Product Review: Phantom Audio Retuned Amp for the 04-08 TSX

You wonder how good something like this is going to be. I mean, come on…stereo upgrades start with the speakers. Magnets. Cones…and did forget the wires. Glorious wires!

Amplifiers? Definitely going to be an aftermarket one. Something with a custom rack if I’m not going to cheap out and definitely a sub box. Otherwise, why bother with an amp?

To a performance enthusiast like myself, a subwoofer box (and by extension, an amp) sounds like something really awesome for people who want to slow their car down. An impressive stereo isn’t worth the weight penalty to me. Besides, the car has a stock amp and sounds really quite decent.

Well, mostly. On the occasion that I really crank up the stereo, when those conditions are right on a great day, great road, and the perfect song comes on… It’s not hard to get the TSX stereo up to max volume. But woah, better turn the bass and treble down to avoid popping blasts and screeching, tinny highs. It’s just the way of life with a stock system. The stock stereo pings like a J-series at full boil without a tune.

But, what if I told you that you could give your stock stereo and speakers a really stiff kick in the ass without adding an ounce of weight? Get that volume up all the way without having to “pull timing.” Get solid bass that’s deeper and gives that therapeutic vibrato to the bum?

Phantom Audio Retuned TSX Amp

Time to pop the blue pill because the Phantom Audio tuning effect on the stock amplifier does just that and more. It seems like snake oil; a little unreal, but there is one word that encapsulates one’s reaction the first time they crank it up…


It isn’t the sort of wow that comes after you’ve completely revamped the audio system with $4000 worth of gear, of course. But more like the wow, you got when you reflashed the stock ecu computer with Hondata’s reflash. It’s an “I can’t believe this seemingly small change made this much of a difference” kind of wow.

People have attempted to capture the sound difference in videos. To me, YouTube isn’t able to convince much. You need to feel the bass and hear the highs. Recorded music only replicates real life, and a recording of a recording, compressed for YouTube, will surely fail to convey the true Phantom Effect. I’ll just have to articulate it the best I can…

The highs. Crisp and clear the changes challenge you to turn up the treble at higher volumes. Forget the ear-piercing ring you’re used to. Cymbals don’t distort. It’s magical because treble tickles the ears and without great reproduction you won’t feel it. You just hear more.

The lows. Deep and full. You aren’t just getting the hits. You can feel and hear the different kinds of base sounds uniquely. A drum, bass guitar, or deep vocal tone all come across in ways that help you appreciate bass for more than just filler. Bass is something anyone can appreciate when it’s loud, but, like an undersized turbocharger, without proper execution you are just blowing hot air. You hear the speakers pop when you overdo the volume…But be careful not to kill the messenger.

Saving my favorite for last, because the midrange makes music warm and exciting. Any music with solid mids challenges reproduction of both low and frequency and there is a real chance your inadequate system is going to get really muddy. Such is not the case after the retune. The midrange fills every crevice of volume in the car with rich, chocolaty, midrange yumminess.

Thus, I am quite happy to have installed the Phantom Audio Retuned Amp in my #HTSpecTSXThe installation is so fast and easy…less than 10 minutes. If you love your TSX, too, and wish for the stereo to sound rich and alive, but aren’t looking to completely redo the stereo, seriously take a look, even before upgrading the speakers (yes this modification will work well with aftermarket speakers as well…but, the idea here is that the amp will give you a lot more than speakers will).

Need more info? Feel free to call or post below. I’ll be able to answer whatever questions you have!

Exterior & Lighting Heeltoe Explains

Differences in 2004-08 Acura TSX & Accord CL7-CL9 Headlamps

In an effort to The North American 2004-08 Acura TSX, known everywhere else in the world as a Honda Accord, has a few different headlight options we will clarify for you here.

2004-08 USDM Headlamp

The Acura TSX comes with this lamp, with DOT required amber turn signal reflectors and diffusers facing the front and side.

Note that the HID ballast (standard on all NA TSXs) mounts on the bottom of this lamp. There is a variance between the 2004-05 mount style and the 2006-08 mounting style. That is true for all global 2004-08 TSX/Accord lenses in both the mounting configuration as well as the year change.

2003-05 JDM Honda Accord Headlamp

The JDM Accord comes with the same basic housing and lens as the USDM vehicle with a couple of differences.

  • The side diffusers do not have a reflector in them and are a smoked-shade.
  • The projector lamps and cut-offs are set for a right-hand drive vehicle. Meaning, the light is higher on the left side than the right side.
  • If the lamps are from a EuroR model, the chrome inside the housings will be s smoked-shade.

2003-05 EDM Honda Accord Headlamp

These lamps are the same as the JDM 2003-05 Lamps, except they will be set to the left-hand drive configuration. Additionally, they have leveling motors inside, which is normal equipment on these cars.

2006-08 JDM Honda Accord Headlamp

The 2006 model year brought a facelift to global CL7-CL9 chassis Honda Accords and Acura TSXs. As mentioned above, the ballast mounting changed. We are unsure if any function or specification of the ballast changed, but the mounting location definitely did.

The newer style lamp also had some visual changes. The front-facing blinker lens is now clear instead of amber. Also, the side facing diffuser has a textured/mild pattern over an otherwise clear, blue lens.

Again, EuroR lamps are denoted by a smoked-chrome inner housing.

Retrofitting a JDM right-hand drive Accord Cl7-CL9 lamp to left-hand drive spec.

2006-08 EDM Honda Accord Headlamp

Like the earlier generation lamp, the only differences here are the left-hand drive configuration and the presence of a leveling motor (the JDM lamps may have the leveling motor as well…to be confirmed).

Aftermarket DEPO 2004-08 Options

DEPO is a Taiwanese manufacturer that produces very good quality aftermarket reproductions of factory lamps. Often used in collision repair, they offer lamps that are DOT approved, meaning they have the required diffusers and reflectors.

Recognizing an aftermarket opportunity to replication a clear-corner option, the first release DEPO lamps had clear side diffusers and front-facing blinkers. The side molds were the same as the USDM replacements with the reflectors in place. Also, the lamps in North America are configured to left-hand drive spec.

The housings themselves are modeled after 2004-05 lamps, with that ballast configuration.

Smoked and clear options were made, but the side reflectors did not connect well with aftermarket tastes. People preferred the look of the 2006-08 JDM/EDM side diffusers which were devoid of reflectors and had a blue color.

DEPO responded by changing the diffusers to the blue reflectors seen on the later model 2006-08 JDM cars.

However, DEPO did NOT change the ballast mounting location. Owners with 2006-08 TSXs found that while the DEPO lamps bolt in place well, the 2006-08 ballasts would not mount properly. Custom mounting of the ballast was needed, and detailed in this article.

Another concern with the DEPO lamps was the change in projector lamps. The Factory TSX/Accord lamps use very high quality, die cast projector housings and cut-offs, while the DEPOs are cheaper stamped metal. While the difference could be noticed by the most finicky users, the DEPO lamps have proven to have a still very good projection pattern and lens cut-off.

