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Oh that 1ZZ-FE and the spectre of oil consumption.


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I hope my fellow forum members will allow me a little understanding and forebearance with this topic.Is it truly a guide or an opinion,am I flying the flag or banging the drum a bit? I don't think so,I have a great appreciation for these engines,for their clever design,the vvt-i in so many ways is far superior to the V-tech although I do wish it gave you the same kick in the pants when you hit 6000 but that's not what it's about nor is it trying to be.Again I hope this post/guide/opinion/ is thought reasonable enough to qualify as I truly do wish to at the very least inform those who may be contemplating that most maligned motor,the 2001-2005 1.8 vvt-i. The most infamous 1ZZ-FE.

It's hardly a revelation that the later T22s,the vvt-i's in the late Y-reg to 03 reg range are often considered more of a risky second hand buy than the earlier pre mid-model facelift T22s when it comes to buying the 1.6 and 1.8 petrol engined versions.The 2.0 vvt-i was a different family of engine so wasn't cursed with the ZZ genes which plagued early 1ZZs,2ZZs and 3ZZs.Also the diesels completely sidestep this issue too so unless you're buying a 1.6 or 1.8 vvt-i then by all means read on as it may be interesting but any issues brought up here really don't effect you.Feel completely free to be quietly smug ūüôā

That weakness,the infamous deadly curse to all the offspring in the ZZ family,pre 2005 is a prodigious thirst for the amber nectar. i.e 5W 30 fully synthetic motor Oil.I've read posts by owners of Corollas,stateside funnily enough of burning through a quart of Oil in 50-100 miles.A quart being quarter of a gallon although their puny gallons aren't quite a robust as ours so not quite the full 2 pints I imagine.Nonetheless what,say a litre or litre and half of Oil in 100 miles.That is firmly in old oily CVH XR2/XR3 territory.Yes,exactly that bad !! The thing is whether you think exaggeration or suddenly start to feel a lot less keen on that 52 plate Vermont you had in mind the fact Toyota dealers were replacing short blocks on a number of customers cars strongly suggests there was a definite problem here,dealerships do not replace engines or suffer the man hours costs lightly so clearly there was and is fire behind all that blue oily smoke.That I don't think anyone would dispute.

Ok,this is Toyota were talking about not Audi or Mercedes (am joking,am just not a fan of AutoUnions but I have owned one in the past,an Audi 80 Sport no less so...).How did Toyota come up with a seemingly badly envisioned lame duck like the ZZ and it's brood.Well,in actual fact it's quite a clever and innovative engine that had some weaknesses designed in,pretty glaringly obvious one with hindsight but I'm sure there's an apt expression concerning hindsight.Maybe we should include some rose tinted glasses for the designers too.

Some of the less well thought out areas we can highlight all pretty much centre around the lubrication system.For one,a modern 1800 16 valve engine with only 3.6 litres of Oil including the filter seems like asking for trouble but then if you add the variable valve timing/cam phaser system which maybe be triggered and controlled expertly by the ECU,it's plain old Oil pressure that moves the moving parts.It does seem like a lot to ask of not exactly a lot of Oil.I mean a typical 1.8 or 2.0 twin cam at the time would normally have 4.5 say.I'm thinking Vauxhall and Ford here as those are both makes I've a long history with.In a typical Zetec,Ecotec or Redtop (ah,the Redtop) there's no tricky valve timing nonsense to trouble the Oil system with.

Again,Toyota aren't stupid,not by a long shot and much of the thinking behind the reduced Oil capacity was to avoid a bath of Oil laying in the sump as the engine runs.If the big ends are paddling in an Oil bath,even just dipping their toes then that's extra drag which absorbs heat,causes friction and even churns up a frothy mist of Oil in the crankcase.It's takes some of that precious power churning up the engine Oil in the sump,the Oil mist can increase crankcase pressure and air bubbles in your lube isn't as cool as it sounds.There are good reasons to try to lessen the effect so less actual Oil means you will have a lot less of the Oil that's just been around the block,so to speak collecting in the sump.It passes go and straight back up the Oil pick up for another lap.Of course,having some of that Oil in your sump may cause windage but iut also allows the Oil that precious moment to cool down some.The ZZs Oil isn't getting that adventageous cooling effect so is running hotter.

