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Old 04-08-2021, 09:51 PM   #1
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JayyT is on a distinguished road
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Default Converting my ion 3 into redline with donor car

Hi guys, I've searched this topic a lot but I still have questions and a lot of conflicting information. Also people asking if this is possible are usual told why not just sell the ion and get a redline... well my situation is different.

I bought my ion 3 a few years ago for 1000 cad, I've basically over time have rebuilt and replaced everything except engine and transmission (also did clutch). The KYB shocks I built myself last summer, my biggest worries is I spent about 2,000 cad on a new stainless steel 2.25" magnaflow exhaust system and rims which where 1,250 cad. My ion is basically really good condition and the redline my neighbor has isnt. He wants 1000 for his.

My questions

I know axles are different on the redline but will the wheel bearing hub assembly from ion3 with 4 studs fit on the redline axles? If not I know I can order 4 studs for Redline from rockauto, no biggie.

The redline has abs brakes, is there a way to delete this so I don't have abs light on cluster or will I again, have to order new 4 stud with abs.

Will my exhaust fit onto a redline manifold?

Are the sub frames different? If so will I be able to bolt in the redline subframe to ion3 body?

Will I be able to keep my new shocks?

Can I use my current motor mounts from ion3? If not can I bolt on the redlines... will the bolt holes line up.

Probably have to switch out the ecu but do I need to also take out the pcm and/or bcm? I've read that replacing the pcm and bcm affects odometer which is illegal and don't want but I know the redline computer has different settings which I'm hoping is all in the ecu.

Will I have to switch the ignition switch?

Overall what should I be taking from the redline for my car that I haven't mentioned?

So many questions I know. I do my own work, and have all the shop supplies. I am hoping to just take out transmission and engine together with hoist. I will keep you guys posted on my experience I guess I'm just looking for a.. go for it, will work before I buy my neighbors redline.
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Last edited by JayyT; 04-08-2021 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Converting my ion 3 into redline with donor car

Btw if u noticed the rear tire of the redline has 4 studs its cause he got me to replace the rear axle last year after bending it from hitting a curb while drifting. He wanted it fixed right away for work and they had no redlines at junkyard so he just told me to downgrade the brakes to drums. The front has 5 studs. He also just drove it home yesterday on a flat tire and spare won't fit it. That's why I'm getting it cheap, he first wanted 1500 for it but I told him 1000. I have until the end of month to decide.

I have a front and rear sport bumper in my house, planning on painting it all after I'm done. Putting his engine and tranny into my car would just complete it.
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Old 04-13-2021, 03:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Converting my ion 3 into redline with donor car

This is definitely happening. For anyone interested. 03-04 should be interchangeable,
and both cars I got are 04. Looks like the engine cradle and some other parts are different if it's 05 and newer so do your research if yours is.

For 03-04, motor mounts, engine cradle, steering rack, knuckles, wheel bearing hub assembly are all the same gm part #'s for 04

The struts are different but are interchangeable as I can tell. People say the suspension is different and it is but only quality wise fe1, fe2 and few3.The ion3 car I have has custom kyb struts so I'd like to keep those for now. Still looking for lowered springs, Megan racing ones are on back order.

The only thing I'm concerned about now is the exhaust, the manifold and cat have different part numbers. I obviously want to keep the magnaflow exhaust I have on my ion 3 so I may have to trace the flange on the redline cat, then buy a new template to weld on.

Also the redline has abs 5 stud, for now I'll be using the 4 stud hubs I have but will be replacing them with 4 stud abs hubs soon after or may just disable abs altogether if I can without having warning lights on the dash. I don't like abs to begin with. Obviously redline has 5 studs probably to handle the torque and I am concerned about this, if it breaks on me I'll have to switch to 5 stud and buy new rims. Still looking into this.

I will post any troubles I come across. I have converted his redline rear brakes to drum a year b4 he decided to sell it, brakes so I know it's possible to convert an ion3 drum brakes to redline, so I'll be doing this as well. I'll be taking the rear axle off a cobalt ss to do this, then ordering new calibers, brakes, rotors, ebrake line, etc.

I can find threads on what im doing but no one ever took these posters seriously, said it's stupid, why not sell and buy a redline. Well I got both cars for 1000 each... redline is in bad condition, everything on the ion is newer, been updated already. If you guys know of a thread of someone that already did this, pls tell me so I can stop wasting everyone's time.

