By on August 21, 2013

Dennis writes:

Dear Sajeev,

I own an 06 Sonata with the 3.3.  It is paid off and has 79,000 miles on it. I love this car. 

It is fast, comfortable and I get about 20 miles per gallon around town and on long trips about 30.  I have had a few engine issues and have done all the maintenance as required.  It had the Harmonic Balancer replaced,  Idle Pulley and sensor or two.  The Hyundai Forums have folks cranking out 150,000 miles no problems with this car and others seeing it explode about 80,000.

I would love to hold onto this car a few more years.  Any advice on this engine?  Things to look out for?

Being a long time ex Ford Owner and loving to read your articles I trust your opinion a lot.  I have owned a Mustang, Capri, EXP, Thunderbird, Excort ZX-2 and a Focus and other interesting vehicles in my torrid car past.

Thanks sir!

Sajeev Answers:

Ya know Dennis, its funny how those who fondly(?) recall Ford’s progressive product era (the 80s-90s) find joy in Hyundai’s modern offerings. And not just displaced Town Car fans eyeing an Equus, but you and…perhaps the 5.0L Easter Egg laying artist responsible for the photo above!  OMG! OMG! OMG!

But I digress…

The Lambda V6 in your Sonata needs periodic valve lash adjustments. No timing belt worries and little else outside of proper upkeep, from what I see via Googling.  I suspect those with grenaded Lambdas had such disappointment because of infrequent oil changes. If you minimize engine wear (i.e. synthetic oil and regular changes), valve lash adjustments aren’t in your future. You’ve likely reached the Sonata’s half-life: and not just because I’m a geek making a very half-assed clever reference!

I suspect the motor will need a valve adjustment well before 200,000 miles, an awful painful punishment for your wallet. Especially compared to the Sonata’s street value. That’s when it’s time to sell.

Or get a junkyard motor with low miles and a warranty…or…and just hang on with me here…

If it’s okay to put a LSX in a Genesis, why the hell wouldn’t you put LS4-FTW in a Sonata? If you were crazy enough to own a Ford EXP, you know you gotta do it, to it…son!


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35 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Lambda V6 Half Life?...”

  • avatar

    Trade it in for a 11′ Sonata.

  • avatar

    Again, LSX FTW! Valve lash adjustments on a modern car…for shame. Hydraulic valve-trained pushrod motors had that figured out 50 years ago. Ditch that stone age OHC motor and get yourself some modern pushrod power!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll take bucket and shim valve adjustment (or even locknut) over hydraulic lash adjusters any day of the week. When those HLAs wear out or gum up due to lack of regular oil changes, a valve adjustment will seem much cheaper and easier than replacing a full set of HLAs. Then again I’m biased, my old MPV had to have the HLAs replaced (a known defect with Mazda JE engines), and I grew up riding old Japanese motorcycles with regular valve adjustment requirements.

      Generally speaking, on an engine with regular oil changes and modern metallurgy, valve adjustments aren’t necessary until 200k+, particularly for bucket/shim types.

      So I guess in the end, with regular oil changes, any system can work just fine for hundreds of thousands of miles!

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. I thought materials science and modern engineering has basically killed valve adjustments on pretty much every modern motor, save for very high performance ones. My ls400 with bucket and shims has finanlly started to tick with about 300,000kms, but no performance issues yet.

        Gtemnykh your post above reminds me of valve adjustments on my old UJMs: pull all the shims, swap around the too thick and too thin amongst the ones you took out and then browse forums for people selling the ones you still need in order to avoid paying the exorborent price for a shim kit from the dealer for the 1 or 2 shims you actually need. It’s engaging in terms of man machine interaction, but i wouldn’t say i miss it.

        • 0 avatar

          I now have a Triumph Bonneville America – aircooled inline overhead-cam engine with shims and buckets – it’s not so far off from a UJM! 12,000 interval though.

        • 0 avatar

          Go to a dealer with a micrometer and the wrong size shim(s) in your hand then walk into one of the service bays. Ask one of the techs if he has a 0.NNmm shim. Most likely he’ll slide open a drawer in his toolbox, let you peruse his collection, and let you swap out your shims for his. Tip him $5 for his trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Valve lash adjustments on a modern car…for shame”
      Yes, I discovered that my 2002 Honda V6 needed valve adjustment at 105K miles. It really needed it. Several exhaust valves had zero clearance when cold. Too tight might burn a valve. I know that the service or owners manual says adjust when noisy, but too tight is not noisy and too tight burns valves. The service manual or owners manual is not correct. Just one of many disappointments on my breakdown prone Honda.
      Early CRV’s are worse. They need 30K mile valve adjustments or mandatory head rebuild likely soon.

      • 0 avatar

        “A noisy valve is a happy valve.” Sort of true- way too loose can make the thing wear out faster (although way too tight can burn a valve during one good highway run.)

        On engines with a screw-type valve lash adjustment, I used to set the lash using an angle adjustment on the screw. This would account for wear patterns on the rocker arm (of course, the ideal course of action would really be to replace the worn out rocker arms).

