Toyota 2UZ-FE Engine Problems & Reliability

The 3 Most Common Toyota 2UZ-FE Engine Problems

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The Toyota 2UZ-FE is a 4.7L V8 that made its debut in the 1998 Land Cruiser. The engine offers a solid balance of performance and reliability. Though, there is no perfect engine and no exceptions apply here. The 2UZ-FE is prone to its share of issues including the exhaust manifold, timing belt, and water pump.

Toyota 2UZ-FE Engine Problems

  • Exhaust manifold
  • Timing belt
  • Water pump

I break down the above common problems in greater depth for the remainder of this article; at the end I also discuss overall reliability of the Toyota 2UZ-FE engine. Though, it’s important to add a few quick notes before we move on. I am referring to these as the most common issues. It doesn’t mean they’re truly common in the sense they affect a large number of Toyota 4.7L engines. Rather, when problems occur these are a few of the most common areas.

As with many Toyota engines – the 2UZ-FE offers good reliability. A few of the things I am discussing probably aren’t even fair to call issues or failures. Regardless, all engines are prone to various problems, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything that can or may go wrong. With that out of the way let’s jump in and discuss the above Toyota 2UZ-FE engine problems.

Toyota 2UZ-FE Engine Problems & Reliability

1) Exhaust Manifold Cracking

Exhaust manifolds cracking might be the single most common issue with the 2UZ-FE engine. They may also be referred to as headers or exhaust headers. Toyota 2UZ-FE manifolds generally crack around the flange. The main cause of the design flaw is due to emissions regulations and having to move the cats closer to the manifold.

In the grand scheme, exhaust manifold problems are a pretty minor issue. Cracks usually result in a small exhaust leak and some ticking sounds. If the crack(s) grow too large then passing emissions may become an issue. Otherwise, 4.7 V8 manifolds cracking don’t pose any serious risks to further damage or issues with the engine.

Exhaust Manifold Symptoms

  • Ticking sounds
  • Raw exhaust smell from engine bay
  • Check engine light

A ticking sound is the most common symptom of exhaust manifold cracks on the 4.7L V8. It’s also usually the only symptom most will notice. However, you might also notice the 2UZ-FE engine bay smells like raw exhaust gas. If you’ve ever smelled a fully catless exhaust it would be a similar but less distinct smell.

If the exhaust leak is really bad it could trigger a check engine light and cause issues with emissions inspections. This is more common in cases where an exhaust manifold has been cracked for a while and it’s expanding.

Exhaust Manifold Replacement

There are a few potential options if your Toyota 2UZ-FE exhaust manifolds crack. Some try to look for inexpensive solutions like CRC exhaust cement (as seen in the below video). However, it’s likely those are short-term fixes since the exhaust manifold gets incredibly hot. Metals expand with heat and most sealants will likely fail over time.

Another option would be adding additional metal and welding the cracked areas. Otherwise, replacing the entire exhaust manifold is likely the best long-term fix. Costs can add up if you go this route, though. Aftermarket headers are also an option, and may even be cheaper than replacing the OE exhaust manifolds.

2) Timing Belt Issues

Timing belts aren’t really a true issue on the Toyota 2UZ-FE. There are no major design flaws that cause frequent timing belt problems. It’s just a normal wear and tear item that requires replacement at recommended intervals. The interval for the 4.7L V8 is about every 90,000 miles, however many last longer than that. Be cautious trying to stretch the life of the timing belt too far, though.

Toyota 2UZ-FE engines are interference engines. There is overlap in the area the piston and valves travel. If timing jumps too far or the belt snaps then valves can contact pistons. At the least that will likely result in bent valves for the Toyota 4.7 V8. In severe cases further damage can occur. Either way, it’s not really good news.

Again, this isn’t something we would consider a true problem. Stay on top of timing belt changes. When the service life is close to ending some occasional visual inspections can go a long way. It’s a minor standard maintenance item that can cause serious damage if something goes wrong.

