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.

The following mods are usually carried out by our members. Just decide how far you want to go before you begin.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best Engine Mods for your Civic

  1. Brake upgrades are important on the Civic, the stock setup is ok but can be dramatically improved.
  2. Handling improvements come from sway bars, coilovers and performance dampers.
  3. A tuning box, piggyback ECU or Hondata ECU upgrade will increase power and it's a good idea to get the VTEC to kick in earlier.
  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. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains - a turbocharged K20 has been done a few times.
  6. Weight reduction improves handling and performance.
  7. Throttle body Upgrades.

Tuning stages for the Civic

Typical stage 1 mods: Exhaust, Panel air filter, Engine management (VTEC kicking in earlier), lighter flywheel

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, fuel injector & fuel pump upgrades,

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Engine balancing, forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), competition cams.

When building a car each maker typically decides how to produce power from the engine according to two methods.

    Check out our video introduction to Honda Tuning, all you need to know about mods and upgrades on your Honda.

  • 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!

Tuning tips and articles

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

The Honda Civic rates as the most popular tuner project car and enjoys a massive array of performance parts.

Guides to engines that fit in the Civic

We have actually updated our Civic engine swap article recently detailing the most popular engine swaps for the Civic with tips on probably one of the biggest performance gains.

There have been many generations of Civic over the years...

We detail the versions offered and our pick of engine options for those looking for a more sporty project Civic to work on.

3rd Generation

The Honda Civic 3rd generation sold between the years 1983 and 1987.

  1. 3 door hatchback format with platform codes AG-AH/AT;
  2. 3 door coupe with platform codes AE-AF;
  3. 4 door sedan with platform code AJ-AK/AU;
  4. 5 door station wagon with platform code AJ-AK/AR.

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 3rd generation:

  1. 1488 cc EW5 I4 that produced 99 hp and 129 Nm torque;
  2. 1590 cc ZC I4 that produced 114 hp and 134 Nm torque;
  3. 1488 cc EW 3/4 I4 that produced 91 hp and 126 Nm torque

4th Generation

The Honda Civic 4th generation sold between the years 1987 and 1991.

  1. 3 door hatchback with code EC/EE;
  2. 4 door sedan with code EF;
  3. 5 door station wagon with code EE.

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 4th generation:

  1. 1.6-litre B16A I4 that produced 160 hp and 150 Nm torque;
  2. 1.6-litre D16A9 that produced 125 hp and 143 Nm torque;
  3. 1.6-litre ZC SOHC I4 that produced 128 hp and 145 Nm torque.

5th Generation

The Honda Civic 5th generation sold between the years 1991 and 1995.

  1. 2 door coupe with code EJ1/2;
  2. 3 door hatchback with code EG3/6 and EH2/3;
  3. 4 door sedan with code EG8/9 and EH9.

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 5th generation:

  1. 1.8 litre B18B3 I4 with 143 hp and 167 Nm torque;
  2. 1.6 litre B16A1 with 150 hp and 150 Nm torque;
  3. 1.6 litre D16Z9 VTEC SOHC I4 with 130 hp and 144 Nm.

6th Generation

The 6th generation Honda Civic sold from 1995 to 2000.

  1. 2 door coupe with code EJ6/7/8/EM1;
  2. 3 door hatchback with code EJ6/EK1/2/3/4/9;
  3. 4 door sedan with code EJ6/8/9;
  4. 5 door liftback with code MA, MB and MC;
  5. 5 door wagon.

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 6th generation:

  1. 1.6 litre B16B VTEC I4 that was present in the Civic Type R. It had an impressive 182 hp and 160 Nm torque;
  2. 1.6 litre B16A2 I4 that had 160 hp and 150 Nm torque;
  3. 1.6 litre D16Y8 that produced 127 hp and 145 Nm.

7th Generation

The 7th generation of the Honda Civic sold between the years 2000 to 2005.

  1. 2 door coupe having code EM;
  2. 3 door hatchback with code EP;
  3. 4 door sedan with code ES;
  4. 5 door hatchback with code EU.

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 7th generation:

  • K20A that was used by Honda Japan in the Type R. This engine produced 212 hp and 202 Nm which were impressive figures;
  • 1.6 litre D16W9 with 130 hp and 154 Nm torque.

8th Generation

The Honda Civic 8th generation was produced from 2005 to 2012.

  1. Sedan/ Coupe with code FA/FD/FG;
  2. Hatchback having code FN1/FN2/FN3/FN4;

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 8th generation:

  1. 2.0 litre K20A 221 hp and 215 Nm torque;
  2. 2.0 litre K20Z4 that produced 201 hp and 193 Nm.

9th Generation

The Honda Civic 9th generation sold from 2011 to 2017.

  1. Sedan; FB1/2/3/4/5/6
  2. Coupe;FG2/3
  3. Hatchback;FK1/2/3
  4. Station Wagon.FK1/2/3

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 9th generation:

  • 2.0 liter R20Z1 153 hp and 190 Nm torque;
  • The 2.0 litre K20C1 was featured in the FK2 Type R hatchback. This engine produced 306 hp and 400 Nm torque.

