Nissan VG33E

Nissan VG33EThe Nissan VG33E is a 3.3 l (3,275 cc, 199.85 cu-in) V6 60° four-stroke cycle water-cooled naturally aspirated internal combustion gasoline engine from Nissan VG-family. The engine was producted from 1996 up to 2004.

The VG33E features a cast-iron block and two aluminum heads with single overhead camshafts (SOHC) and two valves per cylinder. The Nissan VG33E engine is equipped with a multiport fuel injection (MFI) system and mechanically timed electrical ignition system with a mechanical distributor.

Fuel system. Two types of fuel enjection timing system are used.

  • Sequential multiport fuel injection is used when the engine is running. Fuel is injected into each cylinder during each engine cycle according to the firing order.
  • Semultaneous multiport fuel injection system is used when the engine is being started or if the fail-safe system is operating. Fuel is injected semultaneously into all six cylinders two times each engine cycle.

Ignition system.
The ignition system is controlled by the ECU to maintain the best air-fuel ratio for every running condition of the engine. The ignition timing data is stored in the ECM, this data forms the map shown. The ECM receives information such as the injection pulse width and camshaft position sensor signal. Computing this information, ignition signals are transmitted to the power transistor.

The compression ratio rating is 8.9:1. The Nissan VG33E has a 91.5 mm (3.6 in) cylinder bore and 83 mm (3.27 in) piston stroke. It produces from 170 PS (125 kW; 168 HP) at 4,800 rpm to 182 PS (134 kW; 180 HP) at 4,800 rpm of horsepower and 266 Nm (27.1 kg·m; 196.3 ft·lb) at 2,800 rpm or 274 Nm (27.9 kg·m; 202.2 ft·lb) at 2,800 rpm of torque.

The breakdown of the engine code is as follows:

  • VG – Engine Family
  • 33 – 3.3 Liter Displacement
  • E – Multi Point Fuel Injection

General information

Engine Specifications
Engine codeVG33E
LayoutFour stroke, V6
Fuel typeGasoline (petrol)
Displacement3.3 L, 3,275 cc (199.85 cu in)
Fuel systemMulti Point Fuel Injection
Power adderNone
Power output 170 PS (125 kW; 168 HP) at 4,800 rpm
182 PS (134 kW; 180 HP) at 4,800 rpm
Torque output 266 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):

Cylinder block

The VG33E has a cast-iron block with a four-bearings crankshaft supported system. The cylinder bore is 91.5 mm (3.6 in), piston stroke is 83.0 mm (3.27 in) and the compression ratio rating is 8.9:1. The Nissan VG33E motor has two compression and one oil control rings. The engine has forged steel connecting rods with 154.10 mm (6.0669 in) center distance. The crankshaft main journal diameter is 62.9 mm (2.48 in) and the crankpin diameter is 49.9 mm (1.97 in), center distance is 41.5 mm (1.63 mm).

Cylinder block
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)

Main bearing cap bolts tightening procedure and torque specs:

  • 90-100 Nm; 9.2-10.2 kg·m; 67-74 ft·lb in two-three stages

After securing bearing cap bolts, make sure crankshaft turns smoothly by hand.

Connecting rod bearing nut

  • Step 1: 14-16 Nm; 1.4-1.6 kg·m; 10-12 ft·lb
  • Step 2: Turn nuts 60-65° or 59-65 Nm; 6.0-6.6 kg·m; 43-48 ft·lb

Crankshaft pulley bolt

  • 191-211 Nm; 19.5-21.5 kg·m; 141-156 ft·lb

Flywheel (M/T) or Drive plate (A/T) fixing bolts

  • 83-93 Nm; 8.5-9.5 kg·m; 61-69 ft·lb

Cylinder head

The cylinder head is made of strong, light aluminum alloy which gives it good cooling efficiency. The has single over-head one-piece cast camshafts for each head and rocker shaft with rocker arms. The camshafts are driven by a single timing belt.

The intake valve diameter is 42.0 mm (1.65 in), the exhaust valve diameter is 35.0 mm (1.38 in), the duration is 244° for the intake side and 240° for the exhaust side. Each valve used dual valve spring. The VG33E is equipped with two valves per cylinder with self-adjusting hydraulic lifters. The engine has a cast aluminum lower intake manifold with either a cast aluminum or plastic upper intake manifold (plenum).

Cylinder head
Block head alloyAluminium
Valve Arrangement:SOHC, belt drive
Head surface flatnessLess than 0.05 mm (0.002 in)
Valves:12 (2 valves per cylinder)
Intake valve timing244°
Exhaust valve timing:240°
Valve head diameter:INTAKE41.95-42.25 mm (1.652-1.663 in)
EXHAUST35.0-35.2 mm (1.378-1.386 in)
Valve length:INTAKE125.3-125.9 mm (4.93-4.96 in)
EXHAUST124.2-124.8 mm (4.89-4.91 in)
Valve stem diameter:INTAKE6.965-6.980 mm (0.2743-0.2748 in)
EXHAUST7.962-7.970 mm (0.3135-0.3138 in)
Valve spring free length:OUTER51.2 mm (2.016 in)
INNER44.1 mm (1.736 in)
Camshaft cam height:INTAKE39.242-39.432 mm (1.5450-1.5524 in)
EXHAUST38.943-39.133 mm (1.5332-1.5407 in)
Camshaft journal diameter:№146.920-46.940 mm (1.8470-1.8480 in)
№2,3,442.420-42.440 mm (1.6701-1.6709 in)
№547.920-47.940 mm (1.8866-1.8874 in)

