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Pharaohabq

VQ Engine Swap Information

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     So I've been asked a lot of times about the different VQ engines, and swapping into an S30. While I'm not exactly an expert on them, I am swapping a VQ35HR into my S30. Most of the questions I get are about what is required to make a VQ run. I've read a lot about it, and I've seen what other people have done to make one work. Props always have to go out to 240Hoke (Austin) and EMWHYR0HEN (Myron) for pioneering this swap into an S30.  I highly recommend you read their pages and threads.

 

Doing a swap is a big deal; it's not just a single weekend bolt on change. Usually it requires a little welding, or a lot of $ to have someone else do it. You can about guarantee that you'll blow your budget, so when you're planning a swap. Expect to spend at least $3K-$5K more than you're thinking.  A VQ35DE (287HP) is very tempting, stock it’s over 100 HP more powerful than the stock L28E (170HP).

 

Before you buy:   There are a lot of places to buy an engine. But before you look, there’s a lot more to a swap than just the engine. There’s all the accessories that often don’t come with the engine (people make more $ selling them separately). Then there are the Wiring harnesses, The Computers, the Fuel management, and the Integration to your car.  These are things that are costly in addition to the expense of buying the engine. You should have a plan in place before you start. Expect your car to be out of service for quite some time.  Try not to get bit by the “While I’m at it†bug. Do one project at a time, one phase at a time. Planning is probably the most important part of your swap. Read Read Read; make sure you’re familiar and comfortable with all the systems, and steps for swapping an engine.

 

Which Engine?   Most people are going for the older VQ35DE, as it’s the most widely available, thus cheaper, engine. Nissan put them in the Altimas, Pathfinders, Quests, Maximas, Muranos, Xterras, and Infinity G35's / FX35's / M35's among others - depending, of course, on the model. Eg. SE, SL etc. Now keep in mind there are variances between these models. Some have different intakes, some have different heads and different transmissions.  I’m not going to detail that, since we’re only interested in the RWD versions. You can get a VQ35 from a FWD or AWD car and bolt a RWD Tranny to it, but you may need to change some additional parts out which could cost more, but the initial cost may be cheaper. Buying a 350Z VQ35 may be a lot more expensive than buying an old Altima VQ35 (power limited) or G35 VQ engine based solely on the fact that it came from a 350Z, so consider that. 

 

The VQ35HR: Nissan only made the VQ35HR for 2 years in the 350Z, 07-08, so it's a lot harder to find parts. But that being said, it's an excellent engine (306HP compared to the 287HP of the DE). The plenum is side ported so it fits better in the car. The block is taller, but the plenum is shorter so height-wise it still fits in a S30. The Tranny is better internally, but it still uses the same concentric clutch which really isn't that big a deal. Replacement clutches are a lot cheaper now than they were 2 years ago. The HR does require additional Trimming on the S30 Cross member, because the Oil Filter is in the front on the right. Aside from that it's all about the same installation wise.

 

 If you’re going to go HR, You might as well go VQ37HR, they're more common (made for more years), 40hp more (~330HP), and fit almost exactly the same since they're the same block as the VQ35HR. You can get a VQ37 out of almost any G37 or 370Z. They're still not as widely available as the VQ35DE is, but the VQ37HR is an awesome engine. Really if you had the $$$$ and could find one, the VR38DETT would be the ultimate, but that's a rare animal, (and way too much $$$$$)

 

But I digress, so with the VQ35HR (and the VQ37HR) like the DE, you still need the ECU/ BCU, NATS, IPDM and Key. It's still drive by wire so you need a gas pedal from the same year car either 350z or G35. The HR uses a 3rd plug on the ECU, so there's a 3rd harness you'll need. The Engine harness, the Engine Bay Harness and the Dash harness (body#1) If you can get these all from the same car, you'd be way ahead. The Dash harness usually comes with the fuse box. The engine bay harness includes the IPDM or at least the plugs for it. The IPDM is a computerized "smart" power management box, but really it's just the relays for things like the headlights and such. If you want to use the gauges, you'll also need the AC Amp. It really is better to buy a whole wrecked donor car, so you can just move the whole systems over directly and not worry about getting the wrong harness.

