Engine swap is never an easy process, it takes a lot of time and money. If you plan to get on the road quickly and cheaply, then buy a van that already has a swaped/rebuilt engine. We went with the hard way and here is our engine swap story.


We will be documenting all our build details in Instagram Story Highlights @littlewagen and will be posting more about the build here.


We really need a new engine!

When we bought our T3 it had 1.6TD (JX series) 51kw engine in it. It was leaking oil like crazy, turbo was bad, lack of power and weird noises coming form inside the engine. First plan was to pull the engine and rebuild it, but soon I realised that it may not be the best idea. So why not but something a little more reliable back in the engine bay. A little more researching and I decided to buy an AAZ 1.9TD 55kw engine. Not much increase of the power but AAZ is more reliable and it’s quite 1:1 replacement to the JX engine.

Stripped the whole engine and rebuilt it.

I think I searched for the engine for about a week or two and finally found one pulled from the VW Golf III, few hours later I had it in the garage ready to be worked with. When I first inspected the engine it looked better than I thought it would and it cost me about 120€. For the swap I needed to swap some parts with the JX engine so I striped it down a little and a little more and a little more so finally I decided to rebuild it from top to bottom because it was already on the engine stand. 😅


Good tip: Soaking pistons in diesel to help remove the grease and carbon residue.

New piston rings, bearings and bearing cap bolts.

Cylinder head got skimmed and new valves.

After first torque I marked every bolt for the final 90°. So I can be sure that I have torqued all the bolts.

New waterpump and thermostat. Just to be sure, cause cooling is cool.

This was not planned but as the engine was already striped and cleaned I used some cheap engine spray paint to give her a fresh look.


Checked all the injectors from local diesel specialist. Said: “they will run another million” 😅

Anyway, injectors with new washers and new glow plugs fitted.

I lined the injection pump with the rust marks left on the bracket where it used to be. So it’s kind on in the right place but probably have to time it later.

New set of hydraulic cam followers.

New crank pulley and bolt. Marking again just to be sure I torque everything correctly.

Using piece of wood to stop the crank as I torque the crank pulley bolt. This bolt must not be reused!! Torque bolt to 90nm + 90°.



Messed up the oil pressure sensor thread. So pulled the head from the engine and… – Click here for more + how I fixed it.

This was Part 1. of the engine build. Next I will pull out the old engine, swap some parts with the AAZ and installing our rebuilt engine.


For Part 2. – Click here


JX to AAZ swap TO-DO listClick here

Shopping list

  • Upper gasket kit 
  • Cylinder head gasket
  • Cylinder head bolt set
  • Glow plugs
  • Seal rings
  • Crankshaft oil seal rear
  • Oil sump gasket
  • Thermostat
  • Timing set (belt + pulley)

Thank YOU!! for reading and hope you like what you see. We will be documenting all our build details in Instagram Story Highlights @littlewagen and will be posting more about the build here.

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