1/4/2019 – This blog is a work in progress!

 

This is a blog that has been a long time coming.  Recently in the shop was a 2007 Lexus ES350 with a a severe timing cover leak.  The guest opted to have us replace the headgaskets and VVT intake gears while the drivetrain was out as well.  Seeing as our guide to timing the 2GR-FE is one of the most popular we’ve ever published (for good reason, as this engine is tough to time correctly!), we decided to go all in and document as much of the teardown and rebuilding process as possible.

Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be used as a repair guide, and is only to illustrate the process of working on the 2GR-FE and it’s quirks.  We forgot to take some pictures of some steps as well.  This is meant to be technical read for our customers, as we love sharing our work and talking to other enthusiast Toyota fans.  This job is not easy and should not be attempted by anyone other than a seasoned Toyota expert with proper tools and equipment.  The consequences of doing even the smallest step wrong on this engine will require the entire job be redone, total engine destruction, and/or bodily harm.

On to it.

The first step is to open the gas cap up before disconnecting the battery.  You’ll see why later.

Get the vehicle on the lift, lock the steering wheel in place, and remove the engine shrouds:

Shroud Removal

Shroud Removal

Then pull the battery:

Battery Removal

Battery Removal

Remove the negative terminal first.  Wait 10 minutes before you do anything else so any system capacitance can dissipate.  Pull the battery tray too. The out comes some intake tubing:

More Airbox Removal

More Airbox Removal

The upper airbox at the throttle body is held on with a 10mm clamp, the box clamped shut with spring clamps, and the fresh air intake by a series of 10mm bolts, clips, etc.  You’ll need to disconnect the MAF sensor connector, various evaporative emissions hoses, and vacuum feed lines.  Most of the lines and connectors get moved out of the way for now.

Pull out the lower section of the airbox.  A few 10mm bolts hold it in.  (No picture of this step, but removed in later photos).

NOT PICTURED: Remove the vacuum feed line from the back of the intake manifold to the brake booster.

Open the main engine fuse box on the driver’s side.  A few things need to be disconnected:

Fuse Block Before

Fuse Block Before

Disconnect and unbolt until it looks like the below.  There is a sneaky tab that hold part of the harness in as well, and there may be a ziptie that needs to be cut as well.

Fuse Block After

Fuse Block After

Move the disconnected harness off to the side, disconnecting ground straps and connector secures as needed to move it near the throttle body.  This harness is coming out with the drivetrain.  Separate the positive terminal 12mm nut, releasing the cable that runs to the starter.  The starter cable can be moved to the side of the starter (you’ll have to release a few connector secures so the cable is entirely free of the body), the positive terminal off to the side of the engine bay.  The starter cable is being removed with the drivetrain (this picture is upside down):

Battery Terminal Separate

Battery Terminal Separate

Next, remove the passenger side engine mount:

Remove Upper Mount

Remove upper mount

The mount is removed in two parts- a small black piece that connects to the lower intake manifold and the main mount that secures to the body.

Disconnect the Bank 2 Air/Fuel ratio sensor connector from the upper radiator hose:

Upper Coolant Hose Disconnect

Upper coolant hose disconnect

Disconnect the fuel supply line and transmission shift control cable:

Fuel Line Disconnect

Fuel line disconnect

If you can’t disconnect the transmission cable at the collar and tab that hold it in place, you can unbolt it from the transmission:

Unbolted transmission line, moved up

Unbolted transmission line, moved up

On the fuel line:

Pull cover down and off

Pull cover down and off

And the line exposed:

Fuel line connector

Fuel line connector

The fuel line disconnect cover can be removed by pulling downward, then the line squeezed.  There will be a small amount of fuel spray when you disconnect the line so be ready.  Cover the exposed to minimized fuel dripping or pooling.  Small amounts of fuel will escape when the lines are moved about.  Remember when you removed the gas cap?  Because the fuel line is disconnected, any pressure that builds in the tank will push it’s way out this disconnected line.  With the pressure relieved by the cap you’ll have less fuel dripping as you work on the car.

Evactuate the AC from the vehicle.  The ports are indicated below by the red and blue fittings.  Check the circled spots for ground straps to disconnect as well.  Any harness wires that connect the body to the drivetrain need to be removed and set aside.  There may be others depending on the application so check the entire drivetrain for ground straps.  They will break if you try and remove the engine with them still attached.

