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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I did some research and I couldn't find any answers within the community.
I'm getting ready to replace my rear shocks, 90K and I have a leak on the driver side. I have a few questions before I make my purchase and I figured this would be a great place to start.

I have a 2015 Mazda 3, 2.0 Skyactive, 6 speed that I use to travel the country. I do between 15 and 20K miles a year and can travel coast to coast. I am only replacing the rear shocks for now...nothing else.

QUESTIONS:

1. What is the best brand (value) non-racing that folks would stand behind? If it's OEM that's fine. I don't need a racing suspension, but I also know you get what you pay for...and I'm looking for the best value given the spectrum of driving I encounter annually.
2. Anyone have any advice/lessons learned before I do the install? I have access to a garage with everything I need, but I'd prefer to just do it at home with my basics...is that smart? I'd hate to piss off the lady.

Thank you all for your feedback!
 

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First of all, if the car has 90k on it, all 4 shock are shot. Replacing just the rears isn't the right answer. Replace all 4.
Budget? There are many options at many price levels.
There are threads here with much information on shock replacement how-tos. You'll need more than just the basics.
 

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For around $600 shipped, Tire Rack has a set of Koni Sports with a lifetime warranty sitting in a warehouse with your name on it. They aren't racing shocks, but leagues better than crap like Monroe or Gabriel... And nobody says you have to adjust them to be stiff.

Tire Rack Koni Sport
However, you can't adjust them not to be stiff....Many postings here about Koni sport users taking them off in favor of better options such as the Koni Red Special Actives or Gold FSDs because they are just to harsh on anything less than a perfectly flat road. They are performance shocks regardless and require matching spring rates anyhow to work right. Koni Sports are intended to be used with stiffer springs that are designed to lower the car.


If the car is just a long distance commuter car, OEM-type replacements will be just fine. You can get pre assembled front strut assemblies pretty cheap, and swapping them out takes all of about 20 minutes. Rear shocks can be easy if you have the proper tools and everything comes apart as intended. However, at 90k miles chances are the lower studs are pretty well stuck and you'll need to disconnect the lower control arm to move the spring out of the way so you can slide the shock off the stud.
 

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However, you can't adjust them not to be stiff....Many postings here about Koni sport users taking them off in favor of better options such as the Koni Red Special Actives or Gold FSDs because they are just to harsh on anything less than a perfectly flat road. They are performance shocks regardless and require matching spring rates anyhow to work right. Koni Sports are intended to be used with stiffer springs that are designed to lower the car.


If the car is just a long distance commuter car, OEM-type replacements will be just fine. You can get pre assembled front strut assemblies pretty cheap, and swapping them out takes all of about 20 minutes. Rear shocks can be easy if you have the proper tools and everything comes apart as intended. However, at 90k miles chances are the lower studs are pretty well stuck and you'll need to disconnect the lower control arm to move the spring out of the way so you can slide the shock off the stud.
At full soft, Koni Sports are not much stiffer than OEM, especially when used in conjunction with OEM springs... And if people think the Sports are too stiff as a general rule, then they need to search Autotrader for some nice, low mileage 1997 Buicks. LOL!

I didn't recommend the FSD's (Active Red or whatever) because they have a tendency to get "confused" in quick, successive impact situations such as expansion joints on a bridge. The shocks get very harsh because they can't adjust to the rapid high speed velocities.
 

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At full soft, Koni Sports are not much stiffer than OEM, especially when used in conjunction with OEM springs... And if people think the Sports are too stiff as a general rule, then they need to search Autotrader for some nice, low mileage 1997 Buicks. LOL!
Many Mazda 3 owners would disagree here.....
KONI Sport 'Yellow' shocks offer the same exceptional road-holding as the Classic 'Red' shocks, but are especially designed for cars that are fitted with lowering springs which are shorter than the original springs.
They are not designed to be used with OEM springs, as a result they do not provide OEM ride quality.

