Incremental advancements

Incremental advancements

Well, if you’re reading this I’ll assume you are interested in the build of my 8th gen R18, so here goes.

If you found yourself here without knowing the backstory, you can click the two links below to get yourself all caught up.

What does one wish for when they have a R18 civic? Well, they wish they had an SI of course. When my dad told me he knew someone willing to let go of a civic for a great deal, of course I was interested. It checked all the right boxes: 8th gen, 5 speed, 4 door, well maintained, and GREAT price but the one box it didn’t check was the K20 mad vtak box. At first I was not disappointed by this at all, I mean c’mon, I have enough DOHC VTEC in my life already and I really didn’t need any more. Unfortunately, the more I started to develop a bond with this car the more I longed for it to have a K20. I often think… how cool would it have been if the previous owner of this car had just gotten an SI instead of an EX-L. If he had I would be driving around in an SI right now instead of an R18, and lets be totally honest, the SI brand new was like 23K and the EX-L was 19k, that’s not even that much of a difference. The previous owner even went out of his way to buy a 5 speed EX-L so we can’t even say he didn’t get the SI because he wanted an auto.

Since acquiring the car I have thought of how I could make it into an SI. The chassis is perfect, no damage, 1 owner, 100k miles, oh why couldn’t it just be an SI? It’s even polished metal metallic, the same exact color you could get a SI in. After researching about how to swap a K20 into a R18 chassis and coming up with the same unanimous answers… “just get an SI” It was becoming apparent that I wasn’t going to get a K20 in here without spending what it would cost to just buy an 8th gen SI now. Fortunately the SI and R18 share the same basic chassis and a lot of parts are interchangeable between them and even some 9th gen stuff too.

I have now accepted that this car will never have a k20, nor will it ever be an SI. But, I can still do what I can to replicate or mimic some of the 8th gen SI’s great qualities. After some forum searching I was able to gather up some of the more easily swappable parts between the two platforms. SI muffler, and sway bars seemed to be some of the commonly upgraded parts for people with R18 civics.

I jumped on offer up and Facebook market place trying to locally source a SI muffler and Sway bars. I did take long before I realized finding these locally was going to be harder that finding the lost ark.

One day though I got a hot lead on someone parting out an SI civic right here in Vegas, but when my buddy sent me the link to the add it was immediately apparent why I hadn’t seen the add…. FILL IN THE BLANKS WITH THE FACEBOOK PAGE. Yep, that’s right, it was all in Español. Still, I messaged the guy in the add and had asked him if he had the axle back muffler and how much he would sell it for. His response went something like this… “I bought the whole exhaust brand new 9 years ago and paid 1200 dollars”. UGHHH WAT… I replied, is it the stock muffler? “yes” he said. So at this point I’m way confused… Did he buy a whole brand new OEM exhaust for the car at one time? What the hell is he talking about? I asked him how much, and he said 30 bucks for it. I couldn’t really go wrong for 30 bucks, so after arranging a meet up time, he sent me his address and I was on my way. After pulling up his address on my phone and realizing that it was not in the greatest of neighborhoods I was starting to wonder what I was getting my self into.

  • Didn’t speak English
  • Lived in a bad area
  • “parting out” a Civic SI

Not that I was that afraid, but I made sure to bring the biggest friend I have, Ever. (It’s a joke, Ever is 150lbs) Any who, we made our way to the north east side of Las Vegas on what seemed like the hottest day in August I have ever been alive for and proceeded to meet up with the nicest Hispanic I have come across in a long while. Family man, lived in a well maintained house and happened to have owned a civic SI for many years that he had recently gotten into a crash with, totaling it. His thoughts, like many who have been in the same situation before, was to take the insurance money and then part out the car to try and recuperate some of the money that the insurance company surely shorted him.

The car was covered when we arrived at his house, when he uncovered it I was instantly disappointed. As it turns out the “stock muffler” I was lead to believe was on the car, was in fact not a stock muffler, but rather a pretty nice aftermarket Apexi WS exhaust system from the header on back. So it was true, he probably did spend 1200 bucks on this thing years ago. For me though, this wasn’t a come up. First of all someone had already bought the swap from him and instead of unbolting the B pipe from the header the just cut through the Apexi piping right under the shifter. That wasn’t really to big of a deal, it’s not like the exhaust would have bolted up to my R18 anyway. Second, I couldn’t even just unbolt the axle back muffler and bolt it on to my car because it wouldn’t have bolted up to my stock piping. Also, since the gaskets are different for the aftermarket muffler/piping vs the OEM muffler/piping there was no way of getting it to bolt stright on.

Well, since I was there already and he was only going to charge me 30 bucks for the muffler I might as well take it and try to modify it to fit my stock piping.

Below you can see the comparisons between the stock muffler and the Apexi one. See how they are same length from the hanger to the flange where it bolts to the B pipe, but you can see how the orientation of the bolt holes on the flange isn’t going to line up with the stock B pipe. If I had gotten an SI axle back the holes would be orientated in the same direction and it would actually bolt on to the R18 B pipe as long as you use an SI donut gasket.

