These days it would be hard to imagine Honda without there Type R division, but when the Integra Type R DC2 and DB8 launched in 1995 many enthusiasts didn’t know about the company’s sporting division. The first car to use the Type R name was the incredible NSX Type R that launched in 1992 with limited numbers.
While the NSX Type R was a hot-blooded, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive supercar, the Integra Type R was a different breed of sports car. It took the front-wheel drive, lightweight formula and turned it up to eleven. However, it wasn’t all about speed, the Integra was a true driver’s car and was a raw, stripped down experience.
The DC2 and the DB8, like many other Japanese sports cars from the period, have become real collectors’ items. Prices have increased dramatically over the last few years, however, not all of them are worth the money. A large number of these Type Rs are well past their prime and despite Honda’s famed reliability, there are definitely a few money pits out there. Because of this we have created a buying and importing guide for the Honda/Acura Integra Type R.
Using this Integra Type R Buyer’s Guide
This is a long guide, so use the table of contents to skip to the section you want to read. We will start off with the history and specifications of the DC2 and DB8 Integra Type Rs and then we will get into the buyers guide section of the article.
Table of Contents
The History of the Honda/Acura Integra Type R DC2 & DB8
While the Generation 3 Honda Integra made its debut in 1993, it wasn’t until 1995 that the Type R version appeared. The Generation 3 originally launched with an unusual four headlight front end that was dubbed “bug eyes”, however, this was changed in 1995 as it proved to be unpopular with Japanese buyers.
Honda’s top Integra model at the time of launch was known as the “Si”, which featured a 176 hp VTEC B18C engine. There were other models that launched as well, including the LS, SE, GS and GS-R, but it wasn’t until the Type R launched that the Integra could really show what it was capable of.
Honda’s Type R nomenclature indicated a more hardcore, track orientated car. The Japanese manufacture had already turned their famous NSX into a road going racer by making it lighter, stiffer and more powerful, and now it was time to turn their attention to the Integra.
The Honda Integra Type R DC2 was introduced into the Japanese domestic market in 1995. Honda equipped the Type R with a 1.8-litre DOHC VTEC in-line 4-cylinder (B18C) engine. For the JDM market, the engine produced an impressive 200 hp at 8,000 rpm, while the US model produced around 195 hp at 8,000 rpm.
JDM and international market Type R Integras came with an 11:1 compression ratio, whereas United States models featured a compression ratio of 10:6:1. The United States Type R was introduced as a 1997 model under the Acura brand, and air conditioning was the only optional extra.
In the United States, the Type R was only available in Championship White in 97 and 98. It was not available in 1999 in the US, but returned in 2000 and stayed until the Integra DC2’s production ended in 2001. Honda (Acura) only offered two colours for the last two years in the US, Pheonix Yellow and Flamenco Black Pearl.
At the time of its launch in the United States, the Integra Type R set the record for the most power per litre (108 hp) of any naturally aspirated engine ever to be produced in the US. It was only knocked off its perch when Honda broke its own record with the incredible S2000 that produced 120 hp per litre.
Honda matted the incredible VTEC engine with a close-ratio 5-speed manual transmission. First gear and final drive were exactly the same as the GS-R transmission, however, gears two to five were spaced much closer.
The car also came with a Helical Limited-slip differential and revised springs and dampers. In addition to this, Honda also installed larger sway and strut tower bars. There were also numerous reinforcements done to the body of the car and rear performance rods on the rear of the frame.
Larger rotors and calipers were installed and the ABS system was revised to accommodate for the increased performance. Originally, the car launched with 15 inch 5 lug wheels, however, the 1998 JDM model would receive 16 inch allow wheels.
To save weight and make the car more of a pure driving experience, Honda stripped out everything that was unnecessary; including the cruise control, air bags, air conditioning, rear wiper, vanity mirrors and moonroof. A new 10,000 rpm tachometer was installed, along with revised cloth seats and an aluminium shifter knob.
For the 1998 model year, the Type R received some significant upgrades. Known as the ’98 Spec R, the changes included bigger brakes, a redesigned rear bumper and 16-inch wheels with 215/45R16 tyres. Gear ratios were also changed with 1st to 3rd gears closer, while the final two gears were longer to increase cruising comfort. Engine power was the same, but a new 4-1 long tube header brought torque down lower to 6,200rpm.
The final revision to the Type R DC2 came in 2000 and was known as the ’00 Spec R. This featured more balanced drive shafts and a revised intake camshaft. There were also some slight interior and trim changes as well.
Interestingly, Honda lost money on every DC2 Type R there sold. This was because they had to finish the car in various small fabrication shops in Japan and the early versions required hand tooling, which led to increased manufacturing costs.
Honda’s main intention with the Integra Type R was to create a car that would meet homologation requirements for the FIA. They wanted to create a car that would be more competitive in the N-series and World Cup Racing. In addition to this, Honda believed that the car would improve their image and accepted that each one would be a financial loss.
The motoring press labelled the Honda Integra Type R as the greatest front-wheel drive performance car ever and it was known to be one of the best handling cars of all time. Check out this review of the Type R from Top Gear below:
Honda Integra Type R DC2/DB8 Specifications
|Model||Honda Integra Type R DC2 and DB8|
|Year of production||1995 – 2001|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive|
|Engine/Engines||1.8-litre DOHC VTEC in-line 4-cylinder (B18C)|
|Power||195 – 200 hp (143 – 147 kW) @ 8,000rpm|
|Torque||178 Nm (131 lb-ft) @ 7,300rpm|
|Gearbox||Five-speed close ratio manual|
|Suspension Front||Double Wishbones|
|Suspension Rear||Double Wishbones|
|Brakes Front||282 mm (11.1 inches)|
|Brakes Rear||226 mm (10.2 inches)|
|Tyres||Bridgestone Potenza RE010 195/55R15|
Later – 215/45/ZR16 tyres
|Weight||1,101 – 1,236 kg (2,427 – 2,725 lb)|
|Top speed||233 km/h (145 mph)|
|0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)||6.1 to 6.8 seconds (depending on tester)|
For more information about the Honda Integra Type R DC2’s specifications and performance figures visit zeperfs.com.
Buying a Honda/Acura Integra Type R DC2 or DB8
With the history and specifications of the first version of the Honda Integra Type R out of the way, now it is time to get to why you are really here. While both the DC2 and DB8 Type Rs are not as complicated or unreliable as many other sports cars of their era, there are still some things you need to know about buying one.
There are some right lemons out in the wild and finding a good example is becoming increasingly difficult. Many Integra Type R’s have been extensively modified or badly maintained, and with the massive price increase in Japanese sports cars from this era, you are going to have to have some serious cash on hand to get yourself a mint example.
Setting Up an Inspection of a Type R Integra
Here are some things to keep in mind when setting up an inspection of a DC2 or DB8 Honda Integra Type R:
- If possible, view the Integra Type R in person or get a reliable friend or third party to do so for you – This is becoming more and more difficult as these cars are becoming harder to find. Still, if you can view a used car in person we always recommend that you do as it lowers the risk to you as a buyer. Some specialist auction/classifieds sites and services do check the cars they list prior to purchase, which does reduce the risk a bit (bringatrailer.com for example).
- Take a friend or helper with you to the inspection – This is recommended as a second person may be able to spot something you missed. Additionally, they can give you their thoughts on the Type R and whetheror not they think it is a good buy.
