Toyota 3S engines and broken connecting rod

© Toyota-Club.Net
May 2016

Dedicated to the 30th anniversary since the beginning of 3S-FE engine production (1986-2003)...

In the "big review" we mentioned the most unpleasant feature of the deserved Toyota motor. Let us examine this in more detail.


When engine is running, the head of one connecting rod bolt breaks off, then the second bolt breaks, and then rotating crankshaft and disconnected conrod cause catastrophic engine destruction. Often the connecting rod pierces through the engine block - hence the rus-folklore term "fist (hand) of friendship."

Photo: and car owners.


The incidences with broken conrod were observed even at early 3S-FE (1986-1991, 1991-1996), however, then it is perceived as "individual case" which could be attributed to the local driving conditions.

This failure has become "feature", strangely, after the arrival in the country of more recent models equipped with modernized 3S-FE (1996-2003).

And it became truly massive problem for vehicles with 3S-FSE engine. The first "exploded" D-4 we have seen here in 2003, well, dealers and repairers in the east have been aware earlier.


enerally, conrod breakage is popularly considered as the consequences of sticking pistons or bearings, accusing the oil quality, the gasoline quality, cooling, driving mode ... but without thinking about the inborn design defects.

However, in the case of Toyota 3S-FE / 3S-FSE engines the cause of failure is insufficient strength of connecting rod bolts.

Firstly it was realized by those who broke the conrod bolts when tightening it even to the specified torque during engine overhaul, and by spare parts distributors.

Alas, the part number does not highlight the "bad" bolt - 13265-62030 was used for less troubled early 3S-FE of second revision (from the beginning of the 1990s) as well as for more troubled late 3S-FE (since 1996) Also 13265-74030 was used for all 3S-FSE.

Therefore, to reduce the probability of failure is perhaps that:
- Never re-use bolts when engine overhaul
- Tighten the new bolts strictly to specified torque

A small note about the interchangeability. For Japanese market models with 3S-FE (since the second revision to the production end), it is prescribed to use "native" 13265-62030 bolts. For models of all overseas markets with 3S-FE, it is prescribed 13265-74030 bolt (genuine for 3S-FSE) as a substitution for 13265-62030.


Only in 11 (!) years after 3S-FSE production end, Toyota uncovered some useful information. We are talking about the recall # 2919 (12.04.2012).

Problem: The strength of the connecting rod bolt is insufficient. Under the influence of the deteriorated engine oil products it may be damaged. This will lead to engine failure which could cause an accident or fire.

Fix: Replace all connecting rod bolts. Inform the owners of regular oil change necessity. Mark fixed car with paint.

Coverage: Models with 3S-FSE engine - Vista SV50 1998-2001, Corona ST210 1996-2001, Nadia SXN10 1998-2001. Totally about 70,000 cars.

Why did this campaign became known at all? In contrast to the European and American markets, it is extremely difficult to get service bulletins of Japanese manufacturers for domestic market. But in this case, the defect can directly affect the traffic safety, so Toyota had to publish information openly with the involvement of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism).

Why is it only about 3S-FSE? It is just clear. In all respects failed engine 3S-FSE was only available at some older models of the domestic market, many of these vehicles are no longer in operation (in Japan), and the recall campaign is not so great. As for 3S-FE, we are not talking about tens of thousands but millions of cars, produced for fifteen years, and supplied massively to the European and American markets (RAV4, Carina E, Avensis etc.) So complete "repentance" Toyota we can wait for a long-long time.

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