Tuning – What Are Your Options

Pretty much since I joined this platform, I’ve noticed a pattern of people asking the same questions about tuning their Mazdaspeed. There is a lot of information out there, but it’s not always consolidated or easy to find. So, in the effort to assist newcomers, this will be a write up explaining the ins and outs of tuning; when you need it, OTS vs. Pro Tunes, and how you can proceed.

*There are other options for tuning the vehicle besides the Cobb Accessport, such as Versa Tuner. But, for the ease of explanation throughout this blog, I will be referencing the AP*

What Is Tuning & Why Do You Need It?

Without getting too elaborate for this specific blog, “Tuning” is just the remapping of the tables in the ECU from OE specs to something different. It is a key aspect of your car’s engine health and the easiest way to make more HP. You can even tune a bone stock car and will typically see gains, especially when they are boosted from the factory. Bolt-on parts free up even more headroom in airflow, and when tuned accordingly you make even more power. The relationship between bolt-on parts and a tune is a beautiful thing, and hopefully, by the end of this blog, you will understand how they work together.

“So when should I get a tune?”

I’m so very glad you asked that! Well, let’s look at it like this… Mazda spent a long time getting their factory tune for the Speed 3 as good as possible. But they dialed it in around one set up, and one set up ONLY. That’s 100% OEM parts. In this form, the ECU knows what to expect, how everything should respond, and most importantly when something is wrong. It doesn’t have a mind of its own though, it only knows what it’s been told. So, if other parts in the system are replaced, and the ECU isn’t told how to react to that, things start to get a little weird.

The ECU has an ability to adjust itself within reason for variations in fuel, oxygen content, etc. But in a perfect world, it shouldn’t have to adjust itself at all. Tuning for the mods you do will not only let you have more fun, but it will get it as close to this perfect world as possible.

Minor things like an intake upgrade (Retaining stock MAF) BPV, or Catback usually won’t throw off the ECU enough to cause problems or CEL’s but it’s obviously not ideal. That being said, its best to get an Acessport or another means of tuning your Mazdaspeed prior to putting on bolt-on parts.

So here is a basic FAQ

“I want to add a turbo back exhaust, but I don’t want to get an AP and tune the car. Can I do that?”
– No, you are not able to do this for two reasons.

  • Deleting the factory cats opens a huge restriction. Without a tune, the car will risk overboosting.

  • Without fuel pump internals you also risk running lean and blowing the engine. Even if you have the internals with no tune, the drivability of the car can suffer because of how it affects the turbo.

“Can I get an intake with no tune?”

  • If its factory size, then you can usually get away with it. The turbo isn’t trying to make more boost, and the MAF housing should be accurate to the OE. If it’s a larger one like our 3” or 3.5” then no, you cannot.
    However, I always recommend tuning the car.

“Can I get a catback with no tune?”

  • Yes, you will be OK, the catback is not monitored by any sensors, and you’re not deleting any cats.

“Can I change my intercooler without a tune or fuel pump internals”

  • You should not. Just like the cats on the downpipe, the factory intercooler is a restriction. The ECU currently is tuned to fight this restriction to make a specific boost level at a specific RPM. If you remove this restriction, and you don’t tell the ECU, you risk over boosting. Over boosting mixed with no fuel pump internals can be a risky combo for running lean as well.  

“Can I upgrade my turbo without tuning the car?”

  • Definitely not, any turbo that moves more air than the factory one automatically needs a tune. The ECU is tuned to coincide with the factory compressor map. If you don’t want to tune for a turbo, make sure you get a factory replacement. These are just some of the common questions we get, but if you have more specific scenarios you can always email or call us! On to the next section.

OTS maps vs a Pro-Tune

I remember when I first got my hands on an Accessport. Trying to make sure I selected the right map and learning how to read all the parameters. I know a lot of newbies that are just getting an AP probably are asking themselves which OTS tune is the right one to use, and when should they get a Pro-Tune and how.

It’s no news to anyone that’s been in the community for a minute that the Cobb OTS maps are not the best Long-Term Solution. The reason for this is because they are:

(A) Very conservative, and not letting you get the full potential you can.
(B) Meant for a large population of cars, and aren’t really dialed in. Essentially, they are just rough around the edges.

 

However, OTS maps do serve a purpose. For someone who is planning on doing their basic bolt-ons in stages over the course of a few months then it works out well. These maps can be viewed as basic stepping stones “Stage 1, Stage 1+, Stage 2, Stage 3, Etc” that allow you to put on your first bolt-ons and flash the corresponding tune. So, as you are putting on your fuel pump internals, intake, downpipe, Intercooler, you can flash those readily available maps.

