine is provided with hydraulic lifters, timing chains remain on its blind side.

VK56VD is another modification of the motor. It features more advanced technologies, using a direct injection fuel system, a variable valve timing system on two camshafts along with Variable Valve Event and Lift system.

Nissan VK56DE Engine Oil Capacity

The Nissan 5.6 VK56DE engine requires 6.9 quarts of 5W-30 oil with a filter replacement.

What Cars Have A VK56DE?

  • Infiniti M56/Q70
  • Infiniti QX56/QX80
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Nissan Patrol
  • Nissan Armada
  • Nissan NV
  • Nissan Titan

VK56DE Cylinder Head

Durable but light aluminum alloy, the cylinder head is made of, provides it with great cooling efficiency. While the original motor lacked valve timing control system, the intake camshafts of its new variation feature Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control, which permits variable valve timing to respond to motor redline and throttle opening.

Meanwhile, the advanced control and the lowered system friction contribute to better reaction and advanced torque specifications. Two chains control the camshafts.

The timing chain conveys the rotating movement from the crankshaft to the intake and exhaust camshafts.

The diameter of the intake valve is 37.0 mm (1.45 inches) while the exhaust valve is 31.2 mm (1.22 inches). The intake duration for the motor without CVTC is 230 degrees and 232 degrees for the one featuring it. The exhaust duration for CVTC is 244 degrees while it’s 232 degrees for the engine without it. VK56DE isn’t equipped with hydraulic tappets and, consequently, the valve clearance is regulated by specific valve lifters.

Block head alloy Aluminum
Valve Arrangement: DOHC, chain drive
Cylinder head height: 126.3 mm (4.97 in)
Valves: 32 (4 valves per cylinder)
Intake valve timing: W/o CVTC: 230°
With CVTC: 232°
Exhaust valve timing: W/o CVTC: 232°
With CVTC: 244°
Valve head diameter: INTAKE 37.0-37.3 mm (1.457-1.469 in)
EXHAUST 31.2-31.5 mm (1.228-1.240 in)
Valve length: INTAKE 96.21-96.71 mm (3.7878-3.8075 in)
EXHAUST 93.74-94.24 mm (3.6905-3.7102 in)
Valve stem diameter: INTAKE 5.965-5.980 mm (0.2348-0.2354 in)
EXHAUST 5.965-5.970 mm (0.2344-0.2350 in)
Valve spring free length: INTAKE 50.58 mm (1.9913 in)
EXHAUST 50.58 mm (1.9913 in)
Camshaft cam height: INTAKE 44.465-44.655 mm (1.7506-1.7581 in)
EXHAUST 44.465-44.655 mm (1.7506-1.7581 in)
Camshaft journal diameter: 25.953-25.970 mm (1.0218-1.0224 in)

Nissan 5.6 V8 VK56DE Problems And Reliability

  1. Motor uproar. It is usually caused by the stretched timing chain. It’s important to take care of it as such trouble may emerge even if the vehicle hasn’t run too much. If you face this problem, replace the timing chain plus the high-pressure fuel pump in order to avoid the emergence of any malfunctions in the future. Be ready that this procedure will be pretty pricy as in order to replace the timing chain, it’s necessary to disassemble the car’s front.
  2. Rough idle and decreased output. Like in VQ35, this trouble is caused by worn-out catalytic converters due to fuel of low quality. Consequently, the motor absorbs the dust, which abrades the cylinder walls and later reaches the oil system before spreading all over the motor. Bad news: the only way out is to acquire a brand new engine. However, in countries, which have poor quality gasoline, the problem is resolved by mounting high flow catalytic converter plus ECU reflash.
  3. Decreased efficiency and bad dynamics. The basic reason is the dysfunction of the fuel pump. And if the situation deteriorates, it’s the right time to buy a fresh pump.

The first VK56DE motors featured unreliable AC condenser radiator cooling fan, which could jam and lead to overheating. Moreover, it’s crucial to wash the radiator every year as the clean one is less prone to overheating, which leads to cylinder head gaskets destruction. Furthermore, it’s advisable to replace the high-pressure fuel pump after 50,000-60,000 miles (80,000-90,000 kilometers) are run as it’s not very durable.

You may also face the deformation of filter bodies, which results in dust and other small litter getting stuck in the motor and causing its malfunction.

Having faced the erratic idling speed trouble, cleaning of the throttle body may help to get rid of it. It’s advisable to do that every 60,000-70,000 miles (100,000-120,000 kilometers). Be ready that radiator leakage may happen after 120,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) are run.

In order to avoid these troubles, try to use the fuel and engine oil only of high quality. Moreover, it’s advisable to replace oil on a regular basis and serve the vehicle on time.

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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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6 thoughts on “Nissan 5.6 V8 VK56DE Engine Reliability, Specs And Problems”

  1. Hello dan
    1-I just wanna ask about the overall reliability of VK56DE on Nissan patrol y62 model 2015 currently on 197000 km and is there any particular item should I replace other than dealer major service.

    2- I have little issue when I start the engine when I start the engine it’s start and then directly shout down by it self, any hint from your side ??
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hello, Sul.
      1) It’s not that bad. Just use only high quality fuel and do the timely oil change.

      2) Get the following things checked:
      – If the spark plugs are firing well. Please check this for each and every spark plug. Clean the plugs, check for corrosion on ignition points of the coil etc.
      – If the Idle Air Controller (IAC) valve is not stuck in the throttle body – In fact, while the car is in Idle, pull out the IAC connector from the throttle body and immediately the RPMs will drop to almost 550-600. Connect it back and the RPMs will raise and settle to 850-950.
      – If there is enough pressure from the Fuel pump sending fuel from the Tank into the engine chamber, clogged fuel filter too!

      1. Thank you for your reply dan
        1-I used 98 fuel since I bought it in 2015. But can cleaning the throttle body will help resolve the issue of engine cutoff ?
        2- And in term of reliability of the engine how many km I can reach with the engine. It is reliable??

        1. Check your plugs and Air Controller and only then the throttle body cleaning might be needed.
          In general, this engine is affordable and reliable. The resource of these engines is huge. Mostly they die from untimely service or bad oil. You should not have any serious problems up to 350,000 km.

        2. SAMUEL TANNER

          Hey Dan,
          On the VK56DE engine you mention catalytic converters dusting out the engine. How does that happen exactly. The picture in my head says the converters are down stream with no route back for debris.

  2. Barry A Benner

    I have an 05 Frontier XE with 2.5L and started with Amsoil but later switched to Royal Purple and follow a 8-10,000 mile drain interval and have 240,000 miles. Have replaced transmission( YOU MUST USE NISSAS ATF!!!)AC, Alternator.

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