Mazda 6 2.5T Stock Spring Evaluation

Today we’re taking another dive into OEM Mazda parts to better understand how they function. Specifically, OEM suspension springs, since there are CorkSport Lowering Springs coming soon for the 2018+ Mazda 6 2.5T. While a simple concept, springs are very important to the handling, appearance, and comfort of your vehicle.

The new Mazda6 Turbo uses a lot of the same components as the GEN3 Mazda3 and Mazda6, however the suspension has been optimized for the new “premium” feel and to deal with the extra weight that comes when adding a turbo. The SkyActiv chassis has largely remained the same though, with the same MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension shown below.

Now, onto the springs themselves; both the front and rear suspension of the Mazda 6 use standard compression springs. The springs job is to support the weight of the vehicle when at rest and adsorb impacts when hitting bumps or going quickly around a corner. That’s it. Seems simple enough right? Since the springs are the parts of the suspension that “suspends” the vehicle though, their characteristics and how they interact with the rest of the suspension system are critical.

There are two main characteristics that define a spring: rate and free length. Both are pretty easy to understand. Free length is simply the length of the spring with no weight or force acting on it. So set a spring by itself on a table, measure how tall it is, there’s your free length.

Spring rate is a little more complex, as it is the measure of how much weight it takes to compress a spring a given distance. So, if you have the same weight and put it on two different springs the one with the higher rate will compress less. The rate is usually measured in kg/mm (often shortened to K) or lbs/in.

For example, if you had a 2K spring and a 4K spring and applied 100kg to each, the 2K would compress 50mm and the 4K would only compress 25mm.

What do these measures mean for your car though? If we keep the rate the same but only change free length, the shorter the spring, the lower the car. For a given car, a spring can be too short, causing poor ride (sitting on the bump stops all the time), or the risk of a spring coming out of place, causing noises or at worst, the spring falling out of the vehicle.

If we change the spring rate and leave the free length the same, things are a little more complicated. The higher the rate, the stiffer the ride is, plus your ride height will increase. Since the weight of the car is not changing, the higher rate spring will now compress less when the car sits on it, meaning your car sits higher at rest. Too large of a rate and your OEM shocks cannot keep up causing a bouncy ride, and vice-versa if too soft you are hitting bump stops over the smallest bump. Obviously there is a balancing act to get the spring rate and free length correct for the application for the best in appearance, handling, and comfort.

Now that the basics are covered, let’s look specifically at the Mazda 6 2.5T. The OEM springs give a good ride as to be expected (likely very soft spring rates) as this can be a huge issue for potential customers if the car ride quality is harsh. Handling is decent overall but has a few quirks. When going around a corner quickly, the car rolls over onto the rear springs excessively before settling, and getting through the corner. When at the limit of traction, the car understeers severely, like most cars sold today.

Finally the ride height is pretty high, likely to prevent any issue with driveways saying hello to the new front fascia. Interestingly, the MZ6T sits a little higher in the rear; we think to ensure enough suspension travel in case there’s a full load of passengers and a full trunk.

For further analysis we also had the OEM springs tested for rate and ended up with the following: 3.05K front, 5.05K rear. While these numbers are fairly arbitrary right now, they are a necessary data point to have when designing lowering springs. These rates also contradict a very common misconception. Many people think that because there is less weight in the rear of a front wheel drive car, the spring rates must be softer in the rear for a good ride & handling. This is simply not true in most cases, after all why would Mazda do the opposite? Due to the design of the rear suspension, the spring is basically being pushed on by a lever. This means the spring needs to be stiffer in order to support the same amount of weight as if the lever wasn’t there.

So overall, the OEM springs are good, but have plenty of room for improvement. I just touched the surface of suspension design and as we go through more of this project we’ll get into dampers, natural frequency, and much more. Stay tuned for more info and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask!

-Daniel @ CorkSport

Welcome to the Gen3 Mazda 3 Suspension Package

Want to upgrade your suspension system on your Gen3 Mazda3, but don’t want to deal with the headaches that come with lowering springs or coilovers?

