Toyota 3S-GE: Everything You Need To Know

The Toyota 3SGE was a variation of the 3S-FE engine that went from 1985 to 2005. It had five different modifications during its 20 year production period, most importantly with restyled Yamaha cylinder heads in 1993, which helped it gain even more power for sports cars like MR2s or Celicas.

With that, it built a respectable reputation to be Toyota’s one of the best reliable engines. But, does this engine really rally towards its peers? 

What are Toyota 3S-GE Engines?

From 1984 through 2005, Toyota manufactured and constantly developed the 3S-GE engine. A 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder naturally aspirated gasoline engine. It’s a high-performance NA version of Yamaha’s 3S engine family, created in collaboration with Yamaha engineers. The Toyota 3S-GE engine was mostly utilized in Toyota’s sporty vehicles, including the Celica, MR2, Camry/Vista Twin Cam 2000, and Caldina Active Sports GT, as well as the turbocharged variant, the 3S-GTE.

There are five generations of the 3S-GE engine. They all have a cast-iron cylinder block and an aluminum cylinder head, and a forged crankshaft is balanced by eight weights, and lightweight aluminum pistons are used in the engine block. 

The intake and exhaust ports are on opposing sides of the aluminum head, creating a cross-flow arrangement. There are four valves per cylinder, no hydraulic lifters, and two overhead camshafts operated by a belt. The spark plug is positioned in the combustion chamber’s middle.

Engine Specifications and Design:

  • Production Run: 1984 – 2005
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Block Material: Cast-iron
  • Configuration: Inline 4
  • Bore: 86.0 mm
  • Stroke: 86.0 mm
  • Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2.0 L (1998 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 9.2, 10.0, 20.3, 11.1, and 11.5
  • Weight: 315 lbs.
  • Maximum HP: 210 HP at 6,200 – 7,600 RPM
  • Maximum Torque: 160 lb-ft at 4,800 – 6,400 RPM

Engine Design: 

The Toyota 3S-GE, formerly referred to as the 3S-GELU in transversely mounted applications with Japanese emission standards, is a four-cylinder in-line engine developed by Toyota in collaboration with Yamaha. 

Cylinder Block

The Toyota 3S-GE engine has a cast-iron cylinder block. The forged crankshaft, which is housed in the crankcase, is balanced by eight weights and revolves around five aluminum alloy bearings. 

The connecting rods, bearings, pistons, and other moving components get oil through oil holes in the center of the crankshaft. The intake manifold has four separate ports and uses inertia to boost engine torque at low and medium speeds. 

The pistons are constructed of an aluminum alloy that can endure high temperatures. Should the timing belt fail, an indentation is integrated into the piston head to prevent the pistons from contacting the valves (this is not true of the later BEAMS – an acronym which stands for Breakthrough Engine with Advanced Mechanism System – motors). 

This type of engine is known as a “non-interference” engine. Snap rings secure the piston pins that hold the pistons in place. The “Outer Shim Type System” eliminates the requirement to remove the camshaft in order to change the shims. Alter the shims above the valve lifters to adjust the valve clearance.

The pistons are constructed of an aluminum alloy that can endure high temperatures. Should the timing belt fail, an indentation is integrated into the piston head to prevent the pistons from contacting the valves (this is not true of the later BEAMS – an acronym which stands for Breakthrough Engine with Advanced Mechanism System – motors). This type of engine is known as a “non-interference” engine. 

Snap rings secure the piston pins that hold the pistons in place. The “Outer Shim Type System” eliminates the requirement to remove the camshaft in order to change the shims.

Cylinder Head

The cylinder head is composed of aluminum alloy, whereas the block is built of iron. A cross-flow intake and exhaust architecture compliment the pent-roof combustion chambers. The spark plug is positioned in the combustion chamber’s middle. 

The firing order is 1-3-4-2, with the first cylinder located near the timing belt. The 3S-GE was made to be light, with the initial incarnation, the 3S-GELU, weighing just 315 pounds.

The forged crankshaft, which is housed in the crankcase, is balanced by eight weights and revolves around five aluminum alloy bearings. The connecting rods, bearings, pistons, and other moving components get oil through oil holes in the center of the crankshaft. The intake manifold has four separate ports and uses inertia to boost engine torque at low and medium speeds. 

The intake and exhaust camshafts are both driven by a single timing belt. The cam journals are lubricated via an oiler port in the center of the camshaft, which is supported on five points between the valve lifters of each cylinder and the front of the cylinder head.

3S-GE Generation 1

The first-generation 3S-GE was produced from May 1984 until 1989 and was available in both North American and Japanese variants. Initially, the North American engine had a little lower output compared to the Japanese one, about 135 horsepower. 

In the Celica GT-S, this engine was the only 3S-GE to reach North America (ST162). The Japanese market version, along with many other things, had a more aggressive ECU but had no EGR valve system, boosting the output to roughly 160 HP at 6,400 rpm and 138 lb-ft of torque. 

The engine was first offered in the Toyota Camry/Vista Twin Cam 2000 (and Toyota Corona T150 (limited chassis version – ST162 with 3S-GELU for V20s) models.

3S-GE Generation 2

Between 1990 and 1993, the second generation was developed, with a minor increase in production to 165 HP in European markets. The maximum torque reached 141 lb-ft. It was also a little more dependable powerplant. 

