J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions

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Offline trackerER

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Hi guys,

I plan to swap a 2.3 engine (J23) from an '04 Aerio (A/T) into my '98 Tracker (5spd). Both cars run and drive. I already did some research and read through some posts including ebewley's 2.3 swap into Sidekick Sport (great write-up and videos BTW), jstr's 2.3 swap into a '93 and a more recent one by Perryd but he swaps from A/T to A/T so I'm guessing our swaps will be different. Besides, I didn't want to hijack his post.

After my research I had some encouraging and not so encouraging findings.

Encouraging: J23 bolts up to my 5 spd tranny w/out an adapter plate and TT offers engine mounts. Phew! As I have no metal fabrication tools  >:(

Not so encouraging: I'll need some parts off of a J18 or J20 engine including; exhaust manifold (cast iron), coolant tube (from the head to the radiator), passenger side engine hoist eye-lit (with the T-tube welded), oil pan and oil pick up tube. I was on the phone with Dillon at TT and he has been great help. I already located these parts.

I still have a few questions though.
1) Do I need any other parts off of J18 or J20. I can get parts off of a '99 Tracker with a 2.0 and A/T located at a local salvage yard.
2) Is my flywheel going to work? Would a J18-J20 flywheel work?
3) Is my radiator going to work? If not, would J23 radiator fit in my Tracker? If not, what radiator options do I have?
4) Do I need an ECU from a 5spd Aerio (my donor has an A/T)? In Matt Verley's how to video, I noticed that he swapped a J23 from an Aerio with A/T to a Sidekick with 5spd. He did not mention it not working. I'm not clear if he used J18 ECU or J23 ECU. In my case, I'll have to use the J23 ECU.
5) Are there any write ups/posts that would help me figure out wiring?
6) Anything else I should get/read before I start the swap?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2017, 10:14:14 PM by trackerER »
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado

Offline BRD HNTR

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 10:42:41 PM »
Hi guys,

I plan to swap a 2.3 engine (J23) from an '04 Aerio (A/T) into my '98 Tracker (5spd). Both cars run and drive. I already did some research and read through some posts including ebewley's 2.3 swap into Sidekick Sport (great write-up and videos BTW), jstr's 2.3 swap into a '93 and a more recent one by Perryd but he swaps from A/T to A/T so I'm guessing our swaps will be different. Besides, I didn't want to hijack his post.

After my research I had some encouraging and not so encouraging findings.

Encouraging: J23 bolts up to my 5 spd tranny w/out an adapter plate and TT offers engine mounts. Phew! As I have no metal fabrication tools  >:(

Not so encouraging: I'll need some parts off of a J18 or J20 engine including; exhaust manifold (cast iron), coolant tube (from the head to the radiator), passenger side engine hoist eye-lit (with the T-tube welded), oil pan and oil pick up tube. I was on the phone with Dillon at TT and he has been great help. I already located these parts.

I still have a few questions though.
1) Do I need any other parts off of J18 or J20. I can get parts off of a '99 Tracker with a 2.0 and A/T located at a local salvage yard.
2) Is my flywheel going to work? Would a J18-J20 flywheel work?
3) Is my radiator going to work? If not, would J23 radiator fit in my Tracker? If not, what radiator options do I have?
4) Do I need an ECU from a 5spd Aerio (my donor has an A/T)? In Matt Verley's how to video, I noticed that he swapped a J23 from an Aerio with A/T to a Sidekick with 5spd. He did not mention it not working. I'm not clear if he used J18 ECU or J23 ECU. In my case, I'll have to use the J23 ECU.
5) Are there any write ups/posts that would help me figure out wiring?

Thanks.

