Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy - Mazda3 Forums : The #1 Mazda 3 Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-27-2011, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

I've noticed a little bit more wheel hop over nasty bumps as well as a bit of leakage recently. I assume the stock shocks are still on the car from 2004 and 89,000 miles ago, so I guess it's probably time to swap the things out for new ones.

I've been autocrossing a lot recently, and will probably continue to use the car for that purpose for quite a while. I also tend to enjoy a good, firm ride in-town especially if it means better cornering ability. I've been assuming Koni Yellow dampers are probably the way to go but it also seems like they're almost better suited to firmer-than-stock springs? I'm also looking at Koni FSD shocks but am afraid they'll feel too "soft" on the street. I know KYB is out there, as well as Tokiko and Bilstein, but can't really seem to find any good, consistent opinions on much of anything even though I'm sure this has been covered before.

Anyway, I guess the requirements (or preferred performance) would be a firmer-than-factory ride, with emphasis on better overall cornering grip. Longevity would be nice since I hate changing shocks, and I am not going to be changing the springs at the moment due to my desire to remain in H-Stock class at the moment. It's getting more and more tempting to make an ST car but I keep hearing the 3 isn't very competitive in the class, so for now, stock springs must stay to keep with the rules.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

-Eric
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-27-2011, 06:50 PM
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

I'll be going down this road pretty soon as well (06 with about 110xxx miles). I daily drive it and also race it in HS about every weekend. I'll probably be getting the Koni FSD's. I know they are competitive on the autocross course ( Jack Burns won a National Championship back in 2007 with a Mazda3 on FSD's) and they will offer a decent ride for daily driving as well. I think the stock shocks/struts feel pretty good for daily driving (not too stiff, not too soft) and the FSD's should feel about the same while offering better control on the big hits and corners.

The Koni yellows aren't a bad choice, but on our cars you can't adjust the rears without dropping the shocks which is a pain in the ass. The Bilstein Sport shocks would be a pretty good option as well, but the FSD's are proven winners on the Mazda3.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-27-2011, 09:17 PM
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

I ran the yellows on mine. Set them at full stiff and forgot about them. Haven't autocrossed the car in over a year and still haven't touched them.

When Clay McCool ran his car, he used to swap rear shocks before he would leave the event site. Once you've done it a few times, it barely added any time to changing tires.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 01:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

Someone locally suggested that the Koni Yellows could possibly be gotten to by drilling a hole and using a piece of rubber tube for a guide to the screw. I hadn't really looked too close but I think the shocks still sit a little too far outwards on the arm to get to without like... removing the interior, yes?

For the FSDs, I keep debating on them but it seems like all the local guys REALLY like the yellows. The guys who have had the FSDs say they really *feel* too mushy even if they are working how they're supposed to. It's almost tempting to try them on the rear but I'd imagine the rear is where you would want the firmer rebound to help keep some of the body roll down from the rear on initial turn-in so the car will rotate better.

It also seems to me that the rear shocks wouldn't be too difficult to pull out and adjust, but probably wouldn't be something to do in between runs at an event. Since I only get to really see how the car reacts every 3 weeks, it'd probably be quite annoying. I could probably spend a few nights driving around in a method frowned upon by law enforcement but I really don't like doing that stuff in town. It's just not safe hah.

It sounds like the yellows do OK with stock springs though anyway? Hopefully this winter I'll be shopping for a cheap Miata to really play with, but if not, the 3 may get some firmer springs and swaybars as well, and the yellows will be a better match for that setup than the FSDs if I'm reading correctly, no?

Thanks!

-Eric
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 10:51 PM
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

[quote author=rccardude04 link=topic=191361.msg4035562#msg4035562 date=1306602262]
Someone locally suggested that the Koni Yellows could possibly be gotten to by drilling a hole and using a piece of rubber tube for a guide to the screw. I hadn't really looked too close but I think the shocks still sit a little too far outwards on the arm to get to without like... removing the interior, yes?

[/quote]

Cutting a hole in the interior trim to access shock adjustments is okay. Drilling holes in metal...not okay for stock.

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92HS - 2007 Mazda 3s Sport Sedan -2006 Miata Wheel, 16x6.5, 15lb w/ Hoosier A6 245/45R16 (f) and 225/50R16 (r) MS Accessory Sport Shocks
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-29-2011, 09:22 AM
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

My yellows are internally adjustable, so an access hole is going to do nothing. Also, regardless of what JB won on, the yellows are a better performance option. Koni will tell you that.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2011, 04:59 PM
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

A question for anybody with Yellows and stock springs....

How would the day-in-day-out ride quality of the Yellows set soft compare with that of the stock struts/shocks? I ask because one of the things that I (and especially my wife!) like about the 3 is how well it rides vs. how well it handles. We are in our 50s, and she has significant lower back issues. We both like great handling, and I autocross regularly, but if I put on something that notably stiffens the ride, I will never hear the end of it.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2011, 10:54 PM
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

I set the rears at full stiff before I installed them and haven't touched them since, so I can't really comment. Your wife wouldn't like them at full stiff, though.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-04-2011, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Time to put shocks/struts on the 2004 3s Hatch ... not sure what to buy

[quote author=steverife link=topic=191361.msg4035935#msg4035935 date=1306675376]
My yellows are internally adjustable, so an access hole is going to do nothing. Also, regardless of what JB won on, the yellows are a better performance option. Koni will tell you that.
[/quote]

Hmm... Oh yeah. Forgot about the internally adjusted part.

Oh well, I'm sure setting them fairly firm will be the best option anyway. I just know softer springs require a bit softer damping and it seems like the yellows are more geared towards aftermarket lowering springs, which are typically firmer than the stock springs. I just don't want to end up with some weird damping ratio issue, but it sounds like they'll work just fine so that's what I'll go with.

Thanks!

-Eric
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