The Slippery Slope of Modding

The Slippery Slope of Modding…

If the title doesn’t tell the story then you must still be at the top of the hill; good luck with that as it won’t last long.  Now let me tell you my story.

Even before I got my Mazdaspeed3 I was a tinkerer; I wouldn’t call it modding because there were no off-the-shelf parts for my vehicle at the time.  I was 16 years old with my first truck; I quickly made it loud and obnoxious among many other things.

Flash forward to my later years, and you’ll find that I haven’t changed; things have just gotten more expensive… ya, you know what I’m talking about.  We don’t grow up; our toys just get more expensive.

So I got my 2009 Mazdaspeed 3 in 2014 with a fresh Mazda Motorsports short block, a CorkSport SRI, and Race Pipe.  Oh, don’t let me forget the CS Fuel Pump Internals and Cobb AP… I don’t want to get roasted on my blog. Anyway, that setup was short lived.  

Within two weeks’ time, just long enough to break-in the engine, there was a prototype CorkSport Mazdaspeed turbo on my car along with an assortment of other goodies such as a Downpipe, Cat-Back Exhaust, and a few suspension goodies.  Two weeks! That’s all it took!


Over the next year, the car had new parts on it every month…perks of the job you could say.  I tried the Mazdaspeed3 TMIC setup, and then like everyone else moved to an FMIC setup, new CS Struts and Springs got set up, went to a 3.5” intake, got the engine all mounted up and then various other engine power products like the CorkSport Intake Manifold and Camshafts.  Oh! I almost forgot the MS3 Big Brake Kit up front! Damn I have to say going fast is fun, but “throwing out the parachute” as you dive into a corner is just as exhilarating.

Like any seasoned Mazdaspeed owner knows, the OE short block was not long for the world.  18K miles later the infamous friction washers got me with a silent death. All… yes, I mean ALL…of the valves were bent, and the head was looking a bit rough, but luckily I didn’t vent the block.  

At that point, my beloved Mazdaspeed and I were not seeing eye-to-eye (I think we have all had this feeling with our project cars right?  You debate pushing it off a cliff?) so she sat for a good nine months before I decided I was ready to build the engine.

Wait. What? Remember that slippery slope I told you about? Well, when you are already this deep into the car the slope is covered in gear oil and damn near vertical…so I went deeper into the darkness known as project cars.  

A month later I had a built engine (and significantly less money) that was ready to take on 600+ HP and more than eager to continue eating away at my bank account.  A built engine wasn’t enough though. I cut up the front of the car for the custom CS Crashbar with/Big Core Intercooler so I could support my new power goal of 500wHP.  I have the engine, so I might as well use it, right? (Note: This is the kind of logic that continues to cost you lots of money) To do this, I go the car setup with a larger turbocharger and an AEM Methanol Injection System.  

The single 16 GPH nozzle was quickly at its power capacity so without even considering the cost I moved to a port meth injection system that is getting set up as I write this.  

Anyways…why does my story matter to you? Well because it’s not just my story, it’s the story of damn near every guy and gal that gets into modding their Mazda.  Maybe power isn’t your goal like mine is, but if you’re a motoring enthusiast, then it doesn’t matter. There are so many awesome ways to slide down the proverbial hill.  

For all of you at the top still… this is your warning.  Enjoy the ride with its bumps and bruises, but most importantly appreciate the experiences and friends you gain along the way.



Mazdaspeed3 Build Part 2

Brett’s Car Part 2

Let’s pick up where we left off with part 1! The year 2015, I made my way back to the Golden State from Arizona. At this point in time, I was content with the power, but my Mazdaspeed 3 looked otherwise stock on the outside, so that was my next plan of attack.

After a couple months settling in, I hashed out my plan. My buddy back in Arizona, Travis was selling his Evo 10 wheels. They were freshly powder coated, and he had the ability to ship them from his work. He was nice enough to make that happen for me. Since I was getting new wheels on the way, I knew it was time to drop it, so I purchased lowering springs. Since my Mazdaspeed3 only had 15k on it at the time, I opted to keep the OEM shocks and struts, knowing Coil-overs were down the road. But, it is advised to use the upgraded shocks and struts with lowering springs, especially on older suspension.

After it was all said and done, I was happy with this look. It stayed like this for a few months until I got bored again. The mod bug started to itch, so, I decided it was time to upgrade to a 3.5” intake and get a port and polished manifold to see what this KO4 could do. With the 3.5” intake it also needed a battery relocation kit.