1) Do I need any other parts off of J18 or J20. I can get parts off of a '99 Tracker with a 2.0 and A/T located at a local salvage yard.
Wiring, depending on complete swap or integrate.
2) Is my flywheel going to work? Would a J18-J20 flywheel work?
We had our flywheel redrilled, but the J20 flywheel should work.
3) Is my radiator going to work? If not, would J23 radiator fit in my Tracker? If not, what radiator options do I have?
Your stock radiator will work, until you start using the included HP.  Those extra ponies require more cooling than that small radiator can supply under heavy loads.  I have used a Volvo radiator and several others also, I am presently using a Summit radiator that is same physical size as my 93 radiator, only 2 1/2" thick all aluminum cross flow. 
4) Do I need an ECU from a 5spd Aerio (my donor has an A/T)? In Matt Verley's how to video, I noticed that he swapped a J23 from an Aerio with A/T to a Sidekick with 5spd. He did not mention it not working. I'm not clear if he used J18 ECU or J23 ECU. In my case, I'll have to use the J23 ECU.
It would be best to have a manual ECU if you are going to run a manual.  The big problem with having an automatic ECU and running a manual is that the Automatic ECU is expecting communication with a TCM and throws a code if it doesn't have communication.  This standing code will prevent other codes from alarming you to their presence because you already have an active alarm.
5) Are there any write ups/posts that would help me figure out wiring?
I do not know of any write ups that could prepare you for the time and thought that goes into figuring out a wiring change.  Without having FSM's and the ability to read and understand wiring diagrams, I would suggest TT wiring conversion.  It seems expensive, but they have good customer support and it will fit and work if you follow the directions.
My experience is that charts listing what points connect to what motor connection seems easier to understand later than notes.
93 Tracker,XL7 springs & 1" raised spring pads in front with YJ springs in back, home built bumpers rear & front (w/winch), 2" x 4" rock tubes,  ARB front & rear, converted Sami rear to IFS, 33x12.5x15  aluminum rims, roll cage, 2.7L w/5 speed auto.

Offline trackerER

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 07:43:41 AM »
Thank you for your response BRD.
1) I'm not trying to make it look/feel all original but I'd like to have the engine running as it should w/out any codes etc. If I can have that using the 2.3 (A/T) harness, I'd like to do that as it would be cheaper. However, if using the 2.0 (5spd) harness makes the wiring less of a hassle, I'll go that route. Do you think I get away with using the 2.3 (A/T) harness?
2) So, I think you're saying I can have my '98 Tracker flywheel redrilled and it would work. I'll call the machine shop and find out how much they'd charge. If it's cheaper than getting a J18-20 flywheel, I'll do that.
3) Does the Volvo radiator require any fabrication etc. or does it bolt in? What radiator is that? If you could tell me the year/model, I can look up the part number at rockauto.com. What about the summit racing one, do you have a part number for that?
4) So, I WILL have CEL if I use the ECU of an A/T? I guess I'll be hunting for a 5spd ECU then.
5) I already have the '98 FSM, I'll definitely get the Aerio FSM too. I've rebuilt engines and trannies before but never done a wiring harness. I don't mind digging through the diagrams as long as there is light at the end of the tunnel :)
Thanks.
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado

Offline Drone637

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 10:54:01 AM »
We ran the 2.3l in the race car, Project Trouble.  Lots of power available but we did have a constant Check Engine light due to the lack of a transmission.  I believe you can swap to a 4-speed auto and run the stock A/T computer.  Again, Trail Tough is the one that has more information on that.

Additional things you need from a 2.0L from another Tracker/Vitara:
Oil Pan
Oil Pickup
Rear Water Outlet - The stock one goes straight back, if you want to use it you have to poke a hole in your firewall and get rid of the heater.  :D

Where are you located at?  We have a flywheel that is already drilled sitting around not being used anymore that you could probably talk BRD HNTR out of.
x-SJ-410, 96 Geo Tracker, White Rabbit, Project Trouble

Crawlers NorthWest
Trouble Racing

Offline trackerER

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2017, 05:28:32 PM »
Thanks Drone,

I already got the oil pan, the oil pick up and the coolant pipe from the 2.0.

I'm in southern colorado.

As a side note, the complete aerio I was going to buy was sold while I was at the junk yard getting 2.0 parts. I still want to do this swap if I can find another aerio or a complete set up from a salvage yard.
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado

Offline BRD HNTR

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 06:08:23 AM »
1) I'm not trying to make it look/feel all original but I'd like to have the engine running as it should w/out any codes etc. If I can have that using the 2.3 (A/T) harness, I'd like to do that as it would be cheaper. However, if using the 2.0 (5spd) harness makes the wiring less of a hassle, I'll go that route. Do you think I get away with using the 2.3 (A/T) harness?
Manual wiring harness & ECU to a Manual transmission.  (As I do not know of anybody reflashing the ECU to allow it to run stand alone.) 
2) So, I think you're saying I can have my '98 Tracker flywheel redrilled and it would work. I'll call the machine shop and find out how much they'd charge. If it's cheaper than getting a J18-20 flywheel, I'll do that.
Drone637 had the flywheel redrilled.  "We have a flywheel that is already drilled sitting around not being used anymore that you could probably talk BRD HNTR out of."
3) Does the Volvo radiator require any fabrication etc. or does it bolt in? What radiator is that? If you could tell me the year/model, I can look up the part number at rockauto.com. What about the summit racing one, do you have a part number for that?
I took my radiator to the junk yard and told them I wanted a thicker radiator with the inlet tube in proper place for my 2.7L motor.  The one I got was listed as a Volvo.  I have gone to a much larger Aluminum radiator now.  Get a GOOD electric fan for cooling.  It is as important as the radiator, maybe more.  These motors run hotter, so a bigger radiator with a poor fan will get hotter on the trails than a stock radiator with a good fan.  Our race car with the stock radiator and the Aux Cooling fan (poor airflow) worked ok when running in the desert, until we slowed down (less airflow) and was pulling hard, then we had overheating issues.  (So plan on bigger radiator and fan in the budget.)
4) So, I WILL have CEL if I use the ECU of an A/T? I guess I'll be hunting for a 5spd ECU then.
If you are running a manual transmission behind it.  At least a Communication Error Code.
5) I already have the '98 FSM, I'll definitely get the Aerio FSM too. I've rebuilt engines and trannies before but never done a wiring harness. I don't mind digging through the diagrams as long as there is light at the end of the tunnel :)
Thanks.

