Ceramic Coating: Hype or Reality?

Ceramic coating has been an up and coming thing for the past few years now.

By now I’m sure most of you have heard of it a time or two. Car enthusiasts have been utilizing it more and more as it has grown in popularity. Most professional detail shops offer this service now, but it doesn’t come cheap.

You may be asking yourself:

Why is this so expensive?

Why is it better than Wax?

Does it work that well?

I was skeptical at first too. I figured it was just the next curved TV. The next fad that’s taking over. However, I have a close friend here in the PNW that does professional detailing, and he convinced me to give it a shot. Afterwards, all I can say is, the hype is very real, and this stuff is amazing! My Mazdaspeed3 looks amazing! I used C-Quartz, but there are lots of different brands and options out there.

I’m going to walk you guys through the process it takes to do the ceramic coat, and you can decide for yourself if it’s truly worth it for you and your Mazda.

So what is Ceramic Coating?

Ceramic Coating is essentially a new achievement in car paint coating.

It chemically bonds to the paint surface allowing for a “Permanent” paint seal. Protecting it from dust, dirt, oxidation, chemicals, or anything that can compromise the paint. Unlike wax, it won’t break down or wash away in a few months. Depending on how many coats you have of ceramic, it can last from months to years.

That’s right… Years.

For those that want to keep their paint sealed and protected for a long time, even after rough winters, this will be the best way to do it. Water, dust, grime, anything that normally sticks to your paint, will have a much tougher time staying in your car due to the properties of the ceramic.

It has fantastic UV protection, and cleaning your car will take half the time. Not only because it prevents as much dirt from staying on your car, but because the water beads off and drying is so much faster! You can even do it on wheels and calipers to prevent dust from sticking as bad, making it much easier to keep clean and looking nice.

The Process

Even for an excellent detailer, this is still a day-long process, if not more. It takes great attention to detail, and some elbow grease to fully prep the car for the ceramic coating. Think of it like painting anything, the better the prep work, the better the final product will be.

It all starts with a car wash/ bath for your Mazda. Remove all the big stuff. Bugs, dirt, grime, etc.

Next comes a full paint correction. They need to get it as smooth and free of defects as possible. In this picture, you can clearly see the difference between left and right sides.

A clay bar is now put to work. Removing any bonded contaminants to the paint. Any bumps that can be felt with your fingers, will be removed, causing the paint to feel smooth like glass again. Quick spray wax is typically used as a lubricant to prevent scratching.

The amazing thing about a clay bar is that it reveals on the contaminants you can’t typically see as well.

After this, the time now comes for the polish! The clear coat is essentially “Rearranged” by heat generated from the polish and the buffing pad. Making it even smoother and glossy again. It takes a lot of practice to know when it’s just right, and not go too far. Otherwise, it will burn the paint.

Now that the swirl Marks are gone, we use what’s called an IPA (Not the 5’Oclock somewhere kind of IPA) This is an isopropyl alcohol and water mixture that will get rid any polish and oil from the paint and lift dust to be removed. Creating a perfect bonding surface to apply the ceramic. This will allow for a stronger chemical bond to the paint.

Now comes the time we have all been waiting for; the application process.

A small applicator that involves a foam block and a suede microfiber cloth is used. Ceramic is applied to the cloth, and then its wiped onto the paint. The method is like wax, in the regard that it must harden a bit before it is buffed off. They go panel by panel and apply it, then wipe off. It is important that the cloth is monitored for hardness too.

The ceramic in the cloth will eventually harden, and then it becomes unusable. The number of coats they do depends typically on how much you pay for. The more coats, the longer it will last.

After the coat, its good to give the ceramic about a day to harden. Then this silica sealant can be applied. This preserves and maintains the ceramic. Every few months apply this to the car like a spray wax to keep it glossy and shiny.

The best part is finally being able to do the first wash (Give it about a week or so before the first wash) and seeing how well it repels the water. It practically jumps off the car. But the crazy part is, it will continue to do this for months, or even years. A normal wax coating to protect your paint Is no longer necessary. Just can sit back and relax knowing the paint is protected.

For anyone who loves their car and maintaining the paint. You will truly enjoy the outcome of this. Professional shops charge quite a bit. But I know plenty of DIY guys like myself that enjoy putting in the elbow grease. Either way, I believe its worth it, no matter the Mazda or Mazdaspeed you’re driving, and I thought I would share my experience with the Mazda Family!