Knowing that Big Turbo was down the road, I thought towards the future and where I could save potential dollars. We got it up to about 325-330 WHP on the K04 with some e85. For California’s terrible 91 Octane fuel, I was satisfied. I also threw on boost and oil pressure gauges to monitor more in the Mazdaspeed. Oil pressure was the key!

I got more acquainted with the local Mazda community in Nor Cal and ended up meeting one of the largest influencers for my build this way. Brian of BMSPEC. During this time, BMSPEC was just a side project for him as we worked full time as an Engineer in the cooperate world. He ended up taking me under his wing (No pun intended) and taught me a thing or two. In return, I helped him out after work to make Aero Parts like wing extensions and splitters. I assisted where I could with the dirty work, and my car was one of the beta testers. So, for those of you that wonder where my extension and splitter came from, there is your answer!

Brian guided me on the right path to take for setting up my coil-overs and getting my Mazdaspeed 3 to not only handle as well as possible but also look good while doing it. It was awesome for me to be able to represent his parts and start to make my car stand out. I am very fortunate to have had that opportunity and be able to call him my friend.

In early 2016, I was driving behind a semi-truck on the freeway which resulted in pretty a chipped-up bumper. Working closely with my body shop, we got my MS3 fully repainted (Minus the hatch.) I requested that the mirrors be painted black, Roof black, fog bezels black, and the rear valence black. It took several months for them to finish, as I gave them permission to take their time. But they did an incredible job, and the paint has held up phenomenally.  

A few months before my move to Washington, I finally hopped on a big turbo upgrade. Paired with this was an upgraded EBCS, and MAP sensor. The Mazda Intercooler was also upgraded from a TMIC to an FMIC. She was starting to turn into the car I had aspired to build. But, as all us car guys know, this just means the bar gets raised higher and our aspirations grow further! An upgraded intake manifold was also added to even out air flow between runners even more.

The time is now late 2016. I got offered a job with CorkSport right after Thanksgiving. So I packed up, said goodbye to all my close friends to set out on a venture in the PNW. Things were beginning to get more interesting, and the journey for my Mazdaspeed3 would continue.  Stay tuned for part 3!






Streamlining your Spring Break Road Trip

Road Trip Tips

As the weather is clearing up and the winter months are ending, spring break will be here quicker than you can expect. For us in Washington, we are starting to get a taste of some dry pavement again! This has CorkSport itching to head out on a road trip to enjoy the spring weather, and for some of us, that Mazda that has spent most of the winter in a garage. I thought I’d share some tips to ensure that your first road trip this spring goes smoothly.

PIC: Alejandro Romero

Prepare (at least a little) before you go

Preparation will ensure that you don’t end up lost or stranded somewhere on the side of the road with no help in sight.

1. Check the obvious things.

  • Tire Pressure
  • Tire Tread,
  • Oil Level

All basic checks that should be at the top of your list before heading out. This is especially true if your Mazdaspeed has been in a garage for the winter and this is your first long trip of the year.

2. Check the not-so-obvious things.

Road trips tend to highlight any little issues that may not show up in your day-to-day commute simply because you’re driving for a lot longer. This means ensuring your belts, coolant hoses, and battery are all in good condition. Double checking your coolant level will ensure your Mazdaspeed stays cool during long drives, especially if you’re pushing it in the twisties.

Lastly, for you automatic transmission folks, check your transmission fluid level and ensure it has been changed according to manufacturer specifications. Long mountain passes can be killer on AT cars, especially if they are low on fluid or desperately need fresh ATF.

3. Where ?!

Research where you are going before you go. A quick google search will ensure you won’t miss anything interesting on your way or at your destination. Google maps is your friend, especially for scouting out potential good driving roads. At CorkSport, we have even found good locations to film cars and test parts using google maps alone. Researching your route will also let you know if there are any road closures or construction that can spoil your drive.


Be ready for the inevitable

While preparation is nice, having a backup plan for if things do go south is best.

How’s your spare tire doing?

When’s the last time you checked if your spare tire was even inflated? Flat tires are unfortunately common on road trips, and having a spare in good condition is a lot cheaper than having to call a tow truck. While on the subject, ensure you have all the tools needed to change a tire in your car. From my own experience, the OEM scissor jacks may not fit if your car is lowered and you have a flat. Additionally, it’s really difficult to change a tire when the OEM lug wrench is a different size than your wheel locks. I was lucky enough to have a friend close by to help me out, but on a road trip, you likely won’t be so lucky.


