'Tuning' a NA car

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  • 'Tuning' a NA car
  • bikemonkey
    Member

    After a bit of internet searching and a test drive on sat, I’m buying a 1.8 VTEC Civic.

    It feels great and is quick off the mark, but doesn’t have the ‘kick’ of my 1.9 tdi Fabia at, say, 60.

    If it were a diesel I’d seriously consider a remap to get some extra bhp and torque. Is there anything I can do as quickly and easily (and cheaply) for a non-turbo petrol engine?

    Absolutely not after a Max Power makeover by the way!

    Premier Icon st colin
    Subscriber

    Certainly no quick fix for a real VTEC unit. And to be fair, unless you spend big bucks, you wont get a big midrange without charging of some kind.

    Just enjoy caning the life out of it.

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    drop a couple of gears…

    traildog
    Member

    That engine won’t have the ‘kick’ you describe. Like wise, the Fabia won’t rev like the Honda. They are quite different feels to the engines.

    There maybe things you can do to improve the breathing of the engine, but it will never really have the torque you are wanting.

    Your best bet is to get used to dropping the gears and flooring it…

    cbmotorsport
    Member

    Decent BHP gains aren’t going to be cheap or easy on a NA car. Fact. No magic off the shelf re-map type option for you like a forced induction car.

    It’s going to get a bit max power whatever you do, as you’ll need to increase the engines breathing first so air filters and exhaust would be first step. Good for a few BHP but probably only single figures.

    Next you’re looking at head work etc, that’s when it starts to get expensive.

    Better off getting a faster car to start with, you’ll save money in the long run.

    Make “vroom vroom” noises as you press the accelerator. That will help a lot.

    mr plow
    Member

    Can’t think of anything that will have the same cheap quick gains compared to forced induction remapping where the boost is increased safely.

    On some V tecs you can lower the V tec crossover to make more mid range power but then you lose more of the “Vtec Yo” kick feeling so strangely you would feel you had lost something even though you had gained power but smoothed the curve.

    cbmotorsport
    Member

    drop a couple of gears…

    As has been said the VTECs are born to rev, and if you want to drive it briskly you should be spending most of your time up around the top end of your rev counter.

    bikemonkey
    Member

    Thanks everyone. Perfectly happy to rev the nuts off it – it seemed happy doing that.

    Obviously I’m comparing two totally different engines but I just wondered if there was a quick improvement to be made.

    Make “vroom vroom” noises as you press the accelerator. That will help a lot.

    Definitely trying that too.

    DrP
    Member

    When we had our VTEC(H, LOLZ…!) Type-R, I found it slightly more responsive with a different airbox – I forget the name now but it was a carbon cold air feed thing.
    It made the VTEC crossover less ‘jumpy’ too.

    I now drive a 1.6 octavia. Speed is a distant memory…

    DrP

    yorkshire89
    Member

    I had a gruppeM carbon intake on my integra dc5 which did make a bit of difference for instant response, but been NA it still won’t feel like a turbo car.

    You can get the KPRO upgrade for the ecu which will lower the VTEC crossover to around 4krpm rather than 6krpm.

    Other than that you can get a full exhaust and throttle bodies but then you will be spending a few thousand with a remap etc so its never going to be a cheap job.

    They are made to be revved, so just drive it that way!

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Remove engine. Fit bigger engine.
    May be easier to remove the engine without unbolting it from the car, mind, and then replacing it with a new engine without removing that from its donor car either.

    maxtorque
    Member

    Best option if you really want more power:

    (but still not as good as just buying a more powerful car…)

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I had my v6 4motion Golf tuned. They got about 10% in power and torque, but it drove much better for the tune.

    However, it ended up doubling the insurance premium, so was an expensive mod.

    legend
    Member

    Footflaps, what do you actually mean by “tuned”?

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Footflaps, what do you actually mean by “tuned”?

