My Car Current Work Completed: In The Future (In Somewhat Order of Importance):
  • Transmission Mount
  • Driver's Side Motor Mount
  • Performance Brake Pads
  • Front Sway Bar
  • Accessport
  • Short Ram Intake
  • Turbo Inlet Pipe

James Barone Racing Rear Motor Mount: 25,000 Mile Update

I can’t believe it’s already been almost three years. I’ve now driven a total of 25,000 miles on the James Barone Racing rear motor mount, so I thought this was a good time for an update.

** You can view the original install and review post here. **

I’m still happy with the mount, but there has definitely been a degradation in the mount’s firmness. Minor wheelhop has returned, and front end traction,  especially under acceleration, has decreased. In addition, shifting is less precise. A positive effect of the mount’s reduced stiffness has been a reduction of NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) inside the cabin.

I would still highly recommend this mount to anyone interested in improving the firmness of their Mazdaspeed 3’s drive line and preciseness of the shifter. Even with firmness degradation over time, the James Barone Racing rear motor mount still performs far better than the stock unit!

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Corner-Balance and Alignment at Evasive Motorsports in Sante Fe Springs, CA

My experience last month with M-Star Automotive made me absolutely miserable, and hesitant to actually bring my Mazdaspeed3 in to get the alignment fixed. Knowing that the shitty alignment I got at M-Star was wearing on my brand new tires finally motivated me to go get another alignment. Again, after some research and looking around, I decided to give Evasive Motorsports in Sante Fe Springs a shot.

I’m so glad I did! To call this place an auto shop really isn’t fair. It just doesn’t do their expertise justice. Everyone I spoke with was knowledgeable and professional, and the services they offer far exceed those of a standard shop.

I set up an appointment for a corner-balance, an alignment, and an oil change. When I came in for my appointment they were ready for me on time. They performed the corner-balancing and alignment with me in the car, and the tech who did the work was extremely meticulous. The work really shined when I got my car back and drove it home. I’ve never had a better alignment in my life, and I will be bringing all my cars here in the future.

The price was very reasonable as well. The corner-balancing and alignment together were $245, and the oil change was $80, including 6 quarts of Motul and a filter.

For the alignment I brought my own numbers for them to work with and they got really close! I’ve included copies below so you can see the numbers for yourselves.

Mazdaspeed3 Corner-Balance Numbers

Mazdaspeed3 Alignment Numbers


Auto Shop Horror Story at M-Star Automotive in La Puente, CA

This post is long overdue. I needed to get my Mazdaspeed3 corner-balanced and aligned last month after I installed the coilovers so I asked around if anyone knew a local place that I could trust. A friend of mine referred me to a place called M-Star Automotive in La Puente, which is only about 5 minutes from my house. My experience with M-Star ended up being awful. Disastrous. Utterly Miserable.

I didn’t write this post for so long because I was just too pissed to think about it. Having gone to another shop yesterday and getting my corner balancing done and alignment fixed I’m finally over it. Kinda.

To get some justice for the terrible way I was treated I wrote them a nice review on Yelp! I’ve included it here for you all to read (And because I’m too lazy to rewrite the whole experience!). WARNING! INCOMING WALL OF TEXT! Enjoy!

I brought my car here last week after installing some aftermarket suspension parts and new wheels. I needed a performance alignment (you give them specific alignment numbers instead of them just getting your alignment within a range provided by your car’s manufacturer), corner balancing, and ride height adjustment.

I called around to some friends to see who locally could do this work and I was referred to Mac at Mstar. I called Mstar and told them what I needed done and they told me they could do everything I asked. I brought my car down there and the guys at the front reassured me that they had the knowledge, equipment, and experience to complete the work. We agreed to an estimate and they took the car around back. This is when things started to go downhill.

Once they had my car in back a tech came up front to tell me that they actually don’t do corner balancing. I told him the guys up front said that they did and he replied (their own lead tech) that the guys at the front desk are all yes-men and don’t know anything about cars. I said skip the corner balancing and continue the work. After waiting in the waiting room for 3 hours somebody finally came out to tell me that my car wouldn’t be ready until the next day.

