Tuning the Toyota 2ZZ

"Comprehensive guide to performance tuning the Toyota 2ZZ engine!"

We shall review 2ZZ tuning and provide tips on the ultimate mods that work. Toyota 2ZZ are awesome to work on and with carefully picked parts like a remap, turbo kits and camshafts you will positively enhance your driving fun.

The top 2ZZ parts on an engine are typically the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular 2ZZ parts, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the 2ZZ can be made from camshaft upgrades. Altering the camshaft profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the bhp and power output.

NB: Fast road camshafts normally increase the bhp and torque throughout the rpm band, you may sacrifice a little low down power but the top end will be lifted.

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

In a road car should ideally to optimize your power band to your driving style.

I'd be amazed if you find a 2ZZ Motorsport and race camshaft is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic.

Different 2ZZ engines respond better to extreme cam durations check your engine on a rolling road.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also have a large bearing on the power gains you'll get.

Altering valve durations 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.

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Guide to the best 2ZZ tuning mods & Upgrades

  1. ECU Map Tuning & Remaps

    Some cars may require a piggyback ECU's or aftermarket ECU's to change the OEM map, but remapping is the most vital step of your tuning project to fully maximise your mods. Expect 10-20% on NASP engines and 30-40% on turbocharged units.

  2. Strengthen Your Engine

    Tuned cars will show up weaknesses, typically in the turbochargers, clutch and internal engine components. Whilst most engines can cope with mild tuning mods, TorqueCars recommend that you upgrade the internal components before these weak spots manifest themselves.

  3. Mods that Remove a Restriction

    A restricted intake or exhaust will have an impact on your performance, so use a better flowing air filter/induction kit and better flowing exhaust (sports cats where legal are a good option) whenever your tuning creates a flow restriction. Turbo engines also benefit from intercooler upgrades as these resist heat soak for longer periods of time.

  4. Mods that Improve Fuelling

    Every tuning project will aim to increase the air supply, but fuel supply is just as vital and will need to match the air the engine can utilise,  a fuel pump and injector upgrade are usual mods, but also in many cases the fuel regulator will need improvement.

  5. Mods to Provide better Airflow

    Increasing the air supply is just as essential as improving fuelling, we suggest you look at head mods (flowing and porting, 5 angle valve jobs), fit bigger valves, fast road cams and forced induction upgrades (adding a better flowing turbo) to improve air intake.

Stage 1 modifications: Sports exhaust manifold, Intake headers, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Drilled & smoothed airbox.

Stage 2 modifications: induction kit, Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injectors, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades.

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

Carefully think through your options and then find your upgrades and set yourself a power target to avoid disappointment.

ECU mapping helps release the full potential of all the tuning parts you've fitted to your 2ZZ.

It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NASP engines, but the end result may differs on the tuning parts you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

Getting air and fuel into your 2ZZ is the whole point to any performance tuning job.

Intake headers carry the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be fed into the engine cylinders.

The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the Headers can make a noticeable effect on to fuel engine efficiency on the 2ZZ.

Many mass produced engine headers are crying out for aftermarket parts, although some OEM provide reasonably good headers.

Adding a 2ZZ larger valve kit, doing some port matching and head flowing will also improve bhp, & more importantly will raise potential for a better bhp 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 2ZZ

The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes major power gains.

When the engine has a turbo already fitted tuning mods are simpler to install and you'll see that turbo charged engines use many forged and stronger components.

However most engines will need better parts at higher power limits

See where you'll find these restrictions and fit better pistons and crank to utilize the power.

We've seen car owners spending a fortune on turbo charger upgrades on the 2ZZ only to watch the car throw a rod when it's been completed.

Large capacity turbos tend to experience low end lag, and low capacity turbos spool up really quickly but won't have the peak end bhp gains.

Over the last 20 years the choice of turbo units is always improving and we are seeing variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust flow into two channels and push these at differently designed vanes in the turbo. They also increase the scavenging effect of the engine.

You'll commonly see there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the 2ZZ when loads more air is being drawn into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor sapped torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large power gains, although more difficult to configure. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.

Fuelling upgrades and mods

Don't omit to raise the fuelling when you are increasing the bhp - it makes the car more thirsty. Don't forget to be generous with your flow rate on the injectors.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% capacity when buying an injector, this accounts for injector deterioration and allows a little spare capacity should the engine require 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.

Exhaust upgrades and mods

You may need to upgrade your exhaust if your exhaust is actually creating a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts you'll find 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 equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

But if the exhaust pipe is too large, ie: 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 can be traced to the catalyst installed, so adding a freer flowing high performance alternative will help avoid this restriction.

Weak spots, Issues & common problem areas on the 2ZZ

The 2ZZ engines, if regularly serviced and maintained, are generally very reliable and have few issues.

Regular oil changes are vital on the 2ZZ, particularly when the engine has been modified and is putting down more power than the manufacturer intended.

Early engines had problems with the lift bolts, which reduced performance as the higher lift cam profile could not kick in. By 2002 this issue was resolved.

History of the Engine

The dual camshaft profile provides economy at low RPM and lots of power at the higher end (6200rpm+), much like the Honda VTEC system.


  • Toyota Celica SS-II (Japan, 190 PS 187 hp
  • Toyota Celica GT-S (USA, 180 hp 134 kW
  • Toyota Celica 190/T-Sport UK, 189 hp
  • Toyota Celica SX (Australia, 189 hp  133 lbf⋅ft
  • Toyota Celica ZR (Australia, 189 hp 133 lbf⋅ft
  • Toyota Corolla Sportivo Australia, 189 hp
  • Toyota Corolla TS (Europe, 189 hp
  • Toyota Corolla Compressor (Europe, supercharged, 222 hp
  • Toyota Corolla XRS (USA, 164 / 170 hp)
  • Toyota Corolla Fielder Z Aero Tourer Japan, 187 hp
  • Toyota Corolla Runx Z Aero Tourer Japan, 187 hp
  • Toyota Corolla RunX RSi South Africa, 189 hp 133 lbf⋅ft
  • Toyota Matrix XRS USA, 164–180 hp
  • Pontiac Vibe GT (USA, 164–180 hp
  • Toyota Voltz Z Japan, 180 hp
  • WiLL VS 1.8
  • Lotus Elise North America/UK, 190 hp
  • Lotus Exige (US/UK, 190 hp & 243 hp supercharged
  • Lotus Exige CUP 260 US/UK, supercharged, 256 hp
  • Lotus 2-Eleven US/UK, supercharged, 252 hp


For more information on Tuning your 2ZZ engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our 2ZZ owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

We need your help improving this article, so please send us your feedback in the comments box below and pass on any tips, points or facts we have wrong or have not covered.

We really like hearing from our readers, and hearing about which upgrades were the most effective for them, it helps us improve our recommendations and articles to reflect current trends in modifications and ensures that our 2ZZ guides and tips are kept up to date.

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