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Yeah. That's a path I might take too. Even the 2JZGTE automatics are pretty cheap these days. These JDM engines are all pushing 20 years old. I have a feeling the best JDM swaps have already been sold and what's left are the dregs.
THISSSS!!!!!! Imagine blowing the money on a junkyard engine and it having all sorts of issues? I bought my swap a while ago, during the good swaps, for considerably more than 1.7k or 2k. The main problem I had was ignition breakup/bugs which I solved by putting more money into it and replacing the ignition system w LQ9's. I still have brittle valve stem seals. No space to do the work and won't pay top dollar for something I can do. Burns oil and deep inside you know something's not quite right. They are junkyard engines.
 

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If you don't have the time/energy to R&R an engine, you don't have the time/energy to "bolt on" a turbo "kit".

A turbo "kit" is not going to be easily returned to stock for emissions purposes.

A complete turbo "kit" is going to cost you more than $2300 unless you buy the lowest quality parts and/or fabricate everything else (and consider your labor @ $0/hour)

Just some stuff to think about.
Very good explanation.

To clarify with my $2300 build, I purchased a used turbo kit for $700 (however it did have a brand new CX intercooler kit) that included an emanage ultimate and harness. I sold the emanage for $400 which made my oil lines, manifold, turbo, downpipe (and straight pipe that I cut up and used for scrap pipe to fabricate my own exhaust with an exhaust cutout), intercooler with piping only around $350. I had a spare engine laying around that I "built". found a set of used GE non vvti rods for $100 and GTE pistons for $100, the oil pump, water pump, piston rings and bearings I just searched part numbers until I found what I needed (Amazon listings with no picture and just a part number at significantly lower prices) i think I used ACL bearings and Hastings rings???? I don't exactly remember. The two pumps have aisin part numbers that come in at half the price of the stamped toyota parts. Head studs were full price at like $170. I got an OEM gasket kit for a non vvti NA supra for $100. Most of the gaskets were the same. The only thing I couldn't save money on was the machine work for the engine. which was like $650 and the head studs. The car was on stock suspension, no wideband, stock injectors, stock fuel pump, one single O2 sensor, and a boost gauge. The turbo was a Rev9 turbo and the oil drain was a spare -10AN fitting I had laying around. The car was decently quick and reliable. The only two problems I had was from forgetting to put on a gasket on the upper water neck and a couple times the couplers on the intercooler piping coming apart. It took me like a week (not including machine shop times) To do the engine after class. And like 3 days to pull the engine and swap with the rebuilt one, and attach all boost related stuff. MASSIVE DISCLAIMER: I own 2 other IS300's, I didn't mind taking my time or the risk associated with running stock ecu. That poor 62mm turbo was running at I think 7 psi of boost. But it would frequently peak at 10 psi. I didn't care, it had fantastic compression and it took a beating. No one will tell you to run stock ecu. I am not promoting it, but I would for sure do it again because I am capable enough to fix anything that breaks. Plus for $4000 all in you can't beat it. I sold it for 5k, but when I was giving the test drive I got pulled over and got a reckless driving ticket. Offset the profit.

but I sold it because I have a child on the way and it was a good excuse to get my wagon.

On your other point about emissions, that car passed emissions the way it sat. all you need is stock injectors and some o2 simulators with the GE.

Of course with more legitimate builds it gets harder.

Again, not promoting running stock ecu. Just putting information from experience out there.
 

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Here are 2 pics of it. Kinda cool it was actually a 1 owner 03 Sport Design. I don't know how I get so lucky. Looking back at it, I wish I still had it. But I could never replace my wagon
 

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Oil squirters aren't necessary and don't have any added benefit. It's the same.
Yeah. Honda and Toyota and Subaru and Porsche use them in their high performance engines but they're not really needed.... I'll have to tell them that.

Oh well, I've moved on to "beating a dead horse". I'll stop now.
 

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Agree to disagree. We could likely go all day lol
 

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Oil squirters aren't necessary and don't have any added benefit.
Tried really hard to avoid posting about this, but just can't help myself.