Drivetrain Heeltoe Explains

Acura TSX Clutch Kits for 2004-08 model years – What’s up with RSX-S parts?

The Acura TSX is a great car, and one of the best things about it is the availability of a 6-speed manual transmission. It’s a sophisticated gearbox featuring a light-weight Magnesium alloy case for lightweight construction. That makes the 6-Speed TSX unique, even among other Honda and Acura cars.

Interestingly, the stock clutch is also different than most other Honda/Acura transmissions in that is it produced by AP in Europe, a company renowned for their work in brake friction. It’s much more common to find Hondacars with clutches made by Daiken corporation.

This break in normal supply has transcended into the aftermarket as well. It is actually quite hard to get low-cost cores from which performance aftermarket clutches can be made (yeah, most performance clutches are rebuilt from completely stock cores!) The clutch is so different from other K-series clutches that it uses a completely different flywheel. The clutch from a 1g TSX is considerably larger, offering more leverage within the cover to hold the increased torque in the K24A2.

Question: Without any aftermarket options, what do you do if you’ve boosted your TSX with a CT Engineering supercharger or done other upgrades to the engine and more clutch holding-power is needed?

Answer: Buy RSX-S parts!

Yes the TSX engine and transmission, while joined with a unique clutch, are still very similar in design with conventional design as other popular K-series applications. Simply swapping the TSX flywheel for an RSX-S flywheel allows the use of a very wide array of clutches, as the RSX-S is one of the most commonly modified Acura models using a K-series engine.

This should explain the odd listings you will find showing no TSX clutch available, or a caveat that the flywheel must be changed to use it. So if you want an aftermarket clutch, know that ANY application from an RSX-S will work in a TSX as long as an RSX-S flywheel is installed.

Bonus Post-Script!

Did you know that Heeltoe commissioned the production of a 2004-08 TSX specific performance clutch and flywheel? Sourced from vendors AASCO Motorsports and Clutch Net, we had made a TSX billet aluminum flywheel and rebuild a used core TSX clutch cover (pressure plate). The disc is a rigid hub full-face design, providing fast acceleration and direct power transmission from the crank to the wheels. As of this writing, the clutch and flywheel combination is being used in the HTSpecTSX. The images of that combination were used for this entry.

Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

Ingalls 38725/38720 Rear Camber Kit Install Tips

NOTICE: As of around 2016 or so, Ingalls Engineering was bought out by Dorman products and the kits discussed in this article are no longer available. We have replaced these Ingalls 38725 kits with SPC 67291 camber arms and 67295 toe arms (one each of these SPC kits equals one 38725 Ingalls kit).

The Ingalls rear arm kits come disassembled. In each kit are two tubes and four bushings. Take note that one arm may be longer than the other, and the bushings are all different. There are wide- and narrow- bushing collars, and silver and black nuts (signifying right- or left-hand threads).

On 38720 kits for 1999-03 TL, 2001-03 CL, and 1998-02 Accord, the arms are the same length but there are different size bushings to pay attention to. Read the included instructions or compare to the stock arms to assemble correctly. On a 38725 kit (for the 2004-08 Acura TSX, 2004-08 TL, and 2003-07 Accord models) I remember this phrase when assembling: “Short and fat; tall and skinny.” This helps me remember that the wider bushings go on the short arm, and the narrow ones go on the long arm.

Screwing the bushings into the tubes is usually easy, but the threads can get hung up a but. A little extra turning force can be had using gloves instead of bare hands, but if that is not enough, you will want to inspect the threads.

We have seen threads come out of the box with pieces of slag that will prevent assembly. These bits are easily removed with a small pick.

If the kits are mishandled in shipping, a thread can become damaged. It will look like it is flattened or folded over a bit. A small file will reshape the thread and allow assembly.

If the threads on the bushings look fine, check inside the tubes for debris. You typically won’t see the damage here, but slag can be a problem. Again, pick out any visible obstructions.

Some people have cited corrosion causes the bushings to seize in the arms over time. We recommend a high-quality anti-seize lubricant to stave of rust.

When assembling the kit, we suggest putting the bar length to exactly the same length as the stock arms with the same amount of threads on each side of the bar. To do this, we suggest these steps:

  1. Install the threaded bushings all the way against the tubes.
  2. Put a bolt through both the stock arm and corresponding Ingalls arm on one side.
  3. Spin the Ingalls tube while holding the opposite bushing steady. This expands both bushings out at the same rate.
  4. Expand the tube until you can put another bolt through the opposing end.

Don’t tighten the jamb nuts before the arms are installed in the car. Also, we recommend doing one arm at a time. Remove and replace one, then another, then move to the other side of the car. If you remove both arms it can allow extra movement that makes it more difficult to install the Ingalls arms.

The short arm with wide bushings goes directly under the shock mounting, and the long arm with narrow bushings is the “Toe” arm that mounts on the hub-carrier’s rearward stud. If you’ve installed the bushings on the arms correctly, you can’t mix them up. Here are torque specs if you need them.

Once installed, make sure all are tight and head off to get an alignment!

Heeltoe Explains Universal Fit Blogging You Can Do It! DIYs

8 tips to get you going on that FWD Honda Transmission removal/rebuild

Based on the recent and disheartening news that the transaxle in our HTSpecTSX needed to be removed and rebuilt, we decided to put together this post to show some handy tips that might arm you with some knowledge you need to get the transmission out of your FWD Honda with that much smaller of a headache.

Factoid: A transaxle is a combination of the differential and the transmission in one unit. Front-wheel-drive cars generally all have transaxles, not technically transmissions!

1. Safety is cool

First and foremost, please please please, wear safety glasses. They might be uncomfortable to wear at first but once you get into your job with tools in hand, you’ll forget they are even on your face. If you don’t put them on I promise you will regret it the very moment you are on your back in a compromised position working on a very difficult bold, and a piece of crud will fall in your eye. It sucks. This is the best-case scenario. Worst case you’ll be like an old coworker of mine who was hammering on a ball joint and a piece of shrapnel shot into his eye and blinded him on that side.

Safety is cool. In addition to the glasses, gloves are a great idea as well. Other important things to have are proper jack stands, and most of all, brains. This job involves some very simple but very real forces of physics. Look at the load system in front of you, and decide where your forces and counter forces are going to be. If this last comment flies over your head, consider leaving the job to a professional.

Now that we have the basics mentioned, let’s talk about some more specific topics.

2. Get the right manual

If you have a Honda or Acura, that means buying a real Helm service manual and read it a week or two in advance of doing the job at hand.  Honda sends a team of people to their production plants with these manuals and literally disassemble an entire car to make sure it reads and works correctly before selling the cars and publishing the books. It will tell you everything you need to know, and nearly every step to take, in order to properly perform any job on the car. If special tools are needed, they will tell you. Need to replace a bolt, or use a specific grease, or need torque specs? Buy the book. Get your very own copy at or on eBay.

