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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone. I thought I would come here to post my 22RE/3RZ swap info to see if it would help anyone who is thinking about going through the swap themselves. I came here regularly to find info when I got stuck or needed ideas, so it’s time to pay it back. If you are looking for a good starting point, definitely take a look at this thread from this forum.

Background: I bought my Dad’s 1985 SR5 a few years back because I saw what the potential was for a great rig when he was only using it 2-3 times per year in the snow up in Washington State. It had about 165k on it, a few rust spots, but otherwise it was mechanically sound. I had replaced the clutch for him a few years prior to that, so I was familiar with the rig, and especially familiar with the top bellhousing bolt that is a huge PITA to get to. I brought it down to San Diego, CA where I drove it daily to/from work. One day, I was carpooling with a friend when the temp spiked high, which was odd because it was a cool morning. I thought it was a temp sensor, and ignored it because there were no other signs of overheating. The truck got me to work, and home, where I checked and found the coolant low. I didn’t know I had a leak. Lesson #1: If your gages tell you something is wrong, believe them. 2 weeks later, I was replacing my head gasket. A month after that, my truck was sitting on the side of the road with another blown head gasket. Lesson #2: Two successive head gaskets is a pretty darned good indication of a warped head or block, or both. Yep, it was entirely my fault and could have been avoided if I had just trusted my gages. I won’t forget that one. I looked into the rebuilt/modded 22Res being sold online and their lead times. I didn’t like the options or the prices, and I just kept remembering how hard it was to find parts (such as idle air control valves) for the 22RE. This is when I decided to look into an engine swap, and because I was tired of having to use 3rd gear to go up small hills with my 29” tires. So, I began my research into the 3RZ swap.


I liked this swap because both the 2RZ and 3RZ mate directly up to the W56A 5 speed that was in my rig. I also liked the idea of parts availability and the aftermarket parts available for these engines. Unlike the build linked above, I didn’t have a wrecked 3RZ donor vehicle available. Down in San Diego, the junk yards are overpriced and picked over a million times and to me, not worth the effort. So, I went down the low road and chose a JDM import engine. I specifically went with the ’95-’96 distributor-type 3RZ, because I had heard that the coil packs were a PITA and there were potential compatibility issues with the ’85 recipient. I got it from a company on the east coast. Guaranteed to have 60k miles or less, guaranteed to run (if installed by an ASE certified mechanic) and guaranteed to be the one in the picture that I chose from the website. Cost was about $1500, plus $150 freight shipping right into my driveway. Here is what it looked like upon arrival:


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JDM Engine on the pallet.

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3RZ (left) and 22RE (right).

A few things to note that I was not prepared for:

  • The engine was listed as a ’95-’96 Tacoma 3RZ. I am pretty sure it was actually a T100 engine because it had the T100 oil pan and pickup tube location. Also, it had the T100 bellhousing that mated up to the W56A tranny already. I had already purchased the oil pan kit from Off Road Solutions, and a new bellhousing from Port Auto Parts, so just decided to use the new parts anyway.
  • The coolant hose configuration in Japanese engines is not the same as US produced versions. No big deal, but it took some creative use of tees, elbows, and different diameter hoses to make it all match up and connect to the ’85 coolant system and heater valve.
  • The Japanese engine had no emissions equipment on it. No EGR, no associated vacuum lines, etc. Also, no big deal because I kept the rig registered in Washington, which shouldn’t become an issue until I try and take it back there someday.

A couple of things I was prepared for [Also a build list]:

