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

 

Intake Valve Cleaning – A Dirty Job Made Easy

Introducing the CorkSport Intake Valve Cleaning Kit. While designed specifically for the DISI MZR engine found in the Mazdaspeed 3, 6, and Mazda CX-7 turbo. Our kit is versatile enough to be used in a variety of direct injected (DI) applications and alleviates many of the pain points associated with cleaning your intake valves. For an explanation on why DI engines need their valves cleaned, check out our blog on cleaning Mazdaspeed intake valves. Read on as the CorkSport Valve Cleaning Kit could make your next maintenance job much easier.

Despite its interesting appearance the CorkSport Valve Cleaning tool was carefully designed for ease of use. Starting at the large end, the cone shape was selected to accommodate a wide variety of vacuum hose sizes (1.50-2.5- inch OD) – it even works with the oblong-shaped hose we have in the CS shop! A clamp is included to keep the tool secure on the vacuum. Due to the slightly flexible nature of multi-layer silicone, clamping the hose creates a seal useful to get great suction from the vacuum.

To provide the best fit for both the large and small intake ports of the DISI MZR, the opposite end of the valve cleaning tool also is flared. When in use, this flare compresses slightly, making for another great seal. This keeps the cleaning chemicals, media, and any carbon deposits from getting all over you and your engine bay.

Last but not least is the small diameter offshoot on the side of the CorkSport Intake Valve Cleaning Tool. This is the port for a media blaster that helps make quick work of dirty valves. It is positioned for easy use, where one hand holds the CS valve cleaning tool while the other operates the media blaster. An abrasion resistant hose is included to fit on the end of your media blaster and travel down into your intake ports for direct blasting. Unlike doing this without the tool, you do not have to permanently modify your vacuum just to do valve maintenance.

There you have it, folks, quite possibly the weirdest looking CS product ever created but it’s quite useful!  Check out the listing for more details and to see the CorkSport Intake Valve Cleaning Tool in use.

Intakes for Mazdas

The CorkSport Cold Air Box pairs perfectly with the CorkSport Short Ram Intake.

An Intake for Every Engine

When it comes to the breathability of your Mazda, an intake is the best place to start. The benefits are immediate, the installation is quite simple and it’s genuinely the best first step to getting some power and fun out of your Mazda or Mazdaspeed.

Bringing more air into the intake chamber, the intake system allows you to increase horsepower and torque for your Mazdaspeed. Each is designed to maintain optimal flow and generate ideal performance for your Mazda, with exacting tolerances and using the latest in computer-aided manufacturing techniques to bring you the highest quality and best-performing part for your money. You can expect to gain up to 30+ HP from this simple to install intake system.

The CorkSport Cold Air Box pairs perfectly with the CorkSport Short Ram Intake.

Types of Air Intake systems

Short ram air intakes suck in large amounts of heated air within the engine to help in efficient combustion. These are short and wide pipes because it uses a shorter pipe than the cold air intake, it only has access to warm air near the engine. To make up for this, it sucks in more air than cold air intakes.

Cold air intakes are a type of ram air intake systems that work by drawing in cool air from outside and into the Mazda’s engine. This type of intake often has minimal bends and has a long duct with access to cool air. With cooler air coursing through the engine, combustion requires less heat and fuel.

Why Replace Your Mazdaspeed or Mazda Air Intake System

More often than not, car enthusiasts and expert mechanics recommend that you purchase an air intake as soon as possible. Even vehicles of the latest makes and models benefit from an aftermarket air intake system. Below are five of the reasons why an air intake system can improve your Mazda engine’s performance.

Get your 2014 Mazda 3 the cold air it needs with the CorkSport cold air box that goes perfectly with the CorkSport SRI.

Keep in mind, when an intake is paired with a cold air box, or battery box, you create a great look for your engine bay and increase your overall Mazda performance. Also, when paired with fuel pump internals, you’ll be able to increase the efficiency, power and set yourself up for future modifications as well!

Why replace your intake system?


1. Increased Acceleration
With an upgraded intake, your Mazda can experience increased horsepower. Upgraded intakes can also increase your engine’s responsiveness when speedy acceleration is required. Because there is more air available and ready for combustion with aftermarket air intakes, your engine reaches the desired speed faster compared to the stock intake that comes with your Mazda. Those who enjoy racing, autocross, or drag strips with their Mazda or who if you just like quick acceleration as soon as the traffic light turns green, an aftermarket air intake can help you enjoy your get up and go a bit more.

2. Greater Fuel Economy
Engines rely on a mixture of fuel and air to create an explosion that powers your Mazdaspeed. When there is not enough air pumping through the engine, your Mazda consumes more gas to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Stock intakes that come with your Mazda are designed to be quiet instead of fuel efficient, and as a result, they tend to use more gasoline. Pumping in more air via an upgraded intake can reduce gas consumption and translate to savings on fuel expenses. For those who are concerned about fuel efficiency…we should note here: that the enhanced sound may cause you to have a heavier foot and decrease your fuel efficiency in exchange for spirited driving.

