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Old 06-13-2011, 02:07 PM   #1
radd269
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Wink Swapping your 2.5i/rs to a wrx/sti; is it worth it?

Hello All,

This thread is designed to put thoughts into proper prospective. Last week, I recently successfully swapped a 2006 2.5i to a 2006 wrx. A FULL complete swap, so that I can get it to pass smog. It cost a lot of money, a lot more than I originally thought. Am I happy? Yes, I see what I was missing, and the grass really is greener on the other side, but I am writing this so that other people won't make the same mistakes I did.

While a 2.5i body and wrx (even the STI) body are almost exactly the same, they are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CARS. It's not just about changing the engine. You need to register this in your mind. Electronically, very few components can be reused here. Even the fuel system is different. As long as you're cool with that and are willing to take a trip to the dark side like I did, then keep reading.


My first mistake: I didn't do enough research. SO MANY PEOPLE WARNED ME AGAINST IT, saying "You'd be better off selling your impreza and buying a wrx." While this is true from a financial standpoint, I didn't care. I felt a swap like that would be ten times more fun and rewarding. So I saved 8 thousand dollars and started looking at engines and parts I would need. Also make sure you have ALL THE PARTS YOU NEED BEFORE YOU START, to save yourself time and money later.

Mistake 2: If you decided to say "F%$k what everyone is telling you and do it anyway" like I did, unless you are physically doing it yourself, take it to a mechanic THAT HAS DONE THESE BEFORE.

And I'm not talking about one swap or two. Take it to someone who has done more than 20 swaps if you can. (If you live on the east coast, there are a few places that do it (eg ECS) but where I live in the tri-valley bay area, there isn't many swappers in town.)

The reason is simple. It's easy for a mechanic to quote you a price to do a swap and say, "Oh that shouldn't cost more than 4k in labor." But unless he has done tons of these swaps on our cars, It will ALWAYS BE MORE THAN WHAT THEY QUOTE YOU, sometimes double.

For Example, One thing that needs to be changed obviously is the ECU. This doesn't mean just taking out one box, and replacing it with the turbo one. THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS NEEDS TO BE SWAPPED including the fuel harness. If your mechanic is not familiar with how to do this efficiently, it could be as much as 15 hours labor extra charged to you, that you weren't expecting.

Mistake 3: The Immobilizer key is something else that's extremely important.

If you are going to do this kind of a swap, When you purchase your ECU, Try to buy the ECU, wiring harness, and immobilizer key FROM THE SAME CAR!!! I didn't know this, so when I bought my ECU, and after finishing everything, when my mechanic went to start the car, it wouldn't start. In imprezas, there is no chip in the car keys. but in a WRX/STI, there is. Thus the Immobilizer unit and key has to be changed and possibly reprogrammed if you want to be able to start the car.

If the wrx/sti ECU and Immobilizer came from the same car, you don't have to worry about anything because the codes in the key will match the ones in the ECU. If they didn't, the only way your car will start when everything is finished, is taking it to a subie dealer and have them to reprogram the ECU/Key. THIS CAN BE AVOIDED WITH RESEARCH!!! If you or your mechanic doesn't know this, they can potentially charge you with extra labor just trying to troubleshoot "where they potentially wired something wrong" LOL

The swap I did was designed so I could pass smog. Here are all the parts you need (If I remember correctly):

1. Engine (obviously. and AVOID BUYING ONLINE IF YOU CAN. (e.g. gotengines.com) Try to buy from a place where you can physically see the motor yourself and have someone you trust WHO KNOWS THESE ENGINES go with you. If all the accessories are on there in good working order (eg intercooler, intake manifold, header/downpipe, turbo, water pump) then you scored major points. if not, then you need to be ready to buy those components, including a new radiator, as your impreza one will no longer work.

Also, if you use the TMIC (Top mount intercooler,) you'll also need to obviously change the hood of the car, unless your willing to invest time and money into a FMIC (Front mount).

You CAN retain your original AC, ABS, and power steering systems. The power steering line will appear to be unmountable, but it can be made to fit and mount up perfectly.

