I have a 2003 Toyota Highlander, 3.0L V6, FWD, mfr 12/02, with a blown engine. My local salvage yard sold me a 2002 Avalon engine that "is exactly the same except the intake manifold". I took the engine home, replaced the timing belt, pulleys, tensioner, water pump, spark plugs, and oil filter. I pulled the pan off to check for sludge and it looked beautiful. I then delivered the engine and car to my auto shop for the swap. The small differences in the intake manifold were insignificant. Then we noticed the timing tensioner interfered with the right-side engine mount. This is a show-stopper. There are not many good Highlander engines available, and they are expensive. Can this Avalon engine work if I swap out the front casting and tensioner (not trivial)? Camry engines are more plentiful. Can I use one, and if so is it the '03 and up version? Any help you can provide will be WONDERFUL. I'm in deep doo-doo here.

It appears that the front aluminum engine casting, to which the timing belt components and water pump are bolted, could be changed to the Highlander version and that would allow the mount to bolt on. But it's not trivial. The lower casting that the oil pan bolts to would also have to come off to get to the front casting. And my old one may be junk, since the Highlander oil pan was filled with piston/rod debris. I'm hoping someone who knows can tell me if this will work, or if a Camry engine can work, before I spend the significant $$ and time. Thanks, RayZ

  • Have you looked into moving the engine mount?
    – HandyHowie
    Nov 12, 2015 at 21:41
  • Or changing the engine mount to one which won't interfere? Nov 12, 2015 at 23:16
  • I added a section to explain about the interference between the Avalon engine and the Highlander mount. I don't see how I could move the mount or change to something other than the original Highlander mount.
    – RayZ
    Nov 14, 2015 at 1:33

2 Answers 2


I couldn't tell you for sure (I've never done the swap), but they should be basically the same engine. According to this Wiki article, the Lexus ES300 & RX300, plus the Toyota Avalon & Highlander used the same engine, which is the 1MZ-FE 3.0L engine with VVT-i. If the cover you are talking about is different, you should be able to swap it out. Realistically, if you had to, you could strip both down to the bare long block and swap over all the parts to make the new (to you) engine fit your Highlander without an issue. May take a little bit of swapping, but they are the same base engine. They should even have the same HP (210). In most cases, when you get to 2004 and beyond, Toyota started installing the 3MZ-FE into these same vehicles, which is probably completely different. (NOTE: The article does say the 2003-2006 Camry with the 3.0L V6 is still the 1MZ-FE motor.)

  • Thanks Paulster2. The Wiki article is encouraging, but I'd hoped for a more definitive answer because the local Toyota service manager took the stance that this probably wouldn't work. He didn't have specifics, just a general notion that Toyota does a fair amount of customization to put a base model engine into a particular vehicle, and "you'll almost certainly run into problems you didn't foresee".
    – RayZ
    Nov 16, 2015 at 23:18
  • Fair enough. I'll do some more poking around and see if I can find you something more "definitive". Nov 16, 2015 at 23:38

Yes you can do it. I did it in my shop. It has to be the same vvt or not vvt. Only you have to reuse the oil pump t-belt tensioner and remove 2 studs. You will see the differences between those motors. But it will work

  • Please don't type in all capital letters. It seems like you're SHOUTING, and it is hard to read. Apr 25, 2019 at 1:33

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