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Thread: 2012 Skyactiv (5dr MT) suffered suspension damage in collision -- time to upgrade

  1. #1
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    2012 Skyactiv (5dr MT) suffered suspension damage in collision -- time to upgrade

    I have 4 related questions that I'd love your input on:

    1. Any suggestions as to what suspension parts I should replace due to damage described in the second post below, given that a Mazda dealer, 2 mechanics, and 2 bodyshops are uncertain?

    2. Any suggestions as to how to use this as an opportunity to upgrade the suspension, for more responsive and neutral handling, without any fetish for lowering?

    3. Any thoughts as to how to get insurance to pay for the cost of necessary suspension repairs, given that most body shops only negotiate hard for the cosmetic work that they do rather than the mechanical work that they subcontract?

    4. Should I just sell or trade-in the car, let a professional buy it and fix it for resale, and buy a newer better handling car?

    I'm sorry for the long post, but am grouping these questions as they are highly related. I'll give background details and my preliminary thoughts in follow up posts in this thread.

  2. #2
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    What suspension parts are likely to be damaged and should be replaced?

    1. What suspension parts do you think I should definitely replace due to likely damage from the collision described below?


    Last week I was driving in the snow late at night from Massachusetts to Vermont, admittedly too fast to try to avoid driving in deeper snow. I was on a road I have only drove twice in the last 20 years and forgot about a very tight rotary on a 40mph semi-rural road. I was doing about 45 when I saw the rotary, braked and found there was ice beneath the snow there. My Blizzaks and ABS brought my speed down to about 20mph as I entered the rotary. The rotary was so tight that going back the next day I saw that it was so tight that most drivers slow down to 10-15mph when driving through the rotary, and often came to a full stop before entering it, with clean dry roads during daylight. My drivers side rear wheel glanced off the inside curb, then I slid sideways at about 15mph into the tall granite outside curb with both passenger wheels hitting at about the same time.

    Both passenger side steel wheels where demolished. I could not even roll the car because the steel wheels would hit the brake calipers. The next morning I drove back to Massachusetts in a rental car to get my 3 season wheels. Even then my Mazda3 car drove very poorly.

    On the rear passenger wheel, what I thought was the rear passenger brake binding has turned out to be that rotor pressing and rubbing/grinding against the caliper bracket. That wheel also went from a slightly negative to a very positive camber. (The curb impact pressed the bottom of both passenger side wheels towards the car's centerline.) That rear passenger side wheel also has a visible toe in.

    On the front passenger side, the alignment is OK, but there is a spring noise upon turning the steering wheel far and sometimes upon compression over bumbs.

    It seems that I need to replace the front right strut and top mount/bearing (and should then replace the front left strut) I'm also thinking of replacing the front right wheel bearing. On the rear it seems I should replace the main trailing link (mere stamped steel) was probably twisted, especially given that the hub and brake caliper bracket are now no longer aligned. Hopefully this is the only part that is bent, but there are 3 other lateral links which could be bent.

    I don't even want to think about the unibody frame or the front or rear subframes being bent. Five separate mechanics at Sullivan Tire (free alignment check), a small very well respected German car specialist shop, the mechanical side of a shop that also does body collision work, and a Mazda dealer) put it on a lift and visually inspected it. None could confirm or deny any frame damage.

    In addition to the items above some suggested replacing hardware for anything removed due to corrosion from road salt around here, all 4 of the trapezoidal links, bushings, on on the rear passenger corner, the front right knuckle (in case of hairline cracks), and passenger side wheel bearings which means also replacing the right rear hub. I believe I may also now need a new brake caliper bracket and rotor in the right rear after they've grinded against each other.

    What mechanical collision repairs do you think are or could be needed for the car to be restored and safe?
    Last edited by theorist; 03-05-2019 at 02:57 AM.

  3. #3
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    What suspension upgrades would you recommend?

    2. This seems to be a nice time to upgrade the suspension. What specific upgrades would you recommend?


    I really miss the amazing, responsive, nimble, balanced handling of my Mazdaspeed Protege. What suspension upgrades would you recommend for my 2012 Mazda3 skyactiv hatch with MT?

    This is my daily driver and has 98,000 miles. Before the accident I didn't notice any particular wear in the suspension, but know the struts are getting old. I run 15" wheels with winter tires (Blizzak WS80) in the peak new england winter, 17" wheels with max performance all season tires (Michelin Pilot Sport AS3) in the early and late winter, and 18" MS3 wheels with extreme performance summer tires (Bridgestone S-04) April or May through September or October.

    I'm not inclined to replace the springs as I doubt they are worn and don't want to lower the car unless it greatly improves the handling. I am inclined to replace the front struts and rear shocks.

    I don't know if OEM Mazdaspeed 3 struts and shocks can be installed on a mere mortal skyactiv Mazda 3. Since the MS3 uses different part number for the rear trailing arm, would I need to use 2 MS3 trailing arms, springs, and/or rear sway bar and links?

    There are so many aftermarket performance struts that I'm having a very time choosing. I'm leaning towards Koni. Since the rear shocks can't be adjusted without removing them, I see less appeal in having adjustable rear shocks, but would appreciate the adjustable fronts. I'm inclined to use adjustable yellow Koni Sport struts in the front and more affordable orange Koni Str.T non-adjustable shocks in the rear. If possible I'm interested in using yellow front struts spec'd for normal Mazda3's in the front and orange rear shocks spec'd for the MS3, because I fear that the orange Str.T option will be less firm than the yellow sport option and because I'd like less understeer even when risking slight brake oversteer.

    I can see some benefit to replacing sway bars or bushings, but doubt it's worth the cost. With matching front and rear struts or especially if a get new firmer front struts (like Koni reds) but leave the rear shocks alone, a beefier rear sway bar could help reduce the tendency to understeer. I'm not sure how much polyurethane bushings on the rear might help.

