PKDM Civic X; A Pandora Box Full Of Confusion
by Fazal Wahab
Looks like the craze to know more and more about the upcoming Civic is not subsiding. Everyday something new comes out. We at Pakwheels tried our level best to keep our readers up to date about anything available to share about Civic X. By now we are confident enough that everyone knows about the new Civic, features, engine or anything related to car exterior and interior. Our subject matter for today article is something different. From last few days there are two numbers which are point of discussion and stuck among everyone.. “87” & “91”. We will go over it shortly
Also Read: 2016 Honda Civic In Pakistan – This is It!
The Civic is not yet officially launched in Pakistan but some information kept on coming and dealers all across Pakistan started taking pre-booking couple of weeks ago. Some reports suggests that around 5000 cars were booked in the initial 10 days when the booking started. This is very astonishing for the fact that no one have seen the car yet on show room floors and show people interest getting the 10th Generation Civic.
Also Read: 5,000 Honda Civics Booked In Under 10 days
In Pakistan, Civic will be available in two engine options. All time tested R18, which is a naturally aspirated old engine and is found in 9th generation Civic. The 1.8-litre i-VTEC produces 141 HP. The big news all around the world associated with the new Civic is the release of 1.5L Turbo engine. The 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo produce 173 HP. There were a lot of rumors and speculations about this engine coming to Pakistan. But its now here and available. We will keep our discussion in this topic about the 1.5L Turbo engine.
As I mentioned; there were if’s and but’s about the induction of turbocharged engine in the 10th generation for Pakistani market. The one main reason is the availability of Hi- Octane grade petrol. I have been reading a lot confusion, misconceptions about fuel grade required by the PKDM Civic equipped with 1.5L Turbo engine. I am not an auto expert but will try to explain it in simple words so that we can clear the confusion.
Turbocharged engines are forced induction engines. To increase the efficiency and output of an internal combustion engine, air is compressed into the engine chamber and its done by a turbine which is connected to the exhuast from the engine and its spins with the force of exhaust gases and in return pumps air into the engine. Turbocharged engine can be smaller but still produce equal or more power than a regular naturally aspirated engines. Turbocharged engines are efficient and very fuel economical provided you drive them on light foot. Driving them aggressively will make them more fuel thirsty than a bigger naturally aspirated engines.
Turbocharged engines have high compression ratio as more air is pushed into the cylinder. The gasoline/ petrol is volatile and can burn on its own when it goes under compression. You keep reading and see the octane rating. There is a lot of confusion that higher the octane means more power. In fact Octane number tells us about the resistance of fuel against premature ignition/ burning under pressure that is compression in case of engine. This resistance comes from various additives oil refineries add during production. Different grades of petrol have different resistance level against ignition/ self burning. So higher the octane rating, more it can be compressed without exploding. As Turbocharged engines have much higer compression ratio ,If low octane number than required is used in turbocharged engines the air-fuel mix can ignite premature in compression cycle before even spark plug comes into action and the fuel mix burns before the actual moment as required and calculated by the engine computer control unit; this results in the famous term we all know “Knocking”. The knocking becomes more pronounced as you accelerate. The effect of knocking should be taken same as hammering your engine.
Many people think that new engines are more sophisticated and the ECU [Electronic control unit] just adjust itself as per the fuel so if we use lower octane grade in the turbo charged engine it will not be problem. Actually this is not correct. If you start using a lower octane regularly , over time engine component will start loosing its strength and premature failures of various sensitive parts. Using low octane number than required over time will result in failure of spark plugs, fuel filter, head as well as the emission system composed of sensors and catalytic converter.
Over time the turbocharges have become very common and available on small economy cars as well. Historically in the past we have associated High Octane with sports and performance cars which tends us to think that HI-Octane fuel grade is required by only these cars but this is not the case and now a days even a small 660CC car comes equipped with a turbo and needs a higher octane graded fuel. In case of naturally aspirated engines using high octane then required will be waste of money and performance as engine is not designed for such fuel due to less/ complete combustion and can result in lower mileage too. Overall, it will not hurt the engine.
Now lets go over Civic X. When it was launched in United States back in September 2015, the press release showed that the car can run on the regular gasoline. The car user manual show the same “Unleaded 87 or higher required”. This tends us to think that as engine is identical we can run our PKDM Civic on regular 87 petrol as well. Every Civic enthusiast and potential buyer thought the same; But the answer is “NO”. United States use different formula for octane rating which when converted to European octane rating its about 4 to 5 points lower. Mathematically this means that a 87 grade fuel as sold on pumps in US is equal to RON 91 else where. A regular 87 sold on pumps in Pakistan in fact is equal to 83 as per US rating formula. Civic X needs RON 91 minimum.
Image from USDM user manual Turbo Civic
Conversion of US Rating to European RON.
There are two known terms when we talk about refueling our cars. “Required” & “Recommended”. We MUST follow what is written in the user manual. If it says “Required” it means you are bound to use the fuel as rated. If you dont use it it will hurt your car engine and other components and warranty can be voided. Its very easy for the dealer or anyone where you go for warranty claims or other issues to know if you used sub-graded fuel. Sometime you will see word “ONLY”. Required and Only are interchangeable words and carry same meaning. Then you will see “Recommended”. This means its better to use Recommended Octane grade but it will not hurt if you use the lower. In other words its a suggestion but its not necessarily needed. The engine itself will not be negatively effected.
