Nissan Pathfinder VG30E EFI Removal

Nissan VG30i EFI Swap Part 1 – Stripping the ’95

It was finally time to tear apart the 1995 Nissan Cheapfinder project and get the EFI stuff off the engine before sending it to the scrapyard to get turned into a cube. The reason for the effort and the reason you’re likely reading this is to do an EFI Swap on your Nissan Pathfinder or Hardbody with the VG30i Throttle Body engine. Since the Pathmaker rig is a 2dr 1987 Pathfinder it sports the old VG30i and it was time for an upgrade.
Why go thru the effort you may ask? “Free” Horsepower!

Nissan VG30i vs VG30E

VG30i – 138hp/167ftlb

VG30E – 153hp/182ftlb

So in stock trim this upgrade is worth an extra 15hp and 15ftlb of torque! The engine I currently have in the Pathmaker rig has some aggressive cams, an overbore and a fresh rebuild with Thorley Headers and exhaust so I’ve got about 20hp more than those above numbers, with a bit more to get squeezed out of the ECU after a tune.

Time to start pulling apart the $300 Cheapfinder donor which is a 1995 Pathfinder, the last year of the WD21 generation.

If you don’t yet have it, head over to to pick up the FSM – Factory Service Manual for your Nissan, it will answer a lot of troubleshooting questions you may have. Best of all, its totally free!

For those of you that are tired of reading already here is the list of parts you need from the EFI parts car for your swap:

Parts Removal List:

  • Air Intake and Plumbing
  • Airbox
  • Throttle Cable
  • Intake Plenum
  • Fuel Injector Rails
  • Distributor/Distributor Spacer/Spark Plug wires
  • Intake Manifold
  • Knock Sensor
  • Upper Radiator Intake Pipe
  • Valve Covers
  • Wiring Harness
  • Ecu
  • Gauge Pod/Dash
  • Transmission Speed Sensor
  • O2 Sensor

A few tips for pulling parts off a don0r vehicle, ziploc bags are your friend. Take the bolts from every component and put them in their own labelled bag. Later when you’re reinstalling you’ll thank me. Electrical connections should be labelled with tape on both sides of the connectors. If you don’t know the name of the part at least name one of the close components, it will help later.

Lets dive into the tear down.

First thing off should be the airbox and the air intake plumbing including MAF. The MAF has the first of the dreaded Nissan metal clip connectors and the secret to removing them is to slip a knife or a small screwdriver in behind the wire and pop it off like the pictures below.

Next on the list remove the throttle cable and any wires connected to the top of the intake plenum. Then remove the 5 cap screws that hold the plenum to the intake manifold. There is a few hoses and wires that are connected near the back that you’ll have to pop off before lifting the plenum too far up.
Once the plenum is off remove the fuel rails, distributor, spacer underneath the distributor, spark plug wires

Now its time for the mixture of cap screws and 4 bolts that hold the intake manifold to the block. Don’t forget to grab the intake manifold gaskets. Grab the upper rad hose that mounts to the intake manifold, the knock sensor from the valley under the old intake manifold. Remove the valve covers and the hoses that go off of them.

Here’s a video to help out with the mechanical side of this swap:

YouTube player

On to the electrical side of the tear down.

Unfortunately the Nissan Pathfinder wiring harness is massive, and there is very few sub-harnesses, so the electrical side of this tear down is almost larger than the mechanical side. Start undoing all of the connections in the engine bay and labeling as you go. The fuses and relays on the fenders will need to be unbolted as well as the sub-harness from the starter and the alternator. Some of the wires go out thru a hole in the drivers side fender near the airbox. The majority of the wires head through the firewall on the passenger side after pushing the rubber gasket out.

Onto the dashboard removal. The whole dash needs to come out, including all of the heater ducts and blower motor. It will take a while, you will get frustrated, you will be angry with various Nissan engineers. Its ok, you’ll get thru it. I say that because there is a lot of little bolts and screws and a lot of hidden screws, including up along the top under the defrost vents and hidden under every piece of plastic imaginable.
The steering column will need to get dropped. Be gentle if you’re going to be reusing the dash. At the very least you need the gauge pod from the EFI round dash donor vehicle.

The passenger seat will need removed so you can unbolt the ECU from underneath, then the wiring harness travels down the passenger side ending near the rear tail light. The harness runs up and over top of the dash behind the heater pipes, over the steering column and to the fuse panel on the drivers kick. That drivers side wiring harness comes in through the fender behind the fuse panel with another large rubber gasket. Finally the wiring harness runs down the drivers side also ending at the rear tail lights. You’ll need the fuel tank sub-harness from the rear as well.

The last thing on your list will be to climb underneath the rig and remove the speed sensor from the t-case and the O2 sensor from the exhaust. Take the sub-harness off the transmission as well.
That should be everything you need off the VG30E donor vehicle for your MPFI swap onto your VG30i.

Here’s a video to help with the electrical side of the project:

YouTube player

Also we can’t forget about saying goodbye to the old Cheapfinder project. She was rusty, she was crusty, the rear end removed itself, but I got the windshield I needed, got some panels I needed and of course, got the parts for the EFI swap. Thank you old girl, you shall live on every time I put it in the ketchup!

Check out Part 2 where we tear into the Pathmaker Rig and get the EFI Swap started now that we have the needed parts!

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