Below, this is how the car looked with the stock muffler

Clearly the Apexi muffler wasn’t going to bolt on to the stock R18 B piping. My solution was to just cut the flange off the Apexi muffler and the R18 muffler, then weld the R18 flange onto the Apexi muffler.

Now the Apexi muffler bolts to the car just as an OEM SI muffler would and utilizes all stock hardware. Let me just be clear that I didn’t put this on the car to improve performance AT ALL! The goal was that I wanted a nice looking chrome tip and incase the sound slightly just to improve the overall driving sensation.

When I was getting the muffler I decided to just go ahead and pick up the SI front a rear sway bars too. These are a very cost effective way to improve the performance of your R18 civic and these will bolt on to any model 8th gen civic coupe/sedan.

  • R18 front is 24.2mm
  • SI front is 27mm sedan and coupe is 28mm
  • R18 rear is 10mm
  • SI rear is 17mm sedan/coupe
  • JDM FD2 rear is 21mm (but good luck finding one)
  • 9th Gen SI rear is 20mm and bolts straight up to an 8th gen (PN 52300-tr7-a51) you can use your stock end links, and D brackets. Just make sure you get the Bushings for the 9th get bar (since its a larger diameter)

Below is the comparison between the fronts. It’s worth mentioning that upgrading to a larger front sway bar can often increase understeer and if I was actually tracking this car, I might have actually just left the stock 24.2mm front bar. Also the stock 24.2mm bar is hollow and is much lighter than the SI’s solid 27mm/28mm bar. However, I chose to upgrade to the 27mm SI bar to increase the cars responsiveness and improve the overall driving experience on my daily commute.

The rear is where you’re really going to see the improvement in handling. Just look at the size difference between the two! 7mm is a huge improvement and is immediately noticeable. As of now I’m still debating on which sway bar will find it’s forever home on the rear of my R18 civic.

  • OEM 8th gen all years SI 17mm = 165 lbs/inch 52300-SVB-A01
  • OEM 9th gen 14-15 SI 20mm = 315 lbs/inch 52300-TR7-A51
  • Progress 22mm = 425 lbs/inch
  • Progress 24mm adjustable = 465 lbs/inch (soft), 500 lbs/inch (middle), 535 lbs/inch (firm)

I feel like having the 24mm rear sway bar will be overkill for street driving, not only will it make the rear of the car stiffer in terms of just driving straight and going over bumps in the road. It will also make the car oversteer quite a bit and I’m not sure if that something I want for just spirited street driving, especially since I won’t have that aggressive of an alignment. Lastly, I’m not sure if all my old worn out rubber suspension bushings would allow me to fully reap the benefits of that large of a bar and I don’t want to be ripping brackets off my car. I know that both Progress 22mm and 24mm sway bars come with reinforcement brackets, but you know how it goes when you reinforce something… you’ll just find the next weakest link that needs reinforcing. Of course there are many variables to this… tire size, compound, driving style, track driving or just street driving, etc. Do I think that the 24mm sway bar would rip brackets off just driving on the street with a street tire? No probably not, but again I don’t think its all that necessary to have 24mm for a daily driving street car.

I feel like the 22mm is probably the best option, BUT and this is a BIG BUT, the 22mm progress bar is 190 bucks… You can order the 9th gen SI one BRAND NEW from Honda for 47 bucks (click the part number link above) and then you just need the bushing which are another 5 bucks. So for less than 70 bucks shipped I can have an OEM rear sway bar. Is 2mm really worth the extra 120 bucks plus shipping? For a daily, probably not.

One other super important part you’ll need to install any of the larger rear sway bars (8th gen si, 9th gen si, progress 22mm, progress 24mm, or any other rear bar meant for an fa5/fg2 chassis) are these brackets that bolt to the chassis of the car and the D brackets of the sway bar bolt to. You absolutely need them, DO NOT just drill out your OEM R18 ones! You can buy these brackets brand new from Honda.

Or just make sure you unbolt these from your donor car if you’re buying it from a crashed car part out.

If you read my first post about this car (you can click the link at the beginning of this article) you’ll remember that I was having clutch pedal issues (typical for 8th gens) so I opened to do a conversion to the em1 (99-00) OEM style master cylinder. However, this didn’t fix the clutch issues I was having and the nest logical step was to replace the slave cylinder. I ordered up a brand new OEM slave for an R18 civic. This is very very easy install so I didn’t do a step by step for the process.

