Nissan VK56DE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan VK56DE engine!"

Now we shall outline options for your VK56DE tuning and point out the best modifications for your car. Nissan VK56DE make a good tuning project and with carefully chosen sports upgrades like a remap, turbo improvements and camshafts you will certainly enhance your driving enjoyment.

History, Power & Specs of the VK56DE Engine

  • 2004–2015 Nissan Armada
    305 to 317 hp (227 to 236 kW) (522 Nm; 385 lbft)
  • 2004–2015 Nissan Titan
    305 to 317 hp (227 to 236 kW) (515 to 522 Nm; 380 to 385 lbft)
  • 2004–2010 Infiniti QX56
    315 to 320 hp (235 to 239 kW) (530 to 533 Nm; 391 to 393 lbft)
  • 2010–2016 Nissan Patrol
    320 hp (239 kW) (533 Nm; 393 lbft)
  • 2008–2012 Nissan Pathfinder
    310 hp (231 kW) (525 Nm; 387 lbft)
  • 2012–2016 Nissan NV2500 HD
    317 hp (236 kW) (522 Nm; 385 lbft)
  • 2012–2016 Nissan NV3500 HD
    317 hp (236 kW) (522 Nm; 385 lbft)
  • 2012–2016 Nissan NV Passenger
    317 hp (236 kW) (522 Nm; 385 lbft)

Tuning the Nissan VK56DE and best VK56DE performance parts.

Best VK56DE upgrades

Just because particular mods are appear in lots of VK56DE projects it doesn't mean you should fit it, instead we'll best mods that will give your VK56DE the biggest power gain return for your cash.

The cam profile plays a big part in the engines power output so cam upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake and exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen cam profile, so large bhp gains are on offer for cam upgrades.

Fast road cams tend to bump the bhp and torque through the rpm range, you may sacrifice a little low end torque but your high end rpm power will be better.

Race cams, bump the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a typical daily driver must carefully try to optimize your power band to your driving style.

I would be surprised if you have found a VK56DE Motorsport and race camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

Some VK56DE engines respond better to more or less aggressive camshaft durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The ecu map and fuel pump and injectors also will make differences on the torque gains you'll hit.

Extending exhaust or intake durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    drilled & smoothed airbox, Intake manifolds, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters, Sports exhaust header/manifold.

    Typical stage 2 mods often include:
    induction kit, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, high flow fuel injectors, Fast road cam.

    Typical stage 3 mods often include:
    Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Engine balancing & blueprinting, Competition cam, Twin charging conversions, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

    Carefully think through your options and then source your mods and set yourself a power target to void expensive mistakes.

    ECU flashing allows a tuner to release the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your VK56DE.

    (In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

    It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but your mileage will vary depending on the upgrades you've applied and the condition of your engine.

    Pulling air and fuel into the VK56DE engine is the whole point to any engine tuning task.

    Air Intake manifolds transmit the air from the intake filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

    Shape and rate of flow of the Intake can make a substantial improvement to fuel atomisation on the VK56DE.

    It's not uncommon that air intake manifolds are begging for aftermarket tuning parts, although a few car makers provide well optimised air intake manifolds.

    Larger VK56DE valves, carrying out 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also lift power, and importantly will permit increasing the power increase on other mods.

    VK56DE Turbo upgrades

    NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your VK56DE

    The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes significant power gains.

    When your car has a turbo already fitted modifications are relatively easy and most turbocharged engines are made using more solid components.

    There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some only just able to handle stock powerResearch these limitations and upgrade to stronger pistons, crank and engine components to survive the power.

    We see many guys spending a loads on turbocharger upgrades on the VK56DE only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the whole thing explode soon after it's been completed.

    Larger upgraded turbo chargers tend to suffer no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but won't have the peak end bhp gains.

    Over the last 20 years the range of turbo units is always increasing and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

    Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and flow these at differently angled vanes in the turbocharger. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

    You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the VK56DE when a lot more air is being sucked into the engine.

    Going up you'll find 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited bhp at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although harder to setup. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.


    Don't overlook the need to pay attention to the fuel system when you are increasing the bhp and torque - it makes the car more thirsty. It makes sense to over specify your injectors flow rate.

    As a rule of thumb add 20% when fitting an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and allows you some spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

    We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

    VK56DE Performance Exhausts

    You should look to boost your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually creating a restriction in flow.

    On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust flow rate is still fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

    Sports exhausts can help equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

    But if your exhaust pipe is too large, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a lot of the exhaust flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

    Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalyst installed, so adding a freer flowing race alternative such as a sports catalyst pretty much removes this restriction, thanks to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed, but keeps the car road legal.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the VK56DE

    The VK56DE engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

    Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

    Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the VK56DE, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your VK56DE engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss VK56DE tuning options in more detail with our VK56DE owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Nissan tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

    Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

    We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which upgrades work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these VK56DE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

    Please Check out my YouTube channel, we're regularly adding new content...

    PLEASE HELP: I NEED YOUR DONATIONS TO COVER THE COSTS OF RUNNING THIS SITE AND KEEP IT RUNNING. I do not charge you to access this website and it saves most TorqueCars readers $100's each year - but we are NON PROFIT and not even covering our costs. To keep us running PLEASE Donate here

    If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

    Feedback - What do You Think?

    Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

    Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

    Your Constructive comments on this article, I really want to improve this article with your help and suggestions.

    Please watch this video and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

    One Response to “VK56DE Tuning”

    1. Dan Wilson says:

      2004 Titan 5.6 4×4 bought new 75,000 miles. Looking to improve mileage. Do chips work? None I’ve found have evidence.
      Regards Dan

Member Benefits

Join our forum today and benefit from over 300,000 posts on tuning styling and friendly car banter.

You will also have full access to the modifed car gallery, project car updates and exclusive member only areas.

(All car owners of all ages and from all countries are welcome).

BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

Tips for N54 Tuning

Tips for N55 Tuning
Tips for B58 Tuning

Popular articles

Diesel Tuning
ECU Remapping
Double Clutch
Induction Kits
Customize a car
Chip tuning
Modified car insurance
Track day insurance cover
Diesel Remaps
Calculate MPG
Cleaning a DPF
Stages Of Tuning

Engine Knock

How to avoid engine knock and pinging

Panel Air Filters

Panel air filters


Dashboard styling, guages and digital dashboards

Scratch Removal

Scratch removal

Drag Strip

Drag racing techniques and car setup

French Low Emission Zone Permit Scams

French Low Emission Zone Permit Scams

MPG Calculator

MPG calculator UK miles per Gallon – calculate MPG