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2005 Outback XT 2.5T
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Discussion Starter #1
First, a brief bit of history.

After several years of only having our family minivan, we decided it was time for me to buy a car again. I did a fair bit of searching and found a nice looking 2005 Outback XT with an automatic on a dealer lot. The car looked well cared for inside and out, and the price was fair.

I didn't have the cash on hand to buy it so in October 2016 I got a small car loan, and bought my first Subaru.

I did, of course, want to modify it some eventually, but wanted to wait until it was paid off. In fact, my wife made me promise I wouldn't mess around with it until then.

From the start, it seemed to have a performance issue when transitioning from off-boost, to on-boost. It also consistently had awful fuel economy (like 16mpg on the highway), and burned through 2qt of oil between oil changes. But all of this was mostly an annoyance, rather than real issues.

Fast forward to about 6mo ago, when I started to have real issues. I brought it to a garage who supposedly specialized in Subarus, and they found a cracked intercooler, and replaced it. They also advised a handful of other services that I had them do.

At that point, they gave the car a clean bill of health, and sent me on my way telling me to simply drive and enjoy the car.

Of course, the stumbling/performance issue and other symptoms persisted, so I started this thread where I got great advise and started to really dig into the car myself.

That revealed a torn inlet boot, which still didn't seem to resolve the issue. In that thread I chase several other dead ends before realizing......

I have ring-land failure on the #4 cylinder. Almost certainly caused by the issues that the dealer, and an independent "Subaru specialist" garage didn't resolve, leading to me driving the car without a care in the world, almost certainly lean most of the time.

That lead to tons of blowby and oil contamination, and managed to take out the turbo with it.

Which brings us to today... I've got the EJ255 out of the car and have decided to go ahead with an EJ20X swap.

Goals for this swap:
  • Minimized downtime and cost
  • Stock (looking) to the extent possible
  • Quiet
  • Reliable

In short, a good, clean, reliable daily driven setup. I would like more power, but won't sacrifice those other goals to attain it. I also live in California and do have to get my car emissions tested every two years. Thus the desire to keep things looking stock.

Here's what I intend to do with the EJ20X when I get it from a JDM importer.
  • Replace the timing belt with water pump
  • Replace the oil pump?
  • Swap in my 550cc injectors from my EJ255
  • Swap on my TGVs and intake manifold/throttlebody
  • Debating ARP head-studs, but they may be overkill for my application (do I want to, or can I, run more than 18psi boost?)
  • Recommendations?

And supporting mods
  • AEM 320lph pump (bought it while troubleshooting, thinking my fuel pressure was too low)
  • Custom RasberryPi data logger (SSM + fuel pressure)
  • Bulletproof'd TMIC
  • JDM BP5 ECU to run the exhaust AVCS
  • Cryotune opensource e-tune basemap for stock ECU (to swap in for emissions test years)
  • Cryotune opensource e-tune for safe performance on the JDM ECU
  • Patched wiring harness to add exhaust AVCS control and exhaust cam position sensor(s)
  • Uppipe EGT delete/resistor mod

Assuming that the motor comes with a working vf38, I'm likely going to stick with it. Most of the imported motors I've seen have the flange for the downpipe still attached, so in pursuit of keeping things "looking" stock, I may buy a second stock single-scroll downpipe, and have a local welder marry that up to the twinscroll flange.

Later down the road I may either get an aftermarket twinscroll downpipe, or switch entirely back to a single-scroll setup with a vf52 and a Cobb catted downpipe.

In either case a "stock looking" downpipe will likely have to go back on for emissions test years.

I have no specific power goals, only the drivability/reliability/appearance goals listed above. That said, I won't turn down some additional performance >:)

What am I missing?

What else should I be considering?
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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You've done your homework and that's a comprehensive list. Arguably the best way to swap in the 20X/Y.

A word of warning, from what I found, some motors came with a twin-scroll TD04 (typically from an Impreza/Forester application). The VF38 were problem children and the VF44 are considered a much improved version. GET THE VF38/44 INTERCOOLER WITH THE MOTOR. Your VF40 unit will not work.