I wait until late afternoon the next day and when I don’t hear from them I give them a call. The guy who answers tells me that my car has been ready for a while, just no one bothered to call me. When I get there we go over the alignment numbers and they are WAY off the numbers they told me they could achieve, and the numbers weren’t even equal left to right.

Now this is understandable for a standard alignment, but this isn’t what they told me they could deliver. They promised a precise alignment. Turns out they don’t have the equipment or personnel for such a job. Then I measure my ride height and it is off by over 1/4″ left to right. Instead of getting into what I know was a losing argument with these guys I decided to pay my bill and leave ready to give them a 3 star review.

OZ Superturismo LM ScratchedToo bad for me, things got worse. Five days later (today) I was installing wheel locks and noticed that every single lug hole on every single wheel had paint stripped out of it, and two bolts in my suspension were completely loose. When I took my car to Mstar these wheels were brand new with less than 5 miles on them. Turns out their tech has used the wrong socket to remove the lug nuts.

I went in to complain and spoke with Mac. He told me flat out that because it had been five days I couldn’t prove that his employees had caused the damage. He knew damn well that they had (his tech admitted as much to my face), but all he cared about was whether or not I could prove it. No integrity at this shop.

tl;dr If you know nothing about cars, and are happy as long as your car isn’t falling apart or making obnoxious noises you’ll probably be happy here. The seats in the waiting room are soft. But if you love your car and everything about it, and you expect to the person working on your car to be honest and to treat your car with the same respect they would give their own car, don’t come here.

Bastards.


James Barone Racing Rear Motor Mount Install and Review

I ordered my James Barone Racing rear motor mount on Monday and it arrived yesterday. They shipped it first class so it only took 3 days to get here.

** UPDATE: You read my review of this mount after 25,000 miles here. **

James Barone Racing offers two different rear motor mounts. More details about each can be found here. I opted for the chrome-molly dogbone mount because the extra vibration and noise aren’t a problem for me (I actually enjoy it!). This is everything that came in the box:

James Barone Rear Motor Mount Box Contents

The box included a piece of paper with contact information and directions to the install instructions on their website, a bag with a nut and lock washer, and the mount itself.

After spending an hour getting the front end on jack stands (it was my first time lifting my MAZDASPEED3) the install was quick and straightforward. It only took me about 30 minutes once I got under the car to get the mount installed and the car back on the floor. You can find details on installing this mount here. Here’s a picture of the stock mount and the James Barone Racing mount side by side:

Stock Mount and James Barone Racing Mount

First Impressions:

From the moment I started the car I could feel and hear the difference. During warm-up there is a significant amount of vibration and noise, which is a low drone, I’m guessing from the exhaust system. Once the car warmed up and was sitting at idle both vibration and noise had decreased, but still not to the stock level.

Once I pulled away for the first time I noticed the resonance. Between about 1,750 and 2,750 rpms it feels like the engine and frame resonate, creating a significant increase in vibration and noise. It is most noticeable while getting moving in first and while hovering around the 2,500-2,750 rpm zone, especially if you’re doing something like cruising down a hill in gear.

I made this video to illustrate the difference between the new mount and stock mount at idle. The stock mount only had about 2,000 miles on it so it’s fairly new. Be sure to turn the video quality up to 720 and your bass up to hear the difference in “drone”. There is no audio until after the visual display so watch the whole thing.

Performance:

I installed the mount yesterday and have since drove about 20 miles on it. The car now has much more of a raw feel to it. It feels as if you’re finally in control of the engine, and this is most noticeable in the clutch action. Getting moving in first is far more consistent, and matching driveline speeds is much easier. Sifting is also more precise, especially during heavy acceleration! Shifting from second to third is now less of a problem.

In regards to wheel hop there is absolutely none accelerating through second with wide open throttle and shifting to third. I have yet to accelerate heavily through first to second so I can’t comment on that yet.

All in all I am thoroughly impressed with this mount, and I can honestly say that it IS WORTH EVERY PENNY! Well done James Barone Racing!

I will be posting a follow-up review after a few thousand miles. In the meantime be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter! If you found this post helpful please feel free to donate!