Nissan VK56VD Tuning

"All you need to know about performance tuning the Nissan VK56VD engine!"

The VK56VD engine is part of Nissan’s renowned VK engine family, specifically designed for high-performance applications.

This 5.6-liter V8 engine not only exemplifies Nissan's commitment to power and sophistication but also showcases significant technological advancements that enhance both performance and efficiency. Introduced in the late 2000s, the VK56VD has powered some of Nissan’s most prominent vehicles, including luxury SUVs and performance trucks.

This pages aim is review and look at VK56VD tuning and summarise the best modifications. Nissan VK56VD are popular engines and with the best sports parts like remapping, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will really maximize your driving opportunities.

History, Power & Specs of the VK56VD Engine

One of the standout features of the VK56VD is the implementation of direct injection technology, which allows for more precise control of the fuel-air mixture, resulting in improved combustion efficiency and power output.

This engine also incorporates Nissan's VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology, which dynamically adjusts valve timing and lift to optimize engine performance across different operating conditions.

The VK56VD engine is known for its robust output, typically producing upwards of 400 horsepower and significant torque, making it suitable for heavy-duty applications and high-performance scenarios. This engine delivers a thrilling driving experience combined with the reliability expected from Nissan’s V-line of engines.

  • 2010–present Nissan Patrol
    400 hp (298 kW) (560 Nm; 413 lbft)
  • 2016–present Nissan Patrol Nismo
    428 hp (319 kW)  (565 Nm; 417 lbft)
  • 2011–present Infiniti QX80
    400 hp (298 kW)   (560 Nm; 413 lbft)
  • 2011–2013 Infiniti M56
    420 hp (313 kW)   (565 Nm; 417 lbft)
  • 2014–2019 Infiniti Q70
    420 to 436 hp (313 to 325 kW)   (560 to 565 Nm; 413 to 417 lbft)
  • 2017–present Nissan NV2500 HD
    375 hp (280 kW)  (525 Nm; 387 lbft)
  • 2017–present Nissan NV3500 HD
    375 hp (280 kW)  (525 Nm; 387 lbft)
  • 2017–present Nissan NV Passenger
    375 hp (280 kW)   (525 Nm; 387 lbft)
  • 2017–present Nissan Titan
    400 hp (298 kW)   (560 Nm; 413 lbft)
  • 2017–present Nissan Armada
    390 hp (291 kW)  (535 Nm; 395 lbft)

The VK56VD is built with an aluminum alloy block and heads, contributing to a reduction in overall weight while maintaining strength and durability. The engine features a DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft) design with four valves per cylinder, optimizing airflow and fuel efficiency.

Tuning the Nissan VK56VD and best VK56VD performance parts.

Best VK56VD mods

When talking about the greatest modifications for your VK56VD engine, we are going to concentrate on the tuning mods that give the best power gain for you spend.

Significant gains on the VK56VD can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the torque and power output.

Fast road cams tend to push up the power throughout the rpm range, you might lose a little bottom end bhp but your high end rpm power will be better.

Aggressive exhaust profiled cams, push up the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Motorsport cam will just annoy you whilst driving around busy urban areas. This is because a competition cam causes a very lumpy idle, and makes the car more prone to stall or jerk along in stop start traffic, sadly though many ignore this and end up ruining a perfectly good car and having to revert back to a fast road, or OEM cam profile.

You should ideally match your power band to your driving style so for a daily driver stick with a shorter duration VK56VD cam

Some VK56VD engines respond better to extreme camshaft durations than others.

The engine timing and injectors and fuel pump also will make differences on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

A longer valve duration can alter the bhp 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.

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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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include:
Sports exhaust header/manifold, Intake manifolds, Panel air filters, drilled & smoothed airbox, Fast road camshaft, Remaps/piggy back ECU.

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

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

The VK56VD power plant make great tuning projects and we're pleased to see that there is an increase of modifications and performance parts out there.

ECU flashing should help to establish the full potential of all the tuning parts you've done to your VK56VD.

(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 the outcome usually vary depending on the tuning parts you've done and the condition of your engine.

Forcing fuel and air into the VK56VD engine is the whole point to any tuning job.

The intake plenum flow the air from the filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine cylinders.

The shape and flow characteristics of the Plenum can make a noticeable effect on to fuel atomisation on the VK56VD.

We often see manifolds are needing a performance upgrade, although some OEM provide fairly well optimized headers.

Fitting big valve kits, doing some port work and head flowing will also raise performance, this will give you a better performance increase on other upgrades.

VK56VD 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 VK56VD.

A turbo conversion will make quite a bit of a power gain, but these are not high revving engines so many would say are better suited to a supercharger, which can be geared to provide a wide spread of boost.

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

We've seen tuners spending a lots of money on turbocharger upgrades on the VK56VD only to watch the whole thing literally blow up on it's first outing after it's completed.

Big capacity turbo chargers often suffer a bottom end lag, and little turbo chargers spool up more quickly but won't have the peak rpm torque gains.

We are pleased that the choice of turbo chargers is always improving and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust gases into two channels and feed these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there's a restriction in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the VK56VD when loads more air is being sucked into the engine.

We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped bhp and torque at a much lower level.

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


Don't miss you'll need to increase the fuelling when you are increasing the bhp - it makes the car more thirsty. We strongly recommend you to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

As a rule of thumb add 20% when buying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and allows a bit of 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.

VK56VD Performance Exhausts

You only need to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you should find that your flow rate is ok 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 generally help improve air flow from the engine but do not go too big or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 3 to 4 inches for best results.

Common exhaust restrictions are in the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a higher flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the VK56VD

The VK56VD 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.

The engine's sophisticated components, such as the direct injection system and VVEL technology, require periodic checks to maintain optimal performance. Issues like carbon buildup in direct injection systems can occur, making regular cleaning and maintenance essential.

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 VK56VD, 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 VK56VD engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss VK56VD tuning options in more detail with our VK56VD 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.

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