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The HellCat Rebuild - JDM Engine install thread

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Back Story:


Back in November 2016, my girlfriend wanted to buy a Subaru for a daily driver. We looked around for a day or two combing through Craigslist listings and narrowed it down to four different options: 99 Outback, 01 Outback, 02 Forester with a JDM 2.0 engine, and a 02 Outback. The seller of the 02 Fozzy and Outback offered us a package deal of $3k for both of the cars. I told her, if she wanted both, I'd buy the one she liked the least off of her. She really liked the Forester because it was a limited with leather and a huge moonroof, but the 2.0 was super lethargic of an engine and the body was in rough shape. The 02 Outback had a sketchy maintenance history and the seller didn't know if the head gaskets were done or not. The other 01 Outback was a complete rust bucket, and the 99 (which had the lower mileage of the 4) had bad head gaskets. We were about to take the package deal when an 01 LL Bean Outback posted up on the interwebs for an insanely good price. We jumped on it, took it for a test drive and it purred like a cat, so we bought it, despite the seller acting quite odd. That oddness was soon realized when 8 miles down the road, the car died in the middle of the road. We soon found out the seller hid the fact that the lower radiator hose had a pin hole in it and all the water in the radiator leaked out. We replaced the lower hose on the side of the road, got the car back to my parents house and the next day, we started looking into if this car was even worth putting more money into because I was sure the engine was done after redlining the temp gauge several times in the process of getting it back to my parents house.


Feeling duped, she felt we couldn't let this seller think he got the better end of the deal. The car was super clean, interior looks like brand new, transmission shifts perfect, all electronics work, and the car is just badass. She also knows that I know these cars intimately well and can rebuild the car. So, over the next few months, we formulated a plan to rebuild the car, she had now name HellCat, due to the fact that this car has caused us so much hell, yet she continues to purr like a well tamed cat (crafty huh?)




Last week, I found a RI in the Phoenix area who was advertising a JDM EZ30 motor on eBay for $999. I talked the seller down to $800 on the agreement that if I were to make the hour and a half drive to Phoenix, I'd buy it that day. So on Friday afternoon after work, her and I drove to Phoenix and loaded this super clean, low mileage EZ30 into the back on my 99 Outback (yes, it was the same 99 we looked at back in November with the bad head gaskets, build thread in the 2nd Gen Forums).







Even stranger about this engine is the dates on the harness and the oil cap. The engine build date is 2005, but is a single port exhaust head and aluminum manifold EZ30D, not the "R" designated model with the 3 port exhaust and plastic manifold.





Yesterday afternoon, I started the task of removing the old engine from the car. I have new plugs, belts, gaskets, and various other parts on order coming this week to prep the new engine.


The old and busted, but ironically refuses to die, EZ30:


Only need to remove the exhaust manifold bolts, motor mount bolts, bellhousing and torque converter bolts and she's free. I'll be going through everything in the next couple weeks to document the progress of swapping a JDM EZ30 into a USDM car.

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I thought this was going to be a "throwing a hemi into my Subaru" thread. Good luck with your rebuild!

That would be absolutely insane and well beyond my current skill set. Thanks for the luck. I need it right about now because I stripped the nut for the passenger motor mount. Figures, the last nut to be removed and it strips. Time to bust out the angle grinder.


Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

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Well, I solved the stripped bolt fiasco. It was bad. I have those sockets that you hammer on to remove rounded bolts, but they didn't do anything. I was like the nut was made of butter. I went the old fashioned way and used my angle grinder to buzz it in half and whacked it with a chisel and hammer to split it.


The start of my day. I have a 3-car garage that I converted to a temporary workshop that I'm working out of. The car is parked long ways in the garage for optimal space.


Front of the engine disassembled:


After 6 hours and whole lot of ATF on the ground (oops), its finally out.








The subframe is black from years of neglect of a power steering and oil leak from the valve covers. I also believe the oil cooler rubber line was leaking and had been for a while. The passenger side is coated with power steering fluid that comes from the reservoir and the pump. The drivers side is covered in calcium buildup from the previous owner neglecting to repair the leaking hose and just driving with either straight water or not using distilled water. Quite honestly, he was so shady that he probably just filled it with a hose and drove it around like that.


