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Guest CanadianRolla

'99 Corolla Ce - Engine Swap

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Guest CanadianRolla

Hey guys,

 

After a leak-down test on my '99s engine, I'm told that my piston rings are probably fried. Based on seriously low compression numbers 150-100-95-150. And I'm also told that the easiest way to solve this problem is to swap out the engine, or reman the entire block/many of the hard components. But the reman costs way more than engine replacement.

 

What are my options here? I read a previous post that talked about previous successful engine swaps for this gen. of Corolla but what I'm more concerned about, since I know that virtually anything is possible - is more about what parts would need replacement as well if I avoided going with a 1ZZ-FE (non-VVTi) engine.

 

To make this easier on you ZZ model buffs, I'll add what I've got - related to engine parts:

 

• Full stainless cat-back exhaust (stock headers)

• All new sparks & wires

• Interstate MTP Battery

• Stock radiator/cooling system

• Short Ram CAI (Also have a CAI for newer VVT-i applications so that's taken care of)

• Stock oil-drainage system (Oil Pan - will it need to be replaced for a different shape orientation?)

• Strut-Tower Bar (Will this come into conflict with the new engine's size/shape?)

 

So aside from the obvious need for a new brain-box and the re-oriented CAI (which I have) what else would need to be changed? And if I upgraded to the 180hp Celica/Matrix XRS engine would I need a new tranny? I've currently got the stock 4-speed automatic since this car was a used purchase and I didn't have a choice. <_<

 

Thanks!

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another 1ZZ would be the best route and your issue is likely seized rings not worn rings, due to neglect from the previous owner not changing oil and literally cooking it into carbon around the rings.

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You compression numbers are not very good - but not seriously bad either (you are still making some compression). Very possible that you can get those number back up there if you "unstick" the rings. I'd only go the engine swap out if the short block is knwon to be toast. Someone here had compression number much worse than yours and took little less than $300? to get it rebuilt. With a swap - you take a chance that it could be worse than what you have (also on this site, someone swapped in a newer 1ZZ-FE, ended up spending 3x what he expected in the beginning to get it fixed right).

 

Of you current equipment listed:

 

Full stainless cat-back exhaust (stock headers)

All new sparks & wires

Interstate MTP Battery

Stock radiator/cooling system

Short Ram CAI (Also have a CAI for newer VVT-i applications so that's taken care of)

Stock oil-drainage system (Oil Pan - will it need to be replaced for a different shape orientation?)

Strut-Tower Bar (Will this come into conflict with the new engine's size/shape?)

 

Should not be any issue if you replace the engine with another 1998-1999 1ZZ-FE. If you opt to run for the 1ZZ-FE w/VVTi on the later 8th gen Corollas - you cannot use the plug wires (they switched to coil on plug setup) and possible the plugs, depending on which ones you got. Possible clearance issue with the strut bar, depending on where is crossed the engine and its overall thickness/design. Either case should mount up to the stock engine mount points, exhaust location should be right there, sump design and cooling needs would be a non-issue. Transaxles will not be a problem as the two are interchangeable between the two engines. Big difference between the two 1ZZ-FE here would be in the wiring harness and associated ECM (control for VVTi basically).

 

If you opt for the 2ZZ-GE from the Celica GT-S/Matrix XRS / Corolla XRS or the 1ZZ-FE from the newer 9th gen Corolla/Matrix and Celica GT/MR2 - then you will have to do a bit more fabrication, the A131L/A245E transaxles are NOT recommended for the 2ZZ-GE. Even with an auxillary oil cooler, the gearing does not match the powerband. If you don't want to use the 6-speed, you can use a 4-speed auto transaxle from the Celica GT-S or 2003 Matrix XRS (only available in this model year for the Matrix). If is a different 4-speed design, different programming and the torque converter stall speed is better matched to the 2ZZ-GE characteristics.

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Guest CanadianRolla

Thanks guys! You've been a big help. I'll be reading this throughout the week to see if anyone else has anything to impart. But I'd like to respond to let people know that I'm still here and extremely interested in hearing what everyone's got to say.

 

Now, things I should mention:

 

• I've had the car in for a leak-down test. (already stated)

• They flushed the engine to see if the compression could be restored easily with oil-prep and sludge removal. (didn't work all that well)

• I've been told things like "It could be the head-gasket baffling between the two cylinders giving the two super-low numbers."

• I've heard things like "I'd be more likely to say it's the piston rings.

• And I've been told, "There's also unusual noise coming from the valve-system."

 

Would these things change the current diagnosis of 'an easy remachine' or are these all part and parcel of this kind of engine related trouble?

 

Much appreciated guys!

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Hard to say for sure - as hear say and side remarks from the technician doesn't really say what is wrong with the engine. A compression test (wet and dry) will tell you almost immediately if the rings are stuck. You will only know for sure if the engine is pulled apart - but there are things they can do to keep that as a last resort. A leak down test is similar to a compression test - but usually done to determine if the loss of compression is from the valveseals - which is another likely source for leaks. A flush would be the last thing I would have done to the car - as that could mess up any diagnostic work you have done to that point. If there was sludge in the engine - that would be potentially freed up and could be plugging up critical oil passages in the cylinder head. That could lead to "unusually" sounds from the valvetrain. That said - the 1ZZ-FE is known to be a very noisy engine, has no bearing on its function or service lifespan. A blown headgasket is possible - they can verify that with used oil analysis for coolant contamination or a "sniffer"/chemical test on the cooling system to see if there are exhaust gases present.

 

For less headaches - I'd rebuild the existing engine. If the engine is known to be damaged for sure (could be, since they just flushed the engine without doing any additional diagnostic work) - then it would be cheaper to swap in an engine than completely rebuild the engine. Keep in mind - if you rebuild your engine, you will know exactly what has been done. If you swap - even if the engine is low mileage - you could end up with another oil burner on you hands or worse. Safest way to get a donor engine is from a known running car that had some catastrophic unitbody damage that makes it unsuitable for road use. Unfortunantly, those donors also command a premium price. If you have time - I'd call around to get some price estimates - then make the call after you've covered all the bases.

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