Complete 92-00 Civic Owners Engine Swapping Guide
Advise: Hondahookup.com is by no means
responsible for information that may be incorrect or inconsistent.
This information was put together by various members of the community.
We provided this information by reference only!
|So you want to swap out that puny 91
cubic inch weed whacker engine of yours and replace it with a
fire-breathing DOHC? That's cool. But which engine should you go for?
The 5th and 6th generation civic owners are lucky in the fact that its
bigger brothers were designed very similar to the civic in many ways.
This allows the ability to transplant various other engines from other
H-cars without too much fuss. Integra, Prelude, other civics, even the
sport Ute CRV engines can be considered. In addition you can do more
than just swap out the whole engine, you could take a Vtec cylinder head
and put it on your existing engine or swap out the whole engine and THEN
swap the head on that. The possibilities are many. To help you wade
through this mess, First I'll talk about the different engine choices,
and then I'll talk about head swapping choices and its benefits. I'll
get into the pros and cons of each to help YOU decide which choice is
wise for you according to your courage, budget and power needs.
First off I need to mention a few things. When looking for your possible
swap candidate, have a plan and research EVERYTHING. Find out as much
info from as many sources as you can find. Now when putting $$$ aside
for the swap, put aside as much as the components costs (Engine,
transmission, etc), add shipping if necessary, then add at least $1000
for small extra parts you might need and/or broken parts on the engine (PCV
valves, distributor core, AC bracket, axles, shift linkage, new
polyurethane mounts, etc), and finally calculate how much youíll need to
replace all the high wear components: Timing belt, plugs, oil pump,
clutch, etc. Believe me, itíll cost ALOT less to replace them now than
if they break after youíve installed the engine. You should buy the
helms manual for the engine you plan to get to get a complete run down
of all the technical stuff. AND before I forget, remember that your
stock cooling system will most likely need to be upgraded in one way or
the other to cool the new bigger engine. And plan on the safe side to be
without the car for at least 2 weeks. It shouldnít take more than a
weekend of work but something ALWAYS goes wrong. As we Hispanics say:
ďDress yourself in patienceĒ and expect the worst and youíll be fine.
As for exactly what you need to complete the entire swap, unfortunately
it changes slightly with each engine considered, which is why itís
extremely important to research exactly what you need, but hereís the
- Engine and all components attached
to the engine. Cylinder head, alternator, distributor, AC pump if
necessary, P/S pump if necessary, etc.
- Transmission: It doesnít
necessarily have to be the tranny that came with the engine but you
need to get atleast a transmission that will bolt up to the block.
All transmissions of the same letter series trannyís should bolt up
like stock. At this point it would an excellent time to decide if
youíd like to change your transmission from automatic to stickshift
or vise versa. There are other threads available in the Civic FAQ
that could help you with that.
- ECU: Itís a vital link in the
whole project and most of the times completely looked over. If you
plan to swap the head of your engine, you need the ECU of the head
youíre swapping in.
- Shift Linkage: These rods connect
the shifter knob to the transmission. Without them you couldnít
shift the tranny. They arenít necessary with every swap but most of
them do need them.
- Axles: Makes sense that you need
the axles that fit the transmission. Theyíre all different for each
swap unfortunately. The axles that came with the engine arenít going
to necessarily work with your civic suspension. Research.
- Mounts: Most of the swaps donít
need fabricated mounts but they do need the mounts that came with
the engine. The H22 and F22 engines are different in that they need
custom mounts from places like HASport or Place Racing.
- Optional, Performance exhaust:
Your stock exhaust, particularly your stock catalytic converter will
act as a cork to your newfound power. Replacing it with a high
performance exhaust will let the engine breathe at the very least to
stock specs. In some cases however, the down pipe on the engine
wonít match up perfectly with your catalytic converter. In which
taking a trip down to the local muffler shop and making a custom
exhaust system would be in order.
