Hyundai/KIA 3.3L V6 Engine Problems (G6DB & G6DF Engine)

From 2006 and onwards, a plethora of both Hyundai’s and Kia’s (full list below) came equipped with the now infamous, 3.3L V6 engine from Hyundai’s Lambda engine family. Unfortunately, these engines are not known for the right reasons. If you stick with us, you’ll quickly see why.

Doing your own research before you decide to purchase a Hyundai or a Kia with this 3.3L V6 engine should be one of your top priorities. You just don’t want to end up with a car that has a ton of issues. These issues can cost thousands of dollars to fix on many occasions. And that’s why we are here to help you out and pinpoint these issues for you.

First, we are going to discuss the basic specs of the 3.3L V6 engine, then we are going to cover the Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF engine problems, as well as the applications of this engine. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic.

Basic Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF Engine Specs

The Hyundai 3.3L V6 is an engine that was introduced in 2006. This engine belongs to the Lambda family of engines by Hyundai.

The 3.3L V6 engine was first introduced with the Hyundai Sonata in 2006 and from 2010, there was a new engine introduced known as the Lambda II.

This engine came in different variations. The one with direct injection is known as GDi and the one with multipoint injection is known as MPi.

We feel the need to mention this because a lot of people are confusing the MPi with the GDi.

In this article, we are primarily interested in the multipoint injection engine, also known as MPi. And the G6DB and G6DF engine codes. The first is the original Lambda MPi, while the second is Lambda II MPi.

MPi is an older technology that is less advanced but a lot more reliable. So, if you want to get an MPi engine, you should go for it because this engine doesn’t have the same headaches as the GDi engine. These include carbon buildup, injector failures, and many other issues.

When it comes to this 3.3 MPi engine, it is worth noting that this engine was built using aluminum both for the cylinder heads, as well as the engine block. It has a DOHC head design with two camshafts and variable valve timing.

But here are the whole specs of this engine.

  • Configuration: V6
  • Displacement: 3.3L
  • Cylinder Bore: 92 mm
  • Piston Stroke: 83.8 mm
  • Block & Head Material: Aluminum
  • Head Design: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Fuel Injection: Multi Point Injection
  • Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
  • Horsepower: 255 – 270 hp
  • Torque Output: 233 – 234 lb-ft (316 – 319 N-m)

Common Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF Engine Problems

Common Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF Engine problems include:

  • Spark Plug & Coil Failure
  • Head Gasket Failure
  • Oil Leaks
  • Piston Slap
  • High Oil Consumption
  • Engine Failures

Knowing the details of each problem is always beneficial, you just need to know when and how these problems develop on this specific engine and the symptoms they produce. So, let’s elaborate on them with more detail.

Spark Plug & Coil Failure

Spark plugs and ignition coils are the components that most frequently fail on these engines. So, what are spark plugs and coils?

Spark plugs are the components that produce a spark. In total, there are 6 cylinders in this engine and each cylinder has a spark plug.

Also, each spark plug has a coil on top of it. The ignition coil is something like an electric transformer. It simply transforms the low 12v current into a high current. So, the spark plugs are able to function properly.

What is unfortunate is that these components tend to fail often. And these failures are attributed to other problems with this engine. Such as oil consumption.

When the engine burns oil, it produces carbon particles. These particles then stick to the spark plug electrode and ruin the component.

So, frequent failures on these components are a thing with these engines. When they fail, there will be a check engine light, and engine misfires. The engine will idle roughly, and the fuel economy will also drop. Overall, a pretty bad situation.

Luckily, it is not that serious, you can just replace these components relatively cheaply.

Head Gasket Failure

Head gasket failures were also noted on these engines. But what is a head gasket and why does it fail?

A head gasket is a metal gasket that is placed between the deck of the block and the cylinder head. On this engine specifically, you have two of these gaskets.

They simply create a good seal between the cylinder head and the block. Thus maintaining compression and allowing the fluids to flow properly.

What can happen to these engines is that they often run low on oil, so the engine in this case starts to overheat.

And the gaskets are the weakest part. Resulting in head gasket failure. Replacing the gasket will result in a major engine overhaul.

