Toyota 2GR-FE Engine Problems: The 4 Most Common Problems

Toyota 3.5L V6 2GR-FE Engine

Toyota’s 2GR-FE engine is a 3.5L V6 engine that was used in a variety of Toyota, Lexus, and Lotus vehicles from 2005 to the present. NA versions produce between 290 and 315 horsepower, depending on the model.

A few of the 3.5-liter V6 engines are equipped with a supercharger and can produce up to 430 horsepower. The point is that the Toyota 2GR-FE is a capable performer. Additionally, there is a reason for the engine’s longevity.

However, as is the case with any engine, the Toyota 3.5L V6 is susceptible to a few common issues. We will discuss common 2GR-FE engine failures in this article, as well as the engine’s overall reliability.

Toyota 2GR-FE Common Engine Problems

Several common problems with the Toyota 3.5L V6 engine include the following:

  • VVTi Oil Leak
  • Idler Pulley
  • Water Pump
  • Spark Plugs & Ignition Coils

This is true for the majority of the common issues we write about, but now is a good time to add a few critical notes. Simply because these failures are classified as common does not mean they are extremely common.

The Toyota 3.5 engine faults listed above are just a sampling of the most common. In general, it’s a dependable engine. However, there are additional potential issues with the 3.5L V6. This is particularly true as an engine ages and wear-and-tear components reach the end of their useful life.

Throughout this article, we’ll examine each of the aforementioned points in relation to the Toyota 2GR-FE. Finally, we’ll include some additional thoughts on the 3.5L engine’s reliability.

What Cars Use the 3.5 2GR-FE?

Cars Use the 3.5 2GR-FE

Before we begin, let us review the numerous Toyota, Lexus, and Lotus models equipped with the 2GR-FE engine. The following is not even an exhaustive list. Nonetheless, the Toyota 3.5L V6 engine is found in the following vehicles:

  • 2005–2018 Toyota Avalon (GSX30 / GSX40)
  • 2006–2012 Toyota Aurion (GSV40)
  • 2005–2012 Toyota RAV4 (GSA33/38)
  • 2006–2017 Toyota Camry (GSV40 / GSV50)
  • 2006–2018 Lexus ES 350 (GSV40 / GSV50)
  • 2007–2009 Lexus RX 350 (GSU30/31/35/36)
  • 2009–2015 Lexus RX 350 (GGL10/15/16)
  • 2007–2016 Toyota Highlander (GSU40/45/50/55)
  • 2007-2012 Toyota Blade (GRE156)
  • 2008–2016 Toyota Venza (GGV10/15)
  • 2009–present Lotus Evora
  • 2006–2016 Toyota Sienna (GSL20/23/25/30/33/35)
  • Toyota Corolla (E140/E150) (for Super GT use)

Supercharged 3.5L V6:

  • 2007-2009 TRD Aurion
  • 2009-present Bolwell Nagari 300
  • 2011–16 Lotus Evora S
  • 2012 Lotus Exige S
  • 2017-present Lotus Evora 400
  • 2018 Lotus Exige Cup

1) Toyota 3.5L V6 Oil Leaks

Engine oil leaks can occur in a variety of locations. However, the most common oil leak on the 2GR-FE occurs on pre-2010 models. The variable valve timing (VVTi) system is supplied with oil via a rubber hose. Toyota used an iron to rubber design, which has the effect of wearing down the rubber over time. This eventually results in an oil leak from the VVTi system.

Toyota resolved the issue with the 3.5L V6 in 2010 by switching to an all-metal pipe. This part fits any year of the 2GR-FE engine without modification. As such, it’s a good idea to replace the rubber hose with a metal one if you experience an oil leak.

As a preventative measure, we recommend replacing this hose. If the hose develops a significant leak, it is possible to quickly lose oil and oil pressure.

If the engine is not shut down properly, this can result in complete engine failure. Obviously, a lack of oil pressure is detrimental to the performance of an engine. Not to scare anyone, but do not allow this inexpensive hose to cause costly problems.

2GR-FE VVT-i Oil Leak Symptoms

Several symptoms of a VVTi rubber hose leak include the following:

  • Visible leak
  • Loss of oil pressure
  • Low engine oil
  • Smoke from engine

The majority of these symptoms are fairly typical of any oil leak. A minor leak from the 2GR-FE may result in the spilling of oil or the production of a small amount of smoke. Larger leaks from the VVT hose can occur unexpectedly and result in rapid oil loss. This may result in the 3.5L engine losing oil pressure and producing excessive smoke.

Toyota 3.5 VVT Oil Hose Replacement

The metal oil hose can be purchased online for between $20 and $40. Because this is not a difficult do-it-yourself project, the overall cost is quite low. Labor will almost certainly take a few hours, so budget an additional $150-300 at a repair shop.

In either case, if you still have the original rubber 3.5L V6 VVT oil hose on the car, it’s a good idea to replace it sooner rather than later.

2) Toyota 2GR-FE Idler Pulley Problems

Toyota 2GR-FE Idler Pulley Problems

Idler pulleys are another issue that affects primarily older model 2GR-FE engines. Toyota eventually resolved this issue in 2009 with the addition of a heavy-duty idler pulley.

The issues appear to be concentrated in the 2005–2008 Toyota RAV4, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna models. Any of the early Toyota 3.5L engines, however, may experience idler pulley issues.

In most cases, this is a minor issue that results in some loud, unpleasant engine noises. If you hear any squealing or rattling from the 3.5 V6, it’s most likely an idler pulley issue.

Certain models utilize two idler pulleys, and while you’re in there, it’s a good idea to replace both. You may also want to consider replacing the belt, particularly if the mileage exceeds 100,000.

