Builds Corax's 1UZ VVTi swap

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Feb 12, 2009
After 12 years of running a 7MGE swap in my 1st gen 4runner, it's time for a change. The 7M is a great engine and has never let me down - not a single head gasket issue after putting ARP head bolts in it and has towed my trailer from coast to coast several times. But, it does lack a bit of giddy-up when towing my racecar or when flat-towing rally cars off stage. This swap has been done several times in different configurations, so this isn't anything new or ground-breaking, just a collection of what I find (hopefully) works.

tip of the hat to Cebby's thread

My 4runner originally had a 22RE in it, so here are some numbers to compare

22RE, 2.4L, 112 HP@4600, 142 lb·ft@3400, iron block/alum head, weighs ~320 lbs

7M-GE, 3.0L, 199 HP@6000, 188 lb·ft@3600, iron block/alum head, weighs ~460 lbs

1UZ non-VVTi (89-97), 256 HP@5400, 260 lb·ft@4400, alum block/alum heads, weighs ~360 lbs

1UZ VVTi (98-99), 300hp@6000, 310 lb·ft@4000, alum block/alum heads, weighs ~360 lbs

2UZ VVTi, 230-270HP@4800, 315 lb·ft@3400, iron block/alum heads, weighs ~540 lbs

3UZ VVTi, 300HP@5600, 325 lb·ft@3400, alum block/alum heads, weighs ~385 lbs

A lot of info on the engine can be found HERE or elsewhere in the Lextreme forums

This engine was voted to the Ward's 10 Best Engines list for 1998 through 2000 and is based on Toyota’s CART/IRL race engine.

I've been researching this swap for several months, and recently started collecting parts. the 1UZ never came with a manual trans behind it. Inchworm makes an adapter to bolt a gear drive transfer case to the back of the original auto trans (click link), but I wanted to keep the truck manual.

Manual trans adapters are available for a variety of different manufacturer transmissions. Since this is going into a Toyota, I only have to worry about deciding between the W or R series transmission. With correct differential gearing and sensible driving habits, the W trans should be able to hold 300hp somewhat reliably - keeping the W trans would make a non-VVTi swap easier. I plan on using the VVTi version of the 1UZ which will be right on the edge of reliability for the W trans, so I opted to use the R150f instead. This is the transmission found behind the V6 4runners and pickups and has been known to hold up to 400 ft/lbs of torque reliably. The transfer case is chain driven with a planetary reduction instead of the gear drive reduction unit behind the W trans - as long as you're not planning on severe duty/abuse, there is nothing wrong with the chain drive transfer case, besides, it's also geared lower (you can always get an adapter to mount the gear drive transfer behind the R trans if you want more low range gearing options).

Here are some more numbers:

Gear ratios: 1st - 2nd - 3rd - 4th - 5th - Rev

W56: 3.954:1 - 2.141:1 - 1.384:1 - 1.00:1 - 0.85:1 - 4.091:1

R150F: 3.830:1 - 2.062:1 - 1.436:1 - 1.00:1 - 0.838:1 - 4.22:1

Transfer case low range ratio:

Gear drive 21 spline RF1A: 2.28:1

Chain drive/planetary 23 spline VF1A : 2.57:1

There are 2 different adapter kits for the R150f -- pre- and post-'96. Pre-'96 the input shaft length is about 6.25" from the face of the input bearing retainer, after that it changed to about 7.5". The R150f used a cable driven speedometer up to '93ish, afterwards it changed to an electronic speedo (good to know if you plan on keeping the stock cluster). In '96 they also went to multi-cone synchros for 2nd and 3rd gears for better shifting, as well as a synchronized reverse gear to prevent grinding the idler gear when shifting to reverse.

