Car Reviews

VTEC Honda Engines – Working and Uses

By TheCarzingTeam August 6, 2019 | Car Reviews

Car Reviews

Honda developed an engine system called Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control, commonly called as VTEC. This engine is being used for higher performance at a high rate of RPM and lower fuel consumption at a lower rate of RPM.  This VTEC engine also increases the overall volumetric efficiency of an internal combustion engine which is four strokes. The VTEC engines are different from usual Variable Valve Timing (VVT) systems which do not change the valve lift by only changing the valve timings. Many people and automobile enthusiasts have questions like what Honda engines are VTEC. There are many engines which are manufactured as VTEC by the Honda brand which are listed as follows.

What Honda engines are VTEC?

The VTEC engines make the intake and exhaust valves change profile resulting in an engine producing a high output with high RPM. When only intake valves change the profile, then there are many applications which are used for practical purposes. If a single intake valve closes, then the engine can provide ultra-low fuel consumption.

Thus, the different working of intake and exhaust valves of the VTEC Honda engines has its beneficial features. In the question of what Honda engines are VTEC, the solution is right below. Following are the answers to the query what Honda engines are VTEC.


In 1989, it was introduced as Dual Overhead Camshaft, which is called as DOHC in Honda Integra XSi which used the B16A engine. In the same year, VTEC engines were used in the Honda Civic and Honda CRX with B16A1 variant. Acura NSX was the first model that arrived with VTEC engines in the United States. Then DOHC VTEC Engines were used widely in different vehicles worldwide. Various varieties of VTEC are offered like i-VTEC and i-VTEC Hybrid.


Honda also installed the VTEC system in Single Overhead Camshaft, SOHC engines like J-series and D-Series. It shared the same camshaft for both exhaust and intake valves. Honda VTEC on SOHC works only on intake valves because spark plugs are located between the exhaust rocker arms. Usually, VTEC requires a rocker arm and camshaft for each intake and exhaust. The camshaft which has the center lobe is not used by intake and exhaust and hence it leaves VTEC to the side.

SOHC was introduced in the year 2009 to use in both intake and exhaust valves in all the models of Acura released that year. The cylinder of the model has six rocker arms and cam lobes respectively. The primary and secondary rocker arms are available in the intake and exhaust shafts. The term ‘primary’ refers to the VTEC switching piston.


A modification was made to the existing VTEC Engines so that it could increase the efficiency of combustion at low RPM. This was the first step to introduce roller arms which eliminated the use of three intake lobes to actuate two valves. Instead of this, there were two separate intake cam profiles for a cylinder. This ensures that the VTEC does not engage when the RPM is lower. The normal cam lobe in VTEC has the same timing as SOHC, and hence the performance is the same in both the cases. The difference that the VTEC E engines brought was the replacement of more powerful cams. This increased the speed and torque benefits of the engine.

3-Stage VTEC

The performance is similar to the VTEC, except that three different cam profiles are used so that the lift and intake valve timing work together. It is a combination of low fuel improvements brought by the VTEC-E and conventional VTEC engine. A 12-valve mode is used to help in various functions like the swirl of the intake, which helps in low-end torque, better fuel economy, and increased combustion efficiency. A 16-valve mode is also available which provides peak power when the RPM range is at the top.


Honda i-VTEC which is called as Intelligent VTEC combines the operation of DOHC VTEC engines with the VTC engine of Honda. The K series and J series engines released with this technology in vehicles is as follows

  • K-Series: The double implementation of i-VTEC is used in K-Series engines. The performance is similar to the DOHC VTEC system like B16A. There are 3 cam lobes in both intake and exhaust cams in each cylinder. VTC with conventional DOHC VTEC is the performance in i-VTEC.
  • R-Series: It uses a modified SOHC VTEC system that consists of two large lobes with a single small lobe. The small lobe is processed during VTEC when the larger lobes process the intake valves. The system acts in a reverse manner when compared to the typical VTEC systems. It exhibits excellent fuel efficiency without affecting the performance of the engine.
  • I-VTEC with VCM: Honda introduced an update of the J series as i-TEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM). It is a cylinder deactivation technology when a valve of one bank of three cylinders is closed at a low speed and load operation. This deactivation of cylinders is done automatically by the engine to increase fuel efficiency by reducing consumption.
  • I-VTEC i: Honda Stream was introduced in 2004 with direct injection methodology which used 2.0 L DOHC i-VTEC I gas engine. It integrates the i-VTEC system that uses VTC and VTEC for air-fuel ratio for lean combustion.  Benefits – using less fuel and a stable combustion is achieved.


The Advanced VTEC engine in 2006 was introduced by Honda. The engine combines continuously variable phase control with continuously variable timing control and valve shift. But no vehicles still use the engine, though it is included in the 2008 Honda Accord.

