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Home 2000 Editions April, 2000

First of all, one needs to realize that Toyota, like GM, Ford, etc., has engine "families". However, rather than calling them names such as "big block" or "small block," Toyota assigns them a letter code. The engine family code is the first letter (not the first numeral). The codes are as follows:

A-series: 1.5L, 1.6L and 1.8L, belt-driven overhead cam motors used in Corollas, later Celicas, early Tercels, Chevy Novas (NUMMI-built), and Geo Prizms;

E-series: 1.4L and 1.5L overhead cam, belt-driven engines used in ’88 and up Tercels and Paseos;

F-series: 3.9L, 4.0L, 4.2L, pushrod straight six engines used in Landcruisers;

R-series: 1.8L/2.4L, overhead cam, chain-driven engines used in rear wheel drive only Coronas, older Celicas and pickups;

M-series: 2.2L through 3.0L overhead cam straight six engines used in Cressidas and Supras;

S-series: 2.0L and 2.2L belt-driven OHC engines used in Camrys, Celicas and MR2s;

VZ-series: 2.5L, 3.0L and 3.4L V6 engines used in Camrys, pickups, Lexus ES and T100s;

UZ-series: 4.0L V8 engines used in the Lexus LS400 and SC400.

Toyota manufactures motors from the very small up to large industrial diesels, so this is only a partial listing of the more common engine families. However, hopefully this information will bring some sense of order to the confusing alphabet soup of Toyota engine classifications.

The 2.0L
Let’s take a look at the 2.0L used in the late ’80s Camry & Celica. The code for this engine is 3SFE. The S-series engines are a mid-sized, transverse mounted four-cylinder used in Camrys, Celicas, some MR2s, and other Toyota vehicles. The first letter (after the initial numeral) is an "S" and means that this engine belongs to the "S" group of motors. The "3" signifies the third change in bore/stroke to the S-group of motors.

So, what about other motors? A 3SGE used in the Celica GTS (’86-’89) is the same as the 3SFE in bore and stroke, uses the same block, is also fuel injected, but the cylinder head is a true dual overhead cam with both cams being externally driven. There was also a 3SGTE used in Celica turbos, and MR2 turbos. This is basically the same motor as the 3SGE with the exception of the "T" which stands for turbocharged.

In the S-family of motors that were available in the U.S., there was also a 2SE used in the early Camrys. They had a different bore and stroke and single overhead cam design (no "F" or "G"). Current Camrys are using a 5SFE – externally identical to the 3SFE – except that the bore and stroke have been upped to 2.2L from 2.0L, and a pair of balance shafts were added to the lower end. Toyota’s other engine families follow the same pattern. Now for a little more detail on "S" family differences.

The 2SE
The 2SE belongs to the "S"-series engine family. The 2 signifies the second revision of that group of motors. (So where is the 1S-motor? I’m assuming either it was not available in the U.S. or maybe was just a prototype that never entered production). The "E" stands for fuel injected.

The 2SE was first used in the U.S. with the introduction of the front wheel drive Camry. This was a single overhead cam 2.0L motor with bucket tappets with "hockey puck" adjusting discs. Bore and stroke were 84mm (3.307") x 90 mm (3.540"). In 1986 the Celica moved to a front wheel drive platform and it also used the 2SE motor in ’86 in the ST and GT models.

The 3SFE
For 1987, the Camry and Celica base motor was changed to a square bore 86mm x 86mm and a "twin cam" head. It was still 2.0L, but the designation was now 3SFE. The 3 obviously meant the 3rd revision of the "S"-series engine family, and the "E" we know to mean EFI.

The "F" code that Toyota uses stands for twin cam or dual overhead cam, however, only one of the cams is externally driven. (Don’t confuse this "F" with Toyota’s F-series family straight six engine used in Landcrusiers). The 3SFE was used in Camrys from 1987-’91, and in Celicas from ’87-’89.

Toyota has actually brought this motor back and it is used in the new mini-sport utility RAV4. I haven’t seen any of the motors from the RAV4, so I’m really not sure what differences there are.

For now let’s focus on the ’87-’91 Camry/Celica version. There are some 4WD Camrys out there, Toyota called them All-Trac, and there should be some differences in the block and head. However, those vehicles should be few and far between. So other than the 4WD cars and the RAV4, the 3SFE application will pretty much fit all years.