If you are doing the wiring, you need to be able to see where the wires belong.  I spend lots of time (to much) making sure wires are going to proper place.  You can have TT convert a wire harness for you, and follow their directions for hookup.  Custom wire harness's are not cheap and I have more time than money.  (Their harness probably looks better also as they pare out the wires not needed and I don't strip the harness apart, just use what is needed.  The motor is going from a lateral mounting to a longitudinal mount, so wires are either longer or shorter in most cases.

It appears that there is a lot interest in this swap, so keep an eye on those posts. 
93 Tracker,XL7 springs & 1" raised spring pads in front with YJ springs in back, home built bumpers rear & front (w/winch), 2" x 4" rock tubes,  ARB front & rear, converted Sami rear to IFS, 33x12.5x15  aluminum rims, roll cage, 2.7L w/5 speed auto.

Offline trackerER

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 04:44:28 PM »
Hi Brd Hntr,
So, what would it take to talk you out of the re-drilled flywheel? Would you be willing to sell it? If so, how much? I can pm you if that's a better way.

I'm getting the following from a 2007 Aerio with A/T:
Engine (including all the sensors), alternator, P/S, pump, A/C compressor and dash harness. Unfortunately, engine harness was cut off while removal. I'll get the 5spd ECU and engine harness separately. There are a few 5spd ECUs available nearby but none are from a 2007. Are these ECUs interchangeable between years 2004-2007.

I guess I'll have to do the same with the radiator. I take you do not remember the model/year (roughly) of the Volvo. What radiator do you have on now? I'd prefer to spend a few $ extra and do it once.

I'm still undecided on whether I should send have TT do the harness for me. I'll make a decision once i have the engine and the harness in front of me.

Thanks.
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado

Offline Drone637

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 11:01:31 AM »
The computer should be the same from 2004 and up since they all have the 2.3l.  I think the only real major change is anti-lock brakes on 2006.
x-SJ-410, 96 Geo Tracker, White Rabbit, Project Trouble

Crawlers NorthWest
Trouble Racing

Offline trackerER

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2017, 08:19:41 PM »
Thanks. I just bought one.

I'll be swapping an engine with 122k miles on it. Do you guys recommend any maintenance while the engine is out? e.g. timing chain, oil pump, water pump etc.
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado

Offline BRD HNTR

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2017, 07:13:57 AM »
Hi Brd Hntr,
So, what would it take to talk you out of the re-drilled flywheel? Would you be willing to sell it? If so, how much? I can pm you if that's a better way.

I'm getting the following from a 2007 Aerio with A/T:
Engine (including all the sensors), alternator, P/S, pump, A/C compressor and dash harness. Unfortunately, engine harness was cut off while removal. I'll get the 5spd ECU and engine harness separately. There are a few 5spd ECUs available nearby but none are from a 2007. Are these ECUs interchangeable between years 2004-2007.

I guess I'll have to do the same with the radiator. I take you do not remember the model/year (roughly) of the Volvo. What radiator do you have on now? I'd prefer to spend a few $ extra and do it once.

I'm still undecided on whether I should send have TT do the harness for me. I'll make a decision once i have the engine and the harness in front of me.

Thanks.
I knew it was still in the garage, but have been busy over  the weekend.  I found it yesterday, redrilled flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch.  Less than 1000 miles on the combination, we never did finish one of the big races.  $90 + shipping.
I was just reading that the manual flywheel from the Aerio will work/fit in the 1.6L bellhousing. 

My radiator is 22"w x 20"h x 2 1/2"d, and just barley fits.  It has to squeeze behind the hood latch, and I bent the hood brace to keep it from hitting.  Drone has a smaller one that looks to be a pretty good fit.  Maybe a photo later in week, he is having mounting tabs put on it now.

