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Old 10-10-2018, 11:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Questions on ZC Swaps - 5th Gen Civic

All,

I've never done an engine swap before, but the stock D15B7 in my EG hatch (93' Civic DX 5-speed hatchback) is pretty much done. I'm trying to figure something out to replace it and I don't really want to screw around with junkyard engines or rebuilding the stock engine. I want to stay D-series due to lower weight, lower cost and simplicity. Any engine swapped in would remain stock with intention of driving the car to work, autocross and possibly trackdays.

I've got two questions really that I haven't been able to find answers to through searching:

- Does anyone have any experience with emissions and an OBD-1 DOHC ZC in a 5th gen car? I would plan on running all stock ZC stuff and having my P06 ecu chipped with the correct P29 maps. I live in Colorado and emissions are not as strict as other places. I imagine I would have no problems passing the sniffer, but no idea if they would give me grief due to having a DOHC engine in a SOHC car. I don't even know if they care, I can't find any documentation on the emissions sites.

- The other option I see is running an OBD-1 or OBD-2 SOHC Non-VTEC ZC. I would still plan on using my P06 ecu but have no idea what the correct fuel maps would be, I assume either PM6 for D16A6 or P2E for D16Y7. Does anyone have any experience with putting an OBD-2 ZC into a OBD-1 5th gen car? I only found one thread on here about this and looks like all the OBD-1 stuff from the original engine needs to be swapped over, but I can't find much evidence on how well this actually works.

Thanks in advance, I appreciate any insight anyone can give me. I'm trying to learn but you can't learn experience.
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Old 10-10-2018, 02:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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They run tailpipe gas analyzer tests in Colorado? I'm asking the question, not being a smart ass lol, I honestly don't know.

That seems fairly strict, as most states have adopted OBD2 testing standards. I have a little bit of experience with areas that ran tailpipe analyzer testing stations, being from Toronto Ontario Canada and growing up with cars in the early to late 2000's. They actually performed idle emissions tailpipe testing as well as loaded dyno tailpipe testing on all cars! This program was incredibly expensive to run and maintain, and Ontario dropped the program in the mid-2000's I believe in lieu of the way the EPA implemented OBD2 testing in the USA.

If tailpipe testing is the case in Colorado, you should have no issues passing tail pipe emissions keeping the swapped OBD2 engine in stock form, retaining all your OBD1 engine control devices as well as retaining a catalytic converter.


The gas-element emissions regulations go by chassis, so the state would set tailpipe emissions limits for a given car based on year/make/model. If you were to swap in a newer but similar OBD2 based engine and use all your original OBD1 controls, the new engine would be tested and judged like it was the original engine that came with that car. Newer model year engines should theoretically have different mechanical efficiency designs built into them, like more efficient intake/exhaust head port geometry and combustion chamber designs to help optimize combustion and flow, so in theory you are improving your emissions just by swapping in something of a newer design, especially when crossing from older into newer OBD levels.


The important thing is to retain all of the OBD1 emissions controls and apply them to the OBD2 engine so they function as intended on the OBD1 architecture. Installing the OBD2 long block (Head/Block/Rotating Assembly) then simply bolting your existing intake and exhaust that came on the OBD1 engine to the OBD2 assembly will allow retention of the original emission systems (please make sure the intake/exhaust will actually crossover and bolt up correctly before buying stuff!). Also make sure your catalytic converter is up to snuff. If it's 20+ years, old consider getting a new one to really help clean up the exhaust as it's probably lost a lot of the original platinum washcoat. Modern catalytic converters do NOT add any type of noticeable exhaust restriction to your car, it is silly to NOT run one when you are able to.


Going back to how most states do E Testing.

In most states, OBD1 vehicles only require a safety inspection and a visual inspection that OBD1 era emissions control devices are physically in their OEM placement (no cut cats, EGR valve present if it came with it, etc.). These cars are exempt from real emissions testing for two reasons: 1. there are fewer of these cars on the road and 2. these vehicles do not have the comprehensive feedback and response systems implemented in their electrical architecture to test and judge emissions system performance.