Thanks for checking in,


Protect your Mazda 3 with the CorkSport Skid Tray

Extra Protection for your 2014-2016 Mazda 3

That’s right folks; CorkSport’s favorite skid trays have made their way to the GEN3 Mazda 3. Whether you have a broken OE plastic skid tray or are just looking for some extra protection for the winter months, please welcome the CorkSport 2014-2016 Mazda3 Skid Tray. Made from laser cut, 0.090” thick aluminum formed to a perfect fit, this skid tray is a direct upgrade from the OE Mazda3.

From the factory, the GEN3 Mazdas come with a flimsy plastic under tray that can crack and break with the smallest of impacts.
It exists primarily to smooth the airflow traveling under your car and act as a splash shield for the engine compartment while driving in the rain but offers no real protection for your oil pan. We felt compelled to remedy this issue, and thus, the CorkSport Mazda3 Skid Tray was born.

The 0.090” thick aluminum protects your Mazda 3 from road debris, rocks, and damage to vital engine components while adding minimal weight to your car. This aluminum is the same material as our Mazdaspeed 3 skidplate, and it has proven itself to take plenty of punishment. We even torture tested one of our prototype skid trays during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill on the CorkSport Mazda 3 Race Car and had no issues.

As always, we sought out to make the installation as painless as possible while retaining all OE features. The CorkSport skid tray only uses the OE mounting locations without having to drill or trim anything. The CorkSport Mazda3 skid tray is a two-piece design that allows for a more straightforward install. Each piece is more manageable to move around for installation than the traditional one-piece design. As a bonus, it also makes the shipping is cheaper! We retained The oil and filter access panel so you can easily perform maintenance without having to remove the Mazda3 skid tray.

By extending the front of the skid tray above the bottom of the front bumper like OE, the CorkSport Skid Tray retains the smooth transition from bumper to skid tray to ensure smooth airflow under your car. You can even run the CorkSport Skidplate with the Mazda OE front lip with no issues.

If you’re worried about your oil pan or can’t seem to keep an OE skid tray in one piece, let the CorkSport Skid Plate for 2014-2016 Mazda 3 alleviate your issues.

P.S. Our two-piece design allows us to develop fitments for other models. If you’re interested in a skid plate for your car, let us know, and we might start work on one for you!


Sneak Peek at an Upcoming Transmission Motor Mount

Here is a treat for GEN3 (2014+) Mazda 3 owners!

We are in the process of designing and producing a CorkSport Transmission Motor Mount, (TMM), to reduce the excessive engine movement present from the factory. Buckle up as we go through a sneak peek at some features and go through the design process and decisions that all serve to give you a better mount in the end.

When approaching this project we sought out to improve the performance of the GEN3 Mazda 3 without sacrificing drivability or OEM fitment. Stiffer motor mounts are a great way to improve throttle response, improve shift feel, and reduce wheel hop by reducing the total amount of engine movement but they can hugely increase NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness). As such, there is a balancing act between finding an acceptable level of NVH for the performance gains you get.

In a typical front wheel drive car the engine is mounted in a transverse matter, that is, the engine is parallel to the axle centerline. So when the engine tries to turn the wheels, the force to do so tries to make the engine rotate in the opposite direction. Motor mounts resist this motion of the engine.

Initially, we wanted to change the orientation of the factory mount for the Mazda3 to use the polyurethane bushings in the most optimal way possible as the bushings function best when they are parallel to the axis of rotation. Doing so proved to be difficult as we were effectively creating a new pivot point in the system.

Going through this design, we also realized that overall size was becoming a problem as different transmissions have varying heights. Since this mount sits right above the transmission, this was a vital thing to keep in mind. So for our 2.5L manual Mazda 3, we had a good amount of room below the mount, but it needed to go on a serious diet to fit an automatic model. This meant moving to a drastically smaller bushing which likely would have increased NVH, only using the mount for manual models, or using a custom bracket for each different transmission & model. Check out down below for one of the early (and ugly) designs.

So we went back to the drawing board. We decided to move forward with a design similar to the OE design. Doing so allowed for a smaller mount, easier manufacturing, and a significantly wider applicable model range. This includes all 2014-2016 Mazda 3, all 2014-2016 Mazda 6, and 2013-2016 CX-5 (we have not confirmed the 2017+ models years yet, but there’s a good chance this will be compatible).

