January 13, 2004

11 Power-Steering Leak

Most of the time, it's that annoying drip on the white concrete driveway or garage floor. The power steering works, but it leaks! Why is the Mustang's Bendix power-assisted steering such a pain in the posterior and what can you do about it? Whenever you install new power-steering hoses, make sure they are properly routed and mounted, and be sure they aren't rubbing against anything. Tighten all fittings securely. Power-steering components give us grief because we don't maintain them. Inspect your Mustang's power- steering system whenever you check the oil, and tackle any leaks the minute they show up. Change your power-steering fluid whenever you service the transmission and rear axle. Clean power-steering fluid is the key to seals and hoses staying fresh.

12 Parking Brake Sticks/Doesn't Work

We're convinced classic Mustang parking brakes were never really designed to work. It doesn't matter how many of them we have seen in restored Mustangs--they never really work properly. The '65-'68 Mustang's hand brake has never been a reliable performer. The best advice we can offer is to make sure the cable is clean and lubricated. Inspect the rear drum brakes regularly. Adjust the cable underneath so the rear brake shoes have a solid grip when you set the brake. Ford did away with the antiquated hand brake beginning in 1969.

13 Sloppy Manual Shifter

Ah, yes--the proverbial broomstick in a barrel, the sloppy Joe, the old "find me a cog!" experience. Stock Mustang manual shifters take a lot of practice to overcome and use. You grab the little wooden ball with an "H" on it and try to find First gear. It can't be done. It's somewhere over there and up there. But did you know these shifters weren't all that bad when they were new? Time and use have worn them out. All you have to do to get your Ford shifter back in the "H" is order a shifter rebuild kit from your favorite Mustang parts vendor. Then tear it apart and replace the side bearings, which are nothing more than aluminum discs supported by springs. These discs give the shifter handle something to ride against when you're going for First, Second, Third, or Fourth gear. Lubricate these discs whenever you change oil and lube the chassis. And when the discs wear out, replace them and save yourself frustration.

14 Sloppy Automatic Shifter

Like the beloved manual shifter just addressed, automatic shifters wear out too. But the automatic shifter is easy to disassemble, rebush, reassemble, and return to service. In fact, it should take an hour or less. The automatic-transmission shifter lever rides on plastic bushings similar in appearance to the brake and clutch-pedal bushings located under the dashboard. All you have to do is disconnect the shifter from the transmission underneath, then remove four machine screws and remove the shifter. Bushing replacement comes by removing the shifter-handle retaining nut, then removing the handle. Bathe the new bushings in white grease, then reassemble the shifter. For more information, contact Laurel Mountain Mustang, Dept. MM, Rte. 2, Box 163, Sunny Dr., Ruffsdale, PA 15679, 888/925-7669, www.laurelmountainmustang.com.

15 Door Won't Stay Open

Vintage Mustang doors make a distinctive sound when closed; they make our steeds sound like rattletraps. Few things are more embarrassing than a runaway door that won't stay open. Or worse--a stray door that smashes our shins getting into or out of the car on a hill. Mustang door hinges are multifaceted, and we have a lot of issues with them. Doors sag. Doors won't stay open. Fortunately, there are fixes for both. Regardless of your Mustang's vintage, you can rebuild the door hinges. All you need are new pins and bushings to get them in proper alignment. When doors fail to stay open, the check mechanism has given out. When this happens, the checks, rollers, and springs need replacement. New rollers need lots of lubrication between the roller and pin. A light dose of white grease between the roller and check will make for smooth operation. Use a Ford spring in the check mechanism for best results. However, use high-quality reproduction hinge-pin and bushing kits. The Ford bushing and pin kits aren't designed for early cast-iron hinges.