A Genuine Helm Manual is full of detail.

3. Tools are your key to success

The manual will tell you what special tools are needed and which are proprietary Honda ones. Now, before you go out and buy all these expensive and hard-to-get tools know that there are good aftermarket substitutions out there. Sears, Harbor Freight, Amazon…you can get good tools to work on the car other than the factory. And also know that you don’t need ALL the tools they are suggesting. Overall these manuals are written for dealers and dealers have a huge cache of tools that they get from the manufacturers. You won’t have access to these tools. And they are pricey! So look for good alternatives. The trick is knowing which ones REALLY need to be OEM ones…that might just be something you figure out in the trenches. For example, expensive seal and bearing drivers can often be substituted for pipes of various sizes or sockets. Be resourceful and get tools, but if you don’t need to buy them that is all the better.

Use a large socket as a bearing or seal driver.

Here you can see my solution for removing this sealing bolt for which I did not have a 14mm hex driver. Of course, I bought one on Amazon and it arrived, along with a new bolt from Acura, in time for me to reassemble properly. This technique has long been a favorite of mine for removing stripped brake rotor screws.

A hammer and chisel made quick work of this sealing bolt that I did not have a 12mm hex driver for.

4. Manage your time and be realistic

Now is an opportune time to mention time management. The prime thing to keep in mind is to be realistic. A professional can take a trans out and put it back in in a day. Maybe call it two days if there is a rebuild in there. You need to expect that this job may take you twice as long, or longer. The reason is not because of anything besides experience and the quality and variety of tools. Professional technicians (even the mediocre ones) spend more money on their personal tool collection than you’d believe (I’ve known guys to amass a tool collection of $100,000 or more). To techs, tools are time and time is money. The better the tools and experience using them, the shorter the time to do jobs. They have lots of shop equipment at their disposal (vehicle lifts, to say the least). You’ll save a lot of money doing jobs yourself, but look at your tool collection and understand that you CAN do the job, but it is going to take a lot of time if that collection is not extensive.

You could be hanging around for a while...mostly waiting for parts. Use time wisely.

5. Save the beer for the fat lady

So, you are following instructions in the service manual, using some handy tools, taking your time, listening to music. Things are going well! Don’t crack a beer!

Even if your intentions are not to get drunk, a casual beer makes for casual work which is both inefficient and unsafe. Save the beer for when you are done working for the day. Because once you start the beer, it is the start of the end. Trust me; beer is a great tool, for celebrating. Not for working.

I wanted to rotate this pic, but my photo editor was drunk.

6. Get an impact wrench

One of the tools that will come in handy is an impact wrench. Commonly, impact wrenches are powered by air thus requiring an air compressor. I’ll tell you that since getting my electric one, my life has changed. I use the air compressor mostly for filling tires these days. While things like an air hammer and air rachets can be handy, nothing beats the convenience of an electric impact wrench. I have a Bosch one and I highly recommend it. It is compact, lightweight, and powerful. There are cheaper ones but they are more bulky and heavy. But, it won’t make you superman: Some fasteners need to be removed by hand so have a breaker bar also.

Say hello to my little friend.

7. Special fasteners can throw you a curveball or ruin your day

Watch out for left-hand threads. Righty-tighty-lefty-loosey applies almost universally, but there may be left-hand threads inside the transmission. Actually, the TSX trans is held together by them! Special black-coated bolts designed to prevent galvanic corrosion against the Magnesium case cannot be substituted and are distinctively left-handed. Usually, these special fasteners have arrows on them telling you to turn the opposite way you are used to. Also, some fasteners require special sockets to remove. The flywheel and clutch are held on with 12-point fasteners. The important message here is that if you need to cut one off, or break it by doing the wrong procedure for removal, you won’t end up with a new one by doing an 11th-hour run to the hardware store. Most likely your dealer won’t stock these parts, either. Again, read the book!

Arrows mark the direction to tighten.

8. The aftermarket provides more unknowns

Are you installing aftermarket parts in your transmission? If so, realize that no matter how good they are they probably are not going to fit exactly the same as OEM parts. I found out the hard way that the differential in my TSX transmission needed a different shim than the OEM one did, and had to order new shims at the last minute. Even though I’d given myself plenty of time, this little curveball could have really ruined things for my deadline. Tools can be improvised but actual components inside the trans have to come from specific manufacturers and substitutions won’t do. All the research in the world can’t protect you against Murphy’s Law. You don’t want to get details like this wrong because it could mean taking that transmission back out again sooner than later.

That is a good list to get you going. Be prepared by getting a manual and doing as much shopping as you can ahead of time. Expect to have something like a transmission rebuild to take a full week; this is in addition to the time to remove and install the trans from the car. Don’t be afraid to call Heeltoe if you have any questions or need advice!

Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

DIY: Progress Rear Sway Bar Tutorial, 2009-14 Acura TSX / TL, and 2008-17 Honda Accord

Install Tech : 2009+ Acura TSX (2009+ Honda Accord) : Progress 22mm Sway Bar (also applies to 24mm sway bar)

62.0105 22mm bar: Link Here!

62.0107 24mm bar: Link Here!

Anti-sway bars go by many names. Sometimes they are referred to as anti-roll bars, roll bars, or sway bars…but they all do the same exact thing: tie the left and right suspension together so that the car corners flatter.

The sway bar is basically a spring that mounts to the left and right suspension somewhere, then is secured to a solid part of the chassis. It works like a torsion bar, by twisting. Naturally, a larger bar is going to be harder to twist so it is desirable to upgrade the sway bar from stock size to improve handling.

The rear sway bar is the most commonly upgraded suspension part in a front-wheel-drive car, following shocks and springs. The rear sway bar helps make up for FF cars’ tendency to push, or understeer, into corners. Upgrading the rear sway bar noticeably improves handling on most cars without compromising ride quality. This part is easily the most bang for the buck you are going to get out of your Acura/Honda suspension.

We have felt that the stock 2009 TSX suspension is indeed very well set up, and the chassis is noticeably more rigid than the outgoing model. And while it feels balanced through turns there is a distinct feeling that the rear end is just following what the front of the car is doing. With the addition of a larger rear sway bar, the car feels flatter and more confident than before in turns. The rear seems to help “steer” the car around turns better. This is not the same experience we’ve had in the past, where a rear sway bar will “fix” a front-wheel drive car’s tendencies. Instead, this bar helps make an already nimble and balanced chassis feel even better!

The drill bit you’ll need for the next step is a 13/32″, or 10mm. We figure a 7/16″ bit should work just fine as well!

Here’s the point at which some people say “oh, I have to drill? I don’t want to do that for [insert lame reason here]. Is there a bar that doesn’t require drilling?” Yes, there are some. They are either too small to make much difference or will cause the bracket to tear off.

