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1997 Honda Civic DX - Tech Support

Where we cure all your tech problems.

May 29, 2012
Sstp 1207 04+1997 honda civic dx+header Photo 1/4   |   1997 Honda Civic DX - Tech Support

We know how difficult it can be to work on cars; believe us, we’ve had more than our share of problems over the years, too. Good thing we’re willing to share this knowledge of problem solving with you and act like we know something technical about cars. Feel free to ask us about your tech problems by writing to Super Street at or Super Street, Attn: Tech Support, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. We’ll try out best to answer your questions but can’t answer every one we receive personally or in print, so if your issue is urgent, we highly recommend you seeking the help of a nearby mechanic! Also, try to do some basic research online; while the Internet and forums aren’t all foolproof, it is a very good start as there are many excellent resources to look at. If it helps to include a few photos to describe/illustrate your problem/project, please do so.

Sstp 1207 01+1997 honda civic dx+cover Photo 2/4   |   1997 Honda Civic DX - Tech Support

Oh you Stancey, huh?
Q My question might be hard to describe, so please bear with me. I’m trying to stance my car to be what I consider flush. I already have my fenders rolled/shaved and I don’t want to do a pull. My question is about fitment. Everyone I know and some people on forums are running different setups, so it’s a little hard to do some math and I don’t want to sacrifice the handling characteristics of my car since it’s a daily driver and we do a lot of canyon runs where I’m stationed.
Ryan Valencia
Via e-mail

A Well, Ryan, based off the information you’ve given us, you’ve got two conflicting ideas: Stance and proper vehicle dynamics. The simple fact of the matter is that, short of re-engineering your suspension design, you can have one or the other, but a “stanced car that handles well” doesn’t exist outside of bespoke racecars. Over-lowering the car messes up the geometry of the suspension and will make the car handle significantly worse. Furthermore, running a lower offset wheel than the factory intended will change the scrub angle, which makes matters even worse. We’d suggest making a compromise between the two and go with a moderately low ride height with wider wheels that are only slightly lower in offset than stock.

Sstp 1207 02+1997 honda civic dx+hatchback Photo 3/4   |   1997 Honda Civic DX - Tech Support

Honda Cop Has Bad Rash
Q I’m a Police Officer at the (edited for privacy) Police Department in (edited). I’m facing the worst rash of car thefts my city has ever faced. I had 16 1990-2000 Honda Civics stolen in 5 hours. We’re a small city, about 84,000 people and we’ve had over 100 Honda Civics, Accords, and Integras stolen this year, and it’s only March. Do you guys know of any way to make a shaved key not work in these cars? Can you help me make this more difficult to take these cars? I care about this because I’m a Honda guy. Yeah, I know, not many Honda cops are out there, but we do exist. I realize I can’t make a car theft proof, but I have to do something.
Adam Baschevy
Via e-mail

A There really isn’t much you can do aside from giving every person in your county with a Honda a new ignition tumbler. We can recommend that enthusiasts take some additional precautions like adding a kill-switch or other immobilizing devices to deter would-be joyride thefts, but if someone really wants to steal a car to strip it down, they’ll take it—no matter what.

PDE my H2B in NYC?
Q I have a ‘97 Civic with a H22A H2B all stock with a Euro-R head and GS-R tranny. I am wondering what ECU should I use to get it inspected in New York? I only need a data stream with no CEL. Can I use a stock PDE ECU for inspection? What would then be the best tuning option?
Zack Sive Wellsville, NY

A Unfortunately, the JDM ECUs, like your PDE, will not communicate through the data port. You’ll need to run a USDM ECU, like Sean is doing with his project EK, and for your engine the best option is to get an ECU from an OBD2A Prelude for smog, but you’ll likely have to add a few sensors, like Sean did with his B-series. Then when it comes time to tune use a jumper harness and a OBD1 unit like those from Hondata.

High Intensity, Dog
Q I have a 2002 Honda Accord and I was considering getting some projector headlights to swap with my factory headlights. First of all, would you recommend this swap as being worth the cost and does it increase performance of the lighting? Second, I have looked on such sites as and there are so many options, other than looks I’m not sure on which option would be the best choice as far as fit and performance. Can you recommend a particular option or options for me? I appreciate any help and info.
Via e-mail

A In our experience we find that aftermarket lights are hit-or-miss in terms of quality and many of them leak and fit poorly. We’d recommend going the custom route like Accord Wagon featured in this issue and retro-fit an HID project into your stock housing. That way you know it will look right and will offer a real performance gain. There are lots of companies out there like JLC Lighting who offer inexpensive DIY HID setups.

Swap Meat
Q I have a ‘97 Civic DX with a D15. My question is what would you guys recommend for a swap? I’m undecided between a D16 VTEC head or a B-series. What would you guys recommend?
Ruben Rodriguez
Chaparral, NM

A See page 62.

‘Bout to Blow a Gasket
Q I am putting together a B20/VTEC engine; it’s a B20B block and a B16A head. I don’t know what head gasket to use. I read that you can use a B20 OEM gasket, but will I need to modify it? I had a LS/VTEC before and the person that helped me build it said always use a VTEC gasket. My main concern would be oil restriction. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
Via e-mail

A You will need to use a B20 gasket, since the cylinder bore on the block is 84mm whereas the other VTEC motors are 80mm, but you’ll need to enlarge the dowel pin holes. The other option would be to run the Golden Eagle gasket specifically designed for this Frankenstein configuration.

Geezer Pleaser
I have a 1994 Acura Integra GS-R sedan. I was wondering if this would be a good platform to start tuning? What would you do in my 17 year-old shoes? To my knowledge, it has a B18C in it currently. I just was looking for a quick daily-driver and maybe take it to a couple track days. Any answer would be much appreciated.
Luke Thaxton
Via e-mail

Sstp 1207 03+1997 honda civic dx+1994 acura integra Photo 4/4   |   1997 Honda Civic DX - Tech Support

A Congratulations Luke, the GS-R is an excellent car and doesn’t take much to be quick. You’re right, it does have a B18C in it and the first thing we’d recommend is doing some basic maintenance because by now it probably has a lot of miles on the clock. After that, look into some basic performance mods like intake/header/exhaust and match that up with some good suspension, sticky tires and good brake pads and you’ll have more than enough to have some fun on track. Good luck!



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