Nissan RB20DET Engine

  1. Specifications
  2. Overview, problems
  3. Performance tuning

Nissan RB20 engine specs

Manufacturer Yokohama Plant
Also called Nissan RB20
Production 1984-2002
Cylinder block alloy Cast-iron
Configuration Straight-6
Valvetrain DOHC
4 valves per cylinder
2 valves per cylinder
Piston stroke, mm (inch) 69.7 (2.74)
Cylinder bore, mm (inch) 78 (3.07)
Compression ratio 10.0 (RB20DE)
9.5 (RB20E)
8.5 (RB20DET)
Displacement 1998 cc (121.9 cu in)
Power output 85 kW (115 HP) at 5,600 rpm
92 kW (125 HP) at 5,600 rpm
96 kW (130 HP) at 5,600 rpm
107 kW (145 HP) at 6,000 rpm
110 kW (150 HP) at 6,400 rpm
114 kW (155 HP) at 6,400 rpm
121 kW (165 HP) at 6,400 rpm
125 kW (170 HP) at 6,000 rpm
132 kW (180 HP) at 6,400 rpm
140 kW (190 HP) at 6,400 rpm
158 kW (215 HP) at 6,400 rpm
Torque output 167 Nm (123 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm
172 Nm (127 lb·ft) at 4,400 rpm
181 Nm (133 lb·ft) at 4,000 rpm
206 Nm (151 lb·ft) at 3,200 rpm
181 Nm (133 lb·ft) at 5,200 rpm
184 Nm (136 lb·ft) at 5,200 rpm
186 Nm (137 lb·ft) at 5,600 rpm
216 Nm (159 lb·ft) at 3,200 rpm
226 Nm (167 lb·ft) at 3,600 rpm
240 Nm (177 lb·ft) at 4,800 rpm
265 Nm (195 lb·ft) at 3,200 rpm
HP per liter 57.6
Fuel type Gasoline
Weight, kg (lbs) 230 (507) – RB20DE
245 (540) – RB20DET
Fuel consumption, L/100 km (mpg)

for Fairlady 200ZR

11.0 (21)
Turbocharger  Naturally aspirated
Oil consumption , L/1000 km
(qt. per miles)
up to 0.5
(1 qt. per 1200 miles)
Recommended engine oil 0W-30
Engine oil capacity, L (qt.) 4.2 (4.4)
Oil change interval, km (miles) 5,000-10,000
Normal engine operating temperature, °C (F) 90 (195)
Engine lifespan, km (miles)
-Official information

400,000+ (250,000)
Tuning, HP
-Max HP
-No life span loss


The engine is installed in Nissan Skyline
Nissan 200ZR
Nissan Stagea
Nissan Cefiro
Nissan Crew
Nissan Laurel
Holden Commodore

Nissan RB20DET engine reliability, problems and repair

In 1984 the legendary Nissan RB series appeared. RB20 became its first representative. It is the smallest RB-engine, the substitution to old L20. There are several versions of this engine, which somewhat differ from one another.
The first version RB20E was cast iron straight-6 engine with aluminium head. The head had the only one camshaft and 2 valves per cylinder. RB20E power is 115-130 HP, depending on generation. In general, this engine is not popular and there is nothing special about it.
In 1985 RB20ET appeared, it was turbocharged RB20E. Its boost pressure was 7 psi (0.5 bar), the engine did not have any intercooler. RB20ET power reached 170 HP, though some versions were only 145 HP powerful.
Also in 1985 the most popular RB20DE was produced. Its main difference from RB20E was new head with two camshafts and 4 valves per cylinder. Also RB20DE was equipped with individual ignition coils, new crankshaft, modified connecting rods, pistons and intake system, new ECU. RB20DE camshafts: duration 232/240 deg, lift 7.3/7.8 mm. The engines developed 150-165 HP, and they were installed on such Nissan models, as Skyline R31/R32, Cefiro A31, Laurel C33/C34.
If your timing belt breaks, RB20DE will fold the valves.
In 2000 RB20DE was upgraded with new crankshaft, improved intake system, modified head with no hydraulic lifters, another ECU. Such modified engines were called RB20DE NEO. They conformed to higher ecological standards. They were 155 HP powerful.
You may see RB20DE NEO under the hood of Nissan Skyline R34, Stagea C34, Laurel C35.
In 1985 turbocharged RB20DE was produced, that was RB20DET. The engines used 16V turbocharger, and their maximal boost pressure was 7 psi (0.5 bar). They were also equipped with new pistons, connecting rods, another camshaft, cylinder head gasket, ECU, and compression ratio was reduced to 8.5. RB20DET fuel injectors were 270 cc/min. The first models (RB20DET Red top for Skyline R31) used NICS intake system.
RB20DET camshafts: duration 248/240 deg, lift 7.8/7.8 mm.
All that let developing 180-190 HP, depending on a model.
Later, since 1988, the engines got ECCS system and new camshafts. Such modified engine is usually called RB20DET Silver top. RB20DET Silver top camshafts have duration 240/240 deg, lift 7.8/7.8 mm. It increased the power to 215 HP at 6,400 RPM.
RB20DET was discontinued in 1993, being substituted with naturally aspirated RB25DE with almost the same power.
If you have RB20DE or RB20DET under the hood, there is no necessity to regulate the valves. But if your car is equipped with RB20DE NEO engine, then you should regulate them sometimes. All RB20 versions have timing belt, which should be changed every 60,000 miles of mileage (90,000 km).
Besides RB20, RB series included such engines as RB24S, RB25DE/DET, RB26DETT and RB30S/E/ET.
When RB20DE/E was discontinued, it was replaced with VQ23DE.

