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Honda Civic Tuning Performance Upgrades for Civics

Overview of this Article
Tuning your Honda Civic can be a very rewarding experience. Before you depart into your adventure in tuning, you should know how much you are willing to spend and in what general order you should purchase your parts. In this article we have outlined paths that we recommend to our valued customers. Keep in mind this article focuses on the basic parts for added power, but when it comes to total car performance that is not the whole story. You'll want to look at suspension, brake, chassis, and wheel/tire upgrades as well to handle the new power as well as increasing cornering and stopping abilities. In addition, there are quite a few other parts that will increase power by smaller amounts, such as throttle bodies and throttle body spacers (found here).

For this article, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each path in regards to performance tuning and your budget. The first 3 paths apply to 2015 and earlier Civics or 2016+ Civics without a factory turbocharger. The last 2 paths apply to 2016 and later Civics with factory turbos. Most of the 10th Generation 2016+ Civics feature an OEM turbocharger and intercooler system (basically a full factory turbo kit).

The The 3 Main Tuning Paths to Upgrade your 1988 to 2015 Honda Civic or 2016+ Civic without a factory turbo
  • The first path (A) is going straight for the most horsepower gains, by using forced induction (e.g. turbo kit or supercharger) as the base setup for your Honda Civic.
  • The second path (B) is to tune your Honda Civic with a naturally aspirated setup (e.g. cold air intake, no turbo or supercharger) as your base.
  • The last path (C) is to get parts that will work for both a naturally aspirated engine and a forced induction setup, then decide later if you want to go forced induction or upgrade your naturally aspirated setup.
The 2 Main Tuning Paths to Upgrade your 2016+ factory turbo Honda Civic
  • The first path (D) is going straight for the most horsepower gains, by getting a turbo upgrade kit, bolt-ons, and an ECU tune as the base setup for your turbo Honda Civic.
  • The second path (E) is to maximize the power of your factory turbo with bolt-ons parts and a ECU tune as the base setup for your turbo Honda Civic. You can then upgrade your turbo at a later point, and most likely re-use all your existing parts, but you will at least need a re-tune.

For each path we will list a few parts to get you started. By no means is this a complete list of parts to tune your Civic; it's just an idea to get you started. Feel free to email us, or call us and let us know the year, how many doors, and trim level of your Honda Civic and we will assist you in selecting the other optimal performance parts for your Civic.

If you're confused about what naturally aspirated and a forced induction engine setups are you should read our Honda Civic Upgrading FAQ. The upgrading FAQ is a great place for beginners to start to learn about tuning their Honda Civic and a great refresher course for the experienced tuner.

Path A (Forced Induction)
This path requires the biggest upfront investment, but will give you the best gains and the best tuning base to work with. If you have the money, this is the path we recommend. Here are the following parts and actions we recommend:
  • Get a Turbo Kit for your Civic. A turbo kit comes with headers and its own air intake, and usually some fuel delivery components. Hence, you will not have to purchase headers or a cold air/short ram intake. If an intercooler is not included in your kit, we highly recommend purchasing one at the same time as your kit.
  • If you get a supercharger (Superchargers for Civics) instead of a turbo kit, you will need to buy an air intake and headers since superchargers do not typically come with these items.
  • Get a performance exhaust system (Exhausts for Civics) and a high-flow catalytic converter.
  • Upgrade your Civic's ignition components such as spark plugs, spark plug wires, ignition coil, modified distributor cap/rotor kit, and a forced induction ignition component. Tuning your Civic's ignition system is a low cost upgrade that will be well worth while for an older Civic. You can find the ignition components here.
  • If needed, also upgrade your Civic's Fuel Delivery components.
  • Go to a dyno shop and tune your turbo kit or supercharger. Although this is not necessary on the kits we carry, we generally recommended it for maximum power. If you need help finding one, we can help you. If you have a 2006 or newer Civic, your best option is to purchase a Hondata FlashPro as your tuning device.
  • To further increase performance, you can add one of several nitrous systems that we offer. Nitrous significantly cools down the air going into your Civic, which adds a lot of power. If you don't have a turbo kit or supercharger, you can still use nitrous as an extremely cost-effective horsepower upgrade.

Path B (Naturally Aspirated)
If you choose not to go big with a forced induction setup, then you'll be headed down the naturally aspirated path. Here are the following parts and actions we recommend:
  • The most inexpensive item you could get that will give you the best gains is a cold air intake for your Civic. We carry different brands and types of air intakes (Cold Air Intakes and Short Ram Air Intakes for Civics).
  • The second item to purchase in this path should be an exhaust system (Exhausts for Civics). All exhaust systems we carry are highly tuned and will give you similar horsepower gains. The choice of what exhaust you select comes down to a preferrence in the exhaust system's look and sound that is produced.
  • Headers and a highflow catalytic converter will be the next part to get in this tuning path. For headers, contact us and let us know your Civic year and trim, and we will select the best configuration for your setup. For the high-flow catalytic converters, we recommend the direct fit and semi direct fit over the universal models. You can find headers for your Civic here.
  • Upgrade your Civic's ignition components. You can find ignition components here.
  • If you are putting out a lot more power, you may also need to upgrade your Civic's Fuel Delivery components.
  • Get a tune! This will result in more power and efficiency. If you have a 2006 or newer Civic, your best option is to purchase a Hondata FlashPro as your tuning device.
The average Civic Tuner takes this path. This path is the best on your wallet and gives you the most gains for the least money spent. We find that new tuners will take this path to get a better feel for Civic customization. Some of the tuners will eventually get a turbo kit or supercharger and others will fine tune their naturally aspirated engine.