Head tightening procedure and torque specs:

  • Step 1: 39 Nm; 4.0 kg·m; 29 ft·lb
  • Step 2: 123 Nm; 12.5 kg·m; 90 ft·lb
  • Step 3: Loosen all bolts completely
  • Step 4: 34-44 kg·m; 3.5-4.5 kg·m; 25-33 ft·lb
  • Step 5: Turn all bolts 65-70° or to 123 Nm; 12.5 kg·m; 90 ft·lb

Camshaft sprocket bolts

  • 78-88 Nm; 8.0-9.0 kg·m; 58-65 ft·lb

Maintenance data

Compression pressure
Standard12.2 kg/m2 (173 psi) / 300 rpm
Minimun9.0 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 miles)up to 0.5 (1 qt. per 1200 miles)
Recommended engine oil 5W-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 plug Standard type: NGK BKR5ES-11
Hot type: BKR4ES-11
Cold type: BKR6ES-11
Spark plug gap1.0-1.1 mm (0.039-0.043 in)

Vehicle applications

ModelYears Produced
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
Author: Sergei Wers
About: Co-founder and CEO of a multi-brand auto repair shop (engine repair, chassis repair, body repair and painting) for over 15 years. I have been developing internet sites with technical specifications for more than seven years.

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We try to use verified sources and official documentation, however, differences between sources or errors in entering information may occur. We do not provide advice on technical issues related to the engines operation or repair. We do not recommend using provided information for engines repairing engines or spare parts ordering, use only official service manuals and spare-parts catalogs.


  1. Great engine. A bit under powered for this day and age but it has enough for the highway,4X4 etc.The plenum design is overdone but not impossible for the home mechanic. Parts are plentiful and affordable. Do the maintenance (timing belt,h2o pump,oil changes,etc) and this engine will do 300K and stay reliable. At least that’s my p!an.

    • I suggests every vg33e owner keep a spare distributor in there vehichle. Ive put 3 in my 02 frontier. The bearing goes out and fills the casing with shavings and dust and the truck quits. Remanufactured distributors use a cheaper bearing and they are junk. New distributor 300 bucks. I now replace the bearings myself and all other internals camshaft position sensor, coil and i order the parts from amazon. Have a good day everyone.

      • I completely agree! The only thing that goes wrong with these motors are distributors go out every 100,000 miles or so and the fuel injectors are junk and sometimes starters are to otherwise can’t beat them

    • My vg33 is 2005 model and has done more than 1.3million km’s with out ever having to open up the engine.. Just normal maintenance

  2. beware the timing belt, being an interference engine replace belt tensioner and water pump every 100 thou and expect a great long life out of the engine if you perform all other routine maintenace

    • If you remove the upper and lower intake manifold changing the #6 plug becomes trivial 😛
      Alternatively one could remove the dashboard and cut a hole through the firewall from inside the cab. Should make changing that plug a breeze 😀
      Great design 10/10

    • No need to take of manifolds.Buy a swivel spark plug socket $6 at autozone and have a 6 inch extension or 2-3 6inch
      wobble extension or extension and a pivot adaptor… follow your #6 plug wire and locate boot by mirror or touch its tight. You will notice a service indention in the firewall directly across from the plug. If you tuck your swivel socket down the indention and behind the metal hydraulic lines then toward your block you will land on it pretty easy. Try to notice the grove where the spark plug wire boot sets and just aim for that keeping up against and down the engines grove with tool or plug you will hit pretty easy. You should put a pad over your engine so you can lay on carefully. I laid from the front left side of radiator toward firewall. Can be done by finger feel mirror kinda helps. Use a rubber hose that will fit over the new spark plug post to find its home and thread the new one to avoid cross threading. It took me 30 min First time and 10 min second. Finding the right angle is key so try that it work great for me. Good luck!

    • yes, you have to spot it with a mirror, use a universal joint on your socket or better yet a socket with a made-on u-joint like mine?, a suitable extention, and most importantly relax , don’t try to fight it, it’s really easy the second time.

    • 1. Get the correct length extension, or suffer with the following
      2. Get a small mattress, lay it over the left side of engine bay gently, and climb onto it gently, bend or hammer back the body lip just above firewall that cuts into the back of your hand when accessing that damned #6th plug, and use an extension + angled connector + the s/plug socket. Or pay a mechanic.
      PS. Air flush around plug area first BEFORE extracting old plug. S/plug will just drop in fairly neatly when placing in new plug due high sides of s/plug hole, or guide it on the end of socket extension + angled/knuckle connector + s/plug socket. Mitch88

    • Use a swival on your wrench with extensions and do it by feel. Feel the plug befere you remove it with your finger and the hole when you put the new plug in.