2. Fuel System. To be safe, try to find the entire fuel system including entire fuel lines and wiring. Most complete ECU harnesses will have all of the fuel wiring you need, but be ready for NOT having everything you need, always. The fuel system will require new fuel lines (the impreza has only 2 lines (at least they do in the 06), the WRX has 3), tank (not sure if you need this, but I changed it just to be safe), and the fuel pump controller. Also, a new fuel pump will be required for sure. I found a brand new Walbro for 80 Bucks online or a stock wrx pump will work too.

3. If you didn't score these parts earlier, You'll also need a new stock airbox/intake (NOT INJEN!!!) intercooler and piping and mounting, a new exhaust (stock or aftermarket), turbo manifold, downpipe, radiator, and engine cradle. Make sure you have all the little things too, like the stock boost controller and the blow off valve for the turbo. The engine cradle also is VERY IMPORTANT. You can't skip this one. The impreza cradle is has different mounting holes and points than that of the WRX. When you go to put the new motor in, you you don't have the right cradle and crossmember, the new motor won't mount to the car. (the new crossmember takes away a lot of sway on the car too )

Another thing about the exhaust: Unless you are going to tune your car before it leaving the shop, DO NOT GET A TBE (turbo-Cat) right away. Putting something like that on your car without tuning it could be fatal for your motor and make all the hard work blood sweat and tears meaningless. If you are gonna go TBE, just get a used cheap stock exhaust for now or an ebay catback, and upgrade later once you find a good tuner.

4. Transmission. This is up to you. If you want, you can choose to leave this part alone. I did; the motor will mount up to your current tranny all the same. If you are doing something crazy like swapping to a 6 spd, you'll need to change the clutch, flywheel, driveshaft, lsd and other STI components, as well as appropriate wiring. If you leave your original tranny alone, note that a wrx clutch will not work. You will need to use a impreza clutch and flywheel (perfect time to upgrade this component if you can). Also the tranny wiring used to tell the car when your in gear and in reverse is different and will need to be changed.

5. (optional) Instrument Cluster and other things (speedometer) I changed mine, but you don't need to if you don't want to, or you can do it later.
if you want your interior to look flush, STI seats can be used on your original brackets

Those are all of the components that come to my mind
Here are some links to some pictures of the finished product.

I hope that gives you a little insight on what's involved. If you are willing to put in the blood sweat and tears to get a result like this then I welcome you to do this

"DO or DO NOT. There IS not try." haha. Enjoy your new found beauty.

http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb350/radd269/Picture053.jpghttp://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb350/radd269/Picture052.jpghttp://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb350/radd269/Picture051.jpghttp://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb350/radd269/Picture054.jpg
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:26 PM   #2
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I've done some research to do this sort of thing with my old Forester. I do agree. There will always be more work than you expect. Most of the stuff you covered is stuff people can figure out if they did adequate research. However, there is also a good deal of flexibility in the system. For example, one can wire in a stock turbo ECU or go stand alone. There are other boost controllers besides stock. An upgraded fuel pump is something one should just do anyways if they ever plan to run a larger turbo in the future (or immediately).

One thing you didn't comment on was the clutch in relation to the transmission and engine. When you up the power, expect to upgrade the clutch as well. Also a NA and WRX transmission aren't of the same designs, at least on the older cars. I have no clue about the newer cars. However, the old NA and turbo were different. One was a push type and the other pull type, and you had to get the correct clutch for it to work. Switching the tranny really isn't something you need to do. For the most part a 5sp is a 5sp, although gearing can be slightly different. The choice for a 6sp should be done carefully. It's a worthwhile investment if one choose to make big power or intends to race the car. The durability as well as the diffs make the 6sp worthwhile. You could rebuild the 5sp though with better gears and upgraded diffs. Depending on power, you may want to look at axle upgrades. Once thing the 6sp swap offers is bigger axles to handle the abuse. The more durable hubs are nice too, as are brembo brakes if you're swapping over everything.

