Temple of VTEC Asia : The Honda Geek

TORCO Accelerator Usage

Since passing me the samples of TORCO Accelerator for testing, importer Tony of Cosmic Elite has been busy looking at various ways to bring TORCO Accelerator in economically and just recently have finally found the way. TORCO Accelerator is now being sold in more convenient 500ml bottles, with the selling price per 500ml can of locally packed TORCO Accelerator is now a very affordable RM35 per can. This is very good news indeed.

With TORCO Accelerator now readily available from dealers, the wide exposure has led to some confusion over its benefits and its usage. As a follow-up to my original review, I thought this short discussion will help clarify things.

Benefits of TORCO Accelerator

Firstly and once again, TORCO Accelerator is actually extremely high grade concentrated racing fuel. So when used, it converts the regular petrol we get from the petrol pump to more closely resemble the high grade racing fuel used in racing cars. One of the improvements is increase of the octane rating of the final petrol mixture, after we add the required amount of Accelerator to the petrol tank. TORCO's literature actually provides estimated increase in Octane number rating according to various mixture ratios. While the TORCO guideline works with octane number rating or ON (often called 'pump' octane) which is actually different from RON or Research Octane number that we use here in Malaysia and Asia, as local laws do not enforce that petrol companies provide any octane rating for their petrol at the pump, only that they provide the RON number, therefore for practical purposes, we can usually work with RON ratings in place of the ON ratings in the TORCO guidelines.

The RON rating is not the only characteristic that is improved in the petrol when we add TORCO Accelerator. TORCO says Accelerator will also lower the 'end-burn' temperature (of the air-fuel mixture) which promotes more complete combustion of the fuel. This directly enables the engine to deliver more power from the same amount of fuel as more of the fuel is burnt.

But how does all these translate to actual benefits on the road. One oft asked question is actually the issue of whether adding TORCO Accelerator to our petrol will actually result in quantifyable power gains on the dyno. Well, the answer here is actually 'it depends'. The important thing to understand is that the petrol's octane rating, whether ON or RON is not a measure of how much power it will generate. Rather it is a measure of how inert (to put it one way) the petrol is to ignition. I.e. it gives us an idea of how resistant the final air-fuel mixture is to detonation or premature ignition. This then relates directly back to how much octane an engine is actually designed to work with.

One oft mentioned factor is that most modern Honda cars in Asia are designed to work with RON-91 petrol. The thing about ON or RON requirement is that if we need RON-91 for e.g., then once we supply RON-91 it is good enough for the engine. Giving it higher RON petrol usually will not give us any extra benefit. On the other hand, give it lower RON petrol and the engine will detonate under stress, which can lead to engine failure. So for most modern Honda cars in Malaysia, when one says we just need to give it RON-95 petrol (the lowest RON petrol we have at the pumps) then it is good enough, that is correct. What about adding TORCO Accelerator to the petrol then ? In this case, there is still a potential of it giving some power gains. Any such gains however won't be from an increase in RON as the engine does not need a higher RON petrol but rather the more efficient combustion due to Accelerator.

For Malaysia however, there is one important exception to this. Outside of Japan, Malaysia is the only country in the whole world to be fortunate enough to see the FD2 Civic Type-R for sale as an official model in the local line-up. The K20A Spec-R in the FD2R is spec'ed to use RON-100 petrol. Actually all Type-R engines ever made by Honda requires RON-100 petrol. For the case of the FD2R, this means when we use RON-97 petrol from the pumps, the highest grade available at the moment, we are actually using below-spec petrol. There is a greater risk of detonation when driving in the more demanding conditions (hot humid weather under heavy load like going uphill for e.g.). The K20A's knock sensor will help to control and eliminate detonation as much as possible but it works by retarding the ignition timing and that reduces power output and dulls the engine's power delivery. So in the case of the FD2R, even completely stock units will benefit from the use of TORCO Accelerator.

For modified Hondas, it is almost a certainty that TORCO Accelerator will give benefits. After the basic IHE bolt-on mods, all further power mods to Honda engines have always focussed on the use of Type-R parts (camshafts, intake manifold, etc) and to increase the engine's compression ratio (e.g. the use of thinner head gasket). This quickly pushes the RON requirement sky-high. For a heavily modified Honda engine, especially the popular B-Series, the use of TORCO Accelerator can probably be safely said to be mandatory. Whether it will result in power gains on the dyno immediately however depends on the degree of tuning done at the ECU. Sometimes a wise owner will install an aftermarket ECU mod like Hondata or eManage. Then a session or two at the dyno will see the AF ratio richened and the ignition timing retarded sufficiently to allow the engine to run with RON-97 safely under most driving conditions. In this scenario, the use of TORCO Accelerator is a bit iffy in terms of seeing immediate power gains. But this is because the engine has been de-tuned, intentionally crippled so that it will work with lower-grade RON-97 petrol. Add TORCO Accelerator in to increase the petrol's RON rating and the engine can now be re-tuned to use more optimum leaner AF ratios and advanced ignition timing. The use of TORCO Accelerator in this case enables the engine to deliver its full power potential.

How much to use

After all has been said, the other pertinent question is also how much TORCO Accelerator to use. TORCO provides a mixture chart but it is in US units, i.e. quarts and gallons. It is also for ON rating not RON. But if we make do with RON, basically my rough calculations shows that adding around 500ml of TORCO Accelerator to 50 litres will allow us to increase the RON rating by approximately 3 numbers. This means starting with RON-97 as the base petrol, adding 500ml of TORCO Accelerator to a 50l tank (the standard size for most mid-sized Hondas) will give us approximate RON-100 petrol. At RM35 for the 500ml can, this means an additional cost of RM35 for each full tank of petrol in an FD2R for e.g. to get premium quality RON-100 petrol that the K20AR engine really needs to use in the first place. It is not dirt cheap but for the improvement in petrol quality and especially the available of RON-100 petrol, it represents a very good value for money in my opinion.

For other RON ratings, adding approximately 330ml to a full tank of RON-97 petrol will increase it to RON-99. 250ml will make it RON-98. I know of some people who calculated whether it is cheaper to add TORCO Accelerator to RON-95 petrol to get RON-97 instead of buying RON-97 at the pumps. But 330ml of Accelerator is needed for that and it works out to RM23 which is more than the differential in the cost of RON-95 to RON-97 petrol for a full tank (around RM12.50 in price difference). In anycase, 330ml is not a very convenient measure to get out of a 500ml can.


The easy availability of TORCO Accelerator, for me personally at least, is fantastic news. It means I can now run my Integra Turbo with a great peace of mind. I can even go ahead and re-tune it to more optimal settings if I wish, as I had to significantly detune it to cater for RON-97 petrol. In this case, personally I think the availability of TORCO Accelerator is great news for all hardcore Honda enthusiasts. For everyone with a Honda, stock, and especially a Type-R or heavily modified, I would recommend to at least give it a try to see how you like it.

March 2010
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