Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of gas mileage will it get?
In general, you will get better mileage than a good running WBX traveling at the same speed. Since the subaru engine is so efficient, mileage can go up anywhere from 1 to 5 mpg. Typically we see the vanagon getting around 21 mpg on the highway if you keep the speed down to 65 mph or so.
Once installed, who can I get to work on it?
The engines use stock Subaru OBDII diagnostics, which let the mechanic use computer diagnostics to find problems. Any local car shop should be able to work on it, although a subaru specialist would be ideal. Any subaru specialist will instantly recognize their usual motor sitting quite naturally in its new home. It is natural for any shop to be hesitant, so if you have a favorite mechanic and they have questions, just have them give us a call.
Where do I get parts from?
Engine parts come from Subaru and van parts come from VW. Subarus are sold in all 50 states and Canada, so everything is domestic market. Actually, any subaru parts you might need will be much easier to get than the vanagon parts! Since subarus are sold all over the country, subaru parts are commonly stocked in local auto parts stores, just like domestic automaker parts.
There are only a few conversion-specific parts such as the engine mount and the exhaust headers attached to the engine. Even the rubber engine mounts are stock vanagon parts and the entire exhaust other than the headers can be replaced with standard vanagon exhaust parts!!!
What kind of warranty do you offer?
We offer a 3 year warranty on all our conversion parts, and a one year warranty on the engine itself. We can offer an extended warranty on the engines for an additional price. All our turn-key engines are test run in a vanagon for several hundred miles, to ensure that you are shipped a good product.
Subaru engines typically run for several hundred thousand miles with only minimal care. Typically on these cars the body wears out before the engine quits.
Is this a proven conversion? What kind of track record does it have?
Engine conversions for Vanagons are nothing new, even from VW themselves. The company Overland probably had the first "kit" of a VW inline 4 cylinder, set up in much the same way as the diesel vanagon. Porsche even set up a few 'factory' vanagons with their 6 cylinder carrera motor!
Hobart Kennedy is generally credited with "inventing" the Subaru conversion in the US back in the mid-90s. He loves vanagons and did a few for himself, and then decided to offer parts that he had come up with for do-it-yourselfers. He even did the legwork to get the original 2.2 motor CARB approved in California (still one of the only conversions CARB approved!). Kennedy Engineering makes adapters and parts to fit dozens of engines to VW and Porsche transaxles for race cars and sand rails and such.
Vanaru did not invent the Subaru conversion. We simply are trying to improve upon it and brought it to the east coast of North America, and to the far reaches of North America where there are no conversion shops.
How does the Subaru conversion compare to other engine conversions?
Anybody that makes Vanagon owners happier is OK in our book. It makes it all fun and interesting.
For long term ownership costs, an engine conversion is going to cost you less than replacing your powerplant with a WBX. These engines simply last a long time and could outlast a WBX at least twice over.
We think (of course we do) the Subaru is the best choice for Vanagon conversion. If you do your research, we think you'll come to the same conclusion. It is the same size and shape as the original engine, hands-down the most powerful conversion, and one of the smoothest. It even looks like a WBXer, albeit far cleaner than most, with no oil and coolant dripping on your driveway.
Have a look at the other conversions and keep these points in mind:
- Same format and layout as the original WBX engine. The subaru fits in like it was made especially for the vanagon engine compartment. Check the exhaust system on other conversions. The subaru engine keeps the exhaust and associated heat on the bottom of the engine where it should be, outside of the engine compartment and in the air stream, and the exhaust is mounted to the engine like the original waterboxer to eliminate flexing problems.
- Superior power and torque. For gasoline engines, the subarus offer the highest horsepower and available torque as bone-stock engines. These motors have a long flat torque curve; the EJ22 has 80% of its torque available already at 2000 rpm! You don't have to get it up to high rpm and keep it there to have access to the power it offers. In the tuning world, popular power upgrades include such items as aftermarket cams or free-flow exhaust. What they don't emphasize is that there is no free lunch - power is gained at the top end at the expense of low end power, specifically at the expense of low-end torque. Great if you're drag-racing in a light Honda, but our heavy vanagons need torque at low rpm to get all that mass moving. If you plan to go off-road or tow a boat or for general all-around driveability, get an engine that was designed from the outset to make solid power.
Does the engine compartment or other parts of my van have to be modified to install a subaru engine?
No! Since the four cylinder subaru engine has the same boxer layout as the original VW engine, it has roughly the same size and shape but is more compact. Therefore it actually fits better than the original engine. The oil filter is in about the same location as on the VW engine. Our conversions let you use the same VW exhaust components that your van came with, so it retains a stock appearance from the outside.
What about my transmission? Does it need modification or replacement?
The conversion works with all of the water-cooled vanagon transmissions (except diesel), including the syncro 4WD, and the 83.5 up 2WD water-cooled manual and automatic transmissions. Transmission modification is not required but can greatly enhance the driving characteristics of your vanagon with its new-found power. A popular upgrade for manual transmissions is the higher 3rd and 4th gears. It is also possible to give the automatic transmission a higher ring and pinion for better cruising rpm.
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