Streamlining your Spring Break Road Trip

Road Trip Tips

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

PIC: Alejandro Romero

Prepare (at least a little) before you go

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

1. Check the obvious things.

  • Tire Pressure
  • Tire Tread,
  • Oil Level

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

2. Check the not-so-obvious things.

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

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

3. Where ?!

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

 

Be ready for the inevitable

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

How’s your spare tire doing?

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

Tools

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

Emergency Kit

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

 

Spare Key?

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

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

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

 

-Daniel

CorkSport Coolant Temperature Gauge

Another Gauge added to the CorkSport Lineup!

We are proud to announce the new CorkSport Coolant Temperature Gauge. It uses the same components and materials as all our other gauges so you can be sure that it will look good. Matching your existing CorkSport Mazda gauges, and most importantly, clearly and accurately provide you with the engine monitoring you want.

As with our other gauges, the CS Coolant Temp Gauge is designed to be good looking and easy to read. By using a simple and clear design, a quick glance at the gauge is all you need to know exactly what temperature your engine’s coolant is at. The gauge face is backlit with two color options to match your OE gauges, interior, and any other aftermarket gauges you may have. You can even wire the gauge to have a “night mode” where the backlighting changes to a different color once you turn your headlights on.

Don’t let the good looks fool you, it is still a very accurate gauge. A 270° stepper motor is used within the gauge to provide rapid response and precise readings. The stepper motor also allows for more of the gauge to be an actual dial for even more added clarity. Finally, the appropriate sensor and wiring you need to install the gauge are included to ensure the gauge is displaying the correct value.

Since the stepper motor needs a small logic board to control it, we are able to pack a few extra features in with the gauge. There is a programmable maximum limit that when reached, that has audio and visual warnings. This means no more risk of overheating while out on the track as your CorkSport Coolant Temp Gauge will be blinking and beeping up a storm. You can also keep track of the maximum temperature reached while out on the track or after a spirited drive using the gauge’s peak recall feature.

The CorkSport Coolant Temperature Gauge is a great mod to help you monitor your engine. Whether you are lacking a coolant gauge from the factory or simply want a number to go with your existing reading, the CS Temp Gauge has the accuracy, reliability, and looks you want.

Servicing Your CorkSport Oil Catch Can for Winter

Servicing your OCC

   We at CorkSport hope all of you are staying safe, warm, and happy during this winter season.  As the weather changes, so do components in your Mazda.  Making sure to take the time to properly do some maintenance on your Mazda will go a long way. Whether you own a Mazdaspeed or an NA Mazda, I wanted to make sure and take a little bit of time for you guys to explain how to service your CorkSport oil catch can, and why that is important as the weather starts to become colder.

 

 

Why Use an Oil Catch Can

Having an oil catch can on your Mazda is always a good idea.  Over time, the engines will start to wear down allowing oil to blow by the piston rings.  Due to this, you can have oil pass back into your intake causing unwanted smoke to come out of the tailpipe.  Keeping that oil from contaminating the engine will result in a much cleaner engine over time.  

Also, having an OCC on your car is a good way to tell if you have internal engine issues, or if you have a bad PCV.  We recommend draining your catch can every oil change.  If you see a bunch of oil in your catch can, then you know, it’s time to start looking into why the can is filling up with oil.

 

 

Servicing Your Catch Can for Winter

     Making sure to catch all the nasty vapors an engine puts off is an important thing to do in regards to longevity of the engine.  However, making sure the CorkSport OCC is working properly is just as important.  The reason why this is important is that you want to make sure your oil catch can continue to filter out the nasty vapors otherwise you will dirty up your engine faster than you want.  However, it is very easy to maintain a good working oil catch can.  

Follow these couple steps below on getting that catch can back up to a new status:
  1. Remove top dipstick
  2. Remove bottom plug
  3. Spray Brakleen through dipstick hole
  4. Allow draining
  5. Repeat a couple of times to ensure your can is clean
  6. Check all rubber hoses.  Make sure none of them are cracked or look dry

 


 

Why You Should Service Your Oil Catch Can

   Even though oil/gas takes really cold temperatures to freeze, water vapors still make it into the system which most definitely can freeze.  The last thing you want is to have your oil catch can no longer able to catch the nasty vapors the engine puts off.  

 

If you have a frozen can, those will pass by the baffle and make it into the intake.  Make sure to drain that OCC, and continue to drain it every time you change your oil.  As long as you do that, there should be no problem with having your catch can freeze, or getting too dirty.  

 

Be sure to check in with us and see other tips and tricks for your Mazda.

Keep on driving Mazda fam!

Cheers,

Luke

How to Clean your EGR System

Cleaning Your EGR System

The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR for short) system present in all Mazdaspeed 3 and Mazdaspeed 6 vehicles is known to have some issues. It is present from the factory to help with NOx emissions and likes to clog, throwing a check engine light in the process. The common solution to this is to do a full EGR delete, and use an AccessPort to clear the CEL.

While likely the best solution, it is not possible for all people to do, especially if you live in an area with extensive emissions testing. If this sounds familiar, read on as I explain what the EGR system does, how to clean it, and how to ensure you will pass emissions afterward.
The EGR system does exactly what the name says; it recirculates some of the exhaust gasses back into the intake system.

