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

 

Collaborating with CorkSport – R&D for the Community

My name is William Dawson; for those who do not know me, I am owner/tuner at Purple Drank Tuning. In this Guest blog, I want to bring up some of the research & development I was able to contribute to with CorkSport (behind the scenes) to help bring some new performance parts to the Mazda community.

One day, many months ago, I was approached by Barett@CS to help with the tuning and development of some mystery parts CorkSport had in the works. Being who I am, I couldn’t turn down the chance to work on some new projects that could help continue to push the Mazda platform we love.  

With the pleasantries out of the way, we got down to the plan and the data.  Barett had a list of goals and how he wanted to move through the parts in testing.  The amount of data that was communicated through the first live tuning session was great. On the CorkSport in-house dyno we took their shop car to an impressive 420whp (e48 + 6 port setup) with stock manifolds, stock throttle body, and stock camshafts.

This laid the groundwork and set the stage for their product release of the CS Camshafts which gained 22whp across the curve. Along with the power increase, the camshaft upgrade also netted surprising results with turbo response.  The turbo spooled 100rpms quicker than the factory camshaft allowed. THESE ARE DROP IN RESULTS, ZERO ADJUSTMENTS! 

Mazdaspeed camshaft

Efficiency hit us with another surprise when we decided to put the CS Intake Manifold (set to re-release in early 2019) on the car and help the engine balance all of the air we have begun shoving into our test vehicle. Once again CorkSports engineering pays off with another 9whp increase and 100 rpm quicker spool up. The car lost 2-3 psi of boost which we were happy to put back in the car allowing for us to do an apples-to-apples comparison but the numbers elude me so I cannot speak to what we ended up with on that day. 

 

Mazdaspeed 3 intake manifold

 

At this point we did not know how much more we could get as the CorkSport Mazdaspeed Drop-In Turbo that was installed on the test car was producing an impressive 450whp, this did not stop us as we needed to test one more item. In comes the CS 72mm Throttle Body, this upgrade was constantly overlooked by the Mazdaspeed3 and Mazdaspeed6 community because of other attempts to get an upgraded throttle body created complications with drive by wire tables and throttle response.

Personally having a 75mm TB and not being able to enjoy the on/off throttle response and laggy part throttle was a very frustrating experience; one that even made me skeptical.  Then getting to test CorkSports product was MIND BLOWING! The test car again spooled around 100rpms sooner and throttle response was phenomenal; all with just removing 4 bolts and swapping a Throttle Body this is insanity. This team did it again, my disbelief overshadowed by pure joy that they developed a working unit and it far surpassed the factory unit in throttle response and driveability. 

 

Mazdaspeed3 72mm throttle body

 

I have known the CorkSport family for years and it does not matter what department I am working with they are always on point and pleasant to deal with regardless of the situation. Between PD and CorkSport I could not be happier to invest countless hours of hard work and R&D to allow this winning family to provide further developments and support to the Mazdaspeed 3 and Mazdaspeed 6 platforms. 

 

– Will Dawson (PD Tuning)

 

Special thanks to Will for committing his time and expertise to help CorkSport continue to grow and support the Mazdaspeed community.    – Barett @ CorkSport

Versatune Packages for Mazda MX-5 Miata

Despite not being the ideal season to pull the top down, we have been busy giving the CorkSport ND Miata some love.  Unfortunately this love does not come in the form of another CorkSport Performance part, but instead better takes advantage of your CorkSport Performance parts thanks to the Versatuner Tuning Solution.  

With that, we are proud to announce our partnership with Versatuner and the ability to provide to all models supported by Versatuner.

Mazda MX-5 in Shop

Back to the 2016+ Mazda MX-5; working with the Versatuner Tuning Solution we setup pre-calibrated tunes that are designed to work with the CorkSport Performance Cold Air Intake System, Cat-Back Exhaust System, and the combination of the two.  