You just unbolt the 2 bolts holding the slave to the trans and disconnect the line. Have the new slave ready and as soon as you disconnect the line quickly swap it to the new cylinder. This will help keep the fluid from leaking everywhere. You also don’t want all the fluid to completely drain from the master, otherwise you will need to bench bleed the whole system again (which is a PAIN on an 8th gen)

Once you have swapped the line to the new slave, bolt it back on to the trans and then bleed the clutch. You’ll most likely need 2 people for this, one to pump the pedal and the other to crack open the bleeder on the slave. people will argue that there are ways to do it solo… gravity bleeding, power bleeder, or a speed bleeder. But I have found that those don’t always work 100%. Sure, those methods will get you up and running and make your car moveable for the time being. In my opinion though, I can never fully trust that those ways aren’t prematurely wearing out your synchros or causing premature transmission wear due to slight milliseconds of the clutch not completely disengaging. Sure I’m probably being OCD about it, but I always find a helper to give me a hand pumping the pedal while I crack the bleeder open

I run this stuff in ALL my cars

So next I decided to de-badge the trunk. You can use fishing line, floss, or in my case I just used a plastic interior panel tool. Usually you would use a heat gun to warm up the adhesive to help it easily come off and not rip off any of the clear coat, but this was mid august in Las Vegas (temps are above 110 degrees)

You can see there is some adhesive tape left. You can use WD-40, Goo gone, or one of those rubber erasers that are meant for removing pin striping of a car.

Finally and probably the best MOD you never knew you needed for your 8th gen civic (all models). If you actually own an 8th gen then at some point I’m sure you’ve had the door slam closed on your shin or it has smashed into you as you have been getting out of your car and caused you to spill your coffee all over the place.

For some reason, the doors on all 8th gens only take a fart from a nearby deer to blow the door closed, and forget about having the door stay propped open if you are parked on even the smallest degree of an incline. EVERY SINGLE time I would get in or out of my car this would bug the crap out of me. It literally would infuriate me to heart attack levels. I took to the internet searching for some sort of solution to what was one day going to put me in the ground, Lo and Behold, I came across many others that had the same problems with their doors closing too easily and more importantly a solution to my first world problem.

The solution was a 9th gen civic door checker. 72380-TR3-A01 I only purchased the driver side, since I don’t often have passengers and rarely if ever use my passenger door.

Below is the comparison of the removed one and the new 9th gen one.

Below is the old worn out 8th gen one

The hardest part of doing this is removing your door panel (which isn’t really that hard) just follow my step by step process below.

Use a flat head screwdriver to gently pry up the switch panel to gain access to a Phillips head screw that hold the door panel on.

Unplug the two clips from the switch panel and unscrew the Phillips head screw

Next you’ll pop off the cover behind the handle by depressing the clip and the cover will easily come out

This will gain you access to another Phillips head screw

Lastly there is a panel clips that needs to be removed. Do this by pressing in on the center of the clip, this will release it so you can pull the clip out.

Now grab the door panel at the bottom towards the speaker and gently pry it away from the door moving your hand clockwise towards the end of the door. This will unclip the panel and the simply lift upwards to unhook it form the top nears the window seal. You will need to pull pack the clear plastic to gain access so you can remove the checker. Do not pull it all the way off just simply pull about 1/3 of it off, just enough so you can reach your hand in and pull the old checker out and insert the new checker but be careful because the black goo they use to seal it will get EVERYWHERE!

Pete loves sitting in the car, while Rigby would prefer the garage

Remove the bolt holding the checker to the chassis.

Remove the 2 bolts holding the checker to the door.

Slide the new checker in place, bolt it on, and reinstall the door panel in the reverse order of removal.

This door checker mod was probably the most gratifying modification I have done thus far. In fact, if you have an 8th gen civic and hate this about your car and you’re local to Las Vegas… I will install this on your car (as long as you buy the checker) Just so I can see the excitement on your face when you see how easily the door stays open, even on steep inclines too. 10/10 would recommend this to EVERY 8th gen owner.

There are plenty of more mods that I have coming up for the R18 civic, and there are more SI things coming too. When ever I do upgrade my rear sway bar from the 8th gen SI one I will do a detailed install process on which ever I choose.

The day I went to pick those parts from that crashed SI was so unbearably hot that I missed out on getting some other parts that I had wished I got while I was there, especially since SI part-outs locally don’t come up very often.

I should have gotten:

  • Font brakes (calipers, rotors, and hubs) since SI hubs have a large wheel bearing to help hand the excess forces of driving hard.
  • ABS unit (I’m not actually sure if this would work or not, but it would be worth trying).
  • SI front seats/rear seats (my EX-L is leather style and I hate everything about it) too hot in the summer, too cold in winter, to slippery when spiritedly driving.
  • SI trunk wing.
  • SI rear trailing arms (they are also beefier than the R18 models).
  • SI steering wheel.

If any readers know someone parting out an SI please LMK!

I hope you enjoy keeping up with my pointless build of an R18 civic. I promise, there is a lot more pointless things that I’m doing too, so spare me your peanut gallery comments of “why didn’t I just get an SI,” I have gone over in my previous post about why I’m doing so much work on what is seemingly a pointless car and you can read those reasons by clicking on the link at the top of this post “how to lower and 8th gen civic.”

If you like what I’m doing, have any questions or comments, or just love 8th gen Civics don’t be afraid to reach out via email: Billy@functiontheory.com, Instagram @Functiontheory, or just simply comment below. I would love to help answer any questions you might have.

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