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How to Install the Steeda Weight-Reduction Pack - Mustang Diet
Project BYOB - With Steeda's weight reduction regimen for Coyote Mustangs, we drop nearly 50 pounds off a 2011 coupe.
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.
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.
With the factory driveshaft out, it's time to move on to removing the rear axle's flange. The reason why we do this is because the Steeda aluminum driveshaft converts the CV-type joint to a conventional universal joint in back, which has been proven to handle more power. A splined section on the one-piece, aluminum driveshaft allows for axle movement and provides the necessary plunging action to compensate for suspension travel.
After removing the pinion flange nut, you will need to remove the flange itself. We used a simple two-jaw puller and had it off in a minute. Keep in mind that there will be some differential fluid that comes out. If your 8.8s flange seal is a bit leaky, this is a great time to replace it.
Next up, install the Steeda axle flange, and after you've put a little gasket sealer under the nut, reuse the factory flange nut and tighten it down. While there is a pinion bearing preload crush washer underneath that you should be aware of, don't overthink it. Just use the impact gun and crank this nut down, making sure you don't overdo it. As long as the pinion has a little drag on it when you turn it by hand, you're fine. You want to make sure you have just enough tension that allows you to go back and forth within the range of backlash. After adding any differential oil you may have lost, it's time to install the new driveshaft.
The instructions state that it may be necessary to relocate the parking brake cable bracket within the transmission tunnel to accommodate the larger diameter of the Steeda driveshaft on certain model-year Mustangs. However, we had no interference whatsoever on our 2011. The weight savings was dramatic—38.7 to 20.2, a drop of 18.5 pounds.
Light Is Right
Continuing our diet scheme, we continued with Steeda's tubular lower radiator support. From the factory, S197 Mustangs are equipped with a boxed-steel unit that is quite hefty. It not only supports the radiator from below, but also provides the mounting points for the front stabilizer bar.
After removing the front belly pan and air dam with 6mm and 8mm nut drivers, we proceeded to remove the Z-brace that connects the lower radiator support to the front K-member with a 15mm socket, and then disconnected the sway bar mount nuts (13mm socket; studs are retained). Once we disconnected the front brake line from the two small plastic brackets, we undid the four bolts holding the radiator support, and simply lowered it out of the car.
When installing the Steeda lower radiator support, reuse the factory hardware to mount it to the framerails. Then use the hardware supplied by Steeda to mount the front stabilizer bar and the Z brace. The brake line is held in place by the original mounting clips that we transferred from the stock support. For this swap, we were rewarded with a 10.2-pound weight drop (from 17.0 to 6.8).
Lastly, we slid under the back of our Mustang for a muffler swap. Using a 13mm socket, we undid the factory band clamps in front of each muffler and loosened the mid-pipe strap clamps to allow all the pipes to move freely. This is to allow to pipes to slide forward as you finagle the mufflers out. We used a simple pry bar to take off our stock mufflers, and then slid the new Steeda ones into place through the stock hangers.
Once we had the tips aligned, we used the new band clamps provided and cranked everything down. We hit the key to check for leaks and were rewarded with a very beefy exhaust tone. Even better, we just took off 16.2 pounds. The stock mufflers weigh 21.3 pounds each, while Steeda's are a mere 13.2 each. That's 8.1 pounds on each corner of the car!
Unlike our online friend who still has his mother dressing him every morning, Steeda has run in the opposite direction, looking at the big picture and jumping head-first towards modern technology. Steeda is already at work on the '15 Mustang product line, but we took a moment to incorporate the company's learnings on today's car. We were rewarded with a 49.3-pound total weight reduction—something to make Mr. Angry Online Blogger feel a little better.