Toyota 3ZR Tuning

"All you need to know about performance tuning the Toyota 3ZR engine!"

The Toyota 3ZR make awesome project engines and with a few sensible tuning modifications like a remap, turbo kits and camshafts you will dramatically increase your driving opportunities.

TorqueCars will review 3ZR tuning and point out the premier modifications.

History, Power & Specs of the Engine

3ZR-FE

2.0 L DOHC, 16-valve Dual VVT-i. 141-151 hp; 105 kW) at 5600 rpm 143-149 lbft @ 4000rpm

  • 2007 Toyota Voxy (ZRR70/75)
  • 2007 Toyota Noah (ZRR70/75)
  • Toyota Avensis (ZRT272) (ex. Europe)
  • 2009 Toyota Corolla Altis (ZRE143) (Asia-Pacific ex. Japan)
  • 2010 Toyota Corolla XEi (E150) (Brazil)
  • 2013 Toyota RAV4 (ZSA42L/44L)

3ZR-FAE

2.0 L DOHC, 16-valve Valvematic variable lift intake system  144 bhp (107 kW) & 138 lbft (187 Nm) of torque

  • Toyota Allion (ZRT261)
  • Toyota Premio (ZRT261)
  • Toyota RAV4 (ZSA30/35) (Europe and Central America)
  • Toyota Avensis (ZRT272)
  • Toyota Wish (ZGE21/22)
  • Toyota Voxy (ZRR70/75)
  • Toyota C-HR (2404/06) (US and Canada only)
  • Toyota Harrier (Japan)

3ZR-FBE

Flex fuel engine DOHC used in the Corolla in Brazil

  • Toyota Corolla (Brazil, 2010-2019)

Tuning the Toyota 3ZR and best 3ZR performance parts.

Best 3ZR upgrades

Just because particular tuning mods are are common on 3ZR it doesn't mean it is good, we will focus tuning mods that will give your 3ZR the best power gain for you money.

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

Fast road camshafts usually increase the bhp and torque over the rpm band, you could drop a little low end torque but higher rpm power will be better.

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

A Motorsport and race camshaft is not great in heavy traffic.

You should ideally optimize your bhp range to your usage of the car so for a road car stick with a mild fast road 3ZR camshaft

Some 3ZR engines respond better to different cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The map and fuelling also have an effect on the power gains you'll achieve.

A longer valve duration can alter the power 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.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

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: Intake manifolds, drilled & smoothed airbox, Sports exhaust manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters.

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

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

Plan your options and then find your upgrades and set yourself a power target to save yourself from expensive mistakes.

Remaps helps unlock the full potential of all the parts you've fitted to your 3ZR.

(In some cases, as 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 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but the outcome may vary depending on the parts you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

It is the main goal to any engine modification project to pull fuel and air into each cylinder

Intake manifold flow the air from the air filter and allow it to be pulled into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Shape and flow rate of the Intake manifold can make a big effect on to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the 3ZR.

Most air intake manifolds are ripe for performance upgrades, although some makers provide reasonably well designed air intake manifolds.

Big valve conversions on the 3ZR, carrying out 3ZR port enlargement and head flowing will also increase bhp and torque, this will allow you to get an improved bhp and torque increase on other tuning mods.

Turbo upgrades

NASP 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 3ZR

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.

There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some only able to handle stock power

We recommend you find these limits and upgrade to forged components to utilize the power.

There are many people spending a loads on turbo upgrades on the 3ZR only to suffer the indignity of watching the engine explode just after it's used in anger.

Bigger turbochargers often suffer no power at low rpm, and little turbochargers spool up more quickly but don't have the top end engines power gains.

Thanks to progress the world of turbo chargers is always increasing and we commonly find variable vane turbo chargers, where the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

Twin scroll turbo chargers divert the exhaust gases into a couple of channels and flow these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is not unusual that there is a limit in the air flow sensor MAF/MAP on the 3ZR when considerably more air is being sucked into the engine.

We note 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited power 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 bhp and torque gains, although more complex to configure. We have this guide to twinchargers if you want to read more.

Fuelling

When you boost the bhp you will need to uprate to the fuel system.

More bhp needs more fuel. It is important to be generous with your injector capacity.

As a rule of thumb add another 20% when fitting an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and gives some spare capacity should the engine need 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 NASP 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

Exhaust

You should look to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is actually creating a restriction.

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

Sports exhausts increase the flow of gases through the engine.

But if the exhaust pipe is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of the exhaust flow rate and end up losing power and torque.

Common exhaust restrictions are in the catalysts installed, so adding a higher flowing high performance aftermarket one will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal decat, will keep the car road legal.

Weak spots Issues & problem areas on the 3ZR

The 3ZR 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.

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.

Regular oil changes are vital on the 3ZR, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

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

High oil consumption is an issue on higher mileage engines, always use the correct grade of oil or you will be asking for trouble.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your 3ZR engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our 3ZR 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 hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which 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 3ZR articles which are continually updated.

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One Response to “3ZR Tuning”

  1. Trd02gs says:

    How to unlock the speedlimiter of 3ZR-FAE (PREMIO JDM)

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