Nissan RB20DE engine problems and malfunctions

The peculiarity of RB series is, that the engines are very reliable and durable. You just need to serve your engine regularly, use quality engine oil and gasoline and do no tuning. It will help you prolonging its service life to 200,000-250,000 miles of mileage (300,000-400,000 km).
However, these engines still have some shortcoming. Sometimes ignition coils may fail, what leads to misfire. You should change the ignition coils every 60,000 miles of mileage (100,000 km). Also RB20 has high fuel consumption.

RB20 engine number location

You will have to make an effort to see the number. Stand right in front of your car, and on the right, at the joint of transmission and engine, you will find the tablet. Usually this place is very dirty and it is hard to see anything there. Also you should not look for the number right after driving, otherwise you may burn.

Nissan RB20DE engine tuning

RB20DET Boost up

Please note, that N/A tuning of RB20DE and RB20E would be just wasting of time and money, since RB20DET with cheaper mods will be faster. Also you should not try installing turbo kit on RB20DE or RB20E, it is overpriced.
The easiest way is to buy RB20DET.
And as to RB20DET, it is the most interesting engine with great potential. How to upgrade RB20DET? Stock turbocharger will be the first problem on your way, it is not the best variant for tuning. The maximal safe boost pressure is 11.5 psi (0.8 bar) (sometimes it may be 13 psi (0.9 bar), but unadvisable). On such boost you will gain 260-270 horsepower. To implement it, you should buy RB26DETT fuel injectors, 444 cc/min, and also Skyline GTR intercooler, wastegate, downpipe, 3” straight pipe exhaust system, RB25 MAF or 300ZX Z32 MAF, boost controller, Walbro 255 or GTR fuel pump and also spark plugs. Then you need to adjust all this. On such configuration you will drive quarter mile in mid 13 seconds.
To gain 300-320 horsepower, you need 45V4 turbocharger (RB25DET turbo). And also buy Apexi power FC and cold air intake. You may also use HKS GT2530 turbocharger. At 21 psi (1.4-1.5 bar) it may reach about 350 horsepower.
These are the safest configurations, which are also quite fast and reliable.
How to get 350-400 horsepower? You should just change stock turbocharger for HKS GT2535 or HKS GT2540 and buy camshafts 256/256.
To gain 400-450 HP, you need TD06 20G turbocharger, camshafts 264/264, Splitfire ignition coils, Bosch 044 fuel pump, fuel injectors 550 cc or 570 cc (Nissan GTR R35), MLS head gasket and ARP head studs. Having set 17 psi (1.2 bar) pressure, you will obtain 400 HP, and if you increase the boost to 25 psi (1.7-1.8 bar), about 450-470 HP will be gained. With the power like this it will take you low 12 seconds per ¼ mile.
In general, for stock internals it is safer and more reliable not to exceed 400 HP.
It is possible to reach 500 horsepower also, but it would be too expensive and irrational. Better buy RB25DET or RB26DETT engine.

RB20DET Stroker

For your turbocharger to boost still faster, you may enlarge displacement to 2.33L.
1. Upon enlarging cylinder diameter to 81 mm and purchasing Toyota 4A-GZE pistons, you will gain 2.15L.
2. Having enlarged cylinder diameter to 82 mm and buying Tomei pistons, you will get 2.2L.
3. Keeping stock pistons, but having installed RB25DET crankshaft and connecting rods, your displacement will rise to 2.05L.
4. If you enlarge cylinder diameter to 81 mm (Toyota 4A-GZE pistons), and also install RB25DET crankshaft and connecting rods, displacement will be 2.2L.
5. Having purchased RB26DETT crankshaft and connecting rods, keeping old stock pistons along with this, you will have 2.1L engine displacement.
6. RB26DETT crankshaft and connecting rods + 4A-GZE pistons will give you 2.3L displacement.
7. If you enlarge cylinder diameter to 82 mm (Tomei pistons) and also purchase RB26DETT crankshaft and connecting rods, displacement will rise to 2.33L.