Vinnie "The Hit Man" Kung
February 11, 2014

Okay, Mr. Angry Online Blogger, this one's for you. For years, we've listened to you and your grumpy followers bellyache about the weight of today's cars, how old cars are better, and that you can't afford all the new good stuff. You say, "Why can't they make cars lighter, and why isn't the new Mustang GT $12,500? Why do they have to carry around so much emissions stuff, computers, and safety devices?"

The way you slide your anti-theft club over the nutmeg brown steering wheel on your K-car just screams swagger, as you clearly love showcasing your understanding of technology.

But enough cheese with that whine. We all understand how much cleaner, safer, and more comfortable a modern Mustang is than anything built before it. We'll gladly lug a few hundred pounds of weight for the technology that gives us a 26-mpg coupe with 420 horsepower, stability control, and cushy airbags. But, we're always open to sensible weight savings.

In the old 5.0 LX days, it was nothing for owners to rip out the sway bars and A/C in the name of quicker acceleration. It's not so likely that a new GT or GT500 will owner will do the same. Rather than gut your new car, there are more creative ways to reduce weight, and we've found the perfect solution with help from a reputable Mustang expert.

Steeda To The Rescue

Based in Pompano Beach, Florida, Steeda Autosports offers a way for us Mustang maniacs to smartly shed weight and increase performance. After spending countless hours developing it, Steeda's American-made weight-reduction pack for manual-trans 5.0 cars (PN 555-3960, MSRP $1,179.95) includes billet-aluminum lower rear control arms, a tubular-steel front radiator support, and an aluminum driveshaft conversion kit. The latter takes a lot of the rotating mass out of the driveline, offering the biggest gains in mechanical efficiency as well.

To add some sound and shed even more weight, we also opted for Steeda's axle-back muffler kit (PN 515-Steeda-11, MSRP $599.95). These polished stainless steel beauties take weight from the rearmost part of the car, which reduces polar inertia. The further the weight is from the car's center, the more of an affect it has on handling. So, removing weight from the nose or tail has greater benefits. Letting that 5.0 rev to 7,000 also sounds fantastic without any of the dreaded part-throttle highway drone.

Steeda offers an intelligent solution to weight loss on your Mustang with its Weight Reduction Pack, complete with billet-aluminum control arms; tubular-steel radiator support; and 4-inch, aluminum, one-piece driveshaft.
With the car in the air, place a jack under the front of the rear axle housing. This will give you the leverage needed to help unload weight off of the control arms.

Time To Wrench

To kick things off, we jacked the car up, put it on stands, and started with the rear lower control arms. First, we removed the parking brake cables from the brake calipers. This is best done with a pair of pliers to slide the retaining clip off of the caliper bracket, and then unhook the cable end of the actuator arm on the backside of the caliper. Next we placed a jack under the axle housing, to take some weight off of the control arm bolts, and used a 1⁄2-inch-drive/18mm socket and ratchet to loosen and remove the two bolts on each arm. The nuts are held in place with retainers, so there's no need to use a wrench to hold them while loosening the bolts. Then simply slide the new control arms into place (they are already lubricated from Steeda) and reuse the factory hardware.

Lastly, route the parking brake cable under the control arm, and reconnect the cable end to the brake caliper. Repeat for the other side. Total weight saving here was 4.4 pounds for both arms.

We then moved onto the driveshaft. The factory unit is a two-piece job with a center bearing holding up the middle. We found the best way to remove the assembly without dropping the exhaust is to first remove the rear half. Simply undo the 12 bolts at the rear and center flanges with a 10mm socket, and then slide it out and backwards. After that, remove the front driveshaft by removing the two nuts holding the center support bearing with a 13mm socket, and then the front driveshaft from the transmission's output flange with a 12mm, 12-point socket. This is a bit more complicated as these bolts are often very tight and will require a good impact gun and universal joint connected to the aforementioned 12mm socket.

1 With the factory lower rear control arm removed, you can see the Steeda billet-aluminum piece not only looks the part, but offers less weight and better control. At 4.0 pounds each, these control arms are 2.2 pounds lighter than the stock stamped steel pieces.
2 Steeda’s control arms are a direct fit, and come pre-assembled and packed with grease. This means they are ready to install; simply reuse the factory metric hardware. Keep that 18mm socket handy, as you’ll need it to crank down all the bolts.
3 The control arms look pimp installed. As the instructions suggest (you did read them, right?), the parking brake cable goes under the new control arms, and must be reattached to the backside of the calipers.
4 The driveshaft is next. Using the miracle tool, a cordless 3/8-inch-drive impact gun, we were able to remove all of the bolts with a 10mm socket. This will disconnect the rear half of the factory two-piece driveshaft from the vehicle.
5 Now it's time to tackle the front half of the driveshaft. Using a 12-point/12mm socket with an airgun, bang these suckers off. The center bearing is held in place with two nuts that come right off with a 13mm deep socket.
6 The factory driveshaft uses a CV-style rear flange that needs to be removed. You will need an impact wrench to take that nut off.
7 Using a two-jaw puller, yank the factory flange off of the pinion gear and set it aside. You won’t need it anymore. Watch out for gear oil that will surely pour out. It stinks.
8 Many folks spend too much time stressing over how tight to make this axle nut. Because we’re not changing gears and are reusing the crush collar underneath, simply tighten this with your impact gun for about 5 seconds after the nut has seated. Then, with the Steeda rear driveshaft flange installed, you’re ready to install the new one-piece driveshaft.
9 The Steeda aluminum driveshaft does away with the factory two-piece unit and saves 18.5 pounds in the process. But here, it’s not only just weight—it’s rotational mass as well that gets plucked out of the driveline. This goes a long way in helping performance and fuel economy.