Scion tC Engine Problems, Specs & Reliability

The Scion moniker has an impressive following in the tuning space. Even though the brand has shut shop, its offerings remain quite relevant among budding and seasoned enthusiasts alike.

The Scion tC, despite its modest Corolla underpinnings, is a zesty little item in today’s motoring scene.

Although the sporty 2-door coupe is not necessarily the sportiest of its kind, it’s an excellent platform for reliable commuting and decent power gains, in case you want to tinker with it.

In this article, we take a look at the Scion tC, specifically its engine. We’ll also go over the common problems associated with it along with any reliability concerns that you should be aware of.

What Engine Does the Scion tC Have?

Scion tC engine bay

Scion tC, belonging to the 1st-generation (AT10), uses Toyota’s 2AZ-FE engine, while the 2nd generation (AT20) employs the 2AR-FE.

Both engines are inline-4s, unlike the Scion FRS engine which features a flat-4 or boxer layout. For anyone wondering who makes that motor, it’s Subaru.

Additionally, they’re both naturally aspirated, with the 2AZ displacing 2.4L and the 2AR upping it to 2.5L.

All generations of the tC were available with manual and automatic transmissions. The 1st-generation Scion tC, specifically MY2005 and 2006, makes 160 hp and 163 lb-ft.

Later models (MY2007-2010) featured a revised version of the 2AZ-FE, churning out 161 hp and 162 lb-ft of twist.

Although the update seemed unimpressive at face value, significant changes were brought to the Gen 2 engine.

Compression was upped from 9.6:1 to 9.8:1, alongside the introduction of piston oil squirters, a more aggressive intake cam profile, and a 6500 rpm redline.

Scion tCs between 2011 and 2016 got the 2AR-FE, producing 180 hp and 173 lb-ft.

Toyota also offered the choice of equipping the tC (1st and 2nd-generation models) with a factory-fitted TRD Supercharger, bumping the output to 200 hp and 185 lb-ft.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s not easy to find decent aftermarket superchargers for this car. However, there are a good number of Scion tC turbo kits to choose from.

Are Scion tC Engines Reliable?

Scion tC motor

Many Toyota cars, including the Corolla, RAV4, and Camry, used the same engine as the Scion tC.

As you may know, these vehicles have an incredible reputation for reliability, so it’s a safe bet that these are very reliable Toyota engines.

While most Scion tC owners haven’t had any serious engine issues, there are reports of certain tC models experiencing excessive oil consumption.

The 2AZ engines, used in early Scion tCs, were part of a lawsuit regarding oil consumption.

Although there hasn’t been a recall, Toyota did issue a TSB; eligible owners were offered a free oil compression test to determine if the engine was affected. If you’re keen, you can do this yourself with the help of an engine compression tester kit.

Setting aside the oil consumption issues, the rest of the engine is pretty solid. Testimonials of Scion tCs lasting over 200,000 miles aren’t unheard of.

Several reliability portals have also reported positive things about the Scion tC. So overall, it’s a fairly reliable car.

Scion tC Engine Problems

Modified Scion tC

Oil consumption is certainly the biggest concern surrounding the Scion tC; you start to notice it at around 70,000 miles.

However, finding a used tC with less than 70k miles is easier said than done. However, it’s not impossible.

The critical thing to note is whether the car was inspected and fixed under warranty. If it was, then the issue shouldn’t pose a serious threat.

Alternatively, if you find an example that wasn’t part of the TSB, expect to fill a quart of oil every 700-800 miles. Also, check the oil levels every week or so, just in case.

Other problems that plague the Scion tC include a defective VVT-i controller, interior rattling issues, and minor electrical malfunctions.

Less reported concerns include air conditioning failures, transmission delays, and choppy throttle. Some owners have also reported the clutch pedal getting stuck, in addition to bits of paint coming off.

Generally, it’s the 1st-gen cars that are considered slightly better built, despite having oil consumption issues. Many current and previous tC owners acknowledge the fact and usually advise against picking a beat-up Gen 2.

However, that’s not to say all 1st-gen picks are great. In fact, a Gen 2 that’s in good shape is still a better buy than a poorly looked-after Gen 1 car.

In Conclusion

Stock Scion tC

From what we can tell, the Scion tC is a reliable car if maintained properly. You can scoop one up for a relatively affordable price, but be sure to check the engine for the problems we’ve mentioned above.

Except for oil consumption, most issues aren’t all that common or super-concerning. After all, it’s a Toyota. It should prove a reliable commuter with minimal running costs.

It can even double as a decent platform for mods and upgrades, should you wish to explore that front.

What do you think about the tC’s engine and the Scion brand in general? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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