There are adapter bell housings available to keep the clutch slave external, but I've heard they can be poor quality and require more work (for example, you have to mill the clutch slave boss to the height you want and then drill/tap the bolt holes, many of those kits include a flywheel but you need to cut the ring gear off the flexplate and weld it onto the supplied flywheel). Some kits also come with 3VZ or 3SGTE (MR2 turbo) flywheels which have had their bolt holes elongated to match the 1UZ bolt pattern - originally, I thought that was inviting balance problems, but then I realized that the flywheel is kept concentric with the crank via a centerbore, so shouldn't be an issue (though I think some of them may require you to use the thin flexplate spacer between the flywheel and crank).

Xcessive Manufacturing offers some products for the 1UZ swap, but nothing specifically for Toyota trucks

Northwest Toys has a number of products specifically for Toyota truck swaps

For the manual trans adapter, I'm planning on using the kit from 1UZ Swap Kit. It's a bit pricey (about as much as a JDM 1UZ complete), but comes with everything I should need - adapter plate, flywheel & flywheel bolts, hydraulic release bearing, hoses, pilot bearing. The 1uzfeswapkit flywheel allows the use of a clutch and pressure plate from either a '90 4runner or '94 Turbo MR2 (both use a 9.25" diameter clutch disc), so plenty of options are available. I think I'll be using a Spec Clutch Stage 2+ (rated to 450 ft/lbs) or Stage 3+ pressure plate and disc (rated to 500 ft/lbs), which will hopefully, keep nice street manners.

Here's the R150f I found on CL for $100. I bought it from a guy who does does a fair number of Toyota part-outs and offroad builds, he has a garage and a reputation to maintain, so I'm satisfied with a hand-shake guarantee that there's nothing wrong with it


after some time in the hot tank at work (the input shaft bearing retainer needs to be modified for the hydraulic clutch release bearing)


At one of the local PickNPull junkyards, I dropped the trans out of an LS400 so I could snag the bell housing. Many of the 1UZ's on ebay come with a transmission (which could be sold off if you only want it for the bell housing), but a few hundred can be saved buying the engine by itself. Note the “U1” cast into the bellhousing, supposedly, there is also a U2 cast but you are not likely to see it in this country – the U2 cast has a slightly different offset and may not work with existing manual trans adapters.

Back to the engine side of things, it seems the LS400 front sump oil pan is the preferred piece for IFS trucks and only requires shaving the steering stabilizer off of the drag link (already did that with my 7M swap). Engine mounts can be custom or bought - Northwest Toys offers a pre-made mount kit, I've also seen a mount on ebay - for the money, I'll make my own using the stock 22RE rubber mounts (can direct-swap/upgrade to GM polyurethane trans mounts in the future if I want). Supposedly the VVTi engine is a bit of an easier fit at the firewall due to redesigned valve covers, the non-VVTi engine driver side valve cover may interfere with the e-brake bracket (relocate to inside the cab? thought I read that somewhere).

The oil filter adapter from the LS400 will hit the power steering gear box, supposedly the SC400 oil filter adapter will not - both bolt to the block in the same manner and use a figure-8 o-ring to seal to the block

(SC400 on the left, LS400 on the right - neither are available to purchase new)


So I got this adapter instead. It uses -8AN JIC fittings, so I can make my own hoses with reusable hose ends and put the oil filter wherever I want (I will be doing the same with the PS pump hose)


The non-VVTi engine is supposed to be easier to wire, though I don’t put much stock in that assertion. Both use a kind of “modular” wiring where all but one or 2 of the ECU connectors are pre-wired to the engine. The remaining 2 connectors only need a few wires connected to run – things like auto trans control (integrated into the engine control module) and ABS can be ignored without detriment.

The biggest issue with the VVTi version lies with the immobilizer. All VVTi 1UZs have an immobilizer built into the ECU which disables the injectors if it doesn’t detect the correct key transponder code. The wiring for the immobilizer is easy though. Power (W wire), ground, (W-B wire) and 3 wires to the ECU.


