Toyota 1ZZ-FE Engine Problems

The 3 Most Common Toyota 1ZZ-FE Engine Problems

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The Toyota 1ZZ-FE 1.8L engine was introduced in 1998 and remained through 2008. It’s a basic NA 1.8L inline-4 engine that’s in many different Toyota models. The engine offers 120-140 horsepower, so it’s certainly not an impressive performance engine. However, it does offer a good balance of reliability and efficiency. No engine is perfect, though, and there aren’t any exceptions here.

The 1ZZ engines are known to suffer from common problems including excessive oil consumption, timing chain oil leaks, and ECM issues. Some of these problems, namely the oil consumption one, can lead to some serious repairs. We’re going to dig deeper into each of these problems below and discuss overall 1ZZ engine reliability.

Toyota 1ZZ-FE Engine Problems

Common 1ZZ-FE Engine Problems

  • Oil Consumption
  • Timing chain tensioner oil leak
  • Engine control module (ECM)

One of the biggest pitfalls of this engine is that they do suffer from a fairly serious flaw with the oil consumption. We’ll discuss this in more depth below. However, outside of excessive oil consumption the 1ZZ is a reliable engine.

1) Oil Consumption Issues

Excess oil consumption is one of the more concerning problems with the 1ZZ-FE 1.8L engine. There are a few design flaws that combine to make oil consumption a serious issue. The main problem is the design of the pistons and piston rings. Toyota used a piston that’s too small and compensated by using larger rings. Over time, the piston rings wear down and begin allowing excess oil to pass by the rings.

Toyota did address these flaws and gave a 6 year, 100,000 mile warranty. They also fixed the issues on the 1ZZ engine in July 2005. As such, high oil consumption isn’t a common problem on 2006+ models. It can still happen, but it’s a lot less frequent and normally not due to the original design flaw.

In some cases high oil consumption doesn’t have any serious effects on reliability or longevity. If the rings wear down too much then cylinders start losing compression, which is a big issue. However, if oil consumption is the main problem then it’s simply important to keep an eye on oil levels. The 1.8L engine has a pretty small oil capacity and running it too low on oil can begin to cause extra wear.


  • 1+ quart of oil every 1,000 miles
  • Smoke from exhaust
  • Power loss
  • Poor engine operation

Excess oil consumption is generally anything over 1 quart per 1,000 miles. As oil blows-by the piston rings it’s burned off in the cylinders. This will typically produce white smoke from the exhaust if oil consumption is excessive. If these are the only symptoms then your 1ZZ-FE engine might still be OK for a while.

If you begin noticing power loss and/or poor overall operation then there may be a deeper issue. As piston rings wear the cylinder is no longer effectively sealed and compression is lost. This could be an indication it’s time to rebuild the 1.8L 1ZZ.

Oil Consumption Fix

Internal issues usually aren’t cheap to fix. Parts can be expensive and it takes a lot of time and labor to replace anything. However, it’s actually not horrible on the Toyota 1.8L 1ZZ FE engines. Rebuild kits can range from about $500-1000, but labor is the real killer. The good news about rebuild kits is they typically address and replace a lot of other components. This can help ensure a reliable engine for the long-term. If you’re having all of this work done at a repair shop it can quickly add up to $1,500+, though.

Another option is installing a used engine or finding a rebuilt/upgraded engine. Depending on the specific 1ZZ-FE engine this can run about $800-3,000 then add labor on top of that. This certainly isn’t a cheap option, especially on cars that are about 13-22 years old.

2) Timing Chain Tensioner Oil Leak

Next up is the timing chain tensioner, which is prone to leaking from the o-ring. It’s a pretty small issue in the grand-scheme, but something that’s become common with the age and mileage of most 1ZZ engines on the road today. Fortunately, the timing chain tensioner oil leak is a cheap part and pretty easy repair.

It can be easy to confuse timing chain tensioner and valve cover gasket oil leaks. The latter is also a common issue with the age of these engines today. Gaskets, seals, and o-rings naturally wear down with time and mileage. Over time, they start developing cracks and leaking oil.

Anyways, back to the issue at hand. You’ll want to take a look at the engine block where you’ll notice some oil sludge. You can get a peek at the valve cover in a few areas to see if there’s any noticeable leaks from there. Otherwise, there’s a good chance it’s actually the timing chain tensioner that is leaking oil.

Oil Leak Symptoms

  • Visible leak
  • Burning oil smells
  • Smoke from engine bay

Of course, symptoms from an oil leak may be pretty obvious to some. If there are drops of oil under the car after it’s been parked for a while that’s usually a dead give-away. Otherwise, an oil leak may drip onto hot components and burn off before it hits the ground. This will result in burning oil smells and possibly light smoke from the engine bay.

Visually inspect the engine bay and block to see if you can track down the source of the leak. Valve cover gaskets and timing chain tensioners are likely the two most common leaks on the 1ZZ FE.