Head studs won't be needed, especially at 18 psi.

You might also want to consider an aftermarket intercooler, a Process West or similar. 18 psi on the plastic intercoolers is... ambitious. Especially with the 20X/Y-specific unit.
 

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2005 Outback XT 2.5T
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Discussion Starter #3
You've done your homework and that's a comprehensive list. Arguably the best way to swap in the 20X/Y.
Thanks, I try to ask informed questions ;)

A word of warning, from what I found, some motors came with a twin-scroll TD04 (typically from an Impreza/Forester application). The VF38 were problem children and the VF44 are considered a much improved version.
From my research, the pattern seems to be that the manual motors get the TD04, while the autos get the VF38. I hadn't heard of the VF44.

I presume of the 3, you're recommending the VF44, if I can get it?

GET THE VF38/44 INTERCOOLER WITH THE MOTOR. Your VF40 unit will not work.
Is this simply because of the different mounting on the hot side? I.E. An inlet hose, rather than bolting directly to the turbo?

I haven't seen the twin scroll in person, but it looks like it is designed the same, but for the JDM setup there is an adapter which bolts onto the turbo and adapts to a hose.

Head studs won't be needed, especially at 18 psi.
So, to be clear, I'm not necessarily planning to run 18 PSI, I mentioned that number as the point at which head studs might be prudent. I'd rather not do head studs. :)

I'll run whatever boost is appropriate to meet my goals (quiet, reliable, etc).

You might also want to consider an aftermarket intercooler, a Process West or similar. 18 psi on the plastic intercoolers is... ambitious. Especially with the 20X/Y-specific unit.
I looked at the process west unit, and it's VERY tempting. Problem is, it'd go against my "low cost" goal by being nearly as expensive as the entire EJ20X/Y.

Maybe a newer WRX TMIC? Or... Maybe I just bite the bullet and get the pricy aftermarket one in the name of reliability. *shrug*
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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From my research, the pattern seems to be that the manual motors get the TD04, while the autos get the VF38. I hadn't heard of the VF44.

I presume of the 3, you're recommending the VF44, if I can get it?
Correct, the VF44 is the best option. The TD04 is very close behind and a fine unit if equipped. But if on the hunt for a replacement, go for the 44.

Is this simply because of the different mounting on the hot side? I.E. An inlet hose, rather than bolting directly to the turbo?
The compressor outlet flange is in a different location compared to the single scroll VF40 (your original equipment). It's offset by about an inch toward the passenger side.

I looked at the process west unit, and it's VERY tempting. Problem is, it'd go against my "low cost" goal by being nearly as expensive as the entire EJ20X/Y.
It's an option if you need an intercooler option. Or decide to go for more power.

Maybe a newer WRX TMIC? Or... Maybe I just bite the bullet and get the pricy aftermarket one in the name of reliability. *shrug*
Same issue, you'd need the 90 degree bolt-on adapter to mate to the non-standard TMIC. Or convert the WHOLE intake, exhaust, turbo, and intercooler to the STI-spec (like I did).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
*sigh* I'm flip-flopping again. Before I posted this thread, I convinced myself I was going to run a VF52 on the 2.0L, but later convinced myself that it wouldn't be worth spending the extra cash to buy the turbo. I was also afraid that the "big" turbo would be laggy on the "little" engine.

Now, I'm back to thinking I'll put my single scroll manifolds on the 2.0L and run the VF52. The EJ20X will wind out to 7500 RPM (I think? I read that somewhere, but can't confirm it in the FSM??!) and I don't want to have the turbo running out of steam.

Guess I'll finally be reading those books I bought on turbo performance years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ah ... the boosted life.
I didn't choose the boosted lyfe, the boosted lyfe chose me!

I really thought I was just buying a nice, reliable Japanese car, but now here I am planning a full build before the damned thing is paid off!

But.. I've always wanted a wagon, never had one before. In the short time I had with the car running, I really enjoyed it, and it did everything I ever needed it to do. I'm gonna stick with this car.

