Toyota’s Legendary 2JZ-GTE Engine
Almost any car enthusiast in the world is familiar with – or has at least heard of – the legendary Toyota 2JZ-GTE engine. It was a special engine in stock form when Toyota first released the 2JZ in 1991. It’s a 3.0L DOHC twin turbo inline-6 engine that offers 320 horsepower straight from the factory. These were already impressive numbers for the 1990’s.
However, tuning potential is what makes the 2JZ-GTE one of the best tuners engines in history. The engine was insanely over-engineered and over-built for its stock output. That’s what we know the 2JZ engine for. One of the strongest, beefiest factory engines the world has seen. However, there’s a lot more to it which makes the Toyota 2JZ such a special engine. In this complete guide, we discuss 2JZ specs, tuning potential, reliability, and more.
2JZ Engine Specs
|Displacement||2997 cc (3.0L)|
|Compression||8.5 : 1|
|Bore x Stroke||86mm x 86mm|
|Block Material||Cast Iron|
|Valves||DOHC, 24 valves|
|Block Design||Cast Iron|
|Pistons||Cast, Oil Cooled|
In 1991, these were some pretty impressive specs. The 2JZ is a 3.0 liter inline-6 utilizing twin turbos to pump out 320 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers might sound average by modern performance engine standards. Though, back in the 1990’s those power numbers were tough to compete with. Plenty of larger, more expensive engines didn’t offer anywhere near that performance.
Then when you look at the rest of the Toyota 2JZ specs it’s clear this engine was built to tolerate some serious power and boost. This engine is all about strength. As a final note – the 2JZ-GTE is best known for its use in the Toyota Supra.
Toyota 2JZ-GTE Strength
A relatively low compression ratio of 8.5:1 helps the 2JZ-GTE handle big boost. The square cylinder design offers great balance between torque and top-end power. Toyota’s closed deck, iron block in the 2JZ is insanely strong. Pistons were cast rather than forged, but remain very strong and beefy. They were also fitted with oil spray nozzles for piston cooling. A beefy forged crank and rods finish off the list.
Point is – the Toyota 2JZ is clearly built for strength and durability. These are almost the exact specs you want to see on any high performance engine.
We’ll circle back to this topic a few times throughout the article. The specs on paper look excellent. However, we don’t need specs or paper to tell us this. What the 2JZ-GTE accomplishes in the real world is what makes it such a legend. We’ll circle back to the 2JZ’s strength throughout the article. For now, we just wanted to put the point across that it’s a very strong engine from top to bottom.
VVT-i Added In 1997
North American variants of the Toyota 2JZ engine did not receive this update. However, around September 1997 Toyota began producing new JDM 2JZ-GTE engines with VVT-i. Variable valve timing is common technology on modern engines and helps improve fuel economy and the power band.
It also helps improve the power band on the 2JZ, which makes the JDM VVT-i engine desirable to some. Although, they’re harder to come by and sourcing parts can become more challenging, too. Discussing the pros and cons of the VVT-i engine could be a post of its own. Ultimately, they’re nearly the same engines less the cams and VVT-i. It’s still an important consideration if you’re looking to source a 2JZ engine for sale.
Toyota 2JZ Engine Tuning Potential
Tuning and aftermarket potential is where the 2JZ really made a name for itself. There’s a lot that goes into tuning and building a Toyota 2JZ-GTE. This is another topic that could be a post of its own. We will definitely expand on this topic in the near future and link to it here. For now, we’ll give a relatively quick breakdown of tuning and aftermarket potential. With builds ranging from 400-1500+whp the options are nearly limitless.
Some builds are as simple as stock turbos with basic bolt-ons for 350-400whp. Others keep things “modest” on a stock, unopened motor and shoot for 600-800whp. True enthusiasts with a deep wallet even take the 2JZ engine to 1000-1500+whp. As an older tuners engine it has a lot of things going for it. At this point, pretty much all kinks and 2JZ problems are ironed out. Info exists all over the place. Tons of aftermarket solutions exist. It makes the 2JZ a truly exceptional engine for tuning and high horsepower.
Anyways, we’ll break this down into sections based on power goals. It’s not an exhaustive list, but we’ll discuss a few of the mods required for various power goals. Again, this is a topic we’ll expand on in the near future.
