Horsepower is a funny thing. 200 horsepower in a Hummer feels nothing like it does in a Miata. It’s also relatively easy to add a ton of horsepower to certain cars, as long as the engines are easy to work with and enhance. In this guide, I want to talk about the K24 engine.
Since the engine offers huge bores and taller strokes, it opens the door for modifications. People like to put turbocharger kits on this engine and go through a full system overhaul to maximize its horsepower. A few years ago, a team squeezed 1,000 HP out of a project car that was running a K24 engine. With just a simple dyno tune, you can greatly increase the horsepower of a stock 200 HP K24 engine.
More specifically, how much horsepower can you pull from this great Honda engine? I’ll talk all about the K24, its impressive history, and some real examples of how much horsepower this engine can handle.
What Is a K24?
A K24 is a type of stock engine that comes in Honda cars. Honda has a rich history of making four-cylinder engines that blow everyone away.
Looking back to when the S2000 was launched in 1999, it had an F20C four-cylinder engine. At the time, it offered the highest ratio of power-to-liters across any naturally aspirated engine in the world.
Needless to say, Honda has always been the industry leader when it came to developing engines.
The K24 offers 2.4 liters of displacement (hence the name). It’s part of Honda’s K-series of engines.
As a stock engine, Honda’s K24 has bigger bores and higher strokes than its previous engines in the K-series.
Like Toyota’s 2JZ engine series, Honda’s K24 series was reliable, incredibly powerful, and very accepting of modifications and tunes.
The K24 was only in production for a few years, but it left a big mark on the car world. People quickly noticed the potential that this engine offered.
Where Is K24 Engine Used?
The K24 engine is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine that is commonly found in a variety of Honda and Acura vehicles. Some of the cars that have used the K24 engine include:
- 2002-2019 Honda CR-V
- 2012-2015 Honda Civic Si
- 2002-2008 Honda Accord Type-S
- 2008-2017 Honda Accord
- 2003-2014 Honda Odyssey
- 2003-2011 Honda Element
- 2012-2015 Honda Crosstour
- 2013-Present Acura ILX
- 2015-2020 Acura TLX
- 2004-2014 Acura TSX
This is just a partial list of the cars that have used the K24 engine, as the engine has been used in many other models over the years. It is worth noting that some of these models may have used different versions of the K24 engine, as the engine has undergone several updates and improvements over the years.
Stock Power on a K24
The stock power on a K24 is pretty lackluster. Even the highest-performing K24 in their lineup barely makes 200 horsepower. This can be enough horsepower for a daily driver, but it’s barely enough to drop someone’s jaw.
However, there’s a big asterisk here. The K24 isn’t beloved because it’s the best stock engine, it’s beloved because of how well you can tune it.
How Tuning a K24 Works
This leads us to the simple question: how much horsepower can a K24 handle? It’s much more than just 200 horsepower.
I should quickly explain something. A stock engine has a lot of limiters and bottlenecks. It’s an engine that’s made for the everyday driver. The average driver wants a quiet, very reliable engine, and the K24 was definitely achieving that.
However, you can go through a “performance tuning” process and dramatically change the horsepower of your engine.
The ECU in your car will tell your engine how to react to things. It determines fuel mixtures, how fuel flows, and when to shift. One part of tuning revolves around changing the coding in this computer and adjusting how all of these things are done.
The next part of tuning revolves around mechanical components. You’re not going to change the engine, but you can change just about everything else:
- Opening up and streamlining the exhaust system
- Adding a turbocharger
- Improving the intake
- Tweaking the firing sequence
- Changing the height of spark plugs
All of these changes result in real horsepower shifts. Suddenly, the same engine can create and handle significantly more horsepower.
How Much Horsepower Can a K24 Handle?
Depending on the build, you can multiply your horsepower multiple times. Motion Auto put a K24 engine in a Civic and overhauled the system a few times to see how powerful they could make it. They did this through turbocharger swaps and a number of mechanical upgrades.
