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How to Increase the Horsepower in a Honda

by William Zane; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Socket set and ratchet

  • Specialty automotive tools

Hondas may be known for their reliability and impressive fuel economy, but with the exception of a few special models like the NSX supercar, S2000 sports car and Si versions of models like the Civic, they are not necessarily know for their impressive horsepower ratings. It’s not uncommon for a Honda owner to make their car faster by adding more horsepower. Fortunately, there are many different approaches to this, some cheap and some expensive, some that add a little power and some that add a lot.

Install a cold air intake. Modern Honda’s feature restrictive air boxes that prevent the engine from getting the proper amount of air. A cold air intake (CAI) replaces the air box with a larger diameter intake that is fed air through a large free-flow air filter. To install a CAI, unbolt the existing air box and disconnect the intake from the engine. Install the new intake according to the directions, which will vary depending on the brand you are using. Make sure the filter is positioned where it can get fresh air, away from the heat of the engine to realize the best results.

Install a performance computer chip or reprogrammed ECU. This will reconfigure how much fuel, spark and air the engine gets and in turn will increase horsepower. On older Hondas, it may be relatively straight forward to install a new chip, but current versions will need more advanced automotive diagnostic equipment for optimal results.

Replace the stock exhaust system with a larger diameter exhaust. Original equipment exhaust systems are smaller than optimal in diameter and prevent spent exhaust gasses from exiting the motor as quickly as possible. A larger diameter exhaust system will allow the motor to run more efficiently and therefore allow it to produce more power. Exhaust system installation requires special equipment such as a lift, welding tool and metal cutting tools and should be done by a professional exhaust shop or technician experienced in installing exhausts.

Replace the manifold with a tubular header. This is a great complement to the larger diameter exhaust system. A tubular header helps get exhaust gasses out of the engine more efficiently and allows the engine to make more power than the stock exhaust manifold, which have smaller than optimal internal passages with rough surfaces that restrict the flow of air. To install a header, unbolt the stock manifold from the head at the top end and the exhaust at the other end. The header bolts on in the same place as the manifold.

Supercharge or turbocharge the engine. Forced induction is a very common way to get big power out of a Honda. Both of these methods use a compressor, mounted on the intake side of the engine with a supercharger and on the exhaust it if is a turbo, in order to force more air into the motor. Both of these are pretty involved to install. This should be done by a shop or a technician that is familiar with this type of conversion.

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.

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