VTEC Turbo

To have an increased speed with less fuel consumption, VTEC Turbo was introduced in the year 2013. It came up with new features like turbochargers, gas direct injection, and exhaust on the intake of Dual cam VTEC AND VTC.

These are the different engines made of the VTEC system and the solution to the question of what Honda engines are VTEC.

VTEC Engines by Honda

  • The Japanese car manufacturer, Honda, designed the extremely powerful VTEC system for its gasoline engines. It was a very successful invention and many car manufacturers started to develop their own systems after this. It was a big success and soon became an important part of Honda’s identity.
  • There was a greater demand in the early 80s to manufacture high-end speed vehicles with drivability and high-power output. It was the vision of an R&D team of Honda to manufacture a 200 HP per liter power output system. They also came to know the need for a method to thwart the air inlet resistance.
  • They found the solution with Revolution-modulated Valve Control, REV valve mechanism. The team then designed a system with multiple valves to optimize airflow and achieve smoothness for operating engines. From this REV system, they soon invented the VTEC valve actuation system to use in automobiles.
  • By using this, they can have two camshaft profiles and variable valve opening times. The camshaft profiles make it easier for the engine to run at differing speed and RPMs. This is a great discovery for low to middle engine speeds and medium to high-level engine speed. In 1991, the US market saw the introduction of the system with the Acura sports car.

Honda Discovery of VTEC

A long-time ago, it was considered that to have a higher fuel consumption then the engines had to generate high power. The best way to achieve this vision was considered to have a bigger engine. When the engines are bigger with larger cylinders, then more fuel can be combusted compared to a smaller engine. If that is not an option, then the other method is to pressurize the fuel-air mixture into the already existing engine. This method is called forced induction which was used by most car manufacturers where the mixture is forced into the existing sized engine. This was the method used by many vehicles and Honda decided to modify the process with the introduction of multiple camshaft lobes.

But Honda engineered a solution with a slight modification to keep the engine at the same size and change the process by turning the engines faster. Now when the speed of the engine is increased, the more air-fuel mixture is added to the engine, and in turn, the speed is increased. Both the intake and exhaust valves have to be wide open to undergo this process.

This solution is implemented in a VTEC system where the valves open wide with the varying RPMs. This efficient implementation of the idea made it a huge success and further adaptations depending on the requirements are still being done till day. This encouraged the company to use these engines in many vehicles and to the question, what engines are VTEC is provided above.

Working of VTEC System

  • The Variable Valve Timing system by Honda stands out of the crowd with the best performance vehicles. It varies the pressure of oil to shift among the different profiles of the camshaft. The cam profile allows higher valve lift at great engine speed allowing air into the cylinder. Hence more horsepower is being generated by the engine which helps in increasing the car performance.
  • The VTEC switching between the cam profiles is unique. Most of the systems use increased oil pressure to change the timing of camshaft by the early opening of the valves. This VTEC engine uses a different Cam set which operates at higher RPMs.
  • It has a switching option operating between fuel saving and performance operating model. At low engine speeds, this process is done by running in a slow valve timing and small cam profile. This helps the vehicle to have improved fuel consumption and less fuel burning. On the contrary, when the engine requires more power, the maximum output can be attained by the VTEC system. This is done by increasing the valve timing and switching to a larger cam profile.
  • This switch is done by the locking pin that connects two separate lobes of cam at a certain speed of the engine. This switching can be made depending on the needs and characteristics of the engine. The process can be reversed where the pin retracts from high profile cams to lower cams, at slower engine speed.
  • It is understood that the VTEC system works similar to a mechanical compressor. It is also similar to the working of a turbocharger where a high swirl effect is formed and it, in turn, creates the maximum power output.

There are several VTEC variations are available as mentioned at the beginning of the post. The VTEC engine has helped the automobile industry to manufacture a great system for engine operation.

What is the Purpose of VTEC in the Honda Engine?

There is a huge relationship between engine performance and lobes on the camshaft. The VTEC system runs as a combination of an electronic and mechanical system that makes the engine actively start the camshafts. In the VTEC system, multiple camshafts are available which helps the vehicle to move at different speeds. When the engine moves in different ranges of RPM, the computer of the engine is activated. This, in turn, activates the alternate lobes of the cam. The timing is also activated at the same time and the engine gets both low-speed and high-speed camshafts from the same engine. This is the reason that they use such engines and hence the solution to the question of what Honda engines are VTEC?

How the Horsepower of the Honda Engine is Increased?

It is a proven fact that the horsepower of the Honda engine with VTEC system is high. However, it is a confusing task and let us break down the meaning. Horsepower can be defined as the product of torque and RPM. The torque can be increased only when a large amount of air and fuel enters the engine to burn.