300-400whp on the Toyota 2JZ engine is a goal that’s easily obtainable on stock turbos. However, age is a big factor here. Chances are, most original turbos on the 2JZ-GTE engines probably don’t have much life left. You can find OE or OE-like solutions if you want to keep things this modest, or pray the original turbos hold up. Otherwise, the mod list for these power goals is pretty basic:
- Tune/boost controller
- Bolt-ons (DP’s/exhaust, intake, FMIC)
- Methanol Injection or E85 (optional)
A tune is the first key to unlocking additional power. That will push the 2JZ engine a decent bit over 300whp alone. Basic bolt-ons like downpipes, exhaust, intake, and FMIC will help boost the 2JZ-GTE to 350-400whp. To get a bit more you might consider running methanol injection, E85, or race gas. This will require proper tuning and E85 will also necessitate fueling upgrades.
In the 2JZ world, a tune and basic bolt-ons are known as Basic Performance Upgrades or BPU. Some other tuning crowds consider this full bolt-on or FBO.
Toyota 2JZ 400-600whp Goals
This is where the mod list starts to grow a little longer. However, it’s still a pretty short list for the kind of power we’re talking about. 600whp is well within the safe limits for the 2JZ block and rotating assembly. Nonetheless, as power increases it becomes more important to have a quality, dialed in setup with proper supporting mods and fueling. If you want to take a Toyota 2JZ Supra to 400-600whp a few of the mods you’ll need include:
- Basic Performance Upgrades (BPU)
- Methanol, E85, or race gas (optional)
- Upgraded turbo(s)
- Fueling mods (fuel pump & injectors)
The basic performance upgrades as discussed above are still the starting point. Quality fueling will make it a lot easier to reach these power goals. Options for 2JZ turbos are endless in this power range. You can opt for upgraded hybrid turbos, or convert to a single turbo. 2JZ-GTE hybrid twin turbos will help keep a little more low-end torque. However, a small single turbo will get the job done with very minimal turbo lag.
Lastly, 400+whp is starting to push past the limits of the stock fuel system. You’ll want to consider a fuel pump upgrade, such as a Walbro 255 pump. 560cc or higher injectors will also be necessary. Fortunately, these mods also allow you to run E85 which is awesome fueling to help the 2JZ make the power easily.
*Note – this applies to the coming sections as well. We’re only looking at the 2JZ engine itself here. However, as power goals increase non-engine mods become increasingly important. You’ll want to consider things like suspension, brakes, transmission, axles, etc.
2JZ 600-800whp Build
Alright. Now we’re getting into pretty expensive territory. The 2JZ internals are still pretty safe even at 700-800whp. It’s getting close to the safe limits for longevity, though. As such, some might find comfort in opting for internal upgrades to reduce the risk of damaging the OE motor. Anyways, some of the mods and upgrades to take the Toyota 2JZ engine to 600-800whp include:
- Methanol or E85 (highly recommended)
- Upgraded turbo(s)
- Fueling mods
- Valve springs
- Other head work
You’ll want at least the same mods from the previous section. However, E85 and/or methanol injection become more important and more beneficial. It will help reduce the chance of engine knocks thereby reducing the chance of blowing the 2JZ-GTE engine. You’ll need larger turbos and it’s probably about time to ditch the twin turbos and go for a single turbo 2JZ.
You will also want fueling mods, but it’s time for higher flowing options. Valve float becomes a concern at this power level, so some valve spring upgrades go a long way. Cams will also help. Consider other head work to help support more RPM’s and top-end power.
Toyota 2JZ 800+whp
We could go on for a while breaking it down every couple hundred horsepower. Instead let’s just discuss the basics of shooting for 800+whp as this is where it can start to quickly add up to a $30,000 to $50,000+ build. Some 2JZ engines do hold more than 800whp on stock internals, but longevity becomes a concern. A built motor is a good idea for making 800+whp in the long-run. Here’s a quick list of mods to consider:
- Extensive tuning
- Large single turbo
- Top-end fueling mods
- Built engine
- Head work
It’s not an exhaustive list by any means. However, you’ll want the best of the best when it comes to 2JZ basic performance upgrades. Large intercoolers and high flowing exhausts are important. You’ll need a moderate single turbo to hit 800whp and a massive turbo to shoot for 1000-1500+whp goals. High-quality fueling mods and E85 are a good idea at this kind of power.