10th Generation FC/FK

The Honda Civic 10th generation sold from 2015 to 2022

  1. Sedan;
  2. Coupe;
  3. Hatchback;
  4. Station Wagon.

We recommend the following engine choices for the Honda Civic 10th generation:

  • 1.8 L R18Z1 I4
  • 2.0 L K20C2 I4
  • 2.0 L K20C1 I4 turbo (Type R)

For more detailed specific tuning guides for each generation with recommendations on parts & brands for them (based on ours, our readers and our members experiences) see the following links.

Why Honda engines are special

Honda is able to extract 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.

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.

Improve your Civic's handling

For the Civic, there are a lot of things you can do to improve the handling, and models like the Type R have a fine setup from the factory so although improvements are possible on that they will not be as significant on say a 1.5l version.

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. Early models seem to be better with a 40mm drop at the front and 30mm at the rear.

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.

Suspension settings

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 Civic handles. Then, adding a camber kit will allow for more adjustment and setup than with your stock set-up. Make sure your car is stable by turning your toe in or turn your toe out to improve cornering.

To keep the car from rolling, a sway bar only connects suspension links from one side to the other. This keeps the car from leaning to one side to the other.

You could indeed consider this an equivalent of adding extra "spring rate" to the car, which helps to make it more stable.

If the front end seems to roll too much, which is the case on many Civic's I've driven, you could add a bigger sway bar to stop it. This would work in the same way as hardening the springs, but it won't change the ride quality.

Coilovers and springs/dampers for the Civic

Also, coilovers (literally a coil spring over a shock) can be used to change the height and damping of the ride. They are usually made to very high standards and are the best way to make your Civic more stable.

When it comes to spring stiffness, it helps with cornering, but only up to a point. The goal here is to keep the body roll down. There is less grip and traction when there is a stiff spring towards the tire.

A car's ride height is set by its spring, and this is what we're trying to do.

Dampers stop a car from bouncing on the road. A car with just springs would bounce all over the place, so the damper stops this.

The best dampers let you set the compression (bound) and decompression rate (rebound) of the springs and dampers.

Further grip improvements

Grip also comes into play here though so if you have rubbish skinny low grip tires you'll end up locking up much sooner.

Tire technology has come a long way and there are many quality all-season performance tires to choose for your Civic but we recommend you stick to a branded tire as they last longer and maintain their performance throughout their lifespan.

Think of your stopping distance as a factor of braking power and grip and you'll get the idea to balance this out.

Civic Brake upgrades

Don't spend too much money on your brakes. You only need to stop the car, not change the earth's rotation.

Braking is frequently overlooked in tuning projects. Thankfully when it comes to Civic upgrades 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.

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.

The middle channel of the vented disc increases the surface to air ratio of the disc, which makes it cool faster and better.

Because they have holes in them, drilled discs help keep pads "clean and sharp." This is because they increase the air ratio and reduce gas vapor buildup between the pad and disc.

Larger discs mean better cooling, but they may need a different alloy wheel.

High-friction racing brakes use a high-temperature compound that doesn't work as well at lower temperatures, making it more difficult for the road and making more noise.

Due to the fact that racing brake pads only work when they are very hot, they should not be used on public roads, where braking is normally done with cold pads or in short bursts.

Turbocharging your Civic

Why should you install a turbocharger in your Civic?

A naturally aspirated engine can only take in so much air before the intake valve shuts and seals the cylinder.

The typical Naturally Aspirated "NASP" engine will only draw in around 60% of its maximum capacity, making it approximately 60% volumetrically efficient.

This is why we don't commonly see NASP vehicles with more than 100bhp per litre - though Honda deserves credit for attaining this level, which we'll cover in another post. Contrary to common opinion, this is not a simple bolt-on component. As you can see from this post, there are a number of other components required to make it operate.

Adding a turbocharger or supercharger is a rather technical modification that often comes up in our forums, so we'll go through the fundamentals of adding a turbo improvement in this post.

Please watch our video feature on adding a turbo to your car

Why include forced induction?

The primary purpose of forced induction (turbo or supercharger) is not to enhance engine compression or maximum pressure in each cylinder.

Actually, the fundamental purpose is to improve the volumetric efficiency of the engine (the efficiency of the engine at drawing in air and converting this to power by adding fuel and burning it).

In video games like GranTurismo and Forza, we just check a button, and our vehicle is completely turbocharged and significantly quicker in seconds. Things are significantly different in the actual world.

Installing a Turbo on a NASP Civic Engine.

Considerations when adding a turbo to a non-turbo vehicle (NASP or naturally aspirated engine).