        • 0 avatar

          BMW M20s by any chance?

          • 0 avatar

            I’m afraid not. This was in an old Volvo red block–really old–one with pushrods and the cam in the block. A high revving tractor engine of sorts!

        • 0 avatar

          I never thought there would be a thread about valve adjustments on this board. Old school! I adjust the valves on my ’85 Nissan pickup every 15k while re-torquing the head bolts. It ticks like a sewing machine, so they must be the happiest valves around.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Actually, more than a few new engine families have gone back to the shim-and-bucket valve setup… one of the more underreported aspects of 21st century automobilia.

  • avatar

    Supercharger thru the hood FTW…old skool, SON!

  • avatar

    I say just pay for the adjustment. Way cheaper than a new car! Pretty cool that the engine is low maintenance like it is.

  • avatar

    Mister Freeman, may I suggest that you ditch the Hyundai engine and go for a Chevy smallblock?

    I dunno how feasible that is with a modern car but if someone did that I’d nominate their Hyundai as being the only cool Korean car I’ve ever seen.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Hyundai/Kia seems to be making minor tweaks to the 3.3L Lambda V6, but continues to keep it around. It’s no longer in the Sonata and Optima, but I believe they use it in the Azera, Cadenza, Sorento and Santa Fe (LWB).

  • avatar

    Interesting to know that the Lambda still needs valve lash adjustments. If my mechanic told me that I needed a valve lash adjustment I’d start looking around for a calendar to see if it was 1972.

    I’ve sometimes been intrigued by the V6 Sonata simply because they are cheap on the used car market and seem like they would make a decent long distance cruiser. (But then again so would a W-body.)

  • avatar

    Do other recent cars require valve lash adjustments? That seems kind of crazy in a modern engine. I remember my ’85 Jetta diesel required valve adjustments periodically but eventually VW moved to hydraulic lifters that didn’t require adjustment. Would love to know the answer because I can’t comprehend having to take newer a car in for valve adjustments in 2006, let alone 2013.

  • avatar

    I thought Hyundai offered a 10 year / 100,000 mile power-train warranty? But I guess that would only be if the engine blows. Is the valve lash adjustment called out in the maintenance schedule?

    • 0 avatar

      Inspection is called for every 48 mos. or 60K miles. But the inspection is listed as merely listening for excessive valve noise or engine vibration. Adjustment is called for only if that is present.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That 10-year/100,000-mile warranty is also only for the original owner. For second owners and beyond, the powertrain warranty shrinks to 5 years/60,000 miles to match the bumper-to-bumper warranty. The reason I know this is that we got a 2012 Sonata Limited w/nav and panoramic sunroof, and I had to look that up…

  • avatar

    Valve lash adjustment… as in shims to adjust valves, right? Help me if I’m confused here. This is pretty standard, right? Most cars don’t need about every 100,000 miles or so; preventative maintenance that is done maybe twice over the typical 250,000 mile life of a car doesn’t seem that extreme.

    I wish motorcycle manufacturers would get on the ball with it – some of the valve adjustment timeframes are pretty brutal, especially on the Japanese inline engines (7500 miles for the 250cc Ninjettes!)

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the adjustment of the clearance between the rocker/follower and the valve/bucket. It’s typically done with feeler gauges to set the clearance to spec.

    • 0 avatar

      Haha you think 7500 miles is brutal? I did my 1977 Yamaha XS500’s valves every spring, just as part of a spring tuneup, along with adjusting the timing and an oil change. Then again I didn’t have the Ninja’s fairings to deal with, my gas tank comes off in 1 minute, valve cover comes off 2 minutes after that! I then bought a 1978 Suzuki GS1000 with shim over bucket adjusters, after 44k miles, just one shim needed to be replaced :)

  • avatar

    2.4 engines used in Camry & tC also require lash adjustments; specs are on underhood sticker. Exact same bucket system.

    • 0 avatar

      It gets better- with the Toyota 2.4 you replace the whole bucket (need to remove the cam(s) to do that); the bucket doesn’t have a replaceable shim. I’m not sure whether that says a lot about their engineers’ confidence in the design or whether the bean counters thought it was a better idea and won the argument…

  • avatar

    Watch out for the valve cover gasket (passenger side) weeping oil onto the alternator.

  • avatar

    Gordon Freeman today; Gordon Freeman tomorrow; Gordon Freeman forever!!!

    (Stop draggin ass, Valve! Make the game and take my money!)

  • avatar

    Loved those fords! Wish I could have had an SVO in red, wish I had one now!

  • avatar

    Some modern motors still require valve lash adjustment. I know my 2007 Accord required it to be set at 105,000 miles, I only kept it till 50 something before I got so bored with it I thought I was going to fall asleep and die. But my mom’s CR-V has the same engine (K24 non-vtec) and at 85k miles it makes audible valvetrain racket.

  • avatar

    Watch for valve cover oil seepage above the alternator. It seems innocuous but is a known alternator-killer on the Lambda. Well worth the cost of the upgraded replacement gasket.

    Overall it’s a solid engine that should be easy on the wallet for a long time.

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