Honda N16A Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning Honda N16A Mods!"

We get emails with people asking us for some recommendations on improving the N16A and which tuning modifications we rate as the greatest, so this guide has been assembled and goes over what we feel are the primary areas and methods of modifying and tuning on the N16A engine.

The Honda N16A offer good returns when tuned and with the ultimate motorsport parts like ECU maps, turbo kits and camshafts you will noticeably enhance your driving opportunities.

Due to their status as Honda's first diesel car engines, the N series have a special place in the hearts of the brand's most devoted fans. Because of this, they have become very popular among those who prefer diesel vehicles.

These engines' aluminium blocks keep them light while maintaining the structural strength required of any automobile engine.

TorqueCars will examine N16A tuning and provide tips on the best mods that work.

History of the N16A Engine

The engine was a first for Honda, as they entered the diesel market. The common rail system was used and it boast a strong but light aluminum block.


Single turbo with variable geometry and used a DPF filter, most came with Stop Start and also used the EGR to aid faster warm ups.


Takes the former engines and uses a twin turbo setup, raising power to 160hp and torque 260 lbft.

The N16 engines appears in the following models

  • Civic 9th Gen
  • CR-V 4th Gen
  • Civic 10th Gen
  • HR-V 2nd Gen
  • Honda CR-V (RE6, Europe) N16A4
  • Honda CR-V (RW7/RW8, Thailand) N16A4

Tuning the Honda N16A and best N16A performance parts.

As the name gives it away, the N16A is a relatively smaller engine than the N22A and N22B. It has a displacement of 1598 cc and has an inline 4-cylinder layout.

If you own a vehicle with this engine, here are some of the modifications that can be performed on the Honda N16A engine.

Please Watch my Video on "beginners' guide to TDi Tuning".

Guides to other N series engines, N16, N22A, N22B 

Best N16A parts

The greatest N16A upgrades on an engine are obviously the ones that give the biggest return for your cash.

We won't be swayed by common N16A upgrades, they need to be cost effective.

Tuning tips and articles

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

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your N16A. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best mods for your N16A

  • Tunes - N16A engine tuning/remapping offers the most advantage in terms of cost, replacement ECUs, and Tuning boxes are all alternatives.
  • Intercooler Upgrades are important, as most of the stock ones fitted were quite small and suffered from heat soak quite quickly.
  • Flowing and porting the engine head - for larger gains, you will get better flow and make a more efficient engine if you do this to support your other mods.
  • Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - Adding a turbocharger is the most dramatic method to increase air supply, allowing you to utilize more fuel and make higher power. Usually one of the most expensive modifications you'll see massive gains.
  • Intake Modifications and Sports Exhausts - Be aware on their own these mods will NOT ADD PERFORMANCE for most setups, but they enable you to enhance power after other modifications by minimizing the restriction.
  • Lightened Flywheels - a lower mass flywheel will enhance the engines free revving nature. But not always a great mod for all N16A engines.

N16A Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust manifold, Suspension (mild drop), Fast road camshaft, Intake manifolds, Performance Brake Pads.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: induction kit, Ported and polished head, high flow fuel injectors, fuel pump upgrades, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, Suspension (Sports).

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Engine balancing & blueprinting, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Twin charging conversions, Competition cam, Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger).

Review your options and then acquire your tuning parts and set yourself a power target to avoid wasting your time and money.

ECU Mapping Improvements for the N16A

ECU flashing helps to establish the full potential of all the tuning mods you've fitted to your N16A. Beware that some are pretty poor quality overpriced tuning box units that just dump more fuel, and others are quality units which are microprocessor controlled and act like a proper piggyback ECU.

ECUMaster Det 3

If you are looking for a piggyback ECU that can be used for the Honda N16A, the ECUMaster Det 3 is a great option.

This part costs around $175 however the performance boost is quite impressive for this relatively low price.

Tuning via OBD port mapping

If you want to tune your vehicle having the Honda N16A engine, one of the best options out there is the one offered by a company known as Celtic Tuning, one our members have used and rave about.

It offers this service in two different stages which are as follows:

  1. Economy which increases the power by 24 hp and torque by around 52 lb-ft.
  2. The Stage 1 tuning however increases the power and torque by 41 hp and 88 lb-ft.

(Sometimes flashing the ECU is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and most of these exceed the specs and performance of your factory ECU's but ensure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.) It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles, but your mileage will depend much on the tuning mods you've carried out and the condition of your engine.

Air Flow improvements on the N16A

It is the goal to any car tuning task to shove more air and fuel into the N16A engine

Intake carry the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be drawn into the engine cylinders.

Shape and flow characteristics of the Air Intake manifolds can make a big difference to to fuel delivery on the N16A.

On popular production engines air intake manifolds are needing performance upgrades, although some car makers provide decently flowing air intake manifolds.

