Honda S2000 sports the legendary F20C naturally aspirated engine. This icon of an engine is considered to be highly reliable, but not perfect, especially not when you consider that these engine are now 20 years old (or more).
At one moment in history, the F20C engine from the Honda S2000 was known for developing the most horsepower per liter, 124hp per liter to be exact. Even Ferraris from that era could not match it.
The Honda S2000 is one legendary roadster that has created a real following in the JDM community with its timeless styling and incredible performance. But is it any good engine-wise? Well, that’s what we are going to discuss in this article.
First, we are going to discuss the basic specs of its engine and then we shall cover the common Honda S2000 engine problems. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic and learn more about this legendary engine.
Basic Honda S2000 Engine Specs
The engine used in the Honda S2000 is a naturally aspirated inline-4. This engine is known under the codenames F20C and F22C1. These two engines were produced between 2000 and 2009 and were used exclusively in the Honda S2000.
The F20C was the first engine in this series. This engine is a distant relative to the F-series engines that were used in the 90s models of the Prelude and Accord.
This engine uses an aluminum block and an aluminum cylinder head. The engine block has a cylinder bore of 87 mm and a stroke of 84 mm.
This engine implements a double overhead camshaft layout (DOHC) with four valves per cylinder and VTEC. The VTEC activates between 5,500 rpm and 6,000 rpm. The maximum redline of this engine is 9,000 rpm.
There are two versions of this engine. JDM version that produces 247 hp @ 8,600 rpm and 150 lb-ft of torque @ 7,500 rpm and a USDM (USA version) that makes 237 hp @ 8,300 rpm and 155 lb-ft of torque @ 7,500 rpm.
This is the second USDM version of the F20C engine introduced in 2004. This engine has all the same specs as the previous engine that we discussed.
The only major difference is the displacement. The F20C1 has 200cc more displacement since it has a longer stroke of 90.7 mm compared to the 84 mm of the older engine.
This engine creates 240 hp @ 7,800 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpm.
The redline of this engine was reduced to 8,200 rpm and overall, this engine, even though newer, performs slightly worse than the original F20C.
Common Honda S2000 Engine Problems
Common Honda S2000 engine problems include:
- Spark Plug & Coil Failure
- Fuel Injector Failure
- Timing Chain Tensioner Failure
- Secondary Air Pump Failure
- High Oil Consumption
- Oil Leaks
- Cracked Valve Spring Retainers
- Clutch Failure
Now that we are familiar with the Honda S2000 engine problems, let’s further elaborate on them and learn when and how they appear on this engine of the S2000. We will learn more about the symptoms they produce and how serious these problems are.
Spark Plug & Coil Failure
Spark plug and ignition coil failures are noted on this engine. These components tend to fail more often because this is a high-performance engine.
In other words, this engine is intended to be pushed hard, up to 9,000 rpm to be more specific. And this takes a toll on the life of these components.
The more you push the VTEC, the more frequently you will have to replace these components, that is a fact.
But consider these components to be expendable items. Spark plugs are really cheap and coils can cost you a good penny to get them replaced.
Whenever you have an issue like this, you will get symptoms like the check engine light, engine misfires, rough idle, poor performance, and worse fuel economy. It is important to react quickly and not delay the replacement of these components.
Fuel Injector Failure
Fuel injectors can also fail on these engines. As their name implies, these components have the purpose of injecting fuel into the cylinders.
They can clog up or leak fuel and fail more often on this engine compared to different non-high-performance Honda engines.
There are four of them and they are not very expensive to replace. You can even do this job at home if you are into mechanics and want to sort out issues with your car DIY.
Timing Chain Tensioner Failure
A big problem with this engine is the timing chain tensioner failure. This is a very common problem with this engine.
Some owners reportedly went through a few of these timing chain tensioners. These tensioners do not do a very good job.
Over time, they tend to fail and loosen up the chain. Whenever this occurs, you will start to experience engine rattle.
The solution to this problem is to go for an aftermarket replacement. There are companies that make these tensioners from billet aluminum.
These tensioners reportedly last for a really long time and once you get rid of the OEM one, you will never have to worry about replacing the timing chain tensioner ever again.
Which is a good thing in our opinion. This is a good way to bulletproof your engine and avoid some permanent engine damage because of a bad timing chain tensioner.
