Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
December 1, 2004
Photos By: Mike Johnson

Horse Sense:
Just as with a new set of brake pads and rotors, you want to give your new clutch and new or resurfaced flywheel several hundred miles of break-in driving to bed the clutch disc materials into the flywheel and clutch cover before attempting any John Force burnouts. Are you reading this, Johnson?

If you own a manual transmission-equipped Mustang, you'll be working on your clutch at some point. Whether replacing the clutch assembly or performing some other repair, you'll need to know how to access the clutch area.

The Mustang's clutch is the "coupler" between the engine and transmission. Disengaging the clutch allows the car to idle at a stop (or you can place the shifter in Neutral). It also allows upshifts or down-shifts as the driver requires. When the clutch is engaged, the engine's power is transferred through the clutch into the transmission, to be multiplied. This multiplied power is then sent via the driveshaft to turn the rear tires. While this is a basic, "Transmission 101" definition, you can see how important it is to have a properly functioning clutch. Without it you're going nowhere, fast.

There are a lot of clutch choices out there, and if you listen to all your buddies and read all the ads, your brain will be hurting in short order. One thing we want to stress is that the clutch should act as a driveline fuse. If there's too much traction or too high an rpm with a lot of power, you will blow the clutch instead of breaking a driveshaft, transmission, or rearend. We don't know about you, but we'd rather replace a $300-$400 clutch than a $2,000 transmission.

With that said, you need to determine the power range of your Mus-tang's engine, its intended use, and your budget. There's no sense in putting a Stage Nine Super-Carbon Kevlar Ultralight Clutch with solid center hub matched to an SFI aluminum flywheel when you have a cold-air kit and a set of Flowmasters on your daily driver. So, be realistic in your needs, and your replacement clutch won't make your left leg three times the size of your right.

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We Work For Tips
Here are a few hints to make your clutch swap go smoothly.
• When replacing your clutch, it's a good idea to give the transmission a good once-over on the workbench. It's much easier to replace a tailshaft bushing or repair a leak on a workbench with plenty of room and adequate lighting than it is on your back in the transmission tunnel.

• Ford flywheels are indexed to the crankshaft for balance by having slightly offset mounting holes. It may take a revolution or two to line the holes in the flywheel up to those in the crankshaft, but it will line up.

• If you are flat-backing the job, use a ratcheting tie-down assembly to keep the transmission from falling off the floor jack while moving it around under the car.

• When removing the driveshaft, use a dab of touch-up paint or a permanent marker to make alignment marks between the companion flange and the yoke to retain any factory balance of a factory installed driveshaft.

• Sometimes the transmission won't go into the bellhousing that last 31/48 inch of the way. When this happens, the clutch disc often is just a bit off-center. Try rotating the input shaft for better alignment (put the trans in gear and rotate the output shaft), or have a helper push the clutch pedal (or pry the clutch fork with a pry bar) to disengage the pressure plate, allowing the clutch disc to free-float on the input shaft of the transmission.

• Have a friend in the passenger compartment working the shifter or parking brake to prevent the drivetrain from rotating. This helps to break the death grip on the driveshaft retaining bolts. Then the helper can release the brake or pop the shifter into neutral so that you can spin the driveshaft to the best spot to remove the next bolt. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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