General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

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Colorado Yeti
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General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

Post by Colorado Yeti »

Howdy everyone -

I purchased a 1985 VW Westfalia Vanagon with a 2.2 Subaru engine conversion out of a 1990 Legacy. Overall, I love with the van, but it is certainly no barn-burner when it comes to performance, especially at high altitude. In fact, it pretty much sucks. I am no stranger to building high-perfomance V-8 American engines, but I don't know squat about little itty-bitty Subaru engines. I want to increase the power of the engine that I currently have in my van. I am curious about your sugggestions. Here is what I desire:

1. Keep it a non-interference motor. I have no interest in using a >1996 engine because I do not want to hassle with changing a timing belt frequently or worry about ruining the engine if it breaks the belt. (Why didn't the subaru engineers just use a timing chain instead of a belt???)
2. Keep it an early 2.2 liter engine. I am well aware of the cylider head gasket and reliability issues on all of the Subaru engines newer than 1996, and don't want to worry about that either.
3. Would like to keep the computer controls as minimal as possible. Do not want to hassle with a 80 pound gorilla wiring harness and how to adapt it to my van.
4. One idea I have is to add a more aggressive camshaft & more efficient intake on my current engine. Does anyone know who makes these upgrades for my engine? (I already have headers and a low-restriction exhaust sytem.)
5. My other idea is to add a generic turbo system kit to my current engine. I am not really considering a factory turbo system, because they never offered them on my EJ22 engine, at least not in the U.S. that I know of. Why couldn't you just cobble together your own kit and run it on the EJ22.....seems pretty simple. An intercooler could be optional to simplify the installation.
6. If a turbo system is not feasible, I would like to bump up the compression, especially at my high altitude. Does anyone know who makes higher-compression pistons for this engine?
7. If none of the above is feasible, I am considering a nitrous injection system. Super cheap & simple to install. Anyone run nitrous on their Subie?

Thanks for the consideration and input. Bascially, I want to modify my current engine for more power and hopefully have to not deal with big reliability issues. From what I have read, the 1996 & older 2.2 liter engine is the best Subaru engine out there by far regarding reliability & longevity and I do not want to sacrifice those advantages..

Much Thanks!
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Re: General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

Post by mike-tracy »

Hi, you have some interesting restrictions.

Couple quick thoughts:
-Delta Cams in tacoma makes cams for that engine.
-Small turbo setup on a non turbo engine will certainly reduce reliability.
-CP pistons can make pistons to your specs. Wiseco does this as well. $$$$
-Swapping the shortblock to a 2.5 model will make for a higher compression engine. You'll need to run midgrade, but the ecu will handle it. This is probably the best bang for the buck in my opinion.

Then new timing belt kits are good for 100k service intervals. I've been running interference engines for years and haven't had any problems, but I understand your concerns.

Subaru DOES run timing chains on certain flat-6 models. 250hp naturally aspirated on the EZ30R model sounds pretty good to me. Just need to run a full standalone.
1992 Legacy SS 5mt, build in progress
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Re: General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

Post by Legacy777 »

Welcome to the BBS.

Subaru actually did make a turbo EJ22 motor. It came in the 91-94 turbo legacy. While you could do a swap, it would involve wiring, engine controls, and probably more than you want to deal with.

Delta cams would probably be my first recommendation. See how you like that and go from there. It would be the least intrusive work and you don't have to pull the heads. You will likely still have to pull the motor, but it's better than removing the heads and machine work. If you find you want more power than that you can look at pistons.

As for intakes, you can try using a generic 3" intake pipe, but honestly I've found that the stock intake tract worked well and didn't kill the low end torque. I'm not sure what intake setup your vanagan has on it now though...
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Re: General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

Post by subaru_styles »

to keep it simple, my vote would be use a 2.5 shortblock, and getting some cams for the 2.2 heads. im sure some home porting work wouldnt hurt either
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Re: General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

Post by 92ss satinsvoice »

I agree with Subaru_Styles on this one. If you want more torque and horse power for the buck fallow the simple guide lines:

96 - 99 subaru 2.5L engine. EJ25D or the EJ251 which is in the 2.5 RS Impreza
Keep your stock heads as you will use these on the 2.5 engine.
use the 2.2 head gaskets (new ones) on the 2.5
Reuse your stock intake manifold and sensors as it will all work with the 2.5 motor.
no rewiring or ecu upgrades needed, keep it stock and it will forever be a reliable setup.

Also if it was me I would replace all the old external seal's on the motor to keep it from making your drive way looking like someone got shot. ( oil spots) plus I'm sure its a bitch to work on that motor in the van.

extra power option #1: As josh explained Delta cam regrinds is a good idea if you have some left over bill's, you can have them reground for top end power or for more low end torque. your call

extra power option #2: Porting the intake and exhaust will help some but the power gains are very minimal on an N/A engine ver's a force induction engine.

Extra power option #3: EXHAUST!!! woo! the better you motor can breath in and exhale the better it will perform.

Happy motoring,

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Re: General 2.2 EJ22 Performance Questions

Post by PhyrraM »

The "especially at high altitudes" part is what sticks out in my head. I think a small turbo might actually be your best bet.

Going forward, I'm assuming the van is currently using a stock '90 EJ22 ECU and modified '90 EJ22 wiring harness.

It's only about 10 wires and a few sensors to convert the harness to turbo operation. A 1990 EJ22 should have dual exhaust ports per head. If that is true a '02-'05 WRX exhaust and turbo would be a bolt-up --- assuming that it all fits in the Vanagon engine bay. The only fabrication would be the turbo outlet to the throttlebody (w/intercooler), a downpipe/after-turbo exhaust, and oil lines to the turbo.

Set it for 4-6 PSI. Enjoy a bit more low altitude power, but REALLY enjoy the fact that it doesn't taper off at high altitude.
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