In the coming days, the entire front end is getting pulled apart. I am dropping the subframe, steering rack, lower control arms, and axles to do a full cleanup and replacing every rubber piece I can find with a polyurethane part. The car was from NY, but only in the beginning of it's life until 2006 when it moved to Idaho/Washington and had a slew of different owners from a school district to retired folks. It arrived in AZ in 2016, when the guy we bought it from curbstoned us with the title. It was signed, but not notorized, but luckily, our local DMV 3rd party office looked it up and found that Washington titles don't require notorization, only a signature and bill of sale signed by the owners (which we were lucky enough to get). There is one rust hole on the back drivers door jam that I'm going to cut out and weld in a piece of metal and primer. Other than some rust on the bumper support (which we're replacing), the car has virtually no other rust on it. The car looked like it was involved in a minor accident with a deer or other large animal because the bumper is knocked out of place, the driver's side headlight is brand new, the fender is a mismatched color, and there is some slight damage to the hood that doesn't affect it closing. We're removing the front bumper and headlights to clean up underneath too.


On a side note: does anyone know the part number for the input shaft seal? EDIT: I think I found it. I believe it is 806750050.

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she had now name HellCat, due to the fact that this car has caused us so much hell, yet she continues to purr like a well tamed cat


Practically anyone who is a car enthusiast associates the word Hellcat with Dodges Challenger and Charger versions. The Hellcat name is too well known. I will say your post title peaked my interest, but I chuckled when I read your explanation. Sorry, I would pick an original name for it (ie don't do Evolution either). Good luck with your project.

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Practically anyone who is a car enthusiast associates the word Hellcat with Dodges Challenger and Charger versions. The Hellcat name is too well known. I will say your post title peaked my interest, but I chuckled when I read your explanation. Sorry, I would pick an original name for it (ie don't do Evolution either). Good luck with your project.


Haha, I know the name certainly peaks the interest. Ironically, my girlfriend had no idea what a "hellcat" even was when she named the car. So when she told me the name and its meaning, I laughed and said "Okay, HellCat it is". I love that woman with a fiery passion, so I'm not going to tell her to change the name.


She loves coming up with quirky names with excellent explanations for all the cars we have (yes, she has named all of them except for my offroad Outback I named Rally Cheap). She named my Outback "Land Shark", my SVX is "White Lightning", and her Sebring is named "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" because we bought it with 96k miles and the shop we took it to for an oil change and alignment blew the motor due to their negligence and they gave us a new engine installed in the car.


What's funny is I have Dodge Enthusiasts who follow me on Instagram who are absolutely fascinated at this build due to the hashtag Hellcat I used, despite it not having anything to do with Mopar at all. Now that's a true car enthusiast.

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how similar or different is this motor from your SVX?


Different - Electrical system, bellhousing bolt pattern, timing chain, upper and lower oil pan, one exhaust port, shorter than the EG, and 28 less HP


Similar - It's a H6 :lol: and it's only available with automatic transmission


Kidding aside, you can definitely see where Subaru got the inspiration when they built the EZ series. Dimension wise, it fits in the same size engine bay as an EJ motor as it's only like 1-2 inches longer than an EJ25 from bellhousing to crank pulley. I don't know why people go after the EG33 motors for swaps. I've been doing research and the sleeve thickness is nearly the same on the EZ30 as it is on the EG33 and people are boosting the hell out of the EZ30. I guess the timing chain and electronics deter many people from using it as they're scared. I, on the other hand, am not scared of this engine and the process was identical to any EJ I have worked with, just has 2 extra cylinders. I do have a certain unease about this engine, but that's mainly due to the fact that I'm still learning about it. I can honestly say, I've only heard great things about it, which is why I'm keeping the old engine to rebuild it in the future.


On a normal EJ or EG, replacing the water and oil pump is stupid easy. It can be done in about an hour or two. On this engine, it's a weekend affair. There are no less than 59 bolts for the timing cover, in 4 different sizes, and the cover doesn't use a gasket, only 3-bond, which if not applied correctly leaks like a mofo....ask me how I know?

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On my down time, I've been coming over any differences in the swap. For the most part, everything is directly compatible. I did find that the AC compressor is completely different in terms of wiring harness.


Old Compressor:



JDM Compressor:




Sucks, I was hoping to use the JDM compressor, but the old one works perfect, so I can't complain. I will have to swap over the USDM AC bracket as the JDM one is different.

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Got some parts in today


Oil filters, air filter, upper radiator hoses, and serpentine belt



Oil pan gasket, valve cover gaskets, and intake gaskets



I also ordered a set of NGK 6619 Iridium spark plugs from Amazon for the awesome price of $36.99


Next order of business, now that the engine is removed, is to start disassembling the subframe so that I can clean up the EPA superfund site that has been building up for the last few years. I did an inspection of the car since when we did drive it, the steering wheel was vibrating pretty good at 25-40 mph. I was expecting to see suspension parts that needed to be replaced, but I am beginning to think that it is a tire causing the issue since the suspension doesn't have much play at all in it. I am going to replace the ball joints, swap bar bushings, and control arm bushings just for safe measures. The tires look like they're newer tires, still have about 7/32 tread on them, but the other day I noticed they were starting to crack on the inside sidewall on the front tires. There's another expense.

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Today I got around to pulling the front end apart. Good news is that the bushings in the front end look really good. Someone took the time to go through and have the bushings, ball joints, and end links replaced There was no play whatsoever when I got under there with a prybar and started tugging on the suspension, so I am leaving it alone.


4 nuts, 2 bolts, and removing the power steering lines and steering knuckle and the subframe came free without issue. I put a jackstand under the transmission to hold it up while I clean it up.


Remember how nasty that subframe looked?


Here is after the initial cleaning to get all the excess grease and chunks of goop and dirt off of everything.


Next order of business before it goes back in the car is to pull the rack off, clean under it, clean up the rack and replace one of the boots that lost it's clamp, and replace it the bushings with some quality Whiteline poly rack bushings. The black spots that you see on the subframe in the last picture are areas where the factory paint chipped off and started to rust, so I'll be hitting it with my polycarbonate stripping disc and grinding it to bare metal, priming the area, and getting some matched paint to smooth it all out and give it that OEM look again.


To do before engine installation

- Frame rails of the car need a good cleaning too as the hose on the power steering reservoir had been leaking for a while. I'll be scrubbing just about every surface under the hood to make sure it's clean.

- The transmission pan has a small leak, so I'll be draining the pan, dropping it, replacing the internal filter and resealing it.

- Replace every rubber hose and clamp under the hood of the car

- I need to call a few radiator shops to see if I can get someone to disassemble and clean the radiator. There was a lot of gunk inside the radiator that accumulated on the old cap. Might as well flush the heater core too.


Parts I need to order:

- Exhaust manifold gasket

- Fuel Filter

- New Idler Pulley (just for safe measures)

- Torque converter seal (for piece of mind)

- ATF spin on filter and transmission internal filter and pan gasket

- New exhaust spring bolts

- New radiator cap (Ordering from dealer)

- New tires and shocks


Things to install:

- New plugs

- Valve cover gaskets

- Oil pan gasket

- Rear main seal


I'm hoping I can get this car knocked out before my girlfriend needs to go back to work at the end of July. August will mark 9 months since we got this car and it's been sitting for too damn long. I am finally happy I am able to start working on it. This car will literally be like brand new once I finish it.


Long term plans:

- Fix body rust. There is a rust through hole in the back driver's door sill and some rust bubbling on the driver side rear wheel arch

- Fix the front bumper, realign the headlights, and reshape the top of radiator support over the driver's headlight from an accident with an animal. The bumper reinforcement also needs to be replaced as it as some worrying areas of rust on it.

- Replace the hood. I'm looking for a Baja Turbo hood for her


For the car living the first 8 years of it's life in NY and NJ, then moving to Washington state until 2016, there is remarkably little rust. I've only broken one bolt and that was an exhaust bolt where the cat meets the rest of the exhaust. Normally on a vehicle found in those areas, everything needs to be torched and soaked in PB Blaster, but this hasn't been the case.

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Removed the rack and pinion from the subframe today and cleaned the whole thing top to bottom. I ground out the areas where it was rusted and took it down to bare clean metal. Scuffed up the whole top of the subframe and laid down a quick coat of primer to protect the bare metal areas and give me a clean slate so that I could repaint the subframe. I went with Desert Khaki for the color.






Subframe is done and ready to be reassembled. The bushings for the steering rack are shot, as I expected, so I should have the new KSR202's by Monday or Tuesday.

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Nice build going on. I wish I could take my car out of commission and do a lot of this.


Fram OIL filters are kinda shitty. I buy this and comes out to 5.33$ a filter with a crush washer! http://www.ebay.com/itm/OEM-Factory-Subaru-Engine-Oil-Filter-Crush-Gasket-6-Pack-15208AA12A-Genuine-/131898714619?hash=item1eb5c6a9fb:g:mf8AAOSwBahVSS4G&vxp=mtr

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Nice build going on. I wish I could take my car out of commission and do a lot of this.


Fram OIL filters are kinda shitty. I buy this and comes out to 5.33$ a filter with a crush washer! http://www.ebay.com/itm/OEM-Factory-Subaru-Engine-Oil-Filter-Crush-Gasket-6-Pack-15208AA12A-Genuine-/131898714619?hash=item1eb5c6a9fb:g:mf8AAOSwBahVSS4G&vxp=mtr


This car was supposed to be her primary car until it blew up on us. We couldn't justify junking it, especially when JDM motors are so affordable. She cannot wait to start driving it.


I buy Fram filters to run the initial fill and flush then replace them in the first couple hundred miles with Subaru filters. My Outback I've been running the same Fram filter for the last 3,000 miles, so I am ready to replace it and send a sample of the oil out to Blackstone.


Thanks for the heads up on the filters. That is an insanely good deal, I just ordered them :lol:

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  • 5 weeks later...
Tonight I was test fitting the torque converter back in, I noticed how much resistance there was and there was a small scraping noise when I turned the converter. I removed it and took a look at the diagram and noticed the flared end of the converter housing needs to match up to the circlip in order for it go in all the way. After fishing it out, it was pretty well bent. I guess its back to the dealer for an oil pump inner circlip, since to order it online, it's only about $2 but it's $16 for shipping. Highway robbery if you ask me.
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Tonight I placed another round of parts orders from different sources (Amazon, eBay, Rockauto). From Amazon, I ordered an exhaust bolt kit, donut gasket for the cat to midpipe section, and a Wix fuel filter. On Rockauto, I ordered a rack and pinon seal kit and from eBay I ordered a set of Whiteline KSR202 bushings. Tomorrow I am headed to the dealer to see if they have the circlip, torque converter oil seal, and radiator cap.


I decided to start to address the crooked bumper issue while I am yet again waiting on parts. It seems someone did a very shoddy job of fixing the front bumper after a minor crash and secured the bumper to the support with teks screws. After removing the screws and the two remaining clips on the passenger side, it pretty much fell off. I'll be doing some minor fixes to it in the future, so it's not a big deal that there was some holes and a crack on the driver side.


Here is the result of what years of driving in the rust belt does to a bumper reinforcement:




Then I found the reason why the bumper was not sitting right



Upon further inspection, I found some concealed damage under the fender that I'm going to hammer straight.



Time to address the crooked bumper reinforment. Only the part where the bumper sits was messed up, the rest of it was solid. Better yet, the rust is only surface rust and did not spread under the metal




After about 30 minutes of shaping it, it was starting to look better and the shape it's supposed to be


I worked it another 20 minutes or so and finally got it square and back where it was supposed to. I started to strip the paint and the rust off the metal and got it down to bare rust free metal.




After I ground out the rust and removed the loose paint, I sanded down the paint and then started to lay down some etching primer



Newly shaped crashed side



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  • 4 weeks later...

Made some great progress on the Hell Cat wagon this weekend. First thing I wanted to do was straighten out the front end and figure out why the driver's side headlight looked so off. With the bumper and headlights removed, it doesn't look like anything is that bad.




Taking a look under the fender, I see this




The mounting point under the fender where the clip on the headlight attaches to was completely buckled against the engine bay. Not to mention, the frontmost fender bolt wasn't attached and upper headlight mounting hole were pushed in about a half an inch. I removed the fender and pulled out my body repair tools (which consists of a 5lb sledge for "rough" sculpting, a ball peen hammer for "fine" sculpting, and a metal working hammer and dollies to help finely shape the metal back to form) and I got to work. I was able to massage the whole driver side inner engine bay skin. Using the sledge I was able to make easy work of moving the fender bolt hole locations back to factory spec with help of the body service manual and digital calipers.


Final result:


Lower fender mount and headlight bracket now shaped properly and put back to stock location. There was a old piece of the original fender still attached to it that was either cut off or was pried off.


Upper fender bolt in proper place


Fender is now even with the inner engine bay


Front fender bolt location now proper and headlight mounting hole in the right place.


All of the bumper support holes now fit perfect and bumper fits like a glove. I found a kit of 100 bumper clips that fit perfect and are a great alternative to Subaru wanting $2.30 PER CLIP!!!!


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Sunday was an eventful day.


The refreshed subframe is finally in:


I also put in the new torque converter seal and pump drive circlip and installed the torque coverter. To make sure it didn't pop out during reassembly, I used a long zip tie around the bolt holes and zip tied it to the starter bolt stud.


Sorry, no pics of my redneckery but it was a genius idea considering there is a ST made to hold the torque converter in place when removing and installing an engine that costs an astronomical price of $85 that is effectively substituted with a $0.02 zip tie.


Lacking motivation and running out of garage space with my inherent lack of organization, I decided to clean the garage.


Her new heart was sitting on a moving dolly to the left in the photo.


I found my motivation in a new project I want to start digging into, but I need the garage space :-)


Our new, to us, 2002 Forester S 5MT. I always wanted a Fozzy and when this came up for $800 with an overdocumented service history and only 2 prior owners, we couldn't help but jump on it.

Back to Hell Cat....


More redneckery ensued when I needed to level the engine in order to install it. Somehow in the move, I seem to have misplaced, or possibly lent out, my engine leveler, so a ratchet strap did just fine to get the motor lined up with the transmission, and it fit like a glove. Within 30 minutes I had the engine from off the moving dolly and bolted down in the engine bay.




This got the motivation flowing because I was able to get almost everything done.




Things to do:


- Finish flushing the heater core

- Drain the transmission, replace the internal filter and install new pan gasket

- Hook up radiator hoses

- Source new rubber lines for the power steering pump

- Get a longer vacuum hose for the brake booster to reach to the passenger side. I couldn't move it to the driver side because I stripped the plug that's in there. Doh!

- Fix the lower coolant line going to the oil cooler. It looks like it incurred some shipping damage and was mangled to hell and back.

- Fill with fluids

- Install the exhaust manifold and sway bar

- Check for leaks and install the tires

- Start up for the first time, hopefully.

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great write up man, great progress, can't wait till you dig into the foz...


quick question in your Ksr202 whiteline rack and pinon bushing kit, did yours come with 3 bushes? we only need two, whats the third on for? is it just a bit different in size to fit a broader range of vehicles and on of the circular pieces goes unused?

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great write up man, great progress, can't wait till you dig into the foz...


quick question in your Ksr202 whiteline rack and pinon bushing kit, did yours come with 3 bushes? we only need two, whats the third on for? is it just a bit different in size to fit a broader range of vehicles and on of the circular pieces goes unused?


I can't wait to work on the Foz, it's gonna be a fun project too. Debating an STI motor or EZ30 swap for it in the future, since you know I have the old one I'm contemplating a rebuild on.


Ya there is 3 bushings in the KSR202 kit. The third is for the STI subframe that has a smaller width bracket for the rack to bolt down.

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  • 3 months later...

3 month update on the car:


So back at the end of August, I purchased an 01 Forester as a new project. Turned out that the Forester has some other transmission issue that needs taken care of. Replaced the bearings and transfer gears in that car and it's back on the road, but only as a backup car. In the meantime, my fiance and I bought a new car, a 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium Ecoboost. We're expecting our first child together and I could not have her daily driving a car that turned into a money pit of a project.


When I last touched the car, it developed a phantom misfire with no code (scary), an O2 sensor that decided to die while the motor was pulled (confusing), and an oil leak on a transmission pan that I just resealed (angering). So with angering, confusing, and scary on the table, we put it out to pasture for the time being while I undertook the transmission rebuilt on the Forester and rebuilt the engine in my friend's STI.


Yesterday I decided to look further into the misfire, which developed suddenly, randomly, and with no indication on where to look. My first thought was crank sensor. I still have the old EZ30 so I pulled the crank and cam sensor, swapped it onto the new motor, misfire still there, still no codes. I decided to then start swapping coils, one by one. While I was trying to fit my hand between the frame rail and the engine from underneath to remove #1 coil, I noticed the connector for the number 3 coil was slightly askew. I tugged on the connector and it fell off of the coil pack. A few curse words later and restraint of not taking my frustration out on the car for just having spent $14,000 on a new car, I clicked the coil wire back in thinking that the solution was way too easy. Clicked over the key and she purred like a well tamed "Hell Cat". No more misfire, all is right in the world of the EZ30. Lesson learned: Check every wire, even if it seems like you did; do it again. Funny thing is I thought I checked the coil wires, but I guess not.


So after this long journey with the car and feeling like I have been bitten once too many times by this H6, we've decided to part ways with the car after I replace the bent hood, the o2 sensor, and fix the oil leak in the transmission pan. Someone is going to get practically a brand new car for right around $3k. Hell I might even plasti dip it if my plastidip project goes well on my Outback. When I do list it, it will be up for sale both here and on my website classifieds where I am selling all my Subaru parts.

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Quite the roller coaster of a build. Bummer you have to end up selling, but it looks like you might at least break even on it. Of course time cannot be replaced but, hopefully your skills improved and you learned a couple things along the way :)
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