View Full Version : economics of diesel conversion
09-01-2006, 06:40 PM
Ok, so I have this little 1995 4-door Sidekick that may have a bad engine (if I can get it running, then this whole thread is moot as I'll save the cash and keep the gasser).
But, I'm thinking diesel. For about 2K I could completely convert it over to a 1.6 VW diesel, rebuilt with about 10K on it. The owner swapped his Vanagon to a 1.9TD. So engine, and complete kit (made for the sidekick) would be about $1,200 more than if I bought a used engine and put in it.
Gains with diesel would be: well, diesel for one, better MPG (estimated between 35 and 40 compared to 25-30 with gas). More torque, longer lived engine, biodiesel possible. I'd be committed to keeping it for a while as a second vehicle (primary commuter)
Cons: I could buy a lot of gas/mods for the price difference. Sell the non-running (well, not very good running) Kick and buy new, big tires for the Vitara.
Having never done any sort of conversion like this, I'm just wondering if the economics of it make sense (assuming I'd keep the vehicle for several years as a diesel).
Also, anybody in AZ know about MVD regulations regarding engine swaps, diesels, etc ...? I live in smog check city so gas needs to pass emissions, but don't know about diesel.
09-01-2006, 07:02 PM
I think you need to do the math for yourself and let us know what you decide. For me, at my current annual mileage (currently less than 5,000 a year), it doesn't make sense for fuel savings. My friend, who drives 30,000-40,000 miles a year who is looking at a similar conversion with much higher mpg, realized he would have it paid for less than a year. Figure out how much you are willing to pay to have the non-mpg benefits of a diesel.
Also consider whether having a commuter car makes life easier or not, and where that same $2,000 would get you on the Vitara if you put the money there instead.
Oh, and the head from the 1.9 will fit on the 1.6. :box:
09-02-2006, 03:06 PM
Yes, the Sidekick will be slower off the line and the cost of the swap "could" buy a lot of fuel. Heck even the time you spend on the conversion could be used to make $$$$ instead.
However, the joy you'll get from your "one-off" little diesel 4x4 will be priceless! I have heard Sidekicks can be made into kickass rock crawlers (not that crawling is my gig), thus a stought little adventure vehicle.
I good friend owns a Jeep shop and is doing really well at bolting all kinds of bling on customers Jeeps. When ever I come to visit, his monied up customers turn their nose up at old Mayahuel until he pops the hood on my Jeep, then their green with envy!
I don't know AZ "smog laws", but it would not suprise me if states start clamping down soon on people doing diesel motor swaps.
I was going to do this to my kick. I even had the motor bought! If the motor you are looking at is not turbo then forget it. I was figuring around $3000 CDN to do the conversion so your 2 grand is probably not far off. The main swap is fairly simple. its the small things that will get ya. Power steering and AC either require custom hoses to the VW items or a custom pulley to adapt to the Zuk items.
One thing I would ask ACme adapters about the Vanagon engine. I think the turbo is in a bad spot and the exhaust exit is different. the best motor to use is a golf/Jetta 1.6TD
A 1.6TD can be modded for more power quite easily and still be reilable and fuel efficient. Boost can be raised to 15psi instead of the stock 10 and the inj pump turned up to compensate. You would need a boost and pyro gauge to make sure its done safely.
two sites to visit. www.zuwharrie.com the forum has a diesel swap section and www.vwdiesel.net has a section on the idi VW diesel and alot on how to get performance from them.
I sold my diesel stuff due to no time and I also picked up a GV v6 which will make my kick scream! not a diesel but alot more power and the same if not better mileage I am getting now.
11-21-2006, 05:04 PM
Howdy, first post.
I am just finishing up a diesel conversion in my LWB samurai. I used the ACME kit and I can't say enough about the quality. It makes the swap pretty much bolt-in. You have som eimprovising to do with cooling, but they even give you a list of standard coolant hoses to use.
I have found the diesel to offer plenty of power, but it's wrung pretty hard on the highway... it's pretty loud at 100 km/hr. The Sidekick may be different. I believe much of my noise is coming from the tranny, and I will do a rebuild soon.
Another advantage of going diesel: ability to run a two-tank vegetable oil conversion.
11-21-2006, 06:34 PM
If new diesel cars are available in your area, the engine you are replacing is the same model year or newer than the vehicle and most importantly the engine you are putting in the vehicle was legally sold in your area in a new vehicle you should have no problems.
In California where diesel cars are not available you will end up with a vehicle that cannot be registered.
03-06-2007, 01:41 AM
I can't remember the years, but make sure if you use a VW Vanagon diesel to get a later Vanagon engine- the early ones had problems.
Here's a couple of VW diesle links for you
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