The Honda B16 Engine Manual. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Honda? VTEC is what many people associate with Honda engines. The Honda B-series engine series is credited with popularizing VTEC. As a result, the B-series, and particularly the B16 engine, was responsible for launching the Japanese brand from a civilian brand to a respectable alternative for those seeking a bit more performance from a small displacement 4-cylinder.
Aside from having VTEC, the B16 engine was also one of the most efficient in the world at the time. The B16’s 1.6L displacement allowed it to produce 160 horsepower in factory configuration. That means the B16 4-cylinder produced 100 horsepower per liter, a figure typically achieved by high-performance engines in cars five to ten times the price of a JDM Civic Type R.
The Honda B16 engine has established itself as one of the most customizable and infamous Japanese 4-cylinder engines ever produced in the JDM aftermarket. One of the reasons it is so popular in the aftermarket is its dependability, with relatively few typical faults. There are B16 engines out there that can produce close to 1,000 horsepower with the correct modifications.
This guide will go through the Honda B16’s characteristics, performance capabilities, typical modifications, and dependability.
Honda B16 Engine Dimensions
Between 1988 and 2001, the Honda B16 4-cylinder was available in eight different configurations. While the majority of the core attributes remained the same regardless of variant, there were some significant differences between the engines. The greatest element in the power variances across the types is compression, with the B16B from the EK9 Honda Civic Type R having the maximum compression at 10.8:1. The B16B was also notable for having a higher deck height, updated pistons, a redesigned crankshaft, wider intake ports, a larger throttle body, and other substantial improvements over the B16A.
The Honda B16 has the smallest displacement of any B-Series vehicle. It is outsized by the Honda B17 engine, which has a displacement of 1.7L, the Honda B18 engine, which has a displacement of 1.8L, and the Honda B20 engine, which has a displacement of, you got it, 2.0L. Despite its tiny displacement, the B16 engine produces reasonable power thanks to numerous Honda advancements. The B16 was the first Honda 4-cylinder engine to use a twin overhead cam configuration. The B-Series was marketed as a more powerful version of the Honda D-Series, which were all single overhead cam engines.
The B16 was the first engine to incorporate VTEC variable valve timing in addition to DOHC. VTEC, as one of Honda’s most distinguishing attributes, enabled the B16 to exhibit dynamic performance characteristics at higher revs. VTEC tuned the B16 and adjusted for its small displacement.
What Vehicles Make Use of the Honda B16 Engine?
Throughout its long production run, the B16 was used in 24 different Honda models. The 1.6L 4-cylinder engine was most commonly found in Civics of the time. The most prevalent USDM Civic chassis with the B16 were the EG2 Civic Del Sol and the EM1 Civic. While the Honda 1.6L received only two variants in the United States, other parts of the world received eight variants. Here is a complete list of all Hondas that use the B16 1.6L 4-cylinder engine:
B16A of the First Generation
- Honda Integra XSi 1989-1993
- Honda CRX SiR (EF8) 1989-1991
- Honda Civic SiR (EF9) 1989-1991
- Honda Integra “XSi” (DA6, DA8) 1992-1993
- Honda Civic SiR/SiRII (EG6) 1992-1994
- Honda Civic Ferio SiR (EG9) 1992-1993
- Honda CR-X del Sol SiR (EG2) 1992-1995
- Honda Civic SiR/SiRII (EK4) 1996-1998
- Honda Civic Ferio SiR (EK4) 1996-2000
- 1997-2000 Civic Type R
- European market (EDM) CRX’1.6 DOHC VTEC (EE8)
- Civic’1.6 DOHC VTEC (EE9) – European (EDM) market
- Honda Civic EDM VTi (EG6/EG9 & EK4) 1992-2000
- Honda Civic del Sol EDM VTi (EG) 1992-1997
- Honda Civic del Sol VTEC USDM (EG2) 1996-1997
- Honda Civic AUDM & NZDM Vti-R (EK4) 1996-1998
- Honda Civic AUDM Vti-R (EM1) 1999-2000
- Honda Civic USDM Si (EM1) 1999-2000
- Honda Civic SiR Philippines (EK4 Sedan) 1999-2000
- Honda Civic CDM SiR (EM1) 1999-2000
- Del Sol VTEC USDM VERSION 1994-1995
- Civic Si-RII (JDM variant) (EK4) 1996-2000
- VTEC (SO3, SO4) 1996-2000 Honda Civic – Middle East & South Africa
Honda 1.6L Engine Performance Stock
The Honda B16 engine is designed to enhance performance while being affordable. In terms of raw output per liter, its efficiency was unrivaled at the time. At 100 horsepower per liter, there were very few cars that could match that figure, and none that were widely available to the average buyer. In comparison, the 1999 Ferrari F355 only marginally outperformed the B16 in terms of efficiency, with 108 horsepower per liter. Even now, new Porsches and Lamborghinis have a horsepower-per-liter rating of 110-115.