At first, they got it up to 616 horsepower. They went through another round of upgrades, then got the car up to 708 horsepower. They tried again and achieved 890 horsepower.
Finally, they ended up with a Civic that generated 1,000 horsepower with the same K24 engine.
It also came with a massive turbocharger, a new exhaust system, new coilovers, and new wheels.
Can You Put “Too Much” Horsepower in a K24?
I’m going to talk more about this concept in a second, but it’s possible to make big upgrades and not see a change. For instance, you can drop a massive turbocharger kit on the K24, but it might feel no different.
Even if the kit is rated up to 1,200 horsepower, an unchanged drivetrain can’t deliver anything close to that.
It’s a matter of how well the engine can take in air and exhaust air. If the intake or exhaust systems are too restrictive, then there won’t be enough airflow to convert the turbocharger into usable horsepower.
In other words, simply doing one big mod to your engine won’t unlock more horsepower. This is why performance dyno tunes are so important — the process is very involved, and it entails more than just adding a turbo kit.
With each additional part, the engine needs to be readjusted so it can maximize the new setup. This involves changing parameters on the car’s computer and doing a number of tests on the dyno to maximize the configuration and get the most horsepower out of it.
The Mechanical Problem with Too Much Horsepower
Often, the engine is one of the limiting factors when it comes to maxing out your horsepower. The engine is responsible for taking air and fuel, turning those into usable power, then pushing that power out to the rest of the drivetrain.
If the engine can’t breathe well enough, then it will choke out and under-deliver. All engines have a certain horsepower threshold where the transition starts: it goes from an excellent source of power to losing its footing and underperforming.
The modifications I mentioned earlier will allow for better airflow through the engine. A turbocharger will maximize every cycle in the engine, and intake/exhaust systems give the engine better “lungs” to breathe with.
Another mechanical issue with too much horsepower is that stock parts start to rip apart and break. With more horsepower, your whole system is under more stress.
Driveshafts that are fine with 200 horsepower can snap in half under 600 horsepower. Tires that can handle stock engines will slip and shred apart under high horsepower values.
While it’s definitely cool to have a car with so much horsepower, it requires a lot of mechanical upgrades before you can consider it. That’s to say that even though a K24 engine can handle 1,000 horsepower, you have to go through a ton of swaps and upgrades before you can even consider that.
The Other Issues with Too Much Horsepower
Another issue with putting too much horsepower through your K24 engine is knowing how to handle it. You’re suddenly behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car with no specific training on how to drive it.
It’s so easy to mess up and wreck your car when you have that much horsepower. In reality, there’s no reason for a streetcar to have any more than 400 horsepower. When you have more than that, the accelerator pedal is so touchy that you can send yourself into an accidental slide very easily.
On the track, it’s a different story. Every horsepower can trim down your lap time, so it makes sense to keep stuffing more horsepower under the hood. For a daily driver? I would suggest against it.
Should You Mod Your K24 Engine?
A question that people always ask me is whether or not they should mod their car. In this case, does it make sense to mod and tune a K24 engine to get more power?
In most cases, it’s a fun experience to unlock some extra horsepower and go through the steps of getting a performance tune.
Even if you use your Accord or NSX as a daily driver, it would be fun to do some slight mods on the car. I’m not saying that you should spend thousands to completely overhaul the car. Just a simple dyno tune on your current car can make the driving experience feel radically different.
From there, there are plenty of low-cost ways to add aesthetic mods to make your car look sportier.
The real question is: would you have more fun and feel more comfortable in a car that you modded? If the answer is yes, then go for it. If you’re anti-mods and you like the car as-is, that’s not a problem either.
At the end of the day, you should drive a car that you want to. Don’t feel pressured to mod or tune your K24 just because you can.
As you just saw, the K24 has a ton of potential when it comes to tuning and modding. A team put 1,000 horsepower into the same engine that comes with 200 horsepower stock. If you have a K24 in your project car, I want to hear all about it.
Garrett Advancing Motion
Ultimate Honda K24 Guide – Everything You Need To Know