Knowing if your car has an interference or noninterference engine plays a vital role in keeping a proper maintenance routine. These two types of engines require different care routines. So, if you don’t pay attention, your car may end up seriously damaged, and you’ll have a dent in your pocket.
Honda cars have such a wide range of engines that you may not know which category they fall in. For example, is the J series an interference or noninterference engine?
Are Honda Engines Noninterference?
Honda makes an overwhelmingly wide variety of engines, ranging from 2-cylinder to 5-cylinder, including V6, V8, V10, and V12 models. Each model has a wide array of sub-models, creating a massive list of engines with different characteristics.
Honda engines are among the most reliable engines, and most of the Honda cars feature the VTEC engines (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control). This engine uses different oil pressure levels to change the cam profiles.
The SOHC (Single Overhead Cam) and DOHC (Dual Overhead Cam) are other reliable Honda engines that use two valves for each cylinder. That’s why they’re simple, low-maintenance, and more economical.
What’s common among all these engine types is that all of them are interference types.
The Honda engine design is generally interference, so you can’t find a Honda engine that’s noninterference. In other words, all Honda engines, including the J series, the A-series, and V6 and V8 engines, are all interference.
However, some online users have stated that the only noninterference Honda engines are 3.0L and 3.2L types. Others believe these two models are interference. If you have one of these models on your car, the best thing to do is ask your mechanic or the dealer and make sure what type it is.
This feature makes Honda engines vulnerable to engine damage and bent valves due to timing belt failure. If you don’t change your timing belt on time, the pistons and valves may collide, leading to significant engine damage.
Also Read: Is Honda Pilot 4×4 Or AWD?
Interference vs. Noninterference Engines
If you have an interference engine, the timing of valves and pistons opening and closing is crucial. The pistons are closed when the valves are open, and there’s no contact between these two elements. This timing is managed by timing gear, chain, or belt. However, if they don’t work properly, the valve and the piston come into contact, bending the valve and damaging the engine.
If your engine is noninterference, there’s more space between the valves and pistons. So, when the valve is fully open, the piston can go higher than that, never interfering with the valve. If the timing belt breaks in noninterference engines, nothing happens – only the car stops, and you can fix it by replacing the belt.
Despite this significant vulnerability, most modern engines are interference because they’re more powerful. In such engines, the valve and piston are as close to each other as possible to make room for compressing the air/fuel mixture. The higher the compression ratio, the more power, and efficiency you’ll have.
Proper maintenance and regularly replacing the belt based on the recommended time length can eliminate this risk of breaking a timing chain or belt.
How To Know if Your Engine Is Interference or Noninterference
The terms interference and noninterference are interchangeable with non-freewheeling and free-wheeling, respectively. They’re also called free-running and non-free-running. Whatever term you use, the difference is very simple: whether there’s a space between the piston and the valves, determined by the placement of the cylinder head and the valves.
The easiest way to know if your engine is interference or noninterference is to ask your mechanic or car dealer. If you tell them the make and model of your engine, they can tell you what type it is. Your mechanic can also physically check the engine and see the clearance between the valves and the piston.
Also Read: Is Honda Pilot A Midsize Or Full-Size SUV?
Are All J Series Engines the Same?
Honda J series aren’t the same. They have different displacement, bore and stroke, compression ratios, horsepower, and RPM.
The J series includes the following models:
Each of them has several variations with different specs. However, all of them are interference, used in Honda models such as Accord, Odyssey, Acura, Pilot, and Ridgeline.
Check out this great thread outlining the features of all J series engines produced so far.
Timing Belt vs. Chain vs. Gear
Timing belts and chains are used to control the timing of the valves and pistons’ opening and closing. The main difference between timing chains and timing belts is their material, affecting their life expectancy and maintenance requirements.
A timing belt is typically made of rubber, while a timing chain is made of metal, like the bicycle chains. Many modern cars have moved away from timing belts toward timing chains because they’re more durable, don’t need changing, and last for the car’s lifetime. That’s why you can’t access the timing chain easily inside the car. However, these chains can cause noise and vibration.
On the other hand, a timing belt needs regular maintenance, and you should replace it after a certain mileage specified by the manufacturer.
check out this useful video that shows where the timing belts and timing chains are located:
Timing gears involve two or more rotating gears without any chains or belts. One gear is on the front part of the crankshaft, and another is on the back. The first one turns the second and adjusts the timing of pistons and valves opening and closing. They’re also low-maintenance but heavy and you need to replace them if they start to wear.
Knowing if your car engine is interference or noninterference allows you to know how to maintain your timing belt. Noninterference engines don’t need regular timing belt change, unlike their interference counterparts that heavily rely on a properly working timing belt.
All Honda engines, including the J series, are interference types. Some mechanics believe that the 3.0L and 3.2L types are noninterference, while others believe they’re not. If you have one of these engines, it’s best to ask the dealer or your mechanic to make sure if you need regular timing belt replacement or not.