January 13, 2004

6 Squeaky Upper Control Arms

Mustangs, Falcons, Comets, Cougars, and Fairlanes all suffer from squeaky upper control-arm bushings. Ford didn't fit the upper control-arm bushings with grease fittings when these cars were assembled four decades ago. As these cars are driven, upper control-arm shafts and bushings wear out, displacing the dried-out grease. Through the years, cutting torch mechanics have blown holes in the shock towers to install grease fittings in the arms. By the time this happens, the damage is done to both the arm and tower. Solution? Replace the upper control arms and spring perches, and start over with a new high-maintenance regimen. Install 90-degree-angle grease fittings in the new arms and service them regularly. For more information, contact Mustangs Plus, Dept. MM, 2353 N. Wilson Way, Stockton, CA 95205, 800/999-4289, 209/944-9977, www.mustangsplus.com.

7 Blinking Headlights

This one will take you by surprise, usually when the night is darkest and you're on unfamiliar backroads. When headlights cycle off and on in a regular rhythm, your headlight switch is faulty. It is actually a faulty headlight-switch circuit breaker that heats up from corroded and dirty contacts, forcing the breaker to cycle open and closed. The fix is to replace the switch. While you're at it, check your Mustang's headlight circuit for any short circuits that might be tripping the headlamp switch's built-in circuit breaker. For more information, contact Virginia Classic Mustang, Dept. MM, P.O. Box 487, Broadway, VA 22815, 540/896-2695, www.vamustang.com.

8 Leaking Windshields/Backlights

Mustang windows are traditional leakers, regardless of what your windshield shop says. It takes extraordinary patience (and persistence) to stop the leaks. When you're installing a Mustang windshield or backlight, those rubber gaskets need special attention. There are a couple of acceptable approaches you can use. One is the use of the endlessly pliable, black, yucky, gooey windshield sealer between the glass and gasket, and between the gasket and body. Once installed, you take this gooey, petroleum-based sealer and apply it between the gasket and body, then install the molding. Another approach is the use of 3M's Window-Weld instead of the petroleum sealer. However, Window-Weld becomes permanent, which makes it necessary to replace the rubber gasket should the windshield or backlight ever need to be replaced. The nice thing about Window-Weld is that it seals better and is less prone to leaking once it sets up. In any case, you need sealer between the glass and gasket, and the gasket and body. Once installed, you need a solid bead of sealer around the windshield or backlight between the gasket and body to keep moisture out.

9 Rough Idle, No Power

Most of the time, crummy performance happens as a result of improper tuning. There are a lot of misconceptions about tuning, but two basic fundamentals always prevail: ignition timing and fuel delivery. Two simple tuning rules apply. Ignition timing has to follow the rpm curve. At idle, ignition timing should be around 6-10 degrees BTDC (V-8 engines). At 3,500 rpm, the ignition timing should jump to 39-41 degrees BTDC. Never push the total advance beyond 41 degrees BTDC. Adjust the vacuum advance so it doesn't come on too quickly or too slowly. Too quickly and you'll get detonation and spark knock. Too slowly and your Mustang will fall on its face. Spark timing happens in two places: the vacuum advance and centrifugal advance. The vacuum advance does its work during acceleration. Centrifugal advance comes into play once the engine arrives at higher rpm. The vacuum advance works during acceleration, giving way seamlessly to the centrifugal advance when the car reaches cruising speeds. Fuel delivery is a matter of having the idle-air adjustment set properly for a smooth, balanced idle. If it surges at idle, the idle-air mixture is too lean on one side. High-speed fuel delivery (off idle) is controlled by the jetting. Too rich and spark plugs foul. Torque will improve with a rich mixture, but the engine will feel awful at speed. Too lean and the spark plugs become chalky white as the engine surges and misfires. You also stand a chance of blowing holes in the piston domes. Pony Carburetors can help with all of your classic Mustang carburetor needs. PerTronix can help on the ignition side with the Ignitor and Ignitor II drop-in electronic ignition modules for vintage Autolite and Motorcraft distributors. For more information, contact PerTronix, Dept. MM, 440 East Arrow Hwy., San Dimas, CA 91773, 909/599-5955, www.pertronix.com. Pony Carburetors, P.O. Box 420, Cazenovia, NY 13035; 315/662-3003, www.ponycarburetors.com.

10 Charging-System Woes

This one always stumps us. It happens when we're on the interstate or it captures our attention on a rainy night, just after punching the time clock, leaving us stuck in the parking lot. Why do batteries go dead? And why do charging systems stop charging? With older Mustangs, there are two basic areas: alternator/generator and voltage regulator. In newer Mustangs, with an integral voltage regulator inside the alternator, it is the regulator. Most of the time, old or new, it is a faulty voltage regulator. Any starter/alternator shop can check your alternator or generator for proper function. Ditto for the voltage regulator. If you are replacing the alternator or generator, install a new solid-state voltage regulator. While you're troubleshooting, check all of your electrical-system grounds. Faulty grounds cause all kinds of unexplainable electrical-system gremlins. Don't forget one other thing: a fan belt that's properly adjusted. For more information, contact AMK Products, Dept. MM, 800 Airport Rd., Winchester, VA 22602, 540/662-7820, www.amkproducts.com.