Gas engine swaps from other VW/Audi models


New member
As I understand it, he TIICO engine control unit has to be programmed via laptop in order to run right. It seems that the default ECM doesn't like the application.

Question: What happens to the conversion if you disconnect or replace the battery? Do you have to get a laptop and reprogram it before you can go?

For it is worth today I saw a TIICO engine conversion and talked to owner (Vancouver by Greg & Thomas) who has had a Audi 4 version for about 2 years, and is extremely happy with it. He said the performance is clearly better, as is the mileage, however it cost him $8k cdn.

I must say that the installation is cleaner and neater than the stock 2.1, and I am considering doing it before I run into any problems and selling my existing engine as problem free (as it is).

I would do it as I am going to keep my Westie forever, and over the long term what is money??


Has anyone installed the the 135hp tiico conversion? What is your fuel mileage?
Has anyone installed the taller gearset ala AAtransaxle with either of these conversions?

Any opinions?



I happened to be looking at the V.W South Africa site last night and noticed that they have stopped producing "busses" I assume that means that they are no longer making the vanagon based type II's. So sad. I wonder what that means for the future of Tiico?

They are making the eurovan based vans however. I noticed that you can get one with a 2.5 litre tdi engine. The kw/nm (hp/ftlbs) output is better than the 1.9tdi with little effect on the fuel mileage. Now wouldn't that be a nice conversion for a syncro? More to dream about.



New member
We got the TiiCo conversion installed about 3 years ago. We've had some problems but mostly not directly due to the new engine itself. The main exception has been that due to muffler clamps that didn't fit right, the exhaust system has cracked a couple of times. But they now have new, appropriate sized clamps for the kit so that shouldn't be a problem.

Peter B. at TiiCo has never been anything but helpful, so no complaints on service. The engine has a little more oomph than the stock 2.1L waterboxer, enough to hold 55mph uphill on any interstate (on some steeper highways it still can have trouble getting over 45). It also gets a few more MPG (20 instead of 18). Reliability I can't comment on, as we got the conversion done right after we bought it so I don't know how reliable the waterboxers are. I will say that it's been in the shop a fair amount, but not (as far as I know) for anything specific to the new engine - bad O2 sensor (leading to burned out catalytic converter), bad fuel pressure regulator, cracked coil, etc.

We've got 50k miles on it and it recently threw the timing belt (it was due for replacement - oops). Luckily, unlike our other car it's not a synchronous engine so no real harm done - $200 to have it replaced, same as if we'd had it done preventively.

The one other potential issue is that the engine isn't licensed for California emissions. This became an issue for us when we had to move to the Bay Area for work for a couple of years. Fortunately the people at the emissions testing stations wouldn't know a waterboxer from a watermelon, so they just certified us as if it were a standard engine and of course we passed with flying colors (except for the time the catalytic converter was burned out...).

Is it worth it? For us, probably. We're going to be selling it soon. Considering it needed a new engine anyway and the Waterboxer would have only been about $1500 less (if it were even still available from VW), even if we get no premium for the new engine when we sell, we'll have paid 3 cents a mile for it and saved 1 cent a mile on gas. I figure $20 for each 1000 mile trip is a good price for that little extra oomph.


Moderator Note: Removed selling questions -- Guidelines #5 & #9.]


New member
I own a 1987 VW Westfalia, and a 1995 Passat VR6. My westy has the "Leaky Head Syndrom"
I'm considering an engine swap from my 2.8L Passat into my westy.
Does anyone have any information about this?

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

Edward Pullen Junior Member Posted February 19, 2005 08:11 AM

Another vote for Tiico. I had my former Wasserboxer ("Mt. Vesuvius") replaced over a year ago with the 2.0 L Golf/Jetta from Tiico. I've made 5 roundtrips from Monterey, CA to Reedsport, OR (central coast CA to central coast OR), averaging 1500 miles per trip. I use my Westy daily to go to work, and we drive 250 miles roundtrip to/from the Bay Area often. I still have some vibration issues, but nothing serious. Here is my best objective cost vs. benefit list:
- it will cost you $5000 - $8000, depending on how many peripheral items you replace, such as clutch, etc., and whether you do it yourself.
- if you live in the land of "Arnold" (Calif.) you have DMV smog issues to deal with; might be difficult (not overwhelming) to work through.
- your local VW dealer may not want to work on it, but it IS a genuine VW Jetta engine, so there are plenty of mechanics out there.
- my installation has required re-torqueing the mount bolts, but I have heard of many without any vibrations right from the start.
- sometimes it is hard to remember that you DO go faster now, and need to watch your speed.
- new power curve to get used to (also a benefit...)
- pain in the neck access to a couple of items (see tiico site for photos)

- better gas mileage
- more power, smoother high end work
- new power curve: your red line is now 6100!
- clean, factory-like installation
- plugs and wires right on top, couldn't be easier
- no more overheat. I spent enough on my cooling system with the other engine to pay for more than 50% of this conversion. I wish I had done it sooner (to save) but I wanted to research this installation and other options thoroughly - about a year.
- I am not disappointed, the research and investment was worth it.

If you have been self-maintaining your VW, you can do the installation. Also, with electronics available from Tiico and distributors, you can maintain tune and prep for smog checks, if necessary.

