Winterize – Dear Car Guy

Dear Car Guy,

It’s beginning to look a lot like WINTER, and for those of us who aren’t so lucky to have a daily driver, it’s time to start to winterize our Mazdas.

If you’re not one of those who put their Mazda baby to sleep for the long winter months, check out the tips below to best prepare for winter driving, and keeping yourself safe!

CHECK YOUR TIRES!

• Consider getting snow tires. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, swap out your regular tires for all-season tires or snow tires. Seems obvious, but snow tires have a softer rubber that allows them to retain flexibility in the coldest of weather. They also have specifically-designed tread pattern for gripping in ice and snow. They aren’t guaranteed to keep you from slipping and sliding in your car, but they help with better traction. (In winter, any extra help to keep us from losing control of our Mazdas)

• Check the tire pressure. If you’re not opting for winter tires, check your tires often and keep them properly inflated, however this is needed for all tire types. Cold weather changes the air pressure in your tires and causes it to drop (No, it’s not the local kids deflating your tires… I’ve fallen for that one before). Remember that properly inflated tires keep better contact with the road, and while you can’t always keep from slipping, you can do your best to have more connection to the pavement.

• Check the security of your mudflaps. Mudflaps can help keep road debris from killing your paint, be sure yours are securely installed on your ride for maximum protection. If you don’t have them yet, we can hook you up with a fresh set of mudflaps here.

CHECK YOUR FLUIDS AND ENGINE!

• Fill your wiper fluid and change out your blades. Remember that seeing the road is a requirement to staying on it! An ample supply of wiper fluid and new blades will give you a good line of sight in those nasty winter storms. Be sure to use the wiper fluid that has a lower freezing temperature. Otherwise, you’ll be trying to clear your windshield and failing.

• Get an oil change. For your Mazda’s engine to run, it needs the correct oil lubrication. Unfortunately, colder temperatures reduce the effectiveness of the oil. The colder it is outside, the thicker the oil gets. Thickened oil has trouble circulating through your engine, which means your engine doesn’t get appropriately lubricated during startup. Check the owner’s manual to see what oil is currently used in your Mazda, as well as, the recommended viscosity (thickness of the oil) level for different climates.

• Check your anti-freeze mixture. The ratio of your water to anti-freeze mixture should be 50:50 to prevent your radiator coolant from freezing. If you’re unsure, your local auto parts store should have a relatively cheap anti-freeze tester.

• Check your belts and hoses. Colder temperatures potentially weaken the belts and hoses. Look for signs of wear, and replace if needed. In the scenario that a belt snaps while you’re driving, you’ll have to wait for a tow truck, or that trusted buddy to get you out of the cold.

PROTECT YOUR CAR!

• Remove vulnerable exterior mods. Exterior modifications like front lips, custom wheels, and any other exterior bolt-ons that you cherish should be removed. The elements will take their toll on your car, even if it’s parked in the garage at night. From salt on the roads to new potholes you can’t see in the rain, keeping these beloved mods in the garage for the season will preserve your investment.

• Install floor mats. If you don’t already have floor mats in your ride, putting them in the front and back of the car will help keep your interior carpet pristine. Floor mats are easier to clean and can be removed to wash if the mud or snow gets too intense. Click here to check out our CS floor mats.

• Secure your Seat Covers. If you don’t have them, winter is the best time to use them! If you do, make sure that you have them securely installed. The wet from rain and snow isn’t great for the interior and seats. They’re also great for protecting your back and passenger seats from corners of boxes or crockpots of chili while carting presents and food from place to place.

PROTECT YOURSELF!

• Stock your car with emergency supplies. This is one that my dad never let me leave home without. Snacks, blankets, towels, waters, and emergency/first aid kit should be in your trunk during the winter seasons (if it’s not always in there). You never know where or when you might get stranded during winter, and if it’s for longer than expected being prepared is key! Also, the towel is great for kids, passengers, and pets who might be a little muddy or wet from the weather.

Note here from CorkSport: Keeping spare cash in your emergency kit can often help if you’re financially strapped and need to pay for a tow. It could save your butt one day (I know it has saved mine in emergencies!).

• Check your emergency supplies. Road flares, jumper cables, and first aid supplies should be checked for expiration and usability. Road flares do not always have expiration dates. However, the summer months with high heat can sometimes render them unusable (storage above 120 degrees for longer than a week should be avoided), as well as they could be expired if you got your kit for Christmas from Grandma a few years ago.

Whether you’re driving a Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, or you’re riding around in a Mazda 3 or Mazda 6, we hope that you use our tips to keep yourself safer this winter!

We also sincerely hope that you’re not trying to weather any storms in a Miata or MX5… our Mazda enthusiasts are awesome, but that’s just a different level of crazy!