- View the Integra at the seller’s house or place of business – This can be a good idea as it can give you the chance to see how and where the Type R is stored. If the car has always been garaged or kept under some form of cover, there is going to be a lower chance of issues such as rust, paint fade, etc. Additionally, you can also get a bit of an idea of the sort of roads the Honda Integra is regularly driven on. If they are fully of pot holes and are really rough, the suspension components, wheels and tyres may have taken a bit of a battering.
- If possible, look at the car in the morning rather than later in the day – This ultimately depends on you and the seller’s schedule, but we do recommend that you try and inspect an Integra Type R earlier in the morning. This will give the seller less chance to clean up any potential issues such as a big oil leak.
- Ask the seller not to drive or warm up the car prior to your arrival if possible – A warm engine can hide a multitude of sins, so be cautious.
- Turn up unannounced if the car is being sold at a dealer (if possible) – If a dealer knows that you are coming to look at a particular DC2 or DB8, they will have time to clean up any potential issues prior to your arrival.
- Try not to inspect a used car in the rain –Water can cover up a number of different issues with the bodywork and paint. If it does happen to be raining when you inspect a Honda Integra Type R, try to go back for a second viewing before making a purchase.
- Be cautious if the seller has just washed the car– This is largely for the same reason as above, but some sellers will also wash the engine bay and underside of a vehicle to hide an issue (or anywhere a leak/issue may occur).
- Get the seller to move their DC2 or DB8 Type R outside if it is in a garage or showroom– Lighting in places such as garages and showrooms can cover up issues that direct sunlight may have revealed.
Buying a First Gen Honda Integra Type R With Problems
In truth, unless you have some serious cash to lay down for a perfect example that has been garaged its whole life and never driven, you are going to have to purchase a Type R with some sort of issue/issues (not driving a car actually comes with its own set of problems, so don’t get too caught up on mileage). The severity of these issues will depend on a number of things from how the particular Type R you are interested in has been maintained and driven, to where it has been kept and more.
Most of the information in this guide revolves around trying to avoid an Integra Type R with moderate to severe issues. However, there is really nothing wrong with buying a used DC2 or DB8 with more serious problems as long as you know what you are getting yourself into before handing over the cash. If you do want to buy a bit of a ‘project’, we recommend that you try and work out roughly how much you need to spend on repairs and parts before making a purchase.
Will the First Gen Honda Integra Type R Become a Classic?
We would argue that it has already become a classic. The first version of the Type R Integra is now highly sought after, and prices are appreciating.
Where to Find a Honda Integra Type R DC2 or DB8 for Sale?
While these cars are becoming harder to find (especially in good condition), there are still quite a few on the road today. Out of the 30,000 or so cars produced for the Japanese domestic market, only around 5,000 of them were DB8s, so if you are looking for one of those it will be a lot more difficult. Obviously, more Type Rs were produced for the export market, with around 3,823 of them making their way to the United States (more info here on production numbers).
We suggest that you start your hunt for a Type R on your local auction/classifieds websites or dealer websites. Specialist auction sites or dealers such as bringatrailer.com or carsandbids.com are also excellent places to look if you are wanting a really good example.
We wouldn’t rule out looking at official Honda dealers. Sometimes they have specialist cars such as the Type R, NSX, etc. for sale. Alternatively, they may be able to point you in the direction of a somebody who is looking to sell theirs, or they may be able to source one for you (import it).
We suggest that you also check to see if there are any Integra Type R, Honda or JDM owners clubs in your area. These sorts of clubs tend to attract very enthusiastic owners who are knowledgeable and look after their vehicles properly. Here are a few examples:
Type R Owners UK – Club dedicated to all Type R models in the UK. A lot of Civic Type R owners (as there are far more of them), but there is a smattering of DC2 and DC5 owners as well.
Type R Club of America – Good forum for those in America to check out. Lots advice on other things as well (maintenance, etc.)
NZ Hondas – Club dedicated to all Honda models in New Zealand
Facebook Groups – There are loads of Facebook groups for Hondas and JDM cars. Check to see what is in your local area or country.
Fake vs Real Integra Type R
Unfortunately, there are a few fake DC2 Integra Type Rs out in the wild. If the owner isn’t forthcoming with the fact that the car is not actually a legitimate Type R, you can check for the following (worth doing on all cars you inspect):
- Lower subframe – All non-Type R Integras from this generation have thinner subframes (non-reinforced) and do not have a mount for the tie bar.
- Engine bay – There is no large hole on the passenger front inner fender on Type Rs (left-hand drive). This hole should be located near the intake and behind the ABS (if present) on regular Integras.
- Sunroof – Type Rs did not come with a sunroof from the factory. If you notice that the Integra you are looking at has a sunroof, it is either fake or a dealer may have installed one at some point (much less likely, but some did get this treatment).
The colour, side skirts, badges and other specific Type R extras (or removals in the case of things like the door moldings) can also be used to determine whether or not the car you are looking at is a real Type R. However, these things are much more easily faked than the three bullet points we listed above (with the first two being the main ones to look out for).
Export market Type Rs (think United States, etc.) were given a VIN (vehicle identification number), while Japanese domestic market cars were labelled with a chassis number to help identify them. When a Japanese car is imported into another market it may be given a VIN when it is registered for road use (this does depend on the country/area in question).
The VIN/chassis number can give you quite a lot of information about a particular DC2 or DB8 Type R. From the characters you should be able to determine the particular model, its model year, engine type, etc. The VIN can also be entered into a VIN check up website or service that may be able to provide a bit more history about the car. This information you can find out does depend on what service you are using and what country you are, but you can usually find out things such as registration history, whether or not the vehicle has been written off and more.
The VIN should look something like this if it was a DC2 Honda Integra Type R that was sold new in the United States – JH4DC231XSTXXXXXX. Below we have broken down what the different characters mean.
Character 1 (Country of origin) – J = Japan
Character 2 (Brand) – H = Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
Character 3 (Classification) – 4 = Honda/Acura passenger vehicle
Characters 4, 5 and 6 (body and engine type) – DC2 = 2dr B18C, while DB8 = 4dr B18c
Character 7 (body and transmission type) – 3 = 2dr 5-speed (so DC2), while 5 = 4dr 5-speed (so DB8)
Character 8 (vehicle grade) – 1 = Type R
Character 9 – Check digit
Character 10 (model year) – as follows:
- R = 1994
- S = 1995
- T = 1996
- V = 1997
- W = 1998
- X = 1999
- Y = 2000
- 1 = 2001
Character 11 (factory code) – S = Suzuka, Japan
Remaining characters (serial number)
Japanese Chassis Code
The chassis code on Japanese domestic market first gen Integra Type Rs should look something like this – DC2-1X0####. Below we have broken down what these characters mean:
DC2 – This means that the car is a 2 door coupe Type R. DC2 should be replaced by DB8 if the car is a 4 door Integra Type R.
1X0 (year produced) – as follows:
- 110 – produced from October 1995 until August 1996
- 120 – produced from September 1996 until December 1997
- 130 – produced from January 1998 until June 1999
- 140 – produced from July 1999 until the end of the production at the end of 2000
Remaining digits – production number
Where to Find the VIN/Chassis Number on a Type R DC2/DB8?
