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How to Prepare Your Car For an EV Conversion

Ben Parker

Looking electrified. Prepping a the van for all the electronic components means ripping out all the old gasoline powered bits. I'm trying to take things off very carefully so I can save and reuse as many components as I can.

Article Highlights

The first chapter of an ev conversion is getting rid of all the gasoline bits. This chapter requires some nuance as you have to take apart carefully, and make sure that you’re keeping what you need to. It’s taken me a lot longer to get to the end of this chapter than I thought, but not longer than I planned. Here’s how it went.  


How to get your car jacked up without a lift


I can’t afford a scissor lift, or a real lift, so the first thing I had to do was create some cribs to get the van high enough off the ground for me to comfortably get under there. Cribbing is a technique used by many a hot rodder, not just to act as a jack stand, but also to extend the height of other jackstands. I used some scrap 2x4’s to cut and make a prototype to add an extra 9” to my Prolift jack stands. I actually really like these stands and ended up buying two more. 


Then I ran down to Home Depot and bought a bunch more with some wood screws. I cut  the 2x4”s into two different sizes that would be big enough for the Prolift jacks to safely sit on top of. Then I screwed the pieces together using an alternating screw pattern.  After putting them together I made sure to test the strength of each of the cribs. 


Then comes the slow process of getting the car up high enough to even use the cribs. I basically went from the front of the car to the back and lifted in 1-2” increments until I could put the cribs under the jack stands. They work great! They’re very secure, I made sure to try and shake the van off the stands as hard as I could but it wouldn’t budge so we were good to go.

Trying to decipher little bits of the translated Acty manual to drop the engine out.

The end of chapter one of this build is actually a tear down. I successfully dropped out my first engine.

Removing Honda Acty Suspension


The first thing I set my sights on was the engine. The Acty is rear engined, instead of opening up the hood and tearing apart from the top, I’ve got to come at it from the back. Which meant first removing the rear end and entire suspension. 


The rear axles put up a bit of a fight, but with the help of a few good people from the Acty facebook group I was able to make it happen. What it takes is a hub puller, timing gear puller, and a 36mm socket. Before you start wrenching on the wheels make absolutely sure you remove the leaf shackles above the wheels. You can also detach the shocks from the axle beam. This is a crucial step, as I learned the hard way.  First you’ve got to remove the wheels which is simple enough. After removing the wheels, there’s a little cover over the castle nut, remove that cover and pull out the cotter pin. The castle nut is a 36mm, I used my handy electric impact wrench and it came right off.

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Prepping to take off the rear suspension. Removed the exhaust and a bunch of the air intake, and other fuel components.

After the castle nut is removed we can remove the drum brakes. The drum should pop off easily enough. After that, grab your phone and snap a picture of how all the springs and shoes are configured so you can assemble it correctly. Pull off the springs and shoes, then remove the emergency brake cable. I used a little hose clamp to push the tabs down so I could pull it out of the back of the wheel assembly. 


There are a few bolts on either side of the shaft at the wheel end that you’ll remove to attach your timing belt puller to. Make sure that you’re using 120mm M10 x 1.25 bolts, the bolts that come with the timing belt puller aren’t the proper pitch. After attaching the timing belt puller, start to push the axle through the assembly, it’ll definitely require some wrenching. Don’t use any power tools though, it’s important that you can feel what’s going on so everything moves safely. Push it all the way through and then you’ll pull it out from the engine-side. Voila. If you’re trying to remove the rear axle beam make sure you disconnect the brake cable from the rear axle beam.

The van up on cribs. Cribbing is a popular technique to get your car up off the ground high enough to actually do things to it. If you plan on doing it yourself, measure three times, cut once. Test a million times over before crawling under the vehicle. I basically rammed myself into the side of the van to see if it'd fall over before ever crawling underneath it.

Removing all Gasoline Parts


I won't belabor too much of this process as most of these specifics don’t apply to any other vehicle than the Acty. But after removing the rear suspension I moved onto the engine. Before breaking into that I bled all the fluids, oil, coolant, and gasoline. Then I started removing air hoses, fuel lines, and coolant/water lines. Using the “translated” van manual I started disconnecting the clutch cables, shift cables, throttle cable, and some of the electronics. 


I pulled out the gas tank, and all the air conditioning components which was tough because this van came specially equipped with air conditioning, and I’m ripping it out?! Crazy.

Removing the engine


Actually removing the engine proved a bit more difficult than expected. The service hatch in the van to access the engine isn’t big so I had to do some advanced level yoga positions to get into some of the nooks and crannies in this engine...area? What’s it called when it’s not a bay? Anyway, the manual explained a fair amount about what most things were but didn’t really explain how to remove them. I was trying to be extra careful removing everything because I’m trying to sell this engine and all of these gasoline components. In the end I only cut two wires. 


The next question was how was I going to remove the engine? The only way out is down because the service hatch isn’t big enough to fit the engine out the top. My first thought was to get a transmission jack and lower it out from the bottom using that. But then I found this hydraulic lift jack from Harbor Freight. This is a good find because it’ll also be great to install battery boxes when the time comes. 


After a few weeks of tearing down I was able to get the jack under there, take off the engine mounts and lower the engine out. It’s a bit dirty, but that’s what you can expect from an engine that hangs underneath the car. 


What’s next? 


After removing all of the gasoline components it’s on to building the electric system. So first I’ll be separating the transmission from the engine and testing the clearances of the Warp 9 motor, scanning and designing the motor adapter, removing the coupler that’s on there (if I can).