October 1, 2005

Synthetic In The Mach?I have a low-mileage '04 Mach 1 and I'm planning to use synthetic oil in it. Should I change the factory oil right away or wait for the first oil change to switch? Should I use a factory oil filter or aftermarket?Mike PizzatSavannah, GA

I don't think it would be a problem to use the oil that came in the car for the first 2,000-3,000 miles before switching to synthetic. Although the Ford-recommended interval is 5,000 miles, some people believe it's better to do the first change sooner.

I bought a new '01 Bullitt four years ago, and I want to preserve and care for it the same way you want to maintain your Mach 1. I drove the car about 3,000 miles with the factory-filled oil. Then I took it to the dealership where I bought the car and got a free first oil change with conventional oil. Then 5,000 miles later, I switched to Mobil 1 and plan to stay with it. So, I'd say waiting for the first oil change to switch is fine.

Oil filters are like tissue paper: They do their job well and it's difficult to recommend one over another. I use either the Motorcraft factory filter you mentioned or a Fram. I often let price decide my choice from among the name-brand aftermarket filters.

V-6 BoosterI'm thinking about purchasing a V-6 Mustang, most likely a '96 that caught my eye. I'm only 17, so I'm trying to avoid the likely higher insurance premiums for a GT model with a V-8. However, I want a little more power under my foot. I was wondering if the X-pipes I've heard so much about would work well with a V-6.

Of course, I want to put a dual exhaust system on the car. If it does work, how much power gain can I expect over an H-pipe? Also, do you have any bolt-on tips for a kid who wants a little more power, besides the things I already have in mind like a K&N filter, underdrive pulleys, and headers?Jake TretterVia the Internet

I've been writing this column for almost four years, and in that time I've replied to several owners of V-6 Mustangs who are looking to enhance power output and the overall performance of their cars. I mention this because I like to think my past replies are a good resource for V-6 owners. To start, take a look at the letters in Late-Model Corral over the past few years. You'll find plenty of info that will steer you in the right direction.

In general, you're already on the right track. A K&N air filter, pulleys, and headers are good upgrades for any Mustang. Consider a gear-ratio change to a lower (higher numerically) ratio to improve off-the-line acceleration in your car. Although V-6 Mustangs come with a 7.5-inch rearend, the current Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog (www.fordracingparts.com) lists 3.45 and 3.73 gear ratios for that axle. Although pricey, a supercharger, available from Vortech and ATI/ProCharger, is probably the ultimate upgrade for a V-6 street car.

As for the X-pipe/H-pipe quandary, either will offer similar improvements in a stock V-6 Mustang. It's best to go with a complete exhaust system from one company. With a V-6 car, however, you're more limited to what's offered compared to a V-8 GT or Cobra. In your case, either an H- or an X-pipe would be an improvement, especially when combined with a dual exhaust system. With a pipe of some sort and an exhaust system, I believe it would be worth somewhere between 10 and 20 hp at the flywheel or about 7-15 hp at the rear wheels measured on a chassis dyno. You'd definitely feel the improvement throughout the operating range of the engine.

Check out what's available for your car from the following companies: Bassani, Borla, DynoMax, Edelbrock, Flowmaster, Ford Racing, Hedman, Hooker, MAC, Magnaflow, Pacesetter, Spin Tech, and Steeda.