The complication is from the fact that on Toy/Lex ECUs before ’03, if you lost all the keys, you could NOT program a new key to the ECU – you needed at least 1 “master” key to program new keys to the ECU, or you needed to buy a new ECU which was in a “virgin” unprogrammed state. There are a few work arounds. You can try to find an ECU which has had the immobilizer removed/hard-wired out of the equation similar to this. Another option is to directly connect to the IC900 EEPROM inside the ECU and play around with the hexadecimal code a bit – Instructable, as well as a good description of the immobilizer, are here. Luckily, we have a tool at work which can put the ECU into “virgin” or programmable mode. ’98 ECUs seem to be a bit less stable to this hack than ’99 ECUs, if given the choice, try to get a ’99 ECU. Even better, get the keys which are already matched to whatever ECU you buy and don’t worry about hacking into the EEPROM. It’ll be nice to have the peace of mind knowing the truck will be harder to steal after I get this all done.

I “borrowed” this pic from the Instructable linked above, it shows the parts of the immobilizer system. It took less than ½ hr in the junkyard to pull the antenna and immobilizer amplifier – any 98-05 immobilizer amplifier and antenna should operate the same (GS/LS/SC400, GS/SC300, etc)


The VVTi 1UZ also introduced multiplex communication – 2 communication wires used to link different modules instead of 1 wire for each sensor input or ECU output. This isn’t much of an issue, except that there is no way (that I can discern) to get the ECU to operate the stock 4runner Check Engine Light – you can however pull ECU data and codes from the OBDs connector, which I think is more useful. There is a TACH wire from the ECU which should operate the stock tachometer (might have to “correct” the signal so the tach is accurate by adjusting the dashpot on the cluster board, or adding a variable resistor - fix is already documented elsewhere on the the interwebs). Instrument cluster gauges will need to use the sensors which were on the original engine in the vehicle (in my case, 22RE water temp and oil pressure sensors)

There’s a theme going here - many things changed from ’97 to ’98 when VVTi was introduced. Another (minor) hurdle is the fuel system. The pre-98 1UZ used a return-style fuel system - pressurized hose from the fuel pump, pressure regulator on the engine fuel rail, return line to the tank to bleed off excess pressure. The VVTi uses a returnless system for improved evaporative emissions and to reduce fuel heating – the fuel pump & regulator are in-tank with only a single hose running up to the engine. An external fuel pressure regulator will fix that using the stock return line on the vehicle. I’ll also be installing a Denso 9500152 fuel pump to keep up with fuel demands – should be a direct fit replacement.

For the exhaust, I’ve read that the LS400 stock manifolds will NOT work, they stick out too far and hit the frame rails. Luckily, all the 1UZ, 2UZ, and 3UZ exhaust manifold bolt patterns are the same, so I got a pair of free/take-off “log style” manifolds at work. There are also a number of stainless manifolds on eBay which may or may-not fit (I’ve had decent luck with OBX manifolds in the past – decent welds and nice thick manifold flanges). This guy got a pair to work on an early 1UZ with just a bit of modification to clear the steering column shaft

A bit more progress and parts are starting to ship - next will be the adapter kit and the engine will be last (warranty is usually 30 days to 6 months, I want to have as much of that time with the engine running as possible). Big purchase this week was a Spec Clutch Stage 2+ kit. Their stage 1 clutch is rated for 350 ft/lbs and has been used with the non-VVTi 1UZ, but since the version engine I'm going for is rated 300 ft/lbs, I wanted a bit more margin - stage 2+ is rated for 450 ft/lbs and is supposed to maintain nice pedal engagement. (note: there are some bad reviews of Spec Clutches online from about 8 years ago, I haven't found any bad reviews more recent than that + several people recommended Spec based on personal experience)

One of the issues I noticed with the JDM VVTi engines is that they all seem to have used a hydraulic radiator fan. That is, there's a pump, separate from the power steering pump, which pressurizes fluid to run the radiator fan. The fan pump can't simply be removed because it's one of the timing cover pieces and is needed for routing the serpentine belt. Here it is (not my engine):