2UZ-FE 4.7 Timing Belt Symptoms

  • Odd engine sounds
  • Misfires
  • Check engine light
  • Poor operation

Sometimes it’s hard to notice any symptoms at all before the 4.7L V8 timing belt fails. You might notice odd engine sounds like ticking or slapping if the belt develops some slack. However, that’s not always the case. Hence why occasional inspections can go a long way.

If the belt slips or snaps you’ll likely notice a lot of symptoms immediately after the failure. Misfires, check engine light, and poor overall engine operation are symptoms if the belt slips and cause timing to jump. If the belt completely fails…you’ll know right away.

Timing Belt Replacement

Timing belt replacement on the 2UZ-FE engine is a pretty simple and cheap repair. Most timing belt kits come with water pumps (which we’ll be discussing next). It’s always a good idea to replace the water pump along with the timing belt. These kits for the Toyota 2UZ FE run around $150-400.

It shouldn’t be more than a few hours of labor, but that can add another $200-400 onto the bill. Those confident in their DIY skills should find 4.7L V8 timing belt repairs to be pretty straight-forward.

3) Water Pump Failure

As with the timing belt – water pumps usually aren’t a common problem with the 2UZ-FE engine. Rather, it may be considered part of standard maintenance. Plenty of engines require water pump replacement at some point in their lives. The Toyota 4.7L V8 water pump is pretty cheap, and easy to change while the timing belt is replaced.

Anyway, it’s also not uncommon for the water pump to begin leaking coolant slowly. In cases of minor leaks it’s not really an urgent repair. Regardless, you’ll still want to replace the water pump sooner than later.

There is also the possibility of the water pump seizing, which can then cause problems with the Toyota 2UZ-FE timing belt. That’s part of the reason most recommend replacing the two items together. Again, water pumps aren’t a major concern on the 4.7L V8 Toyota engine. At the same time, problems may appear less common since many replace them preventatively alongside the belt.

Water Pump Symptoms

  • Visible leak
  • Coolant loss
  • Overheating

The most common problem with the water pumps is a simple leak. In this case you’ll likely notice a visible leak on the ground if parked for a while. Once the water pump fails the leak may become worse and coolant loss becomes noticeable. Lastly, overheating is possible if there isn’t proper coolant flow through the engine.

Water Pump Replacement

Water pumps are driven by the timing belt on the 2UZ engine. It’s in the same area, which is why they’re good items to replace together. A water pump alone is only about $100-200. Labor can be more expensive than the cost of the part.

We would hate to see or hear about cases where the belt is replaced and then you’re double paying for labor 10k miles later if the pump fails. In other words – if we didn’t already make it clear – just replace the pump and belt together.

2UZ-FE 4.7L V8 Reliability

Is the Toyota 2UZ-FE engine reliable? Yes, we believe the engine earns above average remarks for reliability. Given its use in trucks and SUV’s, Toyota built the 2UZ-FE to be a reliable and durable engine. The only issue we would call a true common problem is the exhaust manifold cracking. It’s not all on Toyota since the design was in part due to emissions standards.

However, there’s one big consideration for the 2UZ-FE engine. Many are close to 20 years old and even the newest examples are 10+ years old. As such, many 4.7L V8 engines from Toyota are probably getting up there in mileage. Age can also be just as hard on an engine. Point is – age and mileage are big factors when it comes to reliability.

Maintenance is also a big factor. Use quality oils, change fluids on time, and stay on top of other maintenance like timing belts. Do all of this and the Toyota 2UZ-FE engine offers excellent reliability. It’s common to see these engines make it to 250,000+ miles with very few or no major problems along the way. That’s some pretty good longevity.

Toyota 2UZ-FE Common Problems Summary

2UZ-FE 4.7 V8 engines made their debut in 1998 and lived on all the way through 2011. It’s a great engine that offers a respectable balance of performance, longevity, and reliability. Fuel economy definitely isn’t a strength of the Toyota V8, though. Additionally, no engine is perfect and that also applies here.