Even though we went to a similar design to OE do not assume it’s the same thing. The CorkSport mount has the same diameter bushing as the OE mount; however, the OE mount does not utilize all the available space. This means that in addition to the stiffer polyurethane material, there is simply more material to resist the engine’s movement.

The CorkSport TMM utilizes billet aluminum for the main body of the mount with stainless steel plates for the washers and the angled section of the mount. This provides a more attractive and lighter mount than the OE offering while retaining the same strength and fitment of OE. Check out the picture down below for a look at one of our 3D printed prototype test fits.

We just received our first functional prototypes for further fitment and testing since 3D printed plastic parts don’t support an engine & transmission very well. With these samples, we can determine exactly how stiff to make the polyurethane and finalize the best possible design for you. During our test fit, we even noticed some deterioration of the OE mount.

This OE mount came off of the CorkSport Mazda 3 racecar. While it does not have many miles, they have all been racing miles that are very hard on all vehicle components. Check out the image down below to see a comparison between the used mount (left), a new mount (center), and the CorkSport prototype TMM (right). It’s interesting that Mazda has made some changes to their OE mount in the last few years. What you can’t see very well is that the racecar’s mount has areas where the rubber is starting to separate from the metal center section of the mount. There are even a few small tears forming on some of the inner bushing surfaces.

These signs of wear are encouraging to us at CS since this means we are helping to solve a potential problem facing 2014+ Mazda3 owners. As such we could not wait to get the TMM on a car for testing. Fitment is great so far, and we were even able to overcome some minor manufacturing errors. The first test for the mount was with the CorkSport Mazda 3 racecar at the 25 hours of Thunderhill. This event is an endurance race that runs for 25 hours straight.

The Mazda3 completed 613 laps during this time covering over 1800 hard miles. This is a torture test for any part, and I’m happy to report that the CorkSport TMM passed with flying colors. The drivers liked the mount and Derrick (who owns the car) reported greatly reduced slop in the transmission when shifting. Here is what the mount looked like after the 25-hour long race:

Aside from being very dirty and having a few scratches where it was bolted down, the mount had no issues and was still in good working condition. It already has a new home in a daily driven Mazda 3 to get even more testing done. Initial impressions are good, but we will look to decrease NVH as much as possible before any of you get your hands on it. Look for the CorkSport 2014+ Mazda 3 Transmission Motor Mount in the next few months.

25 hours of Thunderhill

25 hours of 69

For many people across the USA, the days after Thanksgiving means one thing. To them, it’s the start of the Christmas season. The beginning of holiday shopping, pumpkin spice lattes, and the best home cooked meals you can’t wait to dive into.

However, for a small select few group of individuals and teams, it’s a time for something completely different. It’s a time to see what you are made of, a time to put it all out on the table. A time where you know if the past year of planning, testing, and preparation are about to reward you greatly or tear you down completely. It’s the time where you hope to be able to stand up on a Sunday at noon and can say proudly “I survived the 25.”

For those lucky few (some call them crazy or stupid) the weekend after the Thanksgiving Holiday is what you might call a different type of holiday.

For the past 15 years, the 1st weekend of December is when some of the worlds best pro and amateur drivers descend upon a small city in Northern California known as Willows. Just on the outskirts of this quaint little city lies a little well-known road course titled merely “Thunderhill.” Now what makes Thunderhill so unique, well it’s probably the fact that this venue host the longest and most extreme endurance race in all of North America. For 25 hours straight; teams, coaches, drivers, and fans endure the rain, cold, dark, lack of sleep and more to try and make a name for themselves, and this year CorkSport did just that. Made History…



While attending the 25 Hours of Thunderhill is nothing new for CorkSport as we have spent the past several years supporting Mazda North America and their racing efforts with logistics, crew, and parts. This year was the first year where we entered a new team ourselves and brought our car, crew, trailer, and everything else you need to try and survive 25 hours of racing.

Sadly MNAO did not attend this year so it was up to us to make sure that the brand and name would make a forceful showing at the event and that is precisely what we did.



To start this whole thing off, we brought out our 2016 Mazda 3 GT. You guys are more than familiar with this car as Co-owner, and founder of CS Derrick Ambrose has been piloting this ride for two race seasons now in SCCA racing. We spent several weeks leading up to the event preparing the CorkSport Mazda3 for this daunting task.