Introducing the CorkSport Adjustable Shock/Strut Assembled Package for 2014+ Mazda 3. This truly is a complete package that includes CorkSport lowering springs, CorkSport adjustable shocks/struts, and CorkSport camber plates all assembled and ready to install.

 

 

We’ve discussed before how the CorkSport adjustable shocks and struts are a great compliment to the CorkSport lowering springs. Now we have included them together in a package with our camber plates to give a huge handling and adjustability upgrade to any Gen3.

In addition, this package comes assembled with new OE dust boots, pivot bearings, and bump stops that are even cut to proper length to match the lower ride height. Since this package comes assembled with new parts, installing it is a snap. No spring compressors needed at any point. Check out the image below to see exactly what you get in every box.

 

 

Whether you are looking to replace some worn out OE components and get a style bonus, or are looking for some and handling and adjustability for your racecar, the CorkSport Adjustable Shock/Strut Assembled Package can help you reach your goal.

Why Lowering Springs?

Everything to know about lowering your Mazda with lowering springs.

Whether you want the better handling that comes with the lowered center of gravity, or you want to rid yourself of the wheel gap eyesore.  Lowering springs will give you want you’re looking for.

For running the track, or a spirited drive through the countryside, CorkSport lowering springs are the upgrade you’ve been looking for. By adding lowering springs and lowering the center of gravity of your Mazda allows the car to stay more planted to the road.

One of the biggest things to note on stock suspension is how far upward the suspension travels when hitting a bump. It can make the car feel like it wants to lift off of the road; depending on how fast you’re taking corners. Lowering springs help to correct the car’s suspension travel when you hit a bump in a turn.

Corksport Mazda 3 racer

Lowering springs also have about 25% increased stiffness. For the Mazdaspeed platform, increased stiffness in the rear is a must. Mazdaspeeds like to squat pretty hard when hitting full boost, so any way you can manage to stiffen up the rear is a great modification for your car.

Adding lowering springs also gives your baby amazing eye appeal and a much more aggressive look. Whether you drive a Mazdaspeed3Mazdaspeed6Mazda 3, Mazda 6, CX-5, CX-3 or MX-5, lowering springs will get rid of that ugly wheel well gap. The result is a Mazda that carries a much cleaner and more aggressive look and gives you the ability to take it to the track if you want to.

Drop your Mazda for an aggressive look and better handling with the CorkSport lowering springs.

Some people want to drop their Mazda as much as possible, and some don’t. CorkSport lowering springs don’t deliver a super aggressive drop. If you’re not interested in scraping your front bumper on every road bump, the CorkSport lowering springs have the right drop for you, and provide the increased handling capabilities you’re looking for.

 

If you’re curious about other suspension pieces for your Mazdaspeed, check out our Struts and Shocks combo kits, that give you just what you need for suspension.

What’s in the Pipeline for the 2014+ Mazda3?

Here at CorkSport, we are always working toward the next new product. We create our catalog just like you build your cars. Since there’s so much in development, we thought we would give you all a glimpse into what’s coming for the 2014+ GEN3 Mazda 3.

2.5L SkyActiv-G Turbo Kit

Let’s start with the big one since you’ve all been asking for updates: the 2.5 Liter Skyactive Turbo Kit. We are still making steady progress and are more excited than ever for this Mazda3 Turbo. Our functional turbo kit prototypes are slowly starting to arrive, meaning we are inching closer and closer to having our Mazda3 test car on the dyno (with added turbo noises). Stay tuned folks; this is going to be a fun one!

2014-2016 Mazda 3/6/CX-5 Motor Mounts

 

We already showed you the new and improved CorkSport Rear Motor Mount, but there’s more to come with the CorkSport Transmission Motor Mount. Check out the CAD model above to see what we’re talking about. Keep tabs on the CS blog for more info on the design and function of this motor mount soon.

2014-2016 Mazda 3 Skid Tray

The CorkSport skid trays have been consistently requested for the Mazdaspeed models; so much, that we brought them back for both the Mazdaspeed3 and the Mazdaspeed6. Now we are providing the same benefits to Mazda3 owners. We just received and test fit our first prototype skidplate, and it’s looking very promising moving forward.