The amount of air needed to be sucked into the cylinder can be increased by opening the valves longer. It is impossible to optimize the RPM range as the camshaft spinning is very fast. But in case of the VTEC system, there are multiple camshafts which allow the maximum amount of lift and timing according to different RPM ranges. This is the main advantage of the Honda engine with VTEC system. As the camshaft can be optimized for both high and low ranges of RPM, more torque is produced. Hence the system helps in producing the increased RPM with torque and therefore the horsepower of the engine is increased easily.


Advantages of VTEC Honda Engines

The VTEC Honda engines are claimed to run with improved fuel efficiency and changing speeds. This makes the system available to be used for various engines and thereby making it the most important invention by the company. The important invention that is added is the multiple camshaft system which makes the system an ideal engine. The benefits keep on increasing with smooth rides, high performance, speed variations, and so on.

The Honda VTEC system has many advantages and the important reason for its discovery was to drive the engine at higher speeds. When the vehicle is driven at higher horsepower, then more fuel will be consumed. But the team Honda worked hard in making this design which helps to drive at higher speed with a more efficient fuel consumption. It has many advantages as follows

  • Increased power: As mentioned, the variations have made in VTEC systems for Honda engines. All the upgrades are done to improve the overall efficiency with increased horsepower. It has now been used in various Honda cars which helps the vehicle to move at a faster pace. Since the multiple lobes camshaft is used, it helps in increasing the ROM optimization for both high and low ranges. This, in turn, helps in increasing the Horsepower for the engine.
  • Increased fuel economy: With the right amount of fuel, the engine can run easily. It makes the system work efficiently for fuel consumption. This helps the drivers to consume less fuel on a longer distance and high speed. The increased fuel economy feature helps the drivers to fuel their vehicles economically without worrying about high fuel charges.
  • Reduced emission: The emission by the VTEC engines is not high and hence there is no need to worry about the burning of gas or fuel. Since the increased horsepower runs the engine, the fuel consumed is less. This makes a lower emission by the best engine.
  • Smaller and lighter engines: There is no need to increase the displacement like other engines. Hence VTEC is capable of creating more power without any kind of increase in the displacement. This makes the engines lighter in weight and also smaller.
  • Shorter gears: The alternate RPM optimization is very useful for drivers to use shorter gears. For any speed provided or RPM made, the engine running by VTEC allows for an increased multiplier. This increases the level of torque and hence at shorter gears, the vehicle can run easily.
  • Smooth ride: The engine becomes more versatile with a very flat torque cover. When other engines tremble at speed, the VTEC engines helps in maintain the steady point when the vehicle is moving. Hence it provides the drivers with a great and smooth drive. The unusual feature is that the car can be made to run at a slower pace with less fuel consumption. When the speed has to be increased, the shift can be made down and the extra power becomes available at greater RPMs.
  • Great speed: With increased Horsepower, the vehicle can move at a faster pace. The vehicle can also be moved at varying speeds with the shifting RPMs options. It makes the rides super smooth and faster with the help of a powerful engine.

These are the advantages of running engines with the VTEC system. The system makes the engine run smoothly and makes it more efficient.

Why you should use Honda VTEC Engines instead of others?

The VTEC helps the engine to run more efficiently according to the RPM moderation. There are many advantages which are provided by these engines. When it is compared with other systems, they are more efficient in running and consuming fuel. Following are the reasons that you should prefer VTEC system Honda engines to other types

  • Speed transitions: The low speed and high-speed transitions are done at a fantastic level by the engines of VTEC. The presence of multiple camshafts helps in providing a smooth and comfortable ride when the speed of a vehicle is changed. Whether you need to run it at slow speed or high speed, the RPMs can be changed with the shift in the camshaft, thereby having the most comfortable ride.
  • Outright performance: The performance of the vehicle with VTEC system engines is completely outstanding compared to other engines. Regardless of the speed and increased efficiency of the engine and fuel, it allows the vehicle to run at its best performance. Though the engine is complex, each part is designed to run at the best efficient speed and to provide outstanding performance.
  • Greater efficiency: The Honda engines which are run by different VTEC systems are very efficient. The dynamics provided for driving the engine by multiple camshafts make a simpler solution for improved efficiency of the vehicle. The power to ratio method helps in providing the increased acceleration which helps the racing drivers to achieve their speed.
  • Fuel optimization: This is an additional feature due to the use of multiple camshafts. Since the process of burning of fuel and increased speed provided by the shifts made, the fuel emitted is way less compared to other engines. This makes the engine very fuel-efficient and thereby making the drivers feel happy about the consumption.

To the question what Honda engines are VTEC, there are several models and engines which runs with the same system. From its discovery since 1989, most of the racing, as well as the domestic cars, are equipped with the same technology. The upgrades are being done to the system depending on the needs and hence this technology is being used till date. It is like a mobile phone operating system which is basic and then more applications are invented. Similarly, the engine system remains the same and the updates are added to the system with changing requirements.

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