There are a few things you should watch out for. These include the following:

•The number of flywheel bolts in the crankshaft. In 1987 there were six, and in ’88 and up there were eight. There may be, however, some overlap within those two years;

•The cranks and flywheels are interchangeable. You can either have the customer visually verify the number of flywheel bolts, or you can just furnish the appropriate flywheel (automatic or manual) and not worry about the number of bolts;

•Stiffening ribs were added to the block in ’89. The ribs may interfere with the larger older style oil filter. Make sure the new smaller oil filter is used if you use a newer block in an older vehicle.

The 3SGE
The Celica GTS from ’86-’89 used a 3SGE motor. Still an "S"-series, it has the same bore and stroke as the 3SFE. The big difference is in the head, hence the "G" instead of the "F". The "G" is a true DOHC with both cams being externally driven, and the valves splayed outwards at a wider angle giving more of a pent-roof design to the combustion chamber. In the lower end, 3SGEs used a steel crankshaft and bushed rods along with different pistons.

There is also a 3SGTE used in the All-Trac turbo Celica (’88-’93) and MR2 turbo (’91-’95). The "T" stands for, you guessed it, turbocharged. There are some differences in the block, head, and some of the internal parts that are specific to the turbo motor.

The 5SFE
The 5SFE is a 2.2L with a bigger bore and stroke (87mm x 91mm). This motor was introduced in the Celica and MR2 in 1990 and the Camry in 1992. It was still being used in the Camry in 1997. The 5SFE added a pair of balance shafts in the oil pan driven off of the crankshaft in 1992.

That’s a very quick tour of Toyota’s "S" series engines. Remember the first number is the revision number of that group. The second digit (letter) is the engine family/grouping. The third digit, if an F or a G, stands for which type of OHC design.

Here’s a quick rundown on what parts you can and can’t interchange on the 2S and 3S engines:

•The 2SEs are all six-bolt.

•The 3SFEs are cast and may be either 6- or 8-bolt.

•The 3SGEs are steel and eight-bolt.

•The 3SGTE: I’m not sure if the turbo motor used the same crank as the non-turbo 3SGE. I think it did, but I’m not 100% sure because I haven’t seen any turbo motors.

•The 2SE and 3SFE both use the same press fit rod.

•The 3SGE and 3SGTE both use the same bushed rod.

•The 2SE is a block by itself. It has a unique 84 mm bore.

•The 3SFE and 3SGE blocks may be interchanged, however, be aware of the differences in the later strengthened blocks with additional ribbing.

•The 3SGTE. It would be a good idea to custom build the turbo blocks unless you know specifically more about the differences of the 4WD Celica or MR2.

A Look at the VZ-Series: 2.0L, 2.5L, 3.0L, and 3.4L V6

Toyota has built numerous six cylinder motors over the years, but all of them have been inline straights. With newer, larger front wheel drive vehicles rapidly replacing the RWD sedans of the past, Toyota needed a V6 to power the mid-sized cars and pickups. The VZ series V6 was introduced beginning with the 1988 model year. The following is a list of these engines and their applications.

VZ-FE 2.0L (78mm X 69.5mm): This 2.0L engine was used in the Japanese home market Camry/Vista models and was not available in the United States.

2VZ-FE 2.5L (87.5mm X 69.5mm): This engine was available for Camry 1988-’91 and the Lexus ES250 1990-’91. The 2VZ-FE is a 2.5L version of the "VZ" family. This motor has Toyota’s twin cam per head set up, hence the "FE" designation.

North America saw this motor introduced on the FWD 1988 Toyota Camry and 1988 Lexus ES250 (which was really a dressed up Camry). Featuring four valves per cylinder; it put out 156 hp @ 5600 rpm and 160 ft.lbs. of torque @ 4400 rpm.

The design of the motor is basic Toyota from the 1980s, with cast iron block, a one-piece main bearing cradle, aluminum heads and a timing belt driving the intake camshafts, which operate bucket lifters with adjusting discs. The buckets and discs are the same ones used in Toyota’s 16-valve A-, S- and M-series.

The connecting rod housing size is the same as Toyota’s S-series four-cylinder engines. In fact, the connecting rods look almost identical to the 3SFE rods. Only by checking the length can one differentiate between the two. The V6 rod is slightly shorter. This 2.5L V6 was replaced by a longer stroke 3.0L (3VZ-FE) for the 1992 model year for the Camry and Lexus ES.

3VZ-E 3.0L (87.5mm X 82mm): Available for pickups, 4-Runner, and the T100 from 1988-’95. The 3VZ-E was also introduced for the 1988 model year on Toyota 4×4 pickups and the 4-Runner.

Similar to the 2VZ-FE, it featured a cast iron block and aluminum heads. This version of Toyota’s V6 put out 145 hp @ 4800 rpm and 180 ft. lbs. of torque @ 3400 rpm. However, for the truck and 4-Runner applications, two-valve heads with a single camshaft per head were employed. The cams still operated the valves via a bucket lifter and adjusting disc, but of a larger diameter.

