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Old 09-13-2003, 04:07 AM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 9596
Join Date: Aug 2001
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Spokane, WA
2007 Toyota

Default Convincing friend of engine swap difficulty

OK, I mentioned to a friend who isn't a Subaru guy (Merkur guy actually) that I might want to get an EJ20 swap done for my Impreza "L"

He comments how "easy" this would be, and that engine swaps are piece 'o cakes, etc.

I try to explain THIS engine swap isn't like dropping that B16 or B12 or whatever it is into a Civic. However, I don't know enough about cars to explain to him WHY this conversion is such a pain in the ass compared to normal swaps. The best I could do was "The wiring is a pain"

How do I explain to this guy, in his terms (he's the Car Guy) why this swap is worse then a standard swap?


(Or, maybe it really IS an easy swap and I'm wrong, if thats the case tell me that too!)
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Old 09-13-2003, 10:55 AM   #2
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 1518
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Stow, OH
00 2.5RS


The mechanical would be easy if you did your research and had the proper misc parts there to make it work. The motor will drop right in but you have to change things around it to make it work, The wiring is the hard part. Your going from a NA motor to a factory designed turbo motor so there a many parts and accesories that are different and most of them are electronic so the harnesses and ECU will be different. Like in my case I'm putting a 94 motor into a 00 car so none of the plugs are the same so without the 94 harness I would be in for a long swap.
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Old 09-15-2003, 01:24 AM   #3
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Member#: 40484
Join Date: Jul 2003
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Salem, OR
'02 Murdered WRX
'02 Silver Legacy

Post Swap difficulty

I agree with Puckaveli:

the mechanics are pretty easy as long as you know what goes to what (simple mechanics of an engine).

The turbo part it where it gets tricky, the ECU in a car is engine "CONTROL" unit. ECU's are pretty picky particularly Subaru ECU's. So when the stock ECU sees a turbo in the engine it's going to wig out. Since most of the turbo accesories are elctronically controlled (blow-off valve, compressor wheel, the manifold, wastegate, etc.) they need to "told by the ECU when to work how to work so on and so forth.

Not only do you need to do a lot of engine re-wiring but you need to put in a lot of additional wiring as well. I tried to explain this to a friend who wanted to add a turbo to his NA Nissan 200SX and had no where near the exp. or knowledge to even attempt the thought about an addition let alone try and do it, and his car was down for 3 months while he did all the research he should have done before he tried it.

If you plan on doin, i reccomend you read read read read read and read some more, soak up every bit of knowledge about it you can.

my $.02
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Old 09-15-2003, 11:35 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: yonkers, ny
MY00 RS/STi7
MY01 RS Both Silverthorne


The BOV isn't electronically controlled. And he's talking about an engine swap, not just adding a turbo. You would be using the new engine's ECU.
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Old 09-15-2003, 11:38 AM   #5
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Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
The 93 W/EJ20K
Series 10 FRS


agreed mechinical = easy with all the parts i could do the entire mechanice part again in a weekend (new oil pan/timing belt/cross member/etc)

i went another way and used a tec 2 .. which still dosn't run right and stranded me sunday morning
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Old 09-17-2003, 03:18 PM   #6
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Location: Bay Area, CA

AKM3 - I'm from Spokane also, but just left Sunday for school down here in Cali... I have a WRX swap in my '98 Legacy GT sedan. Check out www.EJ20Legacy.tk for pics and whatnot.

Anyway, the mechanical swap is a easy stuff. Everything bolts right in, no problems.

The wiring... nearly impossible. 40 hours of work for people that know exactly what they're doing, what goes where, and what every single wire in the car does. You obviously have to transplant the WRX ECU for the one in your car, and that's a huge deal since almost every electronic component in the entire car runs through the ECU. I-Speed did my swap, and they make a custom harness out of the WRX harness and the existing harness so they don't actually have to rewire everything... but it's incredibly difficult. There is pretty much no chance in hell that you'll be able to do it by yourself and make it work properly unless you first learn everything there is to know about the entire electrical and wiring system of your car and the WRX.

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Old 09-17-2003, 05:52 PM   #7
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Member#: 10642
Join Date: Sep 2001
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Omaha Nebraska
95 Impreza EJ22T


^I did everything by myself; the only thing i had help with was wiggling the motor free from the tranny and supporting it out of the car. I had shop manuals for both cars' engines and wiring, so knowing what every wire did wasnt an issue. I'd say I spent 45-50 hours from start to finish over the span of 4 months. Sometimes it would go a week or two w/o being worked on, and most of the time when I did work on it I'd pick at it for about 2 hours. A dedicated person could probably do it in a week.