- Either on the centre of the bulkhead/firewall or on the offside of the front slam panel
- Door jam sticker
- Fender vin stickers
- Hatch vin stickers
- Door vin stickers
Watch out for Stolen Cars
The Integra Type R was and still is massively popular with thieves. Many of them were stolen for their engines, so it is important to make sure the engine and transmission VINs match the ones on the car (and they indicate that the car is indeed a Type R). If you notice that any of the VIN/Chassis numbers look like they have been scratched off/removed it is a good sign that the Type R was stolen at some point.
While the B18C engine inside the DC2/DB8 Type R is known to be incredibly tough and reliable, more than a few of these cars have been owned by people who haven’t maintained them properly. Additionally, the Type R Integra promotes spirited driving, which can lead to heightened wear and premature component failure (especially if maintenance has been lacking).
To begin your inspection of a DC2 or DB8 Type R’s power unit, move to the front of the vehicle and lift the bonnet/hood. Make sure that it opens smoothly and check that the catch and hinges are in good condition. If they are not in good order or look like they have been replaced it could be a sign that the Type R has been in an accident.
Once you have done this give the engine bay a good general look over for the following:
- Cleanliness – Is the engine bay clean or dirty. While a spotless engine bay can be a sign of a good owner, it could also be a sign of somebody who is trying to cover something up. Additionally, if the engine bay has been pressure washed, water could have made its way into some of the critical components (electrical parts, etc.) if they were not covered properly. Problems resulting from this water ingress may take a while to become apparent.
- Obvious issues – This could be anything from an oil leak to broken or missing components (for example a damaged coolant expansion tank)
- Modifications – Lots of DC2 and DB8 Honda Integra Type Rs have been modified, so it is a good idea to know what has been done/changed before purchase. For example, some owners have carried out turbo or supercharger mods on their cars. This is perfectly fine, but excessive amounts of boost can quickly lead to some nasty issues.
Inspecting the Fluids
It is always a good idea to check the condition and level of the different fluids (engine oil, coolant, etc.) before purchasing any DC2/DB8 Integra Type R. The B18C engine burns through a small amount of oil even with less spirited driving, so the engine oil level needs to be checked regularly. If the oil level is too low (or even too high) it can lead to a number of complications and possibly even total engine failure. Another thing to keep in mind is that if the oil level and/or other fluid levels are incorrect it is a sign of poor maintenance.
When it comes to the condition of the engine oil itself, keep an eye out for any metallic particles or grit. With the prices these cars are now fetching it may be worth getting the oil analysed before purchase. Metallic particles are often more noticeable just after a rebuild, so keep that in mind as well.
Make sure you check for any foam or froth on the dipstick or in the oil. This can be caused by a range of different issues from something like condensation in the oil, to an engine that has been overfilled with oil and more seriously, a blown head gasket (especially if the foam/froth is very thick and white).
Ask the seller about their DC2 or DB8 Integra Type R’s service schedule and ask to see the service history as well. If they can’t or won’t let you see their Honda’s service history you should be very cautious.
It is generally recommended that a good quality 5W-30, 10W-30 or 10W-40 weight oil is used in these cars. Honda originally recommended the former for the Integra Type R, but now that these cars are fairly old and many of them have done quite a few miles, lots of owners recommend the 10W-40 weight. This is because it helps a bit of with oil consumption. If you live in a cold climate, a 5W-30 weight may be the better option. Modified cars running more power are another story and often require heavier weight oils.
The oil should have been replaced every 10,000 km (6,200 miles) or so, but many owners like to do it much earlier at around half that distance. If the Type R has not been driven that much, oil and oil filter replacements should have occurred every six to twelve months.
How Much Oil Consumption is Okay?
A large number of first generation Integra Type Rs like to drink a bit of oil, so if the seller claims that their car doesn’t use a drop they are probably lying (not always however). Just under a litre (a quart) per every 5,000 km (3,000 miles) is seen to be normal, so regular oil level checks are necessary. As we mentioned above swapping to a heavier oil can help and some owners have found luck by switching to a conventional oil rather than a synthetic.
Common Oil Leaks on a DC2/DB8 Integra Type R
While leaks don’t tend to be too much of an issue on these cars like some other sports cars from the era, they can happen (especially as the DC2/DB8 is no spring chicken anymore)
- Valve/timing cover gasket – Common leak on many used cars including the first gen Honda/Acura Integra Type R. Check around the timing cover and watch out for any oil staining. Isn’t too much of a problem as long as the leak isn’t serious. Replacing the gasket should be done with the timing belt or if it starts to leak. This leak would not put us off a Type R.
- Cam plug/seal – If you notice a leak running down the head/near the VTEC solenoid (left side of the engine) it could be a cam seal/plug. This is not a major problem as the part is fairly easy to replace and cheap to source (see the video below)
- VTEC solenoid gasket – This leak can often be confused with the one above as the VTEC solenoid is located next to the cam seal o the left side of the engine (when looking from the front). Once again this isn’t a major problem, especially as the VTEC solenoid is easy to access (no need to remove the valve cover, however, the bolts can easily be stripped/snapped if you aren’t careful).
- Oil pan gasket – Have a look all around the oil pan to make sure that there are no leaks from the gasket.
- Rear main seal – A leaking rear main seal isn’t something that happens often on these cars, but we feel it is important to include as if it is leaking you will need to drop the transmission and remove the oil pan to get to it. This means that while the replacement seal isn’t too expensive, the labour to fit it can be. If the rear main seal is leaking you may see oil dripping off the bottom of the flywheel/clutch cover beside the oil pan.
Watch out for Aftermarket Air Filters
Try to find out what air filter the DC2/DB8 Type R is running as quite a lot of aftermarket ones strangle the engine at higher revs. The official Honda one is really best for stock Integra Type Rs, but there are some good options out there. If the Type R you are looking at is running an aftermarket filter, note down the brand and check to see if it is a good one.
When Does the Timing Belt Need to be Replaced on an Integra Type R DC2/DB8?
It is important to make sure that the timing belt/cambelt has been replaced at or before the recommended service interval. We have outlined the interval below based on the United Service manual for the Acura Integra Type R:
- Up to 1997 – 145,000 km (90,000 miles) or every 6 years – no difference for severe conditions
- 1998 to the end of production – 170,000 km (105,000 miles) or every 7 years – if the car is driven under severe conditions the belt should be replaced every 96,000 km (60,000 miles).
Quite a lot of owners like to change the belt at the 96,000 km (60,000 mile) mark just to be on the safe side. The B18C power unit inside both the DC2 and DB8 Type Rs is an interference engine, so if the belt does break there is a good chance serious damage will be done to the engine (and to your wallet).
If the belt is well past the service interval and you still want to purchase the Type R make sure you get a good discount. However, if the belt hasn’t been replaced you should be asking yourself where other corners have been cut when it comes to maintenance.
What Parts Need to be Replaced with the Timing Belt?
The following parts should have been replaced with the timing belt:
- Timing belt tensioner
- Tensioner spring
- Water pump
- Valve cover gasket – depends on the condition of the current one but usually worth replacing
An issue here could lead to catastrophic failure, so make sure the cooling system is working as intended and look for the following issues:
As mentioned above, the water pump should have been replaced with every change of the timing belt, so make sure that has been done. Even if this is done the water pump can still fail, so watch out for the following.