AC evacuation, ground straps

AC evacuation, ground straps

The above also shows how to position some of the harnesses and lines to minimize them catching on the chassis as it is raised off the drivetrain.

Disconnect the ECM harness connector.  THIS METAL BRACKET IS SHARP!

ECU Disconnect Position

ECU Disconnect Position

Now disconnect the ECU by releasing the connector tab and pivoting the connector lever outward.  Make sure the  lever is perpendicular to the main connector before pulling.   If you don’t fully release the connector before pulling you risk breaking the securing tabs on the ECM or harness:

Disconnect ECU

Disconnect ECU

Some 2GR-FE ECUs are in the cabin behind the glovebox.  For these you will need to pull the glovebox, disconnect the ECU and other connectors in there, and feed the harness through the firewall.  Put tape over all exposed connectors at the ECM and ECM harness.  Anything that gets in there will ruin your day.

Cover The ECU

Cover The ECU

Moving on to the suspension (the following few steps need to be done for both front suspension assemblies):

Front Suspension Disconnect Guide

Front Suspension Disconnect Guide

The front swaybar needs to be released from the strut and the axle from the hub/knuckle.  Using a thread chaser on the swaybar endlink threads is a good first step for rusty threads:

Chase Front Link Studs

Chase Front Link Studs

The threads on the factory links on this ES350 are M12*1.25.  With a strategic application of heat, a 17mm wrench and 6mm allen, work the links loose from both front struts.  Move them off to the side:

Disconnected front links

Disconnected front links

Unstake the front axle nut:

Unstake front axle nut

Unstake front axle nut

And remove the nut.  A 1/2″ impact is the best tool for this.

Remove front axle nut

Remove front axle nut

And drive in the axle with an air hammer using the indent in the tip of the axle.  Don’t hit the end of the axle with a hammer.  The threads will be damaged and you’ll be unable to put the axle nut back on with out repairing the threads.

Push in front axle

Push in front axle

Now disconnect the lower ball joint from the control arm.  There are two nuts and one bolt per side:

Control arm

Control arm

Once removed the arm should tilt a bit:

Control arm released

Control arm released

And pop them loose with a pry bar:

Control arm free

Control arm free

Swing the ball joint free.  Now cut the cotter pin on both outer tie roads and run the tire rods off with an impact:

Tie rod cut cotter pin

Tie rod cut cotter pin

With some strategic hammer hits the outer tie rod should pop free.  Use this extra play in the knuckle to pull the axle out free of the hub and knuckle.  The suspension is now disconnected.

Removed axle

Removed axle

Both wheel wells have inner splash shields that need to be removed.  Two bolts and one clip secure them each:

Removed splash shield

Removed splash shield, driver’s side

The next step is to drain fluids and remove the exhaust to gain access to the upper and lower oil pans (both which must be removed before dropping the drivetrain out).  Here’s what we’re working with (note the lift arm locations aren’t too close to the rear subframe brackets, which is important later):

Under car view

Under car view

Start by draining the radiator:

Radiator drain

Radiator drain, open with tube directing coolant

And the engine oil:

Draining the oil

Draining the oil

In the above you can see some of the oil buildup from the timing cover leak on the rear of the subframe.  It was a big one.  Continue by disconnecting the front power steering soft line from the hard line at the subframe (hint: its on the right front of the subframe near the A/C compressor).  It’s a tight squeeze to get the hose off after releasing the clamp.  Beware the power steering reservoir will drain when you pull this line:

Front power steering line

Front power steering line draining

Disconnect the air/fuel ratio sensors, located on top of the subframe near the front:

A/F sensor connectors

A/F sensor connectors

The fasteners for the exhaust that need to be removed:

Exhaust fastener location

Exhaust fastener location

Two fasteners at the front bank, two at the rear bank, two at the back of the pipe, and two that secure the exhaust to the upper oil pan all must be removed.  You may need to remove the rubber hanger as well, depending on how flexible the exhaust is (not pictured).

