Should you get an intercooler for your 10th Gen Honda Civic?
With any turbocharged car, you have to cool down the air after it gets compressed in the turbo and before it reaches the engine. With very few exceptions, the majority of turbocharged vehicles, including the 10th Gen Civic 1.5T and Type R models, use an air-to-air intercooler to get the job done.
Intercooler placement is important so it receives a cooler sample of air to transfer the heat to: Both Civic models use a front mounted intercooler, which is ideal. So why would you need to upgrade and what do you gain from it?
4 Great Reasons to Buy an Intercooler
For Your 10th Gen Turbo Civic
Just like all the other stock parts, the stock intercooler works. But that's about it. It cools the air down enough to maintain a minimum level of reliability and produce power without harming the engine. But many of us are after more than just reliability and stock power.
Reason #1 to upgrade: Power.
An intercooler gives you the ability to make more power by way of cooler, more dense air. By itself, it's not producing anything in addition to what's already coming in. It's manipulating the same air in a more efficient way. With the stock intercooler, it's not uncommon to see the temperature of the air coming into the engine be 40, 50, or 60 degrees above the ambient air passing over the intercooler. That's because the stock intercooler just isn't transferring enough heat to the outside air passing through the core. When you can cool down the air, it becomes more dense. More dense air has more oxygen packed into it and will result in stronger combustion inside the cylinder.
Reason #2 to upgrade: Consistency.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes your car feels like it makes a different amount of power than it does at other times, even during the same trip? Many times, this is due to the intercooler.
If your car is running and not moving, like in a parking lot or at a red light, the heat being generated is absorbed into all the components surrounding the heat source, which is the engine or even the ground on a hot summer day. The stock intercooler absorbs it and doesn't shed it as quickly as a higher performing unit. So the air going into your engine is closely matched to the temperature of that heat soaked intercooler. At some point it becomes harmful and can contribute to detonation or pre-ignition. Although a stock power level 10th Gen Civic won't suffer from that long term, it's not conducive to making power. The ECU will pull timing, boost, and cut the throttle to avoid harm. This all results in less power and inconsistent performance.
An upgraded intercooler can quickly shed off heat by better using the outside air to cool and dissipate heat.
We have a comprehensive video install and review on the Mishimoto Intercooler Kit over on our YouTube channel.
Give it a watch to see the install process!
Reason #3 to upgrade: Quality.
Okay, aside from some intercoolers being extremely visually appealing, like the PRL motorsports (one of my favorites), that same appeal is an indicator of quality construction as well. The stock intercooler has plastic end tanks. You obviously cannot mate plastic to metal without a seam of some sort. So on the stock piece, the end tanks and core get clamped together with a seal in between. This can eventually break down from high boost, lots of abuse, and high heat which usually all go hand in hand.
A nicely machined or cast end tank that gets TIG welded to the core not only pleases the eye, but it is a much stronger connection as the welds are joining the pieces together and removing the seam to create one single unit. Something like this will handle any boost level the Honda turbo 4-cylinder engine can take.
In addition to the all metal design upgrade, almost any aftermarket intercooler will feature a bar and plate style internal construction, opposed to the tube and fin style featured on the stock core. Although bar and plate might not maintain pressure as well as tube and fin, the cooling benefit far exceeds the pressure differential. In reality, many newer cores are able to hold boost pressure very high and stay very efficient than in older designs. A bar and plate core is what you're after for high boost, high heat generating turbos like the Civic.
Reason #4 to upgrade: Bigger turbos.
In addition to being way more efficient than stock, an aftermarket core is almost always larger as well. This allows you to push more air through it and maintain cooling efficiency. Ultimately, that means the volume of air that a moderately bigger turbo can produce will be handled just fine by a bigger, more efficient intercooler.
Conclusion: Intercoolers Help Get The Most From Your 10th Gen Civic
At the end of the day, intercooling is an essential part of a successful turbo car build. Honda provides you one, but they're not doing you any favors if you want the most performance from you 10th Gen Civic.
Upgrade your intercooler and let that engine breath some cool air!
We love all things PRL, and this intercooler is no exception. It bolts right in to the factory charge piping, or you can purchase a charge pipe upgrade kit to compliment.
Mishimoto Intercooler Kit
Mishimoto is known throughout the industry as offering complete kits for easy installs, all with excellent finishes and performance. Take a look at this complete kit, with color choices and all the hardware you would need!
About JP Alonso
I'm the founder of Edge Autosport and I remember first getting into cars in high school. I read all the magazines, bought a bunch of technical books, and finally got to start wrenching around the age of 19. I really enjoy modding and being able to live out a passion is truly awesome. I wouldn't change a thing.