Arriving in the early ’90s and departing so early in late 2004, this engine served as one, if not the, of the best and most reliable engines to ever power the trucks for the Toyota.
It has little to no engine issues, if not for its age. Integrated with some of the advanced automotive systems that time, it has proven itself the standard of a great engine. And it is none other than the Toyota 5VZ-FE engine.
So, today, we will discuss the Toyota 5VZ-FE engine’s design, applications, issues, reliability, tuning potential, and many more.
What are Toyota 5VZ-FE Engines?
The Toyota 5VZ-FE engine is a naturally-aspirated, water-cooled, V6, 3.4 Liter gasoline engine manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation from 1995 to 2004. The engine’s architecture basis is from the previous 3VZ-E, which it eventually replaced, and it is a modified version of the 3VZ-FE engine.
The engine was made and produced in Toyota’s Alabama Manufacturing Plant.
The 5VZ-FE engine has six cylinders arranged in a ‘V’ orientation at a bank angle of 60-degrees. It features a deep-skirt cast-iron block with a four-bearing casted crankshaft and two aluminum heads; and a belt-driven double overhead camshaft design.
It acts with four valves per cylinder with shim-over-bucket tappets, large cast connecting rods, and a cast aluminum intake manifold. It is installed with an oil cooler integrated into the radiator.
In addition to the mentioned above, it is equipped with a wasted spark Direct Ignition System (DIS) ignition system with three coils, one coil for two cylinders, and uses a Sequential Multiport Fuel Injection System (SFI).
The engine is also added with Electronic Spark Advance (ESA), which uses the Electronic Control Module to specify the ignition timing based on signals coming from the sensor and adjust the timing appropriately in response to engine knocking.
5VZ-FE engines are non-interference engines.
Engine Specifications and Design:
- Production Run: 1995 – 2004
- Cylinder Block Material: Cast-iron
- Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
- Configuration: V6
- Bore: 93.5 mm
- Stroke: 82 mm
- Valvetrain: DOHC with four valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 3.4 L (3378 cc)
- Compression Ratio: 9.6
- Weight: 420 lbs.
- Max HP: 190 HP at 4,800 RPM
- Max Torque: 220 lb-ft at 3,600 RPM
The cylinder block of the 3VZ-FE was retained in the 5VZ-FE engine only with a larger bore to accommodate a larger displacement. To be specific, this engine is relatively identical to its predecessor and has only some minor revisions, such as the difference in camshafts.
It has a cylinder bore of 93.5 mm and a piston stroke of 82 mm for a capacity of 3,378 cc; and a 9.6 compression ratio rating. This engine can produce 190 HP at 4,000 RPM at peak and a maximum torque of 220 lb-ft.
The 5VZ-FE has a deep skirt cylinder block made from cast-iron material positioned in a ‘V’ format with a bank angle of 60-degrees for balance and uniform 120-degree firing intervals. Four bearings support its crankshaft with vermicular cast-iron main bearing caps.
The 5VZ-FE’s crankshaft is made from cast iron. Initially, it is integrated with five counterbalance weights. However, for the Landcruiser Prado (90-Series), the same crankshaft has nine counterbalance weights and a dual-mode damper to minimize unnecessary vibrations.
The crankpin diameter is 55 mm, and the crankshaft primary journal diameter is 64 mm.
Connecting rods are sintered and cast, aluminum pistons with full-floating type pistons, and striated piston skirts for optimum oil retention. Each piston is equipped with one oil control and two compression rings.
The cylinder head and camshaft cover are made from aluminum with a double overhead camshaft design with four valves per cylinder -two for both intake and exhaust valves.
The intake camshafts are driven via a belt, while the exhaust camshaft is driven by scissor gears connected to the intake camshafts. This arrangement allows the camshafts to be placed closer to each other for a thin 22.5-degree included valve angle.
The intake duration is 226-degrees, and the exhaust duration is 226-degrees. The fuel injector stock size is 276 cc/min.
The 5VZ-FE has a new intake manifold with a long runner to increase maximum torque production at low and middle engine speed integrated with a resonator to reduce induction noise.
Toyota also modified the fuel injection; they used an L-type sequential multi-port fuel injection system. This kind of air-assisted fuel injection system regulates the air intake to the upper stream of the throttle valve through Idle Air Control Valve.
It points it directly to the fuel injector’s nozzle inside the intake manifold on the negative pressure side. This not only improves the fuel economy this also promotes better fuel atomization and more stable idling.
Intake air mass for the 5VZ-FE was measured directly with a hot-wire type mass air flow meter.
The 5VZ-FE also got a new ignition system consisting of three sets of ignition coils – installed with plug caps – and with high-tension cords connected directly on the ignition coil.