  • I haven’t seen a JDM engine yet that was set up for a manual transmission. So, be prepared to swap out the smaller flywheel with a manual transmission flywheel and to install a clutch & pressure plate. I went with the Centerforce II clutch kit from 4WP (got a deep discount from a friend) and hated it because it came as an opened package, with a throwout bearing that was already greased, and a pressure plate that clearly did not match the engine. So I sent it back, swore to never use 4WP again, and I went with a 35lb flywheel and clutch kit from LC Engineering. NOTE: You MUST use the 22RE throwout bearing and collar with the 3RZ or else the clutch will bind and not shift properly. More on this later…
  • I knew the battery tray would have to be relocated, and went with the ORS kit.
  • I went with the Chilkat motor to frame mounts. They came unpainted, so I put a few coats of engine enamel on them, which got all chipped up during install, but whatever. They are a perfect fit and I think are probably based on the original designs discussed in the ‘Quasimodo build” thread on this forum.
  • I went with the “Bomb-Proof” motor mounts. But, they were so difficult to get to fit, I took them off and stuck with the 22RE motor mounts. Mine were in good shape anyway, and they fit the 3RZ perfectly. If your mounts are good, just use them. (Anyone need a set of “bomb-proof” motor mounts?)
  • I swapped a Chevy 350 into my ’72 FJ40 years ago and used the generic wiring kit from the Painless Wiring company. It was NOT PAINLESS. With that lesson in mind, I searched around for wiring options. I was having difficulty finding a donor harness. But, ORS made a conversion wiring kit that used the existing 22RE body wiring, and was essentially plug-n-play. It is expensive, but brand new, beautiful, and super easy to install. In my opinion, it was well worth the money. It uses OEM Toyota connectors, is perfectly labeled, and has every connection you need, including emissions and A/C. I can’t say enough about this setup – it was truly worth it.
  • I also ordered the exhaust header ahead of time. I went with the LC Engineering pickup to 3RZ conversion header, wrapped it in fiberglass, and coated it in silicon-based paint/coating. Lesson learned: gloves aren’t enough. Wear long sleeves and pants if you want to avoid the itch associated with fiberglass.
  • I purchased a used ECU from Ebay. It was risky, but paid off because it matched my needs and worked (eventually). It came from a ’95 4x4 manual tranny 3RZ Tacoma. Part number: 89661-04050.
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3RZ on the dolly with the ORS Wiring harness all laid out.

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3RZ with ORS wiring harness installed. I would recommend not installing the harness until the engine is in the mounts, even though it will take longer.

Ok, there are more parts required than listed above but I will talk about those as I go through the build. The first thing I did was label every single wire that I disconnected from the 22RE. Also, I plugged or covered every orifice and hose/pipe that I disconnected to prevent foreign matter from getting into sensitive places. As I started removing parts from the 22RE, getting it ready to be pulled out, I had a grip of Ziploc bags on hand to put every bolt and screw into, and labeled each bag. I hate having “extra parts” at the end of a build, but hate even more when I can’t find the bolts I need, and have to play the thread matching game at the hardware store to replace them.

With all of the electricals, hoses, and bolts removed, it was time to pull the old 22RE. I bought a couple of 1k lb dollies from Harbor Freight, which made moving the engine around a ton easier after it was off of the hoist. Other items to consider removing: radiator (definitely do this), the plastic grill fascia, the hood (make sure to mark the hinge/bolt locations – it makes reinstallation much easier), and exhaust. I removed the engine wiring harness, but you can leave it on as long as everything is disconnected from the body wiring.



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The dollies I used. Cheap and strong.

With the engine removed, you can get in there and really clean stuff out. I removed all of the grease and rust form my engine bay and pained it out (rattle can) with heat resistant black paint.

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22RE Prior to removal.

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22RE Removed.

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Painted out engine bay and new bellhousing installed. I kept the firewall blue for nostalgia.


One thing you might want to consider that I didn’t grasp until it was too late: This is the perfect time to install firewall sound/heat deadening material. I had to install mine after the fact, which was much more difficult. The header comes pretty close to the firewall, and some other build threads on other websites suggest that not protecting the firewall can lead to melted carpet on the inside.

Another suggested upgrade while you’re at it: Put a T100 brake booster and the FJ80 master cylinder (1” bore) in. It’s a direct fit, fairly inexpensive, and completely eliminated my spongy, long-travel brakes. I was almost at the floor when the brakes used to engage and never felt confident about stopping distance. Now, I can lock them up at any speed if I want to, and the new equipment makes the engine bay pop. This upgrade requires a hard brake line adapter.

Ok – putting the engine in wasn’t all that difficult until it came time to make the engine mount bolt holes line up. As you probably know, the 3RZ sits cantered towards the passenger side, unlike the 12 & 6 O’clock orientation of the 22RE. Like an idiot, I tried to work the engine into place by putting a jack under it to angle it. I tried prying it into place. I tried a few things that just didn’t work before my caveman brain finally figure out that I could change the location of the hoist point by moving the chain links, giving it the angle I needed. Do that and it goes in much smoother. I should also note that I installed the engine wiring harness prior to install, which made fitment around the 22RE heater control valve a little dicey, as the main wiring harness rubs against it during install. I would recommend putting the harness on after the engine is in. It might be a little more difficult, but it really makes manipulating the engine position easier.

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3RZ on the hoist, going in.

