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Discussion Starter #21
bahahaha that is awesome
Could always get Redline Leather Goods to brew you up some pieces. Think I paid just over $130 shipped for shift boot, e brake boot, and padded armrest cover. All black leather with purple stitching to match my car's exterior.
Yeah, I've heard only good things about Redline so if for some reason my sister can't make it then I'll definitely get some stuff from them. I told her I wanted it to look like this one:

Which is from this thread http://www.mazda3forums.com/showthread.php?t=338297

Also noticed that my steering wheel isn't straight anymore after installing the front sway bar, so I'll have to loosen the subframe bolts and take more care to tighten them evenly.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Also noticed that my steering wheel isn't straight anymore after installing the front sway bar, so I'll have to loosen the subframe bolts and take more care to tighten them evenly.
This didn't do anything. I ended up taking it to a shop for an alignment (and it was definitely off), but they didn't have to recenter the subframe. However, I kind of wished I had done the alignment myself, like I did after I installed my suspension. I used the string method and didn't have any pulling or uneven tire wear after 5 months, but for some reason was questioning my abilities.

I'm going on a little trip by airplane, so I filled my passenger and rear motor mounts with 3M Windo-weld.


They are reinstalled now and will have plenty of time to cure before I get back.

Since I want to keep this car into high mileage, I'm looking into water temp and oil pressure monitoring. Ideally, they would both be on the same analog gauge, and mounted in the driver's side air vent. Aeroforce Interceptor looks pretty cool, as it can display water temp from the OBDII and have oil pressure added, while displaying both simultaneously, but it is a digital readout.

Anyone have ideas for gauges?
 

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Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
Well, thanks to the Windo-weld in my motor mounts, I experienced better shifting, throttle response and the benefits typically reported thanks to less engine movement. The idea here was to find some middle ground between the ultra-stiff aftermarket and soft OEM mounts to achieve those benefits with minimal vibrations.

But a lot of vibrations were added. My wife noticed as soon as I started the car, though they weren't nearly as bad as when I had a Street Unit 62 durometer RMM. Few vibrations went away after two weeks of driving. The unfortunate part is that the resonance is only noticeable at a narrow range of engine speeds, except it's the idle range when the a/c compressor is running, and therefore quite tiresome when sitting at a red light.

I prefer not to drive like this, so first I swapped in my spare, OE PMM to verify that it wasn't the RMM causing the vibrations (since I filled both with Windo-weld). Then I experimented with removing (read: struggled to drill and pry out) some Windo-weld from the PMM. It looked messy, so I didn't take a picture, but the highlighted sections in the photo below show where material was removed.


Then I filled those cavities with black caulk (comparatively much softer than Windo-weld, and that I've found in the past to cause no noticeable changes to RMMs) to smooth out the jagged edges.

There are now fewer vibrations, and I suppose that shifting is better than with unfilled mounts, but it's hard to say for say for sure. Overall, I think I kind of prefer an unfilled PMM.

TL;DR Through filling motor mount cavities with Windo-weld and previous experience with a SU 62A RMM, I'm concluding that it is difficult get significant benefits in shifting, etc from stiffer motor mounts without adding significant vibrations primarily at idle with the a/c running.


Continued rambling:
This was the first car that I bought myself (previously drove my mom's old minivan), so I see it as a way to "experiment" for the future. I have a good idea now of the kind of modifications I like and don't like. Basically, everything has to look, feel and sound OEM or better. I like the way my aftermarket suspension feels, but if I did it again I would get as many Mazdaspeed accessories or OEM MS3 parts as possible, even though they can be more expensive. I think OEM Mazda wheels from a better or newer car almost always look better than aftermarket. I definitely won't be ripping apart any more gauge clusters, either.
 

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This didn't do anything. I ended up taking it to a shop for an alignment (and it was definitely off), but they didn't have to recenter the subframe. However, I kind of wished I had done the alignment myself, like I did after I installed my suspension. I used the string method and didn't have any pulling or uneven tire wear after 5 months, but for some reason was questioning my abilities.

I'm going on a little trip by airplane, so I filled my passenger and rear motor mounts with 3M Windo-weld.


They are reinstalled now and will have plenty of time to cure before I get back.

Since I want to keep this car into high mileage, I'm looking into water temp and oil pressure monitoring. Ideally, they would both be on the same analog gauge, and mounted in the driver's side air vent. Aeroforce Interceptor looks pretty cool, as it can display water temp from the OBDII and have oil pressure added, while displaying both simultaneously, but it is a digital readout.

Anyone have ideas for gauges?
Dashhawk or get a Bluetooth obd2 reader and the torque app. (Digital)

No idea if they even make analog gauges that fit your description...
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Damn, my tachometer LEDs are out.


This happened a few years ago. Most likely one of the LEDs that I soldered is no longer making good contact, so they all went out because they are in series.

Part of me wants to get a cluster off ebay (a cool one from an S-model with white needles) and swap my odometer onto the new cluster. To my knowledge, no one has tried this, though Commie reported successfully removing removing (de-soldering) the odometer to change the color of the LED backlighting.

