The Ultimate Toyota 3S-GTE Engine Information. The Toyota 3S-GTE engine is a 2.0L turbo inline-4 engine that was designed for the Celica, MR2, and Caldina. It’s a long-running engine that was manufactured from 1986 to 2007. Engines with 3S-GTE technology produce 182 to 256 horsepower. These are impressive figures for a small inline-4 engine of its era. Of course, there’s a lot to cover with a 20+ year engine, so let’s get started. This guide covers Toyota 3S-GTE 2.0 inline-4 engine specs, performance, aftermarket, reliability, and other topics.
What Vehicles Make Use of the Toyota 3S-GTE Engine?
The following models use 3S-GTE 2.0 inline-4 turbo engines:
- Toyota Celica ST165 1986-1989 (1st gen engine)
- Toyota Celica ST185, 1990-1993 (2nd gen engine)
- 1990-1993 Toyota MR2 (2nd gen engine)
- Toyota Celica ST205, 1994-1999 (3rd gen engine)
- 1994-1999 Toyota MR2 (3rd gen engine)
- Toyota Caldina ST215 1997-2001 (4th gen engine)
- Toyota Caldina ST246 (2002-2007) (5th gen engine)
We’ll break down the various 3SGTE engine generations in the engine specs section below. Given its 20+ year production history, there were several updates. Each of these events resulted in a new generation of the 2.0L inline-4. Despite this, they are all known by the 3S-GTE engine code.
3SGTE 2.0L Engine Specifications
The Toyota 3S-GTE 2.0L turbo engine specifications are as follows:
The engine in the 3S-GTE is a 2.0L inline-4 turbocharged engine. It employs a heavy cast iron block that provides exceptional strength. To keep weight down, cylinder heads are made of aluminum. Toyota chose a DOHC 16 valve design, which is common in many of their engines.
A square engine with equal bore and stroke provides a good power-to-torque ratio. The compression ratio of the 3SGTE varies depending on generation. The compression ratio of the first and third generation engines is 8.5:1. and the 2nd generation Toyota 3S engine is 8.8:1, while later 4th and 5th generation engines are 9.0:1.
When all of the 3S-GTE specs are added together, it produces 182 to 256 horsepower and 184-239 lb-ft of torque. With each new generation of the 2.0 inline-4 turbo, power has steadily increased. Engines from the first generation produce 182-190 horsepower, while engines from subsequent generations produce 200+ horsepower and 200+ torque.
Generations of the 2.0 Turbo Inline-4
All 3SGTE generations share the same basic engine design and specifications as stated above. However, there have been a number of updates over the years to help improve power, performance, and reliability. It would be impossible to go over every detail and distinction for each engine. As a result, we will simply provide a summary of significant changes over the years.
- 1st Gen: 8.5:1 compression ratio and 8-9 PSI turbo boost. Intercooler from air to water
- 2nd Gen: Increase compression to 8.8:1 and PSI to 10-11. The turbine housing has two entry points and two wastegate ports. Change to an air-to-air intercooler.
- 3rd Gen: CT20B turbo, third generation. Similar to the second generation, but with a larger compressor wheel. The boost pressure rises to 13 PSI. Return to the air-to-water intercooler. The air flow meter has been replaced by a MAP sensor. Fuel injectors that are larger. In 1997, the engine block was revised to prevent cracking.
- 4th generation: CT15B turbo,. The exhaust housing is molded to the manifold. Top-mounted air-to-air intercooler. 550cc fuel injectors are larger. The compression ratio has been increased to 9.0:1.
- 5th Generation: Longer injectors are located closer to the intake ports. Air-to-air intercooler that is slightly smaller. Updates to the ignition system. Design of a new valve cover. The oil cooler has been removed.
Again, this is not a comprehensive list of the differences between the 3S-GTE engines. The updates help improve horsepower and torque as the generations progress. Some interesting updates to the 5th generation engine appear to be downgrades. The engine, however, retains the same 256 horsepower output as the 4th generation engines.