We got extra safety equipment installed, upgraded our data acquisition package, optimized and engine tune for the  2.5L engine, and even installed some upgrade prototype pieces to have the car suited for the race.

Some of the CS goodies that were on the car during the run where our SRI, Cat-back exhaust, RMM, sway bar, and some prototype pieces like our aluminum skid tray and upgraded transmission engine mount. We needed the best parts we could get in there if we wanted to be competitive and make history.

No one has ever raced the 3rd generation Mazda 3 for this long in any endurance race. This car started off just like any other Mazda 3 and still retained a full OEM chassis, transmission, and engine. The engine internals where untouched and the transmission received a CorkSport LSD.


The team showed up on a brisk and cold Thursday morning, and we went to work. We immediately set up and got the drivers briefed. We got some practice in on Thursday followed with some qualifying on Friday all to be prepared to push this car to the limit for 25 hours. The team grabbed the pole position, and we were 1.5 seconds ahead of the next car which was fantastic. It showed we had the pace and ultimately the faster car. Fast forward to Saturday, and the flag drops green.

We had a great start and excellent drivers in the car. We struggled a bit through the night with consuming tires at a rate faster than we had anticipated and also had a few issues with how quickly we could get fuel into the car, despite the problems the team and the car pushed through the night. With just a brake change and tweak to the exhaust through the night, we maintained a good pace that ultimately got unwound due to the fuel issue mentioned above.
There was a Miata in our class that could get better fuel economy and tire consumption and slowly crawled there way up to lead during the night.

As the sunlight begins to break through, we are in a healthy 2nd place but a bit far off the leader, however, it does not worry us too much as we still have a shot at a win. Things were looking good till right about hour 22. One of our driver’s radio’s in and let us know he lost 4th gear (that’s not good). None the less we keep pushing knowing we have a spare transmission should we need to swap.


Now at hour 23 we get another message. “I lost 2nd gear” The transmission has now lost two gears, and we get a bit nervous. The car is still going and driving strong but our lap times do suffer from not being able to use all of the gears. After a quick powwow with the team, the decision is made to leave the car out on track and finish the race between 3rd and 5th gear.

With only 2.5 hours to go swapping out the transmission did not make sense as we were very secured in 2nd place. So we did just that and pushed on through, and you know what happened? We did it. While we didn’t get the P1 spot like we had wanted we did what no other SKYACTIV-G Mazda3 had done before.

We survived the 25. We proved the chassis and the platform, we pushed harder, longer, and further than absolutely anyone else has. The car was relatively unscathed, and minus the transmission, the vehicle performed excellently. All of the CorkSport parts did precisely what they needed to and outperformed all expectations.

We took the 3rd gen platform and solidified it as a competitive car and chassis that can be used and used well at all levels of motorsports.

So, what happens next?

The Mazda 3 made it back home and now lay dormant inside of HQ. We will be spending the next few weeks going through a ton of data and running through the car with a fine tooth comb.

We’ll take the transmission apart and see what her demise was. We’ll likely strip the SKYACTIV 2.5L down as well to check out what two years of racing looks like on her. The oil is already out of the car and on its way to the lab so be sure to stick around and see what we find out there.

Now one of the great things about this is what our success brings to the community. Everything we learned here can and will be applied to all of our parts and products moving forward. When we win, you guys all win. So, celebrate our accolades with us and wish us luck as we begin to prepare for the 2018 race season.


Do we tackle the 25 hours again next year? Do we show up with a turbocharger and more aero? And do we fight our ways to a P1 finish? You better believe I am going to try.



Diagnosing Lean Air/Fuel Mixture Codes

What Does It Mean?

At CorkSport we are glad to be a source for help with those that have questions about their Mazda. I personally enjoy helping with drivability problems or Check Engine Lights! P2187 is a good example of a common code in the Mazda world. Especially those with Mazdaspeeds. “System too lean at idle.” Now you may be asking, what does this mean, and how is it fixed?

There are other lean codes all of this could apply to; this is a typical example.

It’s quite easy to figure out yourself, and I’ll be walking you through the simple procedure to track down the cause! Using my Mazdaspeed 3, we will go through some of the diagnostic steps of Boost Leak testing, and touch on some other common causes of a lean at idle code.

Let’s get started!