 

Harness Mods:  I know there are companies like Zfever, that can do harness mods to eliminate the extra harnesses and the BCU/NATS security. For many these work out fine, but I really have no experience with them. So look at their site and decide for yourself if you want to go that direction.  Myself, I am planning on moving multiple 350Z systems into my S30, so I’m sticking with the stock 350Z harnesses. I would love to get the 350Z Cruise control working. As I understand it, Cruise only requires the ECU/BCU and the speed sensors on the Differential. Going with Stock also means you shouldn’t have to do any tuning / dyno work unless you want to.

 

Gas Pedal: Any VQ gas pedal should work, but one from the same year car G35 or 350z should work best. I only know of one change in the gas pedal, between 04 and 05 they changed the module that senses the pedal, but the plugs are the same so I assume it'll still work. It's best to stick with the same year as the engine - just to be sure it’ll work.

 

Procuring an engine: You might look first at the junkyards, and then if nothing is available there, put an ad up on craigslist or whatever you prefer, and see if someone privately has a car. You may be able to buy a 07 SE or SL Altima or earlier Maxima, pretty cheap with the DE engine. (Though you'd have to find a RWD tranny) Quest minivans are also cheap. (Note that some of these are ECU limited in HP)  But look around and see what's available locally. Then if you can't find one, the next is so search JDM engine sources. (Japan has a 35K miles law that basically it's too expensive to drive something with more than 35K miles, tax-wise, so there's tons of good JDM engines being shipped out) Another place to look is into insurance auctions, a lot of times you can buy a wrecked complete car for $2K-$3K though most require that you bring a dealer along.  

 

Donors: It’s best to buy a Whole Donor, so not only do you know that all the parts once worked together, it’ll be a lot easier and cheaper to have all the little modules and parts (engine accessories like Alt, PS Pump, AC pump etc) for your swap there on hand, and much cheaper than tracking them all down separately.  Your neighbors may not like it, so plan on at least a car cover. Once your swap is complete, you can part the rest or sell it for scrap.  A note on this: If you don’t buy a Donor, you can still get a lot of the same parts cheaper from lesser VQ equipped cars, than the higher dollar 350Z/G35 cars. Eg. The MAF’s are all the same part number across most Nissan models since 2003. Eg. It's $60 for a Quest MAF, and $98 for a 350Z MAF, same part #. That being said, I still bought a lot of my parts cheap on Ebay, and from Turbo-Toys, who dismantles mostly VQ cars.

 

Mounting: Well McKinney Motorsports makes a Mount kit which is pretty good. But it’s very expensive. “Why the expense?†is a different conversation. But you can make your own from plans you can find on the internet. Or, you and make your own custom mounts as someone here on Hybridz did.  One part that will be common to all VQ swaps in the S30, is the â€œModding the Steering cross member.†You’ll need to cut away half or more of the cross member and bolster the front side to retain the stiffness for your suspension and Steering mounting.  For the HR, you’ll also have to make a cut out for the oil filter.  You’ll also need to cut out the S30 Stock Tranny mounts in the tunnel, and make/buy a new Tranny mount.  You may also need to mod the shifter hole to fit.  You will also need to build/buy a Shift linkage bracket (Ahoke’s is really nice!) to shorten the distance from the shifter to the Tranny.  (This is one argument to switch to the Auto Tranny version as the Auto is shorter and Drive by wire – Though the width I’m uncertain about.)   You will also need to route the S30 steering shaft around the exhaust. Usually this is done by adding another U-joint and extension, (Mine came from the donor 350Z steering) and building a bearing mount on the left fender wall. There’s a lot more to this, but this is basically what’s required.

 

AC and Power Steering: Air Conditioning. Well the Stock VQ location for the AC pump won’t work due to the Steering shaft.  So either you’ll have to do without, Build a different bracket, or go with electric AC.  The S30 AC system can be made to work, but would require complete disassembly and cleanout, then reassembly and recharge using modern refrigerant from the 350Z. (I was looking at replacing the 350Z PS pump with the 350z AC pump and making different bracket. Again that is a different project).   Power steering, yes it’s possible, but it’ requires integrating it with the “Adding Power Steering†topics here on Hybridz. It’s probably cheaper to go with that electric PS system.

 

Exhaust: You’ll need to make/buy a custom exhaust as the stock headers point right at the S30 firewall when mounted.

