How to Tune a Honda CRX

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The Honda CRX sport compact car is a favorite choice for Japanese car tuners, due in large part to its low weight and go-kart-like handling. For all its merits, the CRX's biggest deficiency lies in power. With a little tuning, the enthusiast can transform the CRX from a zippy little runabout to a real street demon. Tuners should focus on more than just straight-line speed, instead creating a car that is fast and drivable in everyday situations.

  • Replace your stock Honda CRX wheels and tires for something lighter and more aggressive. This is especially important if your CRX is currently riding on stock 13-inch steel wheels. The stock 14-inch alloys are lighter, larger and wider, but you can still do much better in the aftermarket. All CRX cars, either in the first or second generation, use a bolt pattern of 4x100, meaning four bolts with a pitch circle diameter of 100 mm. Understand the effect of wheel offset relative to wheel width to make sure your new wheels do not rub on the fenders or damage suspension components. The CRX has small wheel wells, especially in its first generation, so do your homework before making a purchase.

  • Make some planning notes on what your power goals are for your CRX tune before shelling out money on bolt-on aftermarket upgrades. If your car is a 1988 to 1991 CRX Si, its stock B16A6 engine can provide some decent horsepower after tuning. For the second-generation DX and HF models and all first generation cars, modding the engine is just not cost-effective when a much more powerful engine can be obtained for a relatively low price point.

  • Perform low-cost tuning modifications that will carry over if you do decide to swap the motor. Replace the intake with a properly shielded cold-air intake unit to increase airflow to the engine, resulting in a small power gain. Swap out the stock muffler and exhaust piping for something a little larger. This is especially important if you plan to upgrade the engine. If you are seeking the best tune from your stock engine, aftermarket electronic computer units are available to tune your engine for performance. Leave the ECU alone if you are going to swap motors.

  • Give your CRX's suspension some attention. As with any older car, the suspension should receive a thorough going-over. Some CRX tuners swap out the entire suspension system, especially in the first-generation car, which does not have a fully independent suspension. Some adjustable coilovers will make a world of difference in conjunction with the right tires, but be careful of the ride height. A lowered CRX can easily bottom out on potholes and steep driveways. If you plan on autocrossing or driving your CRX hard, swap out the rear drum brakes for some discs. All that performance is nothing without the ability to make safe, sure stops.

  • Choose a new engine for your CRX. From the late 1980s through around 1998, Honda made nearly all its four-cylinder engines interchangeable with little-to-no modification. The obvious choice is Honda's B16A VTEC engine from the Japanese domestic market. This engine was fitted to the CRX in markets outside the United States, and is thus a relatively easy drag-and-drop affair. The B16A VTEC makes 150 horsepower in its stock form, with much more possible after a little tuning. An even more extreme choice is the B18C5 engine from the Integra Type-R. You can import any Honda engine with relative ease if you have enough cash to spend.

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