Hotter Oil will break down quicker but if you only use top quality fully synthetic Oil and rigourously change it at the specified time or mileage then what could go wrong.Ok,how about lower tension piston rings that aren't forced against the cylinder wall to the same degree as usual.Reduced friction,reduces heat,drag and therefore robs less power and increases efficiency.This engine was expected to return good fuel figures and mine has always been around 39-43 mpg combined.I drive with very little consideration of mpg unless my predicted range is lower than the miles to the next petrol station.That's in town,back roads,country lanes,dual carriageways daily,to me that's pretty good for a car approaching 19 and over 200,000 miles on the clock. I digress,rings.If the rings aren't as hard against the cylinder wall they're not creating as much friction or heat but they're not sealing the cylinder as effectively either which afterall is important.While we're on the subject of rings,the cooling holes under the Oil control ring are incredibly small compared to the typical piston in similar engines plus they are only 4 of them.

Maybe initially not a great concern but in an engine running a little hotter,possibly experiencing more combustion gases being blown by the lower tension piston rings,the Oil overworked,a little hotter than it need be and if not changed religiously carrying some contaminants then being forced through narrow holes in the very hot piston lands tarnishing and deposits can build up remarkably quickly blocking those precious holes also robbing the pistons of the scant cooling they require.Take a look at the size of the Oil filter,it's so dinky it's cute lol. The 7A-FE engine used in the initial run of T22s had an Oil cooler without any of the potential inbuilt Oil woes,why didn't the 1ZZ ? Have no idea but it would surely help unless the extra piping and diversion of so low a volume of Oil would further reduce Oil pressure,it makes sense in some way.Well,much like war where the battle plan is foolproof until the first shot is fired these engines where inspired until people started to buy cars with them and didn't treat them quite as dillegently as they so obviously require.A few missed Oil changes,cheap Oil,leave out changing the filter this time and.....

So,in a world where fossil fuels are clearly a finite resource the last thing anyone needs in to buy a cheap 2nd hand motor that requires almost as much Oil as petrol.Why would anyone want to buy one of these just to burn Oil and money out the tailpipe.Well,in my experience even a half decently cared for 1ZZ-FE with 160,000 miles won't necessarily be an Oil burner.Itcould have had it's block replaced under warranty.All the problems were ironed out by 2005 or 2006 so a T25 with a 1ZZ or 3ZZ can be a truly viable proposition but so can a T22 if you take a little time to check the thing out.Even one on it's original engine can have a solid motor that sips the Oil like a teetotller,not all are rampant oilaholics.A lot of the T22s still on the road and on the market have been looked after and cared for.Probably had all their required Oil changes,services and used the right Oil of good quality.If that's the case it's a winner and if the Oil changes are maintained it may never turn to the dark side.

I own a 2002 Vermont with the dread 1ZZ-FE.I've had it for over 6 years now and have done 70,00+ miles in it and I can categorically say it goes through Oil like I go through tea and water.Worse,even especially if my right foot starts getting a little heavy.I do 350-450 miles a week typically and can use anything from a litre to several over a month.It seems excessive to me and in any other engine I'd be greatly concerned but not with this one.It doesn't use Oil or burn Oil but has an annoyingly impossible to get to Oil leak that although it isn't messy in terms of driveway or even for that matter engine bay none the less it's an issue which I suspect troubles and has troubled a lot more ZZs than people realise.When at first I got the car I only then began to read about the Oil dangers I could expect to face so I kept a troubled eye on my Oil use,which after running /ford motors for years I was already well schooled in but it felt like it was an inevitable future.Not if but when and when did come to pass. Yet it baffled me becasue once it began it seemed to use a fair bit at times so why were there no cat issues,oily spark plugs,fault codes or cloulds of blue smoke.If it wasn't using it was losing yet never was there a tiny Oil stain on the tarmac or oily gunk in every corner of the engine bay. It took replacing a bottom radiator hose or more to the point jacking up the front,removing the driverside wheel and wheelarch liner to inspect the bottom hose for me to see the fresh Oil around the power steering pump area.In fact,.my very first M.O.T owning it came back with a leaking power steering hose advisory except it wasn't wet with power steering fluid but reasonably clean full synthetic Oil. Have you done an Oil change with brand new,good quality 5W 30 fully synthetic.You top up,let it settle and check the dipstick and are surprised to see no Oil on it.except there is.It's fresh,the colour of water,as this and viscous as water being fully synthetic so careful Oil level checking is required.  With a leak around the area of the timing chain cover and chain tensioner the Oil doesn't leak exactly but is forced out as the engine is running,the faster the engine is running the greater the volume of Oil is evacuated but seeing as it is being constantly replenished with fresh Oil almost weekly it rarely turns black or gets thick and gloopy so is incredibly hard to actually see any sign of,with no chance looking from above.You would have to look from underneath,in the right area and either be lucky or suspect it already.Otherwis the chance of confirming that's what's happening are very low.