Mazda MX-5 Power Pack Dynograph

Jumping right to Power Pack 3, that combines the CorkSport Cold Air Intake and Cat-Back Exhaust; you see a power increase of 9 wTQ and 13 wHP using 92 octane fuel.  These aren’t just peak gains either, power/torque increases from 3000rpm up to redline which has been increased to 7400rpm.  If you are not ready to pull the trigger on the CorkSport CAI and CBE together, then check out Power Pack 1 and Power Pack 2.  

Power Pack 1 offers a combination of the CorkSport MX5 Cold Air Intake and Versatuner Tuning Solution with a pre-calibrated tune.

Mazda MX-5 Under the Hood

Power Pack 2 offers a combination of the CorkSport Mx-5 Cat-Back Exhaust and Versatuner Tuning Solution with a pre-calibrated tune.

Mazda MX-5 Exhaust Installed

What’s great about the Versatuner Tuning Solution is its flexibility to provide data logging, tune editing and diagnostics troubleshooting with any installed parts and any fuel type.  The CorkSport pre-calibrated tunes are designed for 92 octane fuel, so we do recommend having a custom tune performed for your MX-5 if 91 octane is the highest grade fuel available in your area.  Those of you with 93 octane fuel need not worry, but there could be more to ring out of your little 2.0L Sky-G with custom tuning.

Lastly, you might be wondering why the Power Packs have any significance to you? Well along with power, aesthetics, and glorious noises, we are able to cut you deal when you get the combination of CorkSport Performance parts and Versatuner Tuning Solution.  We’re here to make modifying your Miata easy and fun.

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Performance.

-Barett @ CS

Preparing your Mazdaspeed for Tuning

Preparing Your Mazdaspeed For Tuning

CorkSport was just hit with snow again today…boy are we ready for winter to be OVER!

Are you ready? What do you have left to get ready before the weather breaks, and racing starts? 

Winter months exist so us Mazda people can spend all of our hard earned money to make our Mazdaspeed’s faster. It all starts with an AccessPort, and CorkSport Fuel Pump Internals.  Before you know it, your Mazdaspeed is now fully bolted with an upgraded CorkSport Turbo.  

People sometimes seem to forget that quality of your tune is just as important as the quality of your parts.  So how do you get a solid tune on your car?

CorkSport wanted to make sure to lay out exactly how to prepare your Mazdaspeed for tuning services.  This helps streamline getting your Mazdaspeed ready, and it also helps your potential tuner so they don’t have to worry about tuning with a potential mechanical problem.

Cobb AccessPort

The very first step in getting your Mazdaspeed tuned would be to get the Cobb AccessPort tuning device.  This is the gateway to access your ECU and to make adjustments to your tune. You will use your AccessPort to record logs and send those logs to your tuner.  Not only can you make adjustments to your ECU, but you can also read/clear CEL’s ( check engine lights), and you can also monitor up to six different parameters in real time.  

When you do apply for a tune, your tuner will tell you which parameters to monitor so they can have the correct information to get you a reliable tune.

CorkSport Fuel Pump Internals

The stock high-pressure fuel pump internals has proven to randomly lose pressure during a fourth gear wide open throttle pull.  What we have seen is the pump spike pressure up in the 1800’s, and by redline, the fuel pressure has dropped below 1600psi. This creates lean situations which have lead to engines grenading themselves.  Before a tuner will touch your car, you will have to make sure to have these upgraded. These will increase flow and allow your fuel pressure to stay above 1600psi keeping you in the safe zone.

Spark Plugs

Double check what your tuner will want you to use, but in general, people will use one step colder plugs gapped down to a .026.  The trusted spark plug in this platform would be the NGK Iridium IX plugs (part # 6510). The idea behind using a more quality plug with a smaller gap is to keep the spark from blowing out when you increase boost pressure.  If you do have too large of a gap, then you will start to misfire, and you should get a code on your AccessPort for either random misfire, or cylinder specific. Keeping that spark in check will prevent delays in the tuning process.