3. More Effective Filters
The stock air intakes that come with your Mazda normally have disposable paper filters to catch debris. While these filters do their job in trapping particles that may potentially wreak havoc on your engine, the filters eventually require replacement (often a great upsell item for your local technicians). Aftermarket intakes, on the other hand, are equipped with filters that typically have to be cleaned every 20,000 to 50,000 miles (just some soapy water and let it dry completely before reinstallation). This not only saves money but it also provides a more effective filtration method that not only keeps debris out but also lets a larger qty of air inside.

4. Enhanced Sound
Those who like the aggressive sound of a roaring Mazdaspeed engine should enjoy our upgraded intakes the most. Because more air enters through the intake to the engine, it produces a sound that our Mazda enthusiasts find thrilling.

5. Better Overall Performance
With the simple installation of an upgraded intake, you can increase the overall performance of your Mazda. Whether you decide to go for the short ram or the cold air intake, you increase your Mazda’s efficiency, speed, power, and sound.

Looking for an intake system or upgraded intake components to fit your Model?

2010-2013 Mazdaspeed3

2007-2009 Mazdaspeed3

2006-2007 Mazdaspeed6

2014+ Mazda3

2010-2013 Mazda3

2004-2009 Mazda3

2014-2017 Mazda6

2009-2012 Mazda6

2003-2008 Mazda6

2016+ MX-5

2016+ CX-3

2013+ CX-5

 

Brett’s Build Part 4

“Hey Bro, what flares are those?” A common question asked, not that I blame anyone for their curiosity.

This is a very niche platform in the grand scheme of things. So we don’t really get lots of options when it comes to widebodies or flares etc. Those of us who have been crazy enough to chop into our ¼ panels had to trust what we think will look good, cross our fingers, and just send it. Some of us get lucky, some of us don’t. I wasn’t in it alone though, I had help from a few friends, and some inspiration. So, here’s the story on how I flared my Mazdaspeed 3.

My good friend Brian over at BMSPEC has a well-known Mazda 3, named “Circuit Heart” Which just recently has gone into retirement. He was one of the first to ever put flares on the Gen 2 Mazda 3 body, and for years I said I wanted that look. When He decided to let go of his old Volks, I had the opportunity to take possession. With his direction, I ordered fair lady Z flares from that were originally meant for a 240Z.  

I asked my local Nator Buddy Aaron Maves if he was down to help me chop up my Mazda and lend me a spot in his garage. Ironically enough, he was a stoked to be a part of the project, probably more than me. Once my flares came in, I got them dropped off at the body shop to be paint matched and started hashing out a plan. Since I work all day long, and flares are a rather tedious process this was going to be a strictly after work job and it ended up taking quite some time to get done. But the wait, blood, sweat, and tears were worth it.

Here is a little step by step process we took to get it done. If you are looking to ever do this to your Mazda, it may either motivate you or deter you away.


Step 1. – Test Fitting

This part is very critical, and one of the most difficult. You have to Mock up the flare to be as perfect as possible. Usually, since the flares we try to use on our Mazda’s, they don’t exactly want to line up where we want, and we need to motivate them a bit to do so.  Painters’ tape by itself will not be enough to hold it where you need. The way I got around this is by using 3M Double Sided VHB tape on the back of where the bolts will go, paired with the painter’s tape. Since these flares weren’t made for this Mazdaspeed3,  I started out on my front driver side fender.  Once I got it where I knew I wanted it, I opened up pandora’s box. I drilled my pilot holes into the fender, no going back now. That’s not even the worst part, because now I had to make all 4 corners symmetrical (No pressure or anything).

Matching every corner is not an easy task, and also something that is often messed up. All I can say is triple check everything, and then do it again. We had to find reference points on the Speed3 itself to measure from. The ground below could be slightly inconsistent. Not only because the floor may not be perfectly level, but because the floor jacks may be slightly different as well. Choose about 4 points to measure from so you can get an accurate X/Y axis measurement to link to the other side. You’ll want the fronts to be identical, and the rears to be identical.

 

Step 2 – Rivnuts

 

Now that we have drilled pilot holes in all 4 corners. We opened them up enough to accept the riv-nuts. This will be the threaded inserts that allow you to bolt the flare to the Mazda. We had to open the hole up slowly, stepping up the size of the bit each pass. Doing this prevents the thin metal from fraying and making sharp edges around the hole. You want the riv-nut to sit as flush as possible, so the flare sits close to the body.

In this particular case, I used ¼ – 20 sized bolts, so I opened op the flare with a ¼ hole and bolted the flare on for a final fitment check.

