In the previous entry to this series, I touched on making sure to do your research before buying parts. So hopefully you have done your due diligence and have your notebook and pen ready, because in this section, you are going to need them. First thing we are going to do is ascertain the current state of the car and start the process for getting it ready for modification.
Now that you have an idea of what you would like to do with your car and all your research, the next step before you begin to bolt on that shiny new part is to make sure your car is currently in its best stock condition. I like to call this condition Stage Zero. Some of the aftermarket parts companies like to sell packages of parts in stages (i.e., Stage 1, Stage 2, etc), so I decided that the stock form of the car should be considered Stage Zero, before any parts are added. At this point you want the car to be in the best state of stock tune that it can be. I usually make a checklist of things to follow such as:
- Oil change. Replace the oil filter as well.
- Check transmission and differential fluid. Replace if needed.
- Check the radiator. If it is leaking, replace. If low on fluid, top it off.
- Check radiator hoses. If any feel soft or look damaged, replace them.
- Check the intercooler couplers. If they look dry and cracked, replace them, as they will leak under boost when they swell and it will be a very hard boost leak to track down. If the clamps seem like they are not tightening properly replace them.
- Check the spark plugs, the spark plug gap (they will widen after a time) and the spark plug wires. If they plugs have high mileage on them, replace them. Same if the wires have any cracks in them.
- Check for any leaks and fix them. The motor is going to be under boost and you want it to be sealed as best as it can to lessen the chance for boost leaks.
- Fix any check engine lights.
- Fix any needed repairs.
This step is going to be the least glamorous, but it is very important. Making sure the car is in a great state of tune in stock form is going to make the eventual troubleshooting that comes later easier, because you know before you started that the car had zero problems. It can be very frustrating when you encounter an issue with an upgrade only to find out it was a lingering problem that wasn’t addressed before that is the culprit. Also, this step will help you become familiar with the location of parts under the hood, before you start adding bolt-ons.
Now that you have the car in a good state of tune, you can begin the modification process. The two aftermarket components I am going to talk about are very important, even required. There is a very valid reason why everyone I talked to while doing my research unanimously agreed these should be the first purchases.
I can not say this enough, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ADD ANY BOLT-ON ENGINE PARTS WITHOUT HAVING THESE INSTALLED FIRST.
High Pressure Fuel Pump Internals
Adding a set of High Pressure Fuel Pump internals to your MZR-DISI powered car is a MANDATORY modification. The stock internals will NOT support any bolt-on modifications (Gen 1 Mazdaspeed 3’s can get away with an intake), and will cause a lean situation under WOT (wide open throttle) that will cause catastrophic engine failure, otherwise knows as the ZZB’s (Zoom-Zoom Boom). Since it is a key component in any build, I always recommend that HPFP internals is the first modification that gets added. It isn’t a part that you can show off, but you will be able to rest assured that your car’s fueling needs will be handled adequately.
Edge Autosport has a really good blog that explains this in more detail, I will link it here: https://blog.edgeautosport.com/hpfp-internals-upgrade-for-your-mazdaspeed-3-and-6
HPFP internals can be had from various manufacturers; Cobb, Autotech, and Corksport are the examples that get named often, with prices ranging from $349.99 – $399.99. New pumps with upgraded internals can be had as well, but with prices pushing past $750.00 for one, I would suggest buying a kit and having it installed if you aren’t confident in your wrench skills just yet.
The next item on the list that I would consider to be a required modification is a Cobb Accessport. This device is a must have for tuning the DISI platform because it gives the ability to load custom tunes into the car’s ECU, which will help you unlock the full potential of all those parts you will be adding. The Accessport will also give you access to features like two-step, launch control, and flat foot shifting, as well as the ability to monitor up to 6 sensors and data-logging.
There are other tuning software solutions available for the DISI platform, but I like the Accessport because it is supported by a number of e-tuners such as Cobb, Freektune, Purple Drank Tuning, Tuning by Nishan, and Stratified. Those tuners have lots of experience tuning with the Accessport software and the DISI platform, giving you multiple options to get your car dialed in the way you want.
The V3 (current version of the Accessport) generally runs around $650.00, and can be ordered direct from Cobb or from Cobb authorized resellers.
Once you have the HPFP installed and have the Accessport so you can monitor what your engine is doing, what can you do next? Now that your engine is going to get adequate fueling from the new HPFP internals, you can start picking and choosing what modifications you want to do next! You can add an intake, change the intercooler, add a downpipe, whatever floats your boat.