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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I figured I'd start a thread dedicated to the work that i'm doing on my 2008 Element LX 4WD 5-Speed. I had been posting updates in another thread but thought it'd be best to house all the info and updates here.

Not sure what I should call it, but Jelement sounds kind of catchy although a little weird. Lol

So here is a little history.

I became obsessed when I heard that Minitec was going to release a kit to put a J-series engine into the Element. So I followed them, sent emails, called, kept asking for follow ups a long time ago when they were first prototyping the kit. The K24A3 my Element came with has 179k miles and still rips. However, I was wanting more power and something to do, so I decided to take the plunge. Let's face it, the Element is an awesome car and deserves this!

So then one day I saw this video on their page one day along with the fact that the kit was now available for order.

So I called them up and talked to BJ, told him that I'd like to order the kit. He took my info, and sent me an invoice via PayPal and I was off to the races!

Minitec is small shop with EXTREMELY dedicated people. I've talked to BJ and Norman who designed the kit. Both friendly, and very willing to help. If you're interested in the kit, calling them is the best way to reach them. Email takes a little time to get a response, but again, small shop, and only so much time in the day.

A couple weeks later the kit showed up at my doorstep!

The kit consists of the following parts:

  1. Engine to Transmission Adapter plate
  2. starter adapter plate
  3. flywheel adapter plate w/ extended flywheel bolts
  4. Passenger side engine mount
  5. Driver side transmission mount
  6. Subframe rear transmission mount
  7. Intermediate shaft adapter/relocator
  8. Pre-cat exhaust spacers (so the j-pipe can mount and clear the subframe
  9. modified oil pan (trimmed so the starter can fit)
Pics:
attached since I can't in-line them for some reason.

Since I've been working on this for a while (mostly waiting for parts to come in, refreshing some things on the Element while having the engine out, getting the wrong engine....twice...my dumb fault) I've learned a lot about which Element's and kits this setup works with.

You'll notice that I have a 2008 Element which has drive-by-wire. To my knowledge, there isn't anyone who has attempted, nor completed a swap like this. I knew this going into the project, but have a ton of experience getting engines to work in other cars both mechanically and electronically from doing B, D, and H-series swaps in Hondas and Integras since 2001. I love Hondas and a good challenge!

The kit is made for the 03-06 Element AWD 5-speed with cable throttle. The only physical difference I've found is with the passenger side engine mount which Honda slightly re-designed by moving one of the bolt holes about half an inch towards the engine bay. The geometry, placement, and two other bolt holes are identical. So a quick measurement and a slow drill bit and it mounts up perfectly!

Something to note: Minitec recently acquired a donor car to begin work on the automatic transmission version of this kit.

The engines that work with this swap that I'm aware of (and not really aware of) are the following:

J35 Engines
According to Minitec, there are various years of this engine that will work. I'm not sure as I never intended on putting a J35 in the Element. So if you're interested - ask them!

00-03 J32a2 Acura CL Type-S (not sure if the J32a1 will work)
Automatic: With this engine, it was successfully used by doing a special setup using a modified Honda Odyssey ECU used in conjunction with the Honda Element ECU. The automatic engines were much different than the manual versions. Why Honda, WHY?!
Manual: Can be used with the Manual ECU and requires re-pinning some wires for the interior harness (big gray plug behind the glovebox.

04-06 J32a3 Acura TL Base 3.2
Both automatic and manual variants of this engine are identical, and share the same bell housing and oil pan as the 00-03 engines. The kit will work without modification. However, this generation engine is drive-by-wire which hasn't been done before. My Element is an 08 and has drive-by-wire which is why I have to use this engine. I searched around but couldn't find any information on converting a drive-by-wire engine to a throttle cable, plus I didn't want to lose VSC or TCS.

07-08 J32a3 Acura TL Base 3.2
This engine would require significant modifications to the adapter plate and intermediate shaft adapter to mount the transmission. I originally went with this engine mistakenly. However the heads, intake manifold and throttle body can be used as somewhat of an upgrade to the 04-06 J32a3 which flow better and the intake manifold is MUCH, MUCH lighter due to it being made out of magnesium instead of aluminum.

So far my costs have been the following:

Minitec JV6 Element Kit: $1787 (Minitec)
2005 Acura TL 3.2 Base J32a3 Engine: $300 (local junk yard)
2004 Acura TL Manual Transmission Engine Harness: $140 (ebay)
2007-2008 Acura TL Manual Transmission Sub-Harness: $120 (ebay)
2007-2008 Acura TL 3.2 Base ECU, Key and Immobilizer Set: $125 (ebay)
Oil Pump, Water pump, head gaskets, main engine gaskets, timing belt, tensioner, idler, etc: $500 (sourced between amazon and ebay)
Element Exedy OEM clutch and XTD 10lbs flywheel: $300 (ebay)
2008 Acura TL Power Steering Pump: $65 (LQK)
2008 Acura TL Alternator: $45 (LQK)
2008 Acura TL AC Compressor: $80 (ebay)

Anticipated further costs and invovlement:
Hondata Flash-Pro to convert the Auto ECU to Manual
ECU re-vin to match the element's vin (to pass CT state inspection)
Various harness work to mate to the Element interior/dash harness

I've also been consulting with Don over at RPMSystems who is the absolute master with j-series everything. He's a great guy and makes amazing products for all sorts of honda/acuras. I'm lucky to only be an hour from them so once the engine is mounted and fired, i'll be taking it over there for the harness/ecu work.

The cost to do this in an 03-06 Element would be much lower, so don't get discouraged by the costs listed here. I plan to keep notes and post updates for everything I do to encourage more people to do the swap! More to come!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Comparing intermediate shaft and adapter

Here is a shot comparing the intermediate shaft from the Element and the adapter plate that moves it over to compensate for the engine/trans adapter plate.
 