Hydraulic fan pump on the left, simple idler pulley on the right


Luckily, most of the US engines didn't have this so all I need was the simpler idler pulley which I got a junkyard using the interchange info below (it can also be purchased new, but I've NEVER seen one go bad yet)


I had a bit of insight the other day regarding the immobilizer. I was going to try to retrofit my old ignition lock cylinder with a "laser cut" key cylinder (I have several at work with plenty of tumblers to be able to rekey them - see how the key is "side-cut" in the pic below? that's a laser cut key). That way, I could put the immobilizer antenna around the ignition and use a regular laser cut immobilizer key - immobilizer triggering solved. BUT, I don't want to have to use a separate key for the doors and tailgate. So, I remembered that Lexus had a flat, credit card sized emergency key available for their first gen immobilizers ('98 till about '05 on most models w/ immobilizer, card needs to match the generation of the immobilize system) . My plan now is to have the immobilizer antenna somewhere in the truck with this flat key next to it - when I don't want the engine to be able to start, I just move the flat key or take it with. It could be as simple as having it on one side of the glovebox, or in the sunvisor, or wherever I want to mount the immobilizer antenna coil. I got a used key card on ebay for less than $20 ;)


I also started planning the electrical a bit more. This is the diagram for a US version '99 LS400, I'm not sure if the JDM harness and ECU pinouts will be similar or different - that basic architecture of the system should match even if the exact pins used does not (very WIDE pic, right click and "save as" or open in new tab if you want to zoom in for greater detail)


All that spaghetti should only require a few powers, grounds and relays to make it work. A single Bussmann fuse relay block should be just the ticket, I'll supply constant B+ and switched ignition to the relay block from the ignition switch and let it handle all the heavy lifting. There's a good tutorial on these marvelous, cheap, weatherproof pieces here: DIY Bussmann RTMR Fuse Block, Part 1 – Introduction | Bodenzord and Waytek has them for less that $30 (plus terminals and seals/plugs - IIRC, terminals are rated to 30 amps). This is the same fuse block I used in the Celica and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. I'll probably use one for the engine to keep the whole affair as plug-and-play as possible and use another to tidy up the mess of wiring which has accumulated over the 10+ years I've owned this truck. This is how the engine fuse box will be wired (view from back side). Note I'll be using an LS400 fuel pump resistor so the ECU can control high/low fuel pump speed (less electrical strain when high fuel output isn't required), but others have been fine just running the fuel pump at a constant 12V without the resistor.

This will certainly be a sexy swap. But, considering the cost and all the work ... why not just by a Tundra?
... why not just by a Tundra?

Heresy :)

I always like a good project, keeps me busy and sane.
Besides, it's already outfitted / set-up for Sweep duties and I really like pedaling this down gravel roads chasing rally cars.
I did the math, and doing all the work myself, the entire swap should be around $2,500 . . . about 5 or 6 car payments with no corresponding increase in insurance or unknowns about a new-to-me truck.


All looks good! We are in the process of putting the same in one of our race cars, but that will be a different animal (not too much left of the original 1UZ). We have 1 pre-VVTi and 2 VVTi motors. Our motors are getting Rods/Pistons/Cams/Dry Sump/Turbo. So if you need some odd part it might be in a trash pile in my shop.

The motors are for this car:
Frank833, very nice. Superlite LeMans?
My next project after the truck will be putting my 2GRFE in my AW11 chassis, stripping it to the bare unibody, building a cage to tie in all the suspension points, and setting a fiberglass Stratos body I have on top of it all. Yes, it'll still be an MR2 chassis at the core of it, but there are a few other changes I have planned to make it much better :)

So if you need some odd part it might be in a trash pile in my shop.

Thanks for the offer - if I lived in the same corner of the country, I might take you up on that and haul away the trash pile for you . . . you know, "just in case"
It's a Superlite Coupe (LeMans is topless).