May end up buying a cheap ass civic or something to get me around in the meantime tho.
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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26,308 Posts
I didn't choose the boosted lyfe, the boosted lyfe chose me!

I really thought I was just buying a nice, reliable Japanese car, but now here I am planning a full build before the damned thing is paid off!

But.. I've always wanted a wagon, never had one before. In the short time I had with the car running, I really enjoyed it, and it did everything I ever needed it to do. I'm gonna stick with this car.

May end up buying a cheap ass civic or something to get me around in the meantime tho.


and a reliable economy car is a good addition to park next to the thirsty money hog .
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,144 Posts
I didn't choose the boosted lyfe, the boosted lyfe chose me!

I really thought I was just buying a nice, reliable Japanese car, but now here I am planning a full build before the damned thing is paid off!

But.. I've always wanted a wagon, never had one before. In the short time I had with the car running, I really enjoyed it, and it did everything I ever needed it to do. I'm gonna stick with this car.

May end up buying a cheap ass civic or something to get me around in the meantime tho.
Sometimes you eat the boost, sometimes the boost eats you.


Hmmm. I was exactly the opposite. I mean, my past 5 6-Star cars were great, but I was younger. I actually bought my 2006 for the aftermarket support and the snail. I had no idea they were so ....

Fragile ...


200 miles later I blew my 1st turbo and motor. 2 years later, I blew another turbo. 6 month after, I bought a second XT. I love draggin' a set of wagons.
 

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Does anyone know if the EJ20X/EJ20Y shortblock would work in place of a EJ255 shortblock?

I have a EJ20X/EJ20Y engine (which came from 2003+ JDM Legacy basically), I wanted to use the shortblock with USDM D25 heads (2007 LGT)?

The engine is a EJ20Y with Dual AVCS heads and twin scroll turbo. It has bent valve from timing getting knocked out.
(it appears to have an aftermarket downpipe, that bolts up to the stock exhaust)(but I don't know much about these)
I purchased a 2007 LGT from salvage and I found out it has a EJ20Y in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hmmm. I was exactly the opposite. I mean, my past 5 6-Star cars were great, but I was younger. I actually bought my 2006 for the aftermarket support and the snail. I had no idea they were so ....

Fragile ....
“He calls Francesco Fra-gee-lay!”

So, in retrospect, I knew what I was getting into. I wanted the turbo, and I knew they were more thirsty, but part of me hoped that everything I read from folks with NA cars would hold true. Stuff like “it’s the most reliable car I’ve ever owned”, etc.

I’m not walking away from my turbo car. Love it too much already, even tho she burned me during the honeymoon.

and a reliable economy car is a good addition to park next to the thirsty money hog .
I may be a glutton for punishment, but I’m seriously considering picking this up. https://santabarbara.craigslist.org/cto/d/1999-subaru-legacy-outback/6666663616.html

The hood scoop freaks me out, but that looks like an NA car, which should be all those things I was hoping for, right?!

Might post over in the Gen 2 forums for advice, or the number of a good 12 step program.

Edit: Nope! Just did 10min of research and realized that this is a gen 1, and that the 2.5 (EJ25D) is an awful design experiment! Moving on!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Does anyone know if the EJ20X/EJ20Y shortblock would work in place of a EJ255 shortblock?

I have a EJ20X/EJ20Y engine (which came from 2003+ JDM Legacy basically), I wanted to use the shortblock with USDM D25 heads (2007 LGT)?

The engine is a EJ20Y with Dual AVCS heads and twin scroll turbo. It has bent valve from timing getting knocked out.
(it appears to have an aftermarket downpipe, that bolts up to the stock exhaust)(but I don't know much about these)
I purchased a 2007 LGT from salvage and I found out it has a EJ20Y in it.
Short answer is no, the short blocks are not interchangeable.

The EJ20X/Y has different pistons and heads, which result in a 9.5:1 compression ratio. Putting your stock single AVCS B25 heads on it would result in some unknown CR above the EJ255’s stock 8.2:1. To find out exactly you’d want to get a machine shop to cc the heads, or perhaps you could calculate it from available info.

I’m going the route of swapping in the entire long block and making it work with the dual AVCS.
 

