2nd Generation VQ35DE swap
How to swap a 2007+ Altima 3.5L VQ35 engine, or 2009+ Maxima 3.5L engine into older cars. Including the 2002-2006 Altima (3.5L) and 2002-2008 Maximas. This motor swap is referred to as the 2nd Generation VQ35DE swap.

Swap Kit

This kit allows you to install a 2nd generation VQ35DE engine into a 2002-2008 Maxima or 2002-2006 Altima (3.5 V6)

The NISformance 2nd Generation VQ35DE swap kit consist of four main components. Cam sensor signal inverters, Plug and play throttle body adapter harness, Belt tensioner bracket, and Alternator bracket. Each component and its intended use is detailed below.

Camshaft sensor signal inverters - Allow the stock harness to be attached to a newer 2nd generation motor and intercept the camshaft signal wires. This is an essential part of the swap kit and has been designed with ease of install in mind. Each inverter comes with a camshaft sensor plug attached. Wiring necessary consist of three wires. Ground, Power, and Signal. These new inverters are single channel. One inverter is required for each camshaft position sensor.
Throttle body adapter harness - Necessary in order to utilize the 70 or 75 millimeter throttle body that is equipped on 2nd generation motors.

Belt tensioner and alternator brackets - Needed in order to use stock alternator and belt tensioner. Zinc coated for high corrosion resistance and added clean look.

VQ35DE Engine

There are two generations of the front wheel drive VQ35DE engine.
The First generation VQ35DE was used by Nissan in many front wheel drive applications. Ranging from the Maxima to the Quest minivan.
Second generation engines were used in the 2009+ Maxima , and 2007+ 3.5L Altima as well as a few other front wheel drive applications as before.
The second generation VQ35DE engine is equipped with "HR" heads allowing for increased air flow and improved performance. Oil consumption and other flaws commonly found in first generation motors have also been addressed.
There are also two variations of the 2nd Gen VQ35DE engine. A Maxima engine is equipped with EVT ( Exhaust Valve Timing ) and has a slightly higher compression ratio along with larger intake manifold and throttle body (75mm). The Altima engine has a slightly lower compression ratio, and is not equipped with EVT. The intake manifold and throttle body (70mm) are also a bit smaller.

It is important to note that in most swap applications that utilize a Maxima engine, EVT is not used. In order to utilize EVT, a different engine management system is necessary. If EVT is not used, it will not negatively affect performance or reliability.


Recommended items:

2nd Generation VQ35DE Swap Kit

EPS Tuning Oil Gallery Gasket/Hardware Kit 2nd Generation VQ35DE engine

There are a few things to keep in mind before beginning your swap:

  • It’s easier to do this swap if you have a 3.5 DE motor laying around, especially if you just pulled it out of the car. You will need to take some things off of the old motor to use on the HR. Without this, there are a few parts that you will have to purchase in order to complete the swap.
  • Keep in mind, you are swapping the "long block" only. You will need to re use a lot of your existing accessories or parts specific to your car. This also includes wiring and harnesses, sub harnesses ect..
  • There are some specific tools needed: An ‘E8’ torx socket, 5/16 Allen key, Loctite

Stripping the motor

Depending on where your motor came from, there may be a lot of ‘extra’ pieces still attached to it. Some of these will just get in your way while you prep your motor, some can’t be used for this swap.

  • Remove all accessories, which includes the alternator, power steering pump.
  • Remove any harnesses and brackets that are still connected to the motor.
  • Remove upper intake manifold (removing lower manifold is not necessary, but sometimes desirable. If removed, a new gasket should be used to reinstall).
  • Remove oil temperature sender:

  • Remove idler pulley/tensioner ‘spacer’ (seen below in red):

** The injector rail may also be removed, but that isn’t necessary.

Cover any openings

There will be A LOT of metal shavings and dust around the motor, depending on how you do the cutting and grinding that comes later. These absolutely CANNOT be allowed to get into the motor.

  • intake ports in the top:

  • exhaust ports on the sides of motor:

  • fuel injector ports if fuel rail was removed:

  • the open ends of any coolant hoses/pipes:

Modifying the motor

Some parts of the motor will need to be cut somehow (tools, methods and results will vary) to allow for proper fitment and function once it’s reinstalled.

** Because of some concerns about the integrity of the stock oil gallery gasket, we at NISformance strongly recommend replacing it in this step. **

  • when changing the oil gallery gasket, this is a good time to grind away the center portion of the power steering bracket before reassembling the front of the motor.
  • grind/cut away the center portion of the power steering bracket. This requires some aggressive cutting, but also needs some attention to detail (cutting too DEEPLY can weaken the integrity of the timing cover. Cutting too WIDE can weaken the remaining brackets that will be needed to hold the alternator):


Power steering 3

  • grind/cut away a portion of the metal where the idler pulley/tensioner spacer was:

  • remove exhaust manifold studs at the rear most exhaust port (close to the trans). This requires an ‘E8‘ torx socket:

  • clean out the threads in the opposite holes using a ‘10×1.25‘ tap.
  • replace the removed studs into the newly cleaned holes:

  • remove lower oil pan.
  • remove upper oil pan.
  • use the oil pan from a 3.5 DE motor…but remove the windage tray. Add your o-rings and seals, and install upper oil pan onto the HR motor.
  • remove the HR water pump access cover, and replace it with the one from the DE motor



Alternator bracket



Belt tensioner bracket

Adjusting the cam signal wheel

This is a VERY important step and it must be done very carefully for your car to run properly. You have to be accurate.

Apart from the wiring, adjusting the signal wheel is the most detailed work you need to do on the swap. It is important to be very accurate when cutting or grinding, and it’s also extremely important to assemble everything correctly at the end of this step. Pay close attention to the pictures and make sure that your work looks EXACTLY the same!

*You will need to modify your 5/16 Allen key by cutting the arm down so that it is approximately 3/8″ long. This is your ‘special tool’ that you will need to use in this part of the swap.

  • open one of the valve covers.
  • using the ‘special tool’, loosen the signal wheel lock nut and remove the signal wheel from the intake cam:
  • completely remove the inner nubs from the signal wheel without damaging the rest of the inner surface:

  • at the crank, turn the motor until two notches are visible at the top of the cam:

  • add Loctite to the flat inner surface of the signal wheel:

  • reconnect the modified signal wheel to the intake cam…be sure to place it at the proper angle (as shown below) and resecure the lock nut:

  • close and bolt down the valve cover
  • open the other valve cover, and repeat these same steps.

V2 Cam Sensor Signal Inverter Wiring

V2 inverters are single channel. One inverter is required for each camshaft position sensor.

Wiring for cam sensor signal inverter

Red wire - 12 volt power supply ( power going into the board )

Black wire - Ground

Orange wire - Signal out ( connects to existing wire on ecu side )

Picture below demonstrates the older style DE cam sensor plug that is cut off when wiring in inverter with required wiring


For V1 cam sensor signal inverter wiring please click
Here