Remove the hanger bracket that was above the exhaust and cover for the flex plate:

Exhaust hanger bracket

Exhaust hanger bracket upper

And removed:

Exhaust hanger bracket removed

Exhaust hanger bracket removed

Now remove the lower oil pan by pulling all the 10mm fasteners.  There is a hidden 10mm nut on a stud above the subframe.  This one requires some tool creativity.

Removing lower oil pan fasteners

Removing lower oil pan fasteners and this hard to get nut

Once the lower oil pan bolts and nuts are out, use a seal cutter tool to break the epoxy seal at this pry location.  Go easy!  Rushing this will result in a destroyed lower or upper oil pan:

Lower oil pan pry location

Lower oil pan pry location

Work the pan loose until the epoxy begins to release all around:

Lower oil pan removed

Lower oil pan partial removal

Remove the oil pickup tube, preparing to remove the upper oil pan:

Remove oil pickup tube

Remove oil pickup tube, still connected

And the connector to the oil pressure sensor:

Oil pressure sensor

Oil pressure sensor connector

And the connector and harness securing tab for the oil level sensor:

Oil level connector

Oil level connector removed out of the way

You don’t need to remove the oil level sensor.  Now it is time for the upper oil pan to be removed.  There is a hidden large bolt that holds the transmission to the upper oil pan, threading in from the transmission side:

Hidden upper oil pan bolt

Hidden upper oil pan bolt

The rest are fairly easy to see, some inside the oil pan:

Upper oil pan bolt locations

Upper oil pan bolt locations

Remove the stud underneath the crank pulley as well.  If you do not remove this stud the upper oil pan cannot clear the subframe easily.  This is more important during installation, but do it now to make removal easier:

Remove this stud

Remove this stud

The upper oil pan has three pry locations.  One on the front by the transmission:

Front pry spot

Front pry spot

On the back of the upper oil pan by the transmission:

Rear pry spot

Rear pry spot

And up front by the crank pulley:

Pry spot by the crank pulley

Pry spot by the crank pulley

Using those pry spots, pop the upper oil pan loose.  If there is any unusual fight to get it loose, check to make sure you didn’t miss any bolts.  You will slightly fight the dipstick o-ring off, but it shouldn’t prevent the oil pan from popping loose.  Don’t forget the little 10mm dudes by the transmission.  Once the upper oil pan is off, remove the circled o-rings for the oil pump:

Upper oil pan off

Upper oil pan off, oil pump o-rings before removal

Disconnect both transmission lines at the radiator:

Transmission lines

Transmission lines, unclamped but still in place

And plug them with some bolts to prevent dripping fluid out the transmission during the repairs:

Plugged transmission lines

Plugged transmission lines

Disconnect the power steering line at the pump.  Beware, this is very messy:

Power steering line at pump

Power steering line at pump still secured

Moving back up top, remove the two 10mm bolts that securing the A/C lines to the compressor:

Compressor bolts

Compressor bolt locations

And tape the ports after moving the lines out of the way.  Don’t want debris in the compressor!

Compressor taped

Compressor ports taped

Remove the lower radiator hose at the thermostat housing.  Why here?  It’s easier than digging around at the base of the radiator:

Lower radiator hose at thermostat housing

Lower radiator hose at thermostat housing, clamp removed

And remove the upper radiator hose at the engine side:

Upper radiator hose

Upper radiator hose, still connected

Pop off the upper and lower heater core hoses as well, labeling which hose goes on top:

Heater core hoses, still connected

Heater core hoses, still connected

Time to remove the drivetrain from the vehicle.  Make a few sweeps of the engine bay for connectors, vacuum lines, coolant lines and ground straps you may have missed.  Removing the drivetrain is done by setting the subframe on a table and removing 4 main bolts and their securing brackets (reusing a picture from above):

Subframe securing bolts and brackets

Subframe securing bolts and brackets

With the subframe securely resting on a rolling table that can support the weight of the vehicle, unbolt the bracket bolts first, then the main four bolts that hold the subframe to the vehicle.  Slowly, inch by inch and while checking everything for clearance, lift the chassis off of the drivetrain.

Things that like to catch are the transmission shift cable, the lower radiator hose (it barely clear the A/C compressor), the A/C lines, and the power steering pump.  Easy does it.  Eventually you’ll have this:

Engine out

Engine out

Here’s what you’re looking at on the front of the engine:

Engine front, labeled

Engine front, labeled

 

To be continued!