Toyota 3.5 V6 Idler Pulley Symptoms

Examine the following symptoms to determine if there is a problem with the Toyota 2GR-FE idler pulley(s):

  • Squeaking
  • Rattling

These are the only symptoms associated with 3.5L idler pulley issues. They become a little noisy over time, and it’s usually not an emergency repair. However, it is still prudent to complete the repair as soon as possible.

2GR-FE 3.5L Idler Pulley Replacement

This is where you will find the heavy-duty idler pulley. They cost between $40 and $50 each, and Avalon, Camry, and Sienna models all use two of them. Due to the fact that the RAV4 and Highlander models utilize electric power steering, they have a single idler pulley.

As with the first issue, replacing the idler pulleys is not difficult for the average do-it-yourselfer. Expect to spend a couple of hours tidying up, or labor at a shop will likely cost between $150 and $300.

3) Toyota 3.5 V6 Water Pump Failure

Toyota 3.5 V6 Water Pump Failure

To be sure, we commend Toyota for identifying and correcting weak points in the 2GR-FE engine. Water pump failures can occur on any year or model vehicle due to the component’s wear and tear.

However, it appears as though water pump failures are more prevalent on early models. Around 2010, the pump was updated. Water pump failures can occur at any time of year.

Water pumps are critical to the 3.5L V6 engine’s proper operation. If the pump fails, it is an emergency that should be addressed immediately. Occasionally, a water pump will simply leak coolant. However, if the pump develops internal problems, the 2GR-FE engine will quickly overheat without adequate coolant flow.

2GR-FE Water Pump Failure Symptoms

Several symptoms of a faulty water pump on the 3.5 V6 engine include the following:

  • Coolant leak
  • Overheating
  • Steam from engine

A visible coolant leak could indicate a malfunctioning water pump. If it fails, the 3.5L V6 engine will lose coolant flow and rapidly overheat. In this case, it is critical to quickly shut down the engine and avoid driving it until it is repaired.

Additionally, coolant pump failures can result in steam emanating from the engine bay as coolant drips onto hot components.

3.5L V6 Water Pump Replacement

This is the most expensive repair on the list, but it is still relatively inexpensive in comparison. A 2GR-FE water pump costs between $80 and $150, depending on the model. Labor will also take approximately 3-5 hours, so budget an additional $250-400 for replacement.

It is not a difficult repair, but it may require a day in the garage and some patience.

4) 2GR-FE 3.5L V6 Spark Plugs & Ignition Coils

2GR-FE 3.5L V6 Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils

Spark plugs and ignition coils are included on the list in part because there are no other issues with the Toyota 3.5L V6 engine. These are all fairly routine maintenance items, but some engines do suffer from premature ignition coil failure. In any case, it’s primarily here to round out the list.

Spark plugs should be replaced approximately every 100,000 miles. Ignition coils can sometimes last the lifetime of the 2GR-FE engine, but they are a consumable item.

As a result, ignition coils frequently require replacement around 150,000 miles or sooner. However, supercharged 3.5L V6 models may require replacement parts sooner. The boost and increased power can cause these components to wear out more quickly.

3.5 V6 Plugs & Coils Symptoms

The following symptoms may indicate an ignition system problem with the 2GR-FE:

  • Misfires
  • Stuttering
  • Rough idle
  • Power loss

Spark plugs and ignition coils degrade over time, which may result in the engine misfiring. This can cause the Toyota 3.5L engine to stutter or develop a rough idle. Additionally, power loss occurs, though it is likely to go unnoticed over time.

2GR-FE Spark Plug & Ignition Coil Repairs

If your vehicle has exceeded 100,000 miles, it’s a good idea to replace all six spark plugs, even if only one is faulty. While this is probably less necessary with ignition coils, it is still a good idea to replace them all.

Six spark plugs should cost less than $50, while ignition coil sets should cost between $150 and $250. These are straightforward repairs that even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers can complete in the driveway.

How Reliable is the Toyota 2GR-FE 3.5L V6?

Toyota’s 3.5L V6 engine earns above-average reliability ratings. While these engines do have their share of common issues, they are relatively inexpensive and straightforward to resolve in the grand scheme of things. Additionally, we’ve encountered a slew of engines that have significantly more issues in general.

The Toyota 2GR-FE has few issues, and when they do occur, they are typically inexpensive to repair. As such, it is unquestionably a dependable engine.

Naturally, some of it boils down to maintenance. Oil changes and failures on the 3.5L V6 should be performed on a timely basis. Performing some preventative maintenance on earlier model engines is also a good idea. Keep your 2GR-FE in good condition.

Up to 200,000 miles, this engine is likely to provide a mostly trouble-free, reliable experience. Some Toyota 3.5L V6 engines even exceed that mark, indicating that they are extremely durable.

Toyota 3.5 V6 Common Problems Summary

Toyota’s 3.5L V6 engine is a strong engine in every way. It delivers respectable performance in base trim and a significant increase in power in supercharged models. However, no engine is perfect, and the 2GR-FE is no exception. Early models had a few additional issues that Toyota addressed with stronger parts later in the model’s life.

Keep an eye out for potential problems with the VVT oil hose, idler pulley(s), or water pump. Ascertain that you are purchasing the most recent version of each component, as these are typically less prone to failure.

Maintain your 3.5L 2GR-FE properly, and it will almost certainly reward you with a dependable driving experience. There is a reason Toyota has used this engine in so many of its flagship models for so long. It’s a good engine with dependable performance.

What are your thoughts on the 3.5L V6? Are you considering purchasing one?

Leave a comment and inform us!

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