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The History of Toyota’s 4Y Engine

Posted: March 28, 2023
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When inventor Sakichi Toyoda successfully pioneered the automatic loom, he laid the foundation for Toyota Industries and our commitment to kaizen or “continuous improvement”. For nearly a century, the Toyota name has been synonymous with excellence in quality and innovation with the inventor’s spirit at the heart of our business.


It took only eight years after establishing Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Co., Ltd. – known today as Toyota Industries Corporation – before Toyota produced its first engine in 1934: the A-type engine for automobiles.


But I’m sure if you’re reading this blog you know that Toyota makes much more than cars. In 1956, Toyota began producing forklift engines, a new chapter in the story of Toyota Industries. As material handling needs to be evolved, so did Toyota’s role in the game. Heavy-duty applications called for equipment tough and robust enough to take on high capacity needs. And at the core of these powerful workhorses needed to be an engine with the durability and grit to deliver reliable life and power.


In 1986, Toyota introduced a forklift engine that could take on these heavy-duty challenges: the 4Y industrial engine. Carefully designed and engineered through the core practices of the Toyota Production System, this 2.2-liter workhorse set a new standard of excellence within the material handling industry. Today, millions of these engines have been produced and can be found in forklifts, light trucks, compressors, gas heat pumps, and more.


But most importantly, these engines are at the heart of Toyota’s internal combustion forklifts, making them some of the most dependable pieces of equipment on the market. Don’t believe me? The 4Y engine has helped Toyota forklifts achieve more than 35,000 life cycle operator hours with ease. Users have reported reaching over 80,000 hours with normal maintenance.


In the spirit of kaizen, Toyota introduced several improvements to the 4Y engine in 2019 to lower maintenance costs and further reduce the cost of ownership. A distributorless ignition system was added, eliminating the need for high-voltage spark plug wires, distributor cap, and the distributor rotor which required maintenance and replacement. On LPG models, the fuel system was also redesigned, reducing maintenance items and allowing for even further improved efficiency and lower fuel consumption.


In addition, based upon the excellent durability of the 4Y, Toyota is now offering an extended oil change interval of 1000 hours. After the first oil change at 250 hours, if a new Genuine Toyota oil filter and Mobil1 synthetic oil (or like type) are used, you may follow future changes /replacement intervals at 1000 hours. Reducing your maintenance costs, use of resources, and waste from oil changes.


The 4Y engine is a testament to Toyota’s commitment to the pursuit of improvement and of its dedication to creating a more sustainable future.


Want to learn more about the 4Y engine? Check out this video on 4Y’s perks and history or this video about how the 4Y improves Toyota’s forklift operation.    

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