Part 2A - Removing the Subaru Donor Engine

Removing the Subaru Donor Engine

Removing your Subie donor engine can be an exciting experience or a frustrating one. The following resources should help reduce the time required to complete the engine removal process.  I hope that you will not let this step keep you from deciding to swap your engine.  It is very manageable if you have all of the tools and do not rush. 

Follow along as we show how to remove the EJ22 engine from a donor Subaru Legacy. 

Overview and Approximate Time Needed :


Process Description

~ Time (min)


Remove hood, battery, and intake



Disconnect and label wires from engine



Disconnect throttle and brake cable



Disconnect coolant hoses and collect coolant



Remove power steering and A/C assemblies



Remove radiator fan



Remove exhaust



Free engine from crossmember



Extract engine



* Approximate Total Time =


*When you factor in rest and prep time, a mechanically inclined person should reserve a half day to complete this process.  For someone new to working on cars, this may take 2 days of hard work or 3 days of light work.

Tools you may need:

1.       Metric socket set with extensions

2.       Metric wrench set

3.       Mechanic gloves

4.       Needle nose pliers and channel locks

5.       Wood hand clamp and rubber hose cutter

6.       Metal shears

7.       Pry bar and breaker bar

8.       Coolant, Oil, gas storage containers, and catch basins

9.       Shop towels

10.   Engine hoist with appropriate rated chain

11.   Engine stand

Engine Removal

Step 1:  Remove the hood, air intake assembly, and battery

The battery and hood removal process should be straight forward.


Step 2:  Disconnect and label wires going to the engine wire harness

The trick with the wiring harness is understanding the plastic connectors.  If you study the pictures below, you should have a better idea of how the connector works.  It may take a reasonable amount of force to separate the connector pieces, but if you take time to understand how the connector works and is designed to separate, you will save yourself a lot of energy and sore fingers.

Steps 3 & 4:  Cables and Coolant 

Don’t forget to save the throttle cable.  It is not the end of the world if you have to cut the coolant hose to remove it, just try to make a clean cut nearest the end of the hose as possible.  You will want as much hose as possible for when you design your new coolant system for the van.  I found that it is easier to slide a used hose end over a steel pipe than a cut end due to the slight plastic deformation of the hose end.  So, only cut the hose if necessary. In an attempt to dispose of used coolant properly, I called the local wastewater management utility and found that small amounts (1-2 gallons) can be dumped into the toilet safely. Check with your local utility to see what their system can handle.

Steps 5 & 6:  Remove Radiator Fans, Remove Fuel Lines, Remove Power Steering, and A/C

There should not be much fuel in the fuel lines, but try to catch what you can and properly dispose.  Make sure there are no open flames when cutting the fuel lines, obviously.  You may save the fuel lines for future use.  Using a long extension, remove the A/C bolts that hold the compressor to the metal bracket on the motor. Take caution not to rupture an A/C line if the Subaru system is charged.

Steps  7 & 8:  Remove Exhaust and Free Engine from Crossmember

Most likely when removing the exhaust, some studs may be in bad shape or begin to unscrew from the engine.  No need to worry.  These studs can be reused, as bolts, but are also cheap and can be purchased at an auto parts store (the size is M10-1.25 x 40.5mm).  A breaker bar will make your life much easier for these steps.

Step 9:  Extracting the Engine

We checked and double checked our rigging before we lifted the engine.  Using lots of prying and manipulation, we were able to free the transmission from the engine.  We had to pull the engine upward to clear the motor mount and exhaust studs, then outward parallel with the ground, until the motor released from the transmission.  An engine stand was well worth the cost.  It specifically helped when it was time for us to change the timing belt and engine oil seals.


This step goes quickly once you have experience but can be intimidating if you're new to the process. If you are new to engine pulls, just go slow - Take pictures and label things as you go. This step is very enjoyable and a lot of progress is made. The essential tool here is the engine hoist. It's easy to operate and much safer than other methods of engine removal.