Tuning a Type R is a very straightforward process that anyone can easily accomplish with little more than a Windows computer and a handheld device that plugs into your FK8's OBD2 port near the pedals. The major platforms come with several excellent basemaps that will add a good chunk of power to any FK8, and there are many tuners that can take it even further.
Should I tune my Type R?
That entirely depends on whether or not you want more power or driveability out of your Type R. If so, tuning is necessary to achieve this goal as adding parts does little to nothing on its own. Depending on what tuning platform you choose, you can get entirely new features like full throttle shifting.
Adding a moderate amount of power (50-100lbft) to an FK8 is relatively safe and very affordable, although some parts such as your clutch will still wear faster. Since the FK8's release, there have been very few K20C1 engine failures that didn't involve a methanol system failing, antilag being heavily abused, or the engine seeing very heavy track duty. The basemaps on both platforms have proven to be very reliable and tuners have figured out at this point how to get the most out of an FK8 without making it unreliable. There are daily driven 550whp Type Rs nowadays.
However, you should be aware that jailbreaking and tuning your FK8 partly voids your powertrain warranty. If something does happen you may be on your own if the dealership determines your tune was responsible (or could have been responsible) for a part's failure, and good luck arguing with them when they say it was. The ECU shows how many miles it has been since a flash and this cannot be hidden or changed. The rumor that dealers mark down whether or not you are tuned after any service visit is not true, but if you try to get an engine replaced they will probably check the ECU. A new engine is not cheap.
What to expect
It's extremely easy to flash a new tune to a Type R. It's not much more than buying a handheld device, plugging it into the OBD2 port under your steering wheel and into your laptop via USB, and uploading a new calibration with a handful of clicks. Downloading and reviewing datalogs is usually just as easy. This section will be expanded soon.
First off, take every dyno sheet with a grain of salt and keep your expectations broad.
Depending on what parts you install and what fuel you have available, you can land anywhere between 350 and 500 lbft of torque and your horsepower will be within roughly 50-100 of that. Most tuned Type Rs will be in the 350-400 range due to how easily attainable and reliable that power level is for daily driving. Without a tune, don't expect to make much more than 15 lbft extra, even with full bolt ons.
While every manufacturer states that their part will add a certain amount of torque, for the most part many of these parts actually do very little for power output until you're pushing significantly more airflow. However, many of them will help greatly with reducing intake temperatures, which greatly increases power longevity.
Estimated horsepower output
Note that these tables are very rough estimates of how much peak horsepower you can potentially make with what's available on the market. FBOs are considered as intake, downpipe, frontpipe, intercooler, inlet pipe, charge pipes, and exhaust. Downpipe is assumed to have a high flow cat - removing the catalytic converter entirely generally only adds only 5 to 10 more lbft of torque over a high flow cat. Many parts combinations may not have a basemap available. The estimated price does not include labor or the cost of building the engine, should you decide to do so. A flex fuel kit isn't necessarily required for ethanol if you know the mix is on point for your tune.
|Parts||Estimated Price||No Tune||91 Basemap||91 Custom (+$500)||93 Basemap||93 Custom (+$500)||Flex Fuel Basemap (+$400)||Flex Fuel Custom (+$1000)|
|Turbocharger + Downpipe||$3000||N/A||Need Data||400||Need Data||425||Need Data||430|
|Turbocharger + FBOs||$5500||N/A||Need Data||410||Need Data||450||Need Data||450|
|Fuel Pump + Downpipe||$3300||N/A||Need Data||370||Need Data||425||Need Data||450|
|Fuel Pump + FBOs||$6300||N/A||Need Data||380||Need Data||425||Need Data||475|
|Turbo + Fuel Pump + Downpipe||$5800||N/A||Need Data||425||Need Data||450||Need Data||500|
|Turbo + Fuel Pump + FBOs||$8500||N/A||Need Data||450||Need Data||475||Need Data||525|
The table below is ordered from most beneficial to least beneficial modifications for making more power.