AFR/Fuel Trims

AFR – Measured by your primary 02, your air-fuel ratio is vital to watch and monitor if you are modding or trying to make more power.  Your Mazdaspeed is tuned to hit certain AFR targets, and relies on the 02 sensor and the MAF Sensor (Mass Air Flow) to adjust fuel delivery accordingly. However, there are things that can interfere with how these sensors communicate with the ECU, and if this happens, it will throw your system out of whack.

Examples are vacuum leaks, boost leaks, leaking nozzles/injectors, exhaust leaks, etc.

Fuel Trims – The measurement of how much your ECU needs to adjust fuel delivery. There are two kinds of fuel trims.

Short Term Fuel Trim (STFT) – Cars immediate Reaction To AFR Fluctuations, and responsible for keeping LTFT in check. This is constantly switching around. At Idle you should see close to 0 once it settles. Meaning that the RPMs are not fluctuating, and its steady.

Long Term Fuel Trim (LTFT) – Cars long-term reaction, which will change over time-based off how the short terms are doing. When you get a custom tune, your tuner will do what’s called a MAF calibration, to get this number as close to +/- 0 as possible. The less your ECU has to correct its fuel delivery the better.

Anything (-) means it’s taking away fuel, so the AFR’s its seeing are slightly richer than what it thought they would be.

Anything (+) means its adding fuel, so the AFR’s are slightly leaner than it should be. If you are seeing high or pegged STFT, the ECU is trying it’s very best to correct AFR to target.

How To Fix

Now that you have the basic understanding of what these mean, it will be easier to read the Accessport and see just what is going on. You will be able to watch how the computer is compensating for whatever the problem is, and be able to make a more educated decision on how to track it down.

Assuming the issue isn’t caused by something on the exhaust side, the most popular method would be the boost leak test. Creative name, right?

You can make one of these testers yourself, and it only costs a few bucks. All it consists of is a properly sized (And closed off) PVC section that you clamp onto your intake using a silicone coupler. It looks a little something like this.


Notice that there is a Schrader valve on top (Tire valve) This allows you to pressurize the system with air. You can use a bike pump or an air compressor. Obviously, the air compressor will be a bit easier as you can fill it up much faster.
Pinch off the line running from your intake to your valve cover or oil catch can, you don’t want to be forcing air directly into your crank case.

Attach the coupler to your intake, and start filling it up. Take small intervals to listen for any air escaping. You will want to ensure that the pressure your system holds is above or equal to your boost target.

If you hear air coming from the seal for your VVT solenoid on your valve cover, this is normal.

Once you start hearing excess air escaping, or your gauge on the air chuck is not showing that it’s holding steady pressure, then you know you have a leak. The best way to visibly spot the leak is by spraying the suspect area with soapy water. It will reveal the leak as shown.

In this case, it was an FMIC coupler. However, these leaks can originate from a bad vacuum line, stuck open BOV, bad gasket. This method will expose any of these things.

What If It’s Not This?

If you have tested your system and found no source of a leak, then the next obvious things would be to inspect your MAF sensor, O2 Sensor, EVAP Solenoid, and exhaust system.

MAF – Sometimes these sensors fail, or get dirty. Cleaning them can sometimes render results but not always. Take it out and inspect it for grim or build up on the wire. MAF cleaner can be purchased at your local parts store.

O2 Sensor – Sometimes O2’s can get sleepy or go bad. Typically, when they do go bad, the readings are a bit more all over the place, or extreme. But it does happen sometimes.

The one responsible for AFR is an expensive Wideband sensor, so unless you’ve tried everything else, don’t throw money at a new one unless you’ve eliminated other variables.

EVAP Solenoid – This is responsible for allowing gas fumes from your EVAP system to be purged into your induction system to be burned off. However, the solenoid can sometimes be stuck open, and allow unmetered air in at the wrong times. Check to see if air passes through, or swap on a friend’s and see if it fixes the problem!

Exhaust – Cracks in the manifold, or downpipe before the 02 can trip up the sensor, thinking there is more air in the mixture than there is. The stream of the exhaust can pull in air from outside and confuse it. Look closely and listen for an exhaust leak. It’s typically easy to distinguish the sound.


Check out our latest CorkSport youtube video to catch a little more detail on this subject!

If all else fails, our staff at CorkSport is here to assist you over the phone the best we can for any of your Mazda or Mazdaspeed needs. Give us a call anytime for quality technical support at 360 260 2675.