1989 TriStar Syncro Project



As stated in the previous section, we have installed a TDI motor into my TriStar.  However, I had two TDI motors sitting on my garage floor when we were doing the project:

  • 1998 Jetta III - AHU Engine Code, 90hp, 149ft.lbs torque

  • 2000 Golf IV - ALH Engine Code, 90hp, 155ft.lbs torque

We used the AHU engine into my TriStar for the simple reason of size.  The AHU engine is about 2cm taller than the ALH motor which I will be now installing into my Syncro Westfalia Joker.  With the ALH motor in the camper the engine cover will have a 'bump' that could be less than 2" tall.  The TriStar has *lots* of room for a very tall motor, so size does count!  The other reason for picking the better motor for the camper is that it is a lot heavier than the TriStar and I need every little bit of power that I can get on that Syncro!

Now that I have installed several I4 motors into Vanagons, it is a pretty quick procedure for getting the engine ready.  The following is a quick 'play by play' of what is done.  Times are approximate, I use air tools for my dismantling!

As I do not have to pass any emissions here in this section of British Columbia I will be removing the EGR system from the TDI motor as it does a great job of clogging up the intake system.  If you decide to go this route, check with the local smog police before doing so.

Preparing the engine:

Step 1 0h15m
  • Remove Jetta pressure plate, clutch and flywheel.  
  • Install pilot bearing.
  • Remove tin plate from end of engine.
  • Remove rear motor mount
Step 1a 2h30m
  • Remove EGR system and piping. *
  • Remove and clean intake manifold.
  • Clean intake ports on cylinder head.
  • Install block off plate on exhaust manifold. *
  • Install block off plate on EGR valve. *
  • Install intake manifold.

    * Don't do this on smog regulated vehicles!
Clogged intake ports Clogged intake manifold

I have read accounts of intake manifold being totally plugged up from soot from the EGR system.  This black tar is about as thick as peanut butter and is a real joy removing.  I sprayed down the intake ports with Diesel and used a tooth brush and a shop-vac to remove all the crap, 95% of it anyhow!  The #3 cylinder looks almost 50% blocked from soot - this cylinder is directly below the EGR valve.  It is highly recommend from various sources to reduce the duty cycle of the EGR valve to the lowest setting using a 1551 or a VAG-COM.  I am going one step further and removing the entire EGR system less the actual valve.  It is important to note that you still have to leave the electronics and have a 'functioning' EGR system in place or else you will set off the check engine light.

Step 2 0h30m
  • Remove original oil pan.
  • Clean gasket area with brake cleaner.
  • Install new oil pan.
Step 3 0h15m
  • Install metal motor mounts.
  • Loosely install rubber motor mounts.
Step 4 0h30m
  • Remove all rubber coolant hoses that attach to cylinder head.
  • Remove rubber coolant hose that comes from the thermostat housing.
  • Remove metal coolant hose that is normally the return line from the heater.
  • Change thermostat to a colder 80C unit.
Step 5 0h30m
  • Install KEP adapter plate with silicone between block and adapter plate to keep the water out when stream crossing.
  • Install KEP stage 1 clutch kit - good for about 235ft.lbs of torque.
  • Remove top studs from adapter plate so the engine is easier to install.
Step 6 0h15m
  • Install Fast Forward's "AC to non-AC" pulley / belt kit. This Transporter doesn't have AC where the original donor motor did.
Step 7 0h15m
  • Install block heater

Total preparation time for TDI motor


2004 David Marshall