- Fuel Pump: For some of the larger
swaps, particularly the 2.2 liter series, the stock civic fuel pump will
not be enough to meet the needs of the new engine. At the very least you
need the pump of the engine youíre getting. If not get an upgraded
Two things that are very important that I need to discuss before we get
into each engine are the Rod to Stroke ratio and OBD.
The Rod to Stroke ratio: This topic gets very complicated very quickly.
Basically itís the ratio of how long the rod is compared to the length
of the entire rod stroke. The perfect ratio is 1.75. If the ratio is
off, it means that the rod is not using 100% of itís momentum to
compress the air and gas mixture. Itís using more energy to push against
the sides of the cylinder walls than to compress the fuel mixture. This
is normally not too bad because things are very well lubricated in your
engine. But when you change certain aspects of the engine, in particular
increasing the ECU fuel cutoff point or going forced induction, the
imperfect R/S ratio will cause more stress on the engine block and could
eventually destroy it. A good R/S ratio also ensures long engine life.
For a more in-depth look into the R/S ratio check out the following
OBD stands for On Board Diagnostics. Most every modern car has a version
of OBD and itís basically an engine monitoring system. It consists of
many different sensors in strategic locations that monitor various
aspects of the engineís performance. Some examples of the sensors are O2
sensors that monitor the air to fuel mixture, the throttle position
sensor that senses how open the throttle plate is at any given moment,
and intake temperature sensor that monitors the temperature of the
intake air. All of these sensors are monitored by the ECU, the carís
brain monitors the OBD system and changes variables according to
pre-programmed specifications. There are currently 3 versions of OBD and
each version gets progressively more complex and stricter on the amount
flexibility it will allow before taking action to prevent what it sees
as a potentially engine damaging situation. OBD1 started with the 5th
generation civic 1992-1995. OBD2 continued with the 6th generation
1996-2000 and the latest version is OBD3 and can be found on the 7th
gen. civic 2001-???.
NOW, Letís get to the engines starting with the smallest and cheapest
D16Z6, D16Y8, D15B7: If you have one of the lower and cheaper civic
models, IE The Cx, Dx, Lx and If you're looking for a cheap power
increase while still maintaining stock gas mileage then the possibility
of swapping in one of the higher model civic engines is right up your
alley. The D16Z6 is the SOHC 5th Gen. Si and Ex engine pushing 125hp @
6600 rpm and 106 lb.-ft of torque @ 5200 rpm. The D16Y8 is the 6th gen.
SOHC Ex engine pushing 127hp @ 6600 rpm and 107 lb.-ft of torque @ 5500
rpm. These are extremely easy to find since allot ppl swap them out in
favor for more expensive engines. They bolt in like stock and the whole
package could be had for hundreds (You might even find someone whoís
recently swapped who would basically give away their engine). Let's say
you want something cheap but you could work on for possibly turbo or
nitrous? The D16Y8 is cheap and the pistons are the exact size of TT
Supra pistons. They could substitute for forged versions and work just
as well for a turbo upgrade. Be warned though as the D16Y8 has a
particularly bad Rod to Stroke ratio at 1.52. I also suggest the B15B7
which is the 5th gen. Dx and Lx engine pushing 102hp @ 5900 rpm and 98
lb.-ft of torque @ 5000 rpm. If you have a 5th gen. Cx and youíre in
need of the cheapest upgrade, this motor could be for you. Again you
could probably find it for less than $500.
B16A1, B16A2, B16A3: If you need a little more power and have the money,
the Civic Si and the del Sol VTEC engine are possibilities. They are all
DOHC 1.6 liter engines pushing 160 hp @ 7600 rpm and 111lb.-ft of torque
@ 7000 rpm. The A1 is the pre-obd engine that came with a cable
transmission and various other pre 5th gen. items that need to be dealt
with when considering the swap. The reason I point this out is because
all 5th and 6th gen. civics came with hydraulic tranny's so think twice
about this one. The upside is the cheap price. The A3 is the OBD1 engine
out of the del Sol Vtec. These older models can be had for cheaper than
OBD2 models and have upgraded various things such as hydro trannies.