- Coolant leaks
- Whining noises (usually high-pitched)
- Chuffing sounds
Aftermarket pumps are available, but it is generally recommended that you stick with the OEM one (part number 19200-p72-013 or 19200-p72-003). If an aftermarket one is fitted try to find out the brand and check any reviews. Some owners have fitted aftermarket electric water pumps to their Integra Type Rs, but these tend to be far more trouble than they are worth.
This can be quite a common problem, so watch out for a temperature gauge that doesn’t work properly. Most of the time the needle will be on the cooler side of the temperature gauge if the thermostat has failed. If the thermostat is sitting on the higher end of the spectrum it is more likely to be another failure such as the water pump that is causing the car to overheat.
Make sure you have a good look for any coolant leaks and watch out for a sweet smell that could indicate a leak somewhere in the system. Have a good look around the expansion tank (left front of the engine bay) and the coolant lines for any crusted coolant as this could indicate a leak. Give the coolant hoses a good feel to make sure they are still soft. They can become hard and brittle with age, which can eventually lead to a leak.
We recommend that you check for coolant leaks both before and after a test drive, along with the coolant level (check for any big changes). Following a test drive of a Honda/Acura Integra Type R, turn the car off and wait for around 10 to 15 minutes. Once you have done this, recheck for any fresh puddle of coolant underneath the vehicle.
It is generally recommended that the coolant be replaced every 48,000 km (30,000 miles) or every 2 to 3 years or so on a first gen Integra Type R. If the coolant is brown and muddy in colour it suggests that the coolant has not been replaced in a long time.
Bubbles in the Coolant
If you notice bubbles in the coolant this indicates that air has made its way into the system, which can lead to reduced cooling performance and overheating. Air can get into the cooling system through several different ways from something like a bad radiator cap to air pockets in the radiator and possibly even a blown head gasket (There should be other symptoms if the head gasket has failed such as a sweet smelling exhaust, lots of white steam/smoke, etc.).
A lot of the time the air bubbles are simply down to an unbled or badly bled system. Bleeding an Integra Type R’s B18C engine is a fairly straightforward process, so don’t worry too much about this.
Signs of Cooling System Failure
Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for that indicate cooling system failure, head gasket failure, etc. If you notice any or multiple of these it could be a sign of big trouble (and some expensive repair bills):
- Temperature gauge on that is on the high side
- Bubbles in the radiator or coolant expansion tank
- White and milky oil
- Spark plugs that are fouled (if you or probably a mechanic can get a look at them)
- Low cooling system integrity
- Smell of coolant from the oil – A sign of head gasket failure
- Sweet smelling exhaust – Could be head gasket failure
- White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it) – usually a sign of head gasket failure
- Steam from the front of the Integra Type R
Check the Exhaust
Have a good look at as much of the exhaust system as possible as a problem here could be quite expensive to fix. Be on the lookout for rust, damage, etc, especially as the DC2/DB8 Type R is pretty old now. Rust often occurs from the inside out on exhausts, so be mindful of that.
A good quality aftermarket exhaust shouldn’t have any problems with corrosion, but it does depend on who manufactured it and what material it is made from (stainless steel, titanium, etc.). Cheap mild steel exhausts are pretty prone to rusting, so watch out for those. APEXi N1 Catback exhausts were quite a popular option for the Integra Type R DC2/DB8, but a number of owners found that they corroded fairly quickly
Check for any damage as well (cracks, dents, etc.) and watch out for any dodgy repairs that have been done on the cheap. Make sure the exhaust is securely fastened and does not move significantly when the car is running.
A rattle from underneath the car is often caused by a loose heatshield on the exhaust, which can be tightened in a few minutes. Apart from that keep an ear out for any low rumbling or scraping noises that could indicate another problem with the exhaust system. Additionally, watch out for any ticking noises as these sorts of sounds are a sign of a leak.
We have already touched on aftermarket exhausts briefly, but here is a bit more advice on them. If you are looking at a DC2 or DB8 Integra Type R with an aftermarket exhaust, try to find out the brand/manufacturer and check any reviews. A good quality stainless or even titanium exhaust is only a benefit in our eyes, unless you are going for absolute originality.
Motor Mount Failure and Excessive Vibrations
The engine mounts are a wear item and will eventually need to be replaced given mileage and age. If the motor mounts have failed on the Honda/Acura Integra Type R you are looking at you may notice the following:
- Excessive vibrations
- Engine movement – rev the car and see if the engine moves excessively
- Clunking, banging, or other impact sounds that are a result of engine movement
Replacement mounts aren’t expensive, but just be mindful of the labour cost if you have to get multiple done by somebody (still not bad on these cars). We have embedded a video below of a guide on how to replace the mounts on a standard DC2 Integra.
Aftermarket mounts from the likes of Energy Suspension Parts are available for the Integra Type R. Unfortunately, some of these aftermarket mounts can lead bad vibrations themselves, so keep that in mind.
What Should the Idle Speed Be on a DC2/DB8 Integra Type R
Normal idle should sit around 750 rpm (+ or – 50 rpm), but some owners experience slightly higher or lower idle depending on the conditions. When the Type R is first started expect the idle speed to sit around 1,500 rpm (can be higher or lower), but it should drop once the car warms.
If you notice that the idle speed is particular low or high, or that the engine seems to be hunting/running rough, it could be caused by a range of different issues from problems with the spark plugs, O2 sensor, intake components and more. You are unlikely to determine the exact cause of the issue, so assume the worst and hope for the best. If the idle issue was a simple fix, the owner of the Honda/Acura probably would have got it sorted before putting the car on the market. Alternatively, they may have simply not have noticed or believed that the idle speed was correct.
Smoke from a Honda Integra Type R DC2/DB8
It is never a good sign if you notice lots of smoke or steam from the exhaust (or anywhere for that matter). A small amount of vapour from the exhaust on engine start is perfectly fine and is usually caused by condensation in the exhaust. This can often continue for quite a while in cold conditions, but it should be very light.
It is a good idea to get the seller to start the Type R for you for the first time, while you position yourself at the rear. This way you can easily see what comes out the back on initial engine start. Here are what the different colours of smoke indicate:
White smoke – As we mentioned above, a few white puffs is usually caused by condensation in the exhaust. Lots of thick white/grey smoke from an Integra Type R DC2/DB8’s tailpipes indicates that water/coolant has made its way into the cylinders due to a blown/leaking head gasket. Give the exhaust a good whiff and if it smells sweet, it is probably coolant. If the smoke is very thick and doesn’t dissipate quickly it could be sign that the block or cylinder head is cracked/broken.
Blue/Grey smoke – This colour smoke could be caused by a whole range of things including warn pistons rings, valve seals, and more. To test for this colour smoke during a drive, get somebody to follow you while you are driving the Type R. Take the engine through its rev range and see what comes out the back. If you don’t have a helper, get the owner to drive for a bit while you look out the back (good chance to see how they drive as well).
Black smoke – This sort of smoke is usually a sign that the engine is running too rich and burning too much fuel. There are quite a few things that could be causing this issue from something like dirty intake components to incorrect spark timing, problems with the injectors, and more. If the exhaust smells of fuel, the engine is almost certainly running too rich.
