We had a rare free day this weekend, usually they’re filled up with softball, baseball and/or soccer games. I took the free day to do some car maintenance. I’m in desperate need of new shocks and struts, already ate through one set of tires. Saturday I replaced the rear shocks. It took me 4 hours, taking pictures and reading instructions that came with the parts.

It’s pretty difficult finding parts for the Mazdaspeed version of the Mazda 3, it’s either OEM parts from the Mazda dealer which is clearly $$$, or it’s some performance parts. I was trying to balance price with performance, so I ended up with the Corksport adjustable shocks and struts. They are the cheapest yet still offer some level of performance. I really wanted to get the spring combo but that was another $200.

 

Why not take it to a shop? Well the last 2 quotes I got were about $250+ in labor for the rear shocks. That’s too rich for my blood especially for removing 4 bolts. Here’s a high level description of what I had to do, see the Corksport site for detailed instructions and be sure to checkout the Mazdaspeed forums for advice as well.

  1. Raise vehicle onto jack stands, since you’ll need the jack for a later step IMG_0691
  2. Use the floor jack on the lower control arm to compress the rear spring, and to alleviate pressure on the shocks.IMG_0701
  3. Use a 17mm socket to remove the lower bolt of shock  IMG_0693
  4. Use a 12mm deep socket to remove the two nuts holding the top mount in place.IMG_0697
  5. Now you need to manually compress the shock to allow it to clear the lower bracket in order to be removed from the vehicle.
  6. Once removed, used a 13mm socket to remove the nut holding the aluminum mount to the shock. I had to use a pair of vise grips to hold the shock bolt from moving while removing the nut. The stock bump stops were shot.IMG_0704

That is the standard removal steps. Now the rest are Corksport specific. For the Corksport shocks you only need to keep the aluminum mount.

  1. Retain the stock aluminum mounts, remove the stock bump stops (they’re probably trash anyway), and the stock dust cover.
  2. Place the aluminum mount onto the Corksport shock. You will notice there isn’t much bolt that comes through the mount. This took me a while to figure out. Press the mount down onto the shock, you might have to compress the shock, then put the nut on the bolt and start turning until it latches. This took a bit of pressure and patience. Tighten the nut to 18 lb-ft of torque.
  3. The bump stops pre-installed on the Corksport shocks will compress to allow you to properly torque down the nut and install the mount.

At this point the old shocks will have been removed, the new ones have the mounts installed, and you are ready to install the new ones on the vechicle.

  1. Manually compress the shocks so you can get the shocks into the wheel well.
  2. Insert the top mount onto the 2 mounting bolts.
  3. Align the bottom to the lower bracket. You have 2 options here.
    1. Let the bottom go through the bracket to be compressed by hand later
    2. Keep the shock compressed while you insert the 17mm bolt to hold the bottom of the shock in place.IMG_0702
  4. Install the 12mm nuts on the top mounting bolts. Torque them down to 18 lb-ft.
  5. Now install the 17mm bolt on the bottom and torque it down to 50 lb-ft.
  6. Lower the floor jack to relieve the pressure on the spring.
  7. Re-install the tire and you’re DONE! IMG_0699 IMG_0698
  8. Repeat for the other side.

Now I need to replace the front struts. Those are not as trivial since they involve compressing the springs on the strut, and lot’s of penetrating oil. We’ll see if $250+ is worth it for the front or if I feel inspired to do this myself.

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