Anyone else have some good tips or tricks for winter driving in your Mazda or Mazdaspeed?

Share your thoughts or tips in the comments; I am sure we could all use them!

Wishing you safety, warmth, and clear weather this winter!

Cheers,
Kim@CorkSport

 

Kill The Nannies

Nannies. One thing we have discovered while racing our Mazda 3 is that the OEM safety systems in the newest generation of Mazda 3 work well, too well in fact for racing.

Each year, new safety features are added by Mazda which make the cars safer and reduces the risk of collisions. This is great for day to day driving and commuting, but it presents a problem if you plan to take your car to the track to race it.

The OEM system in the car really frowns on lifting a rear tire off the ground, or when you get wheel spin accelerating out of a slow speed corner. They design the cars against these things happening for safety purposes (understandably). However, Mazda does give you a button on your dash to turn off the traction control. This gets us racers around the limitations to a certain degree.

Let me explain:

When you disengage traction control, the system which measures yaw/pitch and ensures your car has all the wheels on the ground is actually still working, even with the button off. What the button does essentially is give you a sort of leash with more leeway, until the computer thinks you have gone too far of course, then it will kick in traction control again.

So, how do we get past these nanny systems so we can push our cars for maximum performance?

Can you simply unplug the computer which controls the this? I wish it were that simple, but you cannot. The systems in the car are all tied to each other, and the car may not start, it may not run safely, or it may run in a limp mode. A good example of this in our 2015 Mazda3 is: if you unplug the rear view mirror the car won’t start. The ABS is also controlled by the same unit, and this is very handy to have on the track.  The ABS is very good in the Mazda3 by the way, so I recommend you keep it.

The solution we’ve come up with at CorkSport is pretty simple: Leave the computer plugged in and turn it over.

That’s it, simple, nothing else is required. What happens when you turn the computer upside down is the computer loses its physical reference point, so it defaults by turning off the stability control and nannies, but most-importantly, the ABS still functions.

A big word of caution: The computer which controls the nannies also runs the airbags. If you race your car on the track, the airbags will have been removed from your car already. DO NOT drive your airbag-equipped car with the module flipped over.

The reason this solution works for the track is that our Mazda 3 race car has additional safety equipment installed, with the 6-point harness and halo seat, along with the rest of the driver’s safety gear, that keep you from injury in the event of any wrecks.

FYI: When using this “hack”, your Mazda 3 dashboard will light up like a Christmas tree from all of the warnings; but that is a small price to pay for the improved performance while racing.

–Derrick

DISCLAIMER: This modification is for racing purposes ONLY. Doing so will render many of your car’s safety systems ineffective. Installing other safety systems after this modification is essential.

 

Beginner’s Dictionary to Mazda Mods

Mazda driving down a road.
Always street tune with a buddy for safety. (PC: renson_ms3)

Everyone was a beginner at some point. Whether you’re new to Mazda modding or you’ve been doing it since you first got behind the wheel, you’re bound to run into some terminology that goes over your head.

At Corksport, our customers are family, and we love learning from and educating our family when it comes to Mazdas. The more you know about your Mazda, the better it can be. This terminology cheat sheet of Mazda language will help you talk the talk as you work to reach your modding goals.

Mazda terminology you need to talk the talk

Axle Back Exhaust: An axle back exhaust starts from the area of the rear axle and extends to the rear bumper. An axle back exhaust replaces the muffler, tips, and a portion of piping that connects to the mid pipes. It has the least effect on performance and fuel economy of all exhaust mods.

Built Block: A built block is a term used when the engine internals are upgraded with higher performance variants over OEM. In most common cases a built block is referred when both the connecting rods and pistons have been upgraded for more strength.

Camber Kit: A camber kit usually consists of a rear camber arm and front camber plates. In addition to correcting wheel alignment on lowered vehicles, a camber kit provides camber adjustment for tracked vehicles which require a slightly negative camber. Correcting the camber is important for even tire wear and maximum traction.

Cat Back Exhaust: A cat back exhaust begins at the end of your catalytic converter and goes all the way back to your rear bumper. It is made up of a rear-pipe, resonator, and muffler. A cat back exhaust system can provide more power, increase fuel efficiency, and deliver distinct sound.

CorkSport cat back exhaust.
Mazda MX-5 with cat back exhaust. (PC: jdm.chris)

Cold Air Intake: A cold air intake essentially lets your engine breathe. Cold air intakes move the air filter outside of the engine compartment so cooler air can be sucked into the engine for combustion. Cooler air brings more oxygen into the combustion chamber and that means more power.