Don’t puss out; buy the bar and drill the hole! I can always tell a poser when they don’t want to open a hole up 2mm for the fear of making a permanent, irreversible change to their car. The reward is in the improved function of the car. Enjoy running laps around lesser TSXs!

Chassis You Can Do It! DIYs

Our HTSpecTSX gets new Fastline Performance Compliance Bearings by PCI

In addition to the 4-piece bearing kit, we have added a 2-piece kit. Read more here: Fastline Compliance Bushing Update: New 2-piece kit supersedes 4-piece kit

The compliance bushings in later model Acura and Honda vehicles were part of an innovative design to handle suspension movement. Despite being unconventional, the system worked well at softening road inputs while effectively keeping the control arm attached to the car. unfortunately, the compliance bushings wear prematurely and crack, causing sloppy handling and excess vibration. The issue plagues TSX and TL divers alike, with many TL drivers reporting failures within 60,000 miles.

Pro Car Innovations has an awesome solution for replacing these bushings with a more durable spherical bearing. The bearing is a rigid mounting point rather than a flexy rubber one, which has the promise not only of longer life but also of greatly enhanced road feel. Fastline Performance was quick to adopt this part as one of their own, recognizing the great benefit for performance and longevity that is so direly needed, especially on the 04-08 TL chassis.

We took the opportunity to install a set of these bearings in our very own HTSpec TSX last weekend. Getting the arm out of the car is not as difficult as one might think. There is a 14mm nut holding the sway bar link on, then a ball joint where the steering upright attaches, and three other attachment points with conventional bolts. While it can be tricky to get the right tool to fit the locations and do the removal, nothing really special is required to remove the arm.

The bushings in our TSX were not in especially bad condition, but they are well worn after 120,000 miles and a couple of track days and spirited road trips.

The first step in changing the bushings is removing the arm from the car. This is actually a pretty simple task. With only 3-4 main fasteners to have to deal with, which are all straightforward except the ball joint. Rather than put it in words, check out this very fast and simple method for removing the ball joint painlessly!

Once the arm is out, the bushing/bearing swap needs to happen. For what has the initial impression of being a bit of a pain to do (the bushings must be pressed out and the bearings pressed in) it turned out to be quite a simple job. Part of the reason for this was using a special tool for pressing the parts in and out by hand. Coupled with a trusty electric impact gun, the job was a breeze.

The kit comes with two compliance bearings with mounting spacers, as well as two other bearings that fit in the rearward subframe mounting locations. We elected to only install the compliance bearings at this time for two reasons: 1) The stock bushings at the rearward lower control arm mounting location were still in good condition, and 2) while we had a great tool for the larger bushing we had no such arrangement for the other bushing. So, we will do this one later understanding that the compliance bearing was the most major part of the job here.

Some install notes that were brought up by some early responders to online discussions. With regard to binding, there is no such concern. We found that the arms reach a limit of travel from the chassis mounting well before the bearings find a travel limit. Bearings can be noisy, however, we have found these bearings to be of very high quality and are play- and noise-free, at least in their new state.

The largest concern seems to be about corrosion. These are in an area susceptible to corrosive elements, however, we do need to cite that 95% or more of the component is not ferrous and therefore will not rust. The one item where rust can happen is the bearing race itself which if ever needs to be replaced is fairly simple and inexpensive to accomplish. While acknowledging there could be a concern down the road, corrosion is bad for cars PERIOD and we anticipate there being a greater issue removing the rest of the suspension bolts to do such a job than the need for the job really coming up in the first place. Of course, the best defense is offense, so we recommend liberally lubing the bearing from time to time to create a protective layer against the elements.

With the bearing in the arms and the arms in the car, I set off on a test drive. I was unable to feel much of a difference at low speeds in the neighborhood. Partly because our roads are fairly smooth here but mostly for the reason that the Innovate Mounts holding the engine in place transmit much vibration of their own. Initially, the system feels pretty standard.

Down the road a bit, some bumps were encountered with did send a noticeable shock through the front end. Botts dots and possibly small animals will be felt more than before. I imagine if you live in an area with rougher roads, you will need to be understanding that there is a tradeoff of more road input. It depends largely on the quality of roads, your quality of experience. Then again if you make a sport of avoiding such road imperfections, your skills will be greatly enhanced with the bearings in place.

Off to higher speed turns! Traveling at speeds in excess of 50-60 mph can make turning a little nervous feeling. With the standard car, there is a certain amount of smoothness needed to confidently turn the car, since there is a little delay between when you turn the wheel and when the car turns. This is due to the compliance bushings flexing under load. With the FLP/PCI bearings installed there is no such flex. Nor is there a disconcerting wiggle the nose does when hitting a bump mid-corner. The control is greatly enhanced as you can almost feel the tread-blocks taking up the stress of hanging on for dear life.

I must say, this upgrade, if it is one you might be putting off for fear that it will be one that makes you unhappy for any reason, I think you are possibly cheating yourself out of a great experience. I shudder to think of those who will appreciate the benefits of the Fastline Performance Compliance Bearings yet will never realize them due to risk aversion. These parts are innovative, durable, functional, and fully backed by Heeltoe Automotive. What more could you ask for?

Update 11/12/12: After spending some more time driving with these bearings in, my love for them has only grown. There is a very direct feel from my fingers to the road. When you are on the verge of breaking traction you can almost feel the tires gripping the road, and you can modulate the power very finely. This, of course, is enhanced with the polyurethane Innovative Mounts. however, I am finding the negative feedback from bumps was really overstated in the original writing above. While there are bumps that come up and jolt the front end, I am starting to think this has more to do with my suspension than the bearings. I am considering changing my suspension out soon to experiment with this.


The Hondata Reflash THE best bang for the buck on your 04-06 TSX

The engine in your TSX is controlled by a computer, which should come as no surprise. The computer, like all computers, is dumb. They just do what some programmer somewhere told it to do. Meaning, your car is running on a program made by some nameless, faceless engineering group at Honda to be the best Honda it can be.

Unfortunately for you, that does not mean it is the best PERFORMING Honda it can be. Engineers have to report to the company which needs to report to its customers. Not all customers are power-hungry pedal stoppers like you and I are. Therefore, there is almost always some power left on the table somewhere.

The Hondata Reflash for the 04-06 TSX is a revamped set of parameters that are downloaded onto your stock computer to de-geek it. Ironically, the program of the reflash was developed by the biggest Honda-geek of them all, Doug who is the head honcho at Hondata. That anyone, for a mere few hundred bucks, can get a fully optimized ECU tune by one of the modern-day masters is nothing short of a no-brainer.