    I know little about suspension tuning so I would love your input especially if it's based on 2.0 liter Mazda 3's, ESPECIALLY if it's based on your experience with suspension upgrades to 2012-2013 skyactiv Mazda hatchbacks.

    What would you do to improve the handling? Or should I just trade in the my 2012 skyactiv Mazda 3 and buy a used MS3, Focus ST, new Fiesta ST, or new Mazda3?
    Last edited by theorist; 03-05-2019 at 02:56 AM.

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    How can I get a repair shop to negotiate for quality suspension restoration?

    3. How would you recommend that I get a collision shop to fully diagnose and negotiate with the insurance company for quality and full repairs of all suspension and mechanical damage?

    I've had great experience with body shops negotiating with insurance companies for top quality body and paint work, but am having a hard time finding a shop to negotiate or advocate for full restoration of the suspension damage.

    I have a large collision insurance deductible (since I haven't made a claim on my cars in 30 years.) I do have far too much experience managing collision repairs on cars for my wife and mother. I'm inclined to have a shop negotiate with Safety Insurance directly, but I'm afraid they will focus on the minor body work they can do (a torn front bumper cover, a cracked side mirror, and a bent/ displaced rear bumper cover) but will be much more lax about negotiating for top quality necessary repairs to the suspension, especially as the better collision shops subcontract this work out or just let the insurer pay me their low-ball estimate of this and leave me to take the car to a mechanic for the suspension work.

    Local Mazda dealers either don't do collision work, subcontract out truly lousy body work, and/or don't work with insurance companies.

    This gives me some freedom to use a small settlement for the suspension work to pay for part of the suspension repairs and upgrades, but I'm afraid that most body shops will gladly let the insurer pay a piddling amount for the mechanical damage.

    What tips or strategies would you suggest to have the mechanical and suspension damage thoroughly diagnosed and full repairs paid for?
    Last edited by theorist; 03-05-2019 at 02:55 AM.

  5. #5
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    Should I just sell my 2012 skyactiv and buy something more fun?

    Should I just sell my 2012 skyactiv Mazda3 hatch with a manual transmission and 97Kmiles and buy a newer better handling car?

    I'm happy to do most repairs myself and comfortable owning older cars, as long as it's not so old that the road salt here has corroded most fasteners so badly that they need to be cut off. I'm currently very cash constrained and somewhat income and credit constrained but expect a big cash infusion when my divorce in finalized within a year or two. A dealer pointed out that when my car hits 100Kmiles it will be less valuable to dealers as few lenders will finance cars with more than 100,000 miles. Soon new Fiesta ST and 2018 Mazda 3's will no longer be available.

    Other cars that I've longed for include a used Mazdaspeed 3, new (or used) Fiesta ST, used (or new) Focus ST, or a new 2018 Mazda 3.

    I'm not looking forward to the 2019 Mazda3. It seems that Mazda is moving towards more luxury oriented cars and moving away from the fun loving zoom-zoom that made me fall in love with the brand through my Mazdaspeed Protege. The Mazda 3 I'd buy would be a 2018 Mazda 3 Touring with a manual transmission for $16K - $17K, before manual transmissions Mazda3 cost $7K more and lose the independent rear suspension starting with the 2019 models.

    With the 2019 Mazda 3, Mazda is abandoning the TTL independent suspension that they've used in all their economy cars since at least the early 90's Proteges. In the 90's the Protege was nearly unique among economy cars to offer an independent rear suspension. Most economy cars and many family sedans used cheaper torsion beam rear suspensions. Now most economy cars and family sedans have adopted independent rear suspensions for better handling. Now Mazda is moving the Mazda3 to the cheaper torsion beam rear suspension that most other cars, even the Prius since 2016, have abandoned.

    (Mazda's have been criticized by some for being too raw, noisy, buzzy, close to the feel of the road and the machine. This is what I've loved about them. Now Mazda is focusing on reducing NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) just like other car makers. They've said they won't have more Mazdaspeed models because they were too immature. I'm a fun loving 46 year old and want the fun loving spirit they are moving away from, except in the Miata.)

    I adore the Miata and would like a BRZ/FRS/86, V6 Camaro LS1, or Nissan Z, but can't have more than one car. I recently bought an inexpensive motorcycle to scratch that itch.

    I'm a bit turned off by the reliability of the GTI and very turned off by the reliability for the Fiat 500 Abarth.

    Would you recommend just selling or trading in my skyactiv 2012 Mazda 3 towards the purchase of a used Mazdaspeed 3, 2018 Mazda 3, Fiesta ST, Focus ST, or something else?

  6. #6
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    Generally-speaking, if the repair costs 50% or more of the value of your car before the accident, it may be best to get the insurance money and upgrade.
    I prefer Koni shocks and struts over anything else, although Bilstein makes some high-quality stuff, also.

    Stay away from the Fiesta and Focus STs - very bad reliability (silimar to that of the GTI, Camaro, and Mustang.

    If you don't care too much about fuel economy, the Mazdaspeed 3 is a good choice. However, if you want very good fuel mileage and good acceleration, the 2.5L Skyactive-equipped Mazda3 (2014+) is a good choice. My 3's handling is razor-sharp but the ride is a bit stiff.

    I would have the damage of your existing car determined by an alignment shop.
    2014 3S GT, Deep Crystal Blue, Eibach Pro-Kit, Enkei PF01s, Koni Sports, Pirelli P ZERO ALL SEASON PLUS tires, 225/45/18
    2008 MX-5 Touring (Mazdaspeed CAI, HIDs, Progress/Koni Sports/Racing Beat sways, SST Magnaflow muffler and tips)

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