|Part||Effects on engine/vehicle/tune||Tune necessary?||Adds significant (> 10whp) power without upgrading turbo/fuel pump first?|
|Flex fuel/Ethanol/Race Fuel||Adds a significant amount of power in the mid to upper RPMs. Easily the best bang for buck mod, but ethanol and race fuel is not available everywhere.||Yes||Yes, but fuel pump greatly increases the potential benefits of ethanol|
|Downpipe||Stock catalytic converter is the most significant initial limitation on power besides fuel quality. Very little difference between high flow cat and catless. Makes exhaust sound way better.||Yes||Yes|
|Fuel pump||Required for getting past 425lbft safely. Allows for adding more boost, especially with a bigger turbocharger.||Yes||N/A|
|Turbocharger||Required for getting past 425lbft safely. Generally sacrifices a little bit of spooling time for a large increase in top end power.||Yes||N/A|
|Intercooler||Significantly reduces IATs and slightly decreases turbo lag.||No||No|
|Intake||Reduces IATs, has very little effect on top power. Most intakes will actually reduce power rather than increase it due to heat soak. Makes turbo significantly louder.||Sometimes||No|
|Inlet pipe||Slightly reduces IATs and slightly decreases turbo lag. Makes turbo louder.||MAF recalibration||No|
|Frontpipe||Has no effect before 400 whp. Afterwards, allows higher top end power.||No||No|
|Exhaust||Has no effect before 400 whp. Afterwards, allows higher top end power.||No||No|
|Charge pipes||Could theoretically decrease turbo lag and heat soak, but no significance for tuning.||No||No|
When to build the engine
The K20C1 has been shown to reliably handle quite a lot over stock power if it is not heavily abused, but there have been engine failures due to improper tunes combined with insufficient parts. There is no known limit to how much the stock connecting rods can handle and any increase in power is a decrease in reliability. There are simply too many variables to say what is and is not safe to run, but a rule of thumb is keeping large increases of torque beyond about 3500 rpm and not heavily leaning out the fuel to compensate for the fuel pump limitations.
Luke Wilson of 4 Piston Racing had this to say about the limitations of the OEM connecting rods:
There definitely isn’t a known limit, and assigning a torque limit is simply a broad generalization. Making power for a few dyno runs and then piddle farting around on the street with the car isn’t the same thing as making the power and abusing it. I have 2 of these cars…one which is abused heavily and one that I keep as my museum baby. Each person treats their car differently, drives differently, and push the limits differently. A lot of guys are making 450-500whp and 400tq and write their strong opinions about the internet being wrong about the limitations of the rods, then 4 days later call me to buy engine parts. We know what happened. Other guys make low power but are sitting on the antilag all the time doing pops and bangs….and they have broken multiple engines….even with aftermarket rods. I’ve also had some well known tuners bend rods that we use at 1300whp and 75psi with a 450whp basic bolt on Type R. That’s just poor tuning and not understanding the injection limits of direct injection. We see broken rods in completely stock engines with NO tuning whatsoever. We see broken rods in detuned factory race cars with less than 300whp and less than 300wtq.
You should consider building your engine if:
- You want to ensure reliability when turning up the power. While the K20C1 is fairly reliable even with increased power, nothing is perfect and there are many variables.
- You want more torque in the low end or you are doing a lot of launching off the line, i.e. drag strips. You will be exerting a massive amount of force at low RPMs.
- You want to be able to reliably use antilag (but not abuse it for show, there is no saving you)
- You heavily track or otherwise abuse the engine.
- You are using methanol injection as an additional fuel source rather than just reducing IATs.
Choosing a tuning platform
As of right now there are two self-service solutions for tuning an FK8 with the factory ECU. There are also a few turnkey standalone ECU solutions available. Products that intercept and modify the sensors the ECU reads to increase power are not recommended and are not discussed in this article.
Price: $700 + $250 jailbreak ($325 for 2020+)
Hondata is currently the most advanced tuning platform for the FK8. They offer an at-home remote jailbreak, allowing you to tune your car without ever leaving the driveway. Several additional features can be optionally added.
- Instant jailbreak from home, no need to send in ECU
- Tons of basemaps for many different combinations of parts and fuels
- Full throttle shift
- Advanced ignition-based tunable traction control
- Rolling anti-lag
- Flex fuel sensor support (via ECT2)
- Supports different sized injectors
- Fuel pump upgrade is available
- Fuel pump limit and fuel pump duty sensor
- Live tuning for several tables
- Option to start in +R mode
Visit Hondata's product page for more info
Price: $450 V1.2 / $650 V2 with touch screen + $250 jailbreak
KTuner is another option for tuning a Type R. While it doesn't really add any new features to an FK8 and isn't updated nearly as frequently, it's more affordable and the V2 features an awesome customizable touchscreen. Notably, a KTuner unit can be used on any model KTuner supports, whereas Hondata FlashPros are locked to a certain model.
