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Last Updated: 6/23/2007



Fluidyne Aluminum Radiator

Fluidyne Aluminum
Radiator

A common problem on Integras with over 100,000 miles is the radiator failing. Apparently the plastic tanks on the top and bottom aren't that durable and can crack over time (seems obvious, huh?), spilling coolant and rendering the radiator useless. When mine sprang a leak, I couldn't see the logic in replacing it with another unit with the same design defect, so instead I got a high-end racing-quality all-aluminum radiator from Fluidyne. Other companies making similar products are C & R Racing, Koyo, and PWR.

I've had this radiator through six Phoenix summers, and it's performed great. The engine temperature gauge needle hasn't moved at all past its normal warmed-up temperature, no matter how much idling or driving up 6000-feet inclines I've done. With its all-aluminum construction and TIG welds, it looks great in the engine bay. But on the minus side, it has some small fitment problems: one of the fan mounts is too large, keeping that corner of the fan from sitting flush on the radiator. This may be due to the LS and GS-R using different radiators and fans. Also, the overflow bottle barely fits now because of interference with the wiring harnesses on the main radiator fan. And lastly, there's no place to mount the A/C fan, because there's not enough space due to the Fluidyne's extra thickness. I have noticed that the A/C doesn't seem to work quite as well in stop-and-go traffic as before, and I hope to get a slimline fan to fix this.



Ice-Man Air Intake System

Ice-Man Cool Air Intake

The Ice-Man air intake system has a lot of plusses and minuses. On the plus side, a significant performance increase is evident. More power can be felt throughout the powerband, with only a minor increase in noise (including a slight whistle at certain throttle levels). According to most dyno testing results, the Ice-Man and the competing AEM cool air systems produce approximately equal horsepower gains, greater than any other intake on the market for this vehicle. Unlike some other performance parts I've purchased, the Ice-Man comes with installation instructions for those of us who don't install parts for a living. And the mounting hardware included is very good--it even includes rubber vibration-isolation mounts much like the OEM system's, which bolt to the OEM system's mounting locations.

On the minus side, however, lies the overall fit and ease of installation. Maybe it's different for other cars' systems, but on the '94+ LS, installation was a pain in the butt, and the fit is less-than-perfect. With only the upper tube installed, the K&N filter rubs against the bottom of the hood, producing a loud squeaking noise at certain throttle levels. With the lower tube installed, the tube rubs against the coolant reservoir. It looks to me like they designed a system first for the GS-R, then tried to carry it over to the LS/RS, reusing the upper tube. What's more, the diameter of the K&N filter is slightly too small for the lower tube, making installation extremely difficult, although it loosens up after being used for several years. Removal of the fender liner is definitely necessary for this installation since the filter is larger than the hole between the engine compartment and the wheelwell cavity, so forget any ideas about being able to quickly relocate the filter in a rainstorm. The plastic Ice-Man just isn't quite as attractive as competing metal tubes, and the molded-in colors are pretty lame, so I used some metallic paint to paint mine. Lastly, after years of use, the filter accumulates a lot of dirt and grime from sitting so close to the road.

If you're interested in other similar-performing systems, check out the AEM cold air intake and the Comptech Icebox.



Magnecor Ignition Wires

Magnecor Wires

While these Magnecor ignition wires were rather expensive, they are definitely very high-quality. My only gripes are that the spark plug boots don't audibly click into place like the OEM boots, and the tops of the spark plug extensions don't completely seal the plug chambers like the OEM ones. But on the positive side, the silicone rubber used in their construction is excellent, and the wires are very flexible (presumably due to their spiral-core construction). The wires are cut to the right lengths for this application, and the connectors fit perfectly. And they should never need replacing. Any performance increase was imperceptible, however, since my old OEM wires weren't out-of-spec yet. As Magnecor says on their web page, no spark plug wires can improve performance unless you're replacing a worn-out set. The advantage to these is that they don't wear out like normal wires.



Thermal R&D Cat-back Exhaust System

Thermal Exhaust

I finally broke down and got a new exhaust for my car to replace the low-hanging Skunk2 that annoyed me every time I scraped it on a speed bump. My wife's new 2001 GS-R has an extremely loud exhaust on it, so the plan is to put a new exhaust on my car, then put the old Skunk2 on hers for now, after modifying the hangars.

The system I chose this time is from Thermal R&D, and is the "Stealth" system, part number B112-C110T. They seemed to have a good reputation online, and I got the full system for only $500 including shipping directly from the manufacturer.