    A custom remap.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Remapping/programming’s a slightly contradictory one sometimes as it can often mean “taking away the de-tuning inflicted on your engine by the manufacturers”. So some cars can benefit mightily, because the manufacturer retarded the engine or put a different map in to reduce noise or emissions, or to make it easier to drive. Others left the factory in good shape as they didn’t need that stuff, so less gains (or rather un-losses) to be made.

    Like, one of the easiest gains on my motorbike was advancing the ignition back to the design limit- because the production bike had it retarded to allow it to run on low quality fuel. But that’s not so much tuning, as un-****ing

    Mr_Mojo
    Member

    I had a S2000, as with that use the gearbox and rev the nuts of it. In the right gear it will “kick”

    legend
    Member

    Others left the factory in good shape as they didn’t need that stuff, so less gains (or rather un-losses) to be made.

    Indeed, my Clio will see around a 0.5-1% increase from a remap. 10% would be dream world stuff

    Premier Icon tonyg2003
    Subscriber

    Vtec – just give them lots of revs to get them going. Our 2.4 Accord has a rev limit somewhere around 7500rpm.

    Premier Icon parkesie
    Subscriber

    Had a old 1.8 civic was quick for a small estate buy as said above you have to rev the nuts of them. Looked at getting more power from it but all to ,much like hard work and expensive. Looked at cams not much of a gain for £££. Was a option of fitting a head from the 1.6 version of the same engine as they had better air flow and the cams were close to theuprated 1.8 ones. Couldnt be bothered pulling a perfectly good engine apart to for an extra 20-30 hp. Of course with either of these routes new intake exhaust and engine remap would be needed to realise any gains from the head and cams.
    Turbo charging kits are available but again to do it properly you need mor than just the bolt on turbo.

    Did the exhaust air intake and ecu fiddle on a v6 alfa 155. Now that was worth it for the noise alone.

    hora
    Member

    You cant tune a NA without F.I.

    A 1.8 Vtec isnt slow. You need to drive it differently

    legend
    Member

    hora – Member
    You cant tune a NA without F.I.

    Que?

    julianwilson
    Member

    FI = forced induction.

    No, apart from remaps, air intakes/mafs, filters/exhausts, cylinder heads/rebores, balancing, camshafts, reporting/polishing ports (and the ‘upgrades’ to injectors and fuel pumps, though that is really to make the most of the ‘real’ tuning work) it is as Hora the pistonhead says, it is totally impossible. 😀

    [edit] If all the above was, possible it would be very spendy indeed though. As above, Honda engines – high revs, so drop a gear or two and rev away!

    hora
    Member

    Remap on a n/a would be 30bhp max. Decent air filter 3hp?

    To get that torque/diesel shove you need a turbo (c£1500-2, 00 total?)

    I say sit a gear lower than you normally would and dont be afraid to use ALL the revs. I.e if you want to overtake or want some oomph whilst at 60 jump from 5th to 3rd. It wont damage the engine.

    legend
    Member

    julianwilson – Member
    FI = forced induction.

    I know that, it was the nonsense about it being the only method of tuning that I was questioning

    hora
    Member

    MAF/REMAP pointless for cost/bhp gained. The other changes are labour etc etc. Quickest way for not far off cost (I bet) would be a small turbo. Actually prob more like a grand??

    hora
    Member

    P.s just drive it/adapt to the engine. Turbo diesel with their great torque to ride makes us lazy drivers!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    He means you can’t tune a non turbo car with out ‘forced induction’ ie putting a turbo on it. He’s wrong of course.

    It feels great and is quick off the mark, but doesn’t have the ‘kick’ of my 1.9 tdi Fabia at, say, 60.

    It never will, cos of how the engine is designed. It’s rather clever. If you want a lot of power from your engine, you can get that by having it rev higher. If it revs higher, it needs to shift a lot of air, which means the air has to flow fast. Problem is that the air is sucked in not as a continuous stream but in gulps as each cylinder sucks air in. So if you want lots of air going in fast you can have the exhaust valve stay open whilst the intake valve is also open, so the exhaust gas leaving at high speed helps to suck some fresh air in quickly. However this causes trouble at sensible speeds because the air’s not moving fast enough to make it work.