And why would you even look,there is a massive reputation that blights this poor engines name so when you're going through Oil faster than normal you don't require an answer because it's already there,these engines burn Oil like nobody's business,dealers changed blocks under warranty.It's not a conspiracy theory it's fact and depending on the car and it's history a solid gold one at that but don't be so quick to play the Oil burning card.As I said,I personally though cannot in anyway proove it but I do suspect a lot of them were leaking rather than burning.The bad name though earned to a degree although it's just like dogs,there's no bad dogs just bad,awful dog owners well there's is and has been terrible Avensis owners,it's not the fault of the Avensis.

The T22 in particular is a fine car that's still on the road aplenty despite being replaced almost 18 years ago.Look on ebay,autocar or your local paper there's no shortage of good,well looked after T22s for sale with some still commanding good money for a car that old.I mean,when was the last time you saw a T22 in the scrapyard. How many Hondas,Audis,Mondeos and Passats or Golfs were there,a fair few I bet. A 1.8 vvt-i is a great 2nd hand car if it's in good shape,I'm sure the 1.6 vvt-i would be too but sounds a little underpowered for my tastes but for others it would be ideal.

And again in it's own right the 1ZZ-FE is a really good engine,especially in it's 143bhp Celica version.The variable valve is completely different to a V-tech which is really about power,the vvt-i is about producing good levels of torque low down,power towards the upper end of the rev range plus good economy at all times,which it does.I find it easier to think of as having variable valve overlap rather than variable timing./cam advance but it's essentially the same thing,a bit like Zebras are the white with black stripes or are black striped over white...same thing !! When they work,they're smooth,quiet,torquey low down,propell the Avensis along nicely,relaible as it gets whether consuming masses of Oil or not,that's the weirdest thing they may get through Oil one way or another but they still start every morning and pass emissions tests every year.

Now,that really is a clever trick it beats even pea and ham from a chicken 

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Interesting post Bob. I had a 7A-FE leanburn burn and it was a nice engine. Had it's minor faults, but did good service. I had a friend who had W reg T22 with the 1ZZ engine that had the high Oil consumption, and another friend who had a T25 with the same engine and same Oil issue. My friend with the T22 then got a '57 plate T25 facelift estate with 1ZZ, and it was fine. Toyota got the engine to what it should have been from the start! Unfortunately my friends T25 estate was written off a few months into his ownership, so he got a 2007 Prius, later updated to a 2012 Prius. My other friend changed her car to a 2012 1.3 Yaris and she loves it. The point is, unless you research a car for known issues before buying, some owners only find out later! 
I jumped from the leanburn T22 to the T27 (58) plate 1.8 Valvematic Tourer. I was aware of the EPB (electric parking brake), so did a little research. I also discovered the door cracking issue! I did have issues with the EPB, but one was due to a gear position sensor not securely connected after a clutch replacement, the other when I used the wrong diagnostic to reset the EPB after rear brake pad change! Both fixed. 
I still see quite a few T22 and T25, both pre and post facelifts on the road. Also remember the AD diesel engine head gasket issue. That is a story in itself.
The Valvematic engine has it's own issue with cars 2010 to 2012 model year. The Valvematic controller can go faulty, with an expensive repair. 
If I owned an Oil burning 1ZZ and had liked the car a lot, I would try and source an engine from a later write off.
Oh yes, the AZ direct injection engines are not without their issues, and a new problem is coming to them in the form of higher ethanol in the fuel!

It would be good to hear the thought of owners with the other engines.    

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