 

Turbo/Twin Turbo: kits are available, but run in the $4K-$6K range. GTM is a good company. Of course there would be further costs and mods required to put them an S30. I recommend that you get it working in stock form first.

 

Transmission: The 350Z’s come with either an Auto or a 6 sp manual. Really either one is great, the Auto has a lot of features like manual shift or automatic. The VQ37 also has synchro rev-match (2010+) available, which is pretty fun, where the ECU detects you're shifting and matches the engine speed to your shift, so technically you can shift without the clutch. Watch out though, if you get the engine from a G37x the x is AWD, and the Tranny won't work in an S30 unless you go AWD with it too, which is really expensive. I think the Auto Tranny may have a control unit, but I haven't looked into that much since I’m going Manual. I know the engine harness is different for the Auto. You can use an Engine / harness from an Auto with a manual, but not vice versa. The auto tranny reverse lockout switch would need to be bypassed. You’d have to source a flywheel/clutch, remove the flex plate and buy a new pinion bearing / Flywheel bolts. The early 03 / 04 350z manual trannies had some synchro issues, so look out for those.  All VQ35DE Manual RWD trannies are interchangeable from 03 through 06. The 07-08 years used a JK Tranny with a different bolt pattern, I haven’t verified that the 09 + VQ37 Tranny will work with a 07 or 08 HR engine, but it should because they both use the same block. It's best to use the 350Z Clutch master since it's matched to the concentric slave.

 

Differentials: You can use the Stock S30 R200, and should be fine, though the 3.54 gearing may be a little tall for you. 3.7 or 3.9:1 might make you a little happier.  The 350z uses a Short nosed R200, with the timing wheels on the stubs. The timing wheels can be used to tell the ECU to display how fast you’re going using the AC amp and the stock 350Z electronics.  You’d have to use a Ron Tyler (RT) type mount to install a short nosed R200. This is the same for installing a short nosed R230 from a Z32. Both have the timing wheels.  Your Stock S30 Speedo won’t work with a Z33/Z34 Tranny.  A LSD is available in both the Z33/Z34 and the Z32 Diff’s.  The Subi LSD R180 should still work with the VQ’s power, but your stub axles are the weak point.

 

Fuel:  Most swaps I've seen actually go through the work to upgrade the S30 fuel lines.  I'm not certain that's required since the 350Z fuel lines appear to be the same size.  The VQ needs to be run either on a "dead head" configuration or on a return configuration. Either way, you'll need a good quality Fuel pressure regulator, and a stronger Fuel pump. I've seen people swap in the Stock 350Z pumps, and I've seen people use walbrough 255 LPH pumps. Both are workable. You'll need to research the different setups and decide what will work for you. My plan is to use a quart sized pressure container in the engine compartment with the input and the output to the engine on the bottom then a FPR and a return to the tank on the top. That way any bubbles float up through the FPR and my engine has constant pressure from before the FPR. Likely I'll use the S30 tank and an external walbrough.

 

The 08+ cars are nice too, in that most use the key fob deal that with Bluetooth, allows for push button operation, so you wouldn't have to even take your keys out of your pocket. But that's another story.

 

Now I realize this is really not much more than a primer, but it answers most of the questions I am regularly asked.  I welcome constructive comments.  Good luck on your projects.  I would highly recommend for you to download the FSM's for the VQ35DE, VQ35HR, and the VQ37HR cars so you can see exactly what these components do, and what each system consists of. Being familiar with that will make sure you pull all the parts you want the FIRST TIME.

Here are the FSM links:

http://www.xenonz33.com/reference.html

http://www.xenonz34.com/reference.html

 

PharaohABQ.

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Excellent, I would also add the option of going stand alone as the plug and play options for the DE are becoming fairly reasonable second hand, especially when compared to what companies like Zfever are charging to eliminate NATS/BCM.  Additionally this option opens up all the opportunities for tuning and turbo charging if one desires down the road.  

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Excellent, I would also add the option of going stand alone as the plug and play options for the DE are becoming fairly reasonable second hand, especially when compared to what companies like Zfever are charging to eliminate NATS/BCM.  Additionally this option opens up all the opportunities for tuning and turbo charging if one desires down the road.  

 

Which is a reasonable standalone option? anything specific to look out for. I know Haltech has a stand alone ECU for VQ engines but that quiet expensive.

