If you want to bring the performance of your Honda to the next level, a turbo will certainly help you with that. But how does such a turbo actually work and what do you need to put it on your Honda engine? We will go deeper into this in this blog.
Honda came with the first Honda VTEC engine with turbo, with the last generation Civic Type R. Tuners have been working on this for much longer. Turbo kits are mounted on all kinds of Honda engines. From low boost set-ups for everyday road use, to extreme turbo kits that fly a Civic with over 1000 hp over the drag strip.
Can't, does not exist in the dictionary of the fanatic Honda tuner, so AKR Performance supplies all the parts you need to put a turbo on your Honda.
To enjoy your turbo even more, we recommend that you always adjust the chassis and brakes of your Honda before you put a turbo on it. A turbo makes your Honda a lot faster. Better brakes aren’t an unnecessary luxury in that case. With a better chassis you not only come around the bend a lot more smoothly, you also get more grip. Of course, that's a nice bonus if you want to get that extra horsepower on the road.
Disclaimer: Modifications to your car can ensure that it no longer meets the requirements of your country. Therefore, always check yourself which requirements your car must meet.
Why do you choose a turbo?
If you seriously want to get more power out of your Honda engine, you want to boost it. This can be done with a turbo or supercharger. One system is not better than the other, but often we see clear preferences. Some tuners love the screaming sound of the supercharger, while others love the character that the turbo gives a Honda.
With a turbo you can go in all directions and you decide how extreme you make your set-up. Which set-up you choose depends entirely on the purpose for which you use your Honda. If it’s your daily drive, you will choose a different set-up than when you build it for the drag strip.
Do you opt for a turbo? Then ask yourself the following questions and adjust your set-up accordingly.
- How reliable do you want your Honda to remain?
- Do you find it annoying to have to replace certain parts more often?
- How do you want your Honda to respond to the accelerator?
- Do you mainly want pulling power at lower revs or at high revs?
Before putting together your turbo set-up, carefully consider what you expect from your Honda. How do you want him to drive? By thinking about this carefully, you choose the set-up that will let your Honda do exactly what you expect it to do. This way you avoid expensive decisions and disappointments afterwards.
The more power you get from your Honda, the faster parts will wear. This is something to keep in mind. Your drivetrain and engine will take a beating. Do you want more power, but limit maintenance? Then don't make your set-up too extreme and choose high-quality performance parts. They will last longer.
How does a turbo work?
You want to put a turbo on your Honda, but how does such a thing actually work? From the outside you don't see much more than a snail-shaped housing. What happens in there and how does a turbo make your Honda engine get more horsepower?
If you want more power, it's important to get more air into your engine efficiently. Your cylinder capacity has a certain size. To get more air in here, this air will have to be compressed. That's exactly what a turbo does. The turbo is powered by exhaust gases. These gases start a turbine wheel. This wheel spins very fast and can reach up to 280,000 rpm.
Check out the great Turbo explanation from Donut Media here.
The turbine wheel is connected to the compressor wheel with a shaft. As the compressor wheel starts spinning, large amounts of air are drawn in and compressed. This air is warm and has a high air density. The air is brought to the intercooler via pipes. Here the air cools, making the air density even higher. From here the air goes to the engine. This greater amount of air gives the engine the ability to burn a greater amount of fuel. And where does your power come from? That's right, out of fuel!
With a turbo, your Honda engine can burn gasoline much more efficiently, making it faster.
The benefits of a turbo on your Honda
Everything has its pros and cons, including a turbo. It is good to know this in advance so that you know what to expect. One of the biggest advantages of a turbo is that you can get a lot of power from even a small engine with a turbo. In addition, the combustion in an engine with a turbo is better, so that you emit fewer harmful substances. A turbocharged Honda makes less noise than an N/A engine that sucks in its air freely. The turbo serves as a kind of extra muffler.