This is BS. While I agree that a typical turbo IS300 street car doesn't "need" oil squirters, they are absolutely, positively beneficial. The typical Alabama summer day is 95º. We don't "need" air conditioning, but it surely does keep us happier and more productive.

You won't find a (good) heavy duty/endurance engine without oil squirters.
 

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My opinion was based off of a lot of the Supra guys that often remove them. I probably shouldn't have said there is no benefit. Because there is. However, I still stand by the claim that they are not necessary. Either way OP isn't interested in building anyway so it's not relevant to this thread. Unless he wants to GTE swap. All power to him. Could care less. I'm here to provide my experiences and my opinions so he can make an educated decision. Not to argue all day. Sorry I tilted you.
 

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Tried really hard to avoid posting about this, but just can't help myself.

This is BS. While I agree that a typical turbo IS300 street car doesn't "need" oil squirters, they are absolutely, positively beneficial. The typical Alabama summer day is 95º. We don't "need" air conditioning, but it surely does keep us happier and more productive.

You won't find a (good) heavy duty/endurance engine without oil squirters.
If you run the factory or cheap alloy pistons. You would need them.

Not needed for good aftermarket pistons,

They will cool a piston a bit. But will not save in the case of leaner conditions in the tune. Or under extreme race conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Basically the failure points you already listed. Pistons, rods, rings, HG. I'm about to graduate with my BSME in the spring. I can provide a parts list later. That car was on stock ecu. I don't like to get on that argument though because I won't ever win. I'm at work rn. Everything was used. I got a stupid deal on everything. Did all the work myself. My first car cost me 12k all in with a lot of mistakes and wasted money. I was under the impression you were using the wagon as a strict daily. But since you don't mind it being down, you can just yolo it and boost the GE. Most people using pnp harnesses for their standalone and maintain the factory harness. I think the link ECU previously mentioned replaces it but it only works for 5 speed manual cars if I remember correctly.
Congrats! I actually just graduated with my BSME - I'll be driving my IS300 back out to school to get my PhD. And thanks for the info. My Corvette has likewise cost me a looooot more than it should have/than it's worth, but that's the cost of learning.

If you don't have the time/energy to R&R an engine, you don't have the time/energy to "bolt on" a turbo "kit".

A turbo "kit" is not going to be easily returned to stock for emissions purposes.

A complete turbo "kit" is going to cost you more than $2300 unless you buy the lowest quality parts and/or fabricate everything else (and consider your labor @ $0/hour)

The weak link in the GE-VVTi is definitely the rods. If you avoid detonation, the pistons will easily handle (way) more power than the rods. A stock, automatic trans IS300 powertrain will live just fine at 300-350hp if you use the car sensibly and don't rape it. The transmission (whether a W55 manual or the automatic) is not going to last long with 300+hp and very aggressive driving.

A chip emulator or EEPROM is not an option on these cars. You can take your chances running a little boost without doing anything to the engine control system, or you can dig into the electronics. The cheapest (and lousiest) solution is a Greddy eManage, but considering the pricepoint and functionality, you'd be way better off (at least in my opinion) to spend a little more and get a real ecu. For example, the ecuMaster provides lots of excellent functionality for a very fair price (about $1k). However, for another $500-600, you can get an ecu arrangement that is way better yet - which is totally worthwhile in my opinion.

Frankly, IS300s are not like Foxbody mustangs or 3rd/4th gen camaros, or even Corvettes. Parts are more expensive, and the electronics integration is much more difficult to deal with. I would caution you to avoid embarking on a power-adder project if you aren't ready to put a lot of time, energy and money into it. $5k would barely cut it IF you had lots of time/energy. Without lots of time and energy, there is just no way this can become reality for $5k, or anything close to it.

Not trying to be an @$$ about this, just trying to provide the straight dope.