These buckets and discs are unique to the 3VZ-E. The crankshaft rod journal size was increased from 1.889" (on the 2VZ-FE) to 2.165" for the tougher applications that this motor was being used in. The main bearings are the same as the 2VZ-FE. This motor was used through the 1994 model year on T100, and 1995 for the "small" pickup, and 4-Runner.

3VZ-FE 3.0L (87.5mm X 82mm): This engine was used in the 1992-’93 Camry and the 1992-’93 Lexus ES300. For 1992, the V6 for the Camry and Lexus ES was upped from 2.5L to 3.0L (hence the Lexus now being called ES300). Don’t confuse this FWD Camry-based Lexus with the RWD GS300 or RWD SC300 coupe. Those two models use the straight-six motor shared with the Toyota Supra.

The 3VZ-FE for the Camry and ES300 shared the same bore and stroke with the truck SOHC motor, but not much else except for a few common parts such as, piston rings, freeze plugs, main bearings and thrust washers. The four camshafts now operated hydraulic bucket lifters, doing away with the old "hockey-puck" adjusting system. Connecting rods were now bushed for the piston pin.

5VZ-FE 3.4L (93.5mm X 82mm): Found in the Tacoma, 4-Runner and the T100 from 1995-current. For 1995 on the T100, more power came from an increase in the bore of the VZ V6 to 93.5mm, four valves per cylinder, and twin cams per cylinder head. Now displacing 3.4L, this motor allowed for 190hp @ 4800 rpm and 220 ft.lbs. of torque @ 3600 rpm.

This motor also became available on the ’95 Tacoma and the ’96 4-Runner. While it shares the basic design with the other VZ V6s, it doesn’t share many parts. But the parts it did share consisted of main bearings, thrust washers and freeze plugs. Hydraulic bucket lifters were the same ones used in the 3VZ-FE and other four-valve per cylinder Toyota motors employing hydraulic buckets.

Early 3.0Ls (3VZ-E the truck motor), tended to crack the oil galley beneath the freeze plugs in the valley between the cylinders. I’m not aware of anyone being successful at repairing this problem. Probably the best bet is to scrap the block.

2VZ-FE 1988-’91 – There’s only four years here. The only difference to watch out for is if a knock sensor hole is needed. This hole is located in the valley between the second and third freeze plug. Other than that, all 2VZ-FEs will interchange. Valve cover logos may be different between Toyota and Lexus, so if your supplying a Lexus motor, make sure that the customer doesn’t get an ordinary Toyota labeled motor!

3VZ-E 1988-’95 – A pretty good span of years for an application to cover, however there is a difference in the number of bolt holes for the motor mount. Earlier ones had six, while later ones had four. There is also a timing belt and tensioner year split; 1988-’92 and 1993-’95. I think that the year split is also the same as the one for the motor mount bolt holes.


While the 3.4L 5VZ-FE is still the V6 for Toyotas light-duty truck applications, the Camry, ES300, Avalon and the new Sienna minivan are using a new V6 – the MZ series. This motor features an aluminum block and was introduced in 1994. Look for these to start popping up as well.


The 1985 Model Year: 20R and 22R

Toyota has built numerous four cylinder engine families over the years, but one that has been in use for quite a long time is the R-series. The R-series has been the main motor used in almost all Toyota pick-up trucks, as well as the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Celica and Coronas.

The 20R was introduced in 1975 and used up until 1980. In 1981 the larger bore 22R was released. The R-series has a cast iron block, aluminum head, and is an overhead camshaft (OHC) design with the cam being driven by a timing chain.

The oil pump is mounted on the front timing cover and slips over the end of the crankshaft where it is driven by a splined gear at the end of the crank. The 20/22Rs were used in only RWD applications, never in a front-wheel-drive (FWD) vehicle. So when the RWD Corona was replaced in the U.S. by the FWD Camry in 1983, and the Celica went to front wheel drive in 1986, the only vehicles that continued to use the 22R were the pick-ups and the 4-Runner sport utility vehicles. However, there are quite a few older Toyota pick-ups still being used today and they seem to hold resale value fairly well, which should provide some demand for rebuilding the 22R engines.

One common mistake many people make when rebuilding this engine is to assume that 20R means 2.0L and 22R means 2.2L. Remember that in Toyota’s numbering system the first number is the revision of that particular engine family, which does not pertain to displacement. The 20R is a 2.2L (2189cc), while the 22R is a 2.4L (2367cc) engine. There also is a 21R that was used in Japan and Europe with a displacement of 2.0L, but for our purposes we don’t need to discuss it.