    So Honda invented variable valve timing – so you have normal car engine at normal speeds, but as you approach where the red line would be it switches to racing car valve timing and you can rev much higher – which means more power.

    That’s why they need their nuts thrashed off, it’s how you switch from normal car mode to racing car mode I quite fancy driving one, I must say, it sounds like a laugh 🙂

    Diesel otoh is completely different. You get quite a lot more force per bang, because diesel has more energy in it but also because its not very volatile so you can compress the air a lot more, and this makes it more efficient. However the high pressures mean you can’t do this as many times per second without the thing destroying itself.

    A diesel only compresses air on the compression stroke, so you can put as much air in there as you like, and squirt as much fuel in as you like. As long as the engine can handle the pressure. So diesel remaps just force more air and fuel in and hope it doesn’t break something 🙂 Generally it won’t, because they are built strong.

    hora
    Member

    No I didnt say you cant. The fastest way to big bhp is F.I.

    Changing bores, leads/plugs/injectors etc etc wont give you the same shove just a ‘deeper’ feeling engine thats more responsive throughout all the revs.

    Bring it on with your facts gained from 1275cc minis 😆

    CountZero
    Member

    May be easier to remove the engine without unbolting it from the car, mind, and then replacing it with a new engine without removing that from its donor car either.

    😆

    Vtec – just give them lots of revs to get them going.

    Yup. Just like the 1.7 Puma VCT, which has a Suzuki* motor. Revs like a bastard, sound fantastic, but, the corollary of that is you’ll be looking for a filling station a hell of a lot more often; I think my Puma would give around 33mpg, but dropped to 23-25, driven ‘enthusiastically’, which the revvy little bugger demanded!
    That came with 129bhp, the Tickford-tuned FRP delivered 155, but if you want more, then it’s turbo-time.
    Or a different motor; I’ve spoken to a FRP owner who was getting just north of 200bhp out of his, but that had FI, and quite a large spend.
    But there are less than 350 of the original 500 run of those left, so worth the spend for shits’n’giggles.
    *Suzuki did development work, motor has Nikasyl bore linings like the Hyabusa, needs 5W30 synthetic oil.

    hora
    Member

    Eeee I remember my 1.7 Puma 🙂

    sugarnaut
    Member

    Stay off the brakes!

    This is the best bit of advice I can give to beginners who want to get faster.

    I imagine you like spending money on your car, just like all other enthusiasts. But there’s nothing worse than having all the gear but no idea!

    Seriously, you’ve got to commit. Work out a quick 5 to 10 mile circuit and practice it. Best off done early in the morning when people are in bed. See how far you can push it. Good tyres are worth investing in. And so is left foot braking (invest time into this, not money!)

    I always amuses me, the lads in their fast cars in town, beating everyone off the lights. But get them out in the lanes and they havent got a clue. There’s probably a few on here like this (going by your average mountain biker, they like to invest money rather than time in their chosen pursuit).

    Really, give it a go. Post back in a couple of weeks – I bet you’re quicker!

    Premier Icon parkesie
    Subscriber

    Puma 1.7 was a ford/yamaha engine absolute hoot to drive. Miss the one we had unfortunately rust killed it to death.

    yorkshire89
    Member

    I had a puma engined fiesta zs, loved it!
    Also managed to get a standard 1.6 zetec s running 153bhp from 103bhp with cams, remap, exhaust and a head skim, and know others running around 190-200bhp with internal upgrades, so there’s certainly tuning potential with NA 🙂

    Premier Icon parkesie
    Subscriber

    Just thinking about that old puma makes me want to have some fun under the bonnet of the better halfs new fiesta.

    milky1980
    Member

    I had my 1.25 Fiesta remapped for the same thing, missed having any mid-range shove.

