Acura RSX Tuning

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he Acura RSX, a compact sport coupe, made its debut in 2002 and quickly gained a reputation for its dynamic performance and sleek design. Produced until 2006, the RSX underwent several model revisions that enhanced its appeal.

Throughout its production run, the RSX offered a range of engine options, including the sporty Type-S variant, known for its potent 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine.

This engine, coupled with the available 6-speed manual transmission, delivered a thrilling driving experience, while its refined suspension and well-tuned chassis provided exceptional handling and cornering prowess.

The RSX also boasted a comfortable and stylish interior, featuring quality materials and modern amenities.

With its blend of sportiness, reliability, and everyday practicality, the Acura RSX captured the hearts of enthusiasts and drivers seeking an engaging yet versatile driving companion.

The fourth generation of the Integra took one of the best front wheel drive car designs and improved it even further. It boasted MacPherson struts at the front and trailing arm suspension to the rear, and the brilliant K20 engine was fitted.

We get emailed and see posted questions for some tips on improving the RSX and which tuning modifications we rate as the greatest, so this web page has been assembled to take you through what we feel are the main modifications and methods of modifying and tuning on the RSX engine. The RSX is a great car tuning project to have.

Take your time and research RSX tuning to spare yourself making the usual disastrous errors we regularly .

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

RSX Handling/Suspension upgrades

Handling modifications are the thing most do first for the RSX.

We found that most RSX factory suspension setups need tweaking, a few degrees of toe (set some toe out to improve cornering or use toe in for better stability) and you only need around degrees, and slight negative camber will substantially improve your cornering and handling.

Drop the car optimally somewhere in the region of 24mm - 36 mm. and fit uprated stiffer dampers, bigger drops will need other modifications in most instances.

Make sure that poly bushings and anti roll bars are in place to keep things from getting loose. The first RSX is more likely to lift off the ground because of its rear suspension, which makes it more likely to do this.

When you drive, this can be both good and bad. This little trait has helped me out many times sharpening the turn and providing oversteer.

Adding a few degrees of negative camber and a few degrees of toe in or out on the front wheels can make a big difference in how the RSX handles. Toe in for stability, or Toe out for better cornering. This is what you should do if you want to be more stable.

It would also be a good idea to make the brakes better. You could add bigger discs or more friction pads.

There should be no more than a maximum drop of 27mm - 40mm on most of the cars. if you go lower than this, your arches could get rubbed on.

If you hear a noise coming from the back of your car, you should check the rear suspension bushes. This can be a lot of work and you'll need a special tool to do it, but if you don't, your car's handling will be very bad.

RSX Brake upgrades

For dramatically improved braking you should get better high friction brake pads and mate this with meatier brake discs.

Don't spend too much money on your brakes. You only need to stop the car, not change the earth's rotation. Because the pad moves the heat from the brakes to the discs, the cooler the disc stays, the better.

There are ways to improve the stopping power of a car, but you'll need to buy new callipers and pads to fit the bigger discs. The discs and pads usually need to be changed. Because a bigger disc has more friction and spreads more heat, you will see an advantage right away when you use it.

Putting good brake pads on your RSX will make it easier to brake. We find that pad friction decreases as they get older, in part because they have been warmed and cooled a lot. In other words, don't buy new pads when they're already completely worn out.

This is a waste of time and money. You should keep in mind that race-spec pads are made to work better in a much higher temperature range. This makes sure they can stay on a track when they are really hot.

As a result of this, TorqueCars do not recommend these cars for use on the road. When they are cold, they don't have a lot of bite. Even though it may only take them one or two seconds to warm up and start biting, that still means a longer stopping distance.

In every day driving the brakes are occasionally used, therefore won't stop you as well so source friction pads which work well in daily use.

RSX Engine Tuning.

Turning our attention to the engine we need to get a bit more torque out of the top end.

With just a few mods you can transform your RSX into a really fun car, beating more powerful cars on the track. The Acura came with a K20 which is a great base for a tuning project and there are many aftermarket parts around for it.

While we will touch on engine mods, please see the links below for more detailed information on getting the most power from the K20.

This list of the stages and mods are usually carried out by our members, decide how far you want to push your car before you get started.

