Silentdork818's Tercel/Paseo 4E-FTE Swap

Credit to this person!!! 

Silentdork818's Tercel/Paseo 4E-FTE swap info.

I wanted to document this just incase it ever goes down!!!

By: silentdork818 


This is a bad ass swap. The 4E-FTE swap turns your everyday Tercel (or Paseo) from a boring, oil-burning turd into a fun, thrifty, and reliable ride that flies under the radar. It won't exactly take out Porsches and Corvettes, but it's no slouch either.

The 4E-FTE

The 4E-FTE is a 1.3 liter DOHC inline-four, equipped with an intercooled Toyota CT9 turbocharger, putting out 135PS (133HP). It was a Japan-only engine available in Starlet GT Turbos from 1990-1995 and Starlet Glanza V from 1996-1999. While they were not imported into North America when new, they are fairly common from Japanese used engine importers. Being part of Toyota's "E" engine family, it is an easy drop-in swap into Tercels and Paseos already equipped with 3E and 5E engines.
Don't let the low (133HP) power rating fool you. With most Tercels weighing in at under 2,200 pounds, the 4E turbo swap gives them a power-to-weight ratio similar to Integra GSRs and 80's vintage TPI Camaros. More importantly, because of the CT9 turbo's small size, full boost arrives early in the RPM range and provides substantial mid-range torque for around-town driving and highway passing. Driving a 4E-FTE feels a lot more like a torquey V6 than the tiny four-cylinder it really is.

Tercels and Paseos

Suitable swap recepients include Tercels (FWD models) from 1987-1999 and Paseos from 1992-1999. If you already own a Tercel/Paseo, the 4E-FTE swap can give new life to an otherwise good car with a dead or dying engine. If not, decent examples can be found for sale at modest prices, since they don't sell for the same artificially inflated prices that comparable Civics and Corollas do. Many can be had for downright cheap, as the 3E engines in early models had a poor reputation for being oil burners. Also, a lot of Tercels also had EGR system woes and perpetually-lit Check Engine lights (the 4E-FTE does not use EGR).
While the 4E will physically bolt into these cars, early 87-90 models are carbureted and require fuel lines and tank to be swapped with parts from an EFI-equipped Tercel (certain '90 models only). Also, 97+ models use a returnless fuel system and need to have components from an earlier car swapped in to be 4E-compatible.

Shopping for Engines

The following is some helpful info when shopping for a 4E-FTE. It is written with the assumption you are shopping for a COMPLETE swap. While it is possible to swap in just a 4E-FTE engine and keep the old 4MT/5MT/3AT/4AT transmissions, the 4E transmissions are beefier and have gear ratios ideally matched to the output of the turbo engine. It is also best to buy a complete setup for a good price than to have to find an ECU, harness, MAP sensor, coil/igniter and other stuff separately.
When looking for a 4E-FTE there are a few differences to be aware of. Most have to do with either model year, transmission type, or certain options. The most important difference is whether the electronics are of the 2-plug or 3-plug ECU variety. Generally, early 5-speed EP82 chassis-type engines are of the 2-plug ECU-type, which are easier to wire up. Automatic EP82s and some later EP91 chassis engines are 3-plug ECU-type and need substantially more wiring done. Some other differences beyond the obvious ECU and ECU plugs are the TPS, transmission controls (on automatics), and various other sensors. Before buying, make sure you know which type you are getting beforehand.
There are also other variables to look out for. Starlet Turbo transmissions equipped with a Limited Slip Differential may require different axles so it may be best to pass on those unless you know what parts are needed. Also, depending on the year, engines may have either "boot" type or "clip" type distributor caps and spark plug wires. Generally, very early engines (mostly pre-93) are boot-type, while most later ones use the more common clip-type parts. A trivial difference, but one to be aware of nonetheless, especially when you shop for replacement parts.
As far as the condition of any engine/swap you might be considering, most importers should be able to provide you with compression test and possibly leakdown numbers. If possible, it is best to buy from a local importer. That way, you won't have to worry about potential shipping damage to sensors and other hard-to-find 4E-specific parts. If you can see the engine in person, you can also check for certain things firsthand such as sludge buildup, signs of a blown head gasket, turbo condition, and any missing parts, among other things. Either way, you should be okay as long as the importer you buy from is a reputable seller (do your homework).

