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Just recently picked up a 2004 Base RSX, of course with the k20a3, bone stock, auto (just my preference, but do plan on swapping one day). What would you say is the best, and most useful first performance upgrade for the k20a3? I'm new to working on cars so I'd like to hear what recommendations people have.
 

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Modding the k20a3 for performance is a waste of time and money imo but people have done it. There are plenty of dudes have that have ran vtec killer setups or even turbo k20a3s you can find them on youtube. I too have a base but I bought it knowing I would use it to learn EVERYTHING about the car and the rsxs in general and then eventually swap in a k24 like everyone should. A year owning the car I have learned anything from replacing the head gasket and timing chain to replacing axles, weather strips, tail lights, carpet, valve adjustment, adjusting the e-brake, rust control,..... there is simply a metric fuck ton to consider if you want this to be YOUR car that you keep for a long long time.

My advice- Put in the time to do your research on here, YouTube and reddit. You'll quickly learn that the k20a3 is fun but slow as fuck and not worth "performance" modding at all. Save your money, make the car running mint, learn how to actually wrench and get some tools for yourself. Once you are experienced, swap it. I'm about to do it and plenty have done it before with the base and you could be no different. GL.
 

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Modding the k20a3 for performance is a waste of time and money imo but people have done it. There are plenty of dudes have that have ran vtec killer setups or even turbo k20a3s you can find them on youtube. I too have a base but I bought it knowing I would use it to learn EVERYTHING about the car and the rsxs in general and then eventually swap in a k24 like everyone should. A year owning the car I have learned anything from replacing the head gasket and timing chain to replacing axles, weather strips, tail lights, carpet, valve adjustment, adjusting the e-brake, rust control,..... there is simply a metric fuck ton to consider if you want this to be YOUR car that you keep for a long long time.

My advice- Put in the time to do your research on here, YouTube and reddit. You'll quickly learn that the k20a3 is fun but slow as fuck and not worth "performance" modding at all. Save your money, make the car running mint, learn how to actually wrench and get some tools for yourself. Once you are experienced, swap it. I'm about to do it and plenty have done it before with the base and you could be no different. GL.
This is the absolute best noob post I've seen on here. Please stick around.
 

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First off, congrats on owning an RSX. As other's have mentioned there's really no best performance part to start with.

Personally I always start with with a short ram intake (SRI) or cold air intake (CAI) so your car can breathe. Depending on where you live you may want to consider one over the other. In short, CAI is best if you don't live in a rainy part of the country, sucking up water near your wheel's will just hydro lock your engine. SRI are susceptible to heat soak because it sits at the back and top of your engine bay, if you live in a desert then probably not the best option. I've switch to an SRI for quite some time now but I am located in SD, god knows we don't ever get water here and not nearly hot enough to worry about heat soak too often.

Coil overs is another good starting option, you don't really gain engine performance but you get the benefit of a tighter feel when driving.

Just to note, I have an 03 rsx-s and an 06 rsx base, I honestly enjoy driving both, I especially favor the 06 base when I have to commute for work and have to deal with stop and go traffic.
 

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^ Yes, if you have access to curvy roads, suspension mods are the best. I've put 200k miles on my base auto since I bought it, the engine is still 100% stock (though not long for this world, health-wise), but with sway bars and coilovers, the car is still a blast in the mountains. It may not have much power, but it has enough to break the speed limit, and with good suspension you don't need to slow down much for the corners, so it makes for a hell of a good time.
 
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