Compression Test

Making sure to double check the engine health is probably one of the most important things to do before modding and tuning your Mazdaspeed.  Doing a quick compression test to make sure your cylinder rings can still hold pressure will tell you if the engine is healthy or not. Ideally, you want to see all of your cylinders read approximately the same numbers.  

You also do not want to see your compression go below 140 across the board. Mazda says that anything 140 or below is poor compression. If you end up having an unhealthy engine, then the car will not make the desired power, and you could potentially ruin your engine even further.  Make sure to check out our misfire blog where we show you how to properly boost leak test your car!

Boost Leak Test

Every tuner is going to be targeting a certain boost pressure based upon current modifications.  A lot of times the turbo has to work harder because of a few boost leaks that are not closed off before tuning.  This can affect your fuel trims, and it will also affect how much wastegate duty cycle is needed in order to reach desired boost targets.  Having zero boost leaks is important so your tuner does not have to work around those leaks.

Ghost Knock

A big question we always see in the forums, and on Facebook would be people wondering why their AccessPort shows knock values.  The most important thing to remember is part throttle knock is nothing to worry about. My own Mazdaspeed see’s values of 8.0 all the time on part throttle.  The only time to worry about knock values is when you are at wide-open throttle. As long as your knock values stay below 2.0 then that is nothing to worry about.

Doing these few simple things for your tuner will not only save time for both of you, but your tuner will love you because they don’t have to try and diagnose an issue from thousands of miles away.  CorkSport hopes this really helps the community as a whole, and we also hope that people can use this as a tool to get their car dialed in much faster.

Stay happy, and stay fast CorkSport family!

-Luke

 

CorkSport Versatune

We are excited to announce a powerful and unique release to the CorkSport Product catalog.

Starting off 2018 with a bang; CorkSport is now an official distributor and reseller of Versatune Tuning Software.

If you are unfamiliar with what Versatune is, then have a quick read and check out what it is, how it works, some of the unique features, and why you should consider purchasing it for your daily driven or high-performance Mazda.

Versatune is a powerful engine tuning solution featuring a modern and easy to use interface. With just a simple few mouse clicks, you can unlock the full potential of your Mazda using the intuitive wizard guided install and ECU flashing process.

Versatune software makes engine calibrations as easy as 1, 2, and 3. Backed by an online tune database that provides easy access to free pre-built tunes for typical configurations of performance parts VT makes it easy to get power from recent upgrades on your car. Installing of the pre-built tunes are as simple as selecting the desired tune from the online tune database and following the flashing wizard. No tuning skills or extensive knowledge is required.

If custom tuning is more your style or you need to get into the finer details of calibration maps, then the Versatune software will work for you as well. VT software also includes a powerful tune editor that exposes the critical performance and drivability related tables in the ECU. You can custom tune your car to accommodate your specific modifications and tuning goals. 3D visualizations, table descriptions, and data manipulation tools help speed up the custom tuning process.

The best part is even if you are requiring a custom tune but don’t feel comfortable performing it yourself, Versatune has a growing network of professional tuners and e-tuners that can provide custom tuning services to help you meet your specific needs.

Over the past few months, CorkSport has had the opportunity to work closely with Versatune to further develop and grow the support for several vehicles in the Mazda lineup. Including but not limited to the 3rd gen Mazda 3, 2nd gen RX-8, and the new 4th gen ND chassis Miata.

With each of these Mazdas, we have spent countless hours on the dyno, street, and race track to fine tune calibrations and settings in this easy to use software. Each Mazda has shown consistent and reliable gains across the rev range all while still retaining OEM like drivability.

We are working on packages with the CorkSport parts you love, a custom tune to make the most of them, and a bit of a discount to get you rolling.

You can expect to see a few packages for 2016+ Mx5 in the next few weeks.