The head has to be removed and resurfaced. Sometimes if these heads are so warped that you will have to purchase a new or a used one. This is why it is not advised to drive a lot with an overheating engine if you want to avoid this situation.

Now let’s move on to the next Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF engine problems.

Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are also common on these engines, they tend to leak oil from different places around the engine, especially the higher mileage examples or those that weren’t properly maintained.

These higher mileage engines have weaker gaskets and oil leaks are more common to develop.

These leaks usually come from the valve covers. So, what are valve covers? Valve covers are the covers that cover the valve train.

Since this engine is a V6, it has two banks and two valve trains. So, each bank has a valve cover.

These plastic covers are basically sitting on top of each of these banks and are very easily distinguishable.

There can also be leaks from the timing cover on these engines. The timing cover is the cover that seals the timing mechanism. Put simply, the timing chain.

These issues are not urgent when it comes to their repair. But if you lose a significant amount of oil it can endanger the overall engine health. It is recommended that you fix them sooner better than later.

Piston Slap

Piston slap is another very common problem with these Hyundai engines. So, what is piston slap, and why is it a problem?

Well, the cylinders of this engine love to run pretty hot, and when they do, they expand and start to warp.

So, the piston that moves up and down no longer has a good surface to work with. And starts to bang on the cylinder walls. Check the video below to see how that sounds in practice.

When this situation happens, it is known as a piston slap. This is one of the last phases before engine failure.

This is why it is worth being very aware of this issue because you don’t want to get a bad engine. Any abnormal slaps or knocks from the engine should be alarming for you.

High Oil Consumption

Oil consumption is another very common issue with this engine. As we already noted, these engines do tend to run very hot.

So, combined with the piston slap issues, this allows engine oil to move into the combustion chamber of the engine and burn. This oil-burning will result in oil consumption, black smoke from the exhaust, spark plug failure, and overall poor engine work.

In order to avoid this situation on this engine, it is recommended that you service the engine very frequently. The more frequent oil changes, the longer the engine will last. If you delay them, the sooner the engine will fail.

Engine Failure Due to Engine Bearing Wear

And last but not least is the engine failure. These engines do not have a very long life because of oil-burning issues and even premature engine bearing wear.

They are often very massive oil burners, and this will cause the engine to simply seize and fail. In this case, you will need a new engine.

So, we often advise that you go for a low-mileage engine and avoid high-mileage ones. Certain model years of the engine were even recalled due to the excessive engine bearing wear. Here is an example of a recall action on the 2017 Santa Fe.

Engine bearing wear occurred as a consequence of crankshafts with pin surface
irregularities. This led to premature crankshaft and/or engine bearing wear, which in return leads to engine failure.

Which Models Have The Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF Engine?

3.3L G6DB

  • 2007 – 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2006 – 2008 Hyundai Azera
  • 2005 – 2008 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2007 – 2009 Kia Opirus
  • 2005 – 2009 Kia Sorento

3.3L G6DF

  • 2009 – 2011 Hyundai Azera
  • 2012 – 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 2013 – 2018 Hyundai Grand Santa Fe
  • 2008 – 2009 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2016 – 2019 Kia Cadenza
  • 2010 – 2012 Kia Opirus
  • 2014 – 2020 Kia Sorento


What Are The Common Hyundai/KIA 3.3L G6DB/G6DF Engine Problems?

Common problems with this engine include oil consumption, spark plug & coil failures, overheating, piston slap, head gasket failures, and engine failures. This engine is known for its high oil consumption, so you have to be aware of this issue, and these engines usually do not last for more than 180,000 miles (ca. 289,682 km).

Before you buy a car with this engine, make sure all the issues we listed here are not present. Also check its maintenance history and all the service and recall campaigns that are relevant for the model year of the car that you’re buying!

Is The Hyundai 3.3L V6 MPi Reliable?

In general, the 3.3L is a reliable engine, but it has some serious issues that occurred on certain model years. Most notably the concern with oil consumption. This engine tends to consume a lot of engine oil and if you don’t follow the oil level constantly, you can easily total this engine out.

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