Top Mustang Problems
Whether you're looking to buy or trying to keep your Mustang on the road, these top problems are something to watch for
6: Unbalanced Cars
It's pretty much an un-written rule that car people like to drive fast. Let's face it; everyone has a little Ricky Bobby in them. But some people take it to the extreme and end up creating a very unbalanced car. We often see this more with late-model Mustangs, but restomod vintage Mustangs can be just as bad a problem. It starts off with a nice stroker small-block, then maybe a blower or turbo. Next thing you know you have 500-plus horsepower at the tire and you're running on stock brakes. This is especially bad on a vintage car (we've all seen a nice high-powered crate engine under hood with manual front drums peeking through the wheel spokes), but this is usually more of a Fox-era problem, as these cars had woefully inadequate brakes. Just ask SCCA Escort Endurance champion Rick Titus, who told us one time that they used to use the Camaro's rear bumper in racing to help slow their Mustangs down! So plan your build or upgrades as a package. Power, handling, brakes, and of course comfort and safety, should all be planned out and built together.
5: Engine/Drivetrain Issues
Your typical Mustang owner is usually pretty good at light mechanical work (replacing valve cover gaskets, swapping a radiator, etc.), but when you get into the heavy stuff—engine rebuilds, differential upgrades, etc.—then problems often arise. Your typical small-block engine has dozens of moving parts that have several things to watch out for when rebuilding. Clearance specs, torque specs, and so forth, that you must rely on a machine shop for machining and or installation. Finding a reputable shop is your first task, albeit not always an easy one. You should check with local enthusiasts, club members, and so forth for recommendations. The last thing you need is a poorly machined engine that makes noise, leaks, or doesn't even run after shelling out hundreds of dollars in labor and more in parts.
If your drivetrain is in good condition you're already a step ahead. Keep it that way with regular maintenance that you can do at home. Oil changes, fluid flushes for the trans and rear, and the like. When you start your Mustang let the oil get up to temperature before any spirited driving. Always ensure your drivetrain's fluids are topped off and that you're using the right viscosity (no 90W gear oil in a modern transmission for example). Doing these preventive measures/checks will keep your drivetrain running strong and you out of the machine shop for many years of ownership.
4: Door Hinge Failure
To be honest, door hinges have a rough job. They open and close, often a dozen times a day, plus carry the weight of the fully loaded door shell (glass, locks, regulator, etc.). Some fail from age and tens of thousands of opening and closing events, while others live much shorter lives because they are stressed by owners using the door shell to aid ingress/egress or from people leaning on the open door. This isn't a vintage only problem, though it is more prevalent in the early cars mainly due to the age of the hinges. Early hinge failures are usually from the door check or check spring, but can also be the pivot points as well. The majority of late-model hinge failures (of which are primarily Fox body, but we've seen some '94-'04 Mustang hinges going bad too) is of the pivot pin itself. This requires a replacement pin and bushing kit, which is widely available through many late-model Mustang vendors. However, Ford changed the hinge design in the SN95 cars, so not all hinge/bushing kits work on these cars. As for the vintage hinges, there are reproductions of the complete hinge as well as repair kits for the door check plate and spring.