- V2 has a touchscreen and LEDs that you can customize however you'd like
- Stores up to 5 tunes at a time (Hondata only stores two)
- Much more flexible charting interface on desktop software
- Access to misfire counts
- Basemaps are made by Derek Robinson
Visit KTuner's product page for more info
Jailbreaking your ECU
No matter which method you use to jailbreak your ECU, two things are the same:
- The ECU is jailbroken forever and you cannot 'transfer' your jailbreak to another car (i.e. if you trade in)
- You can use Hondata or KTuner, regardless of who unlocked your ECU or how, and switch between them freely.
Shipping it out
You can remove your ECU and send your it to either Hondata or KTuner to have it unlocked for $250, not including shipping. Turn around time is usually only a few days. The ECU is extremely easy to remove and neither company actually opens the ECU to jailbreak it.
You can jailbreak your 2017-2019 ECU from home with anyone's FK8 FlashPro using Hondata's instant jailbreak service.. You simply pay Hondata $250 and the desktop software will jailbreak the ECU from your laptop via the OBD2 port using the FlashPro. No removal of the ECU is required. Notably, it doesn't have to be your FlashPro. If you'd like to go with KTuner and don't want to have to remove your ECU and ship it to them, your friend with a FlashPro can help.
2020+ ECUs can also now be jailbroken from home with Hondata's CAN gateway for another $75.
Many Hondata and KTuner dealers and tuners can also perform on-site jailbreaking and flashing. If you're lucky enough to be near one, this may be the fastest overall option.
Finding a tuner
Due to the Bosch ECU, tuners that are experienced with even the latest generation Hondas may not be familiar with how to tune a 2017+ Type R. While tuners still get to work with Hondata and KTuner, the engine is still a K series, and the principles of EFI tuning remain the same, the approach for tuning this ECU is entirely different. It's smart, sometimes a little too much so, and does things on it's own that a tuner must be aware of to properly tune it. So, before you book a tuning appointment with your local tuner, make sure they've got some experience with the FK8 or European FK2. If they don't, this wiki should tell them almost everything they need to know.
For many reasons, remote tuning the FK8 is a fairly reliable and safe process compared to other platforms. We have a built in wideband sensor and the ECU has lots of protection and compensation mechanisms that will kick in if a mistake was made anywhere along with a constant closed loop, even during WOT.
While it's not possible to get every last drop of power out of the engine without a dyno giving you immediate feedback, remote tuning is a perfect solution for the majority of Type R owners and will arguably be a better option than going to a local tuner who doesn't want to do their research and won't get that power anyways. It's a very straightforward, laid back process where you just record and email datalogs of you driving in certain ways to your tuner and they send back revisions for you to upload.
A non-exhaustive list of tuners that are familiar with the Type R's quirks and special needs are listed below:
|Anthony Medina (Hybridworks)||@hybridworks_ant||707-554-3770||Vallejo, CA|
|Daniel Butler (Church Automotive)||churchautotesting.com||@churchautotest||Wilmington, CA|
|Derek Robinson (Innovative Motorworks)||imwtuned.com||@firstname.lastname@example.org||Carlisle, PA|
|Eric April (Precision Auto Canada)||precisionautocanada.com||@precisionautocanada||QC, Canada|
|Fred Morales (derf.tuned)||@email@example.com||Miami, FL|
|Gary Bains (Bains Tuning)||bainstuning.com||@firstname.lastname@example.org||San Jose, CA|
|Kefi (FK8 Clinic, creator of FK8 Wiki)||fk8.clinic||@email@example.com||Orlando, FL|
|Mike (the Tuner)||@firstname.lastname@example.org||Millersville, MD|
|Mitch (Rampage Fabrications)||rampagefab.com||@email@example.com||360-878-9565||Lacey, WA|
|Pepo Bebosa (Red Star Motoring)||Facebook Page||@firstname.lastname@example.org||San Juan, Puerto Rico|
Tuning on your own
Whether you're a professional who wants to learn the specifics, someone who likes tinkering on their own cars, or you just want to understand how it's done, read the Hondata Tuning Guide to learn the ins and outs of actually tuning a Type R.