Larger N16A valves, getting port work and head flowing will also raise performance, & importantly will give you increasing the performance increase on other tuning mods.

N16A Turbo upgrades

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

If you are looking to install a turbocharger on your vehicle with the Honda N16A engine, the BorgWarner Airwerks S400SX Super Core Turbocharger is a great option for this engine as well.

We see many guys spending loads of money on turbocharger upgrades on the N16A only to suffer the indignity of watching the motor go up in smoke when it's been finished.

Big capacity turbochargers will usually suffer a bottom end lag, and low capacity turbochargers spool up more quickly but don't have the peak end bhp gains.

In recent times the range of turbo units is always developing and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, permitting the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp.

It is common that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the N16A when considerably more air is being pulled into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited torque at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large power gains, although harder to install. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.

N16A Intercooler Upgrades

The intake air charge may be cooled before it enters the engine by an intercooler, which functions as a radiator.

In order to take use of all that cool air, you need place an intercooler in front of the radiator. Ideally, it would be installed after the air filter and  the turbo.

For getting more power out of your Honda N16A, you must install an intercooler which will guarantee the supply of cold and dense air to the engine. This air will show an instant performance boost.

There are several options you can choose for this purpose. One such example is the intercooler from Nissens which costs around $300. The result it delivers is amazing.

As a consequence, front-mounted intercoolers tend to provide better air cooling than top-mounted intercoolers, which sit above the radiator. If you want to keep your car's on-track temperature as low as possible, you'll need to account for the lower airflow to the radiator.

An intercooler improves performance. An intercooler is a tweak that liberates power rather than adding more power.

For example, it will look at the engine's capacity to draw in the most air and keep it cool for the longest time feasible. More power and longer heat soak resistance are possible with an effective intercooler design.

If you had a car with 100 horsepower, you would normally require 3 litres of intercooler capacity.

Even though it's simply a rough guide, most automobiles with 150-400 horsepower appear to benefit from it. When it comes to intercoolers, selecting the right size for the application is critical since a huge intercooler might impede airflow (this is something which can be discussed in more detail in our forum.) It's not always preferable to go bigger!

There is a possibility that certain applications might lose 1.3 PSI in the worst-case situation when the boost level is 15 PSI, according to the experts at TorqueCars. Reduced air temperature causes a decrease in pressure; thus, do not place the full responsibility on the intercooler design for the pressure loss.

Many aftermarket intercoolers are both lighter and give far higher performance increases than their factory counterparts, which is usually a concern in high-performance automobiles.

Generally speaking, a larger intercooler will provide greater cooling, but it will also add more drag to the vehicle. Taking into account the additional drag, it's important to consider the benefits of the cooling. There will be a greater cooling impact if the air remains in the intercooler longer.

N16A Fuelling Upgrades

Don't omit to boost the fuelling when you are increasing the torque - it makes the car more thirsty. Fuel pressure boost valves raise the fuel pressure, can provide a better throttle response.

Most tuners we speak with say to over specify your injector capacity.

As a rule of thumb add 20% to the flow rate when specifying an injector, which takes into account injector deterioration and provides you some spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

N16A Radiator Upgrades

While the stock radiators work fine for normal cars fit with the N16A, however, when you perform various kinds of performance modifications on your engine, like installing a turbocharger, you need a high-quality radiator to keep the engine from overheating.

In this regard, the Mishimoto Race Ready Radiator which costs around $400 is a great option. The universal fit nature of this part makes it especially attractive.

This is an impressive radiator for those looking to keep a check on the temperature of their N16A engine.

N16A Performance Exhausts

You may need to increase your exhaust if the existing exhaust is creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you should find that your flow rate is still 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 balance the flow of gases through the engine.

But if your exhaust is too large, ie: over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose much of the flow rate and end up sapping power and torque.

Common exhaust restrictions are traced to the catalyst installed, so adding a faster flowing race aftermarket catalyst unlocks that lost power, and instead of doing an illegal cat removal, will keep the car road legal. We note that performance catalyst perform a similar power improvement to catless exhaust mod and have the added benefit of keeping your car street legal, as decat or catalyst removal is not a legal mod.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the N16A

The N16A engines are generally reliable and solid as long as they are looked after and serviced.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will reduce power, this is a very common problem on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on intake cleaning guide Avoid short journeys and use a good quality fuel.

DPF Filters can become clogged, make sure you allow them to regenerate by avoiding short journeys, and explore the upper end of the rev range more often than you currently do.

Frequent oil changes are essential on the N16A, especially when tuned and will help maintain the long life of the engine.

If you want to learn more, or just get more pointers on Tuning your N16A engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss N16A tuning options in more detail with our N16A owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Honda tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be.

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

We love hearing what our readers have got up to and which upgrades work best for them on each model of car. We use your comments and feedback to improve the accuracy of these N16A tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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