The B16 is not just efficient, but also light. In practice, this improved the power-to-weight ratios of the vehicle equipped with the B16. Because of its aluminum block, the Honda B16A weighs just over 300 pounds, making it one of the lightest 4-cylinder engines available. The B16B is the outlier here, weighing close to 400 lbs due to its larger deck height and heavier top end.
Many performance aspects of the B16 in factory form are dependent on the B16 variant. Because some B16 variants have higher compression due to construction differences, peak torque, horsepower, and VTEC engagement vary slightly between variants. Lower compression B16 engine types have lower redlines, earlier VTEC engagement, and earlier peak torque production. VTEC activation ranges between 5,200 and 6,100 rpm on average. Peak power is also achieved at high revs thanks to VTEC. Overall, the B16 is an engine that needs to be driven at high revs to get the most out of it.
What Horsepower Can The Honda B16 Handle?
In factory form, the Honda B16 4-cylinder engine is an extremely powerful engine. Because the engine’s internals are so tough, it’s not uncommon to see stock Honda B16s producing over 300 horsepower. However, that figure varies significantly depending on a variety of factors. The condition of the engine is a critical component in deciding how much power it can take. The best general advice is to make sure your B16 engine is in good internal condition before attempting to push it to its limits with power upgrades.
With the right strengthening modifications such as forged pistons, cylinder sleeves, fueling upgrades such as meth injection, and a good tune, B16s have been known to push upwards of 1,000 horsepower. Obviously, the amount of horsepower that a B16 can produce is entirely dependent on budget. Expect to spend a lot of money if you want to create more than 250-300 horsepower.
Upgrades for the Honda B16 Engine
The Honda B-series engines are all famed for their unrivaled dependability. In fact, most B-series aficionados will tell you that if you want a “mild” horsepower figure from your B16 (200-250whp), you won’t have to open the engine at all.
While it is exciting to consider building a big-power turbo Honda B16 engine, it is critical to first consider your end goal. Do you want a daily driven B16 Civic with a little more oomph? A drag car powered by a B16? Ultimately, the adjustments required for your B16 build will be dictated by the end aim. The possibilities for a modified B16 are truly limitless, with the only constraint being the expense. Having said that, 200-250 horsepower is a fairly attainable aim that won’t break the wallet.
A turbocharger kit is the most frequent high-horsepower modification for the B16 4-cylinder. The B16 in stock condition is an ideal candidate for forced induction. Having stated that, bigger boost loads will necessitate internal improvements. Because the B16, with the exception of the B16B, has a relatively low compression ratio, it requires little modification to make reliable boost. Most people think the B16’s stock internal hardware is quite solid. While the internal components of the Honda B16 are strong, figures above 300whp will necessitate some internal work.
Headers for Honda 1.6L 4-Cylinder
One of the most popular and well-received applications for the B16 engine is a header improvement. The stock B16 exhaust system is notorious for being somewhat restricted. The best technique to increase exhaust flow is to replace the stock exhaust manifold with a free-flowing one. There are a few distinct designs of B16 headers to pick from.
A 4-2-1 tri-Y design is one of the most frequent B16 header configurations. Each exhaust port gets its own main tube with B16 4-2-1 headers, which then combine into two tubes, then down to one before terminating in a collector. If you want superior mid-range performance, 4-2-1 B16 headers are the way to go. The 4-2-1 header’s performance is mostly due to its ability to maintain exhaust velocity, which can also be advantageous for top-end performance.
4-1 B16 headers are another popular option for the Honda 1.6L 4-cylinder. Whereas 4-2-1 headers combine two tubes before recombining into a single tube, 4-1 B16 headers combine four primary tubes into a single tube before dumping into a collector. 4-1 B16 headers outperform 4-2-1 headers in terms of high-rpm performance. 4-1 headers work well with VTEC since the exhaust characteristics are finest around the VTEC activation point.
Skunk2 is likely the most well-known B-series header manufacturer, with a reputation for producing high-quality goods at a reasonable price. Their Alpha V2 4-2-1 header is one of the greatest B16 headers available, enhancing power throughout the rev range.
Turbocharged Honda B16 Engine
Forced induction is a common upgrade for the Honda B-series, particularly the B16. Many Civic owners choose to turbocharge their vehicles using a prepackaged turbo kit that includes all of the essential components. As previously noted, the B16 is an incredibly durable engine that can handle over 100+ horsepower more than standard with no significant internal changes.