20R, 21R and 22R engine specs
: 2189cc (88.5mm X 89mm),1975-’80, used in pick-ups, Celicas and Coronas.

21R: 1972cc (84mm X 89mm), used in overseas markets and not available in the U.S.

22R, 22RE, 22REC, 22RTEC: 2367cc (92mm X 89mm), used in 1981-’94 pick-ups, 4-Runners, Celicas through 1985, and Coronas through 1982.

The 22R was introduced in 1981 on the Corona, Celica and pick-ups replacing the smaller bore 20R. The crankshaft and connecting rods were carry-over parts from the 20R. The cylinder head was a hemispherical chamber with canted valves.

The rocker arm assembly was held on by the head bolts. See photo. The overhead camshaft was driven by a double roller chain. For 1982 the motor stayed the same, with no changes.

In 1983 several changes were made.

•Main bearing alignment tangs were changed, requiring the use of different main bearings. See photo.

•Timing components were changed from the double roller to a single roller chain and sprockets, different guides, tensioner, and a splined drive for the oil pump. See photo.

•Some models had fuel injection, but the only difference was the addition of some extra bolt holes to the intake manifold side for the EFI intake. This head will retro-fit back to the 1981-’82 head, but you can’t use the earlier head on an EFI ’83-’84 model.

Other than that, there are no differences in the basic long block between carbureted and fuel injection. The 1984 model year continued with the same changes as in 1983.

The 1985 model year was one of numerous changes for the 22R. Carbureted and EFI models both were continued, and all the changes made apply to both fueled versions.

The block deck height was lowered from 11.312" (287mm) in the earlier blocks, i.e., 1981-’84, to 11.062" (281mm) on the 1985-’94 blocks. This is only ¼", and can be very difficult to tell even when the earlier and later model blocks are placed side-by-side. The best way to tell them apart is to physically measure the height. See photo.

Front cover depth was decreased while the oil pump thickness was increased. The front crank seal position is the same distance from the front of the block (3.00"). Formerly (1981-’84), the cover was 1.715" from the front of the block to the oil pump mounting surface, while the oil pump was 1.290" deep. In 1985 the cover was 1.435" from the front of the block to the oil pump mounting surface, and the oil pump was 1.570" deep. See photo.

Timing remained as the single roller that was introduced in 1983, however, due to the shorter block, the timing chain and guides were shortened. The chain was shortened from 98 links to 96 links. The curved guide was changed slightly in its curvature, and the mounting bolts used now featured a longer shank bolt.

The straight guide was shortened slightly and the bolt holes were moved closer together, i.e., inside-to-inside — 3.020" vs. 3.225" for the ’83-’84 guide. This guide looks practically identical to the earlier one, and even several parts suppliers have had trouble getting it right. The top hole is elongated and, consequently, many people think that makes it universal for both applications. However, they won’t align with the bolt holes on the block. See photo.

The cylinder head had numerous changes to it for 1985. The combustion chamber was made smaller and was now kidney shaped. The exhaust ports were also changed from round to pear shaped. See photo.

Thrust washers were made thicker, and the third (center) main was narrowed by the same amount. See photo. The crankshaft remained the same.

All of the changes made in 1985 continued through the end of the 22R in 1994.

1985-’88 TURBO MOTOR
In 1985 during the height of the turbocharged engine’s popularity, Toyota introduced a turbo version of the 22R in its pick-ups and 4-Runners (22RTEC). The differences included a unique cylinder head with a combustion chamber larger than the kidney shaped chamber introduced in 1985, but smaller than the old 1981-’84 head. See photo.

The new pear shaped exhaust ports were used. The block was the new low deck block with an oil drain back hole and oil pressure feed on the left hand side for the turbocharger. The normally aspirated blocks have a casting for the drain back and can be drilled and bolt holes tapped if necessary. All other changes that were made in 1985 also apply to the turbo motor.

There are only five different variations in long blocks. If timing isn’t furnished, and one isn’t concerned about the bearing difference being correct, the first two applications can be combined if carbureted. The turbo motor isn’t that common, however. If one is needed, the head can be nearly impossible to find.

The 1985-’94 non-turbo engine should be the most popular application for several years to come. It covers almost a full 10 years, something almost unheard of even for domestic applications.

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  • Jerm

    So the 3SFE and the 5SFE should use the same gasket set?

  • DMinick

    Due to bore difference, most likely the head gasket itself is different. But like small block Chevy’s other ancillary gaskets should interchange for the most part.