A built engine is a good idea at 800+whp and basically mandatory for 1000+whp. The exact costs and build vary a lot based on goals, but it can easily add up to $10,000 or more. Head work will help make top-end power and allow the 2JZ to rev higher.
2JZ-GTE Tuning Summary
Of course, most of us probably think of the insane 1500whp builds when the Toyota Supra and 2JZ engine come to mind. However, there are tons of unique ways to build the 2JZ-GTE for anywhere from 300whp up to 1500+whp. It’s a great engine, but even the Toyota 2JZ has its limits. Anything over 800whp is starting to push those limits for the rotating assembly, and that’s where costs can quickly add up.
Again, we’ll cover all of the tuning and aftermarket stuff in a separate post. We hardly scratched the surface of this topic, but it was still a bit lengthy. Fortunately, the 2JZ is an older, highly proven engine with tons of info and aftermarket support floating around.
Toyota 2JZ Engine Problems & Reliability
This is yet another topic we’ll expand on in a separate post. However, in a complete guide it’s important to at least touch on this quickly. The 2JZ performance was special for its era, even in stock form. It goes from special to downright insane when it comes to aftermarket potential. There has to be a catch, right?
No – not really. This is what makes the 2JZ-GTE engine even more special than it already is. The Toyota 2JZ doesn’t really have any major flaws or kinks to work out. Of course, age might actually help with this. Any 2JZ reliability problems have proven aftermarket solutions by now. Nonetheless, the 2JZ-GTE is a highly reliable engine and that holds true with higher power too.
A few minor problems with the 2JZ engine include:
- Timing belt tensioner bracket
- Oil pump seal
- Stock turbos
- Crank pulley
2JZ-GTE Timing Belt Tensioner Issues
As with most of these issues the timing belt tensioner bracket is a pretty minor problem. Timing belt tensioner problems on the 2JZ become more common with added power and boost. Billet aftermarket options exist and if you’re in there working on upgrades anyways it’s a good one to knock out.
Toyota 2JZ Oil Pump Seal
Oil pump seals leaking is likely most an age related problem. Over time, seals and gaskets wear down and go bad. This is a fairly common issue on the 2JZ-GTE, especially as the engines continue aging. You’ll want to look out for other stuff like the main seals, valve cover gasket, etc.
It’s simply part of owning an older engine. Of course, it’s a very minor issue for those looking to mod and upgrade a 2JZ or Supra anyways. These are all cheap parts that require some labor. However, while you’re in there doing other work it’s good stuff to address.
Stock Turbo Failures
This is another age related problem. Turbo failures also may be due to years and years of tuning and abuse on the turbos. Nonetheless, the stock sequential turbo setup is known to have its problems. Once again, this is a non-issue for most as many people look for 2JZ engines to upgrade. A turbo upgrade is one of the major upgrades to push more power.
2JZ Crank Pulley Problems
Sticking with the trend, crank pulleys are a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme. The aluminum crank pulley doesn’t handle age and high RPM’s very well. Over time, the crank pulley is known to fail. Plenty of aftermarket options exist, so address the crank pulley with an upgrade while you’re in there.
Toyota 2JZ Engine Summary
There’s so much to cover when it comes to the legendary Toyota Supra and 2JZ-GTE engine. It’s an exciting engine to think and write about, so we could have certainly written thousands more words. Instead, we’ll expand on specific topics with in-depth guides in the near future.
Anyways, Toyota 2JZ engines came from the factory with one of the strongest bottom ends ever. Stock performance was already impressive for its era. Though, the beefy forged internals, cast iron closed deck block, and other specs are what make the 2JZ so good. It was truly over-built and so easy to tune and mod. The 2JZ also retains solid reliability even at 2x the stock horsepower.
All of these traits make the Toyota 2JZ-GTE engine one of the best the tuning world has even seen. Could you argue the 2JZ is over-rated to some extent? Sure. However, it’s hard to deny what this engine has accomplished. After all, it’s still a relevant engine 30 years later and it’s still running with the best of the best.
What are your thoughts on the Toyota 2JZ engine? Drop a comment and let us know!