All this work should make one wonder why not start with a WRX or STI in the first place? Well, hopefully fun if you want it. However, not everyone knows how to use a wrench or has the time to. These are big projects. You need the garage space, the tools, or find a builder who will do the work. You're either buying skilled labor or spending personal time doing this type of thing.
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:51 PM   #3
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radd269,

Do you have a total of what you spent doing this? It would be great to just point to this thread when the next n00b comes in and says "I've got a hook up for a WRX swap and $500....I'm going to swap it out this weekend".
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Old 06-13-2011, 03:05 PM   #4
radd269
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack ffr1846 View Post
radd269,

Do you have a total of what you spent doing this? It would be great to just point to this thread when the next n00b comes in and says "I've got a hook up for a WRX swap and $500....I'm going to swap it out this weekend".
I spent a total of 14k minus the engine. I could have spent a lot less if I went to a mechanic who specialized specifically in subies, and if I did adequate research beforehand, instead of being gunhoe about swapping the motor. After talking to mechanics who have done these kind of swaps for years, they tell me If you go to an expert, expect to pay at least 8/9k for everything. The engine I bought also had a lot of broken "accessories" that needed to be replaced (3 thousand dollars worth.)
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Old 06-13-2011, 03:09 PM   #5
radd269
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Back Road Runner View Post
I've done some research to do this sort of thing with my old Forester. I do agree. There will always be more work than you expect. Most of the stuff you covered is stuff people can figure out if they did adequate research. However, there is also a good deal of flexibility in the system. For example, one can wire in a stock turbo ECU or go stand alone. There are other boost controllers besides stock. An upgraded fuel pump is something one should just do anyways if they ever plan to run a larger turbo in the future (or immediately).

One thing you didn't comment on was the clutch in relation to the transmission and engine. When you up the power, expect to upgrade the clutch as well. Also a NA and WRX transmission aren't of the same designs, at least on the older cars. I have no clue about the newer cars. However, the old NA and turbo were different. One was a push type and the other pull type, and you had to get the correct clutch for it to work. Switching the tranny really isn't something you need to do. For the most part a 5sp is a 5sp, although gearing can be slightly different. The choice for a 6sp should be done carefully. It's a worthwhile investment if one choose to make big power or intends to race the car. The durability as well as the diffs make the 6sp worthwhile. You could rebuild the 5sp though with better gears and upgraded diffs. Depending on power, you may want to look at axle upgrades. Once thing the 6sp swap offers is bigger axles to handle the abuse. The more durable hubs are nice too, as are brembo brakes if you're swapping over everything.

All this work should make one wonder why not start with a WRX or STI in the first place? Well, hopefully fun if you want it. However, not everyone knows how to use a wrench or has the time to. These are big projects. You need the garage space, the tools, or find a builder who will do the work. You're either buying skilled labor or spending personal time doing this type of thing.
I agree with you about the clutch. I changed mine out before I started the swap, so I didn't need to worry about it. but keep in mind the stock impreza clutch I believe is only designed to handle about 130/140wtq. Excedy makes a great stage 1 kit, and there are a few other brands out there too.
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:15 PM   #6
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Nice write up. Good info to have.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:11 AM   #7
radd269
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Absolutely, and keep in mind I totally agree with you, and I'm not tryin to rain on anyone's parade here.

Basically the goal of the thread is this: If you are gonna do something major to your car like a swap, do a little research before you start, be properly prepared, and unless ur doing it yourself, take it to someone who knows what they're doing to save yourself a fat migraine and money down the drain.

Other than that, I think it's a great Idea. I love my freshly swapped subie! it runs and feels like a completely different car.
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack ffr1846 View Post
radd269,

Do you have a total of what you spent doing this? It would be great to just point to this thread when the next n00b comes in and says "I've got a hook up for a WRX swap and $500....I'm going to swap it out this weekend".
What.....swaps only take about 8 hours and maybe 3-4 beers? You old codgers....
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:04 PM   #9
chris ski
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Default great info

Very often peopel think all in need to do is......they never, ever look at the entire system as you have laid it out, everybody should read this post before they leap in.
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