Theoretically, you could even drive more economically with a turbo. The condition is that you continue to drive in the same way as without a turbo. Your engine can do its job more easily with a turbo, so that it requires less fuel. In practice, of course, this is very different. That extra horsepower tickles under your right foot and you can't help but kick that pedal to the bottom regularly. We get that, it costs some gas, but it's well worth that big smile on your face.
Disadvantages of a turbo on your Honda
One of the biggest drawbacks of a turbo on your Honda is the turbo lag. This is something that many tuners struggle with. Which turbo size best suits your needs, so that you suffer as little as possible from that turbo lag? Like any form of tuning, a turbo is extra taxing on your engine. The more extreme your set-up, the faster certain parts need to be replaced. And then we have the heat that a turbo spreads. Exhaust gases can quickly reach a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius. A turbo can literally become red hot. Oxygen is needed for proper combustion. Intake air becomes oxygen-poor due to the heat, which means that combustion is less efficient. That is why it is extra important with a turbo to have the cooling in order.
Can any Honda have a turbo?
With a little creativity, a turbo can be mounted on almost any Honda engine. There are ready-made turbo kits available for various Honda engines, specially composed for this engine. If there is no turbo kit available for your engine, it is often possible to put together a kit with a separate turbo, intercooler and various parts. The question is: is it wise to put a turbo on your engine? For example, do you have a 1.5 engine and do you want a lot more power? Then it can sometimes be smarter and cheaper to install another engine first. You can then achieve the power you want with less effort. An engine swap also gives you the opportunity to increase the power a little further later, while you probably had already reached the limit with your standard engine. Those extra horsepower are addictive fun. Therefore, there is a good chance that you want more power later on. If you are at the limit, you will often have to invest a lot of money to still get that extra horsepower. Therefore, take a good look at the engine that is now in your Honda. Is this suitable for your plans, or is it better to do an engine swap first?
Do you always have to build the engine?
How much horsepower can you get out of your stock engine with a turbo? You may also be wondering this. There is a limit to what a standard engine can handle. If you go beyond this point, you'll need to strenghten the internals of your Honda engine to handle the extra power. How much your engine can take also depends on its condition and the parts you use. In general, you can assume that a standard 1.5 Honda engine can handle up to about 200 horsepower. If you put a turbo on your 1.6 VTI, you can ask for up to 260 hp from your standard engine. A 1.8 Honda engine does fine up to about 280 hp. With these horsepower you play it safe and you can enjoy driving around for years. Of course we assume that the turbo kit is neatly built and that quality tuning parts have been used. Do you provide better oil, good maintenance and do you always fill up with high-quality petrol? Then you can even ask 20 horsepower more from your standard engine. Do you want higher boost and more horsepower? Then at some point you will have to make your engine stronger. Fortunately, all kinds of parts are available for this. From stronger pistons and connecting rods to high performance valves and valve springs. Does your turbo set-up require a stronger engine? Everything you need to prepare your engine for your turbo can be found at the Honda engine parts.
Difference between a big or small turbo
Of course it sounds very cool if you can tell that you have a VERY large turbo on your Honda. But does this really make you happy? Are you waiting for a mega turbo lag, or would you also have liked some extra pulling power at low revs? Don't feel like downshifting before you can use full power? Then such a very large turbo is not what you are looking for. A turbo needs to get going before it can do its job properly. For this he needs exhaust gases. A small turbo can therefore provide the extra air supply you need at lower revs. A large turbo needs much more to function properly. As a result, a large turbo will have a larger turbo gap.
What is a turbo lag?
The turbo lag, you hear it everywhere in the tuning world, but what is it actually? In practice, the turbo lag is the time you have to wait for your turbo to work optimally. A large turbo will only really make itself heard at high revs. Until then you have to do it with less power. Or you have to downshift, to get to those high revs faster. A turbo lag occurs because not enough energy is released from the exhaust gases to make the turbo work. This is also the biggest difference with a supercharger, or compressor. A supercharger is driven by belts and therefore always rotates with the engine. As a result, a supercharger will deliver pressure immediately when the accelerator pedal is depressed.
