The Honda K20A2 Engine Manual. The Honda K-Series engine series is one of the most popular in the Japanese market. While the Honda community is frequently dismissed in many enthusiast circles, the K-Series is a prime example of why they should be. The 4-cylinder K-series was Honda’s flagship replacement for the equally lauded B-series. The previous K-Series had several advantages over the B-series, including greater displacement and higher-flow cylinder heads.
The K20 is available in nine separate models, each with somewhat different build and power delivery characteristics. The K20A2, which has the highest compression ratio and redline of the whole K20 series outside of the JDM-only high-performance K20A, is one of the K20 line’s crown jewels.
Because of its valvetrain, the K20A2 is preferred above other K20 models. Whereas other K20 variations, such as the K20A3, use a VTEC-E valvetrain that is not well received, the K20A2 uses a real DOHC i-VTEC system that is well recognized and liked within the Honda community.
In this post, we’ll go over the K20A2 in depth, talking about its features, applications, and mod possibilities.
The K20A2 boasts highly impressive N/A power and torque ratings for a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, as shown by the aforementioned figures.
Engine Specifications for the Honda K20A2
Honda KA20A2 2.0L Applications
- Honda Civic Type R (EDM) 2001-2006
- Acura RSX Type S 2002-2004
- Honda Integra Type R (AUDM/NZDM) 2002-2004
Differences Between Honda K20A2 and K20A3
Despite their identical architecture, the K20A2 is unquestionably the superior engine of the two. The displacement, bore/stroke, and valves of the A2 and A3 are the same. However, there are a few major differences between the two K20 types that make the K20A2 the more desirable motor. The cylinder heads and VTEC systems are the two significant distinctions between the two.
Compression of K20A2 compared. K20A3
One of the most significant performance changes between the K20A2 and K20A3 is the A2’s greater compression ratio. The A2 has greater compression pistons, increasing compression to 11.0:1 above the A3’s 9.8:1 compression ratio. Among other things, the A2 has a larger compression ratio than the A3 and thus a higher specific output at 100hp/L.
Differences Between K20A2 and K20A3 VTEC
In addition, the K20A2 has a different and more advanced i-VTEC system than the K20A3. The VTEC-E system on the K20A3 only has VTEC on the intake side of the valvetrain. In fact, the K20A3’s VTEC-E system is completely devoid of high-RPM cam profiles. Instead, the VTEC-E technology effectively pushes the K20A3 to behave like a 12-valve engine, preventing one of the intake valves from fully opening until a certain RPM is reached.
The K20A2, on the other hand, employs an i-VTEC technology that closely matches older DOHC VTEC systems seen in B-series engines. The intake cam lobes of the K20A2 are three in number. The K20A2 has two outer lobes with low-RPM profiles that maximize low-RPM performance and fuel efficiency. The high-RPM race cam profile, which starts at 5,800 RPM and maximizes high-RPM power and performance, is located in the center lobe. Furthermore, the K20A2 employs a VTC system, which is a gear on the end of the intake cam that automatically changes intake and exhaust timing overlap.
The difference in VTEC systems between the two engines is noticeable during high-RPM driving. At high RPMs, the K20A2 will offer the characteristic VTEC “pinned to your seat” burst of power.
Engine Performance of the Honda K20A2 Stock
The K20A2 comes with some very astounding power ratings for a little N/A 2.0L 4-cylinder. In instance, the Toyota 1JZ-GE produces three less horsepower while having 0.5L bigger displacement and two more cylinders. That demonstrates the KA20A2’s unrivaled efficiency at the time.
The K20A2 is not just efficient, but also lightweight. In practice, this improved the power-to-weight ratios of the vehicle equipped with the K20A2. For example, the weight-to-power ratio of the 2004 Acura RSX Type-S, which used the A2, is 13.6lbs/hp. That outperforms the Nissan 240SX’s notoriously low weight-to-power ratio of 17.4lbs/hp.
The K20A2 has intriguing power delivery characteristics since it uses what the Honda community refers to as “real VTEC” or “true i-VTEC.” As previously stated, the A2 features two primary cam profiles. The K20A2 really offers equivalent, if not better, low-end performance than the K20A3 at low RPMs. When the 5,800 rpm mark is achieved, the A2 genuinely comes to life. As a result, it is preferable to really ring out the gears to get the most out of the A2.
