Demystifying The C7 Magnetic Ride Upgrade

The General has designed the Magnetic Selective Ride Control (MSRC) to allow owners to adjust their car’s ride from full-on track mode to highway-friendly and smooth. This latest technological wonder of damping changes each shock’s effectiveness by instantaneously altering the damper fluid’s viscosity, dependent on the settings chosen by the driver. The computer adjusts for each damper’s compression and rebound in miliseconds using inputs from various sensors throughout the vehicle.

Just like any digitally-enabled system, there are improvements that come along to better suit the application. One of the concerns from owners of Corvettes with this suspension system is that the ride is potentially still too “firm” in certain situations. Also, for those who carve corners, there have been changes to certain settings that enable the cars to navigate quicker during track duty. During GM testing with a 2016 Corvette Z06 and 2017 Corvette Grand Sport, these new calibrations contributed to a 1-second improvement in lap times around the General Motors 2.9-mile Milford Road Course. During SEMA 2017, GM announced the new Mag-Ride suspension calibrations offered by Chevrolet Performance that improve ride quality and performance for select 2014-18 Corvettes equipped with Magnetic Ride Control. The calibrations also have the option of new Track modes for applicable models that help enthusiasts hold-on to the fastest line around the track.

But What Changes?

According to Chevrolet Performance, the upgrade incorporates independent compression and rebound calibrations for front and rear dampers that allow precise heave, pitch and roll control to fine-tune vehicle response under a wide range of conditions. Calibration changes are designed to complement existing Sport, Touring and Track modes. For example, with the new calibration, Sport mode exhibits significantly more body motion control than Touring. Both Sport and Touring offer softer impacts on rough roads and greater compliance at speeds under 25 mph for an improved feel on rough surfaces that is more balanced and less abrupt. In Track mode, the response to driver inputs are more linear near or at the limit of adhesion and car rotation is more precise at initial turn-in. This allows the vehicle to better maintain its heading under throttle application.

For 2017 and 2018 Grand Sport wZ07, & Z06 with Z07:

The new track mode is better balanced and response to driver inputs are much more linear near and at the limit of adhesion. With the new Track calibration, the redistribution of the damping makes the car more fluid as it is cornered. The rotation of the car is more precise at initial turn in, and maintains its path through the turn. As the driver applies throttle, the car sustains its heading much better.

There are also revised temperature compensation tables. As the fluid heated up during long continuous and repeated runs, sometimes over 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), the damping was effected not only on an absolute basis, but also between the front and rear, effecting the balance of the car. New temperature compensation tables were developed to make the balance of the car much more exact, regardless of the damper fluid temperature.

For 2015 and 2016 Z06 with Z07 package:

There is an option to update the Tour and Sport calibrations and keep the Track calibration. This is intended for a customer who may prefer to keep the on-track calibration as is while benefiting from the tour and sport updates.

For 2017 and 2018 Grand Sport wZ07, & Z06 with Z07:

The new Chevrolet Performance Track foundation calibrations were in the 2017 and 2018 Grand Sport wZ07, & Z06 with Z07 production vehicles with the exception of the revised temperature compensation tables discussed above. The new Chevrolet Performance calibrations for 2017 and 2018 Grand Sport wZ07, & Z06 with Z07 now include the updated temperature compensation. Check out this cool video put out by Chevrolet that highlights the benefits through sound and motion.

We checked with our contact at Chevrolet Performance, as well as our friend Paul Koerner, a technician at Jackson Chevrolet and known as TheCorvetteMechanic online. They both helped answer some questions that we see repeated on forums and social media groups and Paul shared his experiences in doing this upgrade for customers. Here’s what Paul has to say.

The first issue has to do with the confusion on the web about this upgrade. This is NOT a generic suspension control module update. This is a Chevrolet Performance program, which is NOT in the regular TIS programming library. The upgrade requires the dealer to contact GM and obtain authorization from them to install the calibration into the vehicle.

To begin the process, the GM servicing dealership (yes, any GM-authorized service department can do this) is required to provide GM with the VIN of the vehicle, as well as authorize GM to charge the dealership to perform this calibration. GM lists out this modification at $350 MSRP.