2014+ Mazda 3 Suspension Kit

Need some extra handling and style for your Mazda3 but don’t want the hassle of lowering springs? We have created a kit that includes the CorkSport lowering springs, adjustable shocks/struts, and camber plates all assembled with OE accessories and ready to install. No spring compressors needed, for ease of installation. Coming soon…

2014+ Mazda 3 Front Sway Bar

Reducing overall roll or “sway” can drastically change your Mazda’s handling characteristics. We should be receiving our first prototype to test fit on our Mazda3 any day now are excited to see how it complements the CorkSport rear sway bar. Oh, and the new front sway bar is 3-way adjustable just like our ND Miata sway bars!

2014-2016 Mazda 3 Steering Wheel

Last, but not least, our leather steering wheel will be making a comeback in the coming months. Featuring a similar profile to the CorkSport Mazdaspeed3 steering wheels, it is designed to increase confidence in both aggressive and daily driving while staying comfortable and stylish.

As you can see, we are staying busy with the newest generations of Mazda here at CorkSport, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we are focused on.

We still have plenty of upcoming products for you Mazdaspeed guys and gals, and for some platforms you may not be expecting. Keep tabs on the CS blog, Instagram and Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Until next time,

-Daniel @ CorkSport

Mazda 3 Suspension and Handling Guide

Corksport Mazda 3 racer

I want to know…who is excited for summer to begin!? The Pacific Northwest has given us a roller coaster of winter and just doesn’t seem to want to let go of the rain, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and that light comes in the form of car season.

In preparation for summer (that is welcome to show up any time now) I thought I put out a summer setup guide for all you car enthusiasts to consider. This week I’m going to start with suspension and handling, then move on to power and styling in the coming weeks. Grab a beer, take a seat and let’s get started.

Mazda 3 Modifications in a Shop
A look inside the CorkSport shop.

For the sake of helping car enthusiasts at any level of modification, let’s pretend I just bought a brand new 3rd Gen Mazda 3; a clean slate to modify and define as my own. I have had the car about a month now and love it. I’ve put it through its paces on the back roads and really appreciate what it can do in stock trim, but I’m ready for more.

Now here comes the first big decision; what do I do first? This could be highly debated and I’m sure there are many paths to success so I’m just going right to how I would proceed, but first some technical backstory.

Going through college and being a major part of the Portland State Formula SAE program, I was taught that suspension that moves is a suspension that works. Long story short, slamming the car to the ground with overly stiff coils is not the path to a compliant suspension that also performs.

There are three major aspects to your vehicle’s suspension: bump, roll stiffness, and damping. Bump (and/or squat) are mainly managed by the spring rates. Stiff springs are great for the track where you have a very smooth and consistent surface, but out on the public streets this is not the case so let’s not go crazy with the spring rates.

Next is the roll stiffness of the vehicle. This is managed by the springs and the swaybars, but ideally mostly by the swaybars. Sway control is important to keep the body roll in check while entering, apexing, and exiting a corner as well as many other vehicular maneuvers. The front and rear roll stiffness also dictates the oversteer and understeer characteristics of the vehicle so this can be a major tuning tool.

Lastly is the damping of the struts and shocks. This is the fine tuning of the springs and sway bars and also the main reason why your car does not continually oscillate up and down like a boat after hitting a bump. These are very important.

Winding Road
Ahhh, dreaming of summer fun!

First Modifications To Make

The first modification I would do is…swaybars! Here’s why. Bumping up the roll stiffness has two major benefits. First, it’s a great way to “tidy up” the body movement without adding much harshness to the ride quality so you’re not giving up much for this modification.

Second, most passenger cars are setup to understeer from the factory. There’s good reason for this as the solution to control understeer is to apply the brakes which is most people’s automatic response in an adverse situation. If you’re more experienced, then getting the car to a more balanced under/oversteer setup will be great. The vehicle will be much more alert and predictable. Side note: to me both of the benefits mentioned above also inspire more confidence while driving which is a huge bonus.