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2005 OBXT Ltd Obsidian Black 5MT
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@Ryan J. Geyer, it really looks like you have done your homework before jumping in. But no matter how much you do, there's still going to be something that's going to be an Ah ha! moment.

I probably should have gone with a JDM motor looking back.

What I'm most curious about is your Pi datalogger. What'cha got goin on there? That sounds interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What I'm most curious about is your Pi datalogger. What'cha got goin on there? That sounds interesting.
So.. It warrants it's own thread, and a github repository.. I'll create both later today, or this weekend.

But, in short..

While I was trying to get to the bottom of my issues, I became obsessive about logging, but my Windows laptop is terrible, besides being enormous, inconvenient, and short on battery life.

The final straw was that I wanted to monitor my fuel pressure, which required an additional sensor.

I put together a Raspberry Pi, an analog-to-digital converter, and some custom software (based on pimonitor) that would fire up automatically when the car was started and begin logging to a CSV.

Attached is an example pair of the CSV file, and a log file.

Like I said, I'll start another thread for this. It'll also force me to get my total hodgepodge of files organized, and maybe document it a bit better so others can reproduce it.

The biggest problem right now, is that the logging is SLOW, since it's based on Python, reading from a Serial connection, which is notoriously slow. I get ~1 sample per second which I consider unacceptable, so I'll be working on porting this stuff to a C++ binary at some point in the near future.
 

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I've understood ej20 swaps to be.. anemic, for lack of a better word.

I'm curious why one would go through the hassle of doing the swap in the first place? Don't you have to run the JDM ECU? I seem to think I read somewhere the JDM ECU wasn't OBD2 and it would fail emissions testing since the machine couldn't communicate with it? Maybe I read it wrong. Are you planning to run both ECU's?

I hadn't looked into the price what the JDM importers were asking for the ej20 but a new sti 257 short block can be had delivered to you ~$1800. Is it more cost effective doing the ej20 swap? Just trying to get my head wrapped around it.
 

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From what I've read, the JDM EJ20X/EJ20Y longblock will swap straight into a LGT or OXT. Using the USDM intake and turbo and such. The exhaust AVCS can just be ignored and the engine will run fine.

The salvage car I purchased was using the twin scroll turbo and the exhaust AVCS was not connected. To bad I don't know how it ran because it has bent valves from timing getting knocked out in the accident.
I would assume it didn't have a JDM ECU because the exhaust AVCS was not connected.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I've understood ej20 swaps to be.. anemic, for lack of a better word.

I'm curious why one would go through the hassle of doing the swap in the first place? Don't you have to run the JDM ECU? I seem to think I read somewhere the JDM ECU wasn't OBD2 and it would fail emissions testing since the machine couldn't communicate with it? Maybe I read it wrong. Are you planning to run both ECU's?

I hadn't looked into the price what the JDM importers were asking for the ej20 but a new sti 257 short block can be had delivered to you ~$1800. Is it more cost effective doing the ej20 swap? Just trying to get my head wrapped around it.
I think it can be true in some cases that the EJ20 doesn't have the same output.. Like in different cars (WRX, Forrester) for the "compatible" JDM EJ20, or an older USDM EJ20.

The scope of my research was VERY narrow and specific to my car, and the "right" JDM import motor happens to be a pretty solid one. It's the EJ20X/Y from the JDM/General Market Legacy, which has 9.5:1 compression, factory forged internals, dual AVCS and a (small) twin scroll turbo.

If you're *just* replacing the short block or long block, without making any other changes, it likely wouldn't perform well. The vf40 on my car (which is also destroyed, and needs replaced) would be a bit laggy on the 2.0L given the lower exhaust volume, and would run out of steam in the upper RPMs that this motor is capable of.

As @@soobyhobby; rightly points out, you can also use your stock USDM ECU and simply not connect the exhaust AVCS and it'll "just work". But you're definitely leaving power on the table if you aren't using it, and/or tuning for it.