Secondary Air Pump Failure
This Honda model comes with something known as a secondary air injection pump. This is a special air pump that injects air into the exhaust at startup so the O2 sensors get up to temperature much sooner.
This allows the engine to adjust the air-to-fuel ratio better and reduce pollution. Whenever this air pump fails, you will get a check engine light and the codes P0410 or P1410.
On a lot of these S2000 models, this pump fails very often. So, it is highly likely that you will have to replace it at some point.
This air pump is located under the front bumper on the driver’s side. You just have to remove the wheel, and the wheel well so you can access the pump and replace it, as it is shown in the video.
High Oil Consumption
High oil consumption is also noted on this engine in the S2000. Some oil consumption is normal. But when the problem becomes excessive it means that you have a serious issue.
The only way around this problem is an engine rebuild or cylinder head rebuild depending on what is causing the problem.
What is good is that this problem does not occur on lower-mileage engines. Usually starts to develop when the car reaches 80,000 to 100,000 miles.
Some people do not have a problem with topping out the oil here and there. But if the issue becomes too excessive, the only way around will be to do a full rebuild which can be very expensive.
Oil leaks are also noted on these engines. They can develop leaks from a few places. Most notably, these engines can leak from the oil pan.
Other places where leaks can appear are the front and rear main seals, valve cover, and VTEC solenoid, or there is an issue when the dipstick simply pops out and starts to leak oil everywhere.
Proper inspection is mandatory if you want to sort out this problem and locate where this leak comes from.
Cracked Valve Spring Retainers
Another very common issue with this engine is the valve spring retainers that tend to crack and fail. This issue only affects the early engines.
The second generation of this engine does not have this issue. These valve seat retainers fail because of mechanically induced over-revs.
Luckily there are many Honda owners aware of this issue and they replace these valve spring retainers as preventive maintenance.
In this link, you can read more about this issue and how the issue is sorted out in DIY conditions.
Clutch failures are really common on these engines. Especially the early engines that do not have the revised clutch.
These clutches are simply not up to standard, and driving on this clutch is a daunting task. The failure rate is quite exponential on these components, and some owners have replaced them multiple times.
The solution to this problem is to go for an aftermarket performance clutch. This way you will be sure that the problem will be sorted out. And the strange thing is that these clutches are even cheaper than OEM ones.
Differential Failure (Not an engine problems, but worth noting)
Getting all that power to the rear wheels (Honda S2000 features rear wheel drive) took a toll on the differential. Differential problems and failure was even more common on S2000’s that were abused by irresponsible owners.
A quick Google search for “S2000 Differential failure” reveals a lot of owner’s reports of differential problems on the S2000. Many of the differentials simply failed due to years of usage (or abuse) and no fluid changes.
Owners also report that the differentials were prone to failure if the mechanic replaced the differential fluid with an inappropriate one. One owner commented: “…make sure they don’t top up the differential with the same stuff they put in other Hondas like the Civic or CRV.”.
It is believed that the differentials are not flawed from the factory, there are plenty of owners who clocked well over 200,000 miles (ca. 321,869 km) on their S2000 without ever experiencing any differential problems.
A new differential isn’t cheap, but there’s plenty of choice on eBay for rebuilt and aftermarket differentials.
Which Models Have The S2000 Engine?
Now let’s learn more about the applications of this F20C engine.
- 1999 – 2005 Honda S2000 JDM
- 2000 – 2003 Honda S2000 USDM
- 1999 – 2009 Honda S2000 UK, Europe, and Australia
- 2009 Skelta G-Force
- 2009 IFR Aspid
- 2004 – 2009 Honda S2000 North America
- 2006 – 2009 Japan
What Are The Common Honda S2000 Engine Problems?
Common problems with this engine include high oil consumption, valve spring retainer failures, clutch failures, oil leaks, secondary air pump failures, spark plug, and coil failures, as well as timing chain tensioner failures.
Is The S2000 Engine Reliable?
In terms of reliability, we can say that the S2000 engine is reliable but still has some issues that can be catastrophic. Namely, the valve spring retainers on gen 1 engines and the timing chain tensioner failures. These issues can seriously damage the engine or even total the engine completely. So, you need to be aware of them and sort them out accordingly as preventive maintenance.