Last... The "balance" of the stock IS300 is really quite excellent. The power, brakes, suspension and dynamics all work nicely as a system. Adding a big handful of power is going to significantly upset that balance and take a lot of the fun factor (and reliability) out of the car - unless all you care about is doughnuts and wheelspin. I have two of these cars - one is all stock with big brakes, the other is a thoroughly modded turbo car. With 100% sincerity, I can tell you the stock one is basically every bit as much fun to drive. I can drive the frickin' wheels off it, and never be going ludicrous speeds. The chassis is supple and compliant while providing decent grip. Again, I can drive it at 7 or 8 "tenths" and never be going crazy fast... Which makes it fun while minimizing the risk of a high speed wreck. Plus, the stock one is OEM reliable - so I can drive the wheels off it with almost no worry of it blowing up or coming apart.

Just some stuff to think about.
Thanks for all the great info. I appreciate your perspective, even if it isn't what I want to hear.

I guess I put that wrong. I have the time and energy, I just really don't want to pull the engine. For some reason, I just hate the process, and I don't want to do it unless I absolutely have to.

Shouldn't it be relatively easy to return a turbo engine to stock? Unbolt intake and exhaust; reinstall stock intake and exhaust. Yeah, I'd still have some aftermarket parts still on (fuel pump, injectors, spark plugs, intercooler if I were feeling brave and lazy, etc.), but I wouldn't think it would be too big of a job to make it look stock again.

I'm not expecting I'll spend $2300. I'm going to budget out every little part before I pull the trigger, but I'm planning to have a up-front budget of $3500 and a cushion of another $1500 for the job.

So, with detonation the ring lands fail at ~300whp, but without detonation the pistons should hold up to a lot more?

I'll consider budgeting for an engine management system, but I'll have to do my own research to decide.

It's tricky to get a straight perspective of the costs - it seems like half of what I read is people saying they did it for $3k, and the other half is people swearing up and down that even a mild build will cost over $10k.

It's just hard for me to leave a car stock, and I have my heart set on owning a turbo 2JZ at some point in my life. If I go this route, I'll definitely be upgrading other systems as well - upgraded sways and possibly some chassis braces are on my short list, and I also plan on getting some wider rubber. Is wheelspin really that big of a deal with traction control?

Tried really hard to avoid posting about this, but just can't help myself.

This is BS. While I agree that a typical turbo IS300 street car doesn't "need" oil squirters, they are absolutely, positively beneficial. The typical Alabama summer day is 95º. We don't "need" air conditioning, but it surely does keep us happier and more productive.

You won't find a (good) heavy duty/endurance engine without oil squirters.
I've never looked into it too much, but that makes sense to me. Plenty of people make good power (on various platforms, e.g. the LS) without oil squirters, but it conceptually makes sense that they'd be beneficial, and I have to believe that the OEMs put them there for a reason.
 

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It's tricky to get a straight perspective of the costs - it seems like half of what I read is people saying they did it for $3k, and the other half is people swearing up and down that even a mild build will cost over $10k.
That's because it's not so black and white. Each person's idea of what's acceptable for a car is a little different. That's why the first time around most people go over budget. It isn't until they finished their car that they can look back and reflect on what they could have "cheaped out" on with, and where they should have spent a little more money.

It's all about what you want out of the car. What your end goal is, current health of the car, etc.

For me, a stock GE block is unacceptable. It doesn't provide that piece of mind that I am looking for. I don't particularly like pulling an engine either. But, for others boosting a stock GE block is perfectly acceptable.

You have the mentality of an engineer straight out of college (Kind of funny considering I am exactly where you were a year or so ago but lets ignore that). You are planning for a perfect environment when there is a margin of error. There is a difference between a spreadsheet full of parts and the end product, typically. Just my perspective...I enjoy having these conversations because you can tell who is really enthusiastic about their car. You seem to be serious with genuine questions.

:nerd:
 

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OK so Ive been part or this forum for a while but have not posted anything. I mostly use this platform to find out information about common issues and how people resolved them but here are my 2 cents on this matter because I have been going through all the options for almost a year.......