These are a perfect choice for the 5th genners. The A2 is the 99-00 Si
engine. Same as the A3 only this one came with an upgraded OBD2
emissions system that is mandatory for all 96+ civic swappers. The B16A1
could be had for around $1200. The B16A3 could be found for about
$2000-$2500 and the newer B16A2 could be found for around $2500-$3000.
They all lack a sufficient amount of torque due to their small
displacement but their small mass and a bad ass R/S ratio of 1.74 allows
them to rev to astronomical proportions. They also all have a HUGE
aftermarket support. The only thing I donít like about this particular
swap is that this seems to be only one people think of. Whenever they want
to swap engines, they all go for the B16. Donít get me wrong, itís a
great engine but there are other engines out there to consider. Iíve
even known people to be disappointed because they expected more. Thatís
what this article if for
B16B: Often regarded as the best 1.6 liter engine in the world, the JDM
Civic Type R engine is the rarest of them all. Producing a whopping
185hp @ 8200 rpm and a reasonable 120 lb.-ft of torque @ 7600 rpm and
being naturally aspirated, it is technical marvel. It was only available
on the 1999-2000 Civic Type R and having one imported will run you
easily into the $6000+ range. But you will be WELL respected and large
thief magnet when ppl find out. If you have the money and like spending
it on high octane gas for your 4 banger, why not?
B17A, B18B1: The B17A could be found on the 92-93 GSR producing 160hp @
7600 rpm and 117 lb.-ft @ 7000 rpm. The B18B1 is the later model Integra
LS, RS, and GS engines. They don't offer huge power outputs at 142hp @
6300 rpm and 127 lb.-ft @ 5200 rpm, But they can be had for very cheap
as they are plentiful and not really sought after by many people. The
exception being for the B17A as it did have greater power output but
they can still be had for cheap as they are generally older and in worse
shape compared to the newer B18ís. Anyone of these should still offer a
cheap, reliable power upgrade for your small civic. Anyone of these
engines could be found for under $2000. The downside to these cheaper
engines is their Rod to Stroke ratio. The B17 isnít that bad but the
B18B1 has a R/S ratio of 1.54. This does considerably reduce the maximum
possible power output from these engines. But if you don't plan on
turbocharging this engine past 15 psi or letting it rev to 11,000 rpm,
then it should meet your modest power needs.
B18C1: Probably the most highly sought after swap candidate, this
powerful little engine came on the late model Integra GSR and produced a
hefty 170hp @ 7600 rpm and 128lbs-ft @ 6200 rpm. It is rather expensive
at around $3000-$3500 and they are a little on the rare side considering
everyone wants one, but a simple swap and your pocket rocket will be
pushing high 14's with a stock engine. Even more by adding the small
bolt-ons. And greddy has a bolt on intercooled turbocharger kit that'll
give around 240 wheel hp. Which should put you deep into the 13 second
range, possibly high 12's. This is the most desired swap candidate.
B18C5: This naturally aspirated wonder came on the late model Integra
Type R and produced an even greater 195 hp @ 8100 rpm and about 130
lb.-ft of torque @ 7500 rpm. This is even more highly sought after than
the GSR engine. And would in fact be more popular if it wasn't for its
$5000+ price tag. But if you could afford it, there are few engines that
would be as painless and give you the fastest performance available for
the civic. This regarded as the naturally aspirated wonder because it
does well producing large amounts of power without the need for
snailshell's. Although a turbocharger can be bolted on to this bad-boy,
it's generally not recommended, as this is a very high compression
engine. If you were to used forced induction on such a high compression
engine, you would either have to build it accordingly, have a REALLY
good engine management system ($$$) or watch it blow up on the first
run. The C1 is better suited for forced induction and would cost less in
the long run.
