Among the long list of performance engines that Nissan produced, one stood out and rose above. These engines are the most widespread choice in their own engine family choices and encompass their naturally aspirated and turbocharged siblings.
Released in early 1990 in the United States, it gave a glimpse of the actual capability and potential of a V6 engine. In stock form, they can put out a staggering 300 HP and more to that.This twin-turbocharged engine is destined to be one of the most durable and reliable engines in the industry. No other than the Nissan’s VG30DETT.
Join me as we discuss this engine’s design, applications, issues, tuning potential, durability, reliability, and many more.
What are Nissan VG30DETT Engines?
The Nissan VG30DETT is a twin-turbocharged 60-degree V6, 3.0 Liter gasoline engine from the Nissan VG family of engines. The VG30DETT was produced from 1987 to 2000 and first developed on the Nissan MID4-II concept in 1987.
VG30DETT was Nissan’s last belt-driven double overhead four valves per cylinder turbocharged engine to put into production, which was preceded by the RB20DET and CA18DET.
The Nissan VG30DETT features a cast-iron block and two aluminum heads with double overhead camshafts design and acts on four valves per cylinder – two for both intake and exhaust. The fuel is provided through a multi-point fuel injection system (EGI), and it is equipped with a mechanically timed electrical ignition system, Exhaust Gas Recirculation System (EGR), and Nissan’s Valve Timing Control System (NVTCS) on the intake camshafts. It is installed with hybrid parallel-twin T22/TB02 turbochargers which were developed exclusively for Nissan and paired with twin intercoolers.
The VG30DETT engine produces 300 HP at 6,400 RPM and 283 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 RPM when paired with a five-speed manual transmission. And when paired with a four-speed automatic transmission, it produces 280 HP and 283 lb-ft of torque. Nissan achieved that power output through the addition of turbo and upgrade of twin Garrett T22/ TB02.
JDM models were rated at 276 HP due to the now-defunct gentleman’s agreement that Japanese automakers should not exceed 276 HP.
Engine Specifications and Design:
- Production Run: 1987 – 2000
- Cylinder Block Material: Cast-iron
- Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
- Configuration: V6
- Bore: 87 mm
- Stroke: 83 mm
- Valvetrain: Belt-driven DOHC with four valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 3.0 L (2960 cc)
- Compression Ratio: 8.5
- Weight: 523 lbs.
- Max HP: 325 HP at 6,800 RPM
- Max Torque: 287 lb-ft at 3,600 RPM
The Nissan VG30DETT was built on the framework of the non-turbo VG30DE, and this twin-turbocharged engine was undergone several modifications with the purpose of getting a great performance result. Thus it shows on its power output, torque, and applications.
Its applications do not fall on commute cars but more on the sporty side of the vehicle category.
In addition to that, these engines are available for Nissan 300ZX in the United States and Fairlady Z32 in Japan. Others are non-produced in the market since they are used for motorsports.
To proceed, VG30DETT features an iron block with aluminum heads, which made the motor more robust to catch up with the increased output produced by twin turbochargers. A four-bearing crankshaft system supports it.
The cylinder bore of the VG30DETT engine is 87 mm, 83 mm piston stroke, and an 8.5 compression rating. It has one oil control ring and two compression rings. The connecting rod center distance is 154.10 mm, the center distance is 41.5 mm, the crankpin diameter is 50 mm, and the crankshaft main journal diameter is 62.9 mm.
Like its naturally-aspirated counterpart, the cylinder head has a good cooling efficiency due to its light, strong aluminum alloy material. VG30DETT has a double overhead camshafts design and features four camshafts (quad-cam) and acts with four valves per cylinder (24 valves in total). These camshafts are driven via a single timing belt and are equipped with Nissan’s Valve Timing Control System (NVTCS) for the intake cams. Variable valve timing system deals with raising the fuel efficiency and improving the overall engine performance.
The intake diameter valve of the VG30DETT is 34 mm, while the exhaust valve diameter is 29.5 mm. The lift duration for both intake and exhaust is 248-degrees, and it is equipped with hydraulic valve lifters.
