Honda N22A 2.2 i-CTDi Tuning

"All you need to know about performance parts and tuning the Honda N22A engine!"

As many of our forum members have asked about the N22A and recommendations on how to modify one, we've created this guide to cover the primary areas which make for improvement and tuning success on this great Diesel engine from Honda.

The N series of engines are of paramount importance for Honda fanboys because they were the first-ever diesel automotive engines from the company. This has made them particularly hot for those who like diesel engines.

The Aluminum block used in these engines makes them very lightweight but still structurally strong which is a must-have feature for any car engine.

Now we will examine N22A tuning and provide tips on the premier modifications. Honda N22A make really good project engines and with a few sensible tuning parts like a remap, turbo upgrades and camshafts you will positively enhance your driving pleasure.

Please Watch my Video on "beginners' guide to TDi Tuning".
Guides to other N series engines, N16, N22A, N22B 

History of the N22A Engine

This is Honda's first foray into the diesel industry, using this engine. There was an aluminum block in the common rail system, which was robust yet light.

The turbo had variable geometry and DPF filter, most had stop-start, and the EGR helped speed engine warm-up times. Single turbos as fitted to the N22A provide a good spread of torque.

  • Accord (CN1)
  • Accord Tourer (CN2)
  • FR-V: (BE5)
  • CR-V (RD9/RE6)
  • Civic (FK3 / FN3)

Tuning the Honda N22A and best N22A performance parts.

Best N22A upgrades

Even Though particular mods are are common on N22A it doesn't mean you should fit it, we shall concentrate on the top mods that will give your N22A the best value for money to power increase.

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 N22A. Be sure to subscribe and support our new channel.

Best mods for your N22A

  • Air Induction Mods and high flowing exhausts - NB: on their own these mods won't ADD PERFORMANCE in most cases, but they will enable you to release power after other modifications by minimizing the restriction.
  • Low mass flywheel - a lower mass flywheel will significantly improve the engines ability to rev freely. Not always recommended for all N22A engines.
  • Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - Adding a turbocharger is the most efficient approach to improve intake air supply, ensuring you are able to use more fuel and make more power. Notably one of the most challenging upgrades it does provide the largest gains.
  • Internal engine mods - crank, pistons, conrods & compression ratio including balancing and blueprinting
  • ECU Tunes - A remap ensures the biggest gains in terms of cost, aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.

N22A Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Remaps/piggy back ECU, Sports exhaust manifold, Intake manifolds, Fast road camshaft,

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

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

The ecu map and fuelling and fuel pump also will say much on the bhp gains you'll make.

The N22A units respond well to upgrades and we see that there is a growing number of mods and tuning parts around.

ECU Mapping Improvements for the N22A

ECU mapping should help to unlock the full potential of all the parts you've done to your N22A.

A great way to add some quick power and torque to your vehicle having the Honda N22A engine is through the use of a tuning box.

CRTD4 Twin Channel Diesel Tuning Box Chip From TDI Tuning

While multiple options are available in the market, we suggest going for the CRTD4 Twin Channel Diesel Tuning Box Chip from TDI Tuning. It promises to increase the power up to 182 hp and torque to 415 Nm.

This is a massive jump and considering the fact that it is a plug-and-play device, it is extremely convenient to use.

It doesn’t require any rocket science to fit and anyone can do so which makes it extremely attractive.

While the performance it adds is substantial, the overall cost of this tuning box is around $360 which makes it highly desirable.

We’ve personally used the TDI tuning box and it delivers exceptional results for the N22A.

Tuning

Several companies exist in the market which offer tuning services for the N22A engine.

One such example is Celtic Tuning and the considerable power gains achieved by using their services make them one of the best options available in the market.

Celtic offers its tuning services in four different stages which are dubbed as:

  1. Economy;
  2. Stage 1;
  3. Stage 2;
  4. Stage 3.

As the name gives away, the economy is the basic package which adds a trivial 33 hp and 24 lb-ft to the N22A fit in the Civic MK8.

However, with stage 1, an increase of 55 hp and 41 lb-ft is obtained. Things start getting serious in Stage 2 after which a power increase of 66 hp and 59 lb-ft is seen.

Upon stage 3 of the tuning services, 90 hp and 85 lb-ft are added to the N22A engine.

These are impressive numbers considering that the services provided by the tuning company are not too expensive and the overall customer satisfaction rate is also quite high.

Another example of tuning the N22A is chip tuning which promises an addition of 20 hp and 30 lb-ft to your vehicle. If this is not enough, the company also claims to cut down the fuel requirements by up to 15% along with these performance gains.

So you get the best of both worlds i.e. enhanced performance and lower running costs.

(Sometimes chip tuning 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 correctly setup.) It will usually give around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but the end result may vary depending on the parts you've done and the condition of your engine.

Air Flow improvements on the N22A

Feeding fuel and air into each cylinder is vital to any performance tuning project.

Intake manifold transmit the air from the air cleaner and allow it to be pulled into the engine cylinders.

The shape and rate of flow of the Intake manifold can make a substantial improvement to fuel atomisation on the N22A.