Necessary Parts

The following parts are needed to complete the swap. Items marked with an asterisk (*) should come with the engine/transmission.
  • *Complete 4E-FTE Engine, with attatched manifolds, turbocharger, intercooler with charge piping, and all sensors (make sure TPS especially is not broken)
  • *Transmission, with either clutch/flywheel (MT) or flexplate/torque converter (AT). Flywheels/flexplates are 4E-FTE specific, so make sure you get them.
  • *Ignition Coil and Igniter
  • *4E-FTE Engine harness, preferably uncut
  • *4E-FTE ECU
  • *MAP Sensor; if missing with swap, 91-95 MR2 Turbo will work
  • Throttle Cable from 92-95 Paseo w/o cruise control
  • New custom exhaust, or at least some work to match up to the existing one. The 4E-FTE already comes with a catalytic converter bolted to the turbine outlet, so you can have the old one bypassed if you wish since it is no longer necessary.

Maintenance and Other Parts

Before dropping in the engine, you should seriously think about replacing a few maintenance parts. Below is a list of some of the more commonly needed parts and their applications. Keep in mind that some parts are Japan-only, so you may have to get creative in sourcing them. Speedvision CPS is a good source for these.
Items marked with an asterisk (*) are the minimum you should consider replacing.
Timing Belt and Components:
  • *Timing Belt- Starlet 4E (Japan-only) or Gates 5358XS (Euro application, available from Rock Auto)
  • *Timing Belt Tensioner/Idler- 92-95 Paseo
  • *Water Pump- 92-95 Paseo
  • Related Seals- 92-95 Paseo
  • *Spark Plugs- NGK BKR6E (copper) or BKR6EGP (Platinum), 0.8mm gap
  • Spark Plug Wires- NGK RC-TE52 (Japan-only) or NGK wires for 92-95 Paseo and 91-95 MR2 coil wire
  • Distributor Cap- Starlet 4E (Japan-only)
  • Distributor Rotor- 91-95 MR2
  • Ignition Coil (only if broken/missing)- 91-95 MR2
  • Igniter (only if broken/missing)- 91-95 MR2 (big "201" on sticker)
  • Clutch Kit- 86-89 MR2 212mm (not Supercharged)
  • Flywheel- 4E-FTE (Japan-only)
  • Rear Main Seal- Starlet 4E (Japan-only)
  • *Thermostat- 92-95 Paseo
  • *Radiator Hoses- your year Tercel/Paseo
  • Radiator- your year Tercel/Paseo
  • Axles- your year Tercel/Paseo (unless LSD-equipped)
  • Alternator- your year Tercel/Paseo
  • Starter- your year Tercel/Paseo
  • *Oil Filter- any 3E/5E Tercel/Paseo


Still working hard on this very important section. Stay tuned!


Dropping the 4E in is as easy as re-installing the original 3E/5E engines. As such, I won't go into how to do it step-by-step, because you should already know how if you're attempting this swap. I will, however, tell you which mounts you need and some other minor stuff.
  • On any 87-99 Tercel or Paseo, re-use your rear rubber mount (the one bolted to the floorpan). If your's is in bad shape, buy a new one for the same year car.
  • As far as engine (right-side) mounts go, '91 and up are all the same as long as you match it to your transmission type (auto or manual). 87-90 Tercels need the rubber mount and bracket from the old 3E engine bolted onto the new 4E.
  • The transmission mount (left-side) you use is dictated by the bracket that came bolted to transmission. Early EP82 brackets will probably use 91-94 Tercel mounts, while later EP91s need '95 and up mounts.
  • 87-90 Tercels use a front motor mount that is bolted from the engine block to the lower radiator support. It is not used on a 4E-FTE swap.

To finish up the installation, reinstall everything that was attached to the old swap. Shift cables, hydraulic clutch lines, axles, power steering and coolant hoses will all match up fine to the new engine.
Since the intercooler on 4E-FTEs is top mounted, you may want to think about cutting the stock hood to add a scoop. If not, the intercooler will clear an un-cut hood just fine. The intercooler will be pretty much useless, however.