Buying a Honda/Acura Integra Type R with a Rebuilt or Replaced Engine
Given the age of the first gen Integra Type R, many of them have needed an engine rebuild or replacement at some point in their lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this in our eyes, but it is important to make sure that the work was done by a competent specialist/mechanic who is experienced with the B18C engine. Try to find out who did the work and check any reviews/feedback you can find.
If the rebuild or replacement was a home job, we would probably be a bit more cautious. While there are plenty of very competent home mechanics out there, there are also many with more ambition than skill. It is usually a good idea to avoid buying somebody’s unfinished project (unless you want to) or a DC2/DB8 Type R Integra that has been poorly rebuilt for a quick sale.
We also recommend that you avoid fresh rebuilds as they are a bit of an unknown. A DC2/DB8 with say 10,000 km (6,200 miles) is going to be a safer bet than one that has only travelled 500 km (300 miles) on a rebuild or replacement.
Another thing to keep in mind is the history of the new power unit if the car had an engine swap. While it probably won’t be possible to find out the history of the new engine, we do recommend that you try to do so.
Should I Get a Compression Test Done Before Purchase?
While not completely necessary when purchasing an Integra Type R DC2/DB8, a compression test or leak down test is often a good thing to get done to help determine the health of the car’s engine. If you are taking the car to a mechanic or specialist prior to purchase, we recommend that you get them to do a test (especially if you are looking for a really good example of a first gen Type R).
Some owners will get a compression test done before sale and put the results in the advertisement. The most important thing with the results is to make sure that they are all roughly the same (within around 10% of each other).
Integra Type Rs sold in the United States and some other export markets came with a 4.4:1 final drive ratio, while JDM cars (and some other export markets) have a 4.7:1 ratio. Swapping to the JDM final drive ratio is quite a popular modification to get a bit more acceleration performance.
The five-speed manual transmission fitted to the DC2/DB8 Integra Type R is a fairly strong piece of kit, but as these cars do encourage spirited driving, the gearbox can succumb to repeated abuse.
If you notice that any of the gears pop out (usually fifth under revs) it is probably a sign of low fluid or something more serious like bad synchros. Another more common sign of synchro wear is graunching and grinding on up and/or downshifts (particularly gears two and three on the Type R). Synchros will eventually go bad as they are a wear item, but here are some things that can increase the rate of wear:
- Poor quality shifts
- Repeated hard driving/thrashing
- Clutchless shifting
- Repeated standing starts
- Worn shifter bushings
Basically, if the owner or any previous owner has buried their foot in the carpet every time they get in the car, the synchros are going to give out quickly.
Additionally, when shifting make sure that the gearbox is not overly loose or sloppy as if it is a new linkage mount may be required (not expensive). It should be reasonable tight, but not overly so. The transmission will probably be quite a bit stiffer when the Type R is first started, but it should loosen up a bit as it warms.
Grinding noises when you dip the clutch could mean that the release bearing is gone, or it could suggest that the gearbox bearings are worn out. All these issues could suggest that a gearbox rebuild is on the cards in the near future.
Have a good look for any leaks from the transmission. Honda MTF is a light yellow/gold colour and has a slightly strange and unique smell. Standard engine oil is usually be a darker than Honda MTF, but it can be confused. The manual transmission fluid should have been replaced every 48,000 km (30,000 miles) or every 24 months or so, but some owners like to do it much earlier (every second engine oil change for example).
Clutches should last anywhere from around 100,000 to 160,000 km (62,000 to 100,000 miles). However, this can depend on how the Type R Integra you are looking at has been treated and driven. If the car has been repeatedly thrashed the clutch isn’t going to last nearly as long.
One thing to watch out for is a leak around the clutch slave cylinder as this is quite a common issue. Apart from that, conduct the following tests to make sure the clutch is working properly:
Clutch Engagement – The first step is to make sure the engagement is good. To do this put the DC2/DB8 Type R you are inspecting into gear on a level surface and let the clutch out slowly. It should engage around 7 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 inches) from the floor. Engagement that is early or too late indicates a problem.
Clutch Slippage – The best way to test for this problem is to shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. You should notice that the engine bogs down a bit (don’t do this on a regular basis). The next thing to do is to accelerate. If you notice that the tachometer goes up out of relation to the speedometer and/or you notice jerkiness it suggests that the clutch is slipping.
Clutch Drag – Get the Integra Type R on a flat surface and press the clutch pedal to the floor (do this while you are stationary). Rev the car hard (once it is warm) and see If it moves. If the car does move, the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.
Clutch Shudder – This is usually noticeable when you accelerate from a stop. A small amount is perfectly normal, but an excessive amount is a sign that the release bearings need to be lubricated.
The differential shouldn’t cause any problems and should really be the last thing that breaks in the transmission (essentially built into the transmission). Still, it can happen so watch out for the following:
- A noise that gets louder as you turn tighter in either direction
- Loud, strange noise when doing a burnout (probably not going to want to do this on a test drive)
- No noise when driving in a straight line, but car exhibits the two points above
Suspension and Steering
Worn suspension and steering components can really ruin the handling on the DC2/DB8 Type R, so if the car you are driving doesn’t corner sharp there is a problem.
Despite having no real weaknesses in its design, the suspension bushes (particularly in the trailing arms) are likely to be worn out and can lead to a rattling, clucking noise on rough roads or when braking hard. Polyurethane units are a common option to replace the original ones. Below we have put together a bit of a list of other things that can indicate that the suspension/steering components are not in the best shape:
- Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
- Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
- Tipping/looseness when cornering
- High speed instability
- Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel – could be the strut rod bushings, bad alignment or maybe even bad ball joints
- Delayed or longer stopping distances
- Uneven tyre wear
- Excessive bounce after hitting a bump or when pushing down on the suspension
- Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
- Sagging or uneven suspension
- Knocking, clunking, rattling or creaking sounds during a test drive
- Clicking sounds (especially at full lock) – CV joint, bad wheel bearing, etc.
The stock dampers and many other suspension components tend to last around 80,000 to 100,000 km (50,000 to 62,000 miles), so check to see when the dampers were last replaced.
Visually inspect as many of the suspension and steering components as possible. Watch out for any leaks, damage, or modifications. Make sure the suspension is the same on each side. For example, if the components on the right front side are much newer/different than the left front side it could indicate the Type R has been in an accident.
How to Tell If the Type R is Running Stock Shocks/Springs
You can tell if the car Type R has standard springs by looking at the colour coding. Front springs should be colour coded in this order: purple, blue, green. Rear springs should be colour coded like this: Blue, Green, Green. We are not sure if this changes for some model years as later model (98+) JDM Type Rs came with springs with a higher spring rate.
Below we have listed the part numbers for the front and rear springs and shocks for the Integra Type R DC2:
- 001 SPRING, FR.51401-ST7-R01
- 002 SHOCK ABSORBER AS… 51601-ST7-R01
- 003 SHOCK ABSORBER AS… 51602-ST7-R01
- 004 SHOCK ABSORBER UN… 51605-ST7-Z01
- 005 SHOCK ABSORBER UN… 51606-ST7-Z01
- 005 SPRING, RR. 52441-ST7-R01
- 007 SHOCK ABSORBER AS… 52610-ST7-R01
- 009 SHOCK ABSORBER UN… 52611-ST7-Z01
- 001 SPRING, FR.51401-ST7-R01
- 002 SHOCK ABSORBER AS… 51601-ST7-R02
- 003 SHOCK ABSORBER AS… 51602-ST7-R02
- 004 SHOCK ABSORBER UN… 51605-ST7-R01
- 005 SHOCK ABSORBER UN… 51606-ST7-R01
- 005 SPRING, RR. 52441-ST7-R01
- 007 SHOCK ABSORBER AS… 52610-ST7-R02
- 009 SHOCK ABSORBER UN… 52611-ST7-R01
We could not find information regarding other years, but the above should give you a rough idea of what to look out for if you are trying to work out whether or not the car is running standard or non-standard suspension. Note: You will need to take the wheel off to get a look at the part numbers, etc. Alternatively, you may be able to use a car inspection camera like the ones here.