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The Problem with stand alones, is that for the cost and the trouble to install the stand alone units, it's argueable that's it's worth it for the VQ engines.  Only the Haltech stand alone supports "drive by wire" as I understand it. But otherwise, you'd have the trouble of swapping out your Throttle Body with a cabled version (I believe some people are using the new Ford mustang TB.)  You may have to replace most of the other stock electrical components (MAF, TPS, Temp, CPS, IAC) to work with various after market (AEM) solutions.  Right now, I'm not certain if any aftermarket solution can handle exhaust side valve (EVT) adjustment (HR models), tho I do believe Haltech handles intake valve timing adjustment, and last I heard was working on the EVT, but I didn't see any HR support on their site.

 

The Cost of the aftermarket unit likely will be a lot more than just going with a Stock or Zfever adjusted ECU solution. The Haltech ECU alone is really expensive. (~$2500US for Z33 Plat-Pro Plugin)  You'd still need the OEM harnesses etc.  Haltech does allow for Meth, Water or Nitrous injection, and FI which is nice, but Tuning a stand alone won't be cheap either, it depends on your application.  I could not tell you now many other functions such as Tach and Speedo, that Haltech supports.

 

The OEM Service Manual lays out the Electrical pretty well, so it's not that hard to get the engine running on OEM equipment. As I recommended:  if your get all your parts from the same donor, you'll save a lot of $ than buying peicemeal, and you'll know you have a system that once worked together complete.  I'd recommend getting it running on the OEM ECU before switching to an aftermarket, if possible, mainly for the ease of troubleshooting.

 

The only two companies I have heard work with the VQ35DE are AEM and Haltech. 

 

I admit, my experience with After market ECU's is very limited, (primarilly MS+S) but I've done a few swaps using OEM parts. I'd recommend that you do your homework before selecting an alternate engine management solution, as any issues could be quite costly. We know the OEM ECU, without a tune, is already setup for functionality and perfomance.

Edited by Pharaohabq

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Another part of this that was brought to my attention.  Some of the non-Z, Non-G Vq35 engines may be HP limited by their intakes. The Maxima Intake flows well, but the Stock output numbers aren't rated as high as the Z for the same year.   Certainly there's issues moving from front wheel drive to rear wheel drive. Most often this involves changing out the oil pans, either just the lower, or both upper and lower pans depending on which engine you find.  So, for that reason alone, I'd recommend you find a donor engine that already supports a swap to a 6sp manual RWD, or an Automatic RWD tranny.  

 

That being said, I did see something that might make the swap a little easier,  That is using the FWD Maxima or Altima  headers. They point almost straight down, and by moving the exhaust studs, you can mount the front header on either side of the VQ. This could make it easier to route the exhaust  away from the firewall, though if you use a bar between your engine mounts, then these pipes may not work.  It would be fun to see someone try this and post their experience.  The exhaust would have to make a 90 deg turn from those headers, but that may be easier than trying to mod the stock 350Z Y pipe.

 

Another point I didn't mention is the Driveshaft.  The S30 yoke won't fit the 6sp MT. You'll need to source a VQ driveshaft so that you can have your S30 shaft modded or a new shaft made to fit between your tranny and the R200, or R180 from your year of S30.  If you're swapping in the R200 Shortnosed (read LSD) from the same donor car you would need the  driveshaft flange for the other end.  When having a shaft made, you'd need to measure from center of U-joint to center of U-joint, but talk to your shop and see what they want.  The 350Z's use a CF driveshaft with metal yokes, they'd need to cut off the CF to make the new shaft.

 

Phar

Edited by Pharaohabq

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Great post, this thread should be made a sticky.

 

 

 

The VQ35HR: Nissan only made the VQ35HR for 2 years in the 350Z, 07-08, so it's a lot harder to find parts.

PharaohABQ.

 

The VQ35HR was made for more then 2 years in other vehicles. The VQ35HR can be found in 2007-2008 Infiniti G35s(JDM Skylines), 2008-2012 Infiniti EX35, 2009-2012 Infiniti FX35, & 2009-2010 Infiniti M35(JDM Fuga). A hybrid variant of the VQ35HR can also be found in some newer Infinitis.

 

While the VQ35HR is a superior engine, it is much easier to source a VQ35DE which was made in significantly higher numbers.