We also have a 2GRFE. Ours is in a Lotus Evora. It's pushing 500+hp with only Pistons, Rod Bolts, Turbo, Piggyback on E85...
Any updates on this swap. I pLan to do one myself this winter.
I'm hoping to get it done in the next 2-3 months - life kinda happened and this got put on the back burner.
I have everything I need except the engine (waiting until I know I can get it done to order the engine so it's still under warranty when I fire it off)

One thing I noticed is that the JDM engines all seem to have the harness coming off the left rear of the engine. US market engines had the harness coming off the right rear of the engine before it went through the firewall to the ECU inside the truck. I don't think there's enough room on the left side of the dash for the ECU. So this was a bit of a conundrum (harness not long enough to route into the passenger side), until I realized the GS400 has the ECU in the engine bay on the driver side housed in a baffled plastic enclosure. So, I'll be putting the ECU in the engine bay. Pics when I get there . . .
finally starting to move on this again. I just purchased the engine, and hopefully, I'll get it running and road worthy within the 30 day warranty the engine comes with.
Almost all JDM engine dealers offer a 30 day warranty, some give 60 days, very few offer 90 days. After looking at engines on eBay for the last few weeks, I settled on an engine from JDM Alliance out of Texas - they have a lot of reviews and most of them are positive. There will always be a few unsatisfied people, it's inevitable. These are basically junkyard engines after all which have been shipped halfway around the world stacked 3 or 4 high with cardboard separating the layers. Here's how they're often packed inside the container - a layer of parts, whatever they have on hand is tossed on top before adding another layer

One thing I've realized while looking at a lot of engines is that the 1UZFE w/ VVTi came in 2 versions in Japan. I believe the 1st, which is the one of the left, was offered from 98-2000 (note the larger ignition coils, these rarely go bad). In 2001, the US got the 3UZ with a displacement bump to 4.3L. The 1UZ was still offered in Japan until 2003ish, but with the updated ignition coils that the 3UZ in the US used. The coils are not interchangeable, and I would almost guarantee that the ECU pinout is different. Since it's REALLY hard to find Japanese spec wiring diagrams, I spent a bit of extra time looking for one which I could use a USDM spec ECU with (which will also allow me to use the Torque app to see sensor data).

There's also 2 other differences with JDM 1UZs. In the US, the harness comes off the back right side of the engine in the LS400 and SC400 models, through the firewall on the same side, and the ECU is mounted inside the vehicle. In Japan, since the steering wheel is on the wrong side, and there's usually no room on the "driver side", the harness comes off the left side of the engine before going through the firewall. On the GS400 (USDM and JDM), the harness comes off the front left of the engine, and the ECU mounts in a special box in the engine bay. I wasn't sure if I'd have room in the engine bay for an ECU, so I bought a 1UZ with the harness coming off the back. If I HAVE to, I might get a USDM harness, but I think the harness may reach to put the ECU inside on the passenger side (or I may have to extend the wires). Or, I could still mount it in the engine bay if I have to (inside a proper enclosure to keep dirt and water out), but I'd have some extra harness to deal with if I go that route.

That's about it for now. Engine should be here in 5 working days. I need to make sure the exhaust manifolds I have (from a GX470) will bolt up, and I'm going to pull the intake to "fix" the starter mounting down in the valley of the engine
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My engine was delivered on Wednesday, so now the fun begins prepping it for install in 2 weeks
If you look really close, it's the same exact engine in the pic from post #8 above. That was just a random pic on eBay that I stole almost a year ago, and it ended up being the same exact engine I ordered.