During a recent dyno testing stint at Church Auto Testing in Wilmington, CA, I had the opportunity to do a little before-and-after test of the reflash on my personal HTSpec TSX. This 2004 model has about 120,000 miles on it and minimal mods (just a CT-Engineering Carbon Icebox, UR Underdrive Pulleys, and a Fujitsubo exhaust). Check out the before and after dyno graph:

Holy crap, just look at what happens past 5000 rpm! The Torque curve on the stock tune goes pretty abruptly down and after the reflash it very certainly is going UP. All the way to a peak of 189 ft-lbs. We are making really good torque which is fairly consistent from 3500 rpm to about 6000 rpm, where it tapers off near redline. But man, look at 6000 rpm, we go from about 156 ft-lbs all the way up to 180 ft-lbs! a 24 ft-lb increase for under $350???? Up, YES PLEASE.

So how is all the power being made? Well, it is all in the tuning. There are three major variables that are adjusted in a K-series engine: fuel trim, ignition timing, and cam phase. Fuel and ignition we know about. The fuel is usually more on the rich side to protect the engine from knocking, and while the computer is over-protective in this way it is such a detriment to power. The fuel is backed off ever so slightly in a still-safe manner, which has a big effect on power.

Ignition timing, also in an effort to reduce knock, is very eager to retard itself. Yes, retarding ignition timing is bad for power. By making the ignition timing a little more aggressive, the engine is able to spin faster and harder thereby producing more power.

What about the cam phase adjustment? The intake cam on the K-Series engine has a special gear on it with a mechanism called a VTC forming the hub. This special gear can move to advance or retard the intake cam at different RPMs, at the will of the computer. You may know that cams can be degree’d to make power at certain RPMs, but the VTC has the ability to CONSTANTLY tune the cam as you are driving! The main reason Hondata can get such good power numbers is that they can tune the VTC to act in a way that is a lot more efficient for making power than stock.

All of the adjustments Hondata makes are completely safe and literally invisible to anyone “looking” at the computer. Your Smog guy won’t know it is there, and the car will still pass emissions test just like normal. The dealer won’t know it is there and cannot void any part of your warranty. There are no engine lights that come on, no special fuel additives needed, nothing like that. Just get the reflash and motor-away!

Intake & Exhaust

Intake Shootout! 2004-08 Acura TSX Intake Systems Compared

Heeltoe’s Intake Shootout, 04-08 TSX

An air intake is probably the most commonly purchased power bolt-on item in the automotive aftermarket. Everyone is on board with the idea that a higher flowing intake system is a great way to change the power of the car (typically for the better). However, it is interesting how different companies formulate their designs. Fluid dynamics is a tricky science, and sometimes the more obvious solutions are not the best. Likewise, the more complicated answers are rarely the best for any given question. The only way to really see how designs compare was to do a dyno comparison.

The main categorical difference between intakes is between “short ram” and “cold air” intakes. The typical chrome tube with an open-air element filter on the end is a prevailing design cue, however, where that filter is located can change the power that is created. Systems that locate the filter in the engine bay are known as short rams. This is in contrast to longer-tube systems which place the filter outside the engine bay (usually behind the bumper) to draw in cooler ambient air. The physics at play is that cooler air is denser with oxygen. Since engines produce power by igniting mixtures of oxygen and hydrocarbons, the more oxygen in the intake charge, the higher the power produced. Playing in the cold-air field are ice-boxes, which are generally systems where the filter is a panel or cone housed inside an enclosed chamber with a tube running to an area with cold-air supply.

To get some contestants, we actually checked our own site to see what offerings there were for the TSX, as this is the car we’d be testing. The usual players were no brainers. The best-selling CT Engineering Icebox, the presumptive power producer Injen SP, and what intake test would be complete without K&N and their Typhoon? A few others added some spice; A’PEXi’s Power Intake, Trust’s Airinx, and Weapon-R’s Secret Weapon all provided some contrast for the test. Our initial plan for this test was to include a larger array of intakes including a Mugen Intake and J’s Racing Tsuchinoko (both ice-box type designs), however, cost and availability limited the test to only ones that people regularly purchase. People buying J’s and Mugen many times value the brand over the benefit, although we do expect both these systems are admirable performers. An HPS entry was requested as an “eBay” entry, however, again, supply issues got in the way. AEM Induction declined to participate (we suspect parent company K&N wanted to shine brighter).

The testing was done at Church Automotive Testing, one of the best in the business. Dynapack chassis dynamometers provide a very low degree of drivetrain loss making them sensitive to small changes. The installation of the intakes in this test was of the “quick-n-dirty” methodology without taking the car off the dyno. For the most part, we did not affix the clamps or tubes that would serve as permanent installation requirements. For the 3-4 pulls on the dyno we were doing, and given that were being charged by the hour, it seems perfectly fine to do things this way. If there is any dispute in the power numbers we are providing, I would kindly suggest such scrutineers validate themselves by testing on their own. The entire test took about 2 hours, and the ambient temp was about 84 degrees F. No tuning of the computer was done to complement these intakes as that would have been too costly in time and resources. The test TSX is not equipped with a reflash of any kind.

The point of this test is not to see how much power each part makes, because every car is going to have a different result based on the other mods it has (Incidentally, our HTSpec TSX was equipped with a Fujitsubo exhaust and UR Pulleys at the time of the test, otherwise it was stock). Instead, we wanted to get them all cycled through on one car with static conditions to see how they performed relative to one another. We are not able to publish every chart, and honestly, since we didn’t have a stock intake to compare everything to it seemed like it wouldn’t be necessary.

We also took sound clips from each intake from inside and outside the car. This was in an effort to really show readers how the intake sound changes the attitude of the car, and to see which intakes sounded “better.” Much to our chagrin, the videos really did not reveal much of a sound difference at all, and even in person the only intake which seemed significantly different from the others was the only one without an open-air element; the CT Engineering Icebox. You are going to get a lot more noise with wide-open throttles with an open intake. The sound of the intakes in many cases over-powered the exhaust sound while doing this test. Most people don’t make a fuss and even like the sound, as with normal driving, you don’t hear much of anything in terms of noise. That being said, we’ve been in automatic cars with intakes and nothing else, and they can get pretty boomy.

To help make this one of the most informative tests we could, we are also critiquing the packaging quality and highlighting the CARB status of each intake. Being smog-legal is a make-or-break factor in many people’s purchase choice. Without further delay, here is what we found out!

Trust/Greddy Airinx: #6

First up we have the Trust Airinx. Trust, the parent company of Greddy Performance, is a trusted name in the Japanese aftermarket. They have a long history of producing some really high performance items for cars, especially with turbo applications.

This intake is not normally available in the USA and we had special ordered it from Greddy a while ago. It took about 60 days to come in. The box is small and light but was packed well to avoid product damage. This intake is not CARB exempt.

We were surprised to see how simple this part was, the kit containing only three pieces. A nicely fabricated intake tube, an adapter to mount the filter, and a high-quality filter assembly with replacement element. We had heard in the past that foam filters perform better than cotton ones, so we thought while this kit seemed like it had little engineering work done to produce it, it might show well by having really low restriction.