Miscellaneous Issues

These are some random issues that I've experienced, and you may also run into:
  • The igniter gets ground by being bolted to the car, or else it won't work. This may be obvious for some, but me being a Honda guy it wasn't something I was used to. Make sure your igniter is bolted down before trying to start the car!
  • I had a real nasty mis-fire on my first 4E swap that would start as soon as the turbo made boost. I swapped the old, crusty plugs (with HUGE gaps in them) for a fresh set of properly-gapped NGK BRK6Es and presto, problem solved. I hear mis-fires like this are common on 4E-FTEs, and can also be caused by deteriorated spark plug wires, cap, and rotor, among other things.
  • I've had idle problems on Tercels where the warm idle will not drop below 1,000 RPM, even with the engine at full operating temperature and the idle adjusting screw all the way in. What I've done on these is bypass the electronic idle valve (on the end of the intake manifold) and all associated piping/hoses and cap everything off. The intake manifold gets a 1/4" expansion plug to plug the leftover hole, and that pretty much fixes the idle after re-adjusting the idle screw. The engine still idles nicely off the idle thermo valve located underneath the throttle body.

  • After trying to fix my igniter "failure" (mistake), I swapped in a 91-94 Tercel igniter (big "174" on sticker), which also uses a different connector. It worked fine for a while until it started mis-firing, which got to the point where it would not rev past 3.5k RPM, regardless of load. After MANY months of troubleshooting, I finally swapped in the old "201" 4E-FTE igniter and fixed the problem! I'm not sure if the old igniter failed or if it was simply a compatibility issue, but I now recommend everyone stick to the correct "201" igniter on 4E-FTEs. BTW, the "201" igniters can also be found in second-generation MR2s and 3VZ-powered 4Runners and trucks, if needed.


Boost is addictive, no doubt about it. Once you get your new turbo Tercel up and running, you'll drive around for a while thinking all is fine and dandy until one day you get dusted by a new BMW. When that happens, it's time to start thinking about upgrades.
Thanks to a robust design and low 8.2:1 compression ratio, these little 4E-FTEs have been known to make big power on stock bottom ends. While the engines themselves are fairly beefy units, the major limiting factor on these engines is the stubborn ECU, tiny CT9 turbo, and just adequate fuel system. Still, that does not mean you can't squeeze a little more out of what's already there.
The first modifications will probably be a custom intake and exhaust right off the bat, since your 4E-FTE probably won't come with a stock airbox or exhaust anyways. This alone should make for a decent gain in power, especially on a turbo engine like this. After that, the next upgrade should be a good turbo timer, which will help keep your turbo alive by reducing the risk of oil "coking" and eventual starvation.
Next, you can start thinking about turning up the boost a bit, but first you must overcome a small obstacle. The stock ECU will panic if it sees boost past 11.5 psi (0.8 BAR) and engage fuel cut. To prevent this, you must install a device called a Fuel Cut Defencer, which fools the ECU into thinking it is below the fuel cut threshold (HKS or JAM are popular here). Even then, you should think twice about boosting much past 12-13 psi without supporting fuel modifications as you risk running too lean. To actually raise the boost level, you can use a boost controller (either manual or electronic) or an adjustable wastegate actuator (HKS or equivalent).
If you're still hungry for power, there are small things that can be done like a front-mount intercooler (FMIC) and aftermarket tubular turbo manifold. Still want more? Beyond this you will definitely need a turbo upgrade, such as a hybrid CT9 or the popular WRX TD04L. Fuel system mods are also mandatory at this point, and should consist of at least upgraded injectors and a way to control them (Apex'i SAFC or GReddy E-Manage). This should be enough for most, but luckily for those STILL craving more, the upgrades available for the 4E-FTE are pretty much endless.

Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, the 4E-FTE-powered Tercel or Paseo just may be the ultimate urban street fighter. It has the famous Toyota reliability that was missing from that oily old 3E, and yet still packs a punch. Capable of sub-7 second zero-to-sixty times, it will out-accelerate 85% of cars on the road (think snooty BMWs), while still delivering fuel economy figures well into the 30s. Combine this with cheap insurance, cheap and easy repairs, and the anonymity of driving an econobox, it's the perfect daily driver for a world full of Priuses and Bimmers, and people who suck at driving them.