B20B, B20Z: The B20 engine is the newcomer in the game and is highly
acclaimed by its supporters. It has several key characteristics that
give this engine real potential no matter what route you decide to persue. The B20B came on the 1996-1998 CRV and the B20Z came on
1999-2000 CRV. The B20B made 126 hp but the real jewel was the 133lbs of
torque that was easily achieved almost anywhere in the RPM band. It is a
small displacement engine that has flat torque line!!! Additionally it
was a comparatively low compression engine which means that
turbocharging to decent levels is possible without the need to spend
hundreds on rods or pistons. The B20Z was more or less the same as the
B20B but they changed several head characteristics and the compression
was bumped up to increase the horsepower to 146.
There are really two choices for dealing the B20 as far as power goes.
You could leave it as is and simply swap the head for B16 model. The
cylinder head on the B20B model (particularly the tall intake manifold)
doesn't clear the hoodline of the civic, which is ok since the B16 head
swap will add Vtec abilities and increased power. OR you could go about
what is called a CR-VTEC conversion. This is what I consider to be the
ultimate engine build-up for civicsí. You can check out www.crvtec.com
for details. The first thing you need to know about B-series engine
(B18, B16, B20) is that they all have, for the most part,
interchangeable engine parts. So the CRVTEC buildup basically consists
of taking the best parts of all the engines and making an unprecedented
Frankenstein of motor that has a perfect Rod to Stroke ratio of near
1.75 which allows for great naturally aspirated performance (A HUGE
redline) or the ability to turbocharge the engine to very large
proportions without worrying about engine stability. It is unfortunately
rather expensive but this setup will take you anywhere you want to go.
The simple B20/B16 swap costs as follows: $1000-$1500 for the B20 short
block, +/- $600 for the B16 head, +/- $300 for the B16 ECU + tranny and
other small parts. The price for the CR/VTEC could be calculated on the
Unless youíre simply happy with the stock B20 swap, the only reasons it
should be considered are CRVTEC conversions or Forced Induction. The
aftermarket support isnít as plentiful for the B20 as it is for the
other engine mentioned so any engine upgrades usually come from other B
series or upgraded aftermarket parts for other B series. Which is more
less slowly building a CRVTEC engine. But I still highly recommend this
engine for the best bang for the buck power adder.
H22A1, H23A1, H22A4: The H23A1 came on the lude Siís, the highly
acclaimed H22A1 came on the 4th gen Si VTEC models and H22A4 came on the
5th generation Si VTECís.. And all three engines are MONSTERS compared
to what weíre used to. The H22A1 produces a nice 190 hp while the H22A4
produces an even greater 195hp and the H23A1 produces 160hp but they all
produce a THICK ASS 160 lb.-ft of torque at relatively low rpm. Giving
your 2500lb civic wheel spinning capabilities comparable to a V8 F-body.
The whole engine should cost about the same as a GSR swap, $3000-$3500.
The down side is the fact that the engine also weighs about 200 lbs.
more than the engine you have in your bay now. This effectively makes
your weight distribution even worse than what it was before. This causes
all types of havoc with your other systems, including suspension,
braking and cooling. The engine is also of course very large in size so
it's a tight fit into the tiny civic engine bay providing that you make
space by removing both air-conditioning and power steering systems.
From talks with several veteran H22 swappers I can give you the overall
driving opinion. To make the swap work, first off the springs and shocks
in the front need to be stiffened to appropriately handle the extra
weight. The overall suspension tuning should concentrate on trying to
create heavy oversteer to offset the natural understeer problem the
extra weight will create. There is another way to offset the understeer
problem but most ppl don't want to go through with it. It involves
placing a few hundred pounds of weight in the trunk to even out the
weight distribution. But most ppl want to go the other way by stripping
everything out of the interior, effectively making it worse. The cooling
system will amazingly enough be fine for about 75% of the time. However,
on hot days or with spirited driving, the engine can start to overheat
itself. For the financially strapped, an extra wide Integra radiator can
be swapped in for about $100 that will provide all the extra cooling you
need. You can learn about it here:
If you have the extra money, you could swap in an all aluminum thick ass
racing radiator with a smaller and more efficient fan and for extra
insurance, a low temperature thermostat (160 degree rather than 180)
could be replaced. Considering you no longer have air-conditioning the
extra space that was once used by the AC condenser could be put to good
use and it could be used for an external oil cooler. With this setup you
could go uphill mountain racing without fear overheating. The braking
system for the most part could work but if you really want to trust your
life to stock system, be my guest. If you'd like to upgrade it, the
cheap way is to replace the rotors for better heat dissipation (You
could either get stock sized cross-drilled or slotted rotors, or you
could opt for a bigger rotor kit that uses a relocated bracket so you
can use the stock calipers) better brake pads and rear brake disk swap
if not already equipped (Instructions HERE). If you have some money, you
could get a 4-piston caliper upgrade with extra large rotors with great
pads. Just the thing to stop you at 150 mph. If you do opt for the
bigger rotor upgrade, remember that the stock wheels will no longer fit
over the larger brakes. Some systems suggest 16Ē or larger.