If the Integra Type R DC2/DB8 you are interested in has aftermarket suspension make sure you are happy with the ride. Aftermarket suspension setups can often be quite harsh, especially if they have been set up for track use. This can make regular road use pretty unbearable.
There are loads of different brands that make aftermarket suspension, so we won’t go into what is good and what is bad as it would simply take too long. What we suggest you do is note down the brand and check any reviews. Do a search to check that the suspension is indeed suitable for the first generation Type R. If the suspension is from a poorly reviewed brand it suggests corners have been cut with modifications and possibly even maintenance.
Remember to Check the Wheel Alignment
Find yourself a nice flat and straight section of tarmac to check the wheel alignment. Make sure the Integra Type R DC2/DB8 runs straight with minimal wheel corrections. If the wheel alignment is bad it can lead to excessive/uneven tyre wear (costing you more money) and can even lead to a less safe and enjoyable driving experience. Additionally, really bad wheel alignment could be a sign of a careless owner as they should have got it sorted before putting their Integra Type R on the market.
Most of the time a simple realignment is all that is needed, however, in some cases bad wheel alignment can be a sign of serious suspension/steering issues or even accident damage.
Wheels and Tyres
Have a look at the wheels for any curb damage. A little bit of curb damage is to be expected given the age of the Integra Type R DC2/DB8, but a lot suggests that the owner or a previous owner has been a bit careless.
The original Type R came with 15-inch wheels (later ones came with 16-inch), which may seem a bit small. However, swapping them to different ones can spoil the first gen Type R’s incredible handling as the car was optimized for 15- and 16-inch wheels.
If the Honda/Acura you are looking at is fitted with aftermarket wheels, ask the seller if they have the originals. Owning the stock wheels will only add value to the Type R Integra. If they don’t have them, try to use that to get a bit of a discount.
When it comes to the tyres check for the following:
- Amount of tread – If there is minimal tread left try to get a discount as you will need to get the tyres replaced in the near future.
- Uneven wear – Wear should be even between the right and left tyres on the DC2/DB8 Integra Type R. Additionally, make sure wear is even across the tyre itself.
- Brand – They should be from a good or well-reviewed brand – if they are from a poorly reviewed brand it suggests that the owner has cheaped out on maintenance.
- Same tyre – in terms of tyre make, type and tread pattern on each axle (preferably on all four wheels) – mismatched tyres can lead to poor handling performance and may even be dangerous.
The DC2/DB8 Type R’s brakes are more than powerful enough for spirited driving on regular roads and a bit of light track use, so if they feel weak or spongy there is an issue. For more heavy track use upgrades are probably needed. There is a vast array of spare and aftermarket parts available to do this.
Another thing to note is that early JDM Integra Type R’s came with 262mm rotors, whereas some other markets were fitted with 282mm front discs as standard.
Make sure you visually inspect the brakes for any issues such as disc damage, worn pads, corrosion, etc. A small amount of surface corrosion on the discs is perfectly normal and should go away with a bit of use. If the pads and/or discs need to be replaced make sure you get a discount (especially if the discs need replacing).
When it comes to an actual test drive, make sure you try the brakes under both light and hard braking conditions. Do some repeated high to low-speed runs, and listen out for any rumbling, squealing or clunking sounds when the brakes are in use.
A shuddering or shaking feeling through the steering wheel when you step on the brake pedal is probably a sign that one or more of the discs are warped. This usually becomes first apparent under high-speed braking and can often be caused by track use.
Make sure the handbrake works as intended and see how it performs on a steep incline (if you can find one).
Seized calipers can occur, so watch out for the following:
- Type R pulls to one side (may even happen when the brakes are not in use)
- Car feels low on power as if the parking/handbrake is on (could also be a sign of diff issues)
- Brakes get extremely hot and produce a distinctive acrid smell and in some cases smoke
- You find that the Integra doesn’t want to move at all
- Loud thud-like noise when pulling away for the first time
The brake fluid should have been replaced every two years or so. There is a great thread on honda-tech.com that talks about the different brake fluids and what is the best. You can check it out here.
The easiest way to upgrade the brakes is to get some new pads (GT Sports for example). If that doesn’t suffice, you can upgrade the calipers and discs with ones from the likes of the DC5 Integra Type R or even the NSX. Other aftermarket options from the likes of Brembo are also available (Brembo also makes the brakes on many models such as the DC5 Type R).
Body and Exterior
Fixing bodywork issues can be an absolute nightmare, so take your time and be on the lookout for the following:
A lot of first generation Integra Type Rs got into the hands of people with more driving enthusiasm than skill, so accident damage is going to be one of your primary areas of concern. Here are some things to watch out for which may indicate the car you are looking at has been in an accident at some point:
- Misaligned panels or large panel gaps – Inspect around the bonnet/hood and make sure everything lines up correctly. Check the door, bumper and boot/trunk panel gaps. If the panel gaps on one side look quite different to the other side, it could be a sign that the DC2/DB8 Integra has been in an accident.
- Doors that drop or don’t close properly – If the doors drop or don’t open/close properly the Honda Integra Type R you are inspecting may have been in an accident or there may be some other sort of other issue with the door hinges.
- Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different coloured panels – Indicates a respray which may have been conducted as a result of accident damage or rust.
- If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not – This may indicate that the Type R you are inspecting at has been crashed into something (even a light knock can cause this problem).
- Damage to the mounting supports for the headlights or surrounds of the taillights – This can be very difficult to fix on any car and is a good place to check for any accident damage.
- Bent or broken parts underneath the car – While inspecting the underside, check to make sure everything is straight. Look at the suspension and steering components as well. If the parts are different on one side compared to the other or much newer, it may be a sign that the Integra Type R DC2/DB8 you are looking at has been in an accident.
- Rust in strange locations – Can be a sign of accident damage
- Paint runs or overspray – Very unlikely to be a factory issue, so likely a result of a respray job.
- Missing badges or trim – Could be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.).
A lot of sellers will try and cover up the fact that their car has been in an accident or try to downplay the severity of the incident. In some cases, you may come across somebody who claims their car hasn’t been in an accident when it clearly has.
Despite being a very serious issue, we wouldn’t necessarily walk away from an Integra Type R that has been in a bit of an accident. Light to moderate damage repaired by a skilled panel beater/body shop is usually fine, but remember to use it to get a discount.
If the owner can’t tell you much about the accident/damage it may have happened when a previous person owned the vehicle.
Rust can be a significant problem on first generation Integra Type Rs that have not been looked after well and even ones that have. Below we have listed some of the main areas to watch out for:
- Wheel arches and wheel wells (particularly the rear quarter panel) – This is usually caused by water creeping below the rubber seals in the inner arch. It is usually recommended that you remove this rubber seal to reduce the risk of rust formation (however, it can still easily occur), so check to see if that has been done. In some markets the rubber seal was not fitted from factory.
