The VitR Does Meth

The legal kind, I promise you.

I finished development of the Water/Methanol injection control subsystem for our Honda Civic Type R MoTeC M142 firmware. The control strategy we’ve implemented worked quite well and tuning went quite smooth.

We *only* used “boost juice” during testing — a 50/50 blend of water/methanol and the results were awesome. Yes you can use this subsystem to spray M1 methanol without mixing with water (I know someone’s going to ask). Maybe it’ll even make more power.


This was probably the easy part — roll my face on the keyboard, some numbers get plugged into the calibration, and the motor made power resulting in the dyno numbers going up.

How much? We’re safely 25-30whp and 50wtq over our best E35 ethanol blend numbers. Compare to stock, the power curve is amazing. We’re up almost 140whp over stock and 150wtq over stock. A 50% increase in horsepower and almost 55% increase in torque.


Ok, now for the “real” tuning. What was our goal? To provide a safe and repeatable system to reduce fuel demand on an already hammered D/I fuel system…. and improve power. We accomplished both, and the extra power might actually be secondary for some people. You can use this subsystem to ease up on the stressed D/I pump on this car and opt for a more conservative tune that provides you with a more reliable car for the type of racing you do — circuit, etc.


To the right you can see the graph which lists our D/I pressures and injection available times. We have a slight pressure drop to 19MPa at 3800 rpm — which is not terrible as we have 6ms of injection time left in that area (and factory D/I pressure here isn’t even 19MPa to begin with…). This is done with the methanol portion of the water/meth we were injecting — the methanol is extra fuel and you can even see where it “hits” after engagement in the “Fuel Volume” graph. We’re providing about 15-20% of the fuel volume the motor is using under boost with the methanol system now, which has reduced demand on the factory D/I fuel system.

Now bear in mind — we have this slight drop because we cranked the boost up and went for 430wtq. Remove about 20wtq and you have no pressure drop at all. Or add a second meth nozzle — as we’re currently only using one.

Decisions decisions. Tuning choices all left up to you!

Now the curious will want to know how much boost we were running. The plot to the left shows the boost curve.

Yes 30psi peak — and then it tapers. We can still squeeze a bit more boost out of from 3500 to 4500 rpm to make more torque (probably see 450-460wtq — but I think the stock clutch deserves a break as we already pounded it with 430wtq today). The stock turbo is effectively “maxed out” — we’re seeing a lot of back pressure after 6000 rpm and it’s very visible in the boost plot. Attempting to make more than 25-26psi at 7000 rpm actually drops power due to the high back pressure.

Charge Temps

Probably the worst part of the turbo system on this car is the factory intercooler — trying to push the boost levels we push on our tuned Type R basically destroys the stock intercooler in one dyno pull. On customer cars with our MoTeC solution we’re seeing charge temps skyrocket into the 140 degree Fahrenheit area in a very short pull (with ambient temps around 80 degrees). This is no good for power, reliability and consistency.

PRL’s intercooler helped us a lot, and adding water/meth injection on top of that is just an added bonus!

You can see the temps to the left — Airbox temperature being what’s in the intake (ambient was indeed about 75 at the shop today) and Inlet Air temperature being post intercooler. You can see how cool the intercooler stays. Yes we’re using the stock intake. It has not proven to be a restriction for us yet.

Safety First

There was another goal for this subsystem — I personally do not trust methanol injection systems to be absolutely error proof. I know someone’s going to come in and scream “I’ve never had a problem”. While that may be true, it could literally be just your luck. The unexpected can happen and our methanol subsystem is designed to “take control” and take monitoring the methanol system away from you. How many of us can REALLY watch a red warning LED and lift the moment it illuminates? You’re lying to yourself if you think your foot is faster than a computer.

With safety in mind — we worked on developing a control system that could drop the error margin and add fault detection and safeties into running methanol injection. As such the ECU takes full control — it runs the methanol injection pump, monitors the delivery of meth with a pressure sensor and monitors tank level with the level switch that is installed in the methanol tank. It also monitors for electrical faults — pressure sensor failure, level switch faults and since it’s monitoring for pressure sensor issues — pump faults (if the pump doesn’t come on, no pressure will get built — and the subsystem will failsafe and warn the driver).

We actually got to see this in action on the dyno — you can see in the following graph that the meth system hit a fail safe (dashed graph) and deactivated going to pure “pump gas” (or whatever your normal tune is) so you can continue running the engine without a hiccup (other than the obvious loss in power). I actually lifted when I saw this warning pop up on my laptop as I was tuning the car — and you can see how long it took me to react. Mind you — this was with me *actively* watching for faults as I was tuning the car. Imagine the delay if you have a problem and no failsafe? Sure, the failsafe may not save you from every problem — but it certainly goes a long way in helping avoid issues.

The Subsystem

What does it do? Other than what I’ve already discussed above. Well, here’s a quick overview. The system is totally configurable — you can chose to configure it for how it suits you.

The system has activation parameters — once those are met it “arms”. During “Arm” it will turn on pump injection and “wait” for a maximum amount of time for line pressure to build to verify the system is actively injecting water/meth. If the target line pressure is not met within a fixed amount of time — it will fault and not activate.