After I got the engine into place, I mated the tranny up to it without any issues. Note: The engine you get may or may not come with the bellhousing dust cover. Mine did not, and I had to order it (available through Toyota OEM). I wouldn’t recommend operating without it, because you would be exposing your clutch to any water, dirt, etc. that could cause you trouble down the road. Here is the part number: 113610C010

With the engine in place, I was ready to start hooking things back up. I took the opportunity to replace my old radiator with a new aluminum 3-core setup from Radiator Express. I am not about to overheat my baby again! But, when I installed it I realized I had an issue – I needed a fan shroud. Some people use tin/sheet metal to fabricate something, or use a pusher/puller electric fan setup. I wanted a factory look, so I went with a custom fabricated Frankenstein shroud made of the old 22RE shroud and a new 3RZ shroud. I think it came out great and fits perfectly. Here is how it did it: With the radiator out of the truck, set it engine-side down on a big piece of cardboard. Trace it out as best as you can, especially the location of the inlet, outlet, fill cap and bolt holes. Cut that carboard out and put the radiator back in the truck. “Mount” the cardboard to the engine side of the radiator. With the engine in place, tape a pencil or marker to the outer edge of one of the 3RZ fan blades so that the tip of the pencil/marker touches the cardboard cutout. Slowly turn the fan to draw the circle on the cardboard that indicates where the fan will be in relation to the radiator. Then, remove the cardboard and you can create a fan shroud that will mount up to the new radiator and be positioned so that the fan blades won’t hit it as they spin. I think I got lucky, because my initial attempt worked perfectly the first time. I used a Dremel to cut the pieces, and a quick-setting epoxy to “glue” them together. I finished by painting the whole thing black, making it look very close to stock.

<<SEE NEXT POST FOR MORE PICS AND THE REST OF THE INSTALL>>
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
<<CONTINUED>>

Here is what the engine looked like after install:

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3RZ in the bay. Notice no battery tray or intake yet...

I went with a “cold air” intake from HPS. I had to have it shipped to a different state and a visiting friend delivered it to me. CA just isn’t messing around with their emissions laws…

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Intake (minus the elbow) and battery tray installed. Also, notice the T100 brake booster and FJ80 master cylinder.

I had to buy a reducer silicon elbow for the connection between the pipe and the MAF housing. That was not anticipated, but came in quickly. It was a 45 degree elbow, 3.5” down to 3” and was readily available on Amazon.

Some other items needed to finish the install:
  • Fuel line: Link here
  • Clutch line: Link here
  • Power Steering Hose: Link here
  • I reused my 22RE Power Steering sump. I realize that most 3RZs have the sump mounted on the block, but mine did not. The pump was there, but not the sump/reservoir. No problem – I just got some power steering hose from the auto parts store and hooked it up. Easy day.
  • I replaced both the radiator overflow and the windshield washer reservoirs to make it a cleaner install. Both easily available on Amazon.
  • I used the original throttle cable with the only modification needed being I drilled out a die (plural dice – yes, a die) and put the cable through it at the pedal to make the length work. I’m sure there is a better solution, but mine worked fine and is invisible anyway.
I think that pretty much covers the conversion.

The day came to finally turn the key. I put in a brand new Odyssey red top, 880CCA battery in it, because why not? I turned the key, and it cranked beautifully, but did not start. I had fuel to the rail, all of the correct voltages to the distributor, but no spark. I will spare you the MONTHS of troubleshooting it took me to figure out what the issue was, but here is the link to another forum that I posted on to try and figure it out.

The cause was simple – a bad crank position sensor, which was preventing both the fuel injector impulse and the ignitor signal from being sent by the ECU – no spark and no fuel! The MAJOR lesson learned here: When replacing parts that are critical to the proper operation of your engine, don’t buy knock-off parts to save a buck. Go with OEM.

Once I replaced the crank POS, it started right up the first time. It sounded amazing. I took it for the first test drive and I was amazed by the improved throttle response and power the little 3RZ had. It shifted a little rough and had some clutch chatter, but ran smooth. The following weekend I realized after talking with LCE that I was supposed to use the 22RE throwout bearing and collar instead of the 3RZ, even though they seemed to fit the same. I pulled the tranny/transfer case and put in the proper throwout bearing and it fixed a few issues. First, it fixed the issue of the clutch not disengaging properly, and I was able to reset my clutch pedal height back to the FSM specs. Second, I was now able to shift into all gears (most of the time) without extra effort. I’ve got a bit of a grind most of the time going into reverse, and sometimes it takes a little extra oomf to get it into first, but this is due to the typical synchro issues over time with the W56.

Finally, here are a couple of other notes that some might find useful:
  • I installed a genuine (used) Tacoma charcoal canister. Was it necessary, since I don’t have any emissions equipment installed? No. But it sure did fit nicely where the old one was. It’s all hooked up, and I don’t know that it really does much, but it’s there in case I do decide to try and get her to pass smog some day.
  • I soldered in the recommended resistor onto the back of the tachometer. It was super easy, and gave me a chance to clean up that part of the dash. I also added a little bit of a modern touch to the gas gage, if you can spot it…
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22RE Tach board with resistor.

