Hyundai 3.8L V6 Engine Problems – Is The Lambda 3.8L Any Good?

Hyundai 3.8L V6 Engine Problems – Is The Lambda 3.8L Any Good?

February 12, 2024 0 By CarGuy

Are you looking to purchase a Hyundai or Kia with the 3.8 engine? If that’s the case, look no further because, in this article, there will be a lot to cover on the Hyundai 3.8L V6 engine problems.

Cars tend to have problems, some of them more while some of them fewer. It is your task to find the model that has the least problems. This way, you will save a ton of money on potential repairs. Especially when it comes to Hyundai models. And that’s why we are here to help you out!

So, what are we going to cover? First, we will take a look at the specs of the Hyundai 3.8 and the models in which you can find this engine. Then, we will cover the Hyundai 3.8L V6 engine problems, reliability, and life expectancy. So, let’s dive into the article!

Hyundai 3.8 V6 Engine Specs

The Hyundai 3.8 V6 engine belongs to the Lambda family of engines introduced by Hyundai in 2005.

The Lambda engine went through two iterations, the original Lambda and Lambda II which was a more refined and more modern version of the original.

These engines were assembled IN Asan, South Korea, and Montgomery, Alabama.

What is interesting about the 3.8 engine is that this is a V6 which came with the larger Hyundai and Kia models. The block and heads are made from aluminum.

This engine has a double overhead camshaft layout (DOHC) with 4 valves per cylinder. In terms of fuel injection, the original Lambda came only with port injection. While the newer Lambda II iteration includes both port (MPi) and direct injection (GDi).

Nevertheless, here are some of the most important specs of this engine:

  • Configuration: V6
  • Displacement: 3.8L
  • Bore: 96 mm
  • Stroke: 87 mm
  • Block & Head Material: Aluminum
  • Head Design: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Variable Valve Timing: Yes
  • Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
  • Fuel Injection: MPI or GDI
  • Horsepower: 280 – 312 hp
  • Torque: 253 – 265 lb-ft (343 – 359 N-m)

Hyundai 3.8L V6 Engine Applications

Now let’s take a look at the applications of the 3.8 Lambda engine.

Lambda I 3.8L V6 (G6DA) MPI

  • 2007 – 2013 Hyundai Veracruz
  • 2007 – 2009 Hyundai Entourage
  • 2005 – 2008 Hyundai Azera
  • 2007 – 2008 Hyundai Centennial
  • 2007 – 2008 Hyundai Equus
  • 2005 – 2010 Kia Carnival
  • 2005 – 2010 Kia Sedona
  • 2007 – 2009 Kia Sorento
  • 2005 – 2010 Kia Amanti/Oprirus

Lambda II 3.8L V6 (G6DA) MPI

  • 2011 Hyundai Azera
  • 2010 – 2012 Kia Opirus

Lambda II 3.8L V6 GDI (G6DN) – Atkinson Cycle

  • 2018 – Present Hyundai Palisade
  • 2019 – Present Kia Telluride

Lambda II 3.8L V6 RS GDI (G6DA/G6DK) – For RWD Models

  • 2009 – 2011 Hyundai Equus
  • 2008 – 2011 Hyundai Genesis
  • 2009 – 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
  • 2013 – 2018 Kia K9
  • 2012 – 2017 Oulim Spirra CregiT

Hyundai 3.8 V6L Engine Problems

Now let’s list the common problems with the 3.8L V6L Lambda engine.

  1. Ignition Coil Failures
  2. Carbon Buildup
  3. Oil Consumption
  4. Rod Bearing Failures
  5. Oil Leaks

We listed the common Hyundai 3.8L V6 engine problems, now let’s dive deeper and further elaborate on these issues.

We recommend this because you need to know how these problems appear and how serious these problems are in the first place. So, without further ado, let’s explain the issues one by one!

1. Ignition Coil Failures

One of the biggest issues with these 3.8 engines by Hyundai is the ignition coils. So, what is an ignition coil, and why it is a problem?

Modern cars are implementing something known as coil over plug. So, for each spark plug you have an individual coil. In total, there are 6 of these coils, one per cylinder.

The coil is something like a small electric transformer. It transforms the 12v supply power into a high current that is then sent to the spark plug and a spark is created.

So, considering the fact that these coils play such a vital role when one of the coils becomes faulty, you will have problems with the engine.

These problems will be represented through something known as engine misfires. But there can also be the check engine light, poor engine power, limp mode, and engine stalling in some cases.

