ULEV VTEC Honda Accord

The Honda Accord ULEV VTEC utilizes two key engine technologies – Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) and Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC). While ULEV focuses on reducing emissions, VTEC aims to enhance engine performance. Together, they allow the Accord to deliver a perfect balance of power, efficiency, and environmental-friendliness. We will analyze how both ULEV VTEC Honda Accord technologies work in the Honda Accord and understand their impact.


ULEV VTEC is Honda’s engine technology that combines Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) certification with Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC). It allows the engine to produce ultra low emissions while also providing a boost in performance and power at higher RPMs. The ULEV system reduces pollution through improved combustion and emissions control. VTEC enhances efficiency across the RPM range and delivers excellent high-end power.

ULEV Technology

ULEV or Ultra Low Emission Vehicle is a certification given by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to vehicles that emit extremely low levels of emissions. For a car to qualify as ULEV, it must emit the following levels at most:

  • Non-Methane Organic Gases (NMOG) – 0.055 grams/mile
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) – 1.7 grams/mile
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) – 0.05 grams/mile
  • Formaldehyde – 0.008 grams/mile
  • Particulate Matter (PM) – 0.01 grams/mile

Honda added the ULEV certification to the Accord starting from the 1998 model year. The ULEV VTEC Honda Accord utilizes a number of technologies to reduce emissions to ULEV levels:

ULEV Honda Accord
ULEV Honda Accord

Electronic Fuel Injection

Replaced the older carburetor system with electronically controlled fuel injectors. This allowed precise control of the fuel-air mixture resulting in more complete combustion and reduced emissions.

Close-Coupled Catalytic Converter

Placed close to the engine exhaust manifold to heat up quickly and start reducing emissions faster. Converts harmful gases like NOx into less harmful ones.

EGR System

Recirculates a part of the exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber. This dilutes the air-fuel mixture and further reduces NOx emissions.

O2 Sensors

Monitors oxygen levels in the exhaust and provides feedback to the ECU to adjust the fuel-air ratio for optimum combustion. This helps maintain emissions within the target range.

PCV System

Catches fuel vapor from the crankcase preventing its release into the atmosphere. The vapors are then sent back to the intake to be burned.

VTEC Technology

VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) is Honda’s innovative valve control system. It aims to provide high performance across the entire RPM range while maintaining fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

VTEC operates by having two different camshaft profiles optimized for low and high RPM operations. The transition between the two happens at a predefined RPM level.

VTEC Honda Accord
VTEC Honda Accord

Key elements of the VTEC system:

  • Two intake camshaft profiles – one optimized for low speeds and one for high speeds
  • Cam followers attached to an oil control valve
  • Switching mechanism to swap cam lobes at fixed RPM

At low RPM, the low lift, short duration cam profile is used to improve efficiency. At higher RPM, the high lift, long duration profile engages to provide superior airflow resulting in drastically improved performance.

The VTEC engagement point in the ULEV VTEC Honda Accord is typically between 4,500-6,000 RPM. The horsepower jumps noticeably once VTEC kicks in and the engine really starts to sing.

ULEV VTEC Working In Tandem

While ULEV and VTEC aim to achieve different goals, their integration into the Honda Accord is beautifully complementary.

ULEV reduces emissions across the operating range via its emission control technologies. VTEC enhances performance and power delivery while keeping efficiency and emissions in check.

Together they allow the Accord ULEV VTEC engine to offer:

  • Linear power build up and smooth delivery
  • No flat spots or fall-offs in the power band
  • High fuel efficiency – up to 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway
  • ULEV certification – super low emissions
  • Reliable and durable engine operation

In essence, ULEV ensures the Accord meets the strictest emissions regulations while VTEC provides exciting performance and driving dynamics – all in a beautifully refined package.

Real World Performance

In the real world, owners of the ULEV VTEC Honda Accord are thrilled with the performance and economy the engine offers. Here are some of the most appreciated characteristics:

  • Excellent low-end torque makes the engine very responsive off the line. No need to rev high or shift gears frequently in city driving.
  • The VTEC kick-in coupled with the high rev limit gives exhilarating acceleration when you need it. Flooring it at highway speeds results in instant surge of power.
  • Well optimized gear ratios allow you to stay in higher gears without lugging the engine. This aids mileage while keeping noise levels subdued.
  • Reliability and low maintenance requirements thanks to an interference motor design with a timing chain instead of a belt.
  • High mpg figures – 28-33 mpg city and 33-38 mpg highway are easily achievable. Great for a mid-size sedan.
  • Comfortable cruising ability and lower noise/vibration levels compared to older Civics with VTEC. More refined overall.