Upgrades for the Honda K20A2 Engine
The Honda K-series engines are widely famed for their unrivaled dependability. In fact, most K-series aficionados will tell you that if you want a “mild” horsepower figure from your K20A2 (300-350whp), you won’t have to open the engine at all.
A turbocharger kit is the most frequent high-horsepower modification for the K20A2. The K20A2 is an excellent candidate for forced induction in stock form. Having stated that, bigger boost loads will necessitate internal improvements. Because the K20A2 has such a high compression ratio, forged pistons with a lower compression ratio are frequently recommended. This reduces the internal forces experienced by the engine.
Most people think the K20A2’s stock internal hardware is fairly good. For example, most people agree that until ludicrously high horsepower ratings, the factory PRB intake and exhaust cams are the best options.
While there is a lot more information available about high horsepower KA20A2 turbo builds, there are also a lot of folks who want high KA20A2 horsepower while staying normally aspirated. Having said that, when it comes to large power figures, forced induction is significantly more cost-effective.
K20A2 Turbo Honda
Forced induction is a common upgrade for the Honda K-series, particularly the K20A2. Many RSX Type-S owners choose to turbocharge their vehicles using a prepackaged turbo kit that includes all of the essential components. As previously noted, the K20A2 is an exceptionally durable engine that can sustain over 100+ horsepower more than standard with no significant internal changes.
Despite its general robustness, many experienced K20A2 turbo enthusiasts recommend strengthening the bottom end, updating the fueling system, changing the timing chain assembly, rejuvenating the valve springs, and replacing the factory head gasket. These safeguards strengthen a 300-350 turbocharged K20A2 against the high internal forces caused by forced induction.
More major adjustments are required as you approach 350-400 horsepower. It is an excellent idea to have a machine shop resurface the cylinder head, block, and bore 0.25mm over at this stage. You’ll also need to upgrade to forged internals at this time. Purchase a new crankshaft, forged rods, OEM rod and main bearings, and forged low compression pistons (0.5mm larger).
The 400-horsepower mark is also when you should consider sleeving the block of your K20A2. This will lessen the amount of internal wear on your K20A2 and provide as additional reinforcement.
For high horsepower K20A2 setups, an updated fueling system is also required. 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.
Supporting Modifications for the K20A2 Turbo
Because all Hondas equipped with the KA20A2 are front-wheel drive from the factory, you must determine how you will put the power down. Most KA20A2 Honda aficionados will agree that it is tough to transfer more than 350 horsepower to the pavement. The increased power will undoubtedly put more strain on a variety of different elements that could benefit from an upgrade.
While the RSX Type-S factory axles are said to be capable of withstanding up to 500 horsepower, power levels over that can induce axle distortion. Traction bars could be used to strengthen the axles against the frame while also preventing wheel hop. Sticky and wide tires are required for K20A2 drag builds. You’ll lose all of your power if you don’t have them.
Increased horsepower puts greater load on the transmission. The RSX Type-S’s standard 6-speed transmission is adequate, but it should be enhanced with the addition of high boost.
PPG straight cut gears are one of the most frequently mentioned gearbox improvements for the K20A2. Straight-cut gears produce no axial load, therefore they can withstand significantly more abuse. You’ll also need to upgrade your clutch in addition to the gears. Of course, the clutch you choose will be fully determined by the horsepower amount you want to achieve.
The Most Common Honda K20A2 Engine Issues
Among the most prevalent Honda K20A2 engine issues are:
- Oil Leak from the Front Main Crankshaft Seal
- Galling Exhaust Cam Lobe
- Engine Vibration Is Excessive
The aforesaid K20A2 inline-4 engine issues will be discussed further in this post. However, a few quick notes are required. These are a few of the most common concerns, however they aren’t always common in the proper meaning of the term. Instead, these are some of the most prevalent problems that arise when things go wrong.