If you’ve got the space, pack extra tools. If you do break down, having a decent assortment of tools to help you fix what is wrong can help you get back on the road faster. Even though parts stores have tools for sale, they are always way more expensive than they should be, plus, who’s to say you were lucky enough to break down near a parts store anyways?

Emergency Kit

Keep a basic emergency kit in your Mazda. Jumper cables, a small first aid kit, flashlight, even some extra oil will keep you moving toward your destination. There are quite a few inexpensive emergency kits out there that can really save your bacon in a pinch. Who knows, you may be able to help out someone else stuck on the side of the road.


Spare Key?

Come up with a plan for a lockout. Having a spare key is invaluable, especially while far away from home. Whether it’s a hide-a-key somewhere under the Mazda, or just a spare key that is given to someone you’re traveling with, having a way to get back in your car after losing your key will keep you moving.

Last and most important, stay safe. Don’t go all out on the street, especially on unfamiliar roads, and be patient with other drivers, more so during busy travel days. After all, what good is a road trip, if you or your car don’t come back in one piece?

Hopefully, a few of these tips will help some of you have a great road trip, and be sure to tell us about it! We love finding new driving roads and scenic locations. If you share your spots, who knows you may just see some CorkSport Mazdas around once in a while!



Preparing your Mazdaspeed for Tuning

Preparing Your Mazdaspeed For Tuning

CorkSport was just hit with snow again today…boy are we ready for winter to be OVER!

Are you ready? What do you have left to get ready before the weather breaks, and racing starts? 

Winter months exist so us Mazda people can spend all of our hard earned money to make our Mazdaspeed’s faster. It all starts with an AccessPort, and CorkSport Fuel Pump Internals.  Before you know it, your Mazdaspeed is now fully bolted with an upgraded CorkSport Turbo.  

People sometimes seem to forget that quality of your tune is just as important as the quality of your parts.  So how do you get a solid tune on your car?

CorkSport wanted to make sure to lay out exactly how to prepare your Mazdaspeed for tuning services.  This helps streamline getting your Mazdaspeed ready, and it also helps your potential tuner so they don’t have to worry about tuning with a potential mechanical problem.

Cobb AccessPort

The very first step in getting your Mazdaspeed tuned would be to get the Cobb AccessPort tuning device.  This is the gateway to access your ECU and to make adjustments to your tune. You will use your AccessPort to record logs and send those logs to your tuner.  Not only can you make adjustments to your ECU, but you can also read/clear CEL’s ( check engine lights), and you can also monitor up to six different parameters in real time.  

When you do apply for a tune, your tuner will tell you which parameters to monitor so they can have the correct information to get you a reliable tune.

CorkSport Fuel Pump Internals

The stock high-pressure fuel pump internals has proven to randomly lose pressure during a fourth gear wide open throttle pull.  What we have seen is the pump spike pressure up in the 1800’s, and by redline, the fuel pressure has dropped below 1600psi. This creates lean situations which have lead to engines grenading themselves.  Before a tuner will touch your car, you will have to make sure to have these upgraded. These will increase flow and allow your fuel pressure to stay above 1600psi keeping you in the safe zone.

Spark Plugs

Double check what your tuner will want you to use, but in general, people will use one step colder plugs gapped down to a .026.  The trusted spark plug in this platform would be the NGK Iridium IX plugs (part # 6510). The idea behind using a more quality plug with a smaller gap is to keep the spark from blowing out when you increase boost pressure.  If you do have too large of a gap, then you will start to misfire, and you should get a code on your AccessPort for either random misfire, or cylinder specific. Keeping that spark in check will prevent delays in the tuning process.

Compression Test

Making sure to double check the engine health is probably one of the most important things to do before modding and tuning your Mazdaspeed.  Doing a quick compression test to make sure your cylinder rings can still hold pressure will tell you if the engine is healthy or not. Ideally, you want to see all of your cylinders read approximately the same numbers.  

You also do not want to see your compression go below 140 across the board. Mazda says that anything 140 or below is poor compression. If you end up having an unhealthy engine, then the car will not make the desired power, and you could potentially ruin your engine even further.  Make sure to check out our misfire blog where we show you how to properly boost leak test your car!

Boost Leak Test

Every tuner is going to be targeting a certain boost pressure based upon current modifications.  A lot of times the turbo has to work harder because of a few boost leaks that are not closed off before tuning.  This can affect your fuel trims, and it will also affect how much wastegate duty cycle is needed in order to reach desired boost targets.  Having zero boost leaks is important so your tuner does not have to work around those leaks.

