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Late-Model Corral, ’79-’14 Questions - June 2014
Harsh Riding Wreck
After watching eBay for a couple of years, looking for an affordable '68 or '69 Mustang, I bought a '05 for about the same price. I only put a few kilometers on it when it threw a left front tire. As I didn't care for the ride with 20-inch wheels and tires, I swapped for a set of '10 factory 18-inch wheels. I drove it in for an alignment and was told that the K-member was bent. The alignment shop foreman called the dealer and told them what he had found.
I took it back to the dealer. They pulled it in and checked it themselves, and did a Carfax and whatever the other vehicle verification outfit is. Nothing came up, but after much discussion they agreed to replace the offending part (engine mounts were separated too). Now in hindsight I should have checked the options sheet, as it came with airbag seats, but they were absent, and the windshield had been replaced, which may or may not have been a result of a wreck. Part of the appeal was the 2008 paint job, and the Le Mans stripes were paint not tape. My guess, the wreck caused it to need a repaint.
I go over four sets of railroad tracks and several bridge decks going to Lethbridge. I have not been able to find a speed that is not punishing to my posterior. It has cracked the speedometer gauge plastic lens from the jarring and at $500 to replace it at the dealership I'm in no hurry to do so. I would like to improve the ride quality. This car has the factory suspension and stock shocks. Should I weld in frame connectors? There seems to be some differences of opinion here. Now I am not an engineer but it seems to me if the chassis is stiff enough for a daily driver, can I get by with this and a strut tower brace or do I need to start thinking about adjustable shocks or springs and shocks? I have no desire to drop it— even an inch—and it looks like even Steeda's ride comfort springs drop it some. This will likely be my last car, as I'm getting up there in age, so I plan on keeping it.
My final question is who has the best canned tunes: DiabloSport or SCT? It seems someone must have done a comparison on the S197 Mustang at some point, as they are going on ten years old now?
Stirling, Alberta, Canada
Ride harshness can be very subjective and one person's smooth ride is another person's spleen buster. That being said, there's a lot that can be done to soften a Mustang's ride. As you surmise, lowering springs do often induce a harsher ride, so keeping the stock ride height/springs is a wise choice—especially with the drive route you have. Softening the suspension, in a nutshell making it more compliant, can be accomplished with tunable shocks, softening the damping rate a bit. You didn't mention what you have for rubber, but ditching those 18-inch wheels for some 17-inch wheels and less sporty rubber (something more like a touring tire versus a wide and sticky traction-based tire) will help cushion the ride a bit as well. Ford still shoes the convertible V-6 Mustang with 17-inch wheels and higher profile rubber for just such a reason, knowing convertible owners want a more compliant ride.
As for out-of-the-box tuning, we've found comparable power numbers from the big handheld tuners, but a good tuner with a dyno can extract even more if you're willing to pay for the dyno tuning time.
Final Thoughts on Buildsheets
Just finished reading the March issue of MM and wanted to reply to a question raised in your column regarding '05 and up Mustang build sheets. We had the privilege of touring the Flat Rock Assembly Plant about 1½ years ago and we asked the employees at the end of final assembly where the build sheets go. They answered that the sheets are tossed into a trash bin after final check, and then pointed it out! Not what we wanted to hear, but at least we now know.
Grosse Ile, MI
That just makes you want to cry doesn't it? It's like throwing away a bit of the car's history. Sure, the new cars are more documented from Ford (you can get copies of window stickers and production numbers right from Ford these days), but most enthusiasts would surely love to have a nice framed copy of their build sheet. Listen up Ford! Throw that sheet under the trunk mat on top of the spare tire. We want them!
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