Technical Specifications

Here are some key technical specifications of the Honda Accord’s ULEV VTEC engine through different generations:

150 hp @ 5,700 RPM
152 lb-ft @ 4,900 RPM
160 hp @ 5,500 RPM
161 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM
177 hp @ 6,500 RPM
161 lb-ft @ 4,300 RPM

How Much Horsepower Does A ULEV VTEC Make?

The horsepower of a ULEV VTEC engine in Honda Accords has ranged from 150 hp in early models to 177 hp in later generations. Exact figures depend on the engine size and model year. But in general, Accords with ULEV VTEC deliver smooth, responsive performance thanks to horsepower outputs between 150-180 hp. This makes them powerful yet efficient midsize sedans.

Do Any Honda Accords Have VTEC?

Yes, many Honda Accord models over the years have offered VTEC technology. It was introduced in 1994 on the H22A1 engine option and continued on future generations. VTEC provides Accords an extra performance boost while maintaining fuel efficiency and reliability. Higher trim Accords typically had VTEC, indicating more powerful engines.

Why Did Honda Stop Using VTEC?

Honda has not completely stopped using VTEC technology in its engines. Many Honda models still employ VTEC to provide variable valve timing and lift. However, newer engine technologies like direct injection and turbocharging have reduced reliance on VTEC for power gains. But it remains an effective system for optimizing efficiency and performance.

Common Issues

The ULEV VTEC Honda Accord engine is generally very trouble-free with simple maintenance needs. However, some common issues to watch out for include:

  • VTEC solenoid failure – Can cause rough idling, mileage drop, Check Engine light. Replace solenoid and screen filter.
  • Timing chain stretch – Can cause timing issues and Check Engine light. Replace chain and tensioner.
  • Engine mounts wear – Causes excessive vibration. Replace worn mounts.
  • Catalytic converter failure – Causes Check Engine light for emissions fault. New OEM catcon recommended.
  • Carbon build up – Can reduce performance and economy. Fuel additives and induction service can help.

Overall, the Accord’s ULEV VTEC power plant provides excellent reliability backed by Honda quality. Addressing potential issues promptly preserves the engine’s function.

Finding The Right ULEV VTEC Accord

If you are looking to buy a used Honda Accord ULEV VTEC, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Mileage – Look for lower mileage examples, under 100k miles if possible. Higher mileage models may need more repairs.
  • Service history – Choose an Accord with complete service records from a Honda dealer. This indicates preventive maintenance.
  • Test drive – Drive the car and make sure the engine is smooth without any issues. Listen for odd noises.
  • Inspection – Get a pre-purchase inspection done by a trusted mechanic. They can assess overall condition.
  • Price – Set a maximum budget and try to negotiate a fair price. Avoid overpaying. KBB and NADA can help determine value.

Doing thorough research and making a careful purchase decision can help find a great high quality ULEV VTEC Honda Accord. This will reward you with years of enjoyable driving and reliability.


The Honda Accord ULEV VTEC combines two of Honda’s most innovative technologies – ULEV and VTEC. While ULEV allows it to achieve ultra low emissions, VTEC provides exceptional performance and power delivery. Together they complement each other beautifully to create an engine that delivers sublime drivability with great MPG. Real world drivers praise the Accord ULEV VTEC for its blend of efficiency, responsiveness and reliability. Minimal issues arise if regular maintenance is followed. For shoppers, focusing on low mileage and service history can help identify the most well-preserved examples.

Also Read: Does The Honda Accord Have A Heated Steering Wheel?

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Ammar Masoud

I have had a long and fulfilling career in the automotive industry, primarily with Honda and Acura. With 15 years of experience as a Honda service technician, I became highly skilled in repair and maintenance, gaining a deep understanding of these vehicles. After many years in the automotive field, I decided to embark on a second career in industrial manufacturing. It was a significant change, but I found that the skills I had honed in the automotive industry were incredibly valuable in my new role. In my current position in industrial manufacturing, the demand for quality workmanship and meticulous attention to detail is paramount. Fortunately, these are traits that I have cultivated throughout my years in the automotive industry. I take pride in applying these skills to meet the high standards expected in the manufacturing sector.