Toyota 1UZFE Tuning

"Thanks for reading our Toyota 1UZFE tuning tips."

The 1UZFE is a 4.0 V8 engine from Toyota, build primarily from Aluminum and unusually for a V8 it sported a DOHC configuration.

Between 1990 and 1995 the 1UZFE had a cold start injector under the Plenum which kicks in at below zero temperatures.

The compression ratio of 10.0:1 256 hp; 260lbft

The 1UZFE is a solid well built engine, and there is plenty of tuning opportunities, with 10-40% extra power just asking to be released.

1995 revisions include a lighter pistons and con rods and higher compression ratio 10.4:1, raising power to 256hp 260lb ft of torque.

1997 saw the introduction of the VVTi valve timing system and another bump in compression ratio to 10.5:1 (The GS400 model saw power hit 300hp and 210 lbft thanks to a few tweaks.)

The 1UZ FE was shipped in quite a few popular car models from Toyota and Lexus, and has been tweaked and revised over the years.

Tuning the 1UZFE engine

We have seen projects hiking power on the NASP blocks to around 350bhp thanks to a fast road camshaft, intake and exhaust revisions, gas flowing and porting head work and then balancing and blueprinting the engine to raise the redline.

The firing order is 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 on these

Fast road cam profiles range from the mild 260/268 to the more extreme 298/298 and lift ranges from 9.35mm to 10.7mm

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    Best Engine Mods for your car

    1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
    2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
    3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
    4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
    5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

    Typical stage 1 mods often include: Panel air filter, Intake manifold, Sports exhaust, Lighter flywheel, Piggy back ECU.
    (10% more power approx)

  • Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector, Ported and polished head. Piggy back ECU.
    (This should give around 15% more power)
  • Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox. Piggy back ECU.
    (Power gains from 20-40% are achievable here)

Reprogramming the Toyota ECU's is not all that easy if not impossible. So you need to go the after market piggyback ECU route to get around this restriction.

There are quite a few available, here are the popular ones but we cannot vouch for them as we haven't formally tested or tried them.

  • Apexi AFC neo
  • Apexi SAFC II
  • Power Enterprise Camcon
  • Megasquirt  MS-I PCB2.2 or PCB3.0

Just ensure you get an aftermarket/piggyback ECU that supports good knock control, especially if going the forced induction route.

The early 1UZFE blocks with the lower compression really lend themselves to adding forced induction, they had stronger pistons. Just stick with a low boost, or remote turbo setup.

Maximum power gains come from a full induction kit with a cold air feed on heavily tuned engines, this can be sited within an air box but a panel filter should suffice for most applications. TorqueCars suggest you use a panel air filter as these are easy to clean and maintain and generally perform better than paper ones.

Sports exhausts can usually air flow from the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too big or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 2 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Head porting and polishing the head will allow you to maximise your air/fuel charge. Leave this to a professional though with a proper flow bench and machine tools

The best mods in our opinion for your 1UZFE are a remap, adding forced induction, a fast road camshaft and a sports exhaust, with a good air intake.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines do not achieve big power gains if you tune/remap them, unless you have done extensive modifications.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Superchargers are usually easier to add than turbos.

Turbos provide boost in exponential proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

The 1UZ FE is a solid well built engine, and there is plenty of tuning opportunities, to get a little more from this block.

We've also come across some owners toying with  twincharging conversions and making some impressively high power gains.

The nice steady boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them easier to map. Adding forced induction will often require a lower compression ratio or if you are adding forced induction, so you'll need a stroker kit, and lower compression pistons or explore water injection.

We think supercharger kits are a lot easier to setup on the 1UZFE rather than a turbocharger, but we've seen both achieved very well.

Expect to need to decrease the compression ratio if you are adding forced induction, so you'll need a stroker kit, and lower compression pistons.

The bottom end in the 1995 engines are prone to fail when hitting power regions of 400bhp, even the original blocks will struggle a little, so engine strengthening makes a lot of sense.

Problems with the 1UZFE engines

Valve adjustments required as part of the service.

Generally a very reliable engine, if serviced correctly.

Timing belt snapping can cause extensive damage on the VVTi engines

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One Response to “1UZFE Tuning”

  1. Mark LaFayette says:

    Really well-written and informative article. I’m looking for mods to my 98 GS 400 with the 1u. Mine has the smaller or weaker rods compared to pre-‘94 engines, are you saying if I intend to boost ( I prefer supercharged) then I have to replace my rods and pistons or just keep boost low on those engines and if I’m shooting for 450, I should be ok? How about the transmission and rear differential? How much horsepower can they handle? I love my car, it’s loaded with 83k original miles. It only books for about $5k! No way would I part with it for that or any amount. Thanks again, I’m happy I found this site.

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