Since my car is a 2005, it *is* a 32-bit ECU, which means all of the sensors on the motor have to be compatible, and of the "correct type" I.E. hall effect vs. window switch. This means that I need the "pre-facelift" EJ20X/Y without the air pump to make sure it's compatible.

As for the ECU, again, it's not *required*, and for newer Legacy/Outbacks, it wouldn't even be an option. Why? Because the JDM ECU is the "CANBUS-lite", before the cars went completely CANBUS for everything, meaning that I'd have to have it "pair" with all of the other computers in the car.

Fortunately, since I have a 2005, there is *not* an issue with overall system compatibility. I'll be able to plug in the JDM ECU and it'll get along with the other computers, all of my sensors, etc. I'll just need to add the necessary wires to my wiring harness to connect to the exhaust AVCS controllers, and the cam sensors.

As you rightly mention, the JDM ECU won't pass emissions. Not because it's not OBDII (that's how the SSM protocol is transmitted, and how engine codes are read etc), but because California emissions tests do actually connect up to the ECU and look for stored codes, and the ID/type of the ECU. The ECU clearly identifies itself as being JDM, from a BP5 platform, so I'd fail emissions simply because it doesn't "match" the car, no matter whether it passed a sniff test or not.

Which is why I'll keep the USDM ECU, with a safe base map on it, which I'll plug in to take it to the smog shop. It won't run the exhaust AVCS, and it won't spool the turbo well, and it won't do a lot of things well. But it'll get me two more years of my car on the road.

So... Why am *I* doing this swap?

Not because it's necessarily "better" but because it's cheaper, and with the right research, it actually has fewer possible unknowns.

I need a short block, and a turbo, minimum. If I were to start digging into machine work, and having the heads checked out and likely other things I'm not thinking of on my stock unit, prices could get out of hand quickly.

I can get the EJ20X, delivered for, let's call it $1000. $300 for a timing/water pump kit, another $400 for a turbo, and maybe another $400 worth of tuning to get the USDM ECU happy and the JDM ECU tuned for performance/reliability. That's, what?.. $2100, maybe another $300 for misc parts and fluids (which I'd need if I just got a shortblock anyway).

It's not *cheap* but it's infinitely cheaper than trying to rebuild my stock block when I don't have a reputable, experienced Subaru machine shop nearby to at least check out my heads. And I get an upgraded turbo, tuning, and a factory assembled forged long block.

Those are my reasons, which are nuanced. But it seems like the best choice.

It also leaves me with a rebuildable core that I can sell, or rebuild for "serious" power later, or.. Build a sand rail.. Or.. Who knows..

Sorry, ridiculously long answer to your question, but I hope it helps explain why *I* chose to go this route. I'm confident I'll be making more power than stock, and it should be reliable, which meets my criteria for success. :)
 
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I think it can be true in some cases that the EJ20 doesn't have the same output.. Like in different cars (WRX, Forrester) for the "compatible" JDM EJ20, or an older USDM EJ20.

The scope of my research was VERY narrow and specific to my car, and the "right" JDM import motor happens to be a pretty solid one. It's the EJ20X/Y from the JDM/General Market Legacy, which has 9.5:1 compression, factory forged internals, dual AVCS and a (small) twin scroll turbo.

If you're *just* replacing the short block or long block, without making any other changes, it likely wouldn't perform well. The vf40 on my car (which is also destroyed, and needs replaced) would be a bit laggy on the 2.0L given the lower exhaust volume, and would run out of steam in the upper RPMs that this motor is capable of.

As @@soobyhobby; rightly points out, you can also use your stock USDM ECU and simply not connect the exhaust AVCS and it'll "just work". But you're definitely leaving power on the table if you aren't using it, and/or tuning for it.

Since my car is a 2005, it *is* a 32-bit ECU, which means all of the sensors on the motor have to be compatible, and of the "correct type" I.E. hall effect vs. window switch. This means that I need the "pre-facelift" EJ20X/Y without the air pump to make sure it's compatible.

As for the ECU, again, it's not *required*, and for newer Legacy/Outbacks, it wouldn't even be an option. Why? Because the JDM ECU is the "CANBUS-lite", before the cars went completely CANBUS for everything, meaning that I'd have to have it "pair" with all of the other computers in the car.