  3. Just bought an 01 Quest with the VG33E in it. 165k miles. Has a coolant to combustion, combustion to combustion head gasket leak. Gonna tear it down and put new head gaskets and timing/water pump kit in it and hope to get another 50k-75k miles outta it. Tho it’s burning coolant, there’s no coolant in the oil so I imagine the rings are still solid.

  4. I am looking to get significant horsepower gains from my 3.3 without turbo or supercharger- What can I do!? What motor can I swap intakes to raise compression….

  5. OK, long post. I have a 99 NISSAN PATHFINDER 3.3L 2WD 6 CYLINDER and i bought it off this woman on a whim because I really needed a vehicle. So it drove very well for about 1000 miles and then started driving poorly, so poorly that I cannot get on the interstate with it, or go more then 50 MPH. So its something along the lines of this. It is automatic and it shifts from first to second and from second to third but will not come out of third unless I turn the overdrive off then it’ll click in and shift but then I am stuck going 40-45 mph and the RPMs are at a 4-5RPM. Then i let off the gas to bring the rpms down and coast and then when i need to speed up it goes straight to 4 almost 5. Also when i am going to go from 20-30 the rpms jump high too and then finally shift over. I’m not sure I had my pathfinder ran at Nissan the other day to make sure it wasn’t the transmission missing or a craked head etc and they came up with these codes (p0120, p0325, p0110, communication between trans, ECU, and TPS sensor. BUT the day before I had it hooked up at Nissan I bought a new tps sensor and had changed it and checked the voltages and ohms and everything was how it was supposed to be ( I THINK) I also tried to restart the idle memory and did three different sequences, not sure if they worked. Anyways so, I want this car to work to where i can get on the interstate because I travel a lot and taking the backroads and the high RPMs are eating my gas bad. miles are at 226xxx. I have changed the TPS sensor, cleaned the throttle body, new radiator, new temperature sensor, cleaned the mass air intake valve, new fuel filter. My next guess was to clean the shifter solenoids, or at least pull them off and see if they need replacing. I currently cannot find the diagram of where it is located without taking the transmission out so going to try again tomorrow, also was going to flush out the transmission fluid and put in new. IF ANYONE HAS ANY ADVICE PLEASE EMAIL ME OR COMMENT BECAUSE I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO KEEP THIS CAR AS IT IS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION MINUS THE SLIPPING AND HIGH RPMS.


    • Check the bearing in the distributor lowercase ,it made mine do all sorts of weird jumping speeding coffing what ever , runs sweet now with new bearing.old one was in loose balls and chaff .

    • Crankshaft positioning sensor…mine wouldnt shift right and had poor power..backfire and skip a beat at 50mph….also replaced the mas air flow meter…ran excellent…did 80 on hw without any pronlems

    • I really don’t know but the only advise I have now is make sure your air filter is good and clean out.

    • Some Pathys have a towingode that keeps the A/T in gear for pulling hills, loads etc… There is a toggle on the left lower dashboard underneath cubby hole. It reads A/T Power mode or something like that. Been a while. If you accidentally engaged that option it’s gonna rev higher before it shifts because it thinks it’s towing something. Check it out.

    • I have. ‘04 xterra, they transmission seals leaks very badly on these automatic, replace the seals and do not flush the transmission. You can damage the transmission even more, just add the correct transmission fluid and if need be, change the seals, otherwise , it could just be the cars old, my Nissan also sits at 3k on the highway going 65-70mph. There 4 speeds automatics that are not made for daily driving conditions these are off-road vehicles with unibody’s . So backroads is where they flourish the most going 35-40. if ur wanting power and reliability I’m just gonna tell you now. No. Buy the supercharger if u want to make 250-300hp from the factory 180hp. But other then that. These engine platforms are reliable and fun, but there no High revving 7-8k engines. that’s gonna sit @ 3-5k depending on how well the car was kept beforehand.

  6. I have 293,000 miles on my 2002 3.3 Frontier. Has been an amazing little engine and been in my family since new. I’ve done timing belts every time since it was given to me at 16 years old with 100,000 miles. I drove it up until last year when a freeze plug blew out behind the exhaust manifold. I went out a bought a used 2010 4.0 4×4 Tacoma (I know.. shame on me lol), but I want to just put a new JDM engine in my old Frontier and keep it in the family. I see them online for less than 1000$ and they seem to all have low miles. Has anyone else on here done this with their Frontier, Xterra, Pathfinder, ect.? I would love any advice I could get on this engine swap. Thank you!

  7. I have a nissan woolf v6 vg33 good perfomance but my water is reducing every after few day doing about 100km per day can not find the lick on my radiator so what other problems could it be i will go through my radiator again

    • I stumbled back onto this page and it’s nice to see frontier people keeping their beasts running. My issue was the same as GM’s but mine was from a inexpensive lower hose clamp. On first gen you can lose your coolant and the temp reads the same. Put a good clamp on it and then check it periodically for leaks.

  8. Trying to remove the intake manifold on a 2003 D22 Nissan navara
    Cannot find the right tool to undo the torque bolts that hold it into place, the motor is a VG33E can anyone help please

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