Part 4 - VW Vanagon engine removal

While we wait on our SubaruVanagon parts to come in we can pull the Vanagon's motor and make room for the Subaru EJ22, or other, engine. In this article we will walk through the process we took to label all of the various hoses and wires that we'll need to keep for the Subaru transformation. This step goes pretty quickly and is actually a lot of fun. The hardest, and most fun, part of this step is maneuvering the Waterboxer down, out, and away from the transmission and engine bay. It really helps to have an engine hoist (cherry picker) but a stout floor jack can work as well. I have used floor jacks, ATV/motorcycle jacks, and engine hoists and I really like the stability and safety of the engine hoist if you're planning on reusing or selling the Waterboxer motor. A floor jack is fairly unstable, but it can be done.


Follow along as we remove the tired Wasserboxer from the Vanagon engine bay.


Overview and Approximate Time Needed:


Process Description

~ Time (hours)


Drain fluids and remove coolant hoses



Label wires, vacuum hoses, and fuel lines



Disconnect Vanagon wiring harness



Jack up Vanagon and prepare for motor pull



Pull Waterboxer motor






* 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 1 day of work.

Tools you may need:

1.       Metric socket and wrench sets, 10mm, 12mm, 13mm, 14mm, 17mm

2.       Needle nose and Chanellock pliers, wire cutters

3.       Swivel adapter for sockets

4.       Motor oil catch basin and rags

5.       Coolant catch basin and rags

6.       Masking tape and Sharpie for labeling wires and hoses

7.       Engine hoist with appropriate rated chain and appropriate size engine stand

Step 1: Drain fluids and remove coolant hoses

In this step we'll drain all of the fluids and begin disconnecting all of the accessory hoses and bits that tie the Waterboxer motor to the chassis. It's a good idea to have plenty of rags around for oil and coolant spills as We want to keep our garage floors, and the environment, as pristine as possible. This happens to be one of the reasons why we're replacing this old, leaky, Wasserboxer motor.

Step 2: Label wires, vacuum hoses, and fuel lines

Now that the coolant hoses are out of the way let's disconnect and label some of the wiring, vacuum, fuel, and throttle connections.

Step 3: Disconnect Vanagon wiring harness 

There are only a few wires and vacuum hoses left to disconnect from the motor. A few engine electrical grounds, the fuel injection wiring, and the charcoal canister vacuum lines.

Step 4: Jack up Vanagon and prepare for motor pull

One more thing to remove before the engine is clear for landing - the Oil Fill Tube. If you can, try twisting the plastic filler neck from the metal tube using brute force. Mine was frozen solid so I had to remove the entire assembly. We'll then safely jack up the Vanagon and start the physical disconnection of the motor from the frame and transmission.

Step 5: Pull Waterboxer motor

It is finally time to lower the Waterboxer. All we have to do is to attach the engine hoist to the motor, unbolt the engine crossmember from the frame, and pull the motor free from the transmission. We're almost there!


A lot of progress in this step! We labeled all of the relevant wires, hoses, and pieces and removed the Waterboxer from its 30 year old home - not a bad days work! Now that the Vanagon is a little lighter in the rear we can take a scrub brush to the Subaru motor and prepare it for installation into its new home. In the next article we'll take a look at replacing the timing belt, oil seals, and attaching all the goodies that make the EJ22 purr like a saber tooth tiger!