Upon closer inspection, we were happy to see that the filter adapter had indeed a greater amount of detail work than we expected. The ring locks into the toothed flange area on the chrome filter assembly for a simple, hardware-free fit. Also, it has a curved surface lending us to believe it would promote better airflow around the inner boundary of the tube.

Here you can see how the filter installs. Much better than the typical band-clamp that you see on every other part out there.

Once installed there is a completely smooth transition from the filter to the tube. While we are not sure how much this detail work actually benefits performance we can say that there was considerable effort to reduce as much restriction as possible.

Installation was stupid-simple. One bolt which is re-used on the car already, tuck the inlet pipe into the OEM intake arm, and you are done. We think a pre-schooler could figure this out. Given this was a Japan-special order item and the instructions were not much help, this is a good thing. It also looked great under the hood, giving a splash of glitz and color to an otherwise plain engine bay. This is the only yellow filter we know of.

Power notes:
The short tube, foam filter combination did no favors for the HTSpec TSX. It registered a paltry 212 horsepower on the dyno. This was the lowest power-producing part we tested. We suspect this arrangement works really well on a forced induction car where more suction is created by the engine and the length of the tube is irrelevant. This design does not translate over to NA 4-bangers if this is the case!

PROS: Low cost for high quality, Easy Install, Exclusivity of rare JDM item, Underhood eye-candy.
CONS: Didn’t produce on the dyno, Need there be anything else to avoid recommending it?
VERDICT: Stick to Supras Greddy, Trust us.

Weapon-R Secret Weapon: #5

Next up is the Weapon-R Secret Weapon Intake. Weapon-R produces A LOT of parts. Historically, they have been somewhat of a cheapish brand, producing whatever seemed trendy at the time for a low cost. Even now their site has nearly as many scantily clad models on display as it does car parts (Hey, don’t leave now! Check it out after reading our article!). That being said, it was made pretty clear to us that the Secret Weapon intake is not to be taken lightly. It does have some interesting features that make it different from the rest of the contenders here.

The packaging is quite intricate. The filter is sectioned off, and the piping is in bubble wrap. Packing seems quite safe 🙂 Nothing worse than getting a kit like this only to find parts are missing or damaged.

Pipe material is a raw, polished aluminum that looks pretty nice. The diameter is about 3″ (metric size). Raw aluminum can have somewhat of a dull look to it, however, the Weapon-R looks quite good. The logo and patent information are actually imprinted on the part itself. This is actually a pretty special cue…one of our with parts today is that they all seem to be the same thing repacked and relabeled. Weapon-R values their identity and highlight their legitimacy with details like this. Even their band clamps have their logo.

Weapon-R has created something different than the mainstream, and something important enough to patent!

Here we see what is different…this inserts in the piping. This must be the “secret.” Very interesting! Perhaps this design is to encourage a more laminar flow through the turn in the pipe. Not sure…a dyno should tell us if the sound or power is different on this kit than the rest.

The filter itself uses a foam element. As mentioned with the Turst intake, we heard in the past that foam actually promotes the best airflow as a filter substrate. If that is true the choice of foam was good in this case. The filter is a highly engineered design. It looks in itself to be a well-made part. This filter has an exposed surface area around the outside, as well as a secondary open surface on the top with an “inner filter.” There is also a flange on the top and I was wondering what that was for…

And here we go! The intake actually comes with a snorkel that will draw cold air from behind the bumper. We guess this is the other part of the secret. Under the hood, you see a Short Ram Intake, but the snorkel actually makes this somewhat of a Cold Air in disguise.

We are wondering though much cold air is drawn in with this configuration since the outer surface of the filter is still open to draw in under-hood air. We will see if there is a power difference in both configurations.

The kit comes with decent hardware and looks to be quite complete. All the intakes in this test have permanent filters, and you can get cleaning kits for them online. However, the Weapon-R Secret Weapon was the only intake in the test to come with a filter cleaning spray

The instructions are in English and look fairly complete. They are a bit general but intakes are fairly easy to install. The hardest part, in this case, is getting the stock stuff out, and Weapon-R leaves you a little on your own there.

Installation of the Weapon-R Secret Weapon intake was reasonable. The pipe could have fit a little better, and I prefer the auxiliary inputs for the breather and IAT sensor of some of the other parts better. However, this part certainly did fit fine.

We decided to run the test with and without the snorkel tube on it. It was easy to fit the tube to the end of the filter and route it to the bumper. The HTSpec TSX is running a EuroR front lip but does not have fog lights installed. This provides ample air to the area where the cold-air intakes draw from. The tube on the Weapon-R was shoved right up to the fog hole, which we imagine would give more of a ram-air effect.

Here you can see the air inlet created by the fog lamp hole, and the Weapon-R intake snorkel right inside. This seemed like an ideal mounting point.

The Weapon-R performed easily as well as the other short rams in the test given consistent temperatures. When tested without the snorkel, we did see a lot of loss to heat soak. Run after run the power was dropping (more than with the other short rams). Once the snorkel was put on we did not see any power increase however the power stabilized quite a bit. We were able to do multiple runs without losing power to heat.

We think this is because of the extra material built into the tube near the throttle body. As heat builds under the hood the tube gets hotter, which in turn heats the internal structure Weapon-R devised. This probably is serving a good purpose for airflow however it could be acting as a heater for the intake charge as well. With the snorkel on, the tube is supplied with a cooler intake charge which, instead of gaining power actually counter-acts this heating. We are speculating, but it seems like they would be better off without the extra bits inside the tube, or possibly make them in plastic instead of metal.

PROS: Different from the rest, Unassuming appearance, Quality tube and filter, The most “complete” kit with cleaning spray.
CONS: No better than the average short ram, The brand-conscious might look past it.
VERDICT: The secret’s relevance was lost in translation.

A’PEXi Power Intake: #4

A’PEXi’s Power Intake we had high hopes for. Yes, we know it is a shorty. Yes, we know it isn’t CARB exempt. But it does represent a really great value as the cheapest in our test. Also, we had heard of testing done year ago that placed A’PEXi’s filters very high on the performance scale, not just for airflow but for actually cleaning the air as well. In looking at it, this part represented a good comparison to the Trust/Greddy part as it is close in design but with a different element.

A’PEXi packed the parts well, providing instructions that are all in Japanese (not much help but pictures are provided to aid). This was a pretty simple kit though to that wasn’t a bother.

And here it is. The Power Intake consists of A’PEXi’s proprietary filter, a 3″ stainless steel tube, and a couple mounting brackets. Stainless is a good choice compared to aluminum as it doesn’t transfer heat as quickly. If fed cool air, this pipe could feel warm on the outside but actually be pretty cool on the inside still.