Those looking to swap a 3S-GTE engine will most likely find that the third and fourth generation engines are the most capable. Unfortunately, the fourth engine was only available in the Toyota Caldina, which was not sold in the United States (as with the 5th gen engine, too).
Performance of the Toyota 3S-GTE
The stock 3S-GTE Toyota Celica and MR2 performance isn’t our main focus here. We will not go into detail about specific performance metrics. The 0-60 time, 1/4 mile time, and other performance metrics vary far too much. Of course, later engines are faster out of the factory. Over the years of 3S-GTE production, power has steadily increased.
The 2.0L turbo inline-4 engine is very capable right out of the box. The 3SGTE engine performs admirably for its age. The engines’ strength, on the other hand, is what makes them so desirable. The 2.0 turbo engine has a lot of potential thanks to its cast iron block and strong internals. Basic tuning and bolt-on modifications can boost the performance of the 3S-GTE turbo engine.
3SGTE Mods, Tuning, and Aftermarket Possibilities
In the future, we will go over Toyota 3S-GTE tuning, bolt-ons, and aftermarket potential in greater detail. There is so much that goes into this that we simply cannot cover it all. Instead, we’ll just go over the fundamentals in this article. Anyway, increasing the power of the 3SGTE engine is a simple process. Here’s a quick rundown of how to modify and tune the 2.0 inline-4 turbo engine.
Engine 3S-GTE “Stage 1” (200-225whp)
With a few simple modifications, the 3S engine can easily produce 200-225whp. Excellent figures for the lightweight Toyota MR2 and Celica models. The list of mods looks like this:
- Exhaust System / Downpipe
- Boost regulator
- Fuel cuts are defeated.
It is critical to improve airflow into and out of a turbo engine in order to increase power. This means that an exhaust and intake are excellent modifications to support more power and boost. The downpipe is the section of the exhaust closest to the turbo that needs to be modified.
You’ll only need a manual or electronic boost controller after that. With the help of a fuel cut defenser, this will allow the engine to run at 14-16 PSI. These simple modifications can boost the Toyota 3S-GTE engine to 200+ whp. Overall, you can do this for less than $1,000, and even less than $500 if you’re creative.
3S-GTE “Stage 2” (250-275+whp) Toyota
Stage 2 modifications push the 2.0 turbo inline-4 to new heights. However, this is where things get a little pricey. You’ll need the 3S-GTE engine upgrades listed above, as well as a few extras:
- Stage 1 modifications
- Upgrade in a flash
- Upgraded intercooler
- Upgrades to the fuel system
Again, the mods from stage 1 will serve as the starting point. Unless you have the CT20B turbo in the 4th gen engine, you’ll need a turbo upgrade at this point. The next step is to improve 3S-GTE cooling with an intercooler upgrade.
Fueling mods are recommended because the stock fuel system can only support about 260-280whp. It’s critical to keep an eye on AFR readings if you’re keeping the stock fueling. It’s time to upgrade when you reach the 3s-gte fueling limits.
“Stage 3” and up (300-350+whp)
We’re now getting into much more expensive upgrades. However, 300+whp on a Toyota MR2 or Celica is no laughing matter. These are fantastic setups if you’re willing to spend the money. Mods to achieve 300whp or more on the 3S-GTE 2.0L engine are listed below:
- All stage 1 and 2 modifications
- Engine control system (ECU)
- Clutch improvements
This is not an exhaustive list, either. Depending on your objectives, the possibilities for 3S-GTE upgrades are limitless. The upgrades listed above are the bare minimum required to achieve 300+whp. You’re well past the stock fueling limits at this point. To generate power, you’ll need a fuel pump, injectors, and a larger turbo.
It is also critical that you have complete control over all 3S-GTE engine and tuning parameters. This entails upgrading the engine management system and collaborating with a professional tuner to fine-tune the engine. Depending on how far you want to take your MR2 or Celica, the list of mods can become quite lengthy and costly.