Changing the timing chain & guides is easier on the bench, and if  the chain breaks it will at least bend a couple valves.  Less than $100 for peace of mind.  Unless the pan is full of crud, oil pumps are not prone to routine failures.  Water pumps are not as reliable and that is a judgment call, I know of a lot of vehicle over 200,000 miles still running on stock one, and I have changed out my share of leaking or noisy ones.

Wiring is a tough call.  It can only require about 6 wires (not counting computer connection), which is bare bones stand alone operation.  It will take you time to research which 6 wires you need, and then add the extra ones you want.  If you are going to strip down the harness so it doesn't have extra wires in it, putting it back together so it runs properly around the motor all takes time.  So it comes down to time or money (and slight peace of mind).    I would say to figure out just what you want in way of instrumentation, oil light, charge indication, temperature gauge, OBD2 port, etc. and call TT and if they have those.  Having spliced/integrated a few swapped motors, I think it is going to be faster next time, and it still takes a long time.  If you have no idea of how to do it, have it done. 
93 Tracker,XL7 springs & 1" raised spring pads in front with YJ springs in back, home built bumpers rear & front (w/winch), 2" x 4" rock tubes,  ARB front & rear, converted Sami rear to IFS, 33x12.5x15  aluminum rims, roll cage, 2.7L w/5 speed auto.

Online fordem

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 09:35:51 AM »
With regards the water pump - if it's not leaking or noisy - just leave it alone.

On the J series engines the pump is on the side of the block, easy to reach when it's longitudinally mounted as it would be in a Tracker, no big tear down, no need to touch the timing, as you would on a G or H series engine.
'98 SQ420 Grand Vitara
'05 JB420 Grand Vitara

Offline trackerER

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2017, 04:04:15 PM »
Brd Hntr,

Yes, $90+shipping sounds good. I assume it doesn't need to be re-surfaced and it's all put together. I don't have a clutch alignment tool. Please pm me with the details e.g. payment method, address etc.

I was talking to TT about the radiator. They said a J20 radiator would be fine. Do you agree? I still have to have some brackets made though. (Drone, if you're reading this, pictures of your set up would great help).

Yes, I think J23 flywheel would fit in G16 bell housing but the engine I'm getting is off of an A/T car. I think I'll replace the timing chains, the guides and the tensionors and leave the sprockets alone. I'll also do the oil pump just b/c I have to put J20 oil pan and pick tube in there anyways. What brand would you suggest? I'll stay away from cheap ebay kits. I heard OSK (made in Japan) is good. Any other good ones?

I'm still thinking about wiring. I have the FSMs for both Tracker and Aerio. I'll read through and see what I can do. I do want all of my gauges to work. After reading the diagrams, I'll decide if I can do it. If not, I'll send it to TT.

Fordem,

I think I'll wait on the water pump. If it's easily accessible, I can do it later.

What about seals? I know rear main seal on G16 is much easier to do on the bench. Any seals I should do while the J23 is out?

Thanks guys.
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado

Offline Perryd

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2017, 04:28:23 PM »
Feel free to hijack anytime 8), I'm just glad we are getting lots of information out there! You'll be glad to grab the manual ecu and harness, I think I may go that direction if i ever do the swap even though I already have the auto harness.

My 1.6 is being a real bugger lately too with mysterious misfiring and stalling and it's pushing me closer and closer to pulling the trigger on this swap.

Good luck!
1998 Tracker 2 door soft top, 3spd auto, 4x4, 215/57R15 BFG A/T, bone stock.

Online fordem

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2017, 05:03:46 PM »
J18/20/23 has two seals - front & rear crank (aka front & rear main, or timing cover & rear main) - it's always a good idea to do the rear whilst the engine and transmission are separate, and you might as well to do the front whilst you have the timing cover off.
'98 SQ420 Grand Vitara
'05 JB420 Grand Vitara

Offline trackerER

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Re: J23 engine swap from '04 Aerio (A/T) into a '98 Tracker (5spd) Questions
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2017, 07:04:53 PM »
Perryd,

Thanks. I've been keeping an eye on your post too. Yeah, ECU and the harness were not the cheapest but I hope it'll save me lots of headache in the long run. I was/am also having power loss issues and after a compression test (~150 psi) I decided to replace the engine instead of rebuilding it. I hope 60 additional ponnies under the hood will make it all worth it  ;D

Fordem,

I'll definitely do the front and rear seals.
Own: 1998 Chevy Tracker, 1.6L, 16v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Previously owned: 1990 Geo Tracker, 1.6L, 8v, 5spd, 4x4, 2dr, soft top
Location: Southern Colorado