There is also a supplied foam strip that is supposed to provide a seal at the body gap between the fender and the hood. The idea here is to prevent water intrusion at that gap in the rain. Many people think short rams are immune to water issues, but this is not the case. There is no risk of hydro-lock, but a saturated filter will definitely reduce power and can even stall the engine or prevent starting.

Here is A’PEXi’s filter. The part is all hard plastic, with the open element around the outside. The cone shape protrudes inside the filter body.

It is difficult to see but the cone inside protrudes pretty far in. This is supposed to aide airflow somehow. A similar idea to the air-horn many companies use, however in reverse we guess.

Also, note how the filter mounts to the tube. No silicone and band clamps here. All bolts and secure hardware. We do find it interesting how both participants from Japan have more dedicated mounting solutions for their filters. Worm-drive clamps, while effective, are not very elegant.

Here is the A’PEXi Power Intake installed. This was ridiculously simple, almost as easy as the Greddy. We also think it looks great. The stainless piping has a high-class look to it, and the filter looks like it means business. Normal cotton air filters are pretty generic looking and this one is definitely not categorized this way.

Power Notes:
As a short ram, we were not expecting much and since didn’t get much but weren’t let down much. Right around 215 hp and 178 ft-lbs, this intake was nearly identical to the Weapon-R. Unfortunately, it seems like A’PEXi is more experienced with turbo cars, similar to Greddy, as it didn’t produce numbers that say “you have to buy me!” Hey, Japanese guys, NA cars like cold air! That being said, this intake did not seem prone to heat soak in the way we expected.

PROS: JDM with a low cost, High-end materials, Great filter.
CONS: Not a cold air kit so the power is down, Not CARB exempt.
VERDICT: We’d never tell you not to get this one, but beyond the brand and cost we would have a hard time promoting it.

A’PEXi Power Intake Versus Weapon-R Secret Weapon

Here we see a dyno comparison of the Weapon-R Secret Weapon (red) versus the A’PEXi Power Intake (white). Even though the A’PEXi has a little mid-range torque advantage the overall graphs indicate these parts are pretty interchangeable in terms of the output. Both bested the Greddy no problem. The slight power difference is what gives the A’PEXi the nod over the Weapon-R. We’d like to see what the A’PEXi does with a longer tube though.

Injen SP Intake: #3

When we announced this test on, the vast majority of people were focused on the Injen intake as the power winner. We have to admit, that was the outcome we expected as well. We were really surprised to see that was not the case, and this resulted in their 3rd place ranking. Really, it could be considered more a tie for 2nd place, but there are factors outside power putting the Injen where it is.

Also note, that despite the fact it isn’t indicated on their website or their downloadable instructions, this intake is CARB exempt and therefore street legal.

The packing here is seriously thorough. Similar to the K&N which shares a short-ram/cold-air configuration option, there are a lot of parts in the Injen kit. They have packed them masterfully.

Here is how the Injen looks in short-ram mode.

The elbow going to the throttle body is a really nice piece making it a little unique in design. Many users have this intake already and like it. This inlet tube is a pretty huge 3.5″, the largest in this test. Interestingly enough it necks down to 2.75″ at the throttle body side of the rubber elbow.

While we are looking at the Injen here as a short ram we wanted to address the possible question asking why would this be a desirable feature? It is mostly because of fear.

Cold-air systems place the air filter behind the bumper much lower to the ground. There have been horror stories for years about cold-air intakes sucking up water when it rains. We would like to formally clarify and refute much of this claim.

Yes, while the placement of the filter does make it more susceptible to water this is only the case in situations of flooding. WHEN INSTALLED CORRECTLY, the air filter will be completely protected from splashing water by the bumper, fender liner, and splash shield. Simply driving in the rain–even torrential rain–is not enough to cause the engine to ingest water. One would need to drive through a flooded area to hydro-lock the engine. If someone doesn’t have enough sense to drive around floods (not a puddle, or a deep puddle, actual flood conditions 6-8 inches deep) or fails to properly install their splash shields, the cold air intake should not be falsely demonized.

Here is the intake in cold-air form. The extension tube is 3″ in diameter and connects directly to the 3.5″ intake tube with supplied hardware. Piping is polished aluminum, but it should be noted that this kit comes in a black powder-coat finish as well for a more subtle look under the hood.

Injen, like all the other open-air filter elements here, is proprietary to them. It is nice to see this detail.

Here is the short ram installed on the car. The fitment is pretty good, although Injen, unlike any other competitor, decided to design their bracketry so that the mounting location is on the battery tie-down post. This seems convenient but can really cause an issue for people who change batteries, especially to smaller ones, with custom brackets. Also, since this is not a really hard mounting location, fitment can be difficult and gets even worse if someone installs a throttle body spacer in addition to the intake, or installs a different manifold. No clear alternative mounting can be arranged if needed. This might be a niggling concern but it is something that has always irked us about this intake.

We have to make an apology here as we neglected to take a picture of the cold-air installed. If you can imagine, simply extend the polished pipe until it is out of sight and you have it.

Power Notes:
In short ram configuration, this intake performed like a short ram. The chart is relatively similar to the previous short rams, albeit with a smidgen less torque. We will call it even.

When compared to the other big players here, the CT and K&N options, we were surprised to see this intake perform no better at all than the Icebox, and literally poorly when compared to the K&N. The torque figure is 181, more than the short rams. But the power at 215 hp was not impressive. It scarcely made more top-end power than the short-ram version of itself.

We were speculating on how this could be. My personal thought is that the pipe is just too big. The engine in our HTSpec TSX is not modified in a way that such a large diameter is warranted. Bigger isn’t better in many cases actually. We were told by Injen to monitor AFR readings during our test and found that they consistently hovered right under 13:1 for all parts tested, meaning the engine was pretty consistent in reading intake temperatures and pressures. Perhaps a retest on a later date with more mods on the engine will reveal some more expected findings, but right now we are forced to deflate Injen’s ego.

PROS: Looks great, Has a sound that street turners like, Pretty popular so there are plenty around for easy purchasing, Two color options.
CONS: Little bite to match the big bark, Louder than more conservative drivers might want.
VERDICT: This option will always sell well and is a staple for Acura tuners, but isn’t the winner today.

Injen Short Ram vs Cold Air configuration

CT Engineering Icebox: #2

Showing up without a real fancy box was the CT Engineering intake.

Packing is nice and neat. There isn’t much risk of damage to these parts since they are pretty durable.

This part is made of molded plastic and therefore has the most stock appearance. Also, since it uses the stock intake tube, it is much less prone to heat soak than the metal pipes. The box utilizes an upgraded panel filter which has a foam substrate with an oil catch particles. The upper lid bolts to the factory lower lid, and the resonator chambers behind the bumper are replaced with an air-horn that promotes faster ingestion of air.

Overall, a really simple kit and that comes through in the price, which is neck and neck with A’PEXi for being the cheapest one here. However, there is an important product update we are announcing here: CT is offering the lid material in Carbon Fiber as in addition to the plastic previously used. We had the great fortune of being able to test the very first prototype CF box for this test. While the plastic lid functions well, it is a plain black finish; the new carbon part looks amazing. More pics and pricing details will be announced later.