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Old 09-20-2003, 12:21 AM   #8
Homemade WRX
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Chapter/Region: MAIC
Location: Mooresville, NC
96 3MI Racing LLC
search FIRST, then PM!!!


I've personally done both swaps. i have a 94 with an 02 ej20 swap and have helped swap a B18 into a friends Civic Hatch. the two don't even compare in terms of electrical work. The mechanical on our swaps are striaght but the wiring goes eons past almost any honda swap.
Take it easy, Micah
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Old 09-23-2003, 12:49 AM   #9
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Chapter/Region: NESIC
Location: Greenwich, CT
2005 Legacy GT


geeez the wireing part scares me.
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Old 09-23-2003, 02:57 AM   #10
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Member#: 1305
Join Date: Apr 2000
Chapter/Region: AKIC
2000 Impreza


If it makes you feel any better, the hardest thing I had ever wired in was a CD player before doing a WRX swap. Didn't have any help and looking back I don't think it was that difficult, just time consuming.
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Old 09-23-2003, 03:21 PM   #11
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Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: the barnyard
2000 Nothing, thanks
to POS thieves.


The wiring aspect of the job will drive you insane! Trust us.
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Old 09-23-2003, 09:07 PM   #12
Member#: 12347
Join Date: Nov 2001
Chapter/Region: SCIC
Location: Oceanside, CA
ECU ReProgramming
Dynapack AWD Dyno


After completing a few dozen conversions, I can safely say that the wiring HAS NOT gotten any easier or faster.
It takes a few hours to separate the WRX harness from what we need vs don't need. Then we have to take out the dash of the recipient car. Feed the wires through the fire wall, lay the wires in the correct locations, and donít forget the fuel pump relay and controller. Then we start soldering (heat shrink and all). After that the interior goes back in. That's it!
Now we can do the wiring of a USDM EJ20 to RS in 2 full days. But we usually spread it out to 4 half days. It is just too insane to sit in a car for hours on end hunched over cutting, splicing, soldering, heat shrinking, and electrical taping the loom.

I-Speed USA
[email protected]
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Old 10-07-2003, 05:01 AM   #13
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Chapter/Region: TXIC
Location: Arlington, TX
2008 EvoX MR

Default Re: Swap difficulty

Originally posted by pilfflip
Since most of the turbo accesories are elctronically controlled (blow-off valve, compressor wheel, the manifold, wastegate, etc.) they need to "told by the ECU when to work how to work so on and so forth.

Sorry- I had to
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Old 10-07-2003, 05:45 PM   #14
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Location: Bay Area, CA

What you didn't do the electronically controlled manifold mod? I wired a button so I can control my manifold 100% manually... it's good stuff!
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Old 10-25-2003, 02:24 PM   #15
Rice Boi
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: all over WA
2002 WRX (6spd)
2010 TDI CupEdition (DSG)


I have two friends who are interested in the EJ20 swap for a 97' Leagacy L and a 00' RS. Were should they take their car to and on average how much would a project like this cost from start to finish? We are located in Washington.
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Old 10-27-2003, 04:01 AM   #16
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I would have to say that I-Speed is the best in the country (posted three posts up... www.i-speedusa.com), but they're in the Bay Area, California. They did the swap into my '98 Legacy and it's flawless... looks 100% factory and has zero issues. Passed emissions perfectly in Washington (I'm from WA also) with OBDII scan.

Ion Performance is probably the closest place to you. They have done a couple of these swaps and the people who drive them like them. Do a search in the Legacy forums, or just search for Ion Performance. I think www.Ionperformance.com works also.

Cascade Autosport might be able to do this, they are partners with RallyPerformance who can do the swap. Do a Google seach for their name, you'll find their site. They're off of I-90 just a ways West of Seattle.

Expect to spend like $2000 to $3000 on a WRX engine and $500-$800 for all of the parts it was missing that you should have had. Then some $$$ for exhaust, random other stuff, cross member, who knows what. Another $2500 on labor. I-Speed breaks pricing down pretty well on their site. Basically, budget $7000 so you wont get in trouble if issues come up, and you'll be happy if it comes in under that.
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