Toyota 2VZ-FE: Everything You Need To Know

Toyota loves to explore the possibilities of creating a smaller or more extensive version of its engines. Many of their innovations came from the previous work they’ve done and even made collaborations, making it more interesting.

And of those engines is the 2VZ-FE. They are designed as a compact engine that sits in the middle of comfort and reliability. Its excellent efficiency makes it a choice for everyday driving.

Join me as we discuss the engine’s design, applications, specifications, tuning potential, aftermarket support, reliability, and many more.

What are Toyota 2VZ-FE Engines?

The Toyota 2VZ-FE is a naturally-aspirated, water-cooled, 2.5 Liter, V-type six-cylinder gasoline engine produced by the Japanese Automaker Toyota Motor Corporation from 1988 to 1991.

This engine is Toyota’s original four-valve DOHC system. With its compact configuration, this V-type six-cylinder engine is designed to be mounted on front-wheel drive vehicles. It originally had a straight-four cylinder engine.

The 2VZ-FE engine has a six-cylinder arranged in a ‘V’ format at a bank angle of 60 degrees. This engine features a cast-iron cylinder block with a four-bearings crankshaft, two aluminum heads with two camshafts, and four valves per cylinder – two for both intake and exhaust valves.

This engine is suitable for high-grade vehicles due to its quietness and made possible by the crankshaft with high rigidities and cylinder block. A hydraulic-mounting, crankshaft pulley with a dual-mode damper, and other advanced technologies are integrated into this 2VZ-FE.

Toyota 2VZ-FE is equipped with Electronic Spark Advance (ESA), Idle Speed Control system (ISC), and fuel is provided through an Electronic Fuel Injection system (EFI).

By increasing the 2VZ-FE engine displacement, optimum air-fuel ratio, and ignition timing by TCCS (Toyota Computer Controlled System), compact pentroof-type combustion chambers, and other technologies, a high-performance and larger torque have been achieved with low fuel consumption.

The Toyota 2VZ-FE engine is the smaller version of the 3.0 Liter 3VZ-FE engine of the same automaker.

Engine Specifications and Design:

  • Production Run: 1988 – 1991
  • Cylinder Block Material: Cast-iron
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: V6
  • Bore: 87.5 mm
  • Stroke: 69.5 mm
  • Valvetrain: Belt-driven DOHC with four valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2.5 L (2507 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 9.0
  • Weight: 430 lbs.
  • Max HP: 160 HP at 5,800 RPM
  • Max Torque: 159 lb-ft at 4,600 RPM
  • Redline limit of 6,800 RPM

The engine has a cylinder bore of 87.5 mm, a 69.5 mm piston stroke, and a compression rating of 9.0. The 2VZ-FE engine can produce a maximum power of 160 HP at 5,800 RPM and 159 lb-ft of maximum torque at 4,600 RPM.

The cylinder block of the 2VZ-FE engine is made from cast iron and has a six-cylinder arranged in a ‘V’ orientation at a bank angle of 60-degrees. Four bearings made from copper and lead alloy support the crankshaft inside the crankcase; the crankshaft is also integrated with five counterweights for balance.

Oil holes are drilled and placed in the center of the crankshaft for supplying oil onto the moving parts such as pistons, connecting rods, and other internal components. The engine’s firing order is 1-2-3-4-5-6. The crankpin diameter is 48 mm, and the crankshaft main journal diameter is 64 mm.

The 2VZ-FE pistons are made from high temperature-resistant aluminum. Built into the piston heads is depression clearance to prevent the pistons from interfering with the valves. The piston pins are semi-floating, with pins secured to the connecting rods by pressure fitting, allowing the pins and pistons to float.

Each piston is equipped with one oil control ring and two compression rings. The top compression ring is made from steel, and the second compression ring is made from cast iron. However, the oil ring is made from a combination of pure steel and stainless steel.

The outer diameter of the piston ring is deliberately made to become slightly bigger than the piston’s diameter, and the flexibility of the rings allows them to the hub of the cylinder walls when they are installed on the piston.

The 2VZ-FE cylinder heads are made from aluminum alloy and have a double overhead camshafts design with four valves per cylinder – two for both intake and exhaust valves. It is integrated with a cross-flow type intake and exhaust layouts and pentroof combustion chambers for better fuel combustion.

The spark plugs are placed in the center of the combustion chamber and work like an ante-chamber for a more efficient fuel burn without much waste.

