Guide to tuning Honda's H22 engine

"Thanks for reading our H22 tuning tips"

We consider H22 tuning and outline the optimum modifications for your car.

We've seen these fitted to Civics and many other cars, we've also seen turbo conversions and superchargers fitted to the H22 engine.

Honda H22s have loads of potential and with a few sensible performance parts you can dramatically improve your driving enjoyment.

Few NA (naturally aspirated) engines achieve 100bhp per 1000cc but the H22 comes pretty close, and had Honda's legendary reliability so is quite a popular engine for Tuning projects.

History, Power & Specs of the H22 Engine

The H22 was a 2.2 liter engine from Honda, released in 1990 and fitted to the Prelude.

The engine met with 8 revisions for various markets.

  • H22A 197 hp
  • H22A1 187 hp
  • H22A2  182 hp
  • H22A3 (94-06)  182 hp
  • H22A4  (97 -98) 197 hp
  • H22A5 (Europe 97-98) 182hp
  • H22A7 (Europe 98-02) 209hp
  • H22A8 (Europe 97-01) 197hp

Cars the H22 was originally fitted to with version numbers

  • 92–96 H22A Prelude Si VTEC (Japan)
  • 94–97 H22A Accord SiR (Japan)
  • 97–01 H22A Prelude SiR, SiR S-spec, Type S (Japan)
  • 00–02 H22A Accord Euro R (Europe)
  • 93–96 H22A1 Prelude VTEC (America)
  • 97–98 H22A1 Prelude VTiR (Australia)
  • 93–96 H22A2 Prelude 2.2i VTEC (Europe)
  • 96 H22A3 Prelude VTEC (KU)
  • 97–01 H22A4 Prelude SH & Base(America)
  • 97–98 H22A5 Modified Prelude (Europe)
  • 99–02 H22A7 Accord Type R (Europe)
  • 99–01 H22A8 Modified Prelude (Europe)
  • 99–01 H22Z1 Prelude VTiR (Australia)

Best parts

When talking about the best and most optimal modifications for your engine, we are going to tuning parts that give the best power gain for you spend.

Altering your cam will make a dramatic difference to the engine bhp. Choosing a higher performance cam profile raises the bhp accordingly.

Fast road cams tend to push up the torque through the rpm range, you may lose a little bottom end power but higher rpm power will be higher.

Motorsport cams, push up the higher rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

For a road car must carefully try to optimize your engines power to your preferences.

You will never find a Motorsport and race cam is a pleasure to live with when driving in heavy traffic. The low end idle will be very lumpy and irregular, so something you would notice on a track when you drive in the upper third of the rpm band, but on roads this is a serious issue and we've heard from lots of drivers lamenting their decision to add an extreme competition cam profile to their engine.

Each engine responds better to more or less aggressive camshaft durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The map and injectors and fuel pump also have an effect on the torque gains you'll achieve.

Altering valve durations can alter the torque band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Mapping - remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Panel air filters, Remaps, Fast road camshaft, Intake manifolds, Sports exhaust header/manifold, .

Typical stage 2 mods often include: fuel pump upgrades, high flow fuel injectors, Ported and polished head, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Fast road cam, .

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Twin charging conversions, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Engine balancing & blueprinting, Competition cam, .

200bhp should be an easy target for a NASP H22 tuning project with exhaust, headers intake and crower cams, with the Hondata s300 or Chrome and Neptune ECU upgrade.

The H22 power trains are fantastic to work on and we're finding that there are increasing numbers of modifications and performance parts around.

Remaps should help to release the full potential of all the modifications you've fitted to your H22.

(In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

It will usually give you around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but your mileage will vary depending on the modifications you've done and the condition of your engine.

Forcing more fuel and air into your H22 is the main goal to any engine modification task.

Intake flow the air during the suck phase from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

Design and flow rate of the Intake can make a big change to fuel atomisation on the H22.

Commonly we find the plenum chambers are in desperate need of an upgrade, although some OEM provide decently flowing plenum chambers.

Adding a H22 larger valve kit, getting port work and head flowing will also lift torque, and importantly will make space for a better torque increase on other parts.

H22 Turbo upgrades

The more air to get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes massive power gains.

NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your H22 although it has been done and makes pretty decent power.

There are reliable limits for every engine, with some being over specified and some only able to handle stock power

See where you'll find these restrictions and fit higher quality crank and pistons to handle the power.

We've seen guys spending a loads of money on turbocharger upgrades on the H22 only to suffer the indignity of watching the whole thing go up in smoke just after it's been finished.

We are pleased that the selection of turbo chargers is always evolving and we are seeing variable vane turbo chargers, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

It is not unusual that there's a limit in the air flow sensor MAP on the when considerably more air is being drawn into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited power at a much lower level due to it's 3 bar limit (or less if it's old or worn).

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although more complex to install. We have a twincharger torque adding guide if you want to read more.

Fuelling

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to ramp up the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a power increase.We strongly recommend you to over specify your injectors flow rate.

  • 93-96 H22 injectors are rated to 345cc
  • 97 onwards and the R & Accord H22's use a 290cc
  • Some older H22 injectors are rated to 310cc

To further complicate matters, the fuel pressure affects the flow rate of the injectors with a 330cc injector flowing 287cc at 33psi and 316cc at 40psi. So fuel pump upgrades may well be required to utilize the flow rate.

The rule of thumb is to add another 20% when fitting an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and affords some spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

H22 Exhaust

You should look to improve your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the flow rate quite well even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Do not go with the biggest exhaust you can buy this will slow up the exhaust flow rate - the best exhausts for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.Usual exhaust restrictions can be traced to the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a faster flowing performance catalyst removes the restriction. We note that performance cats perform similarly to decats and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decats or catalyst removal is illegal in most territories for road going cars.

Weakspots and problem areas on the H22

The H22 engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

Regular oil changes are vital on the H22, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your Honda engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss H22 tuning options in more detail with our H22 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Honda tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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