The solution is to replace the faulty coil since there is no other fix for this issue.

For troubleshooting purposes, you can swap the coils and if the misfire trouble code moves to the next cylinder, you know that you have a faulty coil.

Now let’s move to the next Hyundai 3.8L V6 engine problems.

2. Carbon Buildup (GDI)

The following problem with the 3.8 V6 is also pretty common. We are talking here about carbon buildup inside the intake valve ports, as well as on the intake valves.

What is worth noting is that this problem does not affect all of the 3.8L engines. This engine affects specifically the GDI version of the 3.8L. These GDI engines are also known as Lambda II.

This problem happens because of the direct injection. This new injection method uses a special injector that is placed on top of the piston. Gas is not injected through the intake ports like on the MPI port-injected engines.

That’s why in the GDI engines, the ports are not washed by the gasoline. So, over long usage, carbon deposits will start to cover the intake valves and the ports in general and cause engine misfires, low compression, and valve failure.

The solution to this problem is to do a method known as walnut blasting every 60,000 miles to clean off the carbon in order to restore the proper function of the valves. If this is delayed, you will need a cylinder head rebuild. Something that is fairly expensive.

3. Oil Consumption

Oil consumption is another very serious issue with basically any Hyundai engine out there. These engines simply love to consume engine oil.

This is common as the engine starts to age and accumulate mileage. Especially when it goes above 100,000 miles.

So, why does this happen? Well, it’s hard to tell. But in general, the piston rings become stuck and once the oil rings are not sealing, oil is free to pass through and burn in the combustion chamber.

This is why we advise that you avoid some of the higher mileage 3.8L engines because they can be serious oil burners.

If the engine burns a lot of oil, it will become economically impossible to keep running the engine and you will need to do a rebuild or purchase a new short block.

Now let’s continue with our problems on the 3.8L V6 Lambda engine.

4. Rod Bearing Failures

Rod bearing failures are also fairly common on these engines and this problem can simply ruin your engine in a matter of seconds.

But the problem is much deeper than that in most cases. Mainly because when a rod bearing starts to fail, this is because of poor lubrication.

These engines have a rather poor lubricating system and the oil passageways can end up blocked with the machining material, as well as with oil sludge.

When this happens, there is no oil on the rod bearing and the bearing is not lubricated. This will create friction, the bearing will start to wear quickly and the engine will eventually seize.

The solution to this problem is to rebuild the engine or get a new short block. If you want to rebuild it, you will highly likely need a new crankshaft as well because the scarring on the journals will be too much to be fixed by machining it.

Now let’s move on to the last Hyundai 3.8L V6 engine problems.

5. Oil Leaks

And the last problem on our list of problems with the Lambda 3.8L engine is oil leaks. Oil leaks are common on these engines and can come from various places.

These include the valve covers, front or rear main seals, timing covers, oil pan, or oil drain bolt.

This is why it is advised that you inspect the engine for oil leaks before you buy. Because if you don’t, some of these oil leaks can cost a good penny to get fixed.

Hyundai 3.8 V6 Engine Reliability

The reliability of the 3.8L V6 Lambda engine is average. Not extremely good but also not terrible.

The important thing is the frequent oil changes that you need to do in order to make this engine last for a very long time.

If the oil is constantly low or you are doing 10,000-mile oil changes, the engine will not last for a very long time.

This is why with these engines, the oil should be your top priority, flush it around 6,000 miles and also monitor the levels and top off the oil if the engine burns oil.

Hyundai 3.8 V6 Engine Life Expectancy

The max life expectancy of this engine is around 180,000 miles. But this doesn’t mean that every engine will last this much, the average is probably around 150,000 miles.

We would advise that you avoid high-mileage engines because these engines simply do not last for a very long time. And if you look for a long-term car, you will highly likely have to replace the short block at some point.


Overall, the 3.8L V6 Lambda engine by Hyundai is a decent engine at low miles and a bad engine when the miles accumulate.

This is why we recommend reading the top problems with this engine and trying to avoid them if possible!


What are the common Hyundai Lambda 3.8L V6 engine problems?

Common problems with this engine include ignition coil failures, carbon deposits on the intake ports, high oil consumption, rod bearing failure, and oil leaks.

Is the 3.8L Lambda engine reliable?

The reliability of this engine is pretty average. It is not the best but not also the worst. So, check the common issues and possibly avoid some of these engines that have some of these problems.

If you want to read more, you can check our article on the Hyundai 3.3L engine problems.