Mazda enjoys the enviable position of being known as a company that builds good, solid, cost-effective cars, while at the same time having a reputation of building affordable sports cars that offer great performance and potential.
The folks who are attracted to a high-performance car like the Miata, RX-7 and RX-8, not to mention the sport sedans, are the same kind of people who like the idea of upgrading the performance beyond what the bean counters would sign off on when the cars are built.
While many of the upgrades are aimed at sound systems, increased engine performance and cosmetics, including wheel upgrades, more and more folks are looking at brake upgrades to both increase the brake performance as well as improve the vehicle’s visual appeal. It’s hard to argue that those big wheels don’t look better with a set of colorful, oversized calipers and big rotors behind them. Mazdas are also very popular track day cars where brake upgrades become almost essential. Like any other upgrade, the only limitations are the owner’s wallet or, in some cases, the rulebook.
A quick search of the Internet is all it takes to see what’s available. The upgrades could be as simple as a set of stainless steel brake lines and racing pads, with a thorough bleed and flush of the system, and a high-performance fluid with a higher boiling point to prevent fade. At the other end of the spectrum are multi-piston calipers, with oversized two-piece rotors incorporating a hat-like center section with a bolt-on rotor that’s either cross-drilled or slotted.
The customer will have a good idea of the parts he would like to have installed and, many times, has already purchased the parts, or will do so when he finds a shop he trusts to install them. As you talk about cost with this customer, keep in mind his expectations are high and he chose your shop based on his experience with or your reputation for high quality. If you’re going to deliver that level of service, you deserve to be compensated.
If the customer is providing the parts, get the part numbers and website so you can investigate any pitfalls in advance that may have been overlooked by the customer. Good suppliers will have technical information and installation manuals available online, so you can also confirm the application. If the customer can’t provide the information, consider it a red flag. I always make it clear that I won’t install any aftermarket part that appears to be of inferior quality.
Is this kind of work right for your shop? You’re the only one who can answer that. Consider that on any given weekend, Mazda products can account for more than 40% of the entries in a Sports Car Club of America road race, not to mention drag racing or auto-cross events.
This kind of work can be rewarding, profitable and fun. The car owner is likely considered to be a car expert by his friends, so if he’s pleased with the job, you can be sure he’ll tell his friends. You can’t buy that kind of exposure.