Toyota replaced the T-VIS technology with the ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System), which proved to be significantly more efficient in the second iteration. T-VIS, on the other hand, was kept on the second-generation turbocharged 3S-GTE.

3S-GE Generation 3

In 1993, the third-generation 3S-GE was released. It had new cams and a 10.3:1 compression ratio. In fact, there were two sets of camshafts, one for automatic transmissions and the other for manual transmissions. 

Camshafts with 254/240-degree duration and 9.8/8.2 mm valve lift were used in manual gearbox applications. Due to more strict emission standards, the engine output is 180 HP at 7,000 rpm for the Japanese market and 170 HP at 7,000 rpm for other markets. The maximum torque available is 140 lb-ft.

3S-GE Generation 4

In 1997, the fourth-generation 3S-GE, popularly known as the “Red Top BEAMS,” went into production. 

When paired with a manual transmission, the original edition included VVT-i and generated 197 HP at 7,000 RPM. The automatic version made 187 HP at 7000 RPM, which is thought to be owing to an ECU constraint imposed by Toyota due to gearbox limits. The MR2 G and G-Limited, the Celica ST202 SS-II and SS-III, and the Caldina were the only models offered in Japan.

The ‘Grey Top BEAMS’ 3S-GE, the second generation 4 3S-GE, was an engine option in the RAV4 and second-generation Caldina Active Sports GT in Japan. Despite the fact that the valve cover on this engine is black, it is known as the “Grey Top” because of the grey intake plenum. 

This name was chosen to distinguish it from the Altezza’s fifth-generation Dual-VVTi “Black Top.” The RAV4 produces 178 HP at 6,600 RPM, whereas the Caldina GT produces 187 HP. The only technical differences between the Red Top and Grey Top are the headers and the ECU.

3S-GE Generation 5

The fifth and last iteration of the 3S-GE was launched in 1998, and it was only found in the Altezza RS200 provided by Japan. The ‘Black Top,’ as it was known, was equipped with a dual VVT-i system that altered timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts, and it was available in two different spec levels depending on which transmission it was paired with. 

The Toyota 3S-GE Generation 5 has an electronically controlled throttle with a cable – semi-drive by wire – which eliminates the need for an idle speed controller. In addition, a return-less fuel rail is employed.

The automatic transmission version is comparable to the Toyota 3S-GE Generation 4 but includes Dual VVT-i. This engine produced 200 horsepower at 7,000 RPM and 160 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 RPM. 

Different camshafts with a far more aggressive cam profile, stronger titanium valves, 33-mm buckets, and an 11.5:1 compression ratio are included in the Manual Transmission variant. It also features bigger intake valves, measuring 35 mm in diameter. It had 210 HP at 7,600 RPM and 160 lb-ft of torque at 6,400 RPM.

Engine Tuning, Potential, and Upgrades

The 3S-GE tuning will allow you to increase your engine’s capacity by 25% while reaching an impressive 8,000 rpm. You’ll need to buy sporting camshafts with valve springs and gears as well installing a performance exhaust system that is adjustable through ECU settings.

Turbocharging

You will be able to take your car from its stock state and turn it into something that is more than meets the eye. A 3SGTE turbo kit such as the original Garrett GT28 or GTX30 with 800 cc injectors, which is required in order to make sure you get all possible power out there. After purchasing these parts, which also include forged pistons rods connecting rods ARP studs exhaust system, adjusting can begin with some tuning on the EMS unit before the installation finishes up nicely.

And don’t worry about cost; everything has been created by top experts who know exactly what they’re doing – so no worries whatsoever when buying these upgrades.

Problems Surrounding Toyota 3S-GE Engine: 

The Toyota 3S-GE engine is a good example of Toyota’s famous reliability. It has a simple and durable cast iron cylinder block that can be found in almost any vehicle from Gen 1 to Gen 3, with the most problems being related to VVT-i systems on 2nd or 3rd generation models, especially due to Dual VVT-i types which have been known for causing failure among many other issues.

A lot of people know about how reliable Toyota cars are, but it is important to know some issues that this engine encountered. 

1. High-Pressure Fuel Pump Issue

The high-pressure gasoline pump isn’t working properly. They occur as a result of heavy wear and tear caused by fuel seeping into the crankcase. The malfunction is followed by a high level of oil with a gasoline odor, twitchy and unsteady vehicle operation, engine fading, and weak turns. The problem can be solved by replacing the high-pressure fuel pump with a new one.

2. Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve Failure

The valve begins to work unsteadily as it becomes carbonized and ages. The usage of low-quality fuel is another factor. As a result, the engine may show signs of sluggish idling and reduced power. The EGR valve must be polished or replaced with a new one.

3. Rough Idling

The engine comes to a complete stop. Generally, throttle body cleaning is used to treat the major difficulties linked with turning. If it doesn’t work, try cleaning the intake manifold.

4. High Fuel Consumption

Cleaning the throttle body, injectors, and the idle control valve is advised to resolve the issue. It’s also a good idea to keep the ignition under control.

Summary

The Toyota 3S-GE engine is still a solid engine despite its age, but we take also take that as a disadvantage because of the years it covered. But, even with that dilemma, it is known to be safe and reliable despite those reasons. 

There are few engines of this series now, and their number starts to decline, especially the ones in perfect condition. The Toyota 3S-GE continues to do its work and is far more reliable than the Toyota 3S-FSE. 

Overall, the engine can still manage itself with modern-day engines. 

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