5 Common Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L Engine Problems (Sienna, Venza)

If you are in the market for a Toyota with the 1AR-FE, 2.7l engine which was introduced in 2008, you probably wonder what its common engine problems are. If that’s correct, you are in the right place because, in this article, there will be a lot to cover on this specific engine.

Doing your own homework is always a good idea when it comes to buying a used vehicle. Research is key if you don’t want to end up in a money pit full of problems. And when it comes to cars, there are a lot of ways that you can get in deep trouble if you don’t pay attention to the history of problems that each of these powertrains has. But you shouldn’t worry because that’s why we are here to help you out.

First, we are going to learn more about the basics of the 1AR-FE engines and understand the specs of this engine. Then, we are going to cover the Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L engine problems and see what troubles this engine has. Lastly, we will cover some of the applications of this engine. So, let’s dive into the article.

Basic Toyota 1AR-FE Engine Specs

The Toyota 1AR-FE engine is an engine that was developed by Toyota. This engine belongs to the AR family of engines.

The AR engine debuted in 2008 and was designed to replace the previous AZ engine that has been in production for quite a while.

When it comes to the engine design, the 1AR-FE is an inline-4 design, naturally aspirated. This engine is designed purely for SUVs and minivans produced by Toyota.

This is why this engine has a taller block. A longer stroke is needed for these heavy applications. For those who don’t know, the longer the stroke, the stronger torque the engine delivers, and this is a very effective way to create a lot of usable power.

The block itself is aluminum and uses cast iron sleeves. A benefit of this engine is the usage of a DOHC head. This means that this engine uses a double overhead camshaft layout with two cams. One for the exhaust and one for the intake.

On top of that, the head also uses dual VVT-i. Which is the variable valve timing. This system is added both on the intake and the exhaust camshaft. It helps create more power and also increases efficiency.

Nevertheless, here are the full specs of this 1AR-FE engine.

  • Configuration: inline-4
  • Displacement: 2.7L
  • Bore: 90 mm
  • Stroke: 105 mm
  • Block & Head Material: Aluminum
  • Head Design: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Fuel Injection: Port Injection
  • Horsepower: 182 – 187 hp
  • Torque: 182 – 186 lb-ft

Common Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L Engine Problems

Common problems of the Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L engine include:

  • Oil Consumption
  • Water Pump Leaks
  • VVT-i Knocks
  • Timing Chain Stretches
  • Low Lifespan

We listed the most common problems with the 1AR-FE engine, now let’s learn more about them. So, why do we need this?

Well, in order for you to be an expert, you need to understand when and how these problems happen. As well as the common symptoms they create. Only by learning, you will be able to tell if this specific car has one of these problems. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the problems and elaborate on them one by one.

1. Oil Consumption

The first and most common problem with the 1AR-FE engine is oil consumption. So, what is oil consumption and why does it occur?

Oil consumption is an issue where the engine consumes an excessive amount of engine oil. This excessive amount can be a quart every 1,000 miles, sometimes even more.

And although by Toyota standards this is normal, in reality, this is not normal. At least it’s not practical to top off the engine oil constantly. You can forget and leave your engine low on oil.

But why does this problem happen in the first place? Well, this problem is by design. These engines tend to have piston rings that tend to fail.

They end up glued on the ring land and are not doing their job. Then in the second stage, they will start scraping the cylinder liners and wear out the internals.

That’s why when you have an engine that consumes so much engine oil it is recommended that you avoid it.

And the most common engines to consume so much oil are the ones with high miles. The higher the mileage, the worse the problem will get.

The only way around will be to do a rebuild or get a new engine. That’s why we advise that you are careful.

Now let’s move on to the next Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L engine problems.

2. Water Pump Leaks

Another very common problem with the 1AR-FE engine is the situation with the water pump.

For those who don’t know, the water pump is the component that circulates water around the engine in order for the engine to cool down.