A little background for you guys I am an original owner of a 2003 lexus is300 5sp manual. I bought the car after I graduated high school and it was my car through all of college.... I shipped the car to Europe when I moved there for work because I loved the car so much... long story short I left and parked the car in a garage for 8 years until last September when my father in law was nice enough to ship it back for me....

Between college and now I have become quite the gear head... I have a 2012 Shelby gt500 700 hp track car I worked on myself... So when the my baby the IS finally came home obviously I started looking to see what can be done. For almost a year I have been doing research and slowly modding the car... so here's what I found...

The cheapest turbo option is the CX racing kit. The turbo and waste gate are crap but not bad for the price if you want to run them first until they blow and then upgrade them later. The kit is almost a bolt on... sometime you need to finegal some of the parts to fit right but it requires a lot of time and attention to be placed with the abs lines and heat shielding the turbo... trust me seen way to may fires because of abs lines... This option because I don't have to pay for labor except for dyno time and tuner is around 4500 if you want to do it right... it will be relatively durable but in my case with the manual trans even if I keep it to 300whp (which was my goal) I will snap the w55... same goes for the clutch...

To get to 300-400 hp while maintaining factory reliability and smoothness you need to find a really good 2gz shop to do a swap. I am lucky and have one nearby that really does amazing work and really takes their time sourcing the motors. They would do the full swap with the stock ecu from the aristo in japan and then tune the turbos to get my desired 350-400 hp.... this option is 6500 all in for me here where I am at but by far gives you the best platform moving forward. Factory reliability if you stick to stock turbos and ability to go to 1000+ hp in the future if you get the boost bug...

Last option which in my opinion is the best for this car unless you are really dying to built a race car out is to not turbo it at all... The car is really balanced as many people have stated earlier in this thread. I upgraded my suspension to the L tune components... Eibach springs and sway bars... bilstein shocks... I bought a cheap hks intake tube that helped her breathe a little better... coupled that with a apexi high performance air filter... then I upgraded spark plugs and coil packs... put on a fidanza adjustable cam gear set to 6o negative... cut off the third cat and muffler... put in a lightweight flywheel new clutch and 1 piece drive shaft.... these mods didn't make it more powerful per say... maybe 15-20 hp max but the car feels much different... breathes better... smoother... quicker off the line... and still the most comfortable car ever.... I can drive the crap out of it and never have to worry... In the future if I do decide to turbo my girl all I really lose is the hps intake tube... everything else can stay basically... so not losing much money... all of this can definitely be done by yourself if you have some mechanical abilities, time, and you enjoy it... anyways my 2 cents... let me know if you have any questions
 

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Discussion Starter #32
@npop26, thanks for your insights. In the name of reliability and not upsetting the balance of the car, I'm now thinking of doing a milder setup of around 260whp. I realize the car is fun stock, but I just really want to turbo it. My Corvette makes somewhere around 300 to the wheels, and I find myself able to enjoy the pep without reaching dangerous/illegal speeds. If I were to build a car for the mantra of "drive a slow car fast," I think I'd want to start with something small and light.

(By the way, props on the GT500 - what a car.)

I'm just beginning the journey of pricing out specific builds in detail. I was originally planning to select my components individually and piece it together myself, but that CX Racing kit does look tempting. How did you get to $4500? Just trying to make sure I'm not missing anything. The way I see it, you've got:
$1900 - turbo kit
$250 - ball bearing upgrade
$150 - wideband (if you don't already have one; I do)
$160 - GTE ECU (People say this works, but I have done no research to compare this to the more expensive options.)
$600 - tune

That comes to $3160. I guess you must have been budgeting for a standalone?
 