Applications of the Nissan VG30DETT Engine:
- 1997 NIssan MID4-II Concept (Non-Production)
- 1989 – 2000 Nissan 300ZX (USA)/Fairlady Z32 (Japan)
- 1990 – 1993 Nissan NPT-90/NPT-91 Racecars (Non-Production)
Engine Upgrades, Tuning, and Modifications
It appears to be proven that the Nissan VG30DETT engine block is one of the most durable out there. Internally balanced, fundamentally sound, and strong internals, which is enough to withstand a high output boost even with the stock installation of the parallel-twin turbochargers. A good platform for tuning as well as a wide variety of aftermarket items that are easy to get.
There is no contest that the VG30DETT have already an outstanding output. Producing about 300 HP and 283 lb-ft of torque at stock, those are not rookie numbers for you. But those digits can compete at a more monstrous engine like the 1990 Ford Mustang, a 5.0 Liter engine with the output of 225 HP and 300 lb-ft of torque. Not bad for a 3.0 Liter and good merit for the twin-turbo.
So to continue, upgrading the VG30DETT engine does not require any more turbo installation or replacement as these stock turbos are already excellent in power and torque production. The component that you need to replace is its cam profile.
Cam profile plays a significant role in increasing the power as they alter the intake and exhaust duration. Most gains are guaranteed if you have a better cam profile.
You have two choices for your cam profile design – fast road and motorsport. Fast road cams are suitable for higher-end RPM power, but it sacrifices the lower-end of the power band. Motorsport cams, however, boost the higher-end RPM powerband, but the car will not idle smoothly, and the lower RPM power suffers.
Choosing is entirely up to you on what cam profile you will use. But I recommend using the motorsport one because it fits the engine profile of performing at a high level and not for everyday use.
Next, you can do a remapping to help reach the maximum potential of your VG30DETT engine, especially with the upgrades you’ve made to the machine. Some stock ECUs are locked, and flashing is impossible, so purchasing an aftermarket ECU is the option to take. They usually give at least 30% more power on turbocharged engines.
You can modify your engine as well. The usual is undergoing into three stages.
Stage 1 mods include intake headers, remapping, drilled and smoothed airbox, motorsport cams, and performance exhaust manifold.
The second stage is motorsport cam, high flow fuel injectors or high-performance injectors, induction kit, ported and polished head, fuel pump upgrades, and performance catalytic converters and exhaust.
The last stage requires more work because of engine balancing and blueprinting. Crank and piston upgrades are also needed to alter compression ratio, head flow ports, and bigger valves.
Problems Surrounding Nissan VG30DETT Engine:
Nissan VG30DETT engine is a durable engine and earned the monicker as the bulletproof engine. But there are some troubles and shortcomings that arise since Nissan produced this engine a decade ago. With that, we want to give you some additional information regarding the engine’s weaknesses and issues in the longer run. If you regularly follow the schedule recommend for a replacement for oil, belts, and other components, this least worries you. However, it is still important as a precautionary measure.
The first but not significant issue is the problem regarding the fuel injectors and corroded and crashing connectors due to their age.
For vehicles that were released in 1990 – 1991, the engine’s brake master cylinder deteriorates, and some reports that it starts leaking after 40,000 to 50,000 miles of the run. The replacement is not that expensive, and it’s a better option because the upgrade parts have a longer lifespan.
Vehicles that have turbochargers released prior to 1990, and the naturally-aspirated ones, produced before July 1990 may have troubles regarding defective valves. These valves can unscrew themselves from the head, leading to compression reduction and rough idling.
For this problem to be prevented, it is recommended to inspect the motor number. Turbocharged vehicles with motor numbers below 777599 often confront this malfunction.
In addition, take a closer look at data tags under the hood, and some are attached at the doorpost at the driver’s side. They have the information about the date of the production along with serial numbers.
The Nissan VG30DETT is the peak push of the naturally-aspirated VG30DE engine. It is more powerful, innovative, and efficient. VG30DETT being recognized as a bulletproof engine due to its strong external as well as internal components, this engine fits its under-tag as it delivers a high-performance driving experience. It does not have any design flaws, and the occurrence of problems does not often arise either. Moreover, owners of these engines state that they can be very durable if proper maintenance is provided.
It possesses the technologies that Nissan crafted throughout its years of expertise. With its parallel twin-turbocharging profile, you cannot side-sweep this engine easily and not a push-over. Fundamentally durable and reliable, this engine can withstand a lifetime with its robust build.
Though it has some issues and troubles, it is not an engineering design flaw but mere external factors that play it.
I hope that this simple discussion helped you understand the VG30DETT engine’s design, applications, aftermarket support, issues, reliability, and overall impact on the automotive industry and community.