We often see intake manifold are ripe for an upgrade, although a few makers provide reasonably well designed intake manifold.

Larger valve conversions on the N22A, doing a bit of N22A port enlargement and head flowing will also improve power, and significantly will make space for increasing the power increase on other parts.

N22A Turbo upgrades

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 N22A

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

When a car has forced induction tuning mods are more reliable and turbo engines are made using many forged and stronger components.

There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some just sufficiently able to handle stock power. Research these limits and fit forged components to utilize the power.

There are many tuners spending lots of money on turbo charger upgrades on the N22A only to watch the car literally blow up on its first outing after it's finished.

Larger capacity turbochargers commonly experience low end lag, and small turbochargers spool up quickly but won't have the top end torque gains.

In the last 10 years the range of turbo units is always evolving and we commonly find variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane angle is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end bhp and torque.

Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into two channels and push these at differently angled vanes in the turbo charger. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is not unusual that there's a limit in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the N22A 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 bhp at a much lower level.

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

N22A Intercooler Upgrades

Before it enters the engine, an intercooler acts as a radiator to cool the intake air charge.

You can use Mishimoto’s universal intercooler for keeping your Honda N22A engine intake cool.

Besides this, several other intercoolers from relatively less known brands like this can also be used for this purpose.

These parts are cheaper than Mishimoto’s intercoolers.

You should place an intercooler in front of the radiator to take use of the cool air. There are two places where it might be installed: the air intake filter and after the turbo or supercharged.

Front-mounted intercoolers, which sit in front of the radiator, tend to provide better air conditioning than top-mounted intercoolers, which sit on top of the radiator. Keeping your car's temperature low on the track may necessitate upgrading your radiator in severe circumstances due to less airflow reaching the radiator.

With an intercooler, you get more power. An intercooler does not increase power; rather, it liberates power by removing a limitation.

Additionally, it will focus on how effectively and long-lastingly the engine is able to cool itself. Five to ten percent greater power and longer heat soak resistance are possible with an effective intercooler design.

Each 100 horsepower requires 3 litres of intercooler capacity, on average.

Only a basic guide, but it appears to work well for most vehicles with 150-400bhp! To get the most out of your vehicle's intercooler, it's crucial to select the right size for your needs (this is something which can be discussed in more detail in our forum.) Is it always preferable to be 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 TorqueCars. Reduced air temperature causes a decrease in pressure; hence, do not place the full responsibility on the intercooler design for the pressure loss.)

When it comes to high-performance automobiles, weight is always a problem, and many aftermarket intercoolers provide both less weight and greater performance increases than their original counterparts.

A somewhat larger intercooler, on average, has higher cooling qualities, but it also causes more drag. This additional drag must be carefully evaluated against the benefits of the cooling it provides. The more time the air spends in the intercooler, the more effective the cooling will be.

N22A Fuelling Upgrades

Don't forget to ramp up the fuelling when you are increasing the bhp and torque - it makes the car more thirsty. Fuel pressure boost valves raise the fuel pressure, can improve throttle response.Most tuners we speak with say to over specify your injector capacity.

The rule of thumb is to add another 20% when buying an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and gives some spare capacity should the engine require more fuel.

When you want more power from your vehicle, you must provide more fuel to the engine and using better fuel injectors is one of the most effective ways of doing so.

Rapid Diesel Injection Kit

You can use the Rapid Diesel injection kits for this purpose and the power of the vehicle is likely to increase by around 20 hp.

Injector Dynamics

Some of the common fuel upgrades for the N22A include Injector Dynamics ID1300x Fuel Injectors which costs around $240.

Another option is the Injector Dynamics ID1700x Fuel Injector. However, these are relatively more expensive and cost around $300.

It is highlighted that these fuel injectors are meant to be used only for racing vehicles and not for everyday street driving.

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.

N22A Performance Exhausts

Only look to upgrade your exhaust if your exhaust is actually causing a flow problem.

On most factory exhausts such as on the N22A, you'll see the flow rate is still good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

Note that with the widest exhaust you can buy you'll reduce the exhaust flow rate - the best for power gains are usually between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. It is the shape and material more than the bore size.

Typical exhaust restrictions are usually down to the catalysts installed. Adding a higher flowing high performance aftermarket version unlocks that lost power, and rather than doing an illegal catalyst removal, will keep the car road legal.

We note that performance catalysts 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 street legal modification.

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the N22A

The N22A engines are pretty solid and give little trouble as long as you regularly service it.

Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will cause flat spots and loss of 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.

  • Exhaust Manifold Cracking
  • Valve Timing Chain Breaking
  • EGR valve leaking due to cracked pipes and is prone to block up
  • Piezo Injectors fail
  • Turbocharger failures

Regular oil changes are highly recommended on the N22A, and more importantly so when the car is tuned and will help maintain the long life of the engine.

To find out more about mods and upgrades, or just get feedback on Tuning your N22A engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss N22A tuning options in more detail with our N22A 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 to hear 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 N22A tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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