The Icebox is more than just a plastic lid, as the inlet tube has a nice air horn design. This will dramatically smooth intake airflow as opposed to a straight-cut pipe. The stock airbox has a similar design. However, the stock airbox also has stiffening ribs all on the inside which could interrupt airflow. The inside of the icebox is completely smooth.

Previously, people had issues with installing the Icebox lid onto the factory lower box. This is largely due to the difficulty in producing molded plastic parts. Temperature and material volume must be carefully controlled, which is really hard to do if you are not spending five or six digits on equipment. We assume CT is not. Carbon is a lot easier to consistently produce.

The install of this part was a little better than the previous design. You are supposed to reuse the stock airbox bolts with this lid, but we are finding that longer bolts would make things nicer. If longer bolts come with your Icebox, you can thank us for that.

What we like most about this intake is the sound. With all the other intakes here, under wide-open-throttle, they get pretty loud. In the case of the Injen and the K&N it almost gets too loud to talk inside the car. The CT Icebox keeps the noise level to a reasonable volume by placing the filter inside a box (just like stock…hmmm). It gives the engine an aggressive growl without making it a teenager’s car.

Power Notes:
Everyone we spoke to assumed the CT would be producing less power than the forum favorite Injen, even CT themselves! A little searching would provide lots of annoying posts about “searching more” etc when someone would ask what intake makes the most power, or whatever. Here, we have proven that there is no such thing as conventional wisdom. The parts need to be tested…period. Even if the Injen in our test was not well represented, we proved that the Icebox isn’t a dog compared to it.

The CT gives up little or no power to the Injen at all. While the Injen didn’t show us impressive numbers itself, we now know that the CT is not to be taken as a low performing part as it did fare much better than then short rams. It also has a really nice torque bump between about 2300-2800 RPM, something that was consistent amongst all runs and didn’t show up on any other charts. We believe the large volume of the Icebox gets the credit here. An initial charge of air is ready to get ingested right as the throttle is opening. However, we are looking at the horsepower figure and thinking that there is something lost in air velocity as the revs climb. Yet, at the very peak, it matches our power winner making a solid 7 hp more than the lowest performer here. Results were pretty consistent as well since the composite materials don’t have nearly the heat-soak factor (again like stock, interesting).
The most impressive thing about the CT Icebox? It is made by a company that isn’t an intake company! CT considers itself a supercharger company. When comparing this product to other solutions, we feel they should be proud to be listed high up among the other intake-only companies in this test.

PROS: Low cost, Very simple kit, Makes power in-line with the best of them, Less prone to heat soak because it isn’t metal, Sound isn’t intrusive…actually sounds good!
CONS: The plastic is ugly and pricing isn’t yet available for the CF, Could fit better (even the CF one).
VERDICT: Bottom line, the HTSpec TSX arrived at the dyno with the CT Engineering Icebox on it, and left with it on as well.

K&N Typhoon Intake: #1

Here is the K&N Typhoon, our winner. Let’s look at what made this intake the top pick.

The packing is really good, similar to Injen. This kit also comes with an Air Filter Wrap which is supposed to help prevent water from saturating the filter, but as we mentioned we don’t think this is a big concern.

Here is the kit. The piping is the smallest here, suspiciously close to the diameter of the throttle body at approx 2.75″. This pipe was the smallest one in the test and was consistent in diameter throughout. The material is aluminum however it is not polished. It has a painted chrome finish which seems odd but possibly more durable. One of the pipes did have a flat at the opening, which wasn’t a big deal but was a little surprising to see. It could have come from a chop or band saw that had too much pressure. It wasn’t going to be visible or affect performance…no biggie.

K&N’s name is legendary in the performance filter market. Everyone else after them really seems just like that…followers.

Here is the short ram installed. Of the short rams, this one does look aggressive. The filter is really large and the placement is nice. It looks like even though is a short ram they made it as long as possible. The mounting is very simple, one bolt in a factory location.

Here is the cold-air version installed. It also fits well, and if we preferred the chrome-tube look would take this one over the others.

Power Notes:
What can we say, this one has a huge bump in torque over the others all the way from 3100 rpm to over 5000 rpm maxing out at 186 ft-lbs, 5 more than the CT and Injen. After the VTEC point at 6200 or so, the torque makes another appearance, again almost 5 ft-lbs more than either the CT or Injen can muster. This translates to a nearly consistent 3-5 hp improvement over the Injen on the power side. The CT is a closer rival but still doesn’t offer the power of the K&N overall.

It is possible that with a highly upgraded engine this intake could be more restrictive, but the level of upgrades most TSX users get into will not likely approach this limit until we are just this side of boosting the engine.

PROS: The most power and torque we had seen, Great fit, Solid name.
CONS: Not really polished, Will be noisy, Higher end of cost spectrum (excluding JDM offerings).
VERDICT: It wins the power race, if you are into the chrome pipe thing look no further.

CT-Engineering Icebox versus Injen Cold Air versus K&N Typhoon

Graph showing our top three finishers. K&N is the red dashed line, CT is the green, and the Injen is the solid red.

The K&N clearly has an advantage here. It is hard to ignore the fact that CT makes more torque and power where the others cannot, below 3000 rpm. Automatic Trans drivers will appreciate this.

One glaring issue is what happens at about 6200 rpm, where the TSX with a stock tune has the VTEC point way too high. We can’t see the logic in this, but we have definite plans to fix it!  A Hondata reflash is planned for our next trip to the dyno. At that time we would like to retest the top three finishers here in a more strict power test after installing a heatshield gasket. We’d also like to confirm is the P2R throttle body spacer is as good as we hear it is. Until next time!

Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

2004-05 TSX Wiper Blade Upgrade to Low Profile 2006-08 Wipers

You know, on the 2004-05 TSX, the wiper arms sure do get annoying to look at after a while. They are not horrible, but once you see them you can’t un-see them. I first really noticed them at the track where you are taking in so much information any bit of clutter or static really digs in and bugs you.

I decided to swap over to lower profile 2006-08 units.

Of course, the standard 2004-05 parts look perfectly normal, as just about every car has the same general design and layout.

Look how tall they are though…they come way up off the glass. Some people like to install some lower profile aftermarket blades that resemble 06-08 ones, but it is not a real solution because it keeps the standard arms in place.

Here you see a 2004-05 arm and blade against a 2006-08 assembly. The whole thing is so much lower profile.

Swapping them over is as simple as removing the cap at the end of the arm and getting a 17mm socket to remove the nut.

Behold the amazing disappearing wiper arms!!! I am sure it will wear off soon but the field of vision being uninterrupted really has me stoked to get behind the wheel. DEFINITELY a nice little mod to do.

These parts are available on for purchase!