Path C (Decide Later)
This path is designed for those Civic Tuners that are undecided on getting a turbo kit or supercharger, and/or will attempt to save up for one. If you are sure you will not get a turbo kit or supercharger anytime in the foreseeable future, then path B is your best path to tune your Civic. Here are the following parts and actions we recommend:
  • Get a performance exhaust system (Exhausts for Honda Civics) first.
  • Upgrade your Civic's ignition components. You can find the ignition components here.
  • Get a highflow catalytic converter.
  • Get a tune! This will result in more power and efficiency. If you have a 2006 or newer Civic, your best option is to purchase a Hondata FlashPro as your tuning device.
  • Analyze your budget. If you feel like you will get a turbo kit or supercharger in the near future, keep saving for it. If you are unsure contact us and we will give you some other low priced choices for tuning your Civic with performance parts.

This path will allow you to postpone the decision of committing to a forced induction setup. If you want to tune your Civic to get medium gains and save some cash, you could simply follow path (B). If you feel like your're ready to commit to the high performance of a force induction base, then you could branch into path (A). In other words, starting on path (C) will allow the most flexibility in regards to committing to a forced induction or naturally aspirated configuration.

Path D (Upgrade Factory Turbo)
This path requires the biggest upfront investment, but will give you the best gains and the best tuning base to work with. If you have the money, and a turbo upgrade kit is available for your Civic, this is the path we recommend. Here are the following parts and actions we recommend:
  • Get a Turbo Upgrade Kit. A turbo upgrade kit comes with a new (more powerful) turbocharger, and possibly new intercooler system piping and turbo inlet piping as well. Sometimes, fuel delivery components, a cold air/short ram intake, and a downpipe are even included. If any of these parts are not included, you'll need to consider purchasing them separately to maximize power and effeciency with your new turbo.
  • Get a performance exhaust system (Exhausts for Civics) and a front pipe and/or downpipe (with or without a high-flow catalytic converter), depending on what remaining factory piping you need to replace.
  • The ignition components on 2016+ factory turbo Civic generally do not need to be upgraded. These are VERY robust from the factory, and can handle quite a bit of power.
  • If needed, also upgrade your Civic's Fuel Delivery components.
  • Go to a dyno shop and get a tune. Your best bet is to use a Hondata FlashPro for tuning. It is possible the turbo upgrade kit will come with a "base map", but we still recommend a custom tune for reliability and best power gains.

Path E (Use Factory Turbo, Possibly It Later)
If you choose not to go big with a turbo upgrade setup right away, then you'll first be purchasing parts to maximize the power and efficiency of your factory turbo. Here are the following parts and actions we recommend:
  • The most inexpensive item you could get that will give you the best gains is a cold air intake for your Civic. We carry different brands and types of air intakes (Cold Air Intakes and Short Ram Air Intakes for Civics).
  • The second item to purchase in this path should be an exhaust system (Exhausts for Civics). All exhaust systems we carry are highly tuned and will give you similar horsepower gains. The choice of what exhaust you select comes down to a preferrence in the exhaust system's look and sound that is produced.
  • A front pipe and/or downpipe (with or without a high-flow catalytic converter) will be the next parts to get in this tuning path. You can find front pipe and downpipes for your turbo Civic here.
  • A vital piece of any turbo system is the intercooler and associated piping. An intercooler system significantly reduces the temperature of the air entering into your engine. The result is that you make more power, and make it more reliabily, while also reducing potential strain on your engine. Upgrading to a larger intercooler and piping on your turbo Civic can result in great horespower gains for this reason.
  • The ignition components on 2016+ factory turbo Civic generally do not need to be upgraded. These are VERY robust from the factory, and can handle quite a bit of power.
  • Since you're using your factory turbo, the factory fuel delivery components should be sufficient to meet your fueling needs. The 2016+ Civics use DI (Direct Injection) injectors, which are quite powerful and operate at very high pressues.
  • Finally, get a tune! The best bang for your buck product you can purchase for a factory turbo Civic is an ECU tuner, such as the Hondata FlashPro. A tune can greatly increase your power because it can raise the factory boost levels, resulting in quite a bit more air flowing into your engine. You can use a "base map" or get a custom tune for maximum gains.
  • If you do finally decide to upgrade your factory turbo, try to select a version that does not come with parts you already purchased - this way, you'll save money. Also, you will probably need to upgrade your fuel delivery components.
The average Civic Tuner takes this path. This path is the best on your wallet and gives you the most gains for the least money spent. We find that new tuners will take this path to get a better feel for Civic customization.

Honda Civic Tuning Other Sources of Upgrade Ideas
A great place to find ideas on Honda Civic tuning is through magazines. We recommend Civic related magazines for the experienced tuner for gathering great ideas and seeing what is hot. The most useful feature of magazines is the car profile articles, in which you can see what a highly tuned Civic looks like and what makes it run.

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