The 4 Most Common Honda Vtec Engine Problems

by | Aug 20, 2022 | Honda Problems | 1 comment

Honda is a household name and has been in the vehicular industry game for as long as most of us can remember. They have manufactured a number of successful products over the years and have perfected their game with many of these. An example of this is car engines. Used Honda engines for sale are sought out equally by car enthusiasts and those with little to no knowledge about car engines. This is because Honda has managed to keep up with the growing and changing times and delivered accordingly, hence the consumers lean towards them.

The Honda Vtec Engine

The Honda VTEC engine is an excellent model to prove this point. This engine has been in the workings for quite an extended period, with engineers and experts putting in great effort to create the ideal design. Since the early 90s, the VTEC engine has been stirring excitement in the market due to its game-changing functions.

The name VTEC stands for Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control. Do not be intimidated by the long and technical term. The only thing you need to take away from it is that the valves operate variably throughout your drive to provide maximum efficiency. It does the unthinkable by using the least amount of fuel required to provide the most outstanding horsepower. A dream come true for everyone. This phenomenon is achieved by creating an understanding within the engine to create greater power when there is higher rpm and reduce fuel consumption at lower rpm. This means there is fuel saving and higher driving power all coming in from the same engine.

The 4 Most Common Problems with the Honda Vtec Engine

However, as with every great thing in this world, there are a few drawbacks to the Honda VTEC engine. These problems may not persist in every VTEC engine, but there is no way to rule out which engine is free from these issues. Nevertheless, there’s no harm in having complete knowledge of something you might be looking to invest in. So, let’s take a look into what these common problems are.

1. Drive Belt Wears Out Soon

If you are a knowledgeable guide for cars, you are probably well aware of a drive belt and how important it is for smooth sailing. A drive belt keeps everything in a loop (no pun intended). It is similar functioning to the chain that was on your bicycle when you were a kid. If you remember it, you know well how a chain keeps the bicycle running, and a minor fault can bring the bike to a halt.

The drive belt of a car engine serves the same function by joining various pulleys and levers that operate an engine. Since a drive belt does a lot of work and has many components dependent upon it, it needs to have a long-lasting life. However, the drive belt of a VTEC engine has a short life span.

Usually, it retires within 100,000 kilometers of driving. Once it starts giving out, it produces a particular knocking sound which is cause for alarm. When this happens, the drive belt needs to be changed at the first opportunity. And since the new drive belt will have a short life span, it becomes a constant cycle of changing drive belts.

One time replacement of a drive belt can cost anywhere from R800 to R2500, excluding labor charges. All in all, the drive belt of a Honda VTEC is not as great as one would want it to be.

2. Timing Belt Problems

At the risk of sounding a bit technical, let’s first look into what a timing belt is. Joining the crankshaft and camshaft is the timing belt, which is a toothed belt that fits into the pulleys’ spikes. This belt synchronizes the movement of the shafts, which further operate the valves responsible for letting air into the engine to burn the fuel. Seeing how important the timing belt is, it comes as a shock that the timing belt of the VTEC engine is not as long-lasting as one would like it to be.

According to estimates, the belt starts wearing out around 100,000 kilometres into the car’s total drive. This, however, is also highly dependent on the way and under the conditions that the vehicle is being driven. If the engine is under a lot of strain from time to time, then the engine’s overheating can lead to early failure of the timing belt. And when the timing belt goes out, it leaves a lot of clues for the driver to pick up on and get a replacement.

The primary sign of a timing belt gone faulty is ticking or squealing sounds issuing from the engine almost constantly. Another thing to look out for is the engine being unable to start or there being exhaust issues. Since the timing belt cannot synchronize the shafts, the valves don’t efficiently control the airflow, and the exhaust fumes can tell the inside story very well as a consequence.

3. A Tendency for Engine Vibrations

Another common problem that may persist in Honda VTEC engines is excessive engine vibrations. The symptom is pretty self-explanatory from the name, i.e. the engine vibrates, which may cause the entire car to vibrate as well. The causes for this vibration may vary from engine to engine.

  • Engine vibrations can be attributed to faulty spark plugs that cannot fire up the engine consistently or at times completely misfire.
  • Another cause for vibrations is worn out engine mounts. Engine mounts are the coverings for your engine and are mostly made out of rubber. If the mounting comes loose or is broken at a place, it can hit against the engine and cause vibrations to travel throughout the car.
  • Lastly, one other cause for your engine to be vibrating is a faulty timing belt. We have discussed timing belts previously in the article and know that its function is to keep the pulleys and rotators in your engine running in sync. Thus, if the timing belt becomes loose or faulty, it can cause irregular rotations, which may be causing your engine to shake uncontrollably.

These engine vibrations are felt most when the car is halted, like at a red light. VTEC engines, unfortunately, are guilty of producing these engine vibrations. If your engine is starting to give off these signs, book an appointment with your local mechanic. Have them take a look into the components mentioned above so that your engine can work as good as new.

4. Repeated Oil Changing

Oil is an essential ingredient in our lives, whether it is for cooking or keeping your engine lubricated. The point of your engine oil is to keep the system smooth and frictionless, kind of like when you oil the door hinges to ensure an effortless rotation. However, when this oil runs out, the lubrication needed for the engine components to do their job also runs out, which means there is no friction in the system. And we all know where there is friction, there is heat.

So, less oil means the engine overheats to the point where the coolant cannot keep up with it, which may prove hazardous. The Honda VTEC engine requires extra attention when it comes to oil changes and may need to be changed more often than in other cars. Drivers need to be vigilant about the engine’s oil levels and ensure that the coolant and water pump are up to par as well, so there is no risk of damage to the car.


Generally speaking, the VTEC engines are one of the most promising engines out there. They were one of the first to revolutionize the industry and keep up with the challenging demands of the consumers to make driving more efficient. These engines are resourceful yet powerful and have great mileage on them.

Regarding the problems mentioned in the discussion above, these issues, even though mentioned as standard, are not present in every engine. In fact, they have a meagre chance of targeting your engine. They are listed as such because the VTEC engines can run into these problems due to their design and assembly. This in no way means that there will definitely be an issue with your Honda VTEC engine.

Car users are well aware of the fact that engines are expected to turn up with a fault regardless of the company or the model of the engine. The same applies to the VTEC engines. However, suppose proper maintenance is ensured, and care is taken to keep the oil levels and the small but necessary components in check. In that case, there is a chance that your engine will run smoothly for a very long time before encountering a problem. So, if you are looking for an answer to whether the Honda VTEC engine is the one for you, then look no further because this article is here to tell it all.

1 Comment

  1. Why is there an issue with rocker arm engine lite message when close to 3000 rpm engine misses…??


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Drawing from extensive expertise in the used car parts industry, Craig Sandeman has established himself as a trusted authority in automotive repair. He possesses a deep knowledge of the challenges encountered by individuals seeking reliable car parts, making him a highly sought-after expert in this field.


Potential issues, causes, and solutions have been identified in the above article based on the experiences of car owners and repairers, as well as web materials such as forum blogs and technical support bulletins. This data is supplied exclusively for the purpose of reference. Only appropriately qualified persons should perform repairs and/or changes on your vehicles.

While it’s important to keep in mind, it’s also important to note that the amount of times anything is mentioned here should not be seen as a sign of its reliability or frequency. Various owners, driving in different ways, and caring for their vehicles in distinct ways will cause two identical vehicles to perform differently.

As previously said, this material is supplied primarily for reference reasons; nonetheless, we hope that by doing so, we will be able to supply you with essential knowledge that will allow you to make informed decisions whenever you encounter any of the aforementioned setbacks.


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