Toyota 1ZZ FE Tuning

"Thanks for reading my Toyota 1ZZ FE tuning article."

The 1ZZ FE 1,794 cc engine from Toyota released in 1998 and ran to 2007.

From 2000 the engine came with VVT-i which lifted power and improved the throttle response.

The engine put out between 120-140 hp depending on whether it had the VVTi and higher compression design.

Tuning modifications.

These are the motorsport modifications are usually fitted by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you begin.

Getting the correct grade of tuning modifications for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport parts just don't work well on the road making the car difficult to drive.

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    Best Engine Mods for your car

    1. Mapping - 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.
    (7% 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 12% 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 20-30% are achievable here)

You really need to keep as much low end torque as you can and aim to achieve a wide power band rather than a narrow top end power hike.

In this article we shall give an overview and introduction to the best performance parts for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance part.

A fast road cam often proves to be one of the best NASP power mods you can do with a single part fitted to your engine.

The exhaust & intake flow play a large part in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car difficult to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a performance chip to fully realise your gains.

Don't forget to look at the fuelling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty.

If you find you get flat spots and power surges after your uprated kits you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. Upgrading the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel.

A fuel pump will only deliver a finite amount of fuel, so you may need to uprate this if your injectors are demanding more fuel.

Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine. Air induction kits will only help to add power if your cars air intake is struggling! Adding an induction kit to most standard engines will see ZERO LOW END POWER GAIN AT ALL.

If you have heavily modified your engine and it's need for air INCREASES DRAMATICALLY then an induction kit is the answer and will help remove this restriction.

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 performance 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.

Do not go with the widest exhaust you can find this will reduce 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.

Getting a professionally polished and ported head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. A good triple plate fast road uprated clutch will help to keep that power going where it should. Never make false economies or think that a standard clutch to cope. The best mods we would do for your 1ZZ FE are remaps, sports camshafts and induction improvements.

Remaps offer big power gains usually but 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.

Adding forced induction will see phenomenal power gains but this is usually too expensive to be cost effective. It is often simpler to bolt on a supercharger than it is to fit a working turbo. With a turbo the power curve is related exponentially to the engine speed making it harder to map.

Superchargers will give a boost which is directly proportional to engine speed so is easier to map. Adding forced induction will often require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

Problems with the 1ZZ FE engine

A recall for 2005-2008 Corolla and Matrix fitted with these were recalled to fix an issue with the ECU.

The rear engine mount needs replacement due to the vibrations from this engine.

High oil consumption was a problem on the pre 2005 models thanks to the wear on the cast iron engine liners.

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5 Responses to “1ZZ FE Tuning”

  1. Izzy says:

    Hi, i just upgraded to a 1zz from a 4zz and have a GAN tuning chip (piggyback ECU). was i required to remap the ECU before adding the chip? my car has this power slump whenever i open the throttle as if its suffocating. any way around this? everything else is standard and planning on getting camshafts upgraded too. your feedback would be greatly appreciated. when we reset the ECU, it drives like a racecar until it stabilises and drives slowly again.

  2. TorqueCars says:

    You’d need to get the car on the dyno or use the diagnostics port on a run and pull off some data, and see why the power dip is happening, it could be too much fuel, where it needs more air, or it could be getting too much air, running lean and cutting back and you’d need to add more fuel. You didn’t specify if you were using the 1zz ECU or you were running a 4ZZ ECU, the 4th gen engines were quite different to the 1st gen, as it runs fine initially i’d suspect that the piggy back is not quite setup right. This is really a question for our forum members to mull over.

  3. marc says:

    Hi, I have a 2003 1zz with a piggyback obd2 plug adaptor and my question is about removing my catalytic converter. Will I have gain or only trouble with my injection or something else. What will be the gain? Thanks

  4. TorqueCars says:

    Why not fit a freer flowing sports cat? You’ll only see around 4-5bhp in either case, so I think your money is better spent on other mods. In some countries it is illegal to remove the cats so you’ll end up with an off road only car in some areas.

  5. Herms says:

    Hi I have a 2005 Toyota Corolla 1zz engine just want to know I have to change the pistons rings and bearings . Does it take oversized to standard pistons

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