I opted to have Peter at Volks Cafe in Santa Cruz, CA do the job. He has never tried to weasle out of taking care of anything, has charged fair prices, and has thrown in considerable work and parts 'in gratis'. Perhaps best of all, Peter has a smog shop that is not intimidated by the little bit of extra numerical work required to know to pass the smog check.

I have never met Peter B at Tiico, and have no connection to his company, or Volks Cafe. I simply hope that others can use this info to help make an important decision. I honestly liked the wasserboxer - it was a terrific engine, except for the inane fault found in the heads (manuf. stamp leading to weak spot). Having also owned a VW Jetta (1994) for nearly 11 years, I can attest to the longevity these engines are known for.
Happy motoring!


We have a 91 multivan with a Tiico conversion with about 50k on it. It has performed well, except for some vibration/noise issues that have never been fully resolved. (AT)

The problem know is a starting issue. Sometimes when it is cold, it absolutly won't start. It cranks a few turns and then acts like the timing is too far advanced. I have been able to get it started in an emergency by manualy moving the distributer many degrees until it stops acting like it is too far advanced, and then it will start. Sometimes it will start normaly. After it starts, it runs great and the timing is normal. We are at the end of our rope on this as the car has gotten to be less than reliable.

My question is, does this sound like an ecu problem or perhaps with a cold start sensor. I have to confess I know little about the FI ecu on this engine. Any advice would be helpful.



As it turns out, a little AutoMechanics 101 solved the problem. As it turns out, it was a combination of a corroded cap and some questionable plug wires. Lesson here is: Sometimes it pays to remember the basics!

Runs better than it ever has.



New member
Go Westy 2.4 engine

I have an 88 westy with a 2.4 liter gas wasserboxer engine from Go Westy. I have put 30K miles on it with no problems, including surf trips to mexico where there is no help if it were to fail. I am very pleased with the performance. Also adding 15 x 7 tires and rims help with stability
Transplanting a radically different engine from another vehicle marque, is certainly not a recommended project for the technologically ignorant or faint hearted. I have heard of a few instances where people have stripped gears, as a consequence of mating a high-torque engine (maximum torque is the relevant parameter, rather than maximum power!) to a transaxle of inadaquate strength & durability, so this and other issues, would need to be carefully considered.

An increasingly large proportion of modern engines, are being electronically integrated with the vehicle's other systems, via some form of databus network, such as CANbus.

Although various VW-Audi diesel and turbo-diesel engines are available from various donor cars and vans, including the VW Eurovan T4 & T5, plus the VW LT and more recent VW Crafter vans, their relatively large weight & high centre of gravity, would make them less well suited to the rear-engined VWs, than the Subaru, all-aluminium-alloy, quad-cam, 16-valve, flat-four, turbo-diesel engine.

According to my technical data sheet (LCV/SPEC/TRANSP-40m-12/87), for the British specification, 1987 VW Transporter & Microbus (i.e. VW Vanagon, Type 25 or T3), from Volkswagen Audi Gevaert (United Kingdom) Limited, the engine speed at 70 mph, corresponding to 185 R14 tyres, in conjunction with the 5-speed transaxles for the VW 1700 diesel, VW 1600 turbo-diesel, and VW 2100 EFI petrol & VW 1900 petrol Vanagons, would be circa 3870 rpm, 3620 rpm, 3440 rpm & 3400 rpm respectively.

However, if one intends to cruise on motorways (i.e. freeways, in North American parlance) at about 70 mph in 5th gear, then it would probably be preferable, to operate a Subaru turbo-diesel engine, close to its peak-torque RPM (i.e. 1800 rpm), which would confer much improved fuel economy, compared with operating close to peak-power RPM (i.e. 3600 rpm).

Hence, if one intended to use tyres, such as 185R14, 195/70R15, 215/65R15, 195/65R16 or 205/60R16, of external diameter to within ± 2% of original-equipment specification, then it would be desirable to virtually halve the overall gear ratio in 5th gear (i.e. final-drive ratio x 5th-gear ratio), if one did transplant a modern Subaru 2•0 litre, flat-four, turbo-diesel engine. Even with this ultra-low gearing, the 350 Nm engine torque, would be more than adequate, to accelerate to higher speed or climb gentle hills. Of course, one would still have the option of changing down to 4th gear, or even 3rd gear, if greater torque at the wheels were needed.

A final-drive ratio of 4•57, appears to be the lowest factory-stock option for the 5-speed & 4-speed manual transmissions, whilst final-drive ratios of 4•09 & 3•73, were used for the 3-speed automatic transmissions, of the VW 1900 petrol & VW 2100 EFI petrol Vanagons respectively. Whether an after-market ring & pinion set, is available for VW transaxles, having a final-drive ratio of circa 2•3 to 2•5, I have no notion at present! In practice, one would also need to consider the required overall gear ratio in 1st gear (i.e. final-drive ratio x 1st-gear ratio), for starting off from rest and slowly climbing steep hills, together with the gear ratio progression from 1st to 5th; recalling that greatest maximum road-speed is achieved, when maximum road-speed corresponds to peak-power RPM for the engine.

Of course, a CVT (i.e. continuously variable transmission) such as those developed by the British company Torotrak, would be the ideal solution, but assuming a suitable substitute CVT transaxle were available, it would probably be prohibitively expensive!
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