Through some fancy chemistry, this reduces the total amount of NOx that comes out of your exhaust pipe. In Mazdaspeeds the system consists primarily of the EGR valve and the tube that connects the valve back to the intake manifold. Over time, the carbon present in the exhaust builds up, causing issues for the system. If the valve cannot open/close all the way or the tube gets clogged, your car will likely throw a P0401 code, for insufficient EGR flow. Aside from being another pesky CEL, a clogged system can cause rough idling, poor MPG, and slow startups.

Tools and Products Needed:

  • Degreaser/Carbon Cleaner – This will really help break up the stubborn carbon, making it easier to clean the EGR valve/tube. B-12 Chemtool works the best, but regular brake parts cleaner or other strong degreasers will work as well.
  • Picks/Scrapers – The cleaner will get the carbon softened but you will need something to scrape at it and get the pieces out.
  • Flexible Round Brush – The EGR tube can be cleaned by just soaking in the degreaser and picking out the big chunks but a round brush works even better. I used a straight brush but I think this flexible one will work better.
  • Coolant – The EGR valve has a coolant passage so you will lose most if not all of the coolant in your overflow tank. Be sure to buy OEM Mazda coolant or at least coolant with phosphate organic acids to keep your cooling system healthy.
  • Assorted Tools – You will need a regular assortment of sockets and hand tools for this job. The only irregular tools are a 22mm wrench (you can use an adjustable wrench) and some small needle nose pliers.
  • OBDII Code Reader – Okay you don’t NEED this for EGR cleaning but who doesn’t love new toys? This one is great for reading any CEL codes and seeing when you’re ready for emissions (more on that later).

Now let’s get started!

  1. Start by removing the OE battery, battery box/tray, top mount intercooler, airbox lid, and turbo inlet pipe. Getting to the EGR valve is really the hardest part of this entire process. If you’re new to your Mazdaspeed and need some help removing any of these parts, MazdaSpeed Forums has a lot of resources if you just search for them. Be very careful when removing the small vacuum line on your turbo inlet pipe. The plastic barb likes to break off, causing all sorts of headaches down the road.

  2. Locate & remove the EGR valve. It is the small aluminum piece with a round plastic top. Loosen the clamp on the black rubber hose and drain the coolant that will come out. You will lose about what is present in your overflow tank, catching it with a cup prevents a mess in your engine bay. Remove the electrical connector and the two bolts that hold the EGR valve to the engine and the whole valve will come free. Be sure to keep track of the gasket between it and the engine.            

  3. Remove the throttle body. You must first remove the two coolant lines that run to the TB. Clamp them closed to prevent any extra coolant leakage. Remove the four bolts, and the throttle body will come free. Once again keep track of the gasket.

  4. Remove the EGR tube. There are two bolts located by where the EGR valve was removed. Another gasket located here. Trace the metal tube back to the front of the engine and remove the large 22mm nut. You may need some penetrating fluid to help loosen this nut. The EGR tube then pulls out of the intake manifold.              
  5. Start cleaning by using a pick to remove some of the carbon from where you removed the EGR tube. There’s a bunch of gunk in there but it’s not easy to clean so do what you can.

  6. Spray some of your degreaser inside the EGR tube and let sit while to start loosening up the carbon buildup while you clean the EGR valve.

  7. Disassemble the EGR valve. Remove the four screws from the plastic section. The two halves should separate. These screws strip extremely easily, use care to not damage them and be sure to keep track of the gasket.
  8. You will now have access to a plunger. This is what opens and closes the EGR valve. Push it to help you clean around the valve. Use the picks, degreaser, and whatever else you need to remove as much carbon as you can. Focus especially on the areas around the valve. Ensure it has smooth operation and can fully open and close. Take your time here.          

  9. Using the round brush, degreaser, and picks, clean the EGR tube as best as you can. I found the majority of the carbon was located toward the end with the 22mm nut. Take your time, once again, you don’t want to have to redo this.

  10. Reassemble everything. Ensure you reconnect all hoses, reconnect all electrical connectors, use all gaskets, and tighten all bolts. Add coolant to your reservoir until you reach the max line.

You should now have a squeaky clean EGR system! Start up the car and check for any leaks or strange noises.

Now if you’re like me and had to clean the EGR system for emissions, you will need to complete a “drive cycle” to pass. All the sensors for the emissions system have to run tests to ensure that they are operating correctly. Since you had the battery unplugged, the sensors have basically reset and need to run all of the tests again. In most states, there is a limit to how many sensors can read “not ready” and still pass emissions. Guidelines to reset most if not all of the sensors are as follows (sourced from MSF):

  1. Before you start to be sure you have: no CELs, fuel level between 15-85%, all accessories off, cold engine.
  2. Start and idle for 5 minutes.
  3. Rev engine in neutral to 2300-2700 RPM for 15 seconds.
  4. Rev engine in neutral to 3800-4200 RPM for 15 seconds.
  5. Idle engine for 20 seconds.
  6. Accelerate to 52-55 MPH, maintain speed in 6th gear for 1.5 minutes.
  7. Decelerate to 15 MPH, drive for 13 minutes at speeds between 15 and 35 MPH.
  8. Drive at 25MPH for 50 seconds.

This order of steps activated all but one of my sensors, meaning that in Washington State I was able to pass emissions in my 2007 Mazdaspeed 6.

Hopefully, this will help out a few of you that are stuck with an EGR system. This procedure saves a few hundred dollars over replacing the valve, making that next modification happen just a little bit sooner!

If you have any additional tips or tricks be sure to share them in the comments, we’d love to hear your experiences!

 

Daniel

CorkSport Engineer