With that, the 5VZ-FE uses a two-cylinder simultaneous ignition system that will ignite two cylinders at the same time with one ignition coil. These coils have a magnet to reduce the number of coiled wires within the coil and increase the magnetic flux.
If you can notice, there is no distributor since Toyota eliminated those to improve the ignition timing, reduced high-voltage loss, and results in a more reliable ignition system through the DIS system.
The exhaust manifolds are also optimized to produce additional torque. It has stainless steel exhaust pipe and a clamp joint to link the tailpipe and center exhaust pipe.
A new coolant fan is installed to improve the engine overheating issues suffered by its predecessor, 3VZ-FE.
Applications of the 5VZ-FE Engine:
- 1993 – 2004 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
- 1995 – 2002 Toyota Granvia
- 1995 – 1998 Toyota T-100
- 1995 – 2004 Toyota Tacoma
- 1996 – 2002 Toyota 4Runner
- 2000 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
- 2000 – 2002, 2004 GAZ-3111
Engine Tuning, Upgrades, and Modifications
5VZ-FE engines are designed for off-road vehicles, so the power of this engine is already established. Therefore, it is unnecessary to buy any performance parts if you want to build a high-rev naturally-aspirated race engine.
If you want more power and torque, the most common way it is done is to install a supercharger kit on 5VZ-FE.
Many bolt-on kits are available on the market for this V6 engine, like the TRD supercharger kit that uses Eaton M62 supercharger; the second-generation TRD supercharger kit is the best option because it has a longer lifespan, but it is pretty expensive.
However, this upgrade is not enough, and it requires purchasing aftermarket performance for better results.
If you already have the 5VZ engine with the EGR valve, then it is better to use high-performance fuel injectors or the one from the 2JZ-GE engine. If your stock engine is not equipped with an EGR valve, you need to buy a 5VF-ZE 7th injector kit; add to the Walbro 190 fuel pump and Denso IK22 iridium spark plugs.
Install all of these upgrades in the stock internals, and the maximal boost pressure will get you about 260 horsepower at maximum. This can also increase the torque at all ranges.
You may want to change your pulley to a 2.2-inch size instead of the stock 2.37 inches. The effect of this change is it will increase the maximum boost pressure up to 8.5 psi and get around 280 horsepower.
But when you opt for this, you need to use higher octane gasoline; buy a cat-back performance exhaust system, and add at least 10 HP.
If you want to go beyond 300 HP, then change the pulley size to a smaller one, even 2 inches. This will increase the boost pressure to 11 psi. However, the stock internals cannot withstand such an upgrade, and you need to buy forged pistons to lower the compression ratio or buy a water/methanol injection kit.
Problems Surrounding Toyota 5VZ-FE Engine
The 5VZ-FE is far more reliable than its predecessor, and even some problems are partially solved, if not wholly, such as the engine overheating. However, some issues are still lingering even some of the previous problems were solved.
That is why we want to address some of those shortcomings for you to be aware and expect that they might arise in any stage of the engine age.
The first issue that affects 5VZ-FE is its timing belt. During that time, timing belts are commonly used, and chains are installed on most modern engines. Others may not consider this an issue because this is a replaceable and standard maintenance item across all machines.
It is recommended to replace it when it hits the 90,000-mile mark and checks it regularly after that. When you notice any odd or foreign sounds in the engine, check it.
Also, part of the maintenance item in the 5VZ-FE is its water pump, with a service life of about 150,000 miles at best.
Another issue is the head gasket failure though this counts as a rare occurrence to the 5VZ-FE engine. Back in the day, Toyota recalled a small batch of machines due to this problem. The reports state that head gasket failures arise at more than the 200,000-mile mark.
And the last issue is the oil leak, and the culprit is the valve cover gaskets, which is the most common area to start a leak. We all know that head gaskets undergo many temperature changes and a lot of stress during their service.
That accumulated stressor will pile up and affect the gasket condition leading to cracks and, eventually, leaking. And as those cracks continue to expand due to constant heat, the leak becomes worse over time.
The Toyota 5VZ-FE is integrated with many advancements during that era. Also, added to its merit is it is far more reliable than its predecessor; and some consider it as the most reliable engine of all time.
First used in trucks and big vehicles, it is true that this engine is powerful even without additional boost and delivers a great driving experience. Even though some problems occur, primarily due to age, these issues do not defy how durable this engine is.
With proper maintenance and care, this engine can last a lifetime. Always remember that use quality engine oil and fuel.
I hope that this simple guide and discussion helped you understand the 5VZ-FE engine’s design, applications, power, tuning potential, reliability, issues, longevity, and overall impact on the industry and community.