The technician is paid .3 labor hours to do this job, and that’s all it should take. I allow two hours total to perform this, because sometimes, getting in touch with GM can be touchy. The calibration is actually a 2-step process, in which you first upload the calibration to the vehicle. THEN, in step 2, you must also provide rear trim height measurements to obtain maximum benefits of the calibration. For maximum calibration benefit, it must sit at least eight hours with the ignition off to obtain ambient temperature differential numbers. This means the customer won’t see maximum benefit until the car sits overnight.

Magnetic Selective Ride Control uses special shocks (typically painted black. Yellow shocks are not MSRC shocks) that feature electrical connections on top of each shock.

This upgrade does go back to 2014, however, it is based on the specific vehicle with magnetic ride and depending on what RPO codes (Z51/ZO6/ZR1/ZO7) are present, you may have options. For instance, a ZO7-packaged ZO6 has the choice between “street” or “track” calibrations.  If you only (and I mean ONLY) drive the ZO6 at the track, then track is for you.  If you drive it at all on the street, use the street calibration.

Each calibration includes updates to tour and sport modes. Some applications will not get a track mode update as indicated in the chart above.

 

Is this calibration required? No. But, if you track the vehicle or are an aggressive driver, I strongly recommend it. I normally suggest to anyone who would like to promote the ride quality of their vehicle to do this as well. I have not had one customer say it was not worth the money. They all report noticing either a slight improvement or a HUGE improvement, depending on how they drive.

Paul advises all his customers to make the decision carefully and usually recommends an alignment check to take the maximum benefit of this modification. This gives him opportunity to get the alignment settings perfect and the calibration only magnifies the benefit.

Pre-Owned Performer?

So, how do you know if your pre-owned Corvette’s previous owner has already purchased this upgrade? CorvetteForum.com member Jeff V. offers this cheap and easy way to check and see if your C7 enjoys these benefits already. We’ve checked several VINs using this system and it works.

  • Go to: https://tis2web.service.gm.com/tis2web/
  • Put your VIN in and click “Get Cal ID”.
  • Select “K19: Suspension Control Module” from the list. Click Next.
  • Select “Programming”. Click Next.
  • Select “With Semi Active Damping System” and click Next.
  • There will be two modules listed. “Operating System” and “Real Time Damping”.
  • Click on “Real Time Damping”.
  • If you don’t see “New calibration to support performance parts and motor sport catalog customers” listed, then it’s safe to say that your Corvette would benefit from having this upgrade.
We also checked with our contact at Chevrolet Performance and asked them a few questions that we know enthusiasts are asking among themselves. Many times, the questions pertain to how much this upgrade will cost them and how to guide their local dealer to the proper channels to make the upgrade possible.

CO: What should an owner expect to pay for this update and how does the dealer locate it in the GM system?

CP: An owner should expect to pay no more than the MSRP of $350. The labor for download and re-flash of the module is to be charged at an allowable 0.3 hours. To guide the dealership to the proper upgrade, the customer can reference the Dealer Bulletin id: GCUS-9-4986 Republished.

CO: Is this update mandatory or recommended?

CP: It is recommended but NOT required. Our ride and handling engineers are constantly pushing for continuous improvement to the already outstanding suspension capabilities in Corvette. For owners who want that extra edge of up-to-the-minute ride and handling in 2014 – 2018 Corvettes, this is an easy upgrade that provides tremendous value.

CO: Is this a drive-in service or should they schedule time?

CP: In order to the get the maximum performance and consistency out of the updated calibration, customers should allow the vehicle to sit for 8 to 10 hours after the update. The MRC damper system has a built-in temperature offset correction as part of the calibration. Allowing the vehicle to sit will allow the damper temperatures to normalize, and the temperature offset in the calibration to accurately reset. The vehicle is still functional without this process. However, the temperature offset correction will be less accurate, resulting in a less optimized operation until the damper temperatures are allowed to normalize. Ideally, you would let the vehicle sit at the dealership overnight.

The Bottom Line

Whereas the typical upgrades to performance were once over-the-counter components that were installed either by the dealership or the end-user, today’s technology has allowed improvements to come to the enthusiast at nearly the speed of light. Downloading an upgrade has become the new normal and both customers and manufacturers are figuring out the benefits of doing business in this manner. The future is looking bright for those wanting to improve the ride and performance of their Corvettes and thanks to technology, even the technicians don’t need to get their hands dirty.

Article Sources

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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