Oil Leak Fix

The below video gives a good idea of the specific details about the 1ZZ timing chain tensioner oil leak. You can also find a video on the channel about the actual repair. O-rings come in at less than $10, but you might consider replacing the full unit. That adds a bit of cost for parts. However, most confident DIY’ers will be able to knock out this job in less than an hour or two. Expect about $50-150 in labor at a repair shop.

3) ECM Problems

We usually do our best to avoid talking about problems that were covered under a recall. However, there really aren’t too many other 1ZZ-FE engine problems to discuss. To diverge for a moment – we could sit here and discuss age related issues for a while. We just don’t think that’s totally fair since all 12+ year old engines are subject to standard wear and tear repairs.

Anyways, Toyota issued a recall for over 1 million 2005-2008 Corolla and Matrix models in the US and Canada. The Engine Control Module (ECM) is responsible for controlling the performance and operation of the engine. There are some defects that may cause a crack in the circuit board.

Since the ECM controls all sorts of engine operations it can be a serious problem. The engine might not start, could stall out, or simply perform poorly all around. As a recall, this shouldn’t be a concerning issue now days. Most 1ZZ FE 1.8L engines should have had this problem taken care of under the recall.

Toyota 1ZZ Reliability

Relative to other Toyota engines we believe the 1ZZ earns average remarks for reliability. It would be a great overall engine if it weren’t for the piston ring and oil consumption problems. As such, 2006+ engines are likely above average reliability-wise since the piston ring problems were fixed.

A lot of reliability simply comes down to how well you maintain the 1ZZ FE engine. With the oil consumption issues it’s important to check oil levels often and top off as necessary. Use quality fluids, change them on time, and fix problems if or when they occur.

It’s also important to note – not all pre-2006 engines suffer from oil consumption. There are plenty of these engines that make it to 150,000+ miles without any serious flaws or issues. Some of it just comes down to the luck of the draw.


The 1.8L 1ZZ engine from Toyota surely won’t impressive anyone with its power and performance. However, this engine was designed for use in basic point A to point B cars while delivering good reliability and fuel economy. It’s a solid engine that does its job pretty well but – as with all engines – it isn’t perfect.

Excessive oil consumption due to piston and piston ring design flaws is definitely the biggest concern. Fortunately, it was a big enough issue for Toyota to address with a longer warranty and updates.

Otherwise, these engines are only getting older so some standard wear and tear repairs will pop up from time to time. Oil leaks from the timing chain tensioner and valve cover gasket are fairly common with their age. Toyota did also recall some 05-08 models due to ECM issues. Most importantly – ensure you look for a clean engine and continue maintaining it well. With proper maintenance the 1ZZ-FE can deliver great reliability and a long life.

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    1. I love the engine but surprisely today after oil replacement it loose power and development hard star what could be the problem

  1. As stated, the 1ZZ engines CAN be reliable. I have one that is around 150k and never had any issues, save the AT shifter cable that just snapped. I know one that has almost 400k on it and never had any issues. It all comes down to engine, transmission & radiator changes. The more frequent the better. If you know an engine has the propensity to have immersion or consumption, changing the oil EVERY 3000 miles will prevent this in almost all cases. If the transmission is pan drained at least every 30-40k, you most likely will never have transmission issues.

  2. JD. I have a 2003 Corolla with 242,000 MI and no problems using amsoil with regular maintenance great engine hope to get many more miles out of it. I change the oil once a year and at 15,000 mile intervals or sooner. Replaced fuel injectors at 235,000 for the first time engine runs great and no oil consumption.12/31/2021

  3. We own two of these engines. First was purchased with 13,000 miles now has 85,000. The second was purchased with 100,000 now at 145,000. Not one day of trouble with either !

  4. My 1ZZFE motor of my German 2008 Avensis 1.8 is very reliable and economic. 145.000 km without any problems.

  5. Engine oil cut off after starting the car in one minute in 1zz engine what’s the problem I change oil pump and main bearing and oil filter

  6. We bought an 04 Pontiac Vibe new in 04. We presently have 315,000 miles with zero
    problems with the 1ZZ FE engine. It will use 1 quart of oil in 5000 miles. We expect to
    exceed 400,000 miles.

    1. Hi Simon,

      The third generation Toyota Caldina uses the 1.8L 1ZZ-FE engine which is commonly referred to as just the 1ZZ. The “FE” at the end of the 1ZZ-FE engine code simply means that it is a narrow DOHC engine with electronic fuel injection. With that being said, all of the information in this article applies to your car.


  7. I have a 2005 Corolla with an undetermined amount of miles on it. I daily drive it over 150 miles a day 5 days a week. The odometer stopped at 299999 almost 10 years ago. I would venture to guess I’ve exceeded 500,000 on the engine and transmission with zero work outside of maintenance like plugs and oil changes

  8. Have a toyota allion with 280,000km. Don’t have major issues with it. Consistent oil changes works

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