Let me remind you that this is all extra $$$. The basic swap still
includes about $1000 worth of junkyard parts just to make it work, which
includes axles, linkages, ECU, HASport mounts, etc. PLUS the cost of the
engine itself. This is definitely not the cheap swap.
F20B: This 2.0 liter engine is the rarest of all the swaps. Itís the JDM
Accord Si-R engine and it produced a healthy 200hp. The reason I leave
this for last is because finding one is like trying to find an unlit
cigarette from the 70ís and finding parts for them are even harder.
Although not impossible to swap though, it falls under the same category
as the H22 swaps. In fact the mounts for swapping the H22 will also work
on the F20B. Iíve never personally seen or even heard of this swap done
so there has to be a reason for it. I would advise to consider other
Ok, So far we've covered the D16Z6, D16Y8, D15B7, B16A1, B16A2, B16A3,
B16B, B17A, B18B1, B18C1, B18C5, H22A1 H23A1, H22A4 and the F20B. Talk
about choices!!! But we're only half way through. Now we go to the
second part of the swapping experience, which is cylinder head swapping.
Sometimes called a Frankenstein, engine hybrid, mini-me or LS/VTEC
swaps. Head swapping usually includes getting a Non-Vtec block (B18B,
D15B) and taking the entire cylinder head assembly from a Vtec enabled
block (B18C1, D16Z6) and swapping it onto the Non-Vtec block.
Effectively giving the non-Vtec block Vtec capabilities just like his
older brothers. Hence the name LS/VTEC. LS for Non-Vtec and Vtec for...Vtec
. It isn't easy though. The Vtec assemblies use oil to activate the
system so oil lines will need to be tapped, the block and head need
small preparations to flawlessly mate the two and the ECU from the Vtec
enabled block will also be needed. So the grocery list includes the
ENTIRE cylinder head set and everything attached to it, The intake
manifold, throttle body, throttle cable, distributor, Vtec solenoid,
EVERYTHING. You will also need the ECU, Vtec oil pump and various other
lines and fittings and someone who's done this before. Hereís a great
site that gets to the nitty gritty of the procedure:
Now this opens up a whole new world of possibilities. But first you need
to know the rules before continuing. These are:
There are of course downsides to mating two engine parts that were not
designed to be together and expecting to work together. One of the main
problems is that Vtec enabled blocks were designed to rev allot higher
than their non-Vtec counterparts. Of the things Honda designed into the
Vtec blocks to help them survive high rpm use are oil squirters. Oil
squirters serve dual functions both as piston coolers and piston
lubricators. Both of which are very important when revving to 9000 rpm.
The lack of which could result in damage from prolonged high-rpm usage.
