Honda Civic tuning
"Turning your Civic into a Type R beater!"
The Honda Civic remains one of the most popular Japanese cars available.
As a result has a wide selection of tuning and styling parts available for it.
When building a car each maker typically decides how to produce power from the engine according to two methods.
- A large engine with relatively low engine speed
- A smaller capacity engine with a higher engine speed.
Both engines burn similar amounts of fuel and offer similar performance and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Honda opted for the latter high revving engine option and cleverly built a 2 phase engine which behaves very differently when the VTEC kicks in.
This is also the fun option if you like revvy high speed engines!
Honda are able to extract a phenomenal power figures from relatively small sized engines.
We frequently see 2 liter engines producing 200 BHP and 1.6 liter engines producing 160 bhp.
The following mods are usually carried out by our members. Just decide how far you want to go before you begin.
Stage 1 mods: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Engine management (VTEC kicking in earlier), lighter flywheel
Stage 2 mods: Ported and polished head, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,
Stage 3 mods: Engine balancing, forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cams.
Honda's methodology includes a two stage cam profile and a carefully balanced constructed engine.
The VTEC system is one of the most reliable engine control systems and essentially enables an engine to have two sets of characteristics. One at low revs (sub 4000 RPM) offers good fuel economy and torque, then another and over 4000 revs where the engine really comes alive and power spikes.
One of the most interesting divisions of Honda produce the Civic Type R variant of models which are essentially highly tuned "Race optimized" versions with carefully blue printed and balanced engines.
Unusually the components used to construct the engines induction system and exhaust are among the best available.
This means it can be difficult to find performance upgrades for these models that give a noticeable gain. Many aftermarket parts are only a little improvement on the factory settings.
Internal engine mods should be high up on your list if you are serious about power gains. With some clever mapping it is possible to get the vtec to kick in lower down the RPM range.
The solid Honda engines are pretty reliable even when pushed hard and we have seen Turbo conversions on stock engines without issue! You just have to watch your fueling and compression ratios.
Cryo treating the engine will strengthen the parts and reduce friction proving to be a relatively cheap way to boost reliability in your tuning project.
Fast road cams also work well but the VTEC performance cams can be hard to track down. Don't forget to uprate your fueling if you are hiking up the power as you'll end up running lean if you are not careful with potentially disastrous consequences.
However a thriving aftermarket has sprung up of specialists offering tuning parts for all Civics including the Civic Type R engines, which enhance the already high levels of performance.
There are also companies producing an supercharger kits and turbo conversions which almost double the power output of these engines.
Smaller engined Honda Civics are good prospects for an engine swap or conversion to one of the larger type R engines. There are more parts and tuning options available to the larger engine size.
Specialists offer an in house Civic engine conversion service and source suitable donor engines, and, also provide additional tuning options on those installations. See our forums for details on what our members have done to their Civics and to find out who is worth dealing with in your area.
Most Hondas were not designed for the track and although they perform well it doesn't take much to greatly improve their cornering ability.
Try lowering the car around 30mm and fitting slightly stiffer suspension and you'll have less body roll and the car will feel more planted.
Avoid the temptation to fit large 18 inch alloy wheels though, they really don't add to the performance or handling. You want to minimize your unsprung weight not increase it.
Braking is frequently overlooked. There are plenty of big brake conversion kits out there which dramatically cut your stopping distances.
The big problem on a track is heat build up so make sure you have race spec pads and a synthetic brake fluid or you'll end up sitting out the last few laps with cooked brakes.
Larger disks really do increase your braking feel and allow you to shed more speed in a shorter time.
Grip also comes into play here though so if you have rubbish skinny low grip tires you'll end up locking up much sooner.
Think of your stopping distance as a factor of braking power and grip and you'll get the idea to balance this out.
The Type R models used to be stripped out, the modern ones have lots of refinements and comfort fitted. Rip out everything you don't need to reduce weight.
Cutting weight is the cheapest power gain you can make. The car will handle better, accelerate faster and stop more quickly if it is lighter.
Source a carbon fibre body panel set, door hood and trunk and make sure you have light wheels. The rear seats and carpets can also come out leaving you with a really nifty track day car.
Please join our other Honda Civic and Type R owners in our members' forum to discuss the many Honda Civic tuning options, problems, and styling ideas. You can also browse our tuning and styling articles using the menu links across the top.
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Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.
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