2016+ Civic Intercooler – The Core, Design Pt. 4

It’s been a hot minute since our last update on the 2016+ Honda Civic front mount intercooler project. It’s time to give you guys and gals a heads-up about some of the testing we are doing and why it’s important to you.

Almost anybody can make a bigger intercooler core, add some tanks on the ends and button it up with some silicone couplers and worm gear clamps but it takes ingenuity and testing to develop a performance intercooler system that is designed for the application.

Data is key to testing and we rely on a host of different pieces of equipment to ensure that the changes we are making deliver us real world gains. One of the tools in our belt is our AEM CD-5 Dash and 22 Channel CAN Sensor Module with its assortment of sensors to tell us exactly how the 27WON Intercooler is performing and so we can figure out why it’s doing what it’s doing and see if we are getting real results.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

There are various types of intercoolers, but we will focus on the most typical; air-to-air intercoolers. In a nutshell, intercoolers are very simple tools that remove heat from the pressurized air (aka boost) exiting the turbocharger. Hot boost air passes through the internal passages in the intercooler core and the much cooler ambient temperature air passes through the external passages in the core. Through convective heat transfer, much heat is removed from the boost air and “wasted” into the ambient air.


When designing a high performance intercooler the devil is in the details. Critical details lie within the balance of pressure drop and temperature drop across the core. This is where design, type, and height/width of the passages and fins come into play.

It’s important to focus not just on power gains, but efficiency gains as well

It’s important to focus not just on power gains, but efficiency gains as well

The “intercooler core” is the internal and external passages of the intercooler. This is where the actual heat transfer happens.

Defining the height and width of the internal and external passages, along with the style and density of the fins will dramatically affect the performance of the intercooler.  A high density core may provide a drastic temperature drop but may also have a very high pressure drop. The vice-versa is possible as well – low pressure drop but low temperature drop.

This is important but remember, it’s not just about the intercooler. Also consider how the intercooler plays a part in the performance of the entire system…the engine.  A core with a high pressure drop may require 3-4psi to “push” the boosted air through the intercooler. If this is the case then the 23psi you are reading on your K-Tuner or Hondata FlashPro would mean your turbo is actually producing 26-27psi. You are making your turbo work much harder than it needs to which also means you are creating unnecessary heat. This is heat is also making your intercooler work harder then it needs to! Do you see where this is going?


We are designing an intercooler that strikes the right balance between pressure drop and temperature drop for the L15 Civic engine. With our AEM pressure and temperatures sensors at the intercooler inlet and outlet we see exactly how the intercooler is performing in relation to the engine. We will compare our design concepts to the OE system in this way. Will also have several sensors through out the car to test total system performance.

Thanks for tuning in with 27WON Performance. Subscribe to stay connected with 27WON as we share more development updates on Performance FMIC and other exciting projects.

I Dare You to REDEFINE the Aftermarket.