Toyota 1ZR Tuning

"All you need to know about performance parts and tuning the Toyota 1ZR engine!"

We shall provide a guide to 1ZR tuning and provide tips on the optimum upgrades. Toyota 1ZR engine are popular tuning projects and with a few sensible modifications like a remap, increase displacement and camshafts you will substantially enhance your driving pleasure.

The 1ZR shares much with it's larger capacity brother the 2ZR, so swapping pistons and even heads is an option giving some fairly easy power upgrades.

The 1ZR is not going to give massive gains when tuned being a naturally aspirated engine designed for economy and reliability, but let's look at what mods are possible and which ones are most likely to give you the biggest gains for your money.

Please pass on your tips and the upgrades you've found work for your 1ZR in our comments below so we can share these with our readers.

History, Power & Specs of the 1ZR Engine

1ZR-FE

DOHC, 16-valve, 1.6 L  dual VVT-i. 122 hp (91 kW) at 6400 rpm and 113 lbft (153 Nm).

  • Toyota Auris (ZRE151) (Europe only)
  • Toyota Corolla (ZRE140, ZRE151) (Europe, Middle East)
  • Toyota Corolla Altis (ZRE141) (Facelift; Asia only)
  • Toyota Vios (China)

1ZR-FAE

DOHC, 16-valve, 1.6 L Dual VVT-i and Valvematic. 132 hp (98 kW) at 6400 rpm and 118 lbft (160 Nm) of torque at 4400 rpm

Applications

1ZR-FBE

Flex fuel DOHC, 16-valve, 1.6 L Dual VVT-i and Valvematic 125 hp (93 kW) at 6000 rpm and 116 lbft (157 Nm) of torque at 5200 rpm.

Applications

  • Toyota Corolla (ZRE170) (Southeast Asia only)
  • Toyota Corolla Altis (E210) 2019-current (Southeast Asia only)

Tuning the Toyota 1ZR and best 1ZR performance parts.

Best 1ZR mods

When talking about the best best for your 1ZR engine, we are going to focus on the ones that give the best power gain for you spend.

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Best Engine Mods for your 1ZR

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are the options for the 1ZR - expect up to 10% more power.
  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. Stroker kits - there is no replacement for displacement and many 2ZR parts will fit the 1ZR block (Pistons/heads for example).
  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.

1ZR Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, drilled & smoothed airbox, Sports exhaust header/manifold, Panel air filters, Intake manifolds.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Fast road cam, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, induction kit, high flow fuel injectors, fuel pump upgrades, Ported and polished head.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Twin charging conversions, Competition cam, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbos & superchargers), Engine balancing & blueprinting.

1ZR Performance Camshafts

The camshaft profile plays a big part in the engines power output so camshaft upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake & exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen camshaft profile, so large bhp gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

Fast road camshafts usually boost the torque through the rev range, you could sacrifice a little bottom end power but high end rpm power will be higher.

Motorsport and race camshafts, boost the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

A Race camshaft won't do well if on the daily commute, because the lumpy idle will make the car prone to stall and smooth driving at low rpm becomes impossible. If you are developing a track car this doesn't matter as you are in the high end of your RPM range anyway and that is where you want the power to be.

You should ideally match your engines power to your typical driving style so for a car driven daily stick with a shorter duration 1ZR camshaft

Different 1ZR engines respond better to mild cam durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The engine timing and fuel pump and injectors also have a large bearing on the bhp gains you'll hit.

Longer valve durations can alter the bhp band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

Carefully think through your options and then find your tuning mods and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

1ZR ECU Tuning

ECU mapping will help fully realize the full potential of all the upgrades you've fitted to your 1ZR.

(In some cases, as with many Toyotas, the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

It will usually give you around 10% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but your mileage usually rely on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

1ZR Intake mods

Feeding fuel and air into each cylinder is vital to any engine modification job.

Intake manifold take the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be sucked into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

The size of bore and shape and flow rate of the Intake manifold can make a noticeable effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the 1ZR.

We often see intake manifold are begging for a performance upgrade, although some makers provide well optimised intake manifold.

Fitting big valve kits, doing some port matching and head flowing will also increase performance, & more importantly will allow you to get increasing the performance increase on other upgrades.

1ZR Turbo upgrades

NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your 1ZR

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes major power gains.

However every engine will have power limits so discover these restrictions and upgrade to better quality components to survive the power.

There are many guys spending a a stack of money on turbocharger upgrades on the 1ZR only to suffer the humiliation of seeing the car throw a rod soon after it's completed.

Larger upgraded turbo chargers often suffer low end lag, and little turbo chargers spool up much more quickly but do not have the peak rpm power band gains.

In recent times the market of turbos is always moving on and we now see variable vane turbos, allowing the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbos divert the exhaust flow into 2 channels and push these at differently profiled vanes in the turbo charger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is not unusual that there is a limitation in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the 1ZR when loads more air is being fed into the engine.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger like they did on the Lotus version of the ZR, or adding a turbo will make large performance gains, although more challenging to install. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

1ZR Fuelling Mods

Don't dismiss the need increase the fuel delivery when you are increasing the bhp and torque - it makes the car more thirsty.

Don't forget to over specify your injector capacity.

As a rule of thumb add another 20% when fitting an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and gives some spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

  • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

  • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp

1ZR Exhaust Upgrades

Only look to increase your exhaust if your exhaust is actually creating a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the exhaust flow rate is still ok even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Do not go with the largest exhaust you can source this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Typically exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalysts installed, so adding a better flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the 1ZR

The 1ZR engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

Regular oil changes are vital on the 1ZR, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine. High oil consumption is an issue on higher mileage engines, always use the correct grade of oil or you will be asking for trouble.

Water pump leaks although uncommon do happen and high engine temps are generally down to a faulty or worn water pump, these typically last around 4 years and should be replaced.

The throttle body will get dirty and throttle position sensors are known to fail, these typically manifest themselves as a rough idle.

The timing chain tensioner can rattle and knock which is a sign it needs replacing.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your 1ZR engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our 1ZR owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which parts work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these 1ZR tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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