- Sills – Always a good place to check. Get on the ground and look up to see the bottom side of them and check with the doors open as well. If rust has formed behind the sills you may not be able to see it, so keep that in mind.
- Spare tyre well – This is definitely something to check as if there has been a leak in the trunk/boot it will normally collect here. In really bad cases rust can create holes in the metal.
- Around the bottom of the doors and around the windows – Doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem, but can occur. Usually pretty easy to see if there is an issue here.
Rust can occur in other places as well, so check the entire car thoroughly. Remember that rust is often a much bigger problem than it first appears on the surface. While most rust issues can be fixed, it can get expensive fast.
Factors That Can Make Rust More Likely on a DC2/DB8 Integra Type R
- Type R has spent time in countries or areas with salted roads (UK, Parts of North America, etc.)
- The Honda/Acura Integra has spent time in countries or areas with very harsh winters
- Vehicle is often parked/stored by the sea for significant periods of time
- Always kept outside (never garaged)
- Accident damage (stone chips or more significant damage)
- Old or no underseal – check to see if underseal was put on if the car was an import and that is has been reapplied on a regular basis
Looking for Rust Repairs on a First Gen Integra Type R
It is not only important to look for present rust, but you should also keep an eye out for signs of past rust repair (mismatched paint, paint overspray etc.). Watch out for any areas that may have been resprayed or cut out and replaced. You should also check the service history and with the owner (however, don’t trust what the owner says completely as they may be trying to hide something from you).
Use a magnet on steel sections of the car (cover it with a cloth so you don’t damage the paintwork and keep in mind that some parts are aluminium) or a coating gauge thickness tool such as this one to find any areas that may have been repaired.
Like most Hondas of the era, the paint on the first gen Integra Type R is pretty thin, with black cars being the worst offenders of the bunch. The result of this is that the paint can chip pretty easily on these cars, especially with regular track use and/or lots of miles of road driving. Windows are also pretty prone to cracking as well due to Honda’s use of thinner glass to save weight.
Red Type Rs often suffer from paint fade and will usually require a full respray to get them back looking good. Other colours aren’t as difficult to match and they don’t fade nearly as badly.
Changing Body Parts
A common modification for U.S. buyers was to swap the standard front end that features four circular lights for the JDM one that is more rectangular. Apart from this some owners have fitted aftermarket body kits. We aren’t a big fan of this as we feel that the DC2/DB8 Integra Type R looks great the way it is, and aftermarket body kits hurt the originality of the car. However, you may feel different about this, but we do suggest that you ask the owner if they have the original body parts as owning them will add value to the Type R.
The interior is pretty barebones in a first gen Integra Type R, so there isn’t too much to be concerned about apart from the usual wear and tear. Pay particular attention to the seats as the Alcantara material tends to wear around the bolsters. Replacing the seat material is possible, but it can be quite expensive.
Make sure that they are nice and firm and that all of the adjustments work as intended. If the seats move during acceleration or braking it is incredibly dangerous and will be an MOT/WOF failure.
Check the dashboard for any cracks/splits in the material as they can be expensive to fix. Smallish cracks can often be repaired, but if the dash is in a really bad way a new one will be required (sourcing a new one is easier said than done, but they can be found).
If you notice excessive amounts of wear on the seats, steering wheel, carpets, shifter and pedals for the mileage it may be a sign that the Type R has had a particularly hard life.
Make sure you check the cabin and boot/trunk for any leaks or dampness. Water can play havoc with the electronics if it gets in the wrong place, lead to rust formation and can cause nasty smells as well. Feel around the carpets and turn over the floor mats. If you see water residue on the bottom of the floor mats it could be a sign of a past of present leak.
Have a look at the headlining above the driver’s seat. If it is a slightly different colour it may be a sign that the Integra Type R you are inspecting has been owned by a smoker. A smell test will also help you determine whether or not this is the case as well.
Don’t be too concerned if you hear some rattles and squeaks. Honda removed the sound deadening and the Type R’s cabin is designed for comfort.
Electronics and Other Things
The electrical system is pretty bulletproof, unless it has been tampered with. This is because it is stripped down and was not fitted with luxury equipment you would find on many other cars. However, make sure you check that the radio aerial opens and closes, as water ingress can cause it to seize. The motors for the aerial can also pack up as well.
Always check that the owner has the red ignition key when buying. If you don’t have it, you are in trouble when it comes to ignition repairs or when you want to use the immobiliser. These can be bought from a Honda dealer, but they are expensive as they require reprogramming. Don’t forget to check the door locks work properly and if the Type R is fitted with an aftermarket immobiliser test ir thoroughly as they can be a nightmare if they go wrong.
If no warning lights appear during start-up it may be a sign of an issue or that they have been disconnected. Alternatively, if they stay on you need to investigate the issue further and possibly take the car to a Honda/Acura specialist to find out what is causing the warning light before purchase.
General Car Buying Advice for a Honda/Acura Integra Type R DC2/DB8
How to Get the Best Deal on an Integra Type R
This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.
- Research heavily – Prior to starting your search for a first gen Integra Type R, figure out what specs and condition you are happy with. Do you want a low mileage DC2 or DB8 or do you not mind a Type R that has travelled a bit further.
- Shop around – It is always best to shop around a bit before you make a purchase. Honda/Acura sold a fair few of these cars, so there are plenty out there in different levels of condition and mileage, so don’t limit yourself to one seller, dealer, area or auction platform.
- Go look at and test drive multiple Integra Type Rs if possible – While DC2/DB8 Type Rs are getting harder to come by, It is a good idea to test drive as many cars as possible. This will help you determine what makes a good and what makes a bad first generation Integra Type R.
- Adjust your attitude – Never rush into a purchase. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time when looking for a DC2/DB8 Type R for sale and only go for promising looking cars (unless you are looking for a project vehicle).
- Use any issues with the car to your advantage – Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
- Don’t trust the owner completely – While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say but back it up with a thorough inspection.
- Go between sellers/dealers – If you are looking at multiple Type Rs, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
- Be prepared to walk away – If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.
Mileage vs Condition
Mileage vs condition is always a hot topic for debate, but we feel that it is always better to buy on condition and then on mileage. Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good.
Short distance trips do not allow the engine to warm up properly, which can lead to increased component wear and reduced engine life.
Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.
Service History and Other Documentation
It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. While the servicing doesn’t need to be done at a dealer, it should be carried out by a competent Honda/Acura specialist or mechanic (especially for major repair work). Home mechanic work is okay, but it is much harder to gauge the competence of a home mechanic than checking reviews for established businesses.
The service history will give you a good idea of how the Integra Type R DC2/DB8 you are inspecting has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications (if the car has any) can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.
If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any vehicle your purchase and will make it easier to sell the car in the future.
Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.
Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner
- How often do you drive the car?
- When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
- How much oil does it use?
- What oil do you use in the car?
- What parts have been replaced?
- When was the timing belt and water pump last replaced?
- When were the coils, spark plugs, leads changed?
- What’s the compression like?
- What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
- Has the vehicle overheated at any point or has the head gasket failed?
- Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
- Is there any money owing on the car?
- Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
- How are the speakers
- Is there any rust?
- Has rust been removed at any point?