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@DailyDrivin' Trust me I know. After I left the car in Europe for that extended period of time I got really into modifying anything I owned. First it started with my motorcycle that I began racing and evolved into cars. My shelby was my track car and daily driver for quite some time but it was too much of a race car... way too stiff... way too loud... way too fast for any legal road (even though i definitely tried lol) and all around just uncomfortable as a daily. When the lexus arrived I immediately wanted to build the best street car ever because of how much I love the platform. Its just a really good drivers car... especially the 5sp manual... my sister has an automatic and there is a huge difference here... but I always thought it needed around 300-350 whp to be perfect... the only way to do that reliably and still be able to drive the car the way I want to is either the full swap like I mentioned or a stand alone on a NA-T setup. Thats why my budget numbers were higher... I would also upgrade the fuel injectors... fuel pump... and do the fuel return line if going this route...

The reason I said think about staying NA is not because of dangerous speed its because of the weight and balance of the car... my 5spd will break lose whenever I want her too as is and Ive been in a spin out with her once when I was younger... its not easy to correct these cars once they lose grip completely... cant tell you how many turbo is ive seen at the drag strip wind up backwards...

Im still debating what to do with mine soooo..... lol but I just wanted to share with you because I am currently on the same road as you brother.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
@DailyDrivin' Trust me I know. After I left the car in Europe for that extended period of time I got really into modifying anything I owned. First it started with my motorcycle that I began racing and evolved into cars. My shelby was my track car and daily driver for quite some time but it was too much of a race car... way too stiff... way too loud... way too fast for any legal road (even though i definitely tried lol) and all around just uncomfortable as a daily. When the lexus arrived I immediately wanted to build the best street car ever because of how much I love the platform. Its just a really good drivers car... especially the 5sp manual... my sister has an automatic and there is a huge difference here... but I always thought it needed around 300-350 whp to be perfect... the only way to do that reliably and still be able to drive the car the way I want to is either the full swap like I mentioned or a stand alone on a NA-T setup. Thats why my budget numbers were higher... I would also upgrade the fuel injectors... fuel pump... and do the fuel return line if going this route...

The reason I said think about staying NA is not because of dangerous speed its because of the weight and balance of the car... my 5spd will break lose whenever I want her too as is and Ive been in a spin out with her once when I was younger... its not easy to correct these cars once they lose grip completely... cant tell you how many turbo is ive seen at the drag strip wind up backwards...

Im still debating what to do with mine soooo..... lol but I just wanted to share with you because I am currently on the same road as you brother.
I feel that. My Corvette is pretty stiff and loud, and if it didn't have the most comfortable seats I've ever sat in (granted, I've ridden in very few nice cars) I don't think I'd enjoy dailying it. I don't think I'd even have bought a second car if I didn't need wheels while I work on my Corvette. And 350hp on 275s is a lot more manageable than 662hp on 285s!

Sadly, the SportCross was only made as an automatic, so that's part of my lack of interest in just making it a driver's car. Pushing buttons on the steering wheel to shift (if the ECU lets you) just isn't as fun as tearing around corners rowing your own.

I just don't see myself going down the road of a standalone. For one, I think that additional ~$700 just pushes the cost to where it's not worth it. Also though, I'm reading that a lot of people have successfully made 300-400hp to the wheels with a piggyback (mostly the Greddy e-Manage), and here we have what seems to be a pretty knowledgeable post by a tuner saying that a piggyback is better for driveability at lower power levels.

Derp, totally forgot to list fuel injectors and pump. I had priced those at about $380 combined. I wasn't aware that the return line needed an upgrade, though.

Good to know; I wasn't aware that these cars are so oversteer-prone. Does the traction control and VSC not keep you out of trouble? Regardless, I'm planning on putting some wider, quality rubber on the car (I think 255 rear 235 front is the best you can do without modifications).

She looks pretty good.for.an 03 dont you think...

Only 87k miles
For some reason, the larger versions of the photos won't load, but what I can see in the thumbnails looks clean!
 