Ghost Knock

A big question we always see in the forums, and on Facebook would be people wondering why their AccessPort shows knock values.  The most important thing to remember is part throttle knock is nothing to worry about. My own Mazdaspeed see’s values of 8.0 all the time on part throttle.  The only time to worry about knock values is when you are at wide-open throttle. As long as your knock values stay below 2.0 then that is nothing to worry about.

Doing these few simple things for your tuner will not only save time for both of you, but your tuner will love you because they don’t have to try and diagnose an issue from thousands of miles away.  CorkSport hopes this really helps the community as a whole, and we also hope that people can use this as a tool to get their car dialed in much faster.

Stay happy, and stay fast CorkSport family!



CorkSport Mazdaspeed3 13 Inch Big Brake Kit

Even More Stopping Power for your Mazdaspeed 3

In our drive to make more power, we often forget about adding measures to keep us safe at the greater speeds we are achieving. The CorkSport Big Brake Caliper Kit is a great place to start, however if you wish you could stop even faster say hello to the CorkSport 13inch Big Brake Kit. Designed for serious stopping power, it includes 13” directional rotors, powder-coated 4-piston calipers, upgraded pads, and everything you need to install it on your Mazdaspeed3.

Read on for a breakdown of all the components


The rotors have been designed to provide optimum stopping power while minimizing noise for street use. The upgrade to 13inch diameter rotors provides greater braking torque for an equivalent braking force (like how a longer wrench makes it easier to loosen a tight bolt). The larger diameter combined with an increased thickness of 28mm (vs 25mm for OE) provides better cooling as there is a larger mass to reject heat into.

In addition, slots were added to the friction surface to help sweep away any debris, brake dust, or gases that can otherwise affect your braking characteristics. We avoided drilling the rotors as holes decrease your total friction area and increase the chance that the rotor will crack. By moving to a two-piece design, we were able to decrease the overall weight of the rotor and by making the center section out of aluminum, it can help dissipate heat from the rest of the rotor better. Semi-Floating mounting between the inner and outer sections allows for quieter rotor vs having a full-floating center section.

Finally, the vanes in the rotor are atypical; these vanes are the “fins” that connect the inside and outside of the rotor. By using curved vanes instead of the typical straight vanes, the rotor becomes directional and has to be used on a specific side of the vehicle; however, it also provides more efficient cooling. When the rotor turns, the curved vanes draw air through the center of the rotor and out through the edge, providing greater airflow than a straight vane and thus better cooling. There is another bonus to heat dissipation as the curved vanes have a larger surface area that will come in contact with air than an equivalent number of straight vanes.


Forged aluminum, four-piston performance calipers are included with the kit in a choice of powder-coated blue, red, or black.

Although each piston is individually smaller in diameter than the single OE caliper piston, the total surface area is increased so the braking force at a specific brake pressure is increased. Larger piston surface area means larger brake pads can be used as well. You also get more even braking force on each side of the rotor due to the opposed piston design. This encourages even pad wear, even rotor wear, and consistent braking characteristics.

The pistons themselves were specifically chosen for optimum braking endurance and reliability. They are staggered in size, with the pistons on the leading edge being slightly smaller than the trailing edge pistons. This is another protection for even pad wear. Each piston is made completely out of stainless steel for its low conductive heat transfer. What this means is that the pistons themselves will transfer less heat to the brake fluid than an aluminum or steel piston, decreasing the chances of overheated brake fluid.


Street performance brake pads are included with the kit that bridges the gap between Mazdaspeed3 street and track pads. They are larger and a more aggressive compound than the pads included with the CorkSport MS3 Big Brake Caliper Kit but are not a full track pad. They will produce less dust and noise than a track pad but still need to be warmed up for optimum performance. Should you need new pads or want to change to a different pad, you have a bunch of options from G-Lock, Carbotech, EBC, Hawk, and various other manufacturers.

Lines, Brackets, and Hardware

The rest of the CorkSport 13inch BBK is composed of exactly what you need to properly and safely install the kit on your Mazdaspeed3. Stainless steel brake lines are included to remove any risk of a soft brake pedal and ensure the calipers are operating optimally. High strength steel brackets properly position the four-piston calipers on the new rotors using the OE bracket locations. All components are locked down using Grade 12.9 hardware with a corrosion resistant coating for lasting durability.

The CorkSport Mazdaspeed 3 13” Big Brake Kit has everything you need to keep you safe at increased horsepower levels. If you’re looking for more than the stock brakes have to offer, let the CS Mazdaspeed3 BBK be a part of your build.