Common 3S-GTE Engine Issues
Among the most common problems with the Toyota 3S-GTE engine are:
- The engine block
- Oil spills
The above 3S-GTE 2.0 turbo engine issues are discussed in detail throughout the rest of this article. However, before diving in, some notes must be added. These are among the most common problems and failures. That doesn’t mean the issues are widespread in the literal sense of the word. Rather, when Toyota 3SGTE issues arise, these are some of the most common causes.
Nonetheless, the 3S-GTE 2.0 inline-4 engine provides excellent overall dependability. Many of these engines, however, are more than two decades old. Many failures are possible as a result of age and mileage. This is especially true for a turbo engine, which is frequently upgraded, tuned, and otherwise modified. Anyway, we’ll wrap things up at the end with some general thoughts on 3S-GTE reliability.
1) Problems with the Toyota 2.0L Inline-4 Engine Block
Cracking engine blocks is an intriguing topic for the Toyota 3S-GTE engine. It makes use of a cast iron block. A popular design due to the impressive strength of cast iron. When it comes to the 2.0 turbo inline-4, however, engine blocks cracking is a hot topic. It is most common on early generation 3 engines prior to 1997, but block cracking can occur on any 3S engine.
The primary problem appears to be between cylinders 2 and 3. Because of the thin casting, the block is prone to cracking in that area. Toyota did strengthen the block, making later engines less prone to problems. Furthermore, 3S-GTE engine blocks rarely crack on completely stock engines. It is common on modded engines due to increased cylinder pressures.
Anyway, this isn’t a common issue because it primarily affects 3rd generation 3SGTE engines. It’s also uncommon on stock engines, so those planning to modify or upgrade the engine should be concerned. Regardless, Toyota block cracking is a serious problem that necessitates a new engine, so it’s worth mentioning.
*Cracked blocks are most common in 3S-GTE engines with 500+ horsepower. It’s a good idea to sleeve the block if you’re going to push the engine that far.
Symptoms of Engine Blocks in Celica and MR2
The following are symptoms of cracked engine blocks on the 3S-GTE 2.0 inline-4 engine:
- Engine exhaust smoke
- Oil and/or coolant leaking
- Engine performance is subpar.
There are no warning signs that the block will crack before it does. When the engine block cracks, the symptoms can be severe and immediate. You may notice excessive smoking coming from the engine or exhaust. Coolant and oil can leak everywhere.
As coolant and oil flow is disrupted, overheating is common. Otherwise, the 3S-overall GTE’s engine performance will be subpar.
Engine Block Replacement for Toyota 3SGTE
Engine block cracking is a serious problem. Attempting to repair a cracked block is usually not worth the time or money. Moving all of the internals to a new engine block can also be time consuming and costly.
As a result, a new engine is usually the best solution for a cracked 3S-GTE block. Obviously, this is not a cheap or simple repair. Fortunately, these problems are uncommon on lower-powered 3SGTE engines, so most owners won’t have to worry about blocks cracking.
2) Oil Leaks in the 3S-GTE 2.0 Turbo
Following that are issues with oil leaks on the Toyota 3S-GTE engine. The 2.0L turbo inline-4 engine’s oil leaks aren’t caused by any design flaws or other failures. All engines use numerous gaskets, seals, and other components that degrade over time. As a result, 3S-GTE oil leaks are more of an issue of age and mileage than anything else.
Rubber-like parts deteriorate with age and mileage. With age, these gaskets and seals become brittle, crack, and leak oil. The main seals, oil pan, and valve cover gasket are all common places for oil leaks.
Oil leaks are common in many engines after ten years and 100,000 miles. Don’t be fooled by low mileage examples because age can be equally harsh on gaskets and seals. The point is that all Toyota 3S-GTE engines are past the point where oil leaks are commonplace. However, they are usually inexpensive repairs. This is especially true for the do-it-yourself crowd.