I didn't recommend the FSD's (Active Red or whatever) because they have a tendency to get "confused" in quick, successive impact situations such as expansion joints on a bridge. The shocks get very harsh because they can't adjust to the rapid high speed velocities.
Again, many here would disagree as the Koni FSD / SA is pretty much the go to aftermarket upgrade for the 3rd gen Mazda 3. I have had FSDs for 3 years and haven't seen anything close to your description. In fact, they seem to like high speed / highway driving and work quite well during extended periods of 80+ mph speeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
For around $600 shipped, Tire Rack has a set of Koni Sports with a lifetime warranty sitting in a warehouse with your name on it. They aren't racing shocks, but leagues better than crap like Monroe or Gabriel... And nobody says you have to adjust them to be stiff.

Tire Rack Koni Sport
Thank you! I guess the Koni's are the best value...they keep popping up in the searches I run. Just have to find the right ones for my driving. Oh, and I like to "drive" in the mountains (which I pass through over a dozen times a year) when I get low traffic areas, so an upgrade regardless of the springs is probably going to help me. Maybe even upgrade the rear sway to handle that damn electronic steering.

Still nothing better than accelerating off a tight blind curve and feeling the razor's edge--be nice to have a decent grip on the ground. Anyway...enough nostalgia.
 

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However, you can't adjust them not to be stiff....Many postings here about Koni sport users taking them off in favor of better options such as the Koni Red Special Actives or Gold FSDs because they are just to harsh on anything less than a perfectly flat road. They are performance shocks regardless and require matching spring rates anyhow to work right. Koni Sports are intended to be used with stiffer springs that are designed to lower the car.


If the car is just a long distance commuter car, OEM-type replacements will be just fine. You can get pre assembled front strut assemblies pretty cheap, and swapping them out takes all of about 20 minutes. Rear shocks can be easy if you have the proper tools and everything comes apart as intended. However, at 90k miles chances are the lower studs are pretty well stuck and you'll need to disconnect the lower control arm to move the spring out of the way so you can slide the shock off the stud.
Yeah, I'm retired military and can go on base and get all the tools, lifts, etc. I need. I'm just trying to determine if it's worth a 4 hour round trip drive. Sounds to me like it is...
 

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Thank you! I guess the Koni's are the best value...they keep popping up in the searches I run. Just have to find the right ones for my driving. Oh, and I like to "drive" in the mountains (which I pass through over a dozen times a year) when I get low traffic areas, so an upgrade regardless of the springs is probably going to help me. Maybe even upgrade the rear sway to handle that damn electronic steering.

Still nothing better than accelerating off a tight blind curve and feeling the razor's edge--be nice to have a decent grip on the ground. Anyway...enough nostalgia.
Koni Red Special Actives are your best bet if you are looking to upgrade.
If you are going to do anything else such as a rear bar, get the parts and do it all at once. You'll need to take it all apart again to install the rear bar, so might as well get it all done in one shot. While you are in there and have it all apart, a set of H&R or Eibach springs would be a nice addition too.....
You'll need a jack, a couple stands, a torque wrench, metric sockets, breaker bar, and whatever it might require to get the shock off the lower mount.
 

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I can't speak for my current 2018 M3GT, because it's still totally stock, but I had installed Koni Sport struts with stock springs and Hotchkiss sway bars on a 2001 BMW 330ci. That car rode and handled beautifully with the shocks set to full soft. In fact, I had originally installed Eibach Pro-Kit lowering springs, but quickly removed and sold them due to the subsequent low ground clearance and frequent bottoming out against the bump stops.
One data point among many, I know, but one that I hope was worth sharing.

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I like and continue to use Bilstein. I have four B8 ready to go in the garage right now. AJUSA.com contact Nick for best price on some B6's.
 

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I like and continue to use Bilstein. I have four B8 ready to go in the garage right now. AJUSA.com contact Nick for best price on some B6's.
i am a bit confused if you are installing B8 or B6. If you are doing B6, please post your review. Oh, and with stock springs Or ?

thx
 

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i am a bit confused if you are installing B8 or B6. If you are doing B6, please post your review. Oh, and with stock springs Or ?

thx
Both B6 and B8 are sport dampers. The only difference is that B6 is for use with stock height springs, whereas B8 is for use with lowering springs.

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I like and continue to use Bilstein. I have four B8 ready to go in the garage right now. AJUSA.com contact Nick for best price on some B6's.
Installed Bilstein B8? How are they doing?
 
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