When few days ago, a Honda Atlas to dealers letter dated June 15th 2016 gone viral, it had some very confusing term used as far as fuel grade for the 1.5T. The same sentence used “RECOMMENDED” as well as “ONLY”. In car refueling world both are completely opposite terms.
This made things more confusing; is it Recommended or Mandatory ? When Pre-booking started on Monday June 6th 2016, many people opted for a 1.5T, now they are in fix as at time of initial pre-booking , buyers were not made aware of the fact that the turbocharged Civic will need a HI Octane. Th Octane issue came almost 9 days after first day of booking when the above letter gone public. As far as some un confirmed reports majority of pre-bookings are for the turbo Civic. Though Honda Atlas generated 5 Billion in cash in 10 days, the potential buyer is now in jeopardy due to unavailability , shortage of Hi Octane . Thanks to social media, we got hold of recent pre-booking slip which now clearly shows a stamped caution Notice telling buyer about the grade of fuel needed. You can see it below and make your judgement. Its now very clear that all those who will soon get a turbo Civic should start making research on how and from where they will acquire the required graded fuel as availability of it widely is a question mark. Also on many pumps its not always stocked. This also makes your approximate 3 million Pakistani rupee car confined to big/ metropolitan cites ONLY that too if you have 24/7 availability of 91 Octane. Current updates show that even in bigger cities like Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi availability is very limited and mostly not available.
On Pakwheels.com forum there is an extensive discussion thread about the Civic X.. After talking with many Honda Civic enthusiast/ potential buyers as well as those who had pre-booking are disappointed with this updated news on required fuel. This make them think that dealer didn’t inform them everything accurately and they feel they are stabbed in the back. Many people are now thinking to revert back to the other variant of Civic which is 1.8L from 1.5T as Honda Atlas have given an option to buyers to change their choice before delivery. A cancellation of pre booking means you can loose One Million Rupees which were deposited and Non -Refundable.
Few potential buyers with pre booked 1.5 even thinking to switch to 1.8L option and sell it immediately as they wanted Turbo version and by cancelling an order they can lose their million bucks. The fuel requirement by turbo Civic already dented it’s resale value before even it left assembly line and made to roads.
Join Civic X Discussion: Pakwheels.com/Civic X
Many people who still would like to get a turbo Civic are looking into alternating means. One such mean is adding octane boosters available off the shelves on auto accessory store. I wish Chemistry was that simple and we could do something like that. All these octane boosters/ additives are based on magnesium or lead, commonly known as MMT’s. All car manufacturers including Honda strictly prohibit using any additives to the fuel tank. These boosters contain metallic additives which are harmful and result in premature failure of spark plugs as well as engine cylinders and failure of emission system. There is no substitute for Hi Octane 91 as required and you cant add an additive to raise the octane number. Also these octane boosters reflect on the packing that they increase 5 to 7 point octane number. In fact in reality the 5 to 7 point means 0.5 or 0.7. So if we agree and assume they increase the octane rating it will be 87.5 or 87.7 if added to regular RON 87. So please never ever think of adding a additive/ booster into your fuel tank if you own a Turbo Civic as overtime you will hurt your car engine. Also you will void warranty on your car engine and component.
As Honda Atlas is assembly line and engine, transmission and other components are imported and assembled locally, warranty on the individual components is maintained by Honda Global. In simple words if there are any issues with the internal of engines , Honda Global is responsible for warranty claims provided the components are treated as per the required specifications. So if Honda Global needs minimum 91 Octane, Honda Atlas will never say Octane 87 / regular fuel as in Pakistan can be used. Making such claims can make Honda Atlas liable for any warranty claims.
Recently we came to know that oil-marketing companies (OMCs) and domestic refineries have formed a pact with federal government which will lead to a partial launch of better quality petrol in Pakistan but country wide availability on each and every pump is still few years away. We might see increased volume of RON 91 fuel on pumps who are already selling. Oil refineries need a to make big investment and there are technical difficulties to do this change and government have currently allowed them to continue their operation. Some refineries will start blending and producing higher octane fuel by end of this year but it will be priced high as it will be done by importing the additives and the production will still be limited. It’s also a wide known fact that many pumps mix petrol with kerosene and jet fuel on their own further detoriating the quality of available fuel.
Also Read: Agreement Made For Higher Grade Petrol
All this stated above have started another debate and serious discussion about how Honda Atlas have taken the launch of the most anticipated car in the history of Pakistan automobile industry. Honda should have officially launched the car first and making car features, variants and other details made public later opening a pre-booking across the dealers network. Many people who booked 1.5T without knowing the requirement of fuel grade / nor they were told at booking calls this a deceptive on part of Honda Atlas. I think its time for Honda Atlas to dont delay further the launch of the Civic and make things public as soon as possible. Consumers right should be protected and buyers should be made well aware of all the facts about a product before it is sold.