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Basically the failure points you already listed. Pistons, rods, rings, HG. I'm about to graduate with my BSME in the spring. I can provide a parts list later. That car was on stock ecu. I don't like to get on that argument though because I won't ever win. I'm at work rn. Everything was used. I got a stupid deal on everything. Did all the work myself. My first car cost me 12k all in with a lot of mistakes and wasted money. I was under the impression you were using the wagon as a strict daily. But since you don't mind it being down, you can just yolo it and boost the GE. Most people using pnp harnesses for their standalone and maintain the factory harness. I think the link ECU previously mentioned replaces it but it only works for 5 speed manual cars if I remember correctly.
I'm running the stock ecu in my NA-T for a long time (14 months to be exactly), I've put 9K miles on it so far without any single issue (knocking wood), pure daily driving car and a little more lately.


Like Jesuspuppy just said, I'm not promoting using the stock ECU but sharing my experience. My block has been modified a little bit, GTE internals, ACL bearings, Total race rings, ARP rod bolts, TT Headgasket, ARP head bolts, playing in the long run and safe enough until i run my standalone. Regarding my tranny, I have a cooler and I just switched up the pressure in valve body. I don't abuse it but I don't nurse it either.
 

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Yeah. That's a path I might take too. Even the 2JZGTE automatics are pretty cheap these days. These JDM engines are all pushing 20 years old. I have a feeling the best JDM swaps have already been sold and what's left are the dregs.
From what I've seen, prices are going UP on JZ swaps. The price of a 1jz vvti has almost doubled in the past 2-3 years, for example.

OP - this car is your daily. The IS300 is a pretty reliable car, but I still wouldn't go too crazy with modifications. Make sure you're caught up on maintenance first. A turbo kit alone is going to cost you roughly $4-5k (if not more), unless you go with cheaper options or get lucky and find someone selling a kit used. Aside from the CX Racing kit, there is no off-the-shelf kit for this car, which means you're sourcing parts individually and piecing together a kit. Parts add up quick.

If it was me, my focus would be making sure the car could get me from A to B without any hiccups. Then maybe upgrade suspension (coilovers, sway bars). Put a headunit and subwoofer in it.

If you're still not happy with it, you could manual swap it? A manual swap might be more involved than you're hoping to be, but it would be a cheaper option that would still wake the car up a little bit (in stock form, a manual IS300 is way more fun to drive). A manual IS300 with coilovers, sway bars, and a short shifter is a fun little car and it maintains factory reliability.
 

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This probably isn't relevant to the thread, considering budget and amount of effort the OP is interested in putting in... But...

I think the correct amount of power for the IS300 chassis is ~350whp, and I think the way to do it is an LS swap. I actually bought an LS3 w/ 6spd manual, and then started looking for a nice clean virgin car to swap - but ended up buying a turbo car instead.

While I like the turbo car and it's a lot of fun, I think my original plan was better. An aluminum block LS and T56 trans combo saves over 100lb, as opposed to a turbo setup that will usually add 50-100lb. It's easier to pass the 450whp mark with a turbo 2J, of course, but if you're happy in the 350-400 zone, the LS will do that easily with OEM reliability and provide explosive bottom end torque that makes zipping around town a whole lot of fun.

Another consideration is engine calibration. GM spent millions developing the tune to start perfectly, make good power, never detonate, get good fuel economy, meet emissions regulations, etc etc etc. That is something you are NOT going to match when paying some dude $500 to "tune" your turbo 2J in a day or two.
 

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I'm just beginning the journey of pricing out specific builds in detail. I was originally planning to select my components individually and piece it together myself, but that CX Racing kit does look tempting. How did you get to $4500? Just trying to make sure I'm not missing anything. The way I see it, you've got:
$1900 - turbo kit
$250 - ball bearing upgrade
$150 - wideband (if you don't already have one; I do)
$160 - GTE ECU (People say this works, but I have done no research to compare this to the more expensive options.)
$600 - tune


That comes to $3160. I guess you must have been budgeting for a standalone?
$1900 will only be if you buy the CX racing kit, which includes generic parts of unknown quality.

You can't tune the GTE ecu (or the GE ecu, for that matter), which means you'll need either a piggyback or standalone, and then a tune.

Don't forget exhaust work as well.
 
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