So, what happens on these engines is that the water pump starts to leak coolant. And whenever this happens, the water pump will underperform.

This will allow coolant to escape and let the engine overheat. Usually, when the water pump starts to fail, you will also experience strange noises coming from the water pump.

So, if you notice that there are noises and leaks surrounding the water pump, and also if the engine starts to run at higher temperatures, it is important that you replace this water pump with a new unit.

3. VVT-i Knocks

Another common problem with this engine that in reality is not really a problem is the rapid knocking created by the VVT-i system.

We say that this isn’t a problem because this issue is not serious and can be considered normal because there is nothing faulty inside the engine.

What happens is that on start-up, there is a low oil pressure in the camshaft phasers. And this lack of oil pressure is going to cause them to knock under certain conditions.

But as soon as enough oil pressure is created, the knocking sound will stop. That’s why you should not panic when you experience rattling noises at start-up because this is highly likely because of the VVT-i solenoids.

Now let’s move on to the next Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L engine problems.

4. Timing Chain Stretches

There are also situations when the timing chain stretches and this causes a rattling noise to develop in the engine. So, why is this the case?

Well, this is the case because the engine uses a timing chain in order to keep the timing. And this chain is not something that will last for a lifetime.

Sooner or later you will have to replace it when it starts to rattle. This rattling noise often happens somewhere at about 150,000 miles (ca. 241,402 km).

On some engines, it is even sooner. What is worth noting is that this problem can easily total out your engine.

We are saying this because the timing chain tends to jump and whenever it does so, this will allow the engine to skip timing.

Sometimes only by a few degrees, but this will end up bending your valves. And if this happens, the valves will not seal well and you will lose compression.

The solution will be a new cylinder head or a new engine if the damage is too much. That’s why you should beware of the timing chain rattle.

5. Low Lifespan

A problem with this engine in general is its low lifespan. So, why is this the case?

Well, this engine tends to consume more oil than normal. And this basically junks the engine. The higher the mileage, the more oil the engine will consume.

In the best-case scenario, these engines could last up to 300,000 miles (ca. 482,803 km). But this is rather unlikely. Most likely the engine will last anywhere between 150,000 miles (ca. 241,402 km) and 200,000 miles (ca. 321,869 km).

Whenever the miles accumulate, you will have to either rebuild the engine or replace the short block with a new one by Toyota.

This is why we advise that you watch out for oil-burning engines because the repairs can cost you a whole fortune.

And sometimes it is very difficult to tell if an engine consumes oil because this often happens over a period of 1,000 miles. So, your best bet would be to guide yourself with the mileage of the engine. The higher the miles, the more oil the engine usually consumes.

Which Models Have The 1AR-FE Engine?

  • 1st Generation Toyota Venza 2009-2015
  • 2nd Generation Toyota Highlander XU40 2007-2013
  • 3rd Generation Toyota Highlander XU50 2013-2021
  • 3rd Generation Toyota Sienna XL30 2011-2020
  • 3rd Generation Lexus RX AL10 2010-2015


What Are The Most Common Toyota 1AR-FE 2.7L Engine Problems?

Common problems with the 1AR-FE engine include high oil consumption, knocking noises from the cam phasers of the VVT-i system, timing chain stretching, and water pump leaks. Overall, the engine is pretty good, except for the fact that it tends to overconsume oil as it packs on mileage.

Make sure you buy either a low mileage car with this engine or one with a detailed maintenance history.

Is The Toyota 1AR-FE Engine Reliable?

The 2.7L in general is a very reliable engine. The only thing that affects its reliability is the situation with increased oil consumption. This is why we often advise people to stay away from high-mileage Toyota models from this era because they tend to be very serious oil consumers. The solution for this problem will require an engine rebuild or an engine replacement. Something that can be very expensive.

This engine is not as reliable as the Toyota 1UR-FE engine or the 1GD-FTV diesel engine.

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