    Didn’t gain much extra power (~10bhp) but did gain a good bit of torque so there is now a good shove at 3k (all relative on an engine this small!). The original power curve was very smooth from 3-5.5k but the remap made more from 3.5-5k and it tails off above 5.5 rapidly. Does make it rather buzzy but is great fun on B-roads and for rapid overtakes. You do have to keep it in the right rev range though or it turns back into a shopping trolley!!
    Hasn’t hurt the fuel economy either, get 45mpg out of it on the motorway against 49mpg claimed as standard, never seen less than 35mpg all-in.

    Didn’t cost me much as a friend worked for a tuning company who let him play in the evenings, just added a free-flow air filter, different plugs and a lightened flywheel. All done after 8,000 miles so was nicely run in, now on 133k and still running fine. If it wasn’t for the engine being so much fun I’d have got shot of the damn thing ages ago 😀

    CountZero
    Member

    Puma 1.7 was a ford/yamaha engine absolute hoot to drive. Miss the one we had unfortunately rust killed it to death.

    Sorry, meant Yamaha, thinking of the Nikasyl coating on the Suzuki engine. The actual competition Pumas had 1.6 motors, IIRC, because they could rebore them and do other stuff, the Nikasyl plasma coating makes that lots more difficult, I think iron bore liners, or a rebore/recoat is needed otherwise, adding muchos dinero to the price.
    Turbo’s so much easier.
    Damn, I really, really miss my little cat, so much fun to drive, really comfortable to sit in; I just couldn’t afford to keep it on the road any longer.
    Given the money, I’d be hunting down an FRP, there’s one on the way to Castle Combe, which almost makes me weep with frustration that I can’t afford one. 🙁

    wobbliscott
    Member

    Notwithstanding comments on driving skill, though not always applicable in traffic on real roads where staying off the brakes is not an option, In regards to the OP’s original question, retrofitting forced induction is not really a cost effective or practical option. Also on a VTEC engine, which is one of the most efficient NA engines in production producing over 100bhp per litre in its most powerful versions, you are unlikely to be able to improve significantly on the engines power output with the usual off the shelf boy-racer Halfords special mods.

    If the OP is really serious about wanting a bit of an extra kick every now and again then by far the most effective and cheapest solution, and often overlooked, is Nitrous Oxide Injection. Its relatively cheap to install (a few hundred quid for a kit and easily DIY installable if you’re reasonably handy with a spanner), will provide significant power gains (i.e. several tens of BHP power increase), is relatively safe for the engine, and is supposedly surprisingly cheap in terms of insurance (according to a Fifth Gear episode about 10yrs ago at least). Also it has the added benefit that when the extra power is not needed then it has no detrimental effect on the stock engine in terms of fuel economy or emissions – which mechanical and ECU mapping mods often do.

    Go on, i’ve done a bit of tuning in the past and i’ve found it to be a bit of a mugs game – you spend a huge amount of cash for relatively little gains, and all it does is feed a desire for more and more and more, and at the end of the day you’re still driving an old banger – a faster old banger, but an old banger all the same. And even if you do manage to improve the 0-60 times (what good that does I don’t know) you cost yourself more in tyres, clutches, brakes and repairs (its only a matter of time till something breaks) and usually always end up ruining the drivability and other aspects of the car, reducing its saleability when you want to sell the car and making it uninsurable with the vast majority of insurers. Often with things like this the original car designers often know what they’re doing better than us and if you want a faster car then you’re better off buying one to begin with. But then again i’m now officially an old fart!

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    you cost yourself more in tyres, clutches, brakes and repairs (its only a matter of time till something breaks) and usually always end up ruining the drivability and other aspects of the car, reducing its saleability when you want to sell the car and making it uninsurable with the vast majority of insurers.

    Yep, very expensive hobby.

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