Symptoms of a Toyota 2.0L Inline-4 Oil Leak
Oil leak symptoms are typically straightforward. In any case, keep an eye out for the following signs that the 3SGTE 2.0 turbo engine is leaking oil:
- There is a visible oil leak.
- Engine compartment smoke
- The odor of burning oil
- Engine oil is low.
A visible leak is the most common and obvious symptom of 2.0 turbo oil leaks. If you notice oil drops on the ground after parking your Celica or MR2, you most likely have an oil leak somewhere. Not all oil leaks, however, result in oil dripping to the ground.
Burning oil odors or light smoke from the engine compartment could indicate a leak. This is normal for small leaks at the engine bay’s top. Otherwise, low engine oil could be a symptom, but you’ll probably notice the others first. Because the 3S-GTE naturally consumes some oil, a low oil level does not always indicate a leak.
3S-GTE Oil Leak Repair
When it comes to oil leaks on the 3SGTE 2.0 inline-4 engine, the news isn’t all bad. Most leaks are caused by gaskets and seals, which cost between $5 and $25 to replace. This makes oil leaks a very inexpensive DIY repair for those willing to spend a day in the garage.
However, if you end up in a repair shop, labor charges can quickly add up. Many oil leaks on the 3S-GTE engine require only a few hours of labor, so expect to pay between $150 and $300 in labor costs. However, more serious leaks in difficult-to-access areas can be even more expensive.
Failures of the Toyota 3S-GTE Turbo
Last but not least, there are turbocharger problems with the Toyota 3S-GTE engine. We’ll get to the point quickly because the turbos are actually quite reliable. They are, however, wear and tear parts that have seen a lot of abuse over the years. This is especially true given how simple it is to upgrade and modify the 3SGTE engine.
In any case, Toyota 2.0L inline-4 turbo failures are mostly age-related. The majority of these engines on the road today are more than 20 years old, which is a long time for a turbo to be on the road. Many previously modded 3S-GTE engines may already have a new turbo. It’s also a good reason to upgrade if your turbo fails.
Symptoms of 3SGTE Turbo Failure
The following are symptoms of turbo failure on the Toyota 3S-GTE 2.0 engine:
- Smoking excessively
- Sounds of turbo whining
- Consumption of oil
- Power outage
When a turbo begins to fail, it is common for it to burn oil and emit excessive smoke from the exhaust. You might also notice that the 3S-GTE turbo sounds unusually whiny or strange in general. Of course, the turbo is in charge of producing a lot of power and torque. Power loss and drivability issues are common when a turbo fails.
Replacement 2.0 Inline 4 Turbo
If the stock 3S-GTE turbo fails, we believe it is prudent to upgrade it. A turbo upgrade kit can cost between $500 and $1,000, so it’s not a cheap repair. However, modern turbos are extremely reliable, so an upgrade is likely to last the rest of the 3SGTE 2.0 engine’s life.
Add in labor costs, and the cost of replacing a turbo can quickly exceed $1,000. Take advantage of this opportunity to improve. Even if you don’t intend to use all of the power, having a more capable turbo on the MR2 or Celica can’t hurt.
Reliability of the Toyota 3S-GTE
Is the Toyota 3S-GTE engine trustworthy? Yes, we believe this engine is more reliable than average. Turbo engines have a bad reputation for dependability and longevity. This was especially true in the 1980s and 1990s. Toyota, on the other hand, did an excellent job with their 3S-GTE engine. With the exception of the gen 3 engine block, it does not have many major design flaws.
Be wary of 3S-GTE engine block cracking, especially when modding and upgrading the engine. Other than that, oil leaks and turbo failures are common problems. However, they are mostly age-related issues rather than inherent problems or flaws in the 3SGTE.
Maintenance is crucial to reliability. Use high-quality synthetic oils, change fluids on time, and repair problems as they arise. It’s basic maintenance that should be performed on any car, not just the 3S-GTE. With proper maintenance, the Toyota 3S-GTE 2.0 inline-4 engine can easily exceed 250,000 miles. There are even highly upgraded engines that can reach that mileage with few problems.