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2007 Element EX TRP
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Since you're doing all this engine swap work, are you going to convert the 5spd to a 6spd? I figure might as well since you have it all out..... :shock: :razz:

Nice write up (so far), look forward to your final results. :grin: 8)
 

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Also, thanks for the pics of the kit =) Thats super helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for the support! I have the new engine back together, although i had to take the timing belt and water pump back off due to finding a stripped lower engine mount bolt. :x

Whoever serviced the engine last stripped, and attempted to helicoil it. When I went to put the bolt back in the helicoil came out with the bolt. Luckily, I was able to use a Timesert. They make a product called Bigsert that is made to re-repair a stripped hole. Had to hand drill, hand tap the hole with a HUGE drill bit. I'm pretty sure I lost a few years of life with the stress. Drill it out of round and the water pump would leak. Drill too deep and you punch a hole in the cylinder. Got it done though! (pics for entertainment)

I'm using the intake manifold, and valve covers from the 08 engine since it it made out of magnesium instead of aluminum. Saves a TON of weight and flows better.

Here are some pics of the engine mounts on the chassis. I had to notch the ABS bracket slightly to clear the passenger side mount. no biggie.

I've got the engine off the stand now with the flywheel/clutch/pressure plate mounted, along with the new throwout bearing in the transmission. Going to attempt to get them bolted up tonight!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
i bet he will go 6 speed. this is going faster than i thought it would. keep going. im curious about where the engine rpms will be with the element gearing.


I’d love to go six speed, but taking it one thing at a time lol

If I’m going to open up the transmission, I’m putting an LSD in it. The 4 cylinder spins a tire easily as it is, and I’ve got 17” wider tires on it.

The 5spd is geared so short as it is, at 80mph it turns 4000 rpm. I love short gears but hate torque steer and wheel spin.


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Discussion Starter #11
Did more work on the Jelement.

The adapter plate needs to be bolted to the engine first before mounting the transmission. The hardware needs to clear the inside of the transmission when everything is bolted together so I had to notch the housing of the transmission in two places.

I marked where it had to be notched in green. Here is the plate on the transmission with the hardware clearing fine.


Didn’t have to remove much. It only took a few seconds with an angle grinder. Made sure to cover all the new hardware and greased bits before starting and plugging the axle hole.


You can see the light gray areas, just a quick scuff.



Plate all mounted, next up is to fit the starter and make sure it will grab the flywheel and turn the engine. I’ve got a whole update just for that lol I’ll post later tonight.



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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
So the starter. Ohhhhh the starter. Ok first off the k-series starter has this really stupid snout/shield over it. They changed the design from the b/d series engine where everything was aligned and stabilized internally.

As a result, that snout/shield makes contact with the transmission.


There is no way around it. The only way around that is to notch the transmission in the shape of that stupid snout/shield.

Before coming to this conclusion, I tried slicing the top half off.


That wasn’t enough, it still made contact. Then, before knowing/understanding/realizing that the stupid snout retained the entire starter gear, I sliced it off lol.

Still didn’t fit. So yeah, need to notch the transmission.

I also had to do some surgery on the starter due to the custom oil pan. I’m using the j32a3 engine which has never been done before with this swap. So they had nothing to reference.

Starter and starter adapter “adjustments”:


I also had to grind/beat some parts of the oil pan so everything would sit flush as it should.


So I’ve finally got everything able to be bolted up sitting where it needs to. Was going to test the starter to make sure it can grab the flywheel and turn the engine but I’m waiting for the epoxy to dry on the part I sliced off the starter lol.


Once it spins the flywheel without sparks or explosions, I’ll commit to notching the trans. I’ve already got it marked.


Minitech just needs to make a couple of adjustments to the oil pan modifications and it would eliminate 90% of what i’ve had to do.


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Discussion Starter #14
Yours would be way easier since it isn’t drive by wire! Two j-elements in the same state would be nuts.


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You are a saint for documenting this so well. I'm so lazy about pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You are a saint for documenting this so well. I'm so lazy about pictures.


I don’t mind at all. This kit isn’t really well known so I want everyone to see what it’s about. My plate has “003” stamped on it. Minitec has 001 so there is at least one more out in the wild.


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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Successsssssssss!!! Sorta...lol

Alright so I got the starter mounted to the adapter plate, and the adapter plate mounted to the bell housing. I threaded in all the bolts to secure it to the engine.



Here is a shot showing how snug the starter is up under the oil pan.



It’s been a wild ride starter, you gave me 179k miles. Smell ya later!



(Don’t try this at home lol) Hooked up the power to the starter, ground to the starter bolt, and then ground to the battery and used a cotter pin sticking out of the starter signal wire. A quick tap on the power lead going to the battery and the starter came to life, grabbed and turned the flywheel!!!!!!!

However, the epoxy on the starter shield failed immediately (you can see it in the video) so I have to get a new starter. Also you’ll notice the ground clamp on the starter wasn’t biting enough meat so it started heating up - yikes! No biggie, I know it works and I’m just an $80 starter from being able to bolt this thing back together!

https://youtu.be/-hxhVwtAZ7I

Great progress and I’m done for the day before 6:30 pm - w00t!!




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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
when i saw that you were using epoxy, my first thought was that it would never work, but i was wrong, as it worked once.


Hahahahaha yeah it worked once for sure. Before I recorded the video I attempted to start it to make sure I didn’t record the flywheel exploding or anything. It started and spun a few times. My neighbor at the exact same moment cranked up his Harley next door so it was funny hearing my engine crank, his engine crank and when I let go hearing his Harley running.

I didn’t notice that it broke until after the second attempt when I videoed it and it sounded different.


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