 


In a nutshell, the OTS Maps work great during the transitional phase of your modding Journey. But, once you know you are done with your bolt-ons for a bit, that’s when you want a map that is 100% dialed in, and specific for YOUR car. The difference between a custom tune and the Cobb OTS maps are truly astonishing, and you’ll see once you’re there.

Something to also note….

If your K04 ‘Sploded and you are looking at a larger turbo, an OTS is no longer an option, it’s off the table. Cobb made those OTS maps solely for a factory turbo’d Mazdaspeed. If you buy a bigger turbo like ours, a Pro-Tune is needed (along with fuel pump internals)

“Don’t I have to get the car on a dyno in order to get a Pro-Tune? There’s no Mazdaspeed tuners in my city!!!!”

If you’re not one of the lucky ones that live by a Mazdaspeed tuner, then fear not. The days of having to get it on the dyno to get a tune or over. With the Accessport, Maps are sent/downloaded over email.

To Start the process, you need to:

  1. Buy the tune

  2. Give them your full engine Mod List

  3. The tuner will instruct you on taking your Data Logs

  4. Over the course of a few weeks, you will go back and forth with new tune revisions and the car usually gets smoother and faster with each revision.

By the end of this process, you will have a dialed in tune and a smooth-running car. But, please note that if you add another part to the car or change parts. You may need to get a revision tune done to account for the new mod. Talk to your tuner about this and get their thoughts.

Recap

I hope that this helped some of you to better understand the processes you should take, and to wrap it up we will hit some of my main points.

 

  1. The first mods you should get for your Mazdaspeed if you plan to mod it is the upgraded fuel pump internals and an Accessport

  2. If you just want to run an SRI and a catback, you can get away with it, but a tune is Recommended.

  3. You should NOT run a downpipe without fuel pump internals or a tune.

  4. OTS maps are great during a transitional time with your car while bolting on parts. After this, you should get a Pro-Tune

  5. You shouldn’t run a larger turbo on the stock map or on an OTS map. Communicate with a tuner before the install and have a new base map ready.

  6. Pro-Tuners are able to tune you, even when they aren’t local.

 

To conclude this blog, it’s important to know how critical the proper tune on the car can be. It can make or break the engine, literally.

If any of you still have questions, you can always give us a call, and remember to have fun as you begin your journey down the path to making power, and giving WRX’s the L.


Happy Boosting,
Brett@CS

 

600hp Mazdaspeed Build Path – CorkSport Barett’s 2009 Mazdaspeed

If you haven’t heard already, the CorkSport Dyno Day and Summer Event was a blast with food, friends, raffles, a Show-N-Shine, and the continuous string of dyno runs.  The highlight of the dyno runs came when one of the CorkSport Engineers, Barett, put his car on the rollers.  With a few minutes of warm up and anticipation building, it was finally time to see what the “CorkSport Speed” could do. 

Getting past the ecstatic crowd to see the dyno screen showed an impressive 620whp/530wtq.  Now, whether you were at the show or not, you may be wondering what Barett’s setup is to support these numbers.  It’s not a short list but is simpler than you would expect. 

In this blog, we are going to layout the WHOLE build to show you how your Mazdaspeed can make 600+whp.  

The engine was built by CorkSport in preparation for setting up the Dankai Engine ProgramIt features Manley Connecting Rods and Platinum Pistons, head work very similar to the Dankai 2 Built Longblock, along with the CS BSD (balance shaft delete) and CorkSport Camshafts.  Holding the block together are L19 head studs and ARP 2000 main studs.  

To get the air in and out of the engine efficiently we have an assortment of bolt-on parts and some prototype parts because what kind of CorkSport R&D car wouldn’t have some prototype performance parts on it?  To break this down in the simplest way possible we have laid out a full build list:

600hp Mazdaspeed Build List:

  • CorkSport Built Engine:
    • Manley Pistons – 0.5mm overbore @ 88mm
    • Manley H-Beam Connecting Rods
    • CS Balance Shaft Delete
    • Dankai 2” Ported Headed: Single Runner Intake, Bowl Work, Combustion Chamber Touch Up, Exhaust Porting
    • CS Camshafts
    • Stock Valve Springs (We would recommend upgrading these and plan to do so ourselves)

Now, this isn’t the complete list, but it does lay out most of the essential parts to get your Mazdaspeed over 600whp.  You might have picked out a couple “prototype” mentions in that list above…well we can share a bit on the new CorkSport Turbo.  You’ve seen the power it can make…and it still has some more left in it up top, now check it out some sexy billet and massive turbine.