My initial impressions are that while it's very shiny, it's not quite as nicely constructed as the Skunk2 (made by Invidia). While the S2 had excellent robotic welds, and nicely shaped flanges, the Thermal looks much more handmade, with manual welds (though still good), and simple flat flanges. In addition, the Thermal comes in two pieces, with one piece being the very long B-pipe section, whereas the S2 comes in three pieces, with the B-pipe section divided in two. I'm not sure which is better: the S2 is definitely much more portable as it all comes efficiently packed in a single box about 5 feet long, and the Thermal comes in two large boxes, one being very oversize, probably adding to shipping costs. On the other hand, that additional flanged connection adds assembly time, and might have some (probably insignificant) affect on exhaust flow. Lastly, the shiny muffler on the Thermal system shows a little warping in the metal, probably from the welding heat. The S2 by comparison seems like it's completely machine-made, it looks so perfect. However, none of this probably matters much since the exhaust is hidden underneath the car.

In the Thermal's favor, however, it is all fully-polished stainless steel, while the S2 was only polished on the muffler, tailpipe, and resonator (though it is all stainless). I doubt that matters much though, unless you show off the underside of your car a lot. But the biggest and most important difference, however, is the design: I believe I gained back at least a full inch of ground clearance with the Thermal, just because the resonator doesn't hang as low as it does with the S2. Even so, I still think it could have been mounted up another half-inch to an inch, but it's still quite good.

For noise, I prefer the Thermal. In final form, they both sound about the same actually. But this is only because I installed the optional "silencer" in the S2. This silencer cuts the exhaust noise greatly, but it also looks pretty crappy from the back. The Thermal sounds like this without any ugly add-ons. It also has a smaller and less obtrusive tailpipe (3" versus 4"). However, I can't really fault S2 much for this, since N1-style exhausts are supposed to be this way, so this is really just personal preference.

While idling, and on the highway, the Thermal is definitely louder than stock, but not obnoxiously so, and it has a pleasing lower-pitched tone.

Overall, I highly recommend the Thermal R&D cat-back exhaust system. It looks great, it sounds good, it's all polished stainless steel so it should never rust or wear out, and the fitment is excellent unlike some other systems, so you shouldn't be scraping it on any speed bumps.

Thermal R&D Part Number
Thermal ST Cat-Back Exhaust for all 3-door Integras 94-01 except 94-99 GS-R B112-C110T

Skunk2 Cat-back Exhaust System

Skunk2 Exhaust

I wasn't planning on buying a new exhaust system for a while, but when my stock resonator suddenly grew a hole, I decided it was time to break down and get one. After comparing prices and specs and reading reviews, I settled on a system from Skunk2. It's made entirely of stainless steel, so it should last a long time, and the welds all look very precise, probably robotically done.

This exhaust system comes with an optional silencer part, which is inserted into the tailpipe. I've driven the car both with and without this silencer; without it, the exhaust is very loud, and has an extremely loud bass note which echoes in the cabin. I can't imagine driving for very long on the freeway like this. However, after I installed the silencer, most of this was gone. While the exhaust still has a strong bass tone, it's not loud at all, except when at full throttle. At cruising speed, the exhaust is somewhat louder than stock, but not annoying at all. And maybe it's my imagination, but the car seems more powerful at part-throttle with the silencer than without it.

While this system has some good qualities, I cannot recommend it to anyone looking for a new system, unless maybe you're getting a used one really cheap. The primary problem with it is that the resonator and B-pipe hang very low. The resonator is now easily the lowest point underneath my car. As a result, I've scraped it many times over the past few months I've had this system installed. I got underneath the car to see if I had maybe installed it wrong, but I ruled this out. The hangars on the resonator are simply not attached correctly. As a result, the resonator is only a few inches from the ground (remember, I'm lowered only 1.3" on Eibach Pro-Kits), and there's about 3 inches of wasted space above the resonator where it could be fitting closer to the car's undercarraige. I talked with Brandon Minor at Skunk2's customer service about this issue, and he was completely unhelpful. First, he claimed that it was normal for it to hang this low (I sent them a photo to show how low it was). He said that some people had bent the hangars to make it fit closer to the car's undercarriage, but he didn't recommend this 1) because it voided the warranty, and 2) because it might make the passenger compartment get hotter. This second one is odd since the stock resonator fits quite snugly in that space, and certainly doesn't cause any heat problems. Even worse, he told me that, even though I was probably still within the meager 90-day warranty period, they would not do anything for me because I had waited too long, and the pipe was scraped up. This just defies belief. What do they want to do, repackage it and sell it as new? Any advertised warranty period with this company is apparently not honored, since they can claim "you waited too long". I've never heard of this before, and this is definitely illegal according to consumer product laws. So, for these reasons, I recommend staying far away from this company and its products.

If you're wondering what exhaust systems I might recommend instead, there's the Invidia exhaust, which appears to be identical to Skunk2's. I've read many claims that Skunk2 simply rebadges the Invidia systems, so if you're set on this particular one, try getting the Invidia version instead so you can avoid Skunk2's terrible customer service. Other systems to check out are those from Thermal R&D and Magnaflow. I've read many positive reviews for both of these.

Update: I've now replaced this system with the above system by Thermal R&D. I'm going to try to modify the hangars on the resonator so it doesn't hang so low, and install it on my wife's car which is currently very noisy.