- When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
- Where do you store/park the car usually?
There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.
Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Type R DC2/DB8
Here are some things that would make as walk away from one of these cars. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.
- Overheating problems or blown head gasket
- Significant Crash Damage or poorly repaired roof
- Money owing on the car
- Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
- Excessive amounts of power
- Bad compression
- Bad resprays
- Significant rust problems
- Engine swaps with non-standard engines
- Significant track use
- Major engine or transmission issues
- Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)
Notes on the Owner
The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their Honda Integra Type R (however, don’t trust their answers completely). Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying an absolute lemon. Here are some things to watch out for.
- How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
- Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
- Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
- What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
- How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
- Do they know anything about the first generation Integra Type R and the model they are selling (DC2 vs DB8)?
- What can they tell you about previous owners?
- Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
- What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
- What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
- How do they react if you ask to do a compression test on the vehicle?
- How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?
If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Honda Integra Type R.
Importing a Honda Integra Type R DC2/DB8 from Japan
The first generation Integra Type R was very popular in its home market of Japan, so it can be a good place to find them for sale. While DC2/DB8 Type R numbers are dwindling in the country, there are still plenty available for export.
How to Import a Honda Integra Type R from Japan
While importing a DC2 or DB8 from Japan may seem a bit daunting, it is actually relatively simple. The first thing we recommend you do is to Google search something like “import Honda Integra Type R”. You will be greeted with loads of different websites to choose from. These websites will let you search for one of these cars based on their age, generation, condition, price and more.
Most of the websites/companies you encounter should be based in Japan, but you may find some other ones that are located in different parts of the world.
Make sure you check reviews/feedback of any website or auction house you want to use. While you are unlikely to get completely scammed, many of these websites will be economical with the truth about a vehicle. We have listed a few examples of Japanese importers/exporters below:
JDM Expo – Is an independent subsidiary of Nikko Auto Co., which is recognized as on the most reliable exporters of Japanese cars in the country.
Car From Japan – is another large portal for connecting overseas buyers with Japanese second hand cars.
Japan Partner – Is one of the fastest growing exporters of used Japanese vehicles.
Note: many of these sorts of websites do not provide a grade or auction check sheet. The grade, auction check sheet, and car map are vital to picking a good car. Buyer beware!
Use a Private Importer
While the websites above are a handy way to give you a general idea of what to expect when importing a Honda Integra Type R, we recommend that you go with a private importer. A trusted private importer will be able to find a suitable first generation Type R for you and import it, saving you the hassle. While it may cost you a bit more (sometimes it is cheaper) you are more likely to get a better vehicle.
You can get a full explanation of why we recommend using a private importer here.
How Does the Japanese Car Grading System Work?
The auction houses and car exporters in Japan all get their vehicles in roughly the same way. The difference between them is how much support they are willing to provide, how honest they are, and how they grade their vehicles
They will provide what is known as an ‘auction check sheet’ – a document that contains most of what you need to know about the vehicle. As you can’t see the vehicle personally, you will have to rely on the check sheet and other information on the listing to make a decision. If the seller/website is not willing to provide you with an auction check sheet or additional information on the car, don’t proceed any further.
Before you make a purchase you need to learn how to read an auction check sheet. The sheet contains information on the make, model, condition, specifications and any other notes. There will be a grade on the sheet that denotes the overall grade of the vehicle.
While the grade on a check sheet is important, you should not rely on it to make a final decision. Different companies have different methods for grading their vehicles, so a grade 4 for one company may be a grade 3.5 for another.
Some websites may use a different grading system and if you can’t view the auction check sheet, you should contact the seller/exporter.
Use the grade to reduce the number of Type Rs you are looking at and then use the check sheet and any additional information to make a decision. We also recommend you pay a third party to check out the car for you if possible (hence the recommendation for a private importer).
The Auction Check Sheet
Below you can see an example of an auction check sheet. The grade is located in the top right corner of the check sheet. You will notice that there is both a letter and a number grade. The number indicates the overall condition of the vehicle, while the letter shows you the interior grade. At the bottom right of the check sheet is the ‘car map’. The car map tells you information about the exterior of a particular DC2 or DB8 Integra Type R and where any problems are located.
Additionally, the sheet contains information about the specs of the vehicle and any modifications (major or minor). The inspector may also write some additional notes about the car.
What Does the Number Grade Mean?
- Grade 7 to 9 or S– New car with delivery miles.
- Grade 6– Same as above but with a few more miles.
- Grade 5– Vehicle is in excellent condition with low miles.
- Grade 4.5– Overall condition is great, but may have up to 100,000 miles on the clock.
- Grade 4– Overall condition is good, but can have low or high miles.
- Grade 3.5– Similar to grade 4, but some work may be needed and they usually have more miles.
- Grade 3– Can be the same condition as grade 3.5, but with more miles. Alternatively, the car may have lower miles but require more work.
- Grade 2– Very poor condition car and may have significant mechanical or exterior issues. Not necessarily a right off, but you would have to be a brave buyer to purchase one of these.
- Grade 1– Is modified in some way (can be extensive or something simple).
- Grade 0, A, R, RA– Some repair history that can be major or minor.
The Letter Grade
As we wrote earlier, the number grade is usually accompanied by a letter that indicates the interior grade. An ‘A’ indicates that the interior is in exceptional or good condition. A ‘B’ indicates that the car is in average condition, while a ‘C’ displays that it is in poor condition. Grades below C show that the car’s interior is in very poor condition.
The Car Map
The check sheet will also contain what is called a “car map”, which tells you all the information you need to know about the exterior condition of the car. It will show the location of any problems or damage to the vehicle. Any problems are indicated by a letter and a number. The letter tells you what the issue is and the number indicates the severity. You can read more about the car map in our “How to Import a Car from Japan” guide.
Our Guidelines for Importing a DC2 or DB8 Integra Type R from Japan
- Always demand to see and have the auction check sheet before making a purchase
- If you can’t read Japanese or the company won’t provide a translated check sheet, get help from somebody who speaks/reads Japanese.
- Try to go through a private importer
- Check that the chassis number on the check sheet matches the one on the frame
- Cross reference the check sheet with other websites
- Don’t rely on the grade (always check the auction sheet thoroughly)
- Investigate each website/service thoroughly (reviews, feedback, etc.)
- Be careful of heavily modified vehicles
- Get someone to inspect the car for you if possible. Ask for photos and get a good run down of the condition.
- Avoid cars with unknown mileages
- Stay away from bargains that seem to be too good to be true
- Stay away from grade 0, A, RA, R vehicles that have been involved in accidents
Know Your Country’s Importation Laws
Always make sure you check your country’s importation laws as you may find you can’t bring the vehicle you want in. For example, some countries have certain restrictions on importing cars under a certain age.
Wrapping Up This Honda Integra Type R Buyers Guide
As you can see, there is so much information to consider when looking at a Type R to buy. It is undoubtedly one of the best front wheel drive performance cars ever made and will only increase in value.
It is starting to become more and more difficult to find Integra Type Rs in good condition, but they are out there. Be cautious of modified cars and check that the car has not been in a serious accident. While the engine is fairly robust, continuous thrashing can lead to them wearing out.
This Type R buyers guide is designed to give you a general idea of what to look for in the car. It also covers the history and how to buy or import one. There is plenty more information on various websites that you should take a look at as well.