Part 7A - Installation of Subaru EJ22

You have reached the heart of the SubaruVanagon motor swap process. This article details how we put our prepped Subaru 2.2L EJ22 motor into the aircooled Vanagon and some of the differences between the aircooled and watercooled Vanagons. There are several steps to this process so we've broken it up into two major sections - Part 7A, and Part 7B. In part A we prepare the Vanagon for its new powerplant and install the motor. In Part B we will finalize the installation by connecting all of the bits that allow the installed engine to run.

Part 7A and Part 7B are part of one large article and I didn't want to lose any detail by trying to squeeze them into one page so we've broken it up. Follow along as we dive into Part 7A and all that is involved in preparing the Vanagon and moving the motor into its new home. 

Overview and Approximate Time Needed:


Process Description

~ Time (hours)


Installation of EJ22 into aircooled Vanagon


Installation of exhaust shield


Installation of cooling system






* 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 a day or more. 

Tools you may need:

1.       Metric socket and wrench sets, 10mm, 12mm, 14mm

3.       Engine hoist with appropriate rated chain

3.       Degreaser such as Simple Green and cleaning rags

4.       Utility knife

5.       Drill with metal drill bits

6.       Angle grinder with cutoff wheel or hacksaw

7.       Coolant catch basin and small diameter clear hose for bleeding coolant system

8.       Optional* Portable air compressor for pressurizing coolant system

Step 1: Installation of EJ22 into aircooled Vanagon 

Step 1 is a fun one! We finally get to see how the Subaru EJ22 fits into an aircooled Vanagon engine bay. We'll mate the motor to the transmission and secure it to the frame. Take your time and enjoy this step - a lot of work has come down to this moment and deserves a mini celebration when this step is complete

Step 2: Installation of exhaust shield

Now that the motor is sitting in its new home lets start plugging things in and getting this heart to pump. The first step is getting some of the infrastructure in place to support the cooling and exhaust systems. The exhaust heat shield is crucial to long timing belt life and keeping the motor cool, it also provides a great place for the coolant pressure bottle. Follow along as we show how we installed a Wasserboxer Vanagon heat shield into an aircooled Vanagon.

Step 3: Installation of cooling system

Now on to the cooling system. It is one of the more complex systems and it helps to have room to work, especially with bulky radiator hoses and messy coolant. I look at this step more as art than a technical headache and try to create a good looking, functional system with minimal design changes to the factory Subaru setup.

If you've prepped the chassis with the radiator tubes then this section varies little from the watercooled Vanagon conversion. In fact, I used some photos from the watercooled Vanagon conversion article to supplement this one. 

It was summer when I did this conversion and didn't have a need for heat at the time, so I looped the heater input and output pipes using a small piece of hose until I installed my heaters. If you would like to install heaters from the very beginning, skip this next step and move on to Part 8 and Part 9 (after you've done Part 7B!) to see how we installed our heaters into the aircooled chassis.

And now lets add a couple petcocks, fill the coolant system, and purge the majority of the air out of the system before our first start of the motor.

Lets finish the installation of the EJ22 into the aircooled Vanagon by going to Step 7B on the next page. We document how we installed the exhaust, intake, fuel, throttle, and wiring systems into our SubaruVanagon.