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Dropping the 3SGTE and Making it Easy!

Technique Tim

Hello all! The following is taken from an email I sent to a customer who was about to drop his Gen2 3SGTE and do a basic tune up. For those of you who have never heard some of these tips, they will make your life easy and save you a bit of grief. For those of you who fall asleep reading this because it seems so simple and monotonous, it never hurts to be reminded! This applies to not just the 3SGTE, but all MR2 engines, as well as many other makes and models. At the bottom, leave your favorite tip when dropping, assembling, and installing your engines!


*First thing you need to do: make sure you can get the crank bolt off. This is time for Technique Tim to come into play. Jack up the rear of the car on jack stand just enough to get the rear tires off. Try getting the crank bolt off if you have an impact gun. If  you don't have one, or its on too snug, do the following: Get 19mm socket and breaker bar, or ratchet wrench with breaker pipe over it... and put it on the main crank bolt. Place it on the ground towards the front of the car (when sitting on the right side of the car looking into the engine, the handle should go to the right).

Rest your wrench against the floor or a wood block if its too short. Make sure its secure. Go inside the car and blip the starter motor as quickly as you can. If it doesn't come off right away, do it a few more times. This always works. Just make sure the bar is stable. (and no, its not as sketchy as it sounds). Keep yo hands clear!


*Disconnect the battery and drain coolant and oil before anything else. 

*Drop the entire engine as one big unit, with the wiring harness and everything still attached. To make life easy, simply start in one corner of the engine bay and make your way around the engine in a circle. Anything which connects the engine assembly to the car, take off whichever side is connected to the car and lay it on top of the engine. (This makes things fast and simple).

*Remove the bottom of the two large 19mm bolts connecting the rear strut to the rear hub. Loosen the top enough so you can swing the hub in and out. Disconnect the sway bar end link from one side (either the strut OR sway bar). Remove the 30/32mm axle nut. Remove the bolt and nut connecting the hub to the rear tie rod. Once removed, this should swing down and remain connected to the sub-frame. Move to the farthest forward 17mm bolt on the trailing arm and remove this nut and bolt. Remove the lower ball joint bolts from the hub. Loosen the bolt holding the control arm to the sub-frame, just enough so this control arm, and the trailing arm assembly can swing down together. Now, pull the hub out and use a ratchet strap or budgie cable to hold it up so you can remove the axle (drain the transmission first if you haven't!). If the axle wont come out of the hub easily, hit it with a plastic dead blow mallet or a hammer with the axle nut on the end protecting the threads- you do not want to mushroom the end! Once the axles are out, drop the rear sub-frame with the four 17mm bolts and the three 14mm engine mount bolts. The sub-frame should be dropped with the tie rods and control arm/trailing arm assembly all still attached.

*When re-installing: Install the sub-frame, connect the front bolt of the trailing arm (with the hub pulled out of the way) Once that is in, then pull down on that control/trailing arm assembly and guide the hub back onto the ball joint.**

*Drop the engine by lifting the car up in the air. The engines on the 3S and 4A sit almost perfectly flat on the floor. Drop your engine onto a STRONG wheelie pallet (not a cheap wood one that cracks in half)! 

*Work on your engine with an engine stand. You simply can not do what you need to do without using at LEAST some cheap engine stand. We are not talking about big block 460's hear, these engine are relatively light weight and you can use some cheap thing for now if nothing else. Technique Tim has no solution but to fork up to Jackson's and get a stand from the store or online. 

*Follow the BGB if you have any doubts on the order of operations (i.e. what order to remove head bolts): ( )  or (  ) 

*As you remove bolts, either baggy them, throw them in buckets or my favorite: screw them back to where they belong! Nearly every bolt on the engine can be re-installed with the original part removed. This prevents you from loosing any nuts/bolts and also means you can not forget where they go!

*Take the head to a good local machine shop and have them clean and mill the head as necessary. Many people skip this and end up blowing head gasket on new builds. REPLACE YOUR VALVE SEALS! And check if your valve need re-lapping. Do not clean the head with anything super abrasive. NO wire wheels! Nylon wheels are great when used with some fancy decreasing chemicals.

*Reseal the oil pan with RTV black or grey goop. Take your time, and make sure to clean the surfaces. Once you think they are clean, clean them again. And then some. This goes for ANY gasket surface, but ESPECIALLY the oil pan and head gasket.

*Ask if your unclear with ANYTHING. One phone call is worth it compared to $$$ in problems. This should go without saying, but we see it on many customers cars. Do not attempt working on any part of the car which you do not understand or do not feel comfortable with. We have fixed many problems on cars which stem from poor quality work done by previous owners who attempted jobs which were over their heads, either that or they were just plain lazy. We understand not everyone has Tim living in their garage, but please do your best either way!


Keep up the good work! Give the guys here at Rat2 Motorsports a call if you need any parts or even just help on your MR2, MX-5, FRS, or any other vehicle you need work on! With a little bit of guidance, you can do any job on your car! At the end of the day, if you would rather someone else do a specific job on your car who has years of experience, just give us a call here and well take care of you!


Until next time, keep Techniquing it!

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  • Daniel Soler on

    Bought the car on Ebay with a “slight” oil buring problem. Anyway, got the turbo rebuilt and oil is pouring into the compressor inlet side, sent it back and reinstalled but have the same problem. I just don’t know where to go to find the problem out. I’m not able to drive the car as too much smoke comes out of the tailpipe

  • Bradley Llewellyn on

    Big respect for this post.

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