The risk is that I could screw up and ruin the odometer, which stores the mileage and communicates with the ECU to allow the engine to start, and have to have my car towed to a dealer to reprogram a new cluster. But on the other hand I want to fix this problem permanently and not have to take apart the instrument cluster every few years.
 

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Damn, my tachometer LEDs are out.


This happened a few years ago. Most likely one of the LEDs that I soldered is no longer making good contact, so they all went out because they are in series.

Part of me wants to get a cluster off ebay (a cool one from an S-model with white needles) and swap my odometer onto the new cluster. To my knowledge, no one has tried this, though Commie reported successfully removing removing (de-soldering) the odometer to change the color of the LED backlighting.

The risk is that I could screw up and ruin the odometer, which stores the mileage and communicates with the ECU to allow the engine to start, and have to have my car towed to a dealer to reprogram a new cluster. But on the other hand I want to fix this problem permanently and not have to take apart the instrument cluster every few years.
My friend tried to do this. He bought a gt cluster (canadian version of S) and found out that the ECU had to be reprogrammed or something and the mileage would have to be changed. He worked at a dealership at the time and they still couldn't do it. (Well not sure if it was more couldn't or wouldnt).
Either way... probably not worth it, even though it does look much nicer.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
My friend tried to do this. He bought a gt cluster (canadian version of S) and found out that the ECU had to be reprogrammed or something and the mileage would have to be changed. He worked at a dealership at the time and they still couldn't do it. (Well not sure if it was more couldn't or wouldnt).
Either way... probably not worth it, even though it does look much nicer.
Thanks for the input. Did he try switching over the odometer screen, as in de-soldering the part circled below from his original cluster and re-soldering it onto the new one? I can't see a reason that this wouldn't work. As I understand it, the information stored in the odometer on the cluster has to match the information in the ECU, otherwise the engine won't start. Or like you said the new cluster could be reprogrammed by a Mazda dealer, but then the displayed mileage would be incorrect.
 

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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
Well, the tachometer LEDs were working most of the time, except when my car had been sitting in the sun for a while. I took apart the cluster today to check the solder joints and ended up replacing and LED, hoping for the best.

To access the circuit board, you have to take the needles off of the pins, except this time the pins came out with the needles. Now the tachometer needle is acting strange. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJnP8fd5rMQ&feature=youtu.be


I don't know if there is a solution. I'm really angry at myself for attempting this project. I want to try getting a cluster off from a junkyard with slightly higher miles, and taking it to the dealer for reprogramming as my car approaches the mileage of the new cluster, so that the displayed mileage is correct (95% sure this is possible).
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
Ok, the gauge cluster needle behavior is driving me crazy, to the point that I can't live with it. Sometimes the coolant temp needle will be way off for a trip, and then go back to normal after I shut the engine off and turn it back on again. The tachometer needle is a little "jumpy," as in not moving smoothly as the engine speed changes.

The easiest solution would be to get a cluster off eBay with slightly higher miles and get it programmed by the dealer, except the dealers that I called aren't even sure if this is possible because the VIN is "burned into" the cluster.

However, in this thread the dealers contacted by Drummr said that a used cluster can be reprogrammed to be installed in his car, except that the odometer will be reset to zero.

Both of these are in contrast to this thread, where TuckerE36 reportedly installed a used cluster, and the odometer of this cluster simply continued counting where it left off, and he eventually got a friend at a Toyota dealership to correct the odometer.

Another solution is in this thread on 24-7, where they swapped the flash memory chip that stores the ECU info from the old cluster to the new (or used?) cluster. I'd consider trying this, except that this was a 2nd gen car, and I don't know how to determine which chip on my cluster would need to be swapped, or if it is only one chip.

Furthermore, the service manual (2007, so it should probably also apply to my 08), states that the odometer can be reprogrammed as long as it is below 100 km (assuming 63 miles for US cars).


If it were guaranteed that my odometer would be correct if I bought a new cluster, I'd be willing to eat the cost. The lowest price I saw for the cluster was $338 from Online Mazda Parts, plus 2 hrs labor at the dealer. But having the odometer reset to zero is unacceptable, as it may lower the value of my car and irritate me probably every time I looked at it, as a reminder of my mistakes. I can't say that I haven't thought of buying a different car, but that would be my last resort.

Edit: one more idea. Buy a used cluster, and transfer the needle mechanism over to my circuit board. Here is a how-to on a VW. I also came across this video on how to use solder braid, and I think they are removing the needle mechanism from an instrument cluster:
Here is a picture of my circuit board, where I believe the solder points circled in orange connect the needles to the circuit board.

I hope someone has some input that can help me make a good decision.
 

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Nope, you're in way over my head. Electrons are voodoo, and I keep my soldering to wires that my fat fingers can deal with. Soldering on a board gives me the jitters.
 