Exhaust manifolds cracking is the main issue with the Toyota 2UZ-FE. Look out for these problems to develop on most, but the earlier models seem more prone to the manifolds cracking. Otherwise, timing belt replacement is an important maintenance item since it’s an interference engine. Water pumps can develop leaks, too. It’s a simple item to replace alongside the timing belt.

All in all, the Toyota 2UZ-FE engine offers excellent reliability. It’s a strong design that’s built to last. Stay on top of maintenance and chances are the engine will reward you with a long, reliable, and enjoyable life.

What’s your experience with the 2UZ-FE engine? Drop a comment and let us know!

Check out our Toyota 5.7 V8 Common Problems Guide

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  1. I have the 06 Tundra D.C. 4X4, OWNED IT for close to 4 years now and it’s still tearing up the road at 200k. I’ve replaced small things but anal about high quality fluids in it, always recommend MANUFACTUR OIL FILTERS, and YOTA RAD FLUID.
    These engines are work horses and love em.

  2. The tank! 2004 Tundra 4.7, 125,000 miles 17 years old and runs like day one or better. Cold air modification, blue gas-93 oct 50/50, synthetic oil. Timing and pump at 96,000. Feels like it will go forever.

  3. I have an 05 tundra that when I’m in passing gear or (in a pull) it seems like there’s a slight miss or pulsating feel. Doesn’t do it in any other gear, and no check engine or any other lights are on. Anyone have any suggestions. My email is Thanks.

    1. Have you done the timing belt, could be a sign that catastophic failure is not far away. Could also be a CAS if this engine has one. Other possibilities are plugs, leads, filters, other timing parts (eg. distributor), restricted emmisions system, buggered injectors. Check if any or all of these suggestions apply to your engine. I have probably missed something of the top of my head, but this will give you a bit of a start. I have been working on cars (Holdens and Fords mainly) for 40 years in my backyard, not an expert, but will give anything a go.

    2. If you pull the plugs – check the coils – I had three that split open and the result was poor idle – passing gear was sluggish – had 250+ miles

      1. I am also having poor idling. When I hit the gas and let go it idles very poorly and then dies in the drive. I will be checking the coils and spark plugs as soon as I can. Thanks for the insight

  4. Have a 2004 Tundra 4.7l I’m at 267,458 mi ,always synthetic fluids and oil . Routine timing every 100k,spark plugs every 40k mi and has never had a major engine issue (knock on wood) still runs absolutely smooth ! Replaced some steering and suspension components but they’re normal wear items. I’m thinking this baby has 500k in it all day

  5. My 2007 Toyota Tundra 4.7 V-8 has a loud tapping type noise that seems to be coming from the front of the throttle body intake, center of the engine. Anybody have this noise before?

  6. My 2006 model 2uz-fe has covered 201573mile i believe its better for to change both timiqlng belt water pump even now the engine inlet manifold some cylinder seem cracked and check enginee light is showing and poor engine sound.though no leakage of water.

  7. So I have a 2003 SR5 Toyota forerunner V-8. The battery was very old and in need of replacement. But the new battery replaced it and started having a lot of issues with The idling. I am able to start the car put it in reverse and put it in drive. The moment I push on the gas pedal and let go RPMs drop to 500 RPMs or less and then turns off In the middle Drive. Check the alternator alternator is fine new battery so the battery is OK. Checked all fuses.

  8. Another issue I would add to the 4.7 liter is the starter. It’s not really a reliability issue it’s a design flaw in my book. Who would design an engine with the starter located under the intake manifold? Mine finally started giving me issues at 200k but the labor to replace the starter is rather $$$. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s one of the most reliable engines out there! I love my Lexus LX470. I think the reason the starter fails is also due to the heat in the center of the engine block. Just my 2 cents.

  9. My 2002 Sequoia is just a thousand miles shy of 300,000 and still runs great. Smooth idle, good performance and just around 15 mpg in town and 20 freeway in cruise.

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