Difference between cheaper and more expensive turbos
Honda tuning is plentiful. You also have a wide choice in the field of turbos. You will therefore come across turbo kits in all kinds of price ranges, from budget kits to high-quality turbo kits. Although the most expensive is not always the best, it is good to know that cheap can also be expensive here. You've probably heard stories of tuners that every so often had a leaking exhaust manifold, because it keeps warping. You lose power with this and your system no longer works optimally. That is of course super annoying. You want to enjoy driving your Honda and not have to deal with these kinds of things all the time. Therefore, make a good trade-off between quality and budget. AKR Performance has recently added the Pulsar brand to its range. Pulsar Turbo Systems supplies high performance turbos in various designs, at reasonable prices. Our tip for you: opt for a Speedfactory exhaust manifold. These are of good quality and fit perfectly with the Pulsar turbos.
Mount Turbo? You need this:
OK. you want to mount a turbo on your Honda engine. What do you need? Not all parts listed below are immediately necessary if you are going to mount a turbo. Some performance parts are especially useful or nice to have. What you need exactly, of course, depends entirely on your wishes and plans. Here is a general shopping list, with explanations:
- Turbo manifold and downpipe
- Blow off valve
- Boost controller
- Turbo timer
- Fuel system optimization
- Engine management adjustment
Turbo for your Honda
Of course we start with figuring out the turbo. Hundreds of different turbos are available, each with their own dimensions and application. Turbos are generally identified by T numbers. There is a lot of talk among Honda tuners about T3 or T4 turbos. These are the most popular turbos. Yet a T3 type turbo is not one turbo. There are different types of T3 turbos with different air outlets, giving different horsepower results. The T3 number therefore stands more for a compatible type of exhaust flange to which the turbo is screwed. Most T3 turbos can deliver a horsepower gain of 200 to 300 hp. A T4 turbo has a larger turbine on the exhaust side and larger turbine fins on the compressor side. This allows more air to be compressed at full boost. A T4 turbo can therefore deliver more horsepower than a T3 turbo. T4 turbos are often used on larger engines and use a different exhaust flange than the T3 models. A T4 turbo can deliver an air volume with which a horsepower gain of 400 to 600 hp can be achieved. Of course, the final horsepower gain is not only dependent on the turbo, but on the complete set-up and adjustment. View all turbos for your Honda here
Pulsar turbo for your Honda
Do you already know the brand Pulsar? This relatively new brand delivers performance dual ball bearing turbochargers. Pulsar is the ideal alternative if you're looking for a good turbo, but don't have the budget for a Garrett G-series or GTX-series turbo. You can expect the same high performance, reliability and service from this brand as from the high performance turbo brands on the market. View here the Pulsar turbos that AKR supplies for your Honda.
Turbo manifold for Honda
A turbo is powered by exhaust gases and is therefore mounted in the exhaust line, right after the exhaust manifold. As a result, you can no longer use the standard exhaust manifold and you need a special turbo manifold and a downpipe. Of course you also adjust the rest of your exhaust to the power that your turbo engine will deliver and you choose an exhaust that fits the diameter of the downpipe. View all turbo manifolds for your Honda here
Intercooler for your turbo
A turbo can literally be red hot. The temperatures are very high. But for more power you want lower temperatures in your engine. That is why good cooling is indispensable for a turbo. A turbo engine is therefore always equipped with an intercooler. The turbo has compressed and heated the air. The intercooler allows this air to cool down again. Because cool air contains more oxygen, a turbo with an intercooler will perform better than without. The intercooler does not replace your standard cooling system. Depending on the final horsepower, it may be necessary to fit a thicker, better cooling radiator to keep the cooling of your engine optimal. Intercoolers come in different sizes. Together with the right intercooler tubes, your intercooler kit is complete. View the intercoolers for your Honda turbo set-up here.