Fortunately, since I have a 2005, there is *not* an issue with overall system compatibility. I'll be able to plug in the JDM ECU and it'll get along with the other computers, all of my sensors, etc. I'll just need to add the necessary wires to my wiring harness to connect to the exhaust AVCS controllers, and the cam sensors.

As you rightly mention, the JDM ECU won't pass emissions. Not because it's not OBDII (that's how the SSM protocol is transmitted, and how engine codes are read etc), but because California emissions tests do actually connect up to the ECU and look for stored codes, and the ID/type of the ECU. The ECU clearly identifies itself as being JDM, from a BP5 platform, so I'd fail emissions simply because it doesn't "match" the car, no matter whether it passed a sniff test or not.

Which is why I'll keep the USDM ECU, with a safe base map on it, which I'll plug in to take it to the smog shop. It won't run the exhaust AVCS, and it won't spool the turbo well, and it won't do a lot of things well. But it'll get me two more years of my car on the road.

So... Why am *I* doing this swap?

Not because it's necessarily "better" but because it's cheaper, and with the right research, it actually has fewer possible unknowns.

I need a short block, and a turbo, minimum. If I were to start digging into machine work, and having the heads checked out and likely other things I'm not thinking of on my stock unit, prices could get out of hand quickly.

I can get the EJ20X, delivered for, let's call it $1000. $300 for a timing/water pump kit, another $400 for a turbo, and maybe another $400 worth of tuning to get the USDM ECU happy and the JDM ECU tuned for performance/reliability. That's, what?.. $2100, maybe another $300 for misc parts and fluids (which I'd need if I just got a shortblock anyway).

It's not *cheap* but it's infinitely cheaper than trying to rebuild my stock block when I don't have a reputable, experienced Subaru machine shop nearby to at least check out my heads. And I get an upgraded turbo, tuning, and a factory assembled forged long block.

Those are my reasons, which are nuanced. But it seems like the best choice.

It also leaves me with a rebuildable core that I can sell, or rebuild for "serious" power later, or.. Build a sand rail.. Or.. Who knows..

Sorry, ridiculously long answer to your question, but I hope it helps explain why *I* chose to go this route. I'm confident I'll be making more power than stock, and it should be reliable, which meets my criteria for success. :)
Thanks for taking the time. It makes sense when you put it into your perspective. Good luck with it!
 

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Discussion Starter #19

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Discussion Starter #20
Update:

Still waiting for a bonus check due at the end of the month to start buying parts. In the meantime, I've been trying to clean up, organize, and get ready to put things back in.

I finally got the #4 piston out, and confirmed ringland failure, tho, it seems "not that bad"? I dunno, I've never seen another failed EJ before.





It definitely looks like someone has been in this motor before, unless the factory stamps the cylinder head caps etc. I also found plenty of gasket surfaces where there was too much silicon used and it was overlapping. This is reinforcing my decision to go ahead with a "new" long block from JDM with low miles. I will at least know that it's a low mileage factory assembled unit.



The EJ motor seems so compact when it's in the car, but when you take it all apart it really expands!






Of course, now that I'm just in "waiting" mode, I'm experiencing "feature creep" on this project.

I was always going to throw in a transmission oil cooler, so I'm thinking through how I can add that. Noticed that there's plenty of space in front of the AC condenser, so I'll put the trans cooler there.

But there's so much space, and oil is such a vital fluid for these engines, I'm considering throwing in a bypass oil filtration system. I've still got filters and a manifold from Amsoil from WAAAAY back in the day on my Ford Explorer.

Plus, I'm going to be down in Long Beach next weekend, where most of the JDM importers are, so hopefully the money will come in and I may be able to pick it up on the way home.

Thinking about the longevity of the trans, and the fact that my current 5EAT transmission has the same 160k miles as the engine and chassis, I'm considering buying the "complete" drop-out from the JDM car, including the compatible 5EAT. Then i'd be able to do the Transgo shift kit, and the cooler, all at once.

It's bad when I've got too much time on my hands!
 

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