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I got in over my head by doing this project. I'm optimistic about the possibility of switching out the needle motors, though.
If youre hands are steadier than mine, what do you have to lose?
 

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Discussion Starter #36
I was able to swap the gauge needle motors from a used cluster into my cluster. They work perfectly now and I did a write-up in the 04-09 electronics section.

My original plan with this project (started 3-4 years ago, lol) was to do a blue and white color theme for all the interior lighting, but I never was able to change the odometer LCD or steering wheel lights, so they remained red/orange. Therefore, I decided to embrace the red/blue theme. This entailed using the stock needles from the spare cluster (mine were previously white), and I also swapped in the stock radio LCD, since it bothered me that my red odometer LCD didn't match the radio LCD I had modified to be blue.

Previous



Current

Unfortunately there is a little bit of light "leaking" from under the speedo needle because I didn't push it on quite far enough. In any case, I LOVE watching the orange needles twirl on the blue background, and I'll be happy if I never have to take apart my gauge cluster again.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Been taking care of misc maintenance.

MAF sensor was filthy.

Engine bay was filthy.


Also had a creaking from the front right suspension bothering me for months now. Convinced that it was the strut mount, I replaced it (Moog). I bought a big orange hammer, which allowed me to get the steering knuckle off in an order of magnitude less whacks than the normal hammer used last time.

Here is how I oriented the strut mount, the same way as when I replaced the other mount, which hasn't had any problems in 9 months, but someone please tell me if it is wrong.

Unfortunately, the creak remains :huh:

Next months projects are centered around instrumentation. I plan to get an OBDII scan gauge, and possibly an oil pressure gauge. I will soon summarize my research and needs in the next post before making any purchases, since I know many forum members have experience in this area.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Getting my thoughts organized regarding more detailed monitoring of various engine parameters, especially oil pressure, coolant temperature, and instantaneous mpg.

Since there are so many parameters that can be read with an OBDII scangauge, there is a very good chance that I will get an Ultra-Gauge, as it is good value, and I've seen some creative mounting solutions despite the design flaws of the cord coming out of the side, and the buttons being on the back. Here are two:
http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/general-discussion/154253-indash-mount-ultra-gauge.html
http://www.ultra-gauge.com/UltraGauge_Forum/index.php?topic=908.0 (need UG forum account to view the photos)

Aside from pure curiosity, I think that monitoring these parameters will help diagnose problems more easily, especially if I get a baseline now while my car is healthy. Additionally, the Ultra-Gauge can read and clear check engine lights.

However, oil pressure readings are not transmitted through the OBDII, so that would necessitate another gauge. I'm on the fence for the following reasons:

  • how useful is it really to monitor oil pressure, since I don't race my car
  • what is the risk of the sandwich plate adapter failing/leaking, or the guy changing my oil messing it up
I'm also not sure if I would prefer a digital or analog gauge. There are many products available, here are the ones that I'm considering:

a) Aeroforce Interceptor: I want to like this more, as it is made in USA and can read data from the OBDII, view and clear trouble codes, as well as having two analog inputs for things like oil pressure, temperature, etc. But I'm having a hard time getting over the combination of price, screen size and only displaying two parameters at a time, instead of up to 8 like the Ultra-gauge. However, having one gauge to do everything would make for easier, seamless integration into the dash.

b) and c) are VEI gauges, also made in USA. These are at the higher end of my price range, but I like that the single gauges have digital and analog representation, and that the dual gauge (can be essentially any combination) has a big screen.

d) is Intellitronix, which is a simple digital display of one parameter and are priced low. Made in USA.

e) and f) are Speedhut, which offers really cool customization of gauge backlighting, face, needle color, font, etc, so it could be customized to go with my modified gauge cluster. They also offer dual analog gauges, but only in 3 3/8" or larger size, which might be too big. Reasonably priced and made in USA.

g) and h) are Prosport, who I've read doesn't have a great reputation for quality. Digital and analog display at reasonable prices, though I'm not sure that I like the aesthetics.

i) is Depo Racing makes digital/analog gauges. They claim to be Defi quality at Prosport prices.

After typing this, I think my top choices are just Ultra-gauge, or Ultra-gauge + Speedhut, or just Aeroforce, partially depending on whether or not I decide that an oil pressure gauge is really worth it. If I get the Aeroforce, I can wait to decide whether or not to add oil pressure, but it is the most expensive option regardless. The question I'm struggling with is whether or not oil pressure is truly valuable to monitor.
 

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Vinyl over steering wheel emblem:

Top left: Flaking chrome, the reason that I'm doing this.
Top right: First attempt. Definitely not my taste but they included it for free so I used it as practice.
Bottom left: What it looked like after I removed the first vinyl.
Bottom right: Second attempt. Guess I didn't get enough practice.



The third attempt turned out well, but I'm not sure how much I like the gloss black yet.


The first two vinyls were from Vvivid Vinyl, and the black is 3M, which is thinner and easier to work with.
Did you just place a layer over the steering wheel and then cut, or was it pre-cut?
 
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