Overall, the Honda K20A2 engine is extremely reliable. This is especially true if the K20A2 has not been changed. Having said that, the K20A2 engine is over 20 years old. Age and regular maintenance are also crucial factors in determining reliability. Finally, keep in mind that older engines may require more TLC and repairs.
1) Front Main Seal Oil Leak K20A2
K20 front main seals wear out over time and begin leaking oil from the timing chain cover area. It is not something that usually results in a major leak. Instead, the rubber seal develops microscopic flaws that allow modest oil droplets to escape. If left alone, the leak will worsen over time. K20 main seal oil leaks usually appear at 120,000 miles. Some endure the engine’s life, while others are less fortunate and develop K20 seal leaks before 100,000 miles. Problems may appear sooner due to age and a lack of oil change history.
Visible leaks are the most visible indication and are usually the only one that is seen. Again, the K20 front main seal is located under the timing cover, so look for leaks there. If the leak is severe enough, you may discover that you need to top off your oil more frequently than usual. However, you will most likely detect drops of oil on the ground before things get that bad.
Fortunately, repairing a K20A2 front main seal leak is extremely simple and inexpensive, especially if you have some DIY experience. The seal itself is only about $10-40. For the non-DIY set, the financial impact isn’t too awful. Of course, labor costs vary around the world, and some of it is determined by the year and type of your Honda or Acura. However, a reasonable estimate for front main seal replacement at a repair facility is $200-400.
2) Exhaust Camshaft K20A2 Galling / Pitting of the Lobe
Because the symptoms are so modest, it’s likely that K20s are driving around with no idea they have a problem. Power outages normally happen gradually because this isn’t a problem that appears out of nowhere. Rather, power loss occurs over time as the extra friction wears down the lobes of the K20. The most obvious symptom is most likely a clicking/tapping noise coming from the valve cover area. If the friction is severe enough, you can really hear the noises.
Galling usually necessitates the complete replacement of the K20 exhaust camshaft. Because the repair is rather labor-intensive, it is one of the more expensive K20 difficulties. Honda K20 exhaust cams are commonly available for a few hundred dollars. Not too bad for the do-it-yourself crew. If you end up at a repair shop with these problems, expect to pay between $800 and $1300. It’s a little costly, but that’s about as bad as it goes for the K20.
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3) Excessive Engine Vibrations in the Honda K20A2
A few simple maintenance problems might cause K20 engine vibration and harsh running. Consider the fundamentals first, such as spark plugs, ignition coils, a dirty throttle body, and so on. If none of the essentials are to blame for the vibrations, motor mounts should be near the top of the list. This is unlikely to be considered a concern.
Engine mounts are in charge of carrying the engine’s weight and partially absorbing bumps, turns, and so on. K20 engine mounts are a more common maintenance component. They are pieces that deteriorate over time. Engine mounts, on the other hand, are common causes of engine vibrations that are often disregarded.
The K20 mounts are reasonably priced, with both often costing less than $100. You’ll need the necessary equipment for the project, but otherwise it’s a fairly simple DIY. Expect to pay between $200 and $400 for replacement at repair shops.
Summary of the Honda K20A2 Engine Guide
Among the many K-series versions, the Honda K20A2 is a fan favorite in the Honda community. The K20A2 boasts the more classic DOHC i-VTEC valvetrain that Honda devotees are familiar with and enjoy, in addition to a higher compression ratio.
Objectively, the K20A2 is a very efficient and well-tuned engine. It maintains a very high specific output of 100hp/L in stock configuration and does so consistently.
While the K20A2 works admirably in stock form, most enthusiasts prefer forced induction. This is owed primarily to the K20A2’s extremely sturdy factory build, which can take about 350 horsepower in stock trim. While the A2 can be driven consistently at 300+ horsepower with low-moderate boost, a stronger bottom end and fueling changes are a sensible decision in terms of reliability.
It is doubtful that a K20A2 will suffer from any genuinely major or expensive dependability issues. K20 reliability is usually inversely linked to high power values. A leaky front main seal, exhaust camshaft lobe galling, and excessive engine vibrations are the three most common K20A2 engine troubles; none of which are genuinely common. The good news is that if your K20A2 develops any of these problems, repairs are frequently inexpensive and simple to carry out.