Assuming everything is OK with the system, it will then activate and allow you to add additional boost, ignition timing and trim the main system injection fuel volume (as already discussed) based on how much meth you are delivering. The system is fully progressive — you ramp it in as you chose fit.

If anything goes wrong — pressure drops below a set target, or above a set target (clogged nozzle?), it will failsafe. Pump dies? Pressure will drop — failsafe. Pressure sensor dies — failsafe. Low level switch indicates tank is low? Failsafe. Level switch fault? Failsafe.

Anytime there is a failsafe we run on our “normal” tune that doesn’t require the additional fuel. So you can keep on driving the car without skipping a beat.

On top of that you also have the driver notification — we’ve repurposed the “Check Engine Oil Level” prompt on the dash to come on when your tank is low if you so chose. Or you can also chose to have the check engine light illuminate when there is a subsystem fault.

What more could you want? Well if you do — we can probably develop it into this ECU.



VitR — The 2018 Honda Civic Type R Experiment Begins

Oh yes, it’s on. The car is just a week old and we’ve already baselined it and tuned it. On Monday I snuck into the Honda dealership I’m on good terms with and sent myself all the Type R electrical schematics and proceeded to whip out a patch harness. I updated the code in my CivicX MoTeC M1 firmware to adapt it to the features and sensors in the Type R, but about 95% of the electronic wizardry in the Type R is based on what’s there in it’s sibling’s vehicles (1.5T vehicles).

The patch harness and all my programming was tested late Friday evening, then a scant 12 hours later we took the car to the shop to finish tuning and testing of the M1 programming. It all went very smooth. The results were fantastic even.

Keep in mind — this is a 100% stock vehicle. Everything is OEM other than our ECU.


I know everyone is waiting for the “numbers”. So I won’t hold out, and will address some of the finer technical points further below. The car was dyno’d in 4th gear, with a baseline of about 285hp. When using 3rd gear the car dynos about 10-12hp higher. I stuck to using 4th gear however, as we’re tuning and testing the car. If you want heavily inflated numbers, multiply by 1.15 and push them at face value, I’m sure it works great to attract the uninitiated who are then in for a rude awakening at a later date.

What did she make? Just shy of 390whp and 350wtq (400 if you want to use 3rd..). This is on E30 blend fuel. 100whp over stock!

But Vit, what about on gas? Well, here’s the 92 octane plot. Just shy of 360whp and over 330wtq — an easy 70whp pick up on gas with just a tune. And I know someone is going to ask “but what about below 3200” — I sped the dyno up a HAIR since I was not sure how much torque the stock clutch would take, so it moved peak spool about 200-300 rpm. I wanted to make it through at least one tuning session on a new car without destroying a Honda clutch… as seems to have been my habit lately.

As you can also see — no more mid range torque curve twerk. This is 100% Honda’s fault. The factory tune is absolute shit. In this respect, Honda took your money and kicked you in your jewels as a reward.

And yes, I fully expect to see “450hp tuned” numbers being pushed at face value eventually by miracle dyno operators.

Can It Make More?

Absolutely, especially torque! On the corn blend, things were starting to get sketch so I stopped there for now, but I think there’s a little bit left in the tune to push it a bit further. Due to not knowing how much the stock clutch would take, instead of aiming for big torque numbers I made the decision to tune for a “flat” torque curve.

The resulting boost curve demonstrates this — 17psi climbing to 26psi to give us the torque curve we see in the E30 graph. Can you make more torque? Yes, I think 400wtq is possible as I don’t see the turbo having any problem making 28-30psi in the 3500-4000 rpm area. This is where you may run into a snag, however….

All Things D/I

The injectors on the car are about 10-12% larger than what comes in the 1.5 turbo motors. However, the D/I pump isn’t a whole lot better. When pushed, it’s starting to peg out on how much fuel volume it can deliver, and when this happens fuel pressure drops. You can see this behavior at 6100 rpm on the E30 pull.

Why does this happen? Well it’s really not a whole lot different than when an in-tank fuel pump starts to run out of flow — pressure starts to drop. The exception with D/I is the pressure drop can be quite catastrophic if you’re riding the ragged edge. As seen on gas, we were using about 155 microliters of fuel. But when we bumped up to E30, the fuel demand went up to 170 microliters of fuel and the D/I pump skipped a beat. I have some D/I control settings I can tweak in the M1, but I think even with those we’re kind of right there with the D/I pump anyway.

Fortunately the injectors still had some room to go and we were OK. What’s this tell us? Pushing 400whp+ will become interesting and tuning decisions need to be made.

Cool Things

The auto rev match feature? Yes we have it in the M1 too. How does Honda do it? There is an input shaft speed sensor that is used for decision making and rev matching.

This engine also comes with an oil pressure sensor, something new for a K series.

I have tons of data to comb through, but the initial results are quite pleasing. I think a downpipe and tuning on gas will be the next stop — should make comparable power to what we just saw on E30 (or maybe a bit more?).