first order of business was to unbolt the big heavy cast iron manifolds and bolt on the GX470 log style manifolds I saved for this project (note, the cats were cut off for clearance, the exhaust will have a bigger cat after the spot where the 2 sides merge). These tuck in really close to the engine and are required for steering gear box clearance on the driver side - not the best design, but it will suffice

next up was a starter motor mod to making servicing easier if I ever have to replace it. In stock configuration, the starter bolts in from the back side of the block. If I have the engine tucked as close to the firewall as possible, that makes removing the bolts very difficult, if not impossible. So the fix is to tap the holes for M10x1.25 helicoils - no need to drill the holes in the block, they are already the perfect size. In the pic, the left side hole is already heli-coiled.

run 2 M10x1.25 x 45mm long bolts in from the back side. You can also see my shiny new flywheel. The 1UZ was never offered with a manual trans, so this is from a 3VZE engine with slightly elongated bolt holes. The center bore is a very tight fit on the snout at the end of the crank, so I have no worries about it being concentric.

note the slot I cut in the end of the bolt (painted yellow) - if the bolts do have to be removed, just break them loose with a wrench and use a screw driver from the front side to thread them out towards the rear of the truck. The holes in the starter motor were drilled just big enough to remove the threads.

see the way the harness is routed in on the right side in the pic above? this meant I had to use a plain crows foot to tighten the stud/bolt under the harness. Kind of a pain, but hopefully not as bad as having to remove the bolts from between the engine and the firewall

I got the engine side of the engine mounts made. These were cut and drilled out of 1/4" plate to reduce warpage when I weld on the part which goes down to the rubber mounts, otherwise, 1/8" probably would have sufficed. I also got a start on making the brackets to relocate the power steering pump to the driver side - pics of those when I get them done.
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Curious about relocating the ps pump...

It's not that the power steering pump hits anything in the stock 1UZ location on the passenger side, it's more that I just bought a new PS high pressure line and would like to keep the stock 4runner PS pump. I've heard a 3VZ PS high pressure line will work to let someone use the stock 1UZ pump, the 3VZ pump is on the passenger side also, but it would have to be a line which doesn't go to the ABS unit - '89-'90 should be OK (?). IIRC, the 1UZ pump is 1,200psi, and the original 22RE pump is 1,100 psi - so not much difference anyway. The 1UZ uses a splined PS pulley, the 22RE uses a pulley with a keyway. I snagged a PS pulley ('94-2010, p/n 44311-50030) from a junkyard and had the center bore machined to .710" to fit the stock 22RE pump shaft, just need to hand file for the keyway. So far, I'm mostly done on the idler bracket for the passenger side above the alternator so I can keep the auto-tensioner - it'll make better sense once I get more done and take a few pics . . . or, I'll just scrap that idea if it doesn't work, put the 1UZ pump back on, and be done with it :)
Keith, have you ever looked into using parts from a 2uz. The bellhousing looks like it bolts up and the oil filter housing from a early sequoia looks like a sc400. I know you already have your parts I was just wondering if you looked into these options.
have you ever looked into using parts from a 2uz

from what I understand, A LOT of parts can be interchanged from 1UZ, 2UZ, and 3UZ. all the exhaust manifolds bolt up (I'm using a GX470 2UZ log style manifold). oil filter adapters all bolt on the same. I think bell housing bolt pattern is the same. I think some of the intake manifolds may not be swapable because they bolt on differently . . . not 100% sure on that.
A good place to look into specifics would be - lots of info on that site
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PS pump relocation.
To keep the auto tensioner, I needed an idler where the PS pump used to be on the right side of the engine, so I made this bracket. The idler is the same part as the upper idler pulley


on the left side, for the PS pump. I used a stock 1UZ pulley and had it bored to .710" to work with the 4runner PS pump (keyway was hand filed in 5 minutes). I should be able to use the stock 4runner PS lines with this setup.

the air control valve which raises the idle slightly when the pump is building pressure was eliminated. There just wasn't enough room if I wanted to keep the pump as close to the engine as possible + I've read online where many people have eliminated leaking ones with no bad side effects.

you can see why the extra idler pulley was required to clear the tensioner

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