Another aspect is that non-Vtec blocks usually have worse R/S ratios
making the situation that much worse. The stock oil pump will also need
to be replaced as it might not have enough pressure to satisfy both the
block lubricating needs and the oil-activated Vtec assemblies. Valve
clearance is another issue that needs to be addressed before you not
only mate the head and block but also play with cam timing. The valve
reliefís in the stock pistons are usually deep enough to accommodate the
new longer travel of the Vtec valves but if they arenít, they need to
professionally widened or aftermarket pistons need to be used. And when
using camshaft gears to tune cam shaft timing, each setting both 2 and 4
degrees advance and retard need to be tested for valve clearance as
well. Failure to do so may cause the valve to crash into the piston when
it arrives at TDC (Top Dead Center) which could bend it or chip it which
may cause even more damage. Either way the head needs to pulled and
- A SOHC block cannot accept or be modified to accept a DOHC head. It
just does not work. Block surface and the bottom of the head are totally
- Only engines with the same letter association have compatible part.
IE B-series with B-series and D-series with D-Series.
- Don't do go cheap with this. This needs to be done right or you're
left with an engine that leaks oil, has Vtec engagement problems and
possibly valves that smash into pistons.
Head Swapping Cons:
Head Swapping Pros:
One of the points of swapping in a Vtec head is they usually flow allot
better than their non Vtec counter parts. And this can even be improved
further with a port and polish. So with that in mind, the best flowing
DOHC heads can be rated in this order:
The B16B head is by far the best head but it's rather expensive and
rare. It's basically a B16A head with a factory P&P and lighter
valvetrain assemblies among other things. This goes as well for the
Integra Type R head. It's basically a GSR head with a factory port and
polish, slighter better and lighter cams, valves, springs, etc. The best
compromise for price and availability is the B16 head and the last one
the list would be the GSR head. Of course it needs to be said that
simply swapping the head onto your engine won't give you all the HP from
the engine the head came from. Like swapping an GSR head onto an LS
block wonít automatically give you 170hp. There were more changes to the
engines than just the head like displacement, compression and air flow
tracts. But it's still better than your stock head.
In reality, the majority of your engines power capabilities come from
head design. This goes especially for naturally aspirated engines. With
each one of these head swaps, you could completely redo all the
components in the head to make the HP jump even greater. The exact
changes of course depend on if you want to stay naturally aspirated or
decide to take the plunge into forced induction. The details of both
will be covered on another article. Also between the generations, small
changes were made in an effort to produce more power and better mileage.
Example, the SOHC head changed from the 5th generation to the 6th gen.
In particular the quench area, the area where the compressed air and
fuel collect when the piston reaches TDC, was changed to a more squared
area. Rather than the circular area on the 5th gens, this new square
quench area forces more of the A/F mixture closer to the spark plug
which results in a cleaner and more powerful burn. These subtleties can
greatly affect the overall power production of your new engine design.
So now, what are your greatest bang for the buck options? Letís break
them down by what engine you have:
D15's: Say you have a Dx or Cx engine, then you could go ahead and swap
out the head for a D16Z6 head. You could probably get the whole swap for
$300. The 6th geners with Cxís or Dxís can swap for a D16Y8 and build
that for greater NA or FI power.
B16: Swapping the head on this engine isnít really necessary since the
head is already a top-notch design. What could be done is a head
redesign (P&P, Cams, valves) or you could swap it for a B18C5 head,
which is better, but not by much. This swap would be more for the WOW
affect. Although a turbocharger or supercharger can both easily be
installed on this engine and its air flow characteristics let it achieve
more than 200 wheel hp.
B18B's: The GSR or B16 head swap would be ideal in these situations. Can
also be turbocharged by using the kit designed for the head you swap in.
But as mentioned before, the R/S ratio would still be a limiting factor
in maximum power output.
B20B, B20Z: Now HERE'S where the real deal is. Since the giraffe intake
on the B20B doesn't clear the hood, the head has to be swapped anyways,
so you could use any of the choices above as well for the B20Z. My
personal favorite, you swap in a B20 with lots of usable torque, then
you swap in a modded B16 head and make a few ECU changes, like rev
limiter and now you have lots of torque with Vtec high end and an 8000
redline. Or the low compression rate allows for decent turbocharging and
you can achieve great heights with the B16 head flow.
H23A1: Generally the swap here is an H23 block with an H22 head swap. It
makes for great Vtec high end and the larger displacement block makes
for the biggest torque of all the engines listed here.
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