Lastly, none of this power would be possible without the fuel to support.  As you may know already, the OE direct injection fuel system taps out around 380whp on an efficient build so how do we make another 240whp?  Auxiliary fueling is the key my friends, and we recently posted a blog to help you explore Methanol Auxiliary Fueling that I invite you to read.  To stay focused on Barett’s 600+whp build we have made an auxiliary fueling build list below:

 

Methanol Auxiliary Fueling 600hp Mazdaspeed Build List:

  • AEM Boost Based Pump Controller
  • Snow Performance 5 Gallon Cell Trunk Mounted w/CS Prototype Mounting Bracket
  • AEM 80 micron in-line filter pre-pump
  • ProMeth 220psi Pump (Essential for flowing this volume of methanol)
  • Snow Performance Solenoid
  • Devil’s Own 1in/4out distribution block
  • 4x Devil’s Own 90degree nozzle holders
  • 4x ProMeth Compact Check Valves (Essential for proper AFR control between shifts)
  • 4x Devil’s Own D07 Nozzles (One per intake manifold runner; each flowing ~10gph)

Despite that this auxiliary fuel setup is providing the fuel required to support just over 600whp; it is at the ragged edge of what can be supported.  Looking at the dyno graph further up you can see torque decline after 6000rpm and horsepower go flat. This is due to the auxiliary fuel system reaching its maximum fueling capacity and thus forcing us to reduce boost pressure as engine RPM goes past 6000rpm.  

At this power level, true port injection auxiliary fueling is the correct step to take.  Lucky for you guys and gals, we are currently exploring this path with our product R&D. We plan to give you guys and gals a full breakdown of our experience and how we built a full port injection auxiliary fuel system that can support over 600whp.  

AND…I forgot to mention one very critical aspect of this entire build.  Professional Tuning! This specific build was E-Tuned on the CorkSport in-house dyno by Dale Owen of Gem Tuning.  E-Tuning is a great way to set up your car with the tuner that is the best suited for your platform and vehicle build because it doesn’t require the tuner and the vehicle to be in the same place at the same time.  

Hang tight for more on the PI Auxiliary Fueling and thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Performance.

-Barett @ CS

 

CorkSport Throttle Body Spacer

We are proud to introduce the CorkSport 72mm Throttle Body Spacer for Mazdaspeed 3, Mazdaspeed 6, and Mazda CX-7 Turbo.

This is a great product for those Mazdaspeed owners who want push past the limits of their OEM fuel system. We’ve carefully chosen nozzle locations, upgraded the inside diameter, and added an O-ring for quick and easy sealing. We designed the CS throttle body spacer to eliminate a lot of the headaches that come with adding extra fuel.

The area where the throttle body mounts is pretty tight on the Mazdaspeeds which leaves few options for adding methanol nozzles, especially the tall AEM ones. We realized right away that nozzle orientation was critical.

To prevent any modification, the top nozzle location sits at an angle that perfectly clears both the OEM & CorkSport Intake Manifold to provide an access port for most meth nozzle styles on the market. For more stealthy setups, there are two ports located on the bottom side of the CS spacer, one straight down and once again at an angle for easy usability without further modification.

We also considered nozzle depth when designing the CorkSport Throttle Body Spacer. Most nozzle styles will sit flush to the inside surface of the spacer. This prevents any irregular airflow around the nozzle locations without affecting the spray pattern of the nozzles.

Just like the CorkSport Performance Throttle Body, we enlarged the inner diameter of the throttle body spacer to 72mm. This is the maximum size that can be used with the OEM bolt pattern and ensures optimal best airflow. The OEM throttle body & gasket can still be used with no issues.

Each CorkSport Throttle Body Spacer is precision machined from 6061-T6 aluminum before being anodized black for a clean and durable look. An O-ring groove is added during machining to allow the spacer proper sealing to your intake manifold. Rest assured, the O-ring is safe with all fuels and even oil. Finally, the spacers are laser etched with a CorkSport logo for a subtle finishing touch. The entire package is wrapped up with hardware; including extended length throttle body mounting bolts & two NPT plugs for the nozzle/injector ports you are not using.

If you’re running out of fuel in your Speed and we can make installing a methanol system much easier, pick up a CorkSport Throttle Body Spacer.

Brett’s Build Part 3

Well guys, I am back with a part 3. I apologize in advance for the delayed release of the 3rd chapter, but the Mazda was out of commission for a bit getting some stuff reworked! That being said, we can now pick up where we left off in part 2!


As I started to settle into my new stake at CorkSport, I started adding on lots of new goodies. At the beginning of the new year of 2017, I got to throw on our prototype Stage II RMM and get rid of my old one for some testing and feedback. Not only did the vibes decrease substantially, it also held the powertrain better and was helping my wheel hop significantly. So while I was at it, I threw on a Lower Tie Bar to help even further, knowing I had plans in the very near future to make over 400 Whp.


