Toyota 2AR-FE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Toyota 2AR-FE engine!"

A site visitor asked for more information on the 2AR-FE and how to tune it up and modify it, so this page has been assembled to cover the primary areas we rate and are the best upgrades you can do to this engine.

Now we shall look into 2AR-FE tuning and report on the ultimate modifications for your car. Toyota 2AR-FE makes a good tuning project and with carefully chosen sports parts like remapping, turbo improvements and camshafts you will definitely maximize your driving enjoyment.

In 2008, the 2AR-FE debuted. The 2.4-liter 2AZ engine was retired in favor of this one. Liners can't be swapped out for another set. The crankshaft has been shifted to the exhaust side by 1cm within the block (so it's an offset crankshaft). In order to provide proper balance, the crankshaft has eight counterweights which are quite effective at making this block run very smoothly indeed.

History of the 2AR-FE Engine

An internal gear in the crankcase drives twin balancer shafts to decrease vibrations. In particular, the cylinder head has undergone a significant makeover.

Aluminum alloy is used to make the head, which is DOHC 16-valve offering strength and light weight characteristics.

Dual-VVTi, Toyota's name for hydraulic lifters and variable valve timing, is included. As an added bonus, the 2AR-FE is equipped with the following systems: DIS (Direct Ignition System), ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System), and ETCS-i (Electronic Throttle Control System-intelligent).

You'll find the 2AR FE in the following cars

  • There are 181 PS at 6000 rpm, and 233 Nm at 4000 rpm in the Toyota RAV4 (ASA33/38).
  • For the base and LE models of the Toyota Camry ASV40, the engine develops 171 PS (126kW;169 horsepower) at 6000 rpm and 226 Nm (167 lbft) of torque at 4100 rpm.
  • At 6000 rpm, Toyota Camry ASV40 (SE and global) produces 181 horsepower (133 kw; 179 hp), while the 233 Nm (172 lbft) of torque it produces at 4100 rpm.
  • In addition to the Flexifuel Version, the Toyota Camry ASV50 has 180 PS (132 kW; 178 horsepower), 233 Nm (172 lbft) at 4100 rpm (2AR-FBE)
  • Scions (AGT20) tC (AGT20) has 180 horsepower (130 kW) and 173 lb-ft (235 N-m).
  • Toyota Alphards (AH30)
  • The Lexus ES250 (XV60)

Tuning the Toyota 2AR-FE and best 2AR-FE performance parts.

Best 2AR-FE upgrades

When talking about the top modifications for your 2AR-FE engine, we are going to concentrate on the parts that provide the biggest return for your cash.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your 2AR-FE. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your 2AR-FE

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage compared to cost, aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are are often the best upgrade for an engine, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they are 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 it offers big 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.

2AR-FE Tuning Stages

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

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

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

2AR-FE Camshaft Upgrades

Performance camshafts come into their own at higher RPM power so are more suited to petrol engines, than diesel ones. Most cars will see peak power benefits through performance camshafts on most engines. So altering your 2AR-FE cam will make a difference to the engine torque. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the engines power accordingly.

Fast road cams commonly bump the performance throughout the rpm band, you might lose a little low down power but top end will be better.

Motorsport cams, bump the top end band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

On a road car you should ideally to optimize your power band to your driving style.

You will never think that a 2AR-FE Motorsport and race camshaft is a delight when on the daily commute.This is because the lumpy idle will make the car more likely 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.

Different 2AR-FE engines respond differently depending on how well made they are, when camshafts are fitted depending on the camshaft being more or less aggressive camshaft durations than others as unique due to manufacturing tolerances and quality variations so check your engine on a rolling road.

The map and fuelling and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the torque gains you'll get.

Longer valve durations can amend the torque range, and on most engines there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations and valve lift.

The 2AR-FE engine blocks make great tuning projects and thanks to their popularity there is an increase of parts and performance parts out there.

ECU Mapping Improvements for the 2AR-FE

ECU mapping will help unlock the full potential of all the modifications you've done to your 2AR-FE.

(Sometimes flashing the ECU is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and most of these exceed the specs and performance of your factory ECU's but check it has knock protection and that you get it correctly setup.)

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but your results usually depend much on the modifications you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Air Flow improvements on the 2AR-FE

It is the whole point of any engine performance tuning task to pull more fuel and air into the 2AR-FE engine

The intake manifolds flow rates are important because this channels the air from the filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and flow rate of the Intake manifold can make a noticeable effect on to fuel mixing and power on the 2AR-FE.

It's not uncommon that intake manifold are crying out for aftermarket parts, although a few manufacturers provide reasonably good intake manifold.

Larger 2AR-FE valves, doing some port work and head flowing will also raise performance, the fantastic side effect is it will make space for a better performance increase on other parts.

2AR-FE 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 2AR-FE

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

However most engines have weakspots. Discover these limits and fit higher quality components to handle the power.

We see many mechanics spending loads on turbo charger upgrades on the 2AR-FE only to experience the 2AR-FE explode when it's been completed.

Supercharger conversions seem to be the way to go on these, with modest boost levels and will see a bump in power to more reasonable levels without sacrificing reliability.

You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the 2AR-FE when considerably more air is being pulled into the engine.

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

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although harder to install. We have this feature on twinchargers if you want to read more.

2AR-FE Fuelling Upgrades

Don't overlook the need to uprate the fuel system when you are increasing the performance - it makes the car more thirsty. Performance fuel pressure regulators can can improve throttle response.It is important to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

The accepted safe increase is to add 20% to the flow rate when buying an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and allows a little 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.

2AR-FE Performance Exhausts

Only look to upgrade your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a restriction in flow.

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

Don't go with the biggest exhaust you can get you'll 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.

For road going cars mods such as a sports catalyst pretty much remove this restriction, mainly to it's larger size and surface area, and will effectively raise the performance to levels you would expect without having a catalyst installed.

This keeps the car road legal and will better flow due to it's higher internal surface area and design.

The alternative test pipe mod or cat removal should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars (and in some you can't even replace a working catalyst).

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the 2AR-FE

The 2AR-FE engines are pretty solid and give little trouble as long as they are well maintained.

There are very few reported problems and issues, with those that arise commonly caused by owners neglect rather than any pattern of weakness or design faults in the 2AR FE.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will reduce power and smooth running, this is a very common problem on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon By avoiding short journeys where the engine doesn't warm up and using good quality fuel you can reduce this risk.

Frequent oil changes are vital on the 2AR-FE, especially when tuned and will help ensure reliability of the engine.

If you want to learn more, or just get feedback on Tuning your 2AR-FE engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss 2AR-FE tuning options in more detail with our 2AR-FE owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Toyota tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

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

We love to know what our visitors have got up to and which parts work best for them on each model of car. We use your comments and feedback to improve the accuracy of these 2AR-FE tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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