So what do you need for this? A new performance Rear Swaybar would be the first choice and I would set it on the softer setting. This will make the car more balanced while still defaulting to understeer. If you are really serious then step up to the Front Swaybar as well to really get the roll stiffness in check with the rear bar on the stiffer setting. I know, I know we don’t have a front bar out yet…soon my friends 😉

Mazda 3 swaybar
CorkSport Swaybar installed on a Mazda 3

Springs, Shocks, And Struts

The next modification I would do is a set of performance springs and shocks/struts. I really suggest doing these at the same time because that is how you are going to get the most out of them. The performance springs are going to add a bit more roll stiffness and bump/squat control while also lowering the car a bit which will help with the center of gravity. You will sacrifice some ride quality, but your car is going to feel like it’s on rails.   (Earlier I said don’t go too stiff and that holds true, most performance springs range from 10%-40% stiffer than OE which is usually still softer than a coil over setup).

Now the shocks/struts combo is important because with the higher spring rate you will need more damping to keep it under control and with the rebound adjustability you will be able to fine-tune the damping. It’s a win-win.

CorkSport Adjustable Shocks and Struts for Mazda 3
CorkSport Adjustable Shocks and Struts for Mazda 3

Now you’re probably wondering if these can be broken down and purchased separately. Yes, they can. There is no issue with purchasing the shocks/struts first as they will complement the swaybars and work fine with the OE springs. For example, the CorkSport Adjustable Shocks/Struts are designed with this in mind. The softest rebound setting basically matches OE damping, but you also have the adjustment range of up to 70% stiffer rebound to accommodate fine-tuning and stiffer performance springs. Now doing the springs first may result in some compromise.

Due to the stiffer spring rate, you will have a bit bouncier ride quality since the OE damping was not designed for the higher spring rate, but you will survive, I promise. So if you need to break it into chunks then I would start with the shocks/struts first. Do note that it’s recommended that you get rear camber arms and front camber plates with lowering springs so you can get the camber back to OE specs or to have the ability to set the camber.

CorkSport Camber Arms for Mazda 3
CorkSport Camber Arms for Mazda 3

Wheels, Tires, And Brakes

Lastly and arguably the most important handling modification is a set of tires! If you have never indulged in a set of high-performance tires then wow, you don’t know what you are missing. Tire technology has improved leaps and bounds over the last decade and because of that there are many performance all –season tires available, but a jack of all trades is a master of none. I highly suggest this tire and wheel combination.

Get yourself a set of performance wheels (I know there are at least a few brands that can be had for less than ~200/wheel and weight less than 20 lbs each) and throw some high performance or ultra high-performance tires on them for the summer. These tires are usually in the 200-300 treadwear rating and cost 2-3 hundred each depending on size. Do this NOW! I’m serious! And keep you OE wheels for some dedicated winter tires which again will blow you away with how much better they are than all-seasons.

CorkSport Big Brake Kit for Mazda 3
CorkSport Big Brake Kit for Mazda 3

Let’s wrap this up with one last suggestion if everything above isn’t enough for you. Brakes… The best way to go fast is with better brakes. There are a few options you can take here. A set of performance rotors and pads would be a great budget-friendly setup with great benefits. If you want to step it up even further than I suggest a Big Brake Kit like the one above.

Performance breaks are a great addition to any vehicle for both performance and safety. Performance wise you can dive into corners later and harder without worry. Safety wise I think it’s pretty obvious. Have you ever rear-end another vehicle and thought “if only I could have stopped five feet sooner”, well there you have it.

Alright, one last thing before we wrap this up. Now that we have a really well setup Mazda 3, go to a track day! Yes, take your daily commuter to the track one day so you can find you and your car’s limits. I can’t express this enough. First off its so much FUN! Really it’s a blast and it’s safe. Most track days like High-Performance Driving Education (HPDE) events even provide you with an instructor. This also gives you a chance to safely push the car to the limits and even past them. This provides much more confidence on the public roads and avoiding accidents.

Corksport Mazda 3 racer
#BecauseRaceCar

Alright, I’m done. I hope you enjoyed this and look forward to the next blog! I’m going for a drive!

-Barett @ CS