It was now Feb. of 2017 and I knew I was wanting to reach my new power goal by Summer. So, I talked to my tuner, Erik with Drama Tune, and scheduled to fly him up here in March to dyno tune the car. I had every single piece needed to complete the 400+ Whp puzzle.

The last missing piece was fuel. At this point in time, I had two options, Port Injection or Methanol Injection. Given, that I only needed a little more fueling head room freed up I went with methanol for ease, and price. For those that are curious, I purchased the Snow Performance Stage 3 Kit.  

I started installing the kit at the beginning of March 2017. Since I was going to be putting bungs into the FMIC piping, I got the kit powder coated as well.  I installed one small nozzle right off the cold-pipe of the intercooler, and another large nozzle right before the throttle body. I left a couple inches to help the alcohol atomize. The total amount I was spraying between the two nozzles was approximately 1000 CC’s of 100% Meth as we were using it for Fuel.  

So, with the car ready my Tuner flew up and we got my car on the Dyno! Keep in mind my car is a stock bottom end, so I knew I was going to be playing with fire a bit. The general rule of thumb here: If you are on a stock bottom end and want to push the car in this fashion, always have a backup plan ready in case the engine gives out.

By the end of the session, I had 3 maps from Erik:

Pump Gas: 340 Whp

E85 Blend (3 Gallons): 390 Whp

Methanol Injection: 430 Whp. (e85 still in the tank for added knock resistance and cooling)

The torque was kept down as much as possible at 380 Ft-lbs @ 4700 RPM. So, the stock rods definitely were not in danger. Ultimately if the block were to give out in this situation, it would more than likely be the piston rings. The stock Piston Rings do not like high heat or harsh temp changes. So, the best thing you can do pushing 400+ hp on the stock bottom end is to allow time between pulls for everything to re-stabilize. This will ultimately increase the time you have before it ‘Splodes. Because, if we are being honest with ourselves, at that power level, its always a matter of when, not if with the stock block.

 



So, this is how my MS3 has been for the last year or so power wise. Built block will be in the future soon. But on this next part, I’ll dive into some cosmetics details that I’m sure a lot of people wants to know.

*Hint* “Hey Bro what flares are those”

-Brett@CS



Why do you need an OCC ??

For those that don’t know exactly what an OCC is for, here is a quick rundown.

  1. During normal operation of an internal combustion engine, there’s a compressed air and fuel mixture inside the combustion chamber that is ignited and as a result, forces the piston down. A small amount of that ignited mixture leaks past the piston rings and ends up in the crankcase. This leakage is often referred to as “blow-by” (leakage past the piston rings), and is the reason every car has a PCV System in place (Positive crankcase ventilation)

  2. Some of the oil, mist and other products settle along the engine intake and over time form a “gunk.” With newer cars being direct injected nowadays, this becomes an even larger problem when fuel is not passing over the intake valves and keeping them clean.  The OCC collects the PCV vapors and utilizes a baffle to trap the oil, fuel, and water particulates that are suspended in the air.

  3. These liquids will need to be drained periodically (we say with each oil change) of all the ‘junk’. NOTE: Monitoring how fast the can fills up, mirrors as a method of gauging engine heath. More blow by = Quicker Filling OCC.

 

Carl Jacobsen recently reviewed our Mazda3 OCC in an interview, and we’re releasing it here so you can hear it from a satisfied customer, and not just our opinion.

From the start, we have wanted to give our customers the highest quality experience when purchasing the OCC for their Mazda3. The importance of knowing and seeing you have every piece you need to get started is the key to a successful installation.

 

            “ The unboxing is the best part. You know everything is there, even the step by step instructions. (I tried not to use them, but I ended up doing so because they’re spot on all the way down to the bolt sizes).”

All of our installation instructions come with step by step tips and tricks to make things easy along the way. However, if you ever hit a hiccup, just know we’re only a call away!!

 

            “ Installation was a breeze, instructions were spot on, some parts – like the mount are hard to install without help, but nothing you couldn’t do on your own…  ”

As far as the CorkSport Mazda3 Oil Catch Can goes, knowing that all the crankcase vapors are getting filtered out, allows for you to have that peace of mind that your engine is cleaner. Without filling up the space in your engine bay!

 

            “The OCC is hidden, it doesn’t take up space in the engine bay. You’d never know it was there unless you follow the lines. Also, the ease of access to drain it was a highlight! There was more than enough tubing to route the drain plug to the easiest spot, so you can drain it when changing your oil.”

  • Brett White