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Old 05-12-2008, 04:09 PM
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Default VQ Swap Stuff

I've had a lot of people ask me about the VQ swap lately (especially lots of PM's on NC) so I'm going to make a semi-FAQ, basically listing all the knowledge I have about the swap here. Please note that as of the making of this thread, I have not completed the swap into my car yet. I'm still doing some "restoration" to the chassis (and I'm pinched for money, damn housing market) at the current moment before I drop the engine in. I'll make a real build thread and delete or close this one when that time comes.

VQ Swap Basics:

Pick your Engine:
VQ30DE: makes 190HP/200TQ in stock form, and can make almost as much as a 3.5 with cams, intake, exhaust, headers, and ECU. It's the cheapest engine to find and the easiest to wire up. Look for 95-96 ODBI engines as they are the easiest to wire in. The 99's had the ignition immobilizer issue (where you need a key that's chipped to send a signal to the ECU to let the car fire up).

VQ30DE-K: basically a refined 3.0 with better internals and best of an a variable intake manifold (that has butterfly valves to allow it to get good torque at low RPM's and open up for better flow at high RPM's) that allowed this engine to make 222HP and 217TQ. Has the immobilizer issue to deal with of course, but the engine can be ran off the regular 95-96 ECU's/harness with some modding. Search around Maxima Forums for what is needed to mod the engine to run off that ECU.

VQ35DE: these made 255HP/246TQ in 02-03 and 265HP in the 04+ engines. The 02-03 engines have stronger valvesprings and retainers than the later model 04+ engines, and all engines have variable exhaust valve timing AND the variable intake manifold. Nissan started using what is called the CAN's (Closed Area Network) system to connect the engine management to other areas of the car (such as ABS, fans and AC, etc.) to feed information between these areas. It makes wiring up a 3.5 engine harder, though the 02-03 are much easier to wire up than the 04+ engines which have even more integration into them.

VQ35DE+VQ30DE Timing Parts: basically you take the timing chain, timing covers, camshafts, cam gears, flywheel, and other various sensors from the VQ30DE and install them onto the VQ35DE, then run the 3.5 engine off the 3.0's engine harness and ECU. Takes more time and precision mechanically but makes wiring the engine up easier (no CANS or Immobilizer to worry about). You lose the variable valve timing but retain lots of HP and TQ. Search around Maxima.org for more precise info on how to do the swap.

Parts for all engines:
ECU, engine harness and MAF from the same year
Maxima intake piping
Maxima exhaust manifolds or headers
custom down pipes OR custom cat converter to connect down pipes to Altima exhaust
Transmission and axles
Custom motor mount brackets
adjustable fuel pressure regulator with gauge (helpful)
walbro fuel pump (may not be necessary but certainly recommended for modded VQ35DE's).
Accessories: power steering pump, water pump, A/C compressor, alternator, starter
Flywheel and clutch
Maxima speedometer cluster (necessary to read the proper RPM's coming from the engine to the tach)

Mounting the Engine:
It's advised that you (or your machine shop) make your own custom motor mount BRACKETS (that attacht the engine to the mount) as it's easier than making completely new mounts. You're going to need at least a front and rear motor mount bracket and a passenger side mount bracket, and you may need a transmission bracket if you use a 6-speed Maxima transmission.

Your best bet is to align the engine/transmission as close to stock as you can; it's not advised to try mounting it further back because 1) you don't have a lot of room between the rear exhaust manifold and the steering lines, as well as the intake manifold and the firewall, and 2) your struts, strut towers and knuckles are going to sit where they sit no matter what and your axles are going to have to sit inline with them no matter what, so you don't want the axles at odd angles just to try seating the engine further back and lower down. So, try to center it so the axles are perfectly inline with the knuckle.

Also, if you lower the engine too much, your exhaust manifolds and downpipes (which are a bit taller on Maximas) might sit below the crossmember and be subject to bottoming out. Might not be a problem if your exhaust manifolds are shorty manifolds and you make a custom, shortened down pipe, but otherwise you're going to need to not be so low.

One last note: on making the rear motor mount bracket; if you plan to use the 5-speed transmission, you will need to make a notch in the bracket for the secondary shifter linkage rod to connect to.

Transmissions and Axles:
You can use pretty much any Maxima transmission you want, be it 5-speed, 6-speed, or auto. There are some catches though:

5-speed/Autos: bolts right up to the old 5-speed or auto transmission mount from your Altima. The 93-01 Altima and the 95-99 Maxima (and Infiniti I30) shared the same transmission, at least internally. As far as I have confirmed, the axles will fit into each other's cases and rotate without grind, so this means you should be able to use Altima axles with a Maxima transmission. I recommend this because Maxima axles are not only longer than Altima axles, but the hub diameter on the CV ends are larger in diameter on Maxima axles than on Altimas.

In other words: use Altima 5-speed axles with a Maxima 5-speed, and Altima auto axles with a Maxima auto transmission. Altima shifters/linkages should work fine also, seeing as how B&M often lists the Altima short shifter with the same part number for their Maxima short shifter.

6-speed: you'll need a shifter assembly from a 6-speed Maxima (a Spec V shifter might work also, though unconfirmed), as well as the cables and clutch slave cylinder for it. The 6-speed motor mount is also necessary, though it may need to be re-drilled or completely attached to a new bracket in order to fit the Altima chassis (or simply drill new holes into your Altima chassis where the mount connects).

In terms of axles, Maxima axles are, once again, longer and larger in diameter where they meet the hub. Though unconfirmed, I have a feeling Sentra SER Spec V axles will mate to Altima hubs AND be short enough to fit the Altima chassis. Remember, the 6-speed in the Sentra and Maxima are the same internally, so the Sentra axles will mate up to it.

On Mixing and Matching:
Basically, the flywheels have a timing ring on it that is read by the Crankshaft Position Sensor, and if you use a 6-speed flywheel (which has a timing ring meant for the VQ35DE ECU) on a VQ30DE engine, it's not going to read right.

But, if you plan to use a 6-speed transmission, the 6-speed flywheel sticks out further towards the transmission than the 5-speed flywheel does. In other words, the 6-speed transmission will never engage the 5-speed flywheel because the throw-out-bearing can't reach that far.

So, you can't use a 6-speed flywheel because the CPS won't read it properly and much up timing and stuff, and you can't use a 5-speed because it can't reach the TOB. What do you do? You have two options: either weld the 5-speed timing ring to the 6-speed flywheel, or talk to Travis aka TurboS13Hatch of Maxima Forums about buying a bolt-on timing ring that has the proper timing teeth as the 5-speed flywheel, but bolts on to the 6-speed flywheel. Now, you can use the 6-speed transmission with 6-speed flywheel and still use the VQ30DE and/or it's ECU with no worries.

Wiring it Up:
This is the section that I can't really comment on yet since I haven't started the swap, but it's going to be hard. You're going to have to concentrate on mating the engine harness to the Altima's secondary engine harness and accessories (starter, fans, etc) as well as to the dash harness so you get signals for oil pressure, water temp, and so forth. It's not going to be easy and when I start it I'll try to put up a diagram or "How To" but if you can get this far into the swap you can wire it up.

If anyone has any questions I'll try to answer them but keep in mind I haven't completed the swap yet. Just wait guys, I've got stuff coming that will blow your mind.
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Old 05-12-2008, 09:44 PM
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holy cow....nice!!!
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Old 05-16-2008, 01:53 AM
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awesome, I want to do this.
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