  1. Choose an adequate turbo; in general, a low boost turbo that can spool up rapidly is preferable and as the Civic has a long RPM range you'll need a turbo that can use this fully.
  2. Make sure you have an adequate Fuel supply - running lean will top out the power; this will need the replacement of injectors and the fuel pump.
  3. Get an intercooler; this will be required to bring the intake temperatures back down when the turbo - we recommend a FMIC on the Civic.
  4. The exhaust header/manifold and intake pipe will need to be modified; a decent kit will be bolt-on and include all of the necessary components.
  5. Although some vehicles may tolerate a little amount of boost on stock internals, detonation is your biggest adversary here and must be avoided.
  6. Mapping is critical; otherwise, you risk catastrophic damage. In certain circumstances, an aftermarket ECU is preferable than attempting to change your present ECU map and there are a few Civic oriented options around (see mapping above). This should ideally be done on a rolling road where you can watch the engine working.
  7. The turbo will need a new oil grade, manufacturer's suggested grade may not be enough for your turbocharged engine, a lot has changed with the addition of a turbo.
  8. Check that the engine is robust enough to handle your power gain; forged crankshafts, conrods, and pistons are a good idea, but the quality and appropriateness may vary depending on your requirements. (This is an effective method for lowering the compression ratio.)

turbo-civic

If you are considering installing a turbo to your Civic, we recommend that you join our friendly community and obtain suggestions and recommendations for your Civic upgrades.

The Intercooler

What exactly is an intercooler and what function does it serve?

An intercooler is essentially a radiator that cools the intake air charge before it enters the engine.

Install an intercooler in front of the radiator to take advantage of all that beautiful cold air hitting it.

It would be installed after the air intake filter and before the turbocharger or supercharger, where the majority of the heat is supplied.

Most automobiles have front-mounted intercoolers that sit in front of the radiator and, as a consequence, provide better air conditioning than top-mounted intercoolers.

You must consider the fact that the amount of air reaching the radiator is decreased, thus you may need to upgrade your car's radiator in severe circumstances to maintain low on-track temperatures.

Weight reduction on your Civic

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.

Best Civic Engine mods

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 fuelling 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 fuelling 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.

Civic Throttle Body Mods

The Positive Influence of fitting a performance throttle body to your Civic.
 
The engine and vehicle's overall performance may be significantly impacted by the installation of a better flowing throttle body. There are several benefits to adding a throttle body.

Powerful:

The most apparent benefit of fitting a throttle body is a boost in horsepower. The 5-15 horsepower bump is often attributed to increased air intake. In reality, this is because the air and gasoline have been mixed together so well. If you know what you're doing, you can make good use of this extra strength.
 

A Sharper & Snappier Throttle Response:

When the accelerator is pushed, the vehicle accelerates in a split second. This is because more air is going into the intake manifold. The car's responsiveness and snappiness have noticeably improved.

Better acceleration:

High power and quick throttle response enable quick acceleration. Improved fuel atomization is the consequence of a lack of airflow stopping your car from functioning at its maximum capacity.
 

An Increase in Fuel Efficiency:

Fuel savings might be substantial if the AF ratio is properly adjusted. Leaner engines also consume less gasoline, which translates into greater overall fuel efficiency for you. This is probably not the reason you are looking to do a throttle body mod on your Civic.

Civic Exhaust Upgrades

You only need to to boost your exhaust if your exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

Air and exhaust flow must be taken into account when planning your engine's performance. The increased air intake necessitates a bigger exhaust system, thus if the exhaust system is too small, the engine's output will remain the same as it is effectively choking out.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the exhaust flow rate is fine even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Sports exhausts generally help improve air flow out of the engine but do not go too wide or you may end up reduce your flow rate. Stay at around 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Typically exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a higher flowing sports aftermarket version improves flow, and instead of doing an illegal catless mod, will keep the car road legal.

We should explain that performance catalysts and filters perform similarly to decat and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decat or catalyst removal is illegal in most territories.

Honda Civic Troubleshooting Guide:

What to Look For and Avoid

Honda Civics have been on the market for many years. Honda make extremely reliable cars, although there were a few dips in production quality over the years, so here are the main things to look out for when buying a Civic.

  1. The 2001 and 2002 models were especially prone to transmission failures. By comparison, the 2001 Civic was ranked by Car Complaints as the worst model year.
  2. The 8th generation Honda Civic was plagued by concerns about engine issues. Other problems, such as coolant leakage, resulted from engine block cracks.
  3. Honda's 9th generation cars have a low-quality interior as a result of the automaker's decision to save money.
  4. The 2005 Honda Civic was the first model year to have airbag issues.
  5. Even now, Honda is recalling the 8th generation Civic cars to remedy the airbag Takata inflator problem.
  6. Honda Civic 7th Generation Hybrid Battery Problems: When the Honda Civic 7th Generation Hybrid was originally introduced, it had battery problems that persisted.

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 & find parts using the menu links across the top.

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One Response to “Tuning tips for the Honda Civic.”

  1. Dilshan says:

    I’m using a HONDA RS 1.7L 2002. Can some help me to give some tips to improve performance

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