Edited by RedBeauty84ZX

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Thanks for that, I should have mentioned it was in some other vehicles.  Of note though, The VQ35HR In some other "clothes" may have power limits due to different intakes etc. so know what you're buying. Performance cars like the 350Z and G35 should be safe bets, but check the factory specs for whatever donor you find.  Again the FWD and AWD versions may require extensive mods to be fit in an S30 (oil and lower case swaps).

 

Hey I'd love this to be a Sticky :-)

Edited by Pharaohabq

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Just a note here on the VR38DETT,  Though it's related to the VQ37 engine, there's massive differences. The lower pan has the front half of the AWD system built in, and I'm not certain it's interchangable with the VQ37HR. Though they're both based on the VQ40 block.  The engine with the OEM Turbos is wider than the 25" between the S30 frame rails, and the heat could be bad for the rubber in your tie rod ends. Now this swap can still be done, but it may be cheaper to source a VQ37HR twin turbo kit and adapt it to the S30/VQ37HR combo (VQ35HR combo)   The VR38DETT is still near $20K used, if you can find one.

Edited by Pharaohabq

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VQ37 is a nice engine but it requires a lot of wiring work to make it run because of the VVEL. On Z33/34 platform if boosted VQ35HR is a better choice over 37.

 

One other combo people using is VQ40 block and VQ35HR head nice NA power there

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The blocks look pretty different, that's true, Mainly due to the front differential being integrated into the lower block. It's a pretty crazy setup in the GTR, 2 driveshafts and a rear mount transmission. It's amazing they were able to save weight and keep everything balanced in the GTR.   There's arguments on both sides on wether it's a VQ40 block, or a different block based on the LeMans VR engine.  VR means Variable timing, and R is for Supercharged, though the GTR is a DETT not supercharged, so I'm unsure of the designations.  The local Nissan parts dealer said it's a VQ40 block that's specially modified and built by hand, so I'm not sure you could still call it the same family.  VR38.com says it's in the LeMans family so who are you going to believe. 

 

In any case, to use a VR38DETT in an S30, you'd really be looking at heavy modifications, if for nothing more than fitting a transmission to the engine.

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VQ37 is a nice engine but it requires a lot of wiring work to make it run because of the VVEL. On Z33/34 platform if boosted VQ35HR is a better choice over 37.

 

One other combo people using is VQ40 block and VQ35HR head nice NA power there

I was going to mention on this too that the VQ35HR also has VVEL, using the stock wiring takes care of all the worries with making it work. The NATS stuff isn't too tough if you've got access to a Nissan Dealer with/or a Consult III interface.  Remember all these parts just plug in together. There's not too much guesswork if you're sticking with Stock parts.

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I was going to mention on this too that the VQ35HR also has VVEL, using the stock wiring takes care of all the worries with making it work. The NATS stuff isn't too tough if you've got access to a Nissan Dealer with/or a Consult III interface.  Remember all these parts just plug in together. There's not too much guesswork if you're sticking with Stock parts.

 

I dont think VQ45HR has VVEL as if I know correct was introduced in 3.7 L making the 35HR more ideal for upgrading cams or the whole head.

 

Problem with swapping VQ37 is you need ECU along with VVEL controle module and to make it work would need more donar car parts

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It is the VQ35HR engines that have electric VV Exhaust Timing starting in late 2006.   The VQ35DE engines only had the variable timing on the intake. The Variable Exhaust timing was indeed carried over to the VQ37HR engines but advanced to VVEL.  Most of this is included if you get the stock wiring and modules from the Donor at the same time as the engine. Certainly you should try to get as much as you can from the same Donor vehicle.  It's much more expensive to get parts from multiple sources.  At the minimum to run a VQ35, you need the ECU/BCU Engine, engine compartment, and main dash harnesses, and the Key/NATS Antenna.  You can live without the Gauges and AC amp if you don't want to use stock.  The NATS delete does work, but it's more expensive than getting the BCU/KEY and NATS antenna. There's a lot of plugs, but most only plug in one way so it's not too hard if you get the FSM for the Donor. 

 

The idea of using the VQ35HR heads on a VQ40 block is intriguing, but What EMS would be used to run it? I wonder if the stock VQ35 ECU etc could be used and tweaked to work.

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