Dyno Tune: Dyno tuning is a systematic approach to engine tuning, allowing a high-quality precise tune-up. During a dyno tune, the vehicle is stationary in a controlled environment.

Front Mount Intercooler: A front mount intercooler cools the charge air from a turbo or supercharged car. Mounted on the front of a vehicle, this intercooler results in better airflow and a higher cooling efficiency. Hot air enters one side and cool air exits the other.

Front mount intercooler on Mazda.
Kyle Sousa’s Mazdaspeed3. (PC: Kyle Sousa)

Lowering Springs: Lowering springs improve the appearance and handling of a vehicle. By lowering the center of gravity on the car and winding the coils closer together, a lowering spring can make the car feel more connected to the road for better cornering. Lowering springs will also give a more aggressive-looking stance and reduce the vehicle’s fenderwell gap.

Mod: Mod is short for modification. Mods are usually performed to enhance the performance and appearance of a vehicle.

NATOR: NATOR is a group of Mazda enthusiasts who come together to share knowledge about their beloved cars. As the story goes, it all began when a few guys got together to work on their Mazdas while enjoying Wendy’s Baconators. BacoNATOR. We can’t make this stuff up.

Join a NATOR near you.
NATOR group doing their thing.

OEM: Original equipment manufacturer.

Oversteer: Oversteer happens when the rear tires reach their limit before the front tires while cornering, leading to the tail opening up.

Powertrain Control Module: A powertrain control module, commonly called a PCM, is the onboard computer of a car. Essentially the brains of the engine control system, it controls many components of a vehicle and is used for diagnostics.

Short Ram Intake: A short ram intake, also referred to as an SRI, is a mod for internal combustion engines. It consists of a short metal or silicone pipe and a conical air filter inside the engine bay. A short ram intake increases power by eliminating the resonator and filter box, giving the air a shorter travel distance.

Short Shifter: A short shifter changes the geometry of the shifter so the distance of the shift lever is reduced. It moves the pivot point higher up the shift rod causing you to move the shifter less distance, with a shorter throw, transforming the driving experience.

Street Tune: Just as it sounds, a street tune or road tune happens on the street. It should be done to maintain the driveability of the system after the top end has been addressed on the dyno.

Sway Bars: A sway bar, also called a roll bar, anti-sway bar, or stabilizer bar, is a part of the suspension that helps reduce the body roll of a vehicle during fast cornering or when driving over uneven road. It connects opposite wheels together through short lever arms linked by a torsion spring.

Understeer: Understeer is when traction is lost at the front wheels while cornering, forcing you wide on a bend despite applying the correct steering angle. If your car is understeering, your speed is not at its maximum and you’re missing the line.

Want to add to our lingo list? Hit us up on Facebook or Instagram and let’s hear it!

What’s That Sound? Suspension Troubleshooting

Good day, Mazda enthusiasts everywhere. Vincent here. In this tech blog, I want to share some tips with you guys and gals on how to diagnose suspension noise, and how to help pinpoint the source of your suspension problem.

It’s impossible for this blog to be the bible of suspension component noise, nor do I intend for it to be. The design, function, engineering, and workings of suspension could take several books to explain. The intention of this post is to help you ask the right questions and create a more methodical approach to diagnosing suspension noise. Hopefully by the end of this, you will have that much more of an understanding of what might be going on before you take it in for some work.

Continue reading “What’s That Sound? Suspension Troubleshooting”

You Asked, We Answered: Our 2nd CorkSport and Mazda Q&A

Corksport Q&A

In January, we wrote a post answering questions our fans asked. It went over so well we wanted to do it again. Here are the top 7 questions we found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter:

Question: Would you guys consider making a turbo kit for the SkyActiv engines? What challenges would you face with that engine compared to the MZR engine?Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 12.34.32 PM

  • Questioner: Michel Balk
  • Answer: There are a few key factors that would prove difficult to overcome when turbocharging a Skyactiv-G engine. First is the extremely high compression ratio of 13-14:1. High compression ratios and boost don’t mix well, and the supporting engine design to run that high of a compression ratio is very sensitive to major engine changes. For example: The exhaust manifold is a very well-engineered 4-2-1 design that is critical to running a high compression ratio on 87 octane fuel without pre-detonation. A typical turbo kit would replace the exhaust manifold which could cause many unknown issues. Second comes down to the overall design of the engine. Mazda has made it very clear they are chasing fuel economy, not white knuckle power. So, looking at that goal from a business standpoint, why would Mazda design the engine to handle 250+hp? That would only cost them more money. The engines are lightweight in every aspect: bearing size, connecting rods, pistons, crank…the list goes on. The SkyActiv-G engines are not built for power. Lastly, what good is a turbo kit if you can’t tune it correctly? As of right now there is not an effective method to tune the SkyActiv-powered vehicle. It’s unfortunate, but a turbo SkyActiv-G is a long shot.

