Honda Accord: Performance Modifications

A performance modification can make your Accord something to be envied. This overview covers a few of the modifications you can make.

By Jared Hammond - March 4, 2015

This article applies to the Honda Accord (1990-2002).

Have you ever wished your car had just a little more oomph, or that it caused people to notice whenever it goes down the road? There are several modifications you can make to give your Accord that extra power, and this article will give you a good sampling of what you can do.

Performance Modifications

You shouldn't expect any drastic changes. There is no simple "best bang for you buck" upgrades when comes to increasing horsepower. What you get out of your engine depends on how much time, effort, and money you're willing to invest. Changing the performance chip is risky, but also worthwhile if you know how to tune your car to take full advantage of it. Getting a bigger sway bar (or adding a rear sway bar) will give you considerable improvement in handling. Changing the exhaust can make your car sound like an animal on the prowl, and give the engine extra flow.

Performance Chips/Engine Management

DIY Cost $60+

Professional Cost $200+

Skill Level Difficult; you have to know how to program it in order to get the most out of your engine. Be careful what chip you use or it could turn out badly.

A performance chip will connect to your car's ECU to push past the factory limits on the engine. The nice thing about a performance chip is that it works better with other modifications, such as the intake and exhaust headers. But it requires knowledge of the ECU programming to really tap into it. So if you can, find a professional who is knowledgeable in Honda ECUs to install it for you. There's also a lot of false advertising on chips you find online. Be especially wary of any chips sold on eBay because that's where you'll find a lot of copycat chips, claiming to be a legitimate brand. Putting a bad chip in your car could spell a disaster for your engine. So be careful if you decide to go with this upgrade. Recommended for its ability to push past the engine's limits.

Sway Bars

DIY Cost $170+

Professional Cost $370+

Skill Level Moderate; you'll have to work under your car to install them, but it's not highly technical.

Sway bars, also known as anti-roll bars, keep your wheels flat to the ground while turning. Having both front and rear sway bars combined with good performance tires will improve your car's ability to handle turns at high speeds. But, like most things, this modification is all about balance. Having a rear sway bar that's too stiff can increase your oversteer, while having more stiffness in the front will add understeer. It's not necessarily bad since all cars have a degree of understeer and oversteer. Some, who like a looser feel with more rotation when going around a corner, will want a stiffer rear sway bar. Others, who want the car to feel more rigid and controlled, will focus more on the front sway bar. Just make sure that whatever adjustment you make, it's something you can handle while on the road. Recommended for its handling abilities.

Performance Exhausts

DIY Cost $13+

Professional Cost $300+

Skill Level Moderate; similar to the sway bar upgrade, you'll have to go under your car for this one.

Performance exhausts increase the flow of exhaust gases from your engine, improving slight performance. To really take advantage of a new exhaust, you'll want to include a new exhaust manifold or "header" on the engine, which will cost at least $100 or more on the second-hand market. On most naturally aspirated engines, such as these Honda motors, the main performance gain is in the header. However, be leery of claims because header design is incredibly complex, and inexpensive units increase only decibels, not horsepower. Recommended for its performance.

(Related Article: Exhaust System Reviews - Honda-Tech.com)

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