Wastegate for your turbo
The wastegate has an important function. The wastegate prevents the turbo pressure from becoming too high, by discharging the excess exhaust gases at the right time. If this does not happen, the turbo pressure will be too high and you can blow up the engine. Depending on the turbo you choose, the wastegate is located in the cochlea of ??the turbo. Here it is controlled by the actuator which receives a signal from the wastegate solenoid. This solenoid controls the pressure to the wastegate and therefore determines the power that the turbo delivers. If there is no wastegate in the turbo, you can mount an external wastegate. An external wastegate connects directly to the exhaust manifold. Here it has a better flow than the internal wastegate and the exhaust gases are vented directly outside. In the wastegate is a spring that closes the valve in the turbo, so that all exhaust gases flow to the impeller and maximum pressure is built up. This spring is available in different strengths, so that you can keep control over when the wastegate opens. Depending on the desired power, you can use the wastegate to regulate the power of the turbo. At higher powers you can adjust this with the ECU. Depending on your setup and the power you want, you may need a boost control solenoid. This allows you to further regulate the turbo pressure. View the wastegates and blow off valves for your Honda here
Blow off valve for your turbo
A blow off valve is often a popular part among turbo enthusiasts because of the beautiful blow-off sound. A blow off valve, or dump valve, is a valve that opens the moment you let go of the gas. The built-up air pressure is blown off, so that the turbo can continue to run. The big advantage of this is that the turbo returns to pressure faster and can therefore deliver power faster. A blow off valve ensures that there is no dip in your power, for example during switching.
Boost controller in your Honda?
With a boost controller you can set the pressure of the turbo yourself. Only do this if you know what you're doing and have the right set of gauges built into your Honda so you can see what you're doing. With a well-tuned Honda, you probably won't increase the boost yourself.
Do you need a turbo timer?
A turbo can get very hot if you ask a lot of it. Did you drive sportily? Then it is important to let it cool down before you stop your Honda. This extends the life of your turbo. You can keep an eye on this yourself and drive out quietly or let the engine run for a while when you arrive at your destination. But you can also automate this with a turbo timer. If you turn the key, it will still run for a certain time, set by you, before turning itself off.
Gauges to keep an eye on your turbo
When tuning, you want to know what goes on under the hood of your Honda. With the right meters you can keep an eye on everything. The most important meters are:
- oil pressure gauge
- Oil temperature gauge
- Air-fuel meter
- boost meter
Optimize the fuel system for your turbo
Power comes from gasoline. Therefore, ensure that the fuel supply is optimal under all circumstances. Depending on your plans, you may need to replace the stock fuel pump in your tank with a more powerful one. A lot of power requires high performance injectors. You can manually increase the fuel pressure with a fuel pressure regulator, but this is usually included in the adjustment in the ECU. See what your turbo set-up needs for the supply of sufficient fuel
Adjust Honda ECU on turbo set-up
Are all the parts of your turbo on your Honda? Then comes the most important thing; adjusting the engine management system. To keep everything intact and to get the most out of your turbo, a good adjustment is very important. This isn't something you just do. Always have your turbo engine adjusted by someone who has knowledge and experience with this. A small mistake can cause a blown engine and that is of course a waste of your time and money.
Honda with turbo engine
Above you have received general information about what you need to put a turbo on your Honda engine. This is of course a fairly general story, as each set-up needs its own specific performance parts. Exactly which parts you need depends entirely on your engine, how much horsepower you want, how it is tuned and how you want to use your Honda. Tuning is in the details. The higher the power, the more effect small details will have. Good cooling is extremely important for a turbo engine, but the right spark plugs and a properly functioning ignition are also indispensable. Of course you also want enough air to enter the engine and you need to install a good air intake. Type R camshafts are not always a good idea with a turbo set-up and are better replaced. The supply of oil is essential in a turbo engine. Take a critical look at your oil system. A good oil pan with baffles ensures that there is always enough oil available at the pickup. Good crankcase ventilation and an oil catch can help reduce oil consumption. Do you have plans to put a turbo on your Honda? First, think very carefully about what you want to achieve and list everything you need. As a specialist in supplying Honda tuning parts, we know how many performance parts can be found. Would you like advice on which tuning parts are suitable for your turbo set-up? Feel free to contact us, we will be happy to advise you.