Despite its general strength, many experienced B16 turbo enthusiasts recommend strengthening the bottom end, updating the fuel system, changing the timing chain assembly, rejuvenating the valve springs, and replacing the factory head gasket. These safeguards protect a 250-300 horsepower turbocharged B16 from the strong internal forces caused by forced induction.
More extensive modifications are required once you reach 350-400 horsepower. It is an excellent idea at this stage to have a machining shop resurface the cylinder head, block, and expanded bore. You’ll also need to upgrade to forged internals at this time. At that time, an upgraded crankshaft, forged pistons, rods, and upgraded rod and main bearings should all be considered.
The 400-horsepower mark is also when you should think about sleeving your B16’s block. This will lessen the amount of internal wear on your B16 and act as an extra level of reinforcement. It also enables greater bore diameters.
A more powerful fueling system is also required for high-horsepower B16 designs. The stock gasoline pump, injectors, fuel lines, and fuel rail are the key components that should be upgraded. AEM 340lph fuel pump (minimum), 1000cc injectors, -8AN supply fuel lines, -6AN return fuel lines, and a high-flow fuel rail are required for 400+ horsepower.
Modifications to the Honda B16 Turbo
Turbocharging a K20A3 requires an improved engine management system. Most Honda enthusiasts swear by the KPro ECU, which allows you to alter cam angle, ignition timing, fueling, and a variety of other essential components of engine performance.
Because all Hondas equipped with the B16 engine are front-wheel drive from the factory, you must consider how you will put the power down. Most enthusiasts with high-horsepower turbo B16 Hondas will agree that transferring more than 350 horsepower to the pavement is challenging. The increased power will undoubtedly put more strain on a variety of different elements that could benefit from an upgrade.
While factory Civic axles are generally stated to be capable of withstanding up to 500 hp, power levels above that can cause axle warp. Traction bars could be used to strengthen the axles against the frame while also preventing wheel hop. Sticky and wide tires are required for B16 drag builds. You’ll lose all of your power if you don’t have them.
Increased horsepower puts more strain on the transmission. The factory-installed 5-speed transmission featured in the RSX and Civic is a solid transmission, but it needs be enhanced with the addition of high boost. An improved clutch is one of the most frequently mentioned transmission modifications for the K20A3. Clutch slip is typical at higher horsepower levels.
The Most Common Honda 1.6L Engine Issues
As many people are probably aware, Honda 4-cylinder engines are among the most dependable powerplants available if properly maintained. B16 4-cylinder engines have been known to last hundreds of thousands of kilometers with very little maintenance. That is, of course, true for stock B16 engines. In general, with the B16 and most other engines, reliability is inversely related to horsepower. However, depending on the engine tune, quality of parts, and other related factors, moderately upgraded B16 engines can be extremely reliable.
As a result, the list of common B16 engine problems is relatively brief. The B16 issues described below are not so much common as they are the most common. The majority of the problems with the Honda B16 are attributable to the fact that the earlier variations are now over 30 years old. Rubber hoses, seals, and other wear-and-tear parts erode with any engine of that age, presenting issues. One of the most typical B16 difficulties caused by deteriorating parts is an inconsistent idle. A bad B16 idle is typically caused by either fractured vacuum lines or a failed idle air control valve. Both of these issues are relatively simple and inexpensive to resolve.
On older B16 engines, leaking camshaft seals are also fairly common. The rubber camshaft seals will degrade over time and begin to leak oil. While it may appear to be a difficult repair, they can be easily replaced with a seal press tool. The procedure can be completed without removing the cams from the engine. Oil leaks are also very common in the valve cover, rear main seal, and oil pan.
Summary of the Honda B16 Engine Guide
The Honda B-series is without a doubt one of the most amazing 4-cylinder platforms ever created. Because of its excellent efficiency, sturdy construction, and high modifiability, it is the engine of choice for innumerable tuners and enthusiasts all over the world.
The Honda B16 4-cylinder engine heralded a new era for Honda performance engines, ushering in some of the most significant breakthroughs in engine technology that Honda is known for. Performance VTEC was introduced with the first generation B16A and quickly became one of the most popular features of both the B-Series and later K-Series Honda engines. The B16 was also one of Honda’s most efficient engines at the time, with most B16 models producing 100 horsepower per liter.
While stock B16 performance is impressive, the 1.6L 4-cylinder truly comes to life when modified. Because the B16 has strong internals from the factory, it can withstand nearly 100 more horsepower than stock without requiring any major internal upgrades. Turbocharging a B16 is undoubtedly the greatest technique to get the most out of a Honda 1.6L engine. The B16’s strength and high-revving nature make it a good candidate for forced induction, but going that path can be costly if you plan on exceeding the 300-horsepower mark.
Finally, even 30 years after its first release, the Honda B16 remains one of the world’s most popular 4-cylinder engines. That speaks volumes about the engine’s overall capabilities.