 

Step 3 – Cutting

The most intense part of the process now begins. My buddy Devin Sorter who is a fabricator/welder came through to help with this. He’s very skilled with a cut off wheel, and I knew I could trust him to make some solid cuts that are symmetrical and clean.

With the flares mounted up, we drew the line for the cuts. Remember you not only have to give yourself enough clearance for the bumps on top, but for steering in the front as well. During this process, part of the bumper clip will have to be removed as well. This isn’t a problem though since the flare itself acts as a support and keeps the bumper from sagging, even with the splitter on the front.

 

Step 4 – Sealing the rear ¼ Panels

Since the ¼ panels in the back aren’t just 1 layer like the front, when you cut into them there is now a gap between the layers that are left open. Even though my Mazdaspeed isn’t driven in the rain, it still leaves the car open and vulnerable to getting moisture in there and eventually causing corrosion. To prevent this, you need to stitch weld the panels together and then reseal it. Once the welding was complete, we used silicone to seal it all in and protect it from the elements. We also put some weather stripping on after the fact to prevent any harsh rubbing on the wheel in case the Mazda bottomed out or the tire somehow traveled up high enough.

At this point, the Mazdaspeed3 was done, and I bolted on the flares. The gasket you use between the flare and the body is up to you, there are lots of options out there.


Thanks for checking this out and stay tuned for part 5!


Cheers,
Brett@CS

The Ultimate Mazda Performance Guide

A few years ago, CorkSport’s resident racecar driver – Derrick Ambrose – released a book titled “The Ultimate Mazda Performance Guide”.

The wildly popular book provides beginner and intermediate Mazda/Mazdaspeed owners a solid guide that outlines how, why and when to modify their ride.  Now that the platform is a little older, these second-hand models are more attainable for first-time car buyers and Mazdaspeed Owners specifically are hungry to transform their ride into a +400 WHP BEAST!hre  

With so many new enthusiasts joining the Mazdaspeed platform, we have been flooded with inquisitive calls and see an increasing number of new owners post up questions about turbos,  High Pressure Fuel Pump Internals, axle back vs cat back vs turbo back exhausts, and what can I do to make 400 WHP or even 600 WHP?

Many of these new Mazda enthusiasts are joining CorkSport’s premier 7th Gear Membership to take advantage of the free swag package, free shipping in the lower 48 states and immense benefits from the troll free and exclusive 7th Gear Facebook Group – Where beginners can ask questions without getting clobbered!

So, whether you’re just starting out with a ‘new to you’ Mazdaspeed3 or Mazdaspeed6, or you’ve hit the ground running with a new MX-5, Mazda3 or Mazda6 (turbo diesel!?). Our Mazda performance Guide will help answer some basic questions as well as set you on your path to get the most out of your ride.

Previous Interview with Derrick:

CorkSport: What made you decide to write a book about Mazda Performance and why?

Derrick: I really just wanted to give some of the new Mazda enthusiasts some of the knowledge that I have gained about Mazda’s from my involvement with them since the mid 90’s. Many people are just now buying their first Mazdaspeed and don’t really know where to begin. I wanted to help ease them into what they really need to know. It can be quite scary for some to jump into modifying or go into the forums or Facebook groups and not know anything.

CorkSport: We know all about the forums and responses to Newbs on Facebook haha.

Derrick: Exactly, the purpose of the book was to help give people a path and empower them with information that may take a lot of years or a lot of searching to find. I didn’t want it to just be about selling CorkSport parts, we actually mention, and feature, many non-CorkSport parts in the book. That being said, I’m very proud of CorkSport and what we have done to help the Mazda community.

CorkSport: So who is this book really for?

Derrick: I wrote this guide for the beginner to the intermediate Mazda enthusiast that really wants to learn more and really get the most bang for their buck. I wanted to answer some of the most common questions I’ve seen on the forums and in person about aftermarket performance and where to start. If you have changed your turbo or are cross-weighing your coil-overs, you are probably past this book in terms of technical ability. I did, however, include many sources for additional information, contacts and even a brief history of Mazda itself; which is a topic I may even write another book on for the true Mazda fanatic.

CorkSport: I see, what do you think was the most challenging thing about creating a book?

Derrick: Everything, (laughs). When you have no idea what you’re doing as an ‘author’, it takes a LOT more time than you could ever imagine. I was lucky to have a lot of help from some truly amazing people and am very grateful to all of them. Writing a book is a much bigger endeavor than I would have every thought, but having an actual piece of history afterward is truly a special moment. Having that glossy cover in my hands, seeing the ISBN on the back and knowing that I will be in the Library of Congress forever is just an amazing feeling. It’s weird how just making a book can make you feel patriotic, but it really did.

CorkSport: Well hopefully we can talk you into signing a few for us and we look forward to helping to make the next one. Thanks for letting us get a little more insight into this great addition to the Mazdaspeed community.

Derrick: Thanks, I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did making it. If just one person gets the mod bug I did when I was younger because of this book then I will be happy.