Last edited by JayyT; 04-13-2021 at 03:34 AM.
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Old 04-13-2021, 07:29 AM   #4
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1998 SL2
2006 ION Red Line
Default Re: Converting my ion 3 into redline with donor car

Wow, this looks like a cool project! I'm sure the exhaust will line up somehow, sometimes you just have to drop everything in and see how it looks.

Since your 2 cars are the same platform it should be pretty much plug and play, relatively speaking of course....

FYI if you wanted to drop the rear end of your Ion a bit, you can add the rear springs from an LNF Cobalt, it would give you about a 2 inch drop. I did that with my Ion Redline and to me it looks just right.

BTW, are you in Toronto?
My 96 SL2 and 98 SL1 have joined together to become one. So I guess I now have a 1996/8
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Old 04-13-2021, 02:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Converting my ion 3 into redline with donor car

JayyT, I'm not 100% familiar with Ions or Redlines but have some info that may help. As you know, the Redline should be a supercharged 2.0L while your Ion-3 is a naturally aspirated 2.2L ecotec. Besides the displacement difference, the major changes for the engine is the map sensor spec'd for vacuum and positive boost pressure. The n/a 2.2L uses a one bar map sensor for vacuum (only). The Redline may use either a two or three bar map sensor. This is configured along with ecm/pcm tuning for the supercharger. At idle and everyday driving without boost, the engine is drawing a vacuum all the time but when boost is used, positive pressure is generated and the 2/3 bar map sensor detects the change from vacuum to positive pressure for the ecm/pcm to automatically alter fuel ratios. The ecm/pcm is 'married' to the bcm for GMs anti theft system, Passlock.

The ecm/pcm is married to the bcm because the bcm has GMs Passlock security programming. The bcm uses Passlock sensors in the steering column to detect lock cylinder rotation (Hall effect) while measuring an embedded resistor in the ignition switch. The two values are compared with values memorized in the bcm. If both values match the bcm sends a signal to the ecm/pcm to allow injector and starter operation. If one or both values don't match bcm values then the bcm sends a disable signal to the ecm/pcm to disable the starting circuit and injector operation. This is GMs anti theft system for Ions. Mixing and matching ecm/pcm with bcm can be done but Redlines and plain Ions present issues. If the 2.0L supercharged engine is transplanted to your Ion-3 then the 2.0L engine computer and bcm should be transferred to minimize problems since engine/ecm/pcm/bcm are already one unit. The ecm/pcm from your Ion-3 can't be used because it isn't tuned to use the 2/3 map sensor or programmed to alter injector pulses for positive boost. The bcm may or may not be the same for both vehicles since it has nothing to do with the EFI system. The bcm role is for security, running the instrument panel gauges, internal and external lighting, etc. If there's a boost gauge and its driven by the bcm then the Redline bcm makes it different from the Ion-3 bcm. The bcm drives all gauges and may drive the boost gauge. This makes it imperative to use the Redline ecm/pcm and bcm with the 2.0L engine. The ignition switch should be interchangeable but with one caveat - use the redline ign switch otherwise using your ign switch probably requires relearning Passlock security.

Passlock security is made up of the ecm/pcm, bcm, Passlock sensor in the steering column and ignition switch (with embedded resistor). If the ecm/pcm, bcm or ignition switch are replaced, a Passlock relearn procedure is needed otherwise the bcm will not recognize parts and automatically disable the starting circuit and injectors. Relearning procedures done at home in a 30 minute process or dealer 10 minute process allows the bcm to learn the new/used ignition switch or ecm/pcm. This process is commonly referred to as marrying the parts, an electronic process for security. Once learned, Passlock checks the ignition switch resistor, detects lock cylinder rotation and determines if the two values match what's previously learned and if they match, allows the bcm to send a signal to the ecm/pcm to allow starting and injector operation. The ignition switches have different resistor values so no two are alike. They're interchangeable but must be learned when installed so the security system will operate as intended.

As it is, transferring the engine/xmission, ecm/pcm, bcm and ignition switch may be the minimum for a smooth transplant. Whether Redline wiring must be transferred because of additional wiring for the Redline that isn't on Ion-3s is something you'd have to examine. Perhaps the Redline forums (elsewhere) may have members more knowledgeable to help you.

It would be extremely helpful if you have Redline and Ion-3 service manuals from GM, alldata or Mitchell.
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