The theory goes that the bulk of cars on the roads today are at least OBD2 and higher (1996 and newer), therefore the bulk of cars already have systems onboard that perform feedback and response based diagnostic tests on all of the car's major emission systems. Using a pre-programmed testing sequence, the ECU can judge a component's performance and it's ability to perform it's job in regards to reducing a specific pollutant. It records test results from all critical emission control systems/components for diagnostic purposes and displays this on a service tool with the terms READY or NOT READY.


The MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light) is what most people call the Check Engine Light. These are actually two separate indicators on OBD2 vehicles (some OEMs ran both for a while, most consolidated into just the MIL). The MIL light is specified by the EPA to illuminate ONLY when an emissions control device is malfunctioning and COULD allow tailpipe emissions to rise higher than 1.5 times the federal legal limit. Therefore, as long as this light is OFF and all of the subsystem monitors have passed their key cycle tests, all should be well and the vehicle should conform to emissions standards.


This is how most states test things, they plug a tool/computer up to the vehicle which is connected to the State's vehicle database (DMV records), and it automatically determines and records whether or not the MIL is ON/OFF AND the required monitors all indicate READY. If the MIL is on, it is an automatic FAIL. If the MIL is OFF but a certain number of systems monitors indicate NOT READY, it is also an automatic fail.


Early OBD2 vehicles (1996-2004) are allowed 2 monitors to show as NOT READY, whereas Enhanced OBD2 vehicles (2005-present) are only allowed 1 monitor to show as NOT READY. Certain states have even gone further than this with new vehicles, where they are confident enough in vehicle manufacturers emissions warranties that the state actually allows new vehicles sold to not have an OBD emissions inspection for 4 or more years!

I'm curious to know what Colorado is doing for e testing, let me know! Other than this, you should be fine with the OBD2 long block as long as all your OBD1 stuff will bolt up properly!
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the time put into your response, I really appreciate it! This certainly sets my mind at ease.

In the greater Denver area all cars between 74' and 96' (I think) are required to run a dyno / tailpipe test as you described above. This has to be done every two years unless you can pass at one of the mobile sites they have all over the place that take readings as you get onto the highway. It's all rather draconian, but lenient by comparison to California where it's basically illegal to live.

My 83' RX-7 has to meet emissions - most people are shocked when I tell them that. It's rather hypocritical too since for the most part diesel trucks aren't required to meet any sort of emissions standards. It's very common to see diesel trucks intentionally blowing black smoke out their tailpipes. Oh well.

Anyways I did some digging on a Colorado website and it looks like as long as you meet emissions for the car model year and have everything hooked up they're rather ambivalent towards the actual engine that's in the car (which is how it should be).

I think I would like a DOHC ZC, but we'll see if I can find an OBD1 version, I don't know what the availability of these engines is like. Otherwise I suppose I'll go for a SOHC ZC. I was actually pretty happy with the stock D15B7 in the car, but it's done for: low compression and spews smoke almost constantly. I care more about handling so the lower power and weight of the D-series is a good match for me.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow, that's interesting they still enforce tailpipe compliance on vehicles older than OBD2! Maybe for a similar reason to California, where California literally has a consistent elevation mountain range on the eastern part of the state, and all major settled areas are in the valley that slopes down the western side of the range towards the Pacific. The mountain range basically dams up the air, and keeps all the pollutants from moving eastward across the rest of the US.

Colorado also has similar terrain, where there are lots of valley's between mountains for ozone and other smog to settle. If that's one thing I understand about Colorado, once you go west of Denver or Colorado Springs, most larger towns/cities are in stretches of flats between mountains. The wind speed is higher up above the flat areas, but the air near the surface basically stays between the mountains and mixes around. Not a good recipe for air quality if you have dirty polluting sources exhausting their emissions in those areas.

I'm curious now as to the true reason for retaining tailpipe testing out there! I wonder if any other states other than CA and CO require this for pre-OBD2 vehicles?

Sounds like you have a game plan for the type of engine you want, and you understand what it will take to keep it in emissions regulations. Post up what you end up swapping in!
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