  • K20A3 I4 (2002–2006 Base)160 hp (119 kW; 162 PS)
  • K20A2 I4 (2002–2004 Type S) 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS)
  • K20Z1 I4 (2005-2006 Type S)210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS)
  • K20A I4 (Type R)220 hp (164 kW; 223 PS)

Getting the best motorsport mods for your planned usage of the car is essential. Stage 3 motor sport mods just won't work well on the road and will make the car undrivable.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Engine Mods for your Acura RSX

  1. Mapping - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives Hondata is a popular option that works well.
  2. Drop the VTEC kick in point - lowering your VTEC start zone should be viewed as dropping in a fast road cam but much easier.
  3. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but on the K20 it is virtually as good just getting the VTEC to kick in earlier, although you will find some decent performance cams out there.
  4. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  5. Suspension and brakes - improve your RSX handling and braking as a priority, a decent set of coilovers and adding camber adjustment will dramatically improve your handling.
  6. Upgrades with turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply- especially on the K20, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  7. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Stages of Acura RSX tuning

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Suspension upgrade (drop 24mm - 36 mm.), Sports exhaust, Alloy wheels, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel,brake pads

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Power/Sport clutch, Ported and polished head, Fast road cam, fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injector, brake discs and pads

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Sports gearbox, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam.

Your aim when tuning the engine should be a flat and wide torque output. You don't want all the torque to be at the top end unless you are creating a competition car.

In this article, we shall give a brief overview to the best performance parts for your car, but we'd encourage you to spend some time on the site looking into the details of each type of performance upgrade. Fast road cams offer one of the biggest torque gains for your money as far as a bolt on upgrades goes on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

The intake and exhaust durations play a major role in your cars power band, but be careful here, getting this wrong can upset the idle and make the car challenging to drive in traffic. You'd need to follow a camshaft upgrade with other mods and finish with a performance chip to fully realize your gains.

When pushing up the power you will need to increase to the fuelling. More power needs more fuel.

If you find you have flat spots and surges after your motorsport kits you should check the fuelling and try a higher octane fuel as well. Bigger injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned RSX's uprated injectors.

RSX Intake and Exhaust Tuning.

Now we move on to the intake and exhaust and ensure proper flow through the engine.

Please note that WE DO NOT FIND IMPROVEMENTS WITH INDUCTION KITS, unless you have tuned your car with over 30 percent more power and are finding that the standard air intake has become the bottleneck.

Derestricting the air feed into the engine is a primary goal of tuning so get a better flowing air filter if you find that the car is running lean.

Induction kits can sound fun but due to the warm air in the engine bay they will not do much to increase power and often rob you of power.

RSX Exhaust Upgrades

Sports exhausts equal out the flow of gases through the engine. But if the exhaust is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of your flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Only change your exhaust if it is slowing you down. As long as you only make a small amount of extra power, your factory exhaust will flow smoothly. If your goal is to go even further, you'll need a better-flowing exhaust, like this one.

Exhausts made for racing may help the engine get more air, but a wide exhaust could slow down the flow of air. It should be 1.5 to 2.5 inches thick at all times. An aftermarket performance catalyst may be able to get that lost power back without having to remove the illegal catalyst, which would make the car illegal to drive on public roads.

When you put a sports catalyst in your car, the bigger size and surface area of the catalyst removes this restriction.

This means that your car can run the same way it would without a catalyst while still being legal on the road. This means that a sports catalyst boosts performance to the level that would be expected without one while still keeping your car safe to drive on the road.

Because it's illegal to remove a catalyst in most places and some places won't let you even replace a working one, the catless mod or the removal of a catalyst should only be done off-road.

Getting a professionally gas flowed head with larger valves can fully release the engines power. In nearly all cases of RSX tuning your clutch will start to slip and this should be improved - read our tips on clutches for more information.

Ideas for performance mods on your RSX

The best mods in our opinion for your RSX are a tune/remap via a tuning box or piggyback ECU especially, a fast road camshaft and sports exhaust, with a good air intake.

Remaps offer phenomenal power gains on all turbo charged cars. On NA (naturally aspirated) engines the benefits are doubtful.

However a tune/remap on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will help unleash the potential if you have done a lot of mods.

Despite the large cost involved adding forced induction to a NA (naturally aspirated) engine will give large power gains. Superchargers are usually easier to add than a turbo. Turbos give boost in increasing proportion to increasing engine speed and this can make mapping difficult.

The nice directly proportional boost and rpm characteristics of the supercharger make them simpler to map. Adding forced induction will usually require a lower compression ratio or water injection.

RSX Alloy wheel upgrades.

As alloy wheels are lighter they improve performance and they can help to cool the brake disks. Don't forget that your choice of rubber greatly affects your car's grip and handling.

It is not worth compromising performance with cheap tires when you can buy soft compound performance tires. Large RSX alloy wheels can decrease performance. If you get big alloy wheels you will be changing your final drive ratio.

Although some people have fitted larger wheels we would restrict ourselves to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum.

For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss RSX options in more detail with our RSX owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Acura tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which mods work best for them on each model of car. We use your comments and feedback to improve the accuracy of these tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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