Quality Subaru Conversions for Vanagon



To give a good idea of what the conversion entails, here is a summary for a conversion to EJ25 subaru done at one of our partner shops.

Our customer decided his red tintop vanagon needed a new engine and other work to make it a reliable daily driver. This vanagon has a limited edition VW paint color, tornado red, which only came on tintops and only for one model year!

The original engine was removed and the transmission sent away for rebuild. Rebuilding the transmission is not mandatory for the subaru conversion but is a common upgrade since taller gearing can be installed to match better to the higher power of the new engine.

As well, the customer wants to replace the fuel tank seals and check the tank for corrosion, common maintenance on vanagons at their age. The tank seals dry up and fail, and the symptom is a fuel smell when topping off the tank. Fuel tanks rust over the years from condensation leaving water to settle to the bottom of the tank (it's heavier than fuel) and eventually rust the steel of the tank. The rust flakes then get caught in and block an inaccessible screen at the outlet, with the fuel pump getting noisy and eventually failing.

The fuel tank dropped out and surprise, the tank is near perfectly clean inside, probably owing to its life in dry Oregon air, no replacement needed!

The tank gets all new seals, vent bridge, hose and clamps and goes back into place, ready for another long run of service!

While we are under the van and the tank is out, we tackle another common maintenance replacement item, the coolant pipes. This vanagon came with plastic coolant pipes which came with steel inserts pressed in the end. The steel inserts rust eventually and fail the end of the pipe as shown here. Wowza, both pipes were failed on this one, even on the front end which is uncommon. We will install a replacement set made of stainless steel which will never fail again.

Here are the old damaged pipes and the new stainless pipes with new hoses already installed.

While the fuel tank is out, the new pipes are shown here at left, and the rear section at the right, fully installed with the original metal clips and band clamps and zip-tied together with the heater hoses.

Another issue in the same category, the coolant tees in the heater lines. These tees divide the flow of the heating system between the front and rear heater cores. Older vanagons had these tees in steel which eventually rust to failure. Newer vanagons have these in plastic which are much better but still occasionally fail catastrophically like this example. We install new tees made of aluminum to solve the problem, shown here installed next to the new stainless pipes.

Click below to see the continuation of the conversion process