The intake camshafts are driven via a single belt, and a scissor gear on the intake camshaft is engaged with a gear in the exhaust camshafts which drives it. The camshaft journal is supported at four exhaust and five intake places between the front end of the cylinder head and the valve lifters.

The valve clearance adjustments are made through an external shim type system, where the valve adjusting shims are placed above the valve lifters. This mechanism allows better leverage when replacing the shims because you don’t have to remove the camshafts for that.

Some applications of the 2VZ-FE engine: 

  • 1988 – 1991 Toyota Camry
  • 1989 – 1991 Lexus ES 250

Engine Tuning, Upgrades, and Modifications

On this scale, the Toyota 2VZ-FE engine is considered a smaller version of the 3VZ-FE engine. The engine potential is almost the same, and we all know the possibility attached to the 3VZ-FE. They have the reputation of being solid and fast engines. And despite being powerful enough for every day, you can still increase its power.

The first step is to service it for port and polish; if you can do it yourself, it is better; if not, take it to someone who knows. Then after that, buy some performance parts such as headers, cold air intake, and 2.5-inch performance exhaust.

Install all of these upgrades and configure the ECU; this can get you around 200 HP at the crank. Add some performance cams with 262/262-degree lift, and gain an extra 15 HP.

You can stretch the power production to a higher number up to 250 HP by buying or swapping it with a more powerful engine. In some cases, you can buy a 1MZ supercharger kit and modify it to fit in the 2VZ.

Another option is to build a turbo kit using turbochargers used in Supras, make turbo manifolds, and do everything in custom.

When tuning the 2VZ-FE, avoid increasing the compression ratio, buying an intake manifold, lighter pistons, and other parts. It is costly, and the power gained is not parallel to the price.

Problems Surrounding Toyota 2VZ-FE:

Toyota 2VZ-FE, like its bigger brother, 3VZ-FE, is a highly reliable and durable engine. But even with that reputation, it still has some weaknesses and shortcomings shared across all machines.

Some troubles might arise and affect the engine’s performance and the overall system, so we created a preventive list of the risks for the 2VZ-FE engine. There does not appear on all 2VZ-FE, but most of this is encountered by a small percentage of owners.

The first and common problem of the 2VZ-FE is engine overheating. We’ve encountered this before, and this is not new for most of the engines. This issue is caused by the loss of coolant supply flowing in the engine.

When you talk about engines and temperature, oil deprivation is detrimental and may result in severe damage to the machine, which affects the performance.

Check the coolant level; if it is low, the problem is in the head gasket; there might be a leak. If the level is normal, check the cooling fan because these fans often fail. After inspecting and checking everything and none of those appeared to be the reason. Check the radiator cap, radiator condition, and thermostat; it might be there.

Engine knocking is also another issue that needs to be addressed. These foreign acoustics sounds like a grave indication of your engine that it is game over already, but no, you can resolve this by adjusting the valve clearances, and if the sound goes away, then you’re good to go. If not, bring it to a specialist to check thoroughly.

The 2VZ-FE engine is old enough to add to the issues mentioned since it was produced more than a decade ago. And the common problem with an old machine is its excessive oil consumption due to loose components and deteriorating parts.

There could have been an increase in the wear of the connecting rods, and sometimes cylinder head cracks occur.

Always use the recommended high-quality engine oil and avoid compromising for lubricants and fuels. Have the engine serviced regularly and constantly monitor the condition of the cooling system.


The technologically advanced, powerful, but compact gasoline engine in 2VZ-FE opened the gate of a smaller but robust piece of powerplant. Many automakers drew this engine as an inspiration, together with the 3VZ-FE, to properly apply a truck-designed engine into everyday sedans, which resulted excellently.

It is more efficient, effective, and durable among its competitors, and it shows its tuning potential; even without changing the internals, it can withstand such high power upgrades.

Well-suited for luxury vehicles and higher-end vehicle models due to its quietness and high rigidity components. This engine is a fine balance of a delicate but knows when to turn it up.

Though it has some issues and problems that might arise, especially considering its age, it will not deny that many still look for a satisfying engine that can last a lifetime. With proper engine care and maintenance, th3 2VZ-FE will not be sidelined and left in the garage.

Do not forget to use high-quality engine oil and the necessary replacements to be made before the recommended number.

I hope that this simple discussion helped you understand the 2VZ-FE engine’s design, specifications, applications, issues, tuning potential, aftermarket support, reliability, and overall impact on the industry and community.

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