Part 9 - Front Heater Install

This is the last major part in converting your aircooled Vanagon to a Subaru cooled Vanagon - woohoo! This part was a bit intimidating because I read about so much heartache regarding removing the Vanagon dash. Fear not - this is a very straightforward process and goes pretty quickly as a lot of progress is made. Follow along with us as we show how we made some modifications to the stock watercooled heater assembly and installed it into our aircooled Vanagon dash.

 Overview and Approximate Time Needed :


Process Description

~ Time (hours)


Remove Dash



Prepare and install front heater 



Install front heater lines






* 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 of work.


Tools you may need:

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

2.       Vice grip pliers

3.       Long screwdriver or socket extensions to remove/install blower assembly

4.       Utility knife

Step 1: Remove dash

The dash is removed pretty quickly, just make sure to label things that you're unsure about. The dash is held in place by bolts along the windshield and on the sides near the doors. The steering column needs to be lowered before the dash can be pulled out, and that is the hardest part of the whole operation. Take a look!

Now that we have the hard part done (the steering column), we can continue with the removal of the dash.

Step 2: Prepare and install front heater

Now that the dash is out we'll show how we prepared a watercooled blower assembly for installation  into the aircooled chassis.

Step 3: Install front heater lines 

In this step we show how the water lines were connected to the new heater core. The hardest part is running the rubber heater hoses from the rear of the Van to the front. Follow along and get some heat!


We have heat! This step wasn't so bad was it? The addition of real heat to a once semi-heated aircooled Vanagon is a major benefit of converting to a Subaru motor. If you've never experienced an aircooled "heater" then just be thankful, as it's a pretty lousy experience. Continue on to the final Part of our SubaruVanagon transformation where we show some of the final steps we took to finish off the Subaru motor swap into our Westfalia.