Question: Give us all the info about the new CS turbo in production!

  • Questioner: Jeromy Williams
  • Answer: Well I can’t go and spill the beans, but I can give you a few tidbits of information. The goal of this turbocharger is not huge power numbers. Actually I would be in shock if anyone could get this to push 400whp with meth. The goal is to provide a turbocharger that cost only slightly more than a new K04 and is 100% bolt on. When I say bolt-on, I don’t mean “bolt-on” like BNR and ATP define it. This turbocharger requires no modifications to your current intake and exhaust systems; and no modifications need to be made to the oil and coolant lines. It’s like swapping in a new K04, but with much more power potential and no blue smoke. This effectively makes the turbocharger cheaper for the customer because none of the supporting sub-systems need to be upgraded or modified. As for some specs: Power is comparable to a BNR S3, and full spool is in the 3000-3200RPM range—depending on vehicle components. The current tune on my car is reaching 21PSI at 3200RPM with the CS EBCS running in bleed setup, and that’s on the prototype turbo without the billet compressor wheel.
Source: Autoblog
Source: Autoblog

Question: Will you be doing more products for Miata?

  • Questioner: Steve Linnehan
  • Answer: We are very excited about the new MX-5 Miata hitting our shores in the near future. The CorkSport sales manager is going to buy one as soon as possible. We plan to produce a respectable lineup of performance products for the new MX-5 Miata. From suspension to power, we will help you put some more pep in the Miata’s step, so stay tuned!


Mazda 3 Exhaust SystemQuestion: What do I need to put more HP on my 2012 Mazda 3 2.0i SkyActiv?

  • Questioner: Brayam Calo
  • Answer: CorkSport has a couple options for your dilemma, Brayam. Combining our SRI, Cold Air Box, and Power Series Catback Exhaust System showed impressive gains for the little 2.0. On our dyno, the stock 2.0 made 118hp/110lbft, but when we added the components above, we saw power increase to 135hp/123lbft. This is a respectable increase in power for a naturally aspirated engine.

Question: What is an approximated max horsepower output that can be produced in an MS3 without upgrading turbo back?

  • Questioner: Christopher DeCaro
  • Answer: This is a difficult question to answer accurately as there are so many factors that play into the maximum power of an engine. The OEM downpipe is extremely restrictive on the MS3 and is commonly recommended as one of the first upgrades. Our dyno testing showed a 50hp increase over stock with only a Stage 2 intake, downpipe and racepipe installed. So as you add more components and eventually go with a larger turbocharger, the loss in power from the OEM downpipe will only increase.

Question: Is there a way to have the engine RPM drop faster while shifting or revving from an idle?

  • Questioner: Matt Zoomin Brown
  • Answer: The rate at which an engine can rev up or down comes down to simple physics: “Force = Mass x Acceleration”. You often hear of people upgrading their flywheel from the OEM steel piece to a lightweight steel or aluminum/steel two-piece flywheel. By reducing the weight of the flywheel and the rest of the rotating mass of the engine, you effectively reduce the amount of energy needed to make the engine rev up. The opposite works for revving down. The greater the mass of the rotating assembly, the more resistance need to stop the rotation—or the longer it takes to spin down. This is a result of the “Moment of Inertia” of the rotating mass.

Question: I would like to turbo my 2010 2.5 N/A Mazda 3, what do I need to know?

  • Questioner: Cynthia Senger
  • Mazdaspeed 3 is the better turbo choiceAnswer: Like everyone else I’m going to recommend you sell your car and buy a car that was turbocharged from the factory, but for the sake of argument and fueling the fire I can point you in the right direction. The 2.5 N/A engine and the 2.3 turbo engine are very similar in design. I would start with buying a blown turbo engine, removing the exterior components, and then modifying them to work on your engine. Now the easy part is done… Next, you will need some way to tune the vehicle because turbocharging an engine that was not designed to be turbocharged is not a simple bolt-on affair. If you get past these two major hurdles, then bravo! Unfortunately, unless you improved the engine internals to handle this power, the engine will probably not live long with the added stress of its newfound power. Back to the first option: Buying a Mazdaspeed 3 makes a lot more sense in many aspects. Reliability, durability, and aftermarket support make big power much easier to achieve. Granted, a Mazdaspeed 3 may be more expensive to buy upfront, but I am almost certain it will be cheaper in the long run and will come with far fewer headaches and days without a car. I wish you the best of luck!

 

Thank you for your questions and keep them coming. We’ll have a Q&A every month for your Mazda performance questions.

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Barett Strecker-01