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I'll never forget which side of the truck my filler is on...
  • I also took the opportunity to replace the old carpet and repaint/line the inside of the cab. I did it myself first with POR15, then with the DIY Raptor coating, which I though was super easy to use and came out really nice. You do need a compressor though. I bought the 1 gallon kit and have only used half of it, and that coated the entire tub and the rear bulkhead with 2 coats. Don't forget to protect any threads or bolt holes you don't want coated. For smaller holes, I used the soft orange ear plugs to put in the holes. For larger holes or exposed threads, I used painter's tape.
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Raptor Liner interior pic.
  • Don’t forget to mark your hood hinge locations really well if you are going to remove it. I did not, and still can’t seem to quite get the fitment right.
  • The 3RZ MUST use the 22RE oil pressure sending unit. Just swap it out or buy a new one. The reason is that the 3RZ sending unit will ruin your oil gage if you don’t. I cannot verify this, as I read it somewhere ahead of time and didn’t chance it, but better safe than sorry. After the swap, the 22RE sending unit was a direct fit/replacement on the 3RZ and seems to work just fine.
  • I am still getting a weird check engine light code, despite having installed the recommended resistor on the EGR connector. It says something about the O2 sensor not reacting fast enough. Not sure what that is all about, but it still runs fine.
  • I have a high idle issue (~1200-1400RPM) that I think a good cleaning of the throttle body and IAC valve should fix. Just haven’t had the chance to do it yet. EDIT: I cleaned the throttle body and IAC valve today and she's idling now at around 750-800rpm. We will see what the gas mileage does with the improvement.
  • The Odyssey battery can drive about ~60 miles without being charged by the alternator before it won’t have enough juice to go anymore. This is how I discovered that I also had a bad alternator. So, I swapped in a remanufactured 105-amp GM alternator from a 1991 Corvette (and spliced in the proper pigtail). Other models will work, but it was a pretty simple upgrade. It wasn’t a 2-hour job like some forums suggest, but it was still pretty easy and the GM alternator is cheaper than the Toyota 60-amp original. A couple of things to keep in mind that may be specific to your application: First, the Chilkat motor mounts interfered with the (+) battery connection on the alternator. I had to grind down that connection post in order to get it to work without automatically grounding out. Second, you may have to experiment a little bit with the length of serpentine belt that will work for you. Just make sure it has the right amount of ‘grooves’ and start somewhere around 35.5” in length and you’ll be in the ball park. The GM alternator pulley has one more ‘groove’ than the Toyota crank pulley, but as long as they line up, it will work just fine.
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GM 105 amp alternator installed.

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Notice the tight fit of the battery post between the alternator and the motor-frame mount.
  • I also took the time to replace some stickers/logos. Check out a dude named @Toyota4Low on IG or the website located here for some cool reproduction logos. I got the fuse box, power steering, coolant, 4wd shifting instructions, etc. and they look great.
  • I also upgraded the headlights while I was at it - using this kit from LCE.
  • When I had to replace the clutch throwout bearing, I decided to also install a new Tacoma clutch master and slave cylinders. They aren't pictured. This isn't necessary as the 22RE OEM equipment will work, but mine were old and tired and ugly so I just went ahead and did those too.
  • Lastly, I can’t say enough about Mike and his team at Off Road Solutions. The time and effort he put into troubleshooting my electrical system probably equated to an entire workweek, and he did it all happily and in all of the detail you would expect from a company that supports their customers before and after a sale. All of that, and it turned out to be the crank position sensor and not the harness.
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Finished install. Not pictured: Tacoma clutch master cylinder.

I am sure I have forgotten some things, but just ask and I will answer as best as I can. Thanks to this community and all of the others out there who inspired me to take on this project. My dad is pretty far into his battle with dementia and doesn’t remember the truck, let alone me anymore. But I remember it being his and him driving it around. That’s why I’m keeping it and keeping it alive with some new parts. Happy trails, y’all. Thanks for the read.
 

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Very nice write-up!
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update: The high idle and poor gas mileage are back, but after more research, I think I know what the issue is. I have no catalytic converters, and I think the upstream O2 sensor is bad. The O2 sensor is why I think I'm getting terrible gas mileage. I think I need the downstream O2 sensor pipe extension or the electronic "fix" that tricks the ECU into thinking a catalytic converter is installed and operating properly. More research to come. I'll post results here if I fix it in case anyone else needs the info.
 

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I've run without the downstream o2 sensor in